Monday, February 28, 2011

Just a *little* weird

Annie over at the Wattlebird blog wrote about how weird she is, and I thought I’d follow suit. Here are 6 strange/possibly interesting things you probably don’t know about me:


1. When I’m at work, I must open my Outlook first so it’s on the far left on my lower toolbar. If I ever accidentally close my Outlook while other programs are open, I’ll close all other programs so that when I open Outlook again, it’ll be on the far left. Mainly, this is because I use Outlook so heavily that I like to be able to go directly to it without having to search too much.


2. I have little tapping & touching quirks. For example, if I step on a sidewalk crack with one foot, I need to step on another crack, with the other foot, at the same spot on my foot. I.E. if it’s my toes that touch the crack on my right foot, I need my left toes to touch the next crack. If I attempt to make my toes touch the next crack, and instead touch it with the middle of my foot – now I STILL need to touch a crack with my left toes and now I ALSO have to touch a crack with the middle of my RIGHT foot. I don’t really have to think about this too much, I just kind of do it automatically. If something prevents me from finishing this little . . . whatever it is . . . I don’t flip out or anything. But I have a slight feeling of “something is unfinished” for a while. I also do strange finger tapping and rubbing (I rub patterns on my fingernails with my other fingers) and it all has to even out.


3. I often think of seriously morbid and horrific things happening, all around and to me. For example, as I cross a bridge on the way to work, I think, “What if someone came up behind me and just pitched me into the freezing river?” and I think about how I hope I won’t panic but will force myself to swim to the edge before the water makes my muscles freeze up. Or maybe I should just try to float on my back. But my heavy coat and shoes might make that difficult, so should I take them off so I’m more bouyant, or will I freeze faster that way? I imagine being kidnapped, run over by cars, trapped in fires, driving off cliffs, being impaled, all kinds of stuff like that. Now, before you advise me to seek professional help, understand that I don’t WANT any of those things to happen. But I do imagine them, very matter-of-factly. I like to be prepared, you know? Don’t park next to vans.


4. I have a lot of conflicting and contradictory beliefs and attitudes:

a. I believe a lot of conspiracy theories and I really don’t trust many people in power. I fully expect high-ranking people of all organizations and societies to be involved in some really evil stuff. I teach my kids that if they’re lost, to first look for someone who looks like a mom – not to try and find a police officer or other uniformed person. At the same time, I have an old-school outlook on parenting, respect for elders and authority and position. My Dad’s a cop and a good one.

b. I believe in hard work, personal responsibility and looking past your crappy circumstances to find something better to hope for and work towards. I am not very sympathetic to people who can’t seem to handle every day life. At the same time, when I consider a person to have suffered disadvantages in their upbringing, I am quick to excuse their poor choices and behavior and point to the big bad system who has done them wrong and taken away their access to doing things the right way.


5. I often turn dark purple when speaking in front of groups. Even with people I’m very comfortable with and have spoken in front of a bazillion times before. Even when it’s just discussing something during a work meeting. You can always tell if I’m embarrassed, upset or flustered by something – my face will be purple.


6. I am completely fascinated with Colonial/Pioneer/Amish/Mennonite cultures. Basically if you had to make something out of a rock or a tree to get by, I am interested in hearing your story. Also, I found out that an ancestor of mine helped found Germantown in Philadelphia. It’s a Quaker/Mennonite area, and happens to be where the abolition movement in the U.S. began. Yay! Run and get Colonial House and Frontier House from your local library or Netflix. I guarantee you will both want to go through those experiences, and realize that your romantic notions of those eras are very unrealistic!

So – are you strange, too?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dance Party Friday!

I almost forgot to post DPF! I'm sorry, blog friends. We need DPF, right? I do, for sure. There's no real theme today, just stuff I love to jump around to.

I first heard this song in the movie, "Dance With Me" and HAD to find out what it was. I have no idea what the Portuguese lyrics say, but I've listened to it enough times that I can lip-sync it pretty well.

