Thursday, July 31, 2008

such great heights

Last week I was at a professional conference held at Chicago's McCormick Place. If you haven't heard of it, let me say that joint is flipping ginormous. For Oreos' sake, they also host the largest auto show in North America every year. It's BIG, people.

I haven't worn high heels in quite some time, but because everyone at the conference was decked out in their most dress-for-the-job-you-want finest (and beyond), I felt the least I could do is upgrade the usual flip-flops to something a little strappier to go with my jeans. Sadly, that meant trips from one session to the next involved escalators, overhead signs and a tremendous amount of increasingly painful walking.

I was pretty cranky after day three of trekking around, building blisters upon blisters. H wanted to go to the grocery store (we walk and carry back) that night, and he sort of pshawed my complaint that I had walked six miles that day. Okay, that figure was a bit of an exaggeration, but my days of dancing all night in stilettos are long gone, and I there wasn't even any alcohol to ease the pain. So to me, the foot-ache equivalent of "windchill factor" was about six miles to every one.

Later I reminded H that I was doing all that walking on high heels and he conceded that, indeed, the shoes probably made a big difference. I don't think boys really understand what it's like to traipse around on those deathtraps for any extended period of time. Frankly, I just don't do it anymore unless there's a good reason. But here's a glimpse for anyone who hasn't had the experience: This week Jezebel posted a video in its "What it feels like for a Girl" series showing a man (who's a big stiletto advocate, btw) attempting to walk a mile in three-inch heels. The results might surprise you. Be sure to take a look at Part 2 as well.

Somebody really should determine the distance-walked to distance-walked-in-heels ratio. You know, for the record.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Snoop hits Bollywood

Yep, you read that correctly. 

New York Magazine* has a clip of some Akshay Kumar medley performance in Bangkok that includes the title song from Singh Is Kinng (I'm not sure why they spelled it that way, looks stupid if you ask me), which features some Snoop rhymes (at 1:30). The rest of the medley includes some of Kumar's other hits, like "Mast Kalandar," "Hare Ram," etc. 

Snoop is getting in on the promo action, too. Another link in the nymag story goes to a YouTube clip of Mr. D-o-double-G dressed all Punjabi style, sitting in fancy chairs with Kumar and talking about "coming to take over Bollywood." (1:20)

It really is becoming a small world. Either that or Americans are just getting wise to how much money there is to be made in the Indian film industries.

*Thanks for the tip, Jas!

Monday, July 28, 2008

sure she can nag, but you really do want mom in on the 411

Awhile back, I wrote about my brother's sudden and scary issues with bursting veins.  As he's over the age of 18 and has decided to stay down in Alabama, doctors there don't consult with my mom about what's going on with his care like the ones here did all these years. I'm all for independence, but if your mom is a nurse who in the past has caught healthcare professionals in potential mistakes and alerted them to important factors that laypeople wouldn't know enough about to point out, I'd want that mom in the loop at all times. I'm just saying.

So we got a call on Thursday saying he'd be having surgery on his left leg veins on Friday. That's all the information we got: He was going in at 9 am, and he'd call when it was over. I guess it all happened really fast after the consultation, during which the doctor was like, That vein-popping thing with blood spewing all over the place? Yeah, I can fix that, no problem. So he signed up.

Of course my mother was sick with worry. She's been unfailingly at his side for every little test and procedure for nearly 26 years (with all of us often waiting on him, hand and foot). And even though a kind friend would be there with him and even take my brother to her home after he was discharged, going through surgery really isn't the same without your mom. So this was going to be hard. Especially on my mom. 

To make it worse, while my brother was home in May for his graduation party he had an appointment with a chiropractor about back pain he's had pretty much his whole life. They found that he has scoliosis (possibly aggravated from being sawed open and pinned that way for dozens of hours at a time). They also found some other situation with his left hip. My brother has never had good luck with that left leg; it's the one with the bursty vessels, and the one he has an especially hard time bending over—he can barely put on his left sock/shoe. (But God save you if you ever offer to help him.) We thought it was because they always enter the camera for cardiac catheterization into that big vessel where his leg meets his pelvis and the immobility was probably due to all the scar tissue, but apparently there was also something going on with the bone all this time. 

