Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Well, I've been trying for two full days to write a blog post about the end of the year and the future of the next one, but I can't seem to do it without crumbling into a bunch of tiny pieces and declaring the end of western civilization.

Three problems:
1. There are newly discovered issues with work.
2. They have nothing to do with my personal performance.
3. I can't talk about it, because apparently this is the internet.

So all I can do is spout crytic messages to those who'd get it, which is zero fun for those who don't. I have also discovered that I can create Venn diagrams and quote Natalie Merchant songs I forgot I knew existed. Other than that, I have very little to show for two days and three coffee shops.

But in the end, all I really wanted to say is that this last year has been really awesome. I worked hard and it paid off. Next year has some pretty big question marks, but I'm thinking positively.

And since I have nothing more to give you, I leave you simply with this:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

As I Recall: Hark! The Herald Angels Freak Out

It's been a while, guys. It's been a loooong while. But it's finally time. You all have been such good readers, you deserve to hear about the True Meaning Of Christmas, and you deserve to hear it from someone with a fading, old lady memory. If you're new to the concept of me attempting to recall Bible stories, check out the first one here.

Now here we go. Christmas!

The story starts with an adorable young couple, Mary and Joseph. They're engaged, it's wonderful. Until one night, an angel named Gabriel visits Mary and tells her, "SURPRISE!--you're preggo, and the father is NO ONE. Or, well, it's God. And He's also the mother. But you're kind of the mother. I think. Look, your story's a little iffy and it's going to get RULL awkward over in Europe in a few years about it, so why don't you be a nice girl, take this iron supplement and go back to bed."

So when Mary woke up, she had the wonderful job of letting her fiance know that she was pregnant and he was not the father. Let's just say, it did NOT go like this:

In fact, it was probably a little more like "SNAP. Now stand still, I'm going to have to stone you." Luckily, Gabriel stepped in, explained the whole thing to Joseph, and it was all cool. And from then on, little children everywhere playing Joseph in the Nativity play were befuddled as to what any of their lines were implying.

Now, according to the Bible, the Roman emperor, Caesar Augustus decided that he wanted a head count. And he thought the best way to do that was to make everyone go back to the town of their ancestors so they could do a census. AND! Everyone did it! I have to say, WOW are we lazy. We even have people come up to our front doors during our censuses, and we still refuse to answer a few questions just because we have to put on pants to do it.

So apparently Joseph and Mary have to hike their sandal-wearing butts all the way to Bethlehem, because Joseph's ancestor is the famous David (and as we all know, everyone only has one ancestor.) Of course, Mary is like one dilated centimeter away from popping Jesus out, so by the time they get there it is GO TIME. They get to the inn, but all of David's other brethren have booked the place solid. Luckily, the innkeeper is super nice and gives them the barn out back.

TIME OUT. I'm sorry. This tiny little woman is about to give birth. She is doing her lamaze breathing and screaming that she wants the pills after all. And instead of taking one look at her and kicking out the schmuck in room 202 and giving the clean bed to the woman with a PERSON coming out of her, you lay her in a pile of manure and wish her good day. LOVELY.

So, fine. Luckily, God is on their side and he makes sure Jesus comes out all pink and sparkly and painlessly. A star appears above Jesus' first resting point. Mary swaddles him and lays him in a manger which is a fancy word for wooden trough. I'm not sure why she couldn't just hang onto him, but I guess it's part of the mystique of Jesus. Maybe his halo was making him too hot.

So Jesus is born and everyone is FREAKING OUT. First of all, we've got the angels with their trumpets and their proclamations. These guys are seriously excited. They're so excited, they go tell the nearby shepherds about the latest. It's kind of like when something awesome happens to you but none of your friends are around, so you just kind of turn to the nearest person who knows your name and blurt out how happy you are because you just found out you're getting an iPod and OMG OMG OMG!!!1

That's the angels. There's so many of them, they are no longer a pair, nor a group, nor even a herd. Nay, they are a "host" of angels. That is a lot of angels. And they boom down from heaven in a voice I imagine is a lot more like The Great And Powerful Oz and a lot less like the Hallelujah Chorus, because the shepherds nearly poop their pants out of fear. But once they figure out what's going on, they manage to follow the shepherd's direction, which is something like "second star to the right and straight on til morning" until they get to the barn and the Jesus and the manger and the everything. And according to my childhood nativity figurines, one of the shepherds even came by carrying a little lamb over his shoulders. You know, as one does.