This song I heard when watching the movie, "Bend It Like Beckham". Funny - the video comments are full of people who, like me, heard it in the movie and then googled the heck out of it, but kept being lead to some other song. I was so happy to finally find this!

This is one of my favorite songs by my very favorite band. Daaaaamn, funky boss! GET OFF MAH BACK!

My favorite song by the now-defunct yet ever-awesome White Stripes. (I know I'm supposed to think Meg's sparse style is amazing but really I just think Jack White has talent out the hoo-ha).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chicago Politics: Post-Racial?

Yesterday was election day in Chicago (surely in other places as well) and a couple of the election results were historic. The biggest newsmaker was the election of Rahm Emanuel as our new Mayor. Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the U.S., so the person in the Mayor’s seat has a great deal of responsibility and power. Chicago is known for its corrupt politics . . . I’ve said that in a system so corrupt, you can’t survive and operate without being a part of or at the very least allowing corruption. We’ll see if any of that changes under Rahm (which is what people call him, by the way – not Emanuel – even his campaign signs say RAHM in large letters, where most campaigns emphasize the candidate’s last name).

Rahm Emanuel and his RAHM FOR MAYOR sign.

Rahm’s election was historic in a couple of ways. First, he’s not a Daley!

Richard J. Daley

Richard J. Daley was the Mayor of Chicago from 1955 until 1976, when he died. His story is very interesting, you can read the highlights here. He was the Mayor who held the second-longest term in Chicago – his son, Richard M. Daley beat him – he was Mayor from 1989 until . . . well, he’s still our Mayor. Rahm will take over for him in May. Learn more about him here.

Richard M. Daley

Second, Rahm is Jewish – he will be Chicago’s first Jewish Mayor. He’s also spent time as Obama’s Chief of Staff, as an advisor to Clinton, and as a congressman. His entire family is interesting, but you might enjoy the fact that Jeremy Piven’s character in Entourage is based on Rahm’s brother Ari, who is an agent in Hollywood.

Another historic election result was Chicago’s first Indian-American alderman (alderman are kind of like neighborhood Mayors), Ameya Pawar, who works at Northwestern University.

Ameya Pawar

He notably ran as an Independent and is only going to accept a $60K salary rather than the standard $110K salary offered to aldermen, and will only serve 2 terms. You can read more about his plans as alderman here.

This article details why Pawar’s win was surprising, and gives you an idea of the cronyism that persists in Chicago politics. I’m having issues with the quote at the end of the article – no one from the neighborhood is from Chicago? Said by a woman from “good Chicago Polish stock”? (FYI, Chicago has the 2nd largest concentration of Polish people in the world – Warsaw has the 1st). I’m definitely one to understand frustration at gentrification, but I hate the implication that is given by tying this quote to a story about the first Indian-American alderman. He’s from the Chicago area yet the implication is that he’s not really from Chicago. Because he’s suburban? Or because he’s Indian?

The reason I began writing this entry is because last night, a newsanchor covering these stories noted that because people of all races voted for Rahm, and because an Indian-American defeated an Irish candidate in a traditionally old-Chicago ward, we are now living in a “post-racial Chicago” . . . Obama’s election was also referenced.

I’m sorry, but we are hardly post-racial. Chicago is an incredibly diverse city – ethnically, racially, socioeconomically. I’m sure we have someone from every corner of the world here. Yes - wards that have traditionally voted for one race or ethnicity voted for non-traditional candidates yesterday – and that’s awesome. But Chicago is also an extremely segregated city, and poverty is greatest in Chicago’s “brownest” neighborhoods. I don’t think we’ll ever live in a post-racial world, country or city, but saying things like this just gives everyone an excuse to stop working toward improvement.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Featured Artist: Additions

This weekend my local Etsy team met again to finalize our mission, our committees, our plans for our web presence, workshops, logo and more! I’m very excited about our team – we have over a hundred members, and 20-30 of them are very active. They all have different expertise and are already adding so much energy and creativity to our team. WE ARE GONNA TAKE OVER THE WORLD, Y’ALL.

