Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Something "Special"

I know I've been discussing my childhood with you guys a lot lately, but I promise you will be happy you read this one.

A week ago, my parents brought me a little present. It was a "book" I wrote in the 1st grade for school. And as you'll see, it's Something Special.

Ahem ahem ahem...

The front and back cover, a portrait of our family with our house in the background. There's Dad, Mom, Hannah (age 1), Katie (age 10), Emily (age 7), and John (age 4)

1) I would like to apologize to Katie for giving her such girth, although the side pony tail might have been accurate for 1991, apologize to Hannah for my crayon ineptitude which resulted in her turtleneck onesie and lack of nose, and to John for forgetting to give him pants. Although, again, that might have been accurate for 1991.
2) I'm also concerned that this happened:
Teacher: "Now, kids, this is an important book you're writing. So make sure you title it something special."
Emily: "Got it. *writing* Somethiiiiing....speciallll..."

This is a bird's eye "vew" of me, as a baby, standing on the scale in my parent's bedroom and weighing the feather-light baby weight of 20 pounds. I assume, as a baby, I would need help standing by myself, so my mother is helping me. To the side, you can see the top of the light, which I had clearly asked how to spell, considering my random stab at "drassor."

"If I could... a baby I wood be light."

I don't really know what to tell you on this one. I clearly phoned it in. That, or I had spent all my time getting a mental grasp of my parent's bedroom from a bird's eye view that I didn't have time to properly explain my reasoning behind dedicating an entire page to such thoughts.

I am standing in a single file line outside before school. Jon O. is patting my then spiked hair and calling me "Spike." (Pure genius that one.) I am giving the kind of snappy comeback that truly comes after days of consideration, "Jon put a sok in it I meen you all redy got your underwer! not!"

"When I grow up I get funnyer and funnyer. I love being lughed at! I'm grat at being funny and I bet you now how funny I am!"

1) I remember being acutely aware that my example joke was not very funny, but I couldn't figure out how to MAKE it funny. Let's review the facts:

a) "Put a sock in it": Modern idiom I had recently learned. Always funny.
b) Reference to underwear in someone's mouth: I mean, how can you go wrong with that?
c) "Not!": Hi. My name is Emily, and my sense of humor spawns directly from Pee Wee Herman. It's nice to meet you.
I mean, based on that evidence alone, this joke just hit a home run--NAY, a grand slam. I don't know what I was so worried about.

2) My blatant disregard toward instruction.
Teacher: "Now this page will start with 'When I grow up...' and you'll write about what you'll be when you grow up!"
Me: "Yeah, eff that. I'm going to need an entire page dedicated to an underwear joke."
3) I clearly set this page up to draw myself in a long line of students, each with their own totally accurate caricatures. But once I had myself in there, I got through one more skirt before saying "Ehh, screw it. They get the point."

This is Easter morning in our living room, as evidenced by the creepy painting of a marble splashing in oil we used to have. Katie is discovering the traditional egg-on-the-clock egg, and John has found one of the "easy" (read, BABY) eggs under the couch.

Ester is my vavrit thig. man I bet you don't know how special Ester is to me. espashle that Jesus rows.

1) Okay, I'm going to be straight up honest with you here. Ester had VERY little to do with Jesus rowing. And it had very MUCH to do with Cadbury creme eggs. But I knew, even then, that if you want to get in good with The Big Guy, you have to do all the right stuff. You can't call your brother "stupid," you have to pray before dinner and occasionally other meals, and you HAVE to appreciate religious holidays for religious reasons. Otherwise, as a 7 year-old who can think of nothing more wonderful in the world than finding various types of marshmallows in a colorful basket, you are going straight to hell.
2) Every time I read the word "espashle," I want to take little 1st grade Emily and squeeze her so hard, her eyes pop out of her little spiked head a little.
3) I must have just learned the phrase "I bet" from Katie or something. Clearly I was into it. I also like how I kind of sound like an old black man sitting on a bench telling my life story. "Man, I tell you what. You don't even KNOW."
4) Next to the marble picture is a little brown rectangle. I believe it is our doorbell, but to be honest with you, I STILL don't know what that brown box does. But isn't that a strangely specific thing to remember about my living room, considering I drew this at school? And how have I been so perplexed by something for almost 20 years without bothering to ask anyone about it?

My father and mother are playing a board game (My mom is cross-legged and in a dress. Scandal!) and Katie and I are playing cards on our living room floor.

It's fun to play at or house but, we never have time! You know, mom gos to work dad to School we go to School and the little ones go to the baby sittirs.