So that's the shepherds. Next the story gets DASTARDLY! Because somewhere in the world is a king named King Herod. And, if you remember the story of Moses you will be very surprised to know he has a thing against baby boys. Well, specifically he has a thing against Jesus. Er, let me back up.

Somehow, a bunch of foreigners from the east (aka, terrorists) hear about Jesus. I assume from angels. The Bible calls the foreigners "magi" which I think just means they are royalty, or they're so rich they are royalty-LIKE and either way they would have made for a KILLER episode of Cribs. But I guess they didn't get all the info. All they heard was that a king had been born to save everyone. So they pack up the best gifts they can find: gold, frankincense and myrrh. The latter two are perfumes. Because back then people couldn't bathe too much, so smelling good was a commodity. No one really knows how many magi there were, but people simplify it by saying there were three because they brought 3 gifts. But who knows? There could have been 6 and they all just went halfsies.

So these magi make it to King Herod, assuming the new baby king was there. Of course, King Herod gets more riled up than a chipmunk on Ritalin and orders all children under the age of two DEAD. Luckily, the star above Jesus leads the magi to him much quicker than Herod, so they're able to bestow their gifts AND warn the family of impending doom, and they take off.

The problem here is, there's not really a good ending to the story. People usually just sing a little "Away In A Manger" and everyone claps and goes home. So I don't know what else to tell you about this one.

Merry Christmas everybody! And thanks for following and spreading the word!

Monday, December 20, 2010

My 26th Birthday...OF DOOM

So my birthday is tomorrow and I'm having a bit of...a time with it this year. This is the year I've been dreading my entire life and that is not a joke.

Oh, Curlz.

I've always pointed out that up to 25 there's something, some age to look forward to. At 16 you can drive, 18 you can win a billion dollars on the lottery, 21 you can make bad decisions legally, and 25 you can drive rental cars.

And then you turn 26 and you get jack squat.

And your life is over. OVER! 26?! I might as well buy a cane, put on a plastic rain cap and get a cat--OH GOD IT'S ALREADY STARTING! Quick, someone, is there lipstick on my teeth???

To be honest, most of my age spasms have to do with work. See, I started copywriting when I was 22. TWENTY TWO. And I was SO ahead of the curve! And then at some point time passed (stupid time and its moving forward) and now I'm getting to be the age where I should know stuff and sell ads and go on production and write things without having to go back and rewrite them eighty thousand times. But sometimes it still feels like I just started in this business.

And I know I've learned a lot and I'm actually much further along and I'm probably doing fine BLAH BLAH BLAH. Listen here. I'm going to be in my late twenties. No more messing around. I mean, I've really got to step it up if I'm going to keep my life from completely derailing, which I'm fairly convinced could happen at any moment.

Then of course there's the marriage and baby debacle. First of all NO, neither of those are currently happening. But Joe and I have talked about them lightly, and we're pro both of them. When the time is right. WHICH IS NOT TODAY.

But I'm 26, dammit! And Joe's even older. And if we still need time before marriage and even more time before babies (which, by the way, the more I learn about pregnancy and newborns, the more I want to become Sister Mary Emily so let's not even go there), that time is starting to get shorter and shorter. And it's freaking me out.

I need marriage and babies to stay safely far away from me. I need to go back to when it was a "one day...when I'm much older and mature and have my life together." But really, when is that going to happen? When am I going to be old enough and mature enough to have my life together? Because I'm guessing it might be retirement, and even then? Iffy. And I'd also prefer to only have a child between the ages of 3 and 6. So once science figures out how to give me a perpetual 4-year old for me to drive around when I'm 65, I think we're good to--OH MY GOD I'm going to be a dog-lady. A lonely, miserly dog lady. I'm going to be the old lady from Little Women. People will be paid to be my friends and read to me.

No. NO!! I refuse to succumb to the pressures of age! I have time! I'm sprite-like! In fact, I've made a list. It's a short list currently, but it's of all the things I would like to do within the next two-ish years. And it's full of all kinds of young people things. Here we go:

Emily's List Of Young People Goals:

-Learn how to knit (Oh God, this did not start off well.)
-Take beginner photography classes, then take good photos with a good camera
-Improv classes
-Sculpting classes
-Dance classes (HAR! That one was just for you guys. OR IS IT??...It is.)