I thought I’d begin featuring some of my team member’s shops, and today will be the first feature!

Valerie from Additions creates recycled, wearable hardware. I love the look of her jewelry – it’s . . . approachable industrial! Though she uses hardware materials, her jewelry is still really warm and classy.

She also has a blog! It’s one that any creative person – especially those who have a creative business – will love. She writes about art, the creative process, business tips, her shop and more! Check out her Facebook page, to get more updates!

Here are some of my favorite items of hers:

Your shop is great, Valerie! I’m glad we’re teammates. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Dance Party Friday!

Ok, peoples. Today's dance party is gonna be mellow and fantastic. Prepare to be all funked up.

My husband and I were big Chris Rock Show fans back in the early 2000s and we have a few old VHS tapes full of the musical performances from his show. This was easily our most-watched performance. Note Angie Stone and Anthony Hamilton on backup vocals (killing it!), Pino Pallidino on bass and Questlove on drums.

Known for her indie-pop, Feist can also get down. I love this song. And the video features a gorgeous shot of the Chicago skyline.

Michael's Jackson's best song in a very long time, though it didn't get much radio play. It was written by Andre Harris (awesome Philly neo-soul producer) as well as one of the ladies from the group Floetry (who you should totally check out).

And now it's time for everyone to groan because it's so easy to hate this dude. Nevertheless, this song is crazy good.

Here's the most recent of any of these songs - sleeper hit! Very simple but don't mistake that for emptiness . . .

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Office

I work full-time in higher education in downtown Chicago. I work in Academic Affairs, which is the department that handles academic policy – everything from instructor pay scales when chairing student dissertations to being the final word on student dismissals for academic reasons. We probably handle a broader range of issues than most AA departments do, but we’re a relatively young and small institution and that means a few people do a lot of work! It’s not the sort of work I ever imagined myself doing, but I love it. I also love that my school’s mission and core values are firmly about providing resources to the underserved.

Anyway – here’s a quick look into (some of) where I spend my time at work.

office wall

My laptop and ginormous extra screen. I have photos of friends, family and stuff I think is pretty.


Note, below my phone – that yellow thing is a button you can push – like the Easy button – and it yells “OFF WITH YOUR HEAD!” (a gift from a co-worker – funny story, someone bought a bunch of those on a trip and packed them in their carry-on bag on the flight home. The bag was stored in the overhead compartment and was bouncing around, making the buttons go off over and over again. There were also buttons that yelled, “I’M SURROUNDED BY IDIOTS” – ha!). And next to the yellow button is my precious – my trackball mouse. I loooooove it.

office wall 2

The other side of my desk is just a holding ground for tons of paperwork. I also always have about 5 cups or bottles on my desk. The 2 Starbucks cups there are what I warmed up my soup in, for lunch. I never remember to bring a bowl. The bamboo was a gift from my boss. Next to it you might see a small mortar and pestle – a gift from a co-worker who went to Greece. There is also a jar of Ethiopian coffee and a bookmark from Istanbul (not Constantinople), and the scarf draped over that chair is from India. All gifts from co-workers who go awesome places and bring me stuff. One day, I will go someplace awesome. That print on the wall is from IKEA, it shows a dock leading to a lake. This is my “window”. Oh, next to the mortar and pestle you may see my Schruteformer. What’s a Schruteformer, you ask?


This is a Schruteformer. The co-worker who went to Greece hosts Stitch N Bitch at her house and last time I went, I took my 3 year old. He brought the transformer, we forgot it there, she brought it to my office, and it never made its way home because I always step on them with my bare feet. I also had the wonderful Dwight Schrute stressball that usually sits on top of the mortar & pestle (which holds mints and chocolates). So the other day while a few people were in my office chatting, one of them went to work to make the Schruteformer. I wasn’t paying attention and got a good laugh when I noticed it later. That’s scotch tape holding his head on.

office wall 3

Totally boring pic, showing the black sweater I wear when I’m cold, my really nice red hooded coat that I got at the thrift store for $5 and my Klimt/Van Gogh prints on the wall opposite my photo collage. The cardboard has big post-it paper that you stick on the wall and write on, with words like “synergy” and “multi-faceted”.

office wall 4

My filing cabinet covered in funny magnets and my bookshelf full of junk. Note the poor fern or whatever it is on top of the filing cabinet. I occasionally remember to water it and leave in my boss’s window over the weekend. I really need to clean up those shelves, they’re an eyesore.


