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Oh, so much to say, so little time.  First of all, the contest winner.  After throwing participants’ names into a Starbucks mug–coffee keeps me balanced–I’m happy to announce the winner is…Marissa!  I’ll send along your prize just as soon as I get it from Nilsa.  Um, cause I left it in her car…long story.

In other news, maybe it’s because My Guy is in Puerto Rico this week, but I began contemplating summer, and my lack of sandals.  So I ordered some online from my new favorite site Endless.  Why favorite you may ask?  Because they offer free, overnight shipping on select items.  And that included both pairs of sandals I got.  They arrived Wednesday, promptly in time for the snow we received.  Sigh, a reminder that it is, in fact, still February and there are still a good two months or so moving forward before I can actually wear said sandals.

This past weekend was a reunion weekend of sorts for me. On Saturday night, I met up with an old friend from high school that I was happily able to reconnect with thanks to Facebook and our reunion. This is how I know she and I really are friends despite being out of touch for almost a decade: we sat in a bar talking and laughing about the past and present for four hours. Then, on Sunday I met up with a college friend in town for dinner.  We laughed and talked and enjoyed half-price sushi.  Yum!

This week is work, work, work, capped with a movie on Monday (thank you work for giving us President’s Day off) and martini night on Thursday.  Oh, it also entailed a cold.  I’m hoping it’s planning on leaving soon.

And how are all of you?  Anyone else ready to purchase some sandals?

About 12 years ago, I stopped eating red meat.  If it bleeds when you cook it or resembles blood in anyway, I don’t want to eat it (which is also why I don’t like to eat beets–they look like blood and taste terrible, gag).  For a while I stopped eating poultry.  And so, when it came cookout time I first turned towards veggie burgers.  I like a good veggie burger, but they just don’t taste the same.  And I needed some protein.  And there it was…soy.

And so I tried Boca burgers.  (Disclaimer: Boca is a client of my company)  Mmmmm, Boca burgers.  As far as I’m concerned they taste like a real burger (I don’t really remember what a hamburger tastes like any more, or a steak).  I’ve heard their chicken patties are to die for as well.  Every summer I stock up on Boca burgers for the grilling season.  And, they are also good crumbled on a salad.  So, imagine my delight when I got to attend a Boca-sponsored event all about balanced living.

I attended with the ever-fabulous Nilsa of SoMi, and got to see other fabulous blogger pals. And in honor of healthy, balanced living we sampled Boca burgers, yummy side salads, and were treated to manis, pedis and massages, plus tips on healthy, balanced living. I think pampering is definitely part of a balanced life. It’s just about treating yourself well, treating others well.

And speaking of treats, Boca supplied a most excellent goodie bag that I am now gifting to a commenter. It contains, among other things, a yoga mat, a day planner and a relaxing CD. So leave me a comment about how you live a balanced life. All participants get their name in a hat and one lucky winner’s name is coming out of that hat. What are you waiting for? Comment away…

Good Night, Travel Well

It’s been a while, no?  I said in my last post, that for once I wanted to just  experience what I was experiencing.  To live it, but not feel like I had to write about it.  But blogging is a part of my life.  I couldn’t stay away too long.

So here it is: I’ve been dating someone for about a month.  And things are going really well. Really, really well.  Our first date was everything you want a first date to be.  Well, everything I want a first date to be.  We talked and laughed for two hours, until we closed down a coffee shop.  And then he walked me home.  Things moved from there.  And here we are.  I’m quite the smitten kitten.

So, this weekend, My Guy is leaving for a much-deserved and overdue vacation.  I won’t lie: I’ll miss him.  But  I’m happy for him to get to go somewhere with his friends and have a break in the sun.

This traveling brought to mind some of my trips in life.  When I was younger, I decided I wanted to visit all 50 states.  I thought it would be so cool to say I had been to them all.  Hey, cool as a kid is different than it is as an adult.

Anyway, I never made it to all 50 states, but I made it to quite a few.  And I had some interesting experiences in those states.  So, I present a list of interesting travel stories from yours truly.  Enjoy.