-Go to Scotland, find your ancestor's castle.
-Go to Italy, eat a lot of pasta and cream.
-Go to San Francisco, Francisco! That's fun to say.

-Go on a production shoot outside of Chicago
-Get promoted, earn what I think I deserve
-Write an ad that everyone loves

-Pay off a big student loan chunk
-Buy a car (I have a feeling these last two are going to be an either/or situation)
-Become a roller skater
-Be more stylish
-Make more Julia Child recipes
-Find an apartment with a reading nook for weekends (and then read on the weekends)

And that's all I have so far. I'm hoping these things will help solidify myself in my mind as someone in her late twenties with goals and aspirations appropriate for her age. Someone who is 26, not 20 NOR 87. Someone who is moving forward toward the ever-unattainable goal of knowing exactly what I am doing here.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


I just heard on the news, although apparently some have known for weeks, that Cash Cab is coming to Chicago! Holy baby Jesus in the manger, IT'S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!

For those who are unaware, I am an ENORMOUS Cash Cab fan. After I found out, I practically SKIPPED all the way to work (while ever on the lookout, of course.)

Now, apparently it's not Ben Bailey driving around, probably partly because he is too high and mighty on his New York horse to come over to LOWLY (but might I add diverse and rich in its culture) Chicago, and also partly because he's probably going the way of BJ Novak when he was on Punk'd and became so recognizable, he could no longer be on the show. Oh, you didn't know you were going to be getting TV trivia during this blog post? Well welcome to the world of Emily, people. I've got a million of 'em. Catch up.

All I have to say is: New York, you aren't all that and a bag of potato chips. We can be cool, too. Remember Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Remember While You Were Sleeping? Remember...uh, uh...Real World: Chicago?? YEAH. I WENT THERE. So swallow your pride and turn on the TV to something that DOESN'T happen four blocks from your tiny, expensive apartment. Because we (AKA my dad, Laura, and Laura's dad--my Cash Cab Dream Team. Don't act like you don't have one) are about to win some serious MOOLA.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hot Chocolate

Last week I bought something that looked magical: Trader Joe's peppermint hot chocolate, with little bits of real chocolate.

And how could I resist? From the adorable canister to the word "shavings," this thing didn't just call out to me, it taunted like a child who doesn't understand that their parent is ignoring them on purpose. "Want to buy me? Want to buy me? Want to buy me? Want to buy--" "For the love of GOD WILL YOU BE QUIET, MOMMY IS ON THE PHONE."

So I bought it. Brought it home. Tasted it.

And it was spearmint.

SPEARMINT? REALLY?? Really, Trader Joe's. I TRUSTED you. When you said pumpkin butter was good and I didn't believe you, who was right? YOU were. When you said I wouldn't notice how bad $3 wine was, who was right? YOU were. When you said chicken sausage should be available for the masses, who was right? YOU were. But now? Now I don't know what to think anymore. Will that box of organic vegan cookies be filled with worms? MAYBE! Nothing is right anymore! Up is down, left is right, PEPPERMINT IS SPEARMINT AND MY WORLD IS CRASHING AROUND ME.

Here's my other problem (I know, you're so amazed that I have this many things to complain about when it comes to cocoa): I have become unimpressed by powdered hot chocolate--NOW HEAR ME OUT. I recognize that if I melted down a bar, mixed it with some cream and called it cocoa, that it would be delicious.

But I'm talking regular ol' run-of-the-mill Swiss Miss. Is it me, or is it just not the same as it was as a kid? I mean, maybe it was the insane amount of marshmallows my mom added. Or maybe it was the fact that the cocoa was given to us after we came in from "hours" of "sledding" (aka "minutes" of "dragging my sister around on the sled like a dog because it's Illinois and our only hill is the converted landfill on the other side of town") but it seems like hot chocolate was just a million times more delicious than it is now.