Initially they thought the head of his femur was too big for the socket, which is why he's had pain walking since he started walking (he says he's never really known any different), but then a CAT scan showed there's actually a tumor there; they weren't sure it was benign, and there was a chance he had bone cancer. Yeah, as if the kid needs any more issues. Those couple of days were kind of crazy. My mom was losing it, and didn't even tell us until she got more concrete information, so she was losing it practically by herself.

But again, because she is a nurse, my mother compartmentalized her breakdown to find out if results only came back like that because of his pre-existing condition. After the doctor took a look at his complete medical history, she concluded that it's probably not a malignant tumor after all, and that my brother should just be aware of any pain he feels in that hip when he's not moving it. If that starts, then we have to look at it again.

So that was in May. The surgery last Friday seemed to have gone well. My brother called while he was high as a kite on pain medication and said he told the nurses that he was a pimp, but that no one believed him. Someone called him out on it and he said, "You're right, I'm not a pimp. I don't believe in beating on women and treating them bad." When I asked if he hit on anyone who worked there this time, he said (in what he must have thought was a whisper) "No way! None of these nurses are very good-looking." And as usual, he had no recollection of this the next day. I guess what the surgeons did was tie off one of the leg vessels at the groin and laser some other ones. Hopefully that will stop the random bleeding. My brother has been in a lot of pain (none of the painkillers they gave him have been working; he's got a high tolerance by now) but is at work today. 

I've been calling/texting to check in on him all weekend, and it sounded like things were going all right, except for the pain. But this morning I got a call from my mom that he casually called, asking what he should take because his entire body has broken out in red, itchy hives, a lot like it did after last year's bad surgery recovery when he had a severe drug allergy. After that episode last year he got very sick and it took a very long time for him to get back to normal. Later, they thought he was allergic to the tape they used on his IVs and dressings. So this time they used paper tape, and the result is upsettingly similar. I just hope it doesn't get as bad. 

Of course, when I call to check on him he says everything is fine and that he's at the office. Stubborn kid. But I am happy to know that even though she worries, he's smart enough to tell my mom what's going on. She's been ready to get on a plane within the hour all week, but my brother has another proposition:

"Mom, what will you do if you come down here? You'll just be hanging out at my house while I'm at work. Why don't you do this: If the Cubs make it to the World Series, you can fly me back home for a game."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

at least the dark knight has a sense of humor

Last night, H and I went to see The Dark Knight, which we'd been trying to get tickets for since the movie opened last Thursday. H grew up reading the comics and was trying his best to deflect any hype before he saw it, which was becoming increasingly hard because record–ticket sales stories are all over the news. But he managed, and really enjoyed the film. (If you're sensitive to that kind of hype, consider not reading the rest of this post, even though I don't really give anything away.)

As for me, I spent the movie cowering. Heath Ledger gave a fantastic performance, and leaving the theater I was pretty sure I'd be having nightmares of knives, pencils and maniacal makeup. There are some days when I'm easily scared and freak out when I see something violent (Pan's Labryinth) and other days when I turn to people around me and mock them for acting just the same way (The Ring). This was one of those scaredy times: I had my jacket over my arms and would hold it up to the bridge of my nose or higher whenever a villain had someone by the throat. This Joker is much more terrifying than anything I'd seen on the Adam West television program. And I was pretty sure he wouldn't be challenging Batman to any surfing contests.

Scary stuff aside, what I enjoyed about the movie above all else was the location. Months ago I spotted a lot of the shooting, including Lower Wacker , the old post office (on which H saw the sign GOTHAM CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT while he was on the Architectural River Tour, Franklin Street (near my old office, where they shot the Lamborghini scene), Marina City (where my boss lives), the Chicago Board of Trade building, which I walked past every day on the way to the train station (and saw several key shots in the movie, including one with dozens of bagpipers) and most of all, the ramp to Lake Shore Drive—where Batman had a very contemplative moment—which is practically outside our front door. 