This is the hallway outside my office. Pretty cool, huh?

we are the world

This is me when I visited a co-worker yesterday (the one who is going to help me with all my logo revision stuff, yay!!). She has awesome Chicago Bears headphones so I pretended to be in the recording studio, singing something in a really heartfelt manner. Think “We Are The World”.

my view

Downtown lights + bodies of water = Chicago beautifulness. This is the view from the bridge about 50 feet from my office. I get to look at this as I walk to the train station, every night after work. As pretty as this is, though – I can’t wait for the Summer when it will still be light out when I leave!

smile no smile

Occasionally I smile in photos, but most of the time, I don’t.

And completely unrelated, but funny (and because I ran across this today):


Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Black History Month: What's the Point?

My computer ate my original post, so with this re-write I'm going to be really brief:

What, in your opinion, is the purpose of Black History Month? Why is it around? Do you think it has been effective in its mission?

I plan to re-visit this topic a few times and it will probably lead to other related topics.

**note - I do have opinions on this topic . . . just hoping to get a little feedback first before I share my point of view. If you're looking for an idea of my perspective, click on the "race" and "racism" tags at the bottom of this entry**

Disclaimer - I know race can be a scary topic to discuss, so let me be clear - this is a safe zone to talk! I honestly don't think anything inflammatory is going to go on in the comments to this blog, but if you're hesitant to say anything because you think I or someone else will flame you - know that I don't get down with that stuff. I like to talk about these difficult topics but I don't think being mean is productive. Even when disagreeing, I try to do so respectfully.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Evolution of Design

My design style is changing! Or, maybe I should say, it’s expanding. Right now I’m thinking mostly in terms of interior design and furnishings. For as long as I can remember, my very favorite style of home has been the Arts and Crafts type, or Bungalow, or Craftsman. I’m not an expert on architecture, so it’s possible these each have something distinct and aren’t interchangeable – but in my mind, they’re similar enough to be grouped together.

I love the straight lines, the wood, the earth elements in the colors and materials. However, people I know often took my love of “clean lines” to mean I was into more modern and contemporary architecture and design/furnishings. But I wasn’t. I so rarely saw any modern spaces that weren’t too stark, too sterile, too cold. I didn’t want all that silver and white and blue and grey and black. I wanted reds and golds and greens and browns.


NOT This:

Even the more colorful modern spaces I’ve seen haven’t been that interesting to me because they use lots of primary colors and white – so much white! For me, white was good as wood trim or for cabinets, to give a classic look. But white as the main backdrop color, with primary colors in geometric shapes every once in a while? No thank you!


Maybe it’s due to more exposure to these design elements on line – I’ve become more interested in modern design. I still need color, and still am not a huge fan of primary-only color schemes, but I’m beginning to fall in love with white. Even mostly white rooms! I kind of feel I’m betraying color . . . the same way I feel I’m betraying music when sometimes, I just need silence.

Here are some looks I’m really enjoying right now – and pssst – I have a feeling that when I overhaul the look of this blog, it’s going to be headed in a more modern direction. And white will be involved.

I’m also hardcore in love with turquoise/aqua, which are colors I used to claim to detest!

Has your design style changed over the years? From what to what? Does that influence the look of your blog?

Monday, February 14, 2011

7 Things I Love

I read on someone else’s blog that along with awarding 15 other bloggers the Stylish Blogger award I was given last week, I was also supposed to list 7 things about myself. Since today is Valentine’s day, I’ll tell you about 7 things I love.