1. I have to say, for someone who clearly didn't understand the concept that CRAYONS CAN'T BE ERASED JUST BECAUSE YOU MADE YOUR OWN HEAD ENORMOUS, it was a good effort for the commas on this page. I mean, 1 out of 2 ain't bad.
2. I 100% blame my father for the fact that I referred to someone 3 years younger than me as "the little ones."
3. That blue couch, man. I remember the day we got that couch. And I have to say--my rendition of it? Spot on. Spot. On. The thing is, though, that nothing else in that house even exists. We had no family portrait in which Hannah is falling into a small pit (I WISH) and we had no small windows with red curtains. So I ask you, tiny Emily: why the random attention to detail? Hmm?
4. Note that Hannah and John are no where to be found. That's because this picture embodies a happy place full of happy people, playing games and laughing into all hours of the night, as all the useless family members sleep.
5. I like that spelling and grammar were still just a shot in the dark at this point. I imagine myself like Pollock, just filling in blank space with splotches, hoping to appease the masses. "Capitalize here, lower case here...let's add some punctuation over here...that'll do, pig. That'll do."

This is a white stretch limo with a red top pulling up to the red carpet, where throngs of smiling photographers await my appearance.

When I get older I hope too be the prasadint!

1. GOD I hope that's how Bush spells "president."
2. Okay clearly I never wanted to be president. Honestly, I think I saw someone else write that and just wrote it, too. At this point, I had no idea that I wanted to be a Muppeteer. I really just wanted to be important and famous. And who doesn't want that, ever? Can you blame me?
3. Also, can you blame me for being an annoying show-off who knows what the Big Dipper looks like?

Like me? "Like" me! --On Facebook, that is! (wakka wakka)
And don't be afraid to share or comment. That's what blogs are for.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Worst Oktoberfest Ever

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Emily. Emily enjoyed going to dingy bars filled with dingy people. The music was fist-pumping, the drinks were blue, and her signature dance move was an intermittent "sexy" hair flip. She yelled out Chappelle Show quotes to people across the street before ducking into Bamba's and requesting extra salsa for her steak burrito.

And then that little girl turned 22. And none of those things were appealing anymore. Emily started requesting no-cover bars only, and scoffed at the girls who wore tube tops in January.

Now I tell you this, not to warn of the woes of growing up. Nor to emphasize what a terrible person I once was (because I wasn't), but to set you up for my personal mindset while going to Lakeview for Oktoberfest.

See, I've never been to an Oktoberfest. I can't think of a good reason why, except maybe the fact that every year I forget that Oktoberfest is, in fact, in September and not October (and COME ON, Shelly.) But not this year! This year I finally remembered! I even spent entire minutes on the interwebs searching for an Oktoberfest, put it on the calendar, and, barring other mildly entertaining substitutions, determined that I would go.

On the el, Joe and I speculated what Oktoberfest would be like. A street full of polka music, leiderhosen, tall beers in glass boots, veiners, warm pretzels...basically, the extent of my knowledge of German heritage. Now according to Sara, that is what Lincoln Square Fest is. Sadly, we learned that tidbit after the fact.

SUSPICIOUS FACT #!: When we got there, we realized that the fest isn't in the street. It's in and around a church. Okayyyyy...

SUSPICIOUS FACT #2: The $5 donation fee was strictly enforced and no where was it posted or stated that it was, in fact, a donation.

SUSPICIOUS FACT #3: Upon entrance of the fest was a large table set up with girls handing out Bud Lights. Joe and I questioned aloud, "Who goes to Oktoberfest and gets Bud Light?"

SUSPICIOUS FACT #4: Once past the beer and into the mass of backwards hats and black North Face jackets, we were no longer able to hear ourselves above the band playing under a massive tent packed with people. "WHAT SONG IS THAT?" I yelled into Joe's ear. It took him a few minutes, but eventually he turned back to me. "SAVE A HORSE, RIDE A COWBOY," he responded.

Now here--right here--is where we should have turned around and gone home. But we'd gotten all the way there. And we had been assuming a level of debauchery. I mean, it's Oktoberfest. So we pressed on, determined to at least find a pretzel.

We passed a girl who was struggling through the crowd, holding a styrofoam plate of oily stir fry. Joe turned to me (we were single-file at this point as we searched the grounds) and we both said at the same time, "WHO GETS CHINESE AT OKTOBERFEST?"

We passed through a bottleneck and out to a new mass of people: those in line for food. There was a booth for cookies, one for Polish food, one for Mexican, there was the Chinese place the girl must have stopped at, more booths selling Bud, Bud Light, and 312 (a local Chicago brew). And--there it was. German food. I could make out, among the items, bratwurst, pretzels, and hot dogs. It was the only German booth in the entire space. There were over 100 people in line. We realized why the girl had opted for the stir-fry.

Joe and I made our way through the bottleneck again, past the guy yelling, "Which way to the pisser?" (as he stood four feet from a Port-a-potty) and into the church basement. There were two beer booths inside, directly across from each other. Their lines seemed to blend together, holding as tight as a zipper. That and an ATM was all that was inside. I just asked Joe if he remembered if this was German beer or more Bud products. He can't remember either. Neither of us could find the end to a line, so we went back outside to the food. Maybe the German food line would be shorter.