Recently, a coworker told me that H looks like Christian Bale, something about the facial bone structure, etc. I brushed that off, because H just looks like H to me. He didn't see the resemblance, either. However, while we were watching the movie I sort of saw where she's coming from: there's a hint of the same longish face, the ridge of the eyebrow and the sharp cheekbones. And I can admit that the slope of the shoulders is pretty similar, too. So when we got home I was giving him crap about it. "Hey Batman, can  you do the dishes?"

His response? "What? No way. That's Robin's job."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

i'm pretty sure he's messing with me, because if not, my brain will implode

"Yeah, I don't think I'll be coming over Friday night."

"Why? Are you going straight home to suburbia?"

"My flight gets in at 4:00 and Dad gets off at 4:30. He's coming to pick me up."

"You realize that Dad works in the far northwest suburbs and it will be like 6:30 before he gets anywhere near picking you up at that time of day, right? You should just take the blue line from O'Hare downtown and have dinner with me and H. It's not like you're going to have any luggage; you're just coming home to drive your car back to Alabama, right?"

"True, but I might have to check a bag."

"Why? You won't even be in town for 24 hours!"

"I'll be carrying liquids—shampoo and stuff."

"Okay. Let me get this straight, you're coming HOME for LESS THAN A DAY and you need to bring SHAMPOO? You're coming HOME! Not some cheap motel with no complimentary cleansing products! HOME!"

"I need it."

"Can't you just put some into a smaller less-than-3-ounce bottle and carry it on?"

"I don't have a little bottle."

"Can't you GET ONE?!"


"Okay,  you know what? Just sit at the airport and wait for Dad. You could be enjoying dinner and perhaps the new Batman movie with us, but whatever."

"I did want to see that movie... Let me get back to you. I might come downtown after all."

Monday, July 14, 2008

on a first date, it's probably not a good idea to say you get relationship advice from your sister

"Hey, I have a question. It's a girl question"


"So I've been talking to this girl for awhile and we both like soccer. A few days back I had said we should catch a game sometime, and today she emails me to ask if I'm watching the Portugal vs. Germany* match. "


"I said yeah, but I didn't know where and she said we should watch it at the bar for lunch, since she has to study all day. Is this a date?"

"You were there, what do you think?"

"I didn't think so, but Mark said 'Dude, you're going on a date!' So now I'm nervous."

"Well, you suggested hanging out for a game sometime and then she offered up a specific date and time. I'd say it's a date."

"Crap! So do I offer to pay or will that be weird?"

"Hang on, let me take a poll...My consultants say that you should offer, date or not. Why don't you just say 'I got this' when the check comes. It'll be casual, but nice."

"But what if the server asks at the beginning if it's one check or two?"

"Geez Louise, why are you THINKING SO MUCH? Just say one. You're going to screw it up if you overthink it. When is this non-date date, anyway?"

"I'm driving there now."

"Hang up with me and focus on driving!"

"Okay...So do you think I should pull her chair out for her?"

"Good Lord! I don't know about all that Southern Gentleman stuff. Guys don't really do that up here. I say don't. Keep it casual. Dude, it's not like you haven't been on a date in a decade or something."

"Well, it's been four years."

"You'll be fine. Let me know how it goes."

"Okay. Thanks."

[five minutes later]

"Oh man, I just screwed it all up."

"Why are you calling me? Aren't you supposed to be on your date?"

"Yeah, I got here and I wanted to send you a text asking if I should get a table or wait for her, and instead of you, I ACCIDENTALLY SENT IT TO HER."

"That's it. You are now banished to the Friend Zone. Maybe now you can actually enjoy the game?"

"Oh my god, are you serious? Now what do I do?!?"

"RELAX! And be yourself. But I'm warning you: if you call me from your date again, I'm going to tell Mom."

*Obviously I wrote this a while back and didn't have time to post. The non-date–date went well, he paid, she said she'd pay next time. I think they're still cool; I haven't heard any updates.