Alabama: I’ve never been to Alabama…starting off well, aren’t we?
Alaska: Ditto Alaska.  hmmmmm.
Arizona: Another state that has not been graced with the presence of Cheryl
Arkansas: I think Arkansas was more or less a “drive through it” state.  And Maybe we stopped for gas or a McDonald’s.  I’m beginning to think this exercise wasn’t a good idea after all…
California: A few years ago, my mom took my sister and me to Disneyland.  We stayed in Anaheim, flew through LAX.  No offense, but LA did not impress me.  San Diego did.  It was gorgeous down there.  My mom said she just might retire to San Diego.  I said I’d come visit.
Colorado: When I was 12 or 13 we went to Colorado and I don’t really remember it all that well.  Lately, visiting Kendra in Denver have been two really great trips.  Always filled with sushi, vodka, mountains and laughs.  I love Denver.
Connecticut: I lost a tooth in Connecticut.  No really.  We stopped there to have lunch, just so I could say I’d been there.  Well, I was 11 or so and had this molar coming out, but it hadn’t released fully.  I took my first bite of food, felt my tongue pushing against the tooth and had to excuse myself.  Wherein I went into the restroom at the Friendly’s, stood in front of the mirror and plucked out my molar.  An hour later, it was goodbye CT.
Delaware: I used to drive through Delaware between Philadelphia and DC, but there wasn’t much to report…hi, we’re in Delaware…
Florida: When I was 8, we took that magical trip every kid dreams of: Disney World, Sea World, Busch Gardens, the beach.  I took my first plane ride to Florida and I remember gross food and upon our return we exited via rolling stairs right onto the Tarmac.  MSP has since upgraded their Humphrey terminal to include jetways.  I’ve been back twice to Miami/Ft. Lauderdale to depart on my cruises.
Georgia: Once again, a place I have not been.
Hawaii: Hello, dream vacay.  Again, never been
Idaho: Nada here
Illinois: Yeah so I’ve lived here for going on six years.  I have way too many stories to tell.  In fact, see the entirety of this blog for Illinois, ok?
Indiana: I’ve been a few times.  The first time we stayed at a terrible hotel in Gary.  Although it was not the most horrible hotel we found ourselves in on a family vacation.  That prize goes to…Mississauga, Ontario.  Where my mother actually said the words “We can’t stay here, I don’t know if these sheets have been laundered” and where, as an adult I now have complete confidence the rooms went by the hour, if you know what I’m saying.  I’d also like to clarify that upon seeing the room and its sheets my family did NOT stay at that hotel, but hightailed it to a different Toronto suburb and nice clean, comfy Choice Hotel.  And why we were in Toronto, I still don’t know. But Gary, oh Gary.  You are quite the town and so was your hotel.  The first time I remember being less than pleased by an overnight stay.
Iowa: When I was 14, my mom and dad and I went to Iowa and saw the Field of Dreams.  I was 14 so I’m sure I was all “OMG this is so uncool.”  But that movie now always makes me think of my dad–who loved baseball, who loved that movie–so now that he’s gone, and despite all the BS that went on between us, I’m happy we went.
Kansas: We drove through Kansas once, and holy flatness.  I remember the fields of wheat waving like the ocean.  And yet, so land-locked, quite dry.
Kentucky: Um, once again a drive-through state.  Not much to report on Kentucky.  Sorry Blue Grass state!
Louisiana: Have not been
Maine: On a trip to the east coast, we drove up to Maine and stopped in a trading post to peruse Maine-y type stuff.  We did not eat lobster.  What the hell is wrong with us?
Maryland: I looked at apartments in Maryland–near Silver Spring–when I thought I might move to the DC area.  I also hit Maryland on those trips to DC and still remember the looooong tunner under the harbor in Baltimore.  Good times.
Massachusetts: On that east coast trip, we hit Boston.  I loved all the history and the red stripe on the sidewalk that took us to the historical sites.  I also remember seeing Cheers.  Here’s the thing.  Back then anyway, you didn’t get to go to the actual bar unless you were drinking and 21.  Otherwise you had to go to that Bull & Finch restaurant and see T-shirts.  My dad knew I wanted to see the bar (I used to watch Cheers reruns during my summer vacations) so somehow he conviced the bouncers to let him take me in, and straight through to the back door.  I remember darkness, smoke, noise and a huge crowd.
Michigan: Oh Michigan.  I’ve really only driven this state.  But I do remember seeing gas for $.98/gallon at one point.  Ah, memories.
Minnesota: Grew up there, dontcha know?
Mississippi: Once again, I believe Mississippi entailed a gas stop.
Missouri: I’ve been to Kansas City (saw a baseball game) and St. Louis (saw the arch) and Hannibal, Mark Twain’s hometown.  I couldn’t stop picturing that when I read Huckleberry Finn in high school.
Montana: Nada
Nebraska: Ironically, I missed Nebraska.  I went around it, never into it.