It was longer. So we did what any sane person would do. We got in line for Polish food. At least, I conceded, I would get a sausage and sauerkraut.

As we stood there, somehow the pathway for all the traffic became the area directly in front of us. The gap grew bigger and bigger as six people at a time would pass us. Soon we would be cut off from our Polish food all together. We had to do something, and fast. I jumped in front of people, literally bouncing off of them until I had reached the other side. I stood so close behind the guy before me in line, I'm sure he could feel my breath on his neck. The problem was, I had completely cut off some Dude. But I had to stand my ground. Plus, at this point, I'm not sure if you could tell, but I was pretty annoyed at the entire experience. So I stood there and said, "THIS IS WHERE I'M STANDING NOW."

He just stood there, looking at me. "Really? You're doing that?"


"I like the attitude," he said sarcastically, and he and his girlfriend walked around me. I felt like an idiot. That can't have been the best way to do that. But then the guy in front of me in line turned around. "That was pretty B.A." he said. I was THIS close to giving him a from-behind bear hug.

Finally, Joe and I got our 3 pounds of potato (is there any other way?) There had also been no foresight of the Oktoberfest people to set up places for people to sit or eat. Luckily, the fine people of Bicycle playing cards had set up poker tables. I ate my potato pancake on a fuzzy green table across from some foreign kids debating how to spell "radical." And I enjoyed it.

Joe and I deemed this fest "Worst...Fest...EVER," threw away our leftover kielbasas, and left.

The thing is, I had thought I was going out for a tall, hearty lager and some schnitzel (whatever that is.) And what I got was every frat party I've ever been to, but with longer lines for the bathroom. I understand that some people enjoy the noise and the crowds and the plastic cups and the thumping music. But I don't. I don't like any of that. And maybe back when I was 21, I might have. Or at least I could have put up with it. But within those short four years, something must have changed. Maybe it's the boyfriend. Or maybe I've gotten boring. Or maybe none of those things were EVER really the true me but I did them because, hell. It was college.

When we left, we headed over to our friend's place for part two: Whiskey Night. We stood on his roof, drinking spiked warm cider, making innuendos about Knob Creek, and overlooking this:

And it felt so me. Well, 25-year-old me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Words With Friends

Bout that time, eh chaps? Right-o.

It's time for another gathering offffffff *awkward Michael Scott drumroll* brrrrrrrrrrrr....brrrrrrrr...brr...


"Hubba wha? Are you and Adrienne doing that mustache thing again that didn't really make sense because you are girls," you ask?

No. No we are not. But Adrienne and I are gathering again for another charitable fun day of fun through the same organization, CHI 826. This go around, we have entered ourselves in Scrabble For Cheaters.

The way it works is: We collect money from friends and loved ones, ALL of which goes to the after-school tutoring program for kids in Chicago. But what's FUN about the money we collect is that we get to use it to cheat at Scrabble and become the Ultimate Cheating Scrabble Champions Of The World.

Certain cheats cost certain amounts of money. The list is as follows:

$25: THE SWAP: Trade out a letter
$50: THE NON-CON: buy a vowel
$100: THE BLANK: Flip a letter over and make it blank
$150: THE AUGMENT: Add 10 points to any letter to increase its value
$200: THE ALSORANS: Add Q, Z, or X to any word
$250: THE KOSHKA: play a word in any non-English language
$300: THE CONFER: Consult the dictionary for one turn
$400: THE SPURN: Reject an opponent's word for no reason
$500: THE WEBSTER: Invent a word (must have definition)

Personally, I am a fan of "The Augment" because it's cheap and I am a KILLER at using the right letters in the right places. I didn't get a bazillion points on "equaling" because there was a "q" in it, people.

For her part, Adrienne is hoping to raise enough to get to use The Spurn because, and I quote, "It's the most dramatic cheat." I am imagining the two of us waiting patiently as someone puts down "quiz" in a triple word score. We look slowly at each other, our eyes squinting slyly. Simultaneously we stand up, pointing at the opposing team: "SPUUUUUUURN!!!!" we shout, probably accidentally knocking over the board and ruining everything, but it would all be worth it for the drama of The Spurn.

We've also decided to learn Polish and Italian between now and the tournament so we can use multiple Z's with The Koshka. And Adrienne has promised to brush up on her Yiddish (in truth, I don't know if she knows any) so we can use a million vowels if we have to, too. Oy vey....Mashugana? And I'm out.

So of course, I am asking for donations. Go here if you'd like to contribute (scroll down to Collabostache. You will know us by our Bob Dole picture.) If you're into supporting children with their doe eyes, do it for that. If you're into supporting me kicking some serious Scrabble ass (and some of you know from personal experience that it's possible) then donate for that reason. But no matter what, you are contributing greatly to a night of fun for me, and a lifetime of better grades for the kids.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Consider Me Miles Davis (Or: My Most Embarrassing Post Yet.)