I mean, hot chocolate used to be the saving grace in a world full of chaos. Adults got coffee at every turn, but what did we have to lift our spirits? A can-do attitude? Hardly. Because when your Indian Princess tribe (Another day. Another day.) is trying to sell Christmas trees to raise money for their next father-daughter bonding retreat and you can neither a) Pick up the trees because you are too little, b) Sell the trees because you cannot subtract yet, nor c) Play hide-and-seek amongst the trees because SOMEONE is an enormous party pooper, coughDADcough, you have one option: sit in the warm trailer and drink powdered hot chocolate through a coffee stirrer. It's not fancy, it's not made with a mother's loving care, but it does the trick. And it's why, whenever I burn my tongue, I hear the soft sound of Jingle Bells playing in the recesses of my mind.

But powdered hot chocolate just doesn't do that for me anymore. It doesn't entertain in the way that it used to. And even the Trader Joe's cocoa with its chocolate shavings, which sounded like the cure to my hot chocolate blues, seemed only okay.

Is it just me? Am I the only one who feels this way? Where has my childhood gone? Is it trapped, like a chunk of globbed chocolate powder in the coffee stirrer...of life?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Why We All Need Christmas

OH MY GOD, you guys. I'm back. And I'm EXCITED. Are you kidding me?? I get to come home from work and I don't have to go directly to bed? What IS this freedom?!?

But you know who is more excited than I am? Regina Phalange. When I came home she started running around the entire apartment and did a cow-jumped-over-the-moon jump over our queen bed. So yeah. I think she's happy.

As I ease my way back into the life of the blogosphere, I thought I'd share with you guys some thoughts reflecting where my mind is when it's not writing headlines: Christmas. Here's part 1.

I think everyone should celebrate Christmas. Hear me out; I promise not to go Bill O'Reilly on you. I think everyone should get behind Christmas, not because I think everyone should believe in Jesus, because the dude is not for everyone, but because Christmas makes cold weather SO MUCH BETTER. Sure, we all have to suffer in January. But why December? Why? December is cold and snowy and terrible. BUT. If Bing Crosby croons softly in your ear while you walk through that December weather? Not so terrible. Not so terrible at ALL, m'friends.

Lately I've been thinking especially about Christmas traditions; which ones have stuck around, which ones have changed, which ones I'm fine with losing. Especially since this is the second holiday go-around with Joe and I'm starting to realize that maybe I'll need to give a little, and do a few more of his Christmas things and a few less of my own.

I think my favorite Christmas tradition which I'd be sad to lose is Christmas Eve. In my mind, that's one of those traditions that's stayed true year after year. It seems that way, but if I really think about it, it's actually changed a TON.

When I was young, it was the one night a year that I was willing to get fancy. I had short hair for much of my childhood, and was convinced that I looked ridiculous in anything fancier than my dinosaur t-shirt. Plus! Dresses were itchy!

But on Christmas Eve, you endure anything. I mean, Santa's watching, people. Shove those feet into those Mary Janes, froof that lace collar and wait for someone to ask you if you're excited for Santa to come.

So we'd sit all politely and nicely at church, surrounded by people we'd never seen before but happy for the warm bodies, and at the end of the service everyone got a candle and lit it and we'd sing Silent Night. Well, everyone ELSE would sing Silent Night. My siblings and I were more concerned with keeping the wax from dripping onto our soft, defenseless hands.

Then, after the service, we'd all pile into the car (the one time that we all called dibs on the back seats so we could huddle for warmth) and our dad would drive us around town, looking at lights and stopping at the house of the professional ice sculptor who always made something mind-blowing.

Finally, we'd get home, put out the cookies and carrots, bounce off walls like Judy Miller, and burrow under our sheets, ready for the assured amazingness awaiting us the next morning.

But eventually it all evolves. The ice sculptor moved. Our hands became callous enough for the candles. And everything became a lot less about impressing Santa and a lot more about impressing Michael, the organist's son, who sings O Holy Night every year now (and hot damn DOES HE, might I add.)

I mean, things change. Christmas is 90% childhood memories, 10% butter and 1% a pain in the ass. I think we're all in general agreement on that. And even though the traditions we keep anymore might not be exactly as we did them as children, and even though being with Joe may mean that I need to reformat Christmas at times, somehow it's all still...nice. Right down to the lame stuff, like car commercials. Because even THEY have giant red bows and happy soundtracks, and even THEY make driving through the snow feel like some kind of wonder of December.

And whether you're Jewish, Christian, Muslim or indifferent, I think anyone should want to get behind turning December--horrible, thigh-freezing December--into a miracle.