Nevada: Oh how I’d love a Las Vegas weekend.  Alas, I have not been to Nevada
New Hampshire: I fell in a river in New Hampshire.  In the Washington Mountains. I decided to wade in.  Well a slippery rocky and a strong current meant that river swept me off my feet–literally.  It was a long, wet drive back to Boston.
New Jersey: Oh New Jersey.  You do get picked on don’t you?  I’ve been through NJ many times.  I went to Atlantic City once–um, I think it’s seen better days.  Cause damn.  Also went to Six Flags there in college.  We went on a day where it was only open to a few groups, which resulted in being able to go on one roller coaster three times in a row.  We didn’t get off the ride, just stayed in our seats and went again.  That was a great time.
New Mexico: So, the Southwest is like a black hole to me…never been here.
New York: I’ve been to upstate New York: Buffalo and Niagara Falls, Rochester and the Finger Lakes for my friend’s wedding, Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and I’ve been to NYC many times.  The first time I went I had to run from the Port Authority to a theater to see Chicago, then had a slice of pizza (mmmmmm) and then saw Times Square before heading back to Philadelphia.  It was quite the trip.
North Carolina: Another black hole is that portion of the east coast south of Virginia and north of Florida…never been here.
North Dakota: I’ve been but there’s not much to say about it.  Sorry ND.  I was in Fargo briefly and, yeah…
Ohio: I’ve driven through Ohio many a-times (there is no other way to get from Minnesota to Pennsylvania, really) and one time we stopped in Cleveland to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The museum is awesome.  The Hall of Fame?  Well, let’s just say I’ve been to many a Hall of Fame–Baseball, US Hockey–and I didn’t even know I was in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame til I left it.  Hall to me means big hall–large open room.  Not hallway.  I wasn’t impressed with that part of it.
Oklahoma: Nope
Oregon: Nada
Pennsylvania: Went to college here for two years.  Many stories to tell.  In fact, I belive Pennsylvania is the first place I got drunk.  That’s right.  In fact one time I got so drunk I banged my head, started crying (even though it didn’t hurt cause hello booze) and then sat in the dorm bathroom crying to a friend “I don’t want to throw up!  I don’t want to throw up!”  I didn’t.  But oh the headache the next day.
Rhode Island: I went to Newport and saw the disgusting displays of old money in those “summer homes.”  I also had fresh seafood, saw a lot of ships and enjoyed the seaside town.  And ice cream.
South Carolina: Try again later
South Dakota: You know the typical stuff: Corn Palace, Mt. Rushmore.  Erin lived in Sioux Falls for a bit so I visited a couple of times.  Oh, and I got sick in Rapid City.  Like delay the family vacation sick.
Tennessee: We went to Nashville and Memphis.  I remember Nashville as being gorgeous.  With beautiful flowers and scenery.  And the Grand Ol’ Opry.  I remember Memphis as cloudy but we did see Graceland, and the Pebody Hotel with the ducks (geese? swans?  Help me out).  And the Lorraine Hotel, where MLK was shot.  Talk about a place having a pervading feeling to it.
Texas: This is probably the most ironic of all the states I haven’t been to, because I root for Texas (Hook ‘Em Horns), especially in football season.  Why?  Cause I went to a D3, all-female school.  And didn’t have a team to root for.  The Texas fans adopted me.  Yee-haw!
Utah:  Um, as far as going to Utah is concerned: Fail.
Vermont: Another state I somehow just kind of missed.
Virginia: My experience with Virginia is entirely DC-related: Arlington, Falls Church, etc.  I have a friend who lives in Arlington and have visited her a few times, more-so in or directly after college.  I liked it there, I haven’t ventured much further away.
Washington: This was my first non-parents trip.  The summer before my senior year, my friend Anna and I went (with my sister) to Seattle to “check out colleges.”  Other than the University of Washington, we didn’t spend too much time at the colleges.  We spent way more time on the water front, at touristy places, eating and drinking coffee (as there was a Starbucks every 12 feet).  Loved it.
West Virginia: My route to college included about 30 minutes in West Virginia and the city of Wheeling.  It was very picturesque, though brief.  It wasn’t long after leaving Ohio that you were in Pennsylvania.
Wisconsin: Oh Wisconsin.  Bane of my existence when I must drive home.  Land of “Are We There Yet.”  Also of cheese, fireworks and porn.  I’ve been to Wisconsin many times.  My grandmother lived there (on my father’s side) and every year we went to the rutabaga festival.  The often overlooked, but valiant veggie (?).  Oh yeah, plus there’s the Wisconsin Dells…
Wyoming: Drove through it.  Stopped for lunch with some of the worst service.  Saw a lot of open spaces.  It’s also the first (perhaps only) state I saw post a population of “4” on the town’s sign.  For real.