I am not what you'd call a particularly outgoing person. I second guess myself and clam up in front of anyone who I find intimidating.

Sure, I have momentary spurts of outgoing insanity, generally leading to me embarrassing myself. Like in the 8th grade when we had a mock-discussion on the pros and cons of slavery, where I stood up and tried to shame everyone who was fake "pro slavery" with a heart-felt speech.

GOD. I relive that moment at least once a week.

But I'm really kind of shy most of the time. I don't tend to make friends with people until they come up to me and tell me, "We're friends now." "Oh...okay. Wanna watch Friends and write down all the funny quotes in a notebook for no reason?" "SURE!" *skip arm-in-arm into the sunset*

My shyness was especially apparent as a kid. I was terrified of authority. TERRIFIED. And of course, by "authority," I mean anyone over the age of 12. When I still had spiked hair and dressed kinda like a boy, we had to line up in two boy/girl lines for our first ever trip to the library (EXCITING!!!) So of course, I got in the girl line. I AIN'T NO BOY. Before we left, the librarian noticed me. Thinking I was a smart-ass kid, she scoffed, grabbed my arm and shoved me into the boy's line. And I was too shy to correct her. Me, the one who had decided that I wanted a TAIL, was too shy to actually correct someone who thought perhaps I was not a girl. So what did I do? I shuffled back into the girl line, hoping she wouldn't notice. Of course she did. Again, she thought I was one of those, so she dragged me back to the boys line. Aaaaaand I slunk back. Finally, the entire class erupted, "SHE'S A GIIIIIRL!!!" And the librarian was embarrassed beyond anything. Poor, poor, permed lady.

This was a problem for me throughout elementary school. Not the tomboy thing, the shy thing. It was such a problem, that I peed my pants once a year for five years. OH YES. I am about to chronicle my bladder problems for you right now. ENJOY.

1. Preschool

Nap time. We had to sleep on these little mattresses they'd make us put down. But one day, everyone decided that they'd all have to pee during nap time. Followers is what they were. Damn followers. NONE OF YOU HAD TO PEE AND I'M SURE I MET YOU AGAIN IN HIGH SCHOOL AND NEVER KNEW THAT YOU WERE THE REASON FOR MY DEMISE THAT DAY. Buttons and Bows. 89. I will find all of you.

So there was a string of kids going to pee, and the teachers were rolling their eyes and dragging the kids off and I couldn't manage to get in there before another kid decided it was THEIR turn to go next. Well, you can imagine what happened. That mattress did not stay dry.

The traumatic part, though, is that when my parents came to pick me up, my teachers CORNERED me with them and demanded that I admit to peeing the mattress. Well eff that noise! I'm not embarrassing myself in front of God and country! I denied that accusation tooth and nail. Until they did their STARING DISAPPROVINGLY trick on me, and I'm pretty sure I crumbled.

2. Kindergarten

Gym class. We were all sitting on the yellow circle, learning how to play The Lone Ranger (aka free-for-all Dodge Ball [By the by, it is the fault of my gym teacher that I thought it was "Hi-Ho silver" and not "Hi-YO Silver", so please take it up with her.]) So we're sitting there and she's talking, and I've got my hand raised. She ignores it. I raise it higher--maybe she didn't see it. Ignores me. I flail. Ignore.

Finally, I ran out of the gym. But it was too late. Not only did I pee my pants, but I did it as my entire class watched.

That's right.

And people wonder why I never dated a boy from my school through high school. "Don't go to the dance with HER, she peed her pants in Kindergarten and I SAW IT."


3. First Grade

T-Ball. Oh yes. The first and last time I ever played an organized team sport. T-Ball, where my team name was "The Gold Team." Where I threw the ball to whoever seemed like they wanted it more. Where they put me in left field where NO 1st grader could hit it except one time, when of course the ball hit me in the face and I cried until every coach and assistant coach came out to inspect my teeth.

THAT T-ball.

So I hit the ball. Which was quite an accomplishment for me, considering the ball was stationary in front of me. I ran and made it to first. Again, an accomplishment. Uh-oh. That's when I realized it. I had to pee. But I couldn't stop the game--then the adults would yell at me! And I couldn't just run to the port-a-potty like that kid on AFV. around a little. Yeah, that's good. That's working. Dancing. Dancing. WHY ISN'T ANYONE HITTING THE BALL SO I CAN GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE?? Oh right, because there's no such thing as "strikes" in T-ball. Dancing, dancing, dancing, annnnnnnnd....peeing. Nothing I could do. The first baseman just looked at me in amazement. But otherwise, no one noticed. For the rest of the game, I sat there in my pee-pants, acting like nothing was wrong. It wasn't until we got our fig newtons and Mondo that I worked up the courage to tell my Mom. "Oh, Emily," she said. As if a) I had done it on purpose and b) as if it was like you couldn't just throw the pants in the wash. JEEZ, MOM. There ARE strikes in "making your child feel bad for her bodily functions" and YOU are on strike 2.