Friday, July 11, 2008


As you may know, my condo is on the market. And while it's not exactly going excellently (still isn't sold), we've had pretty steady potential-buyer traffic and a few offers, ridiculous as they were (If a buyer can only afford to pay 93% of his/her cash offer up front and promises the last 7% in five years, why the hell wouldn't s/he try to buy a home that's the 7% cheaper outright instead of toying with us?). We love the place; it's small but cute, and located in the juiciest, most touristy section of downtown Chicago. It also happens to be across the river from my former employer. The reason we're selling is because it is no longer affordable—three layoffs between the two of us, working part-time, taking a less-lucrative chance on a startup that will hopefully pay better later, the craptastic job market, the even more craptastic housing market and starting over across the country has put a pretty ginormous crack in the old nest egg. And from what my realtor says, the reason it's having any trouble selling is because people could get more space for the same price if they're willing to travel about 2 miles out of the way. So much for that awesome return I was expecting on the prime location.

So we're biding our time. And streamlining. Cutting nonessential expenses, being extremely choosy about attending events and cooking every meal at home. It's going pretty well, but tricky when you don't have an extravagant lifestyle to trim from and are fussy with your spending habits to start with. Of course I'm sweating over it—worrying is my favorite pastime, after all—and obsessing about streamlining takes up all hours not spent concentrating on work or watching several episodes of The Office in a row (Thanks, Apple, for making Netflix's View Instantly unlimited). 

This streamlining business has spilled over to all other aspects of life: cleaning out the pantry, tearing out what's interesting and recycling old magazines, storing work files in a more efficient way and reorganizing email labels in my five accounts. That last one includes all the posts I had up before Blogger labeled posts/comments emails with the post title, so I have hundreds of them personally tagged with titles. Getting rid of them one by one is making my head spin, but it takes my mind off the worry. In the process, I get to look back over all the stuff I wrote back when my life was so completely different, consisting of searching for parking (don't even have my car anymore), commuting three hours a day (now it's a 15-minute walk), talking on the phone with H (now he's usually in the same room) and not having a social life (well, not everything has changed very much).

Looking back at two tons of comments over the years is a reminder of  how supportive you guys are and that you always give great advice. Got any tips for streamlining/putting my mind at ease? I found a gray hair last week, and I could really do without finding any more.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Somebody let the Auntie Patrol into Ogilvy & Mather

Check out this commercial*, Kabhi Kabhi Pyar Mein, for Pond's "whitening" cream featuring Indian actors Priyanka Chopra, Saif Ali Khan and Neha Dhupia. It's the first of a several-part "novella." Here is the entire commercial series (as configured for another region in Asia).

I remember Aunties suggesting we use Fair and Lovely "fairness" cream in junior high so we wouldn't get "too dark" from hanging out in the pool. That stuff is just jasmine-scented sunscreen/moisturizer, but I bought into the hype back then. I feel lame about being shamed into using it. 

Sadly, this prejudice is still going so strong that they have entire soap opera about how much harder life is for the "darker" girl and how unfair it is. My mom watches it. While it's good that people in India are being shown how backwards and archaic these stereotypes are in mainstream soaps, it's sad that this kind of stuff is taking place in present tense.

*via the comments to a post about something even more ridiculous on

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

nothing says "Good Luck" like Underoos

As you may recall, a month ago my brother came home for a visit. He's decided to stay in Alabama, and he started his first *real* job last week. (Kiss those long school holidays goodbye, kid!)

While he was in town, my parents threw him a graduation dinner at a local pizza joint. To be perfectly honest, I think it was more of a party for them; the guest list was severely tipped in their favor. However, my brother got to choose the invitations, which he picked up at the party outlet store, that read COME TO MY LINGERIE PARTY!

I didn't make that up.

We had about 50 people on the list, most of whom are colleagues and friends of our parents (and some of whom are on the Auntie Patrol) and they each received a hand-written pink invite in the shape of a lacy camisole. My brother is the only person I know in real life who can get away with shenanigans like that. He will shrug his shoulders, smirk and hand you a card that says HAPPY BAR MITZVAH for your birthday or one with LA ABUELA MÁS FABULOSA on Father's Day. Somehow it works for him; people find it absolutely hilarious. I couldn't get away with it. I guess that charm gene must have skipped over me and given him a double dose.