Check In

I haven’t been the best blogger of late.  Because things?  Are going great.

Personally, professionally, things are awesome.

So awesome, that I’ve been busy.  And this one time, I don’t want to write about it.  I just want to experience it.

So excuse my silence.  But know all is well.  Really, really well.

I now present, my thoughts on the news of late.

Sarah Palin: Please go away.  And while you’re going, look up “accountability” in the dictionary. It’s just as much your that you came across as an ignorant fool.   And also, yes the world doesn’t center on Katie Couric.  It also doesn’t center on Sarah Palin.

Ann Coulter: Please, please go away.  The world doesn’t center on Katie Couric, Sarah Palin, or Ann Coulter.  Thank God.  I thought Sarah Palin gave women a bad name but you take the cake.

This one is for the male readers.  Yes, all two of you.  Some girl in San Diego is auctioning off her virginity and it’s now going for $3.7 million.  So guys, what’s the draw of bedding a virgin that would drive someone to pay $3.7 million for it?

Blagojevich: OMG go away!  Stop making this, my adopted state, the nation’s laughing stock.  For real.

Alberta, Canada: Please take your clipper back.  Like I said previously, I’m so  over winter.  PS>Did you all to the north have a holiday today, or do you just not answer your phones during business hours?

Who’s sick of winter? 

You can’t see it, but my hand is up in the air.  Well, not really.  I mean, come on.  But what’s real is this.  On Friday night into Saturday until about 5:00 it came down here in Chicago.  Our forecasted two to four inches turned out to be more like eight.  Can I just say, thank god I have four-wheel drive, or I’d be eating stale crackers or something.  I should know better than to let the food supply dwindle in the winter.

Thankfully it stopped in time to actually meet some friends for a night of drinks.  Well drinks for them.  I’m detoxing.  Until Friday anyway.  That’s when I’m going to a place called Martini Park.  And if you think I’m going somewhere called Martini Park and not having at least one martini, you don’t know me very well.

Chicago currently sits in the midst of a blizzard warning.  Ack!  That’s going to add another who knows how much snow to the mix.  And also, it’s supposed to be something like -9 F later this week.  Oy.  It makes it hard to keep a date, have the dinner with friends you’d planned or celebrate a birthday, that’s for sure.

Winter, I’m so over you! You’re really cramping my style.

If you want to get me riled up, go after my blog. It is personal. I try to give it some depth, to refrain from being “surfacey.” And even though sometimes I regret something I wrote and wonder about whether or not to blog, the fact is, it’s a part of me. I’ve only ever tried to be genuinely myself on here, because it’s an expression of me. Diss it, diss me.

Which is why, a comment on my most recent post pissed me off. Not only because it was rude and out of line, but because it came from a family member. A cousin on my dad’s side of the family. Admittedly, I haven’t had a lot of contact with that side of the family since he died. Hell, I didn’t have a lot of contact with them before that. There was clearly something going on there. But that isn’t important. What is important is this: a few months ago I realized that family, other than my mom and sister, had found the blog. But I took it in stride. It’s publicly posted and this is par for the course.

But to suddenly get a comment like this, from someone, I can’t even remember the last time I spoke to, is too much. He was completely out of line and harshly judged me for no damn reason. So Matt, this is all I have to say:

You’ve had enough of this? Fine with me. If you’ve had enough of this, then don’t fucking read it any more! I’m going to assume no one is up there in Milwaukee with a gun to your head, forcing you to read my blog. I won’t miss you if you stop reading. Perfect solution for us both, really.

On mortgages: Thirty-year olds might not own a house, but to say NO ONE owns a house is a stretch. My mom owns her house. That’s what happens when you PAY OFF THE MORTGAGE. I’m sure wealthy people and people whose houses have been in the family for generations own the house. Nothing like hyperbole though.

On wine: I’ll get where? Seriously, this isn’t the only time you haven’t made the most sense in your comment but whatever. And I do like a generous glass of wine. I’m half-Italian, after all.

On uncles: I’m aware my uncle, your dad, is dead. I was at his funeral.

On musical taste: Once again, do I give a fuck? If my blog or taste in music is painful to you, GO AWAY!

I ain’t cool? How the hell would you know? You don’t know ANYTHING about me. You probably don’t even know my middle name or my birthday, or where I went to school or what I do for a living. Which is fine. I don’t know much about you in that respect either. Since I don’t know you, I will not offer any commentary on whether or not you are now, or used to be, cool. Although your comment? Pretty uncool.

And yes, I know your mom reads this. So does your sister MP. They have let me know they read it, in nicer ways than this. If you feel the need to lash out at the family, I can actually understand that.  But why you’d choose the youngest cousin on that side of the family, whom you haven’t seen or spoken to in 15 years, is beyond me.  Hopefully though, since you’ve had enough and find the experience of this blog so painful, you’ve realized by now that you don’t need to be here.