4. Second Grade

This one was a little different. See, while we were watching some Discovery Channel show, I started to feel a little woozy. Miraculously, though, whenever I set my head on the desk, I felt better. My evil witch of a teacher, MS. WIEAND, (God rest her soul) came around and told me to pick my head up. Now granted: this is the point in which I should have told her that I didn't feel well. Meh. I was terrified of her. And I'm pretty sure that I thought I could just SHAKE IT OFF. So I begrudgingly raised my head and watched the rest of the movie, my stomach gurgling all the while.

Later, when the movie was over, Ms. Wieand decided that now was the time for her to clean out her supply closet. You know, while she had minions to boss around. So she's up on a ladder, nose deep in construction paper, and it hits me. Things aren't sitting right, and I have limited time. So I try to interrupt her and ask to go to the bathroom, and she doesn't hear me. I sit back down. Nope. Nope. Back up. But at that point? Too late. *Blarg-larg-larg-larg!* Right on the orange reading rug.

5. 3rd grade

I've mentioned this one before. We switched class for Science. We were in Mrs. Barkley's class learning about the different kinds of clouds. You know, talking about RAIN and SPRINKLES. I raised my hand to use the bathroom, and she didn't call on me. And I was too shy to say anything. Her loss. Left a nice present for her on my red-orange chair. And a nice present for whoever's chair that usually was. Whoopsee.

Luckily, that was the last time (save an incident when I was 13 at summer camp, but that wasn't shyness. It was a very intense scavenger hunt.) I think in general, I've learned to speak up for myself to people I find intimidating. Why just today, I made a snarky comment to my boss that I absolutely should have kept to myself. So...mission accomplished?

Thanks for liking me and "liking" me, guys!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Regina Phalange. PHALANGE.

Apparently I need to clear the air about something.

Yes. I made a Facebook photo album of my last roommate's cat.

But he was a strange, strange cat. Who liked to jump on my shoulders and lick my face.

However, people have gotten the impression that I am some insane cat person. Just because I wrote a blog post about how they're great and just because I want to fly to Greece solely for CATS EVERYWHERE and just because I fantasize of being covered by a box of kittens and just because ON OCCASION I make inaudible squeals at Purina commercials.

The thing is, I just got my own first cat, and she is as low key as my microbrew-drinking, potluck-tv-watching 7-hours-of-sleep lifestyle. And people are SHOCKED that I haven't gushed about her with a million pictures and stories. JUST BECAUSE I have a Facebook photo album dedicated to a grey tabby who was not mine and SOMETIMES threw in a few pictures of my family's cat for good measure does not mean that I am thinking about pictures of cats 24/7. It's not that I'm against talking about her, obv. But these things take TIME, people. I lived with Charlie for a year and a half and was home most of that time due to The Troubles. Now I have had Regina for only a few weeks, I only spend a few hours with her, and she spends most of that time laying sweetly nearby. There's just not that much to tell, except for the fact that she yells at me whenever I'm mobile and does a hilarious thing with her leg (picture once I capture really is awesome, though, I promise.)

Of course, the day we got her was a bit of a story.

We went to this amazing shelter in Chicago (I won't say the name here because I don't want them to read this but if you are looking for a good one, email me and I will tell you.) that has cage-free, free-range, cats.

We got to the shelter, which has a doorbell you have to ring to get in. I announced that I wanted to adopt a cat and the girl led me upstairs. Once upstairs, amongst the cats laying around, there was a woman who looked like she had seen more than a couple Jimmy Buffet concerts. She had a flowy shirt, long necklaces (plural) and blue-tinted prescription glasses. She was scowling at a young gentleman and clearly unhappy with him. The boy seemed perfectly nice. I was being talked to (and also in a room full of cats) so I was distracted, but the only thing I caught from their conversation was that he wanted to adopt a kitten, but was possibly not fully prepared to do so. I put my purse on the floor and immediately, a calico cat sat on it. I tried to pet her, but she hissed. This was not Regina Phalange.

The girl who had led us up the stairs handed me a 3-page form to fill out. It included my employer name, what kind of food I planned to get my cat, what I would do with my cat if I moved, what kind of voice I was planning on giving my cat, etc etc. Five hours later, I was done filling out the form and the ill-prepared guy had been ushered out, cat-less. Hand shaking, I handed the form to the woman. Still frowning she looked over it.

"Copywriter, hmm?"
"You live in Printer's Row?"

But as she looked through my list, the woman became more and more excited with each step. I'd lived with so many cats, I had to add extra lines. I didn't want to declaw. I didn't want a kitten. I had a job. I had my landlord's name and phone number. I was prepared. Oh, was I. By the time we were done going through the form, the woman practically swooped Joe and I up into her arms and gave us one giant bear hug.