So what did the guests do when they got those invites besides laugh? Poetic justice: They brought him skivvies.

There were Jockey shorts, lacy panties and even a sparkly thong with rhinestones that spelled out "Fabulous." And my mom's friend made a delicious half-chocolate/half–vanilla-and-strawberry cake in the shape of a bra and panties in my brother's school colors. But the best gift of all was from his long-time nurse, who has seen him through various surgery recoveries since he was in junior high. She made a long trip to be there and brought her four-year-old son. And she presented the new grad with a tiny pair of Underoos and a card estimating they're probably pretty close to my brother's size with a post script apologizing because they are used.

My mom gave a sweet speech in which she named nearly everyone in the room individually and thanked them for being there for us all these years: canceling work meetings to come and donate blood for my brother's surgeries, bringing food and hugs and prayers to the hospital, picking up slack for her so she could stay with him in the hospital for weeks at a time and letting her cry on their shoulders. She had nearly everyone in the room wiping their eyes.

It was a lovely party. We all felt pretty proud of the kid and I think all the guests had a good chuckle watching him open package after package of ridiculous underwear. But don't feel too bad for the little brat—along with all the undies, he got a fancy used car from my parents.

Friday, July 04, 2008

catching up with cadiz: wrigley field

For those of you wondering where the heck I've been, I apologize. Things have been mighty busy, and there have been dozens of posts that have been drafted and dumped because they didn't get posted in a timely manner. Here is one I thought I could salvage, even though I don't remember a lot of the details now. More posts to come, hopefully soon.

When my brother was in town (at the end of May, which feels like a million years ago), H and I took him and his roommate, Mark, to Wrigley Field for a tour.

The marquee (I remember it best from that flashback in Sleepless in Seattle).

The view from Waveland, near where everyone stands around in hopes of catching a ball.

The Chicago Bears played at Wrigley until 1970 and it's been used for soccer (Chicago Sting), concerts and they even had a ski-jump competition.

Originally it housed 14,000 fans and now can seat up to 41,000. We were a little mesmerized about how weird it looked all empty like this.

The place was the first to have an organ (the original is now in the Hall of Fame).

It's also the first baseball field where they allowed fans to keep foul balls as souvenirs.

No one has ever hit the scoreboard--with a baseball. Sam Snead hit it with a golf ball, teeing off from home plate.

If you look closely, home plate and the pitcher's mound don't line up with the "400" sign in center field. When they wanted to add seats, they cut left field and rolled it all back. The pitcher's mound now is where home plate used to be.

AC006299: "After Championship, it's been zero years since their last division championship, it's been 62 years since they won the pennant and it's been 99 years since they last won the World Series. The latin roughly translates to "Let's go Cubs."

People hang out on rooftops during games, too. Sometimes they light up that spinning Harry Caray wheel.

We got to sit in the pressbox. It's a real nice view.

Radio booth, where they might possibly sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch. Or not. I don't remember.

We got to go into the locker rooms. This one's for visitors.

This is how you're supposed to wear the uniform.

Don't forget your bats, either.

Professional athletes need a LOT of products to look good on the field. And this was the visiting bathroom.

Squint and you'll see a wedding party. Apparently people like to have their photos taken at Wrigley. (Sounds like something my brother would want).

We went on the tour right before the Dodgers/Cubs series at the end of May, and we went to a couple of games. H got a bunch of shots of himself with this dodgers round identifier thingy. It's huge; this photo is from the pressbox. (And I've been informed that it's called the "on-deck circle.")

When we were at the game the next day, these cute old guys would entertain the crowd with their impromptu band.

H caught Derrek Lee's home run. (In fact, he took most of these photos--the good ones, at least.)

Personally, I go to ballgames for the hot dogs and beer. And the peoplewatching.

The Dodgers didn't fare too well in that series. They got swept, and Murphy's Bleachers rubbed it in. Sorry, H. But at least they made a grammatical mistake in their rush to gloat.

The famous ivy.