1. I love MUSIC! Probably more than any other form of art, music impacts me deeply. I’ve been involved in learning and performing music since I was a young child. I’ve been in countless choirs of all types, I can play piano and clarinet (though I haven’t touched my clarinet since junior high) and perpetually intend to learn guitar. I’ve done lots of musical theater, and done the whole folsky-guitar-on-the-porch-with-other-musically-inclined-friends thing a bazillion times. Plus: KARAOKE. Ha. I’m really just a barely mediocre musician, but I sure do love it.

2. I love to dance. For me, dance is very connected to music. I’ve also been involved in various dance pursuits since childhood – lessons, dance teams, teaching, choreography. I have a hard time NOT moving if music is on, and if I go out with friends you’ll usually find me begging to hit a dance club. Even though I probably love music more than I love dance, I’m a better dancer than a musician. I can sense what music is going to do and my body interprets that. I love, love, love to dance. And if you are ever in my home I will force you to watch my college dance team routines on DVD.

3. I love Coca Cola. Classic. Not Diet, not Zero, not Cherry Coke (though it was a favorite in childhood and I enjoy it occasionally). Regular, ice-cold Coke in a can, please and thank you.

4. I love MTV’s skit show from the 90s, The State. A lot more people know about it now than they did back then, but still, finding people who have any idea what it is, is difficult. Some of my closest friends and I have spent HOURS watching the epidsodes again and again, and have never seemed to tire of bringing up old skits. A few of my favorite skits are: Manzelle and Boyotes, Pants, Origami, Porcupine Racetrack, Doug, The Pope’s Coming!, Blueberry Johnson and my very favorite, ever, Free Market Store. You’ll probably recognize some of the members of The State from TV, movies and stage projects, including Stella, Reno 911!, Ed, Wet Hot American Summer and tons more.

5. I love the internet. Oh, internet. You make me so happy, yet you make my family so angry. I have a feeling many of you know what I’m talking about, so do I really need to go into detail? Note to self: Spend less time online. Even less. Less than that. Keep going.

6. I love farms, ranches and the less-is-more, outdoors, natural way of life. I don’t live that sort of life at all, and who knows if I ever will. I was raised in a small city but had easy and frequent access and exposure to rural life, including farms, lakes, rivers, mountains, ranches, cows, horses, chickens and so on. I never wanted to be associated with those things growing up, but now that I live in the 3rd largest city in the U.S., I’m very nostalgic about that other way of life. I tend to surround myself with images of natural settings, and things that remind me of that part of my life. Right next to my laptop at work is a photo of a country road next to a flat green field with round haybales spread out every 50 feet or so.

7. I love social justice. The issues I’m most drawn to deal with racism, class/money/poverty and of course where those things overlap. Other issues that spark my passion are sexual abuse & trafficking and where politics/religion coincide and get mixed up. I can talk about this stuff all day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

DANCE PARTY FRIDAY! Gold Pants Edition

Before we kick of Dance Party Friday, I gotta share a blogger award that was sent my way this week.

Wendy of the Wendy & Adam blog gave me a Stylish Blogger award. Thank you! Y’all should check out her blog, it chronicles her life as a grad student, married to a firefighter! I’m not exactly sure what style is being referred to – my blog? What I’m wearing while I’m blogging? HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT I’M WEARING WHILE I BLOG?! And where is my tin foil hat?

No, I truly appreciate the award. Seriously. SRSLY. There’s a hitch – you gotta pass it on to 15 other bloggers. Um, I’m not sure I have that many peeps to pass it on to, and I don’t know that they’ll even see this. But this is my blog and MY rules, so I will pass it on to blogs I like and think you should read, ok?

eNVe Designs ~ lillyella ~ The Sweatshop of Love ~ Ahoy Graphics

Our Urban Farmhouse ~ Rotten Cupcakes ~ Besu ~ Hiya Luv!

Reviving Remnants ~ Confessions of a Cybernegress

Craftee McGee ~ Aisle to Aloha ~ Rage Against the Minivan

Love Isn’t Enough ~ Pink Peahen

* * *

For those of you who have Facebook fan pages based on your personal page, and have experienced limitations in being able to “like” pages, comment