She led us around to the different cats, pointing out which ones were friendly (which I had said on the form was what I wanted.) The first one she led us to was Bubblegum, who was sleeping on a pillow on a high shelf. She was black and white. Seriously? A black and white cat named Bubblegum? REALLY? Joe and I held out our hands for her to smell, and she started licking our fingers and nuzzling us. Good start, cat. Good start. THIS was Regina Phalange.

The woman led us to other cats, knowing each of their names and personalities, and with anecdotes about the cats they've had in the past, and other cats she had at home. "You know I had a cat just like this one at home. Her name was Stormy and she had just gotten ringworm...." Smile and nod, Emily. Smile and nod.

Occasionally, I'd stop and pet the kittens and she'd frown. "Kittens are overrated. Let me show you Snickerdoodle. She's sixteen. OH! Patsy! OH PATSY! She is 45 pounds but she is JUST the SWEETEST THING you've ever seen. OH PATSY IS JUST THE BEST."

We walked on through, pet a lot of cats, but eventually came back to the first room where Bubblegum had been. I pet her again. She nuzzled. They explained that Bubblegum was a solitary cat who didn't really like other cats, but loved people and just needed a good home away from the others. A kitten cams sauntering over like he owned the place and, sure enough, Bubblegum had a bit of a tizzy. Joe and I hemmed and hawed...came seriously close to stealing all four of the little mini tiny little baby little snookem kittens, but eventually decided that Bubblegum was just perfect. The woman, and the two volunteers started cheering and clapping. I think there might have been tears in their eyes. They said the poor thing just needed a good home. And that perhaps her off-centered push-broom mustache had deterred people.

Finally came all the paperwork and signing and contracts and everything. MAN there are a lot of contracts involved in getting a cat. Including one which said that the people from this shelter (I.E. the hippie cat lady) were allowed to make house calls. "I like red wine," she told us. Joe and I laughed nervously. We THINK that they would only do that if there was a problem with the cat. We THINK.

Finally we had everything ready to go. Litter box, toy, food, Jewel bag of clean litter...oh, and a cat. We brought her home, let her explore little by little, and that was that.

She's a good cat. She is currently watching me from a pillow on top of our fireplace.

Here she is, on her first day home, sleeping on a pillow on my lap (PS, she likes pillows.)

And now that I have finally told you guys about her and the experience I went through, I ask that you think of the woman we interacted with, and consider exactly how much of a crazy cat lady I am. (Insert "OH EMILY. THERE'S STILL TIME" joke here. HAAAAR.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blog Starters...And Failers.

So here's the thing: I have tried to write many a blog post this week and have come up miserably short. Part of the problem is that everything I WANT to write about has to do with work, but everything that I'd say would likely lead to me being fired. Not that I have ludicrous things to say, know. We're a client-based industry.

So tried to piece together strings of words disguised as thoughts and make them into a real blog post. But I get about a paragraph in before I get bored, see something shiny, and figure genius will hit me later.

So I bring to you...random paragraphs that I've tried to use to spark a post. I hope you enjoy.

1) Law & Order is unrealistic. Why? Because no one could ever grab someone else's cell phone from them and in two clicks, find their call history. Other people's phones are a mystery to us all. And the guy who once played Elton in Clueless is no exception.

2) My inner self has short blue hair, tatoos, and a skateboard. BUT my inner self also likes seafoam colanders and 50's housewife dresses and holding babies. So...there's that.

3) Regina Phalange wants me to be lazy. She (my new kitty, if you haven't been following) walks at my ankles and meows at me whenever I'm standing. But as soon as I lay on the bed or sit on the couch, she stops. But the thing is, she doesn't then come and snuggle, as you would assume would be the reason for her wanting my lap. Oh no. She sits aloof, a few feet away. Looking all content with her crooked Chaplin mustache and massaging the Ikea ottoman like she owns the place.

4) Here is my life: First, I feel skinny. So I allow myself to have a few cheeseburgers. And then my pants don't feel right on my waist. And so I feel fat. And so I stop eating cheeseburgers. And then I feel skinny....and so I allow myself to have a few cheeseburgers. It's this vicious cycle and it's not fair, I tells ya! I say, once you get down to your ideal weight, you should be allowed to just stop there. Like, we need a "save" function on our weight. And then you feel you've gone too far one way, you can just quit without saving and come back to where you were. Let's go, God. Work with me here.

5) Apparently Chick-fil-a is coming to Chicago. I have never had Chick-fil-a.

YEAH. That's where I'm at at this point. I'm telling you about religious-based fast food chicken restaurants. So I do apologize for not really having anything significant to say outside of blog-inappropriate work comments. Hopefully better things to come. I'm feeling optimistic.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Summer Happy Place

Well I sure put this one off. I promised you alllllll the way back here (and by "you," I mean "Michelle" and "My Mom" because I'm pretty sure they were the only two reading at the time) that I would tell you about my Summer Happy Place once it got hot out. And BOY did it. I think I just put too much pressure on myself to write something cohesive and, you know...with the words and the letters and the spelling?

But now it's gotten cold and I've avoided it too long. And frankly, you are all missing out. This is pretty much a sure-fire cure for those nights when no position is comfortable to sleep in and you and your pillow get into a fight.

So you wake up. It's late morning. At first, you don't remember where you are. All you know is, you are in the largest, most comfortable bed you have ever slept in. The sheets are light and cool and impossibly soft. The bed feels a bit like you're sinking into it, like Uncle Fester as played by Christopher Lloyd in the Addams Family Movie. Your pillows are huge and softer than a brand new Beanie Baby.

You sit up. You are in a large, bright hotel room, lit by the sun pouring in through the open french doors to your right. The room is filled with white and tan and blue. You realize it's an ocean-side room when you notice the sound of waves crashing on the beach and someone outside laughing in the distance.

The smell of ocean air is interrupted by something else--something closer. Bacon. As you sit up in bed, (Fill in name here) walks in holding a tray of breakfast food. They sit on the bed next to you.

You eat the bacon.

That's all. Now I dare you to imagine that as you fall asleep tonight.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why Unemployment Might Have Fixed Me

Now that I'm back in the work force and a functioning member of society again, I have been looking at my tenure of unemployment and analyzing exactly what it's meant for my life. And what I've decided is: it was awesome.

Not while it was happening, of course. And not in a "hooray, I haven't saved any money in the past 3.5 years" way. But in a way that I honestly, truly believe it's made me a better copywriter and actually a better person in some ways. So in no order...

Why Unemployment Might Have Fixed Me

1) I try at work again.

I used to think I wasn't fireable. Mostly because everyone told me so. "No, no. You don't make enough to be worth letting go." Well guess what, kids? It's a recession. Everyone's fireable. Knowing that, and knowing that whatever I used to do wasn't enough to keep my job, now I'm like Bugs Bunny. I race from 1st base to throw the ball and then over to 3rd to catch it...occasionally announcing things as I do them in an old-school, nasally sportscaster voice. "It's Emily to the printer. Emily back to her desk. Emily back to the printer. And there she goes! I don't believe it! I just don't believe it! She actually! Printed! Out! The copy! For! The! Meeting! This is a momentous day, ladies and gentleman. A momentous day."

2) I appreciate tv now.

When I was unemployed, TV was like an evil plastic box filled with talk shows and soaps which did nothing but remind me that the good shows weren't on until Real People got home.
Now I see my TV as a savior. Here to comfort me softly, like a rocking hug. It's here to fill my life with knowledge and laughter when my brain is too tired to fill itself on its own.

3) I got a better fashion sense.

I am you say...fashionable. I don't think I ever will be. Old Navy flip flops are the only shoe that won't give me blisters and my awkward boob-to-butt ratio makes me just awkward-looking enough to avoid 90% of most styles. BUT! Once I became unemployed and I couldn't spend my money on clothes anymore, I had to learn to appreciate what I already had in my closet. No more turnover. You hate that shirt? Well, will you hate it when it's literally the only thing left in your closet? Or will you slap a vest on it, add a belt, steal a skirt from your sister and realize it was actually okay this whole time?

4) I lost weight.

The thing is, when you are unemployed and the only way to stop yourself from spending the day conversing with your roommate's cat is by going to the gym, you form a different relationship with working out. It became the thing that got me out of the house. The thing that helped me forget my stress. The reason that I couldn't spend the entire day without brushing my teeth or putting on deodorant (Am I the only one who loses all sense of hygiene as soon as there's no one to clean up for? No? Just me?) And in that way, as a source of entertainment, the gym was--dare I say it?--kind of fun.

5) I became a better cook.

The only OTHER thing I had to do all day besides working out was looking at recipes and walking up and down the aisles of Jewel. I would have been all kinds of awesome at that Supermarket Dash show or whatever it was called--you know, where people run up and down the isles looking for things and running their carts into all kinds of stuff and you feel a little sad and awkward because the lighting is weird, so you switch over to the Price Is Right, where everything's a little less blue and the microphones are longer and the music is soothing to your ears? ...God, I really did watch a lot of daytime tv. What was I saying? Oh, right. Cooking. I'm better at it now.

So that's about it. Unemployment has fixed me. of me. What do you think? Other ways that unemployment/underemployment has taught you a lesson?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Day

Okay, I need to emphasize that my last post is STILL true, that I am still in a good, happy place, and I plan on maintaining focus on that.

But can I PLEEEEEEASE tell you about my ridiculous day of EMOTIONS?!

So you know this scene from Friends when Phoebe is pregnant?

That was me today. I kid you not, this was the situation at work today:

Jamie made a joke about us all jumping out the window because we were so stressed.
Nok laughed and just went, "Haha...Asians." (She and Jamie are both Asian.)
And Megan and I burst out laughing. And within 3 seconds of that, I had to actually hold myself back from bursting into tears.

"Poor Emily!" you say. "What could have gone wrong that would make you so unhappy?"

And here is your answer: Nothing. ABOLUTELY NOTHING went wrong. The problem, in fact, is simply that today was The Day.

Ugnnnnnnnn, The Day.

I don't know about other ladies and their struggles with hormones, but here is mine: One day a month (yyyyyyyyyup) I have an emotional breakdown for no reason whatsoever. Poor Joe has been at the brunt end of a few of such days. They usually end in a for-no-reason fight or just with Joe begging me to stop crying and rocking myself and to get out of the corner and eat my macaroni like a big girl.

The weird thing is, I NEVER realize that it's The Day until nearly the end of it. I just walk around for 12 hours thinking, "Why am I upset? Why do I have the urge to go home, snuggle with my new cat, eat chocolate chip pizza dipped in peanut butter and watch 30 Rock because IT'S LIKE LIZ AND I ARE THE SAAAAAAME!?"

Eventually I do realize what's going on. But there's no way to stop it. There's no way to stop the emotions. I just have to keep my head down, eat my chocopeanutpizza and wait until tomorrow, when things will be back to normal. Because how can I go around explaining it to people? How do I tell my male boss that I'm about to get my period, so it's not my insubordinance that is making me snippy about that edit he made, but rather the estrogen floating behind my eyes? And, anyway, I'm a grown-ass woman. I should be able to take a hold of my brassiere and suck it up. Because don't I usually pride myself in my cold-heartedness toward my own copy? Why yes. Yes I do.

But then he looks at me the wrong way and I end up curled up in the fetal position on his floor, cuddling old ads and wondering aloud "why no one loves me anymore??"

So that has been my day. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. As it stands, my new cat, Regina Phalange (yes, I am all about the Phoebe references over here) is helping me cope by laying on a nearby ottoman. I don't know much about her except that she follows me from room to room and meows/scolds me until I either lay down on the couch or the bed. I'm hoping she gets snugglier in the winter, like Charlie did. I think she will.

AAAAAAAAAAND I officially just wrote a blog post about PMS and cats. ANOTHER WIN FOR CRAZY WOMEN EVERYWHERE. God.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


I’ll be straight with you guys. I’m not the most religious person to have walked the planet. It’s not that I’m anti-God, I’m just anti-people who think they know anything about the guy.

But I will tell you one religion I believe in and adhere to steadfastly. It is a religion that any ad Creative worth a dime bows down to every day.

It’s the religion of jinxes.

In the crazy world of professional advertising, where up is down and right is wrong and boring ads sell quicker than a burrito at 2am in Champaign-Urbana, jinxing is a way of life.

Which ad do you like best? Tell ANYONE, and that ad will not sell.
Which ad do you recommend to the client? They will hate that ad.
You sold an ad and you’re so excited, you tell all your friends and family? Sorry, that ad just got killed.

But for some reason, I just haven’t been able to stay true to the Jinx Religion. I always doubt it. I get cocky and I decide that jinxes don’t apply to me. My ads are so good, they’ll break through the jinx and shine on through.

No! Bad Emily. Bad! You go in your corner and you think about what you did. Jinxes don’t care about your race or gender or salad dressing preference. They attack from all sides, and they especially love to attack when you least expect it. In fact, the more people who love your ad and tell you how good it is, the LESS likely it is to sell.

And when your occupation revolves so heavily around keeping your mouth shut when things go well, just in case a jinx will come and take it away, it’s seeped into my real life, too.

I realized recently that I’ve stopped talking about when things go well. I mean, I still tell everyone general life-changing things like getting a job or living with Joe…those I can’t avoid telling people or else they start wondering if I’ve become a Mole Person.

But the thing is (and my palms are sweating because I am about to tell you this), things are going REALLY well for me right now. To the point where I feel like I’m bragging. But like…I have a job, I have a boy, I have friends, I feel good about my weight, I have a cat…I have all five basic things you need to be happy. And honestly, I should be REALLY happy about it.

But I’m terrified of jinxing it all. And isn’t that just sad? I mean, life goes in circles. There are ups and downs. I’m bound to go into a few more downs here and there. Hopefully not TOO down, but I’m sure downs are out there. But what’s the point of even…I don’t know, of even EXISTING, if I can’t be happy when things are going right?

What I’m saying is: I’m doing well right now. REALLY well. And whether or not I say it out loud, things might not always be great. But I can’t go around worrying about acting “too happy” when I actually am, just because I don’t want to jinx it and have it all taken away.

So watch out. I may be happier than normal nowadays. Not like obnoxiously cheery and optimistic. I mean, I DID just see a man hock a loogie on the top of the INDOOR STAIRS at the gym yesterday. And really? REALLY?!?!?! All I mean is, I need to count my blessings more often.

But also, if I die in a horrible, fiery accident today...I’d be careful what you say from now on if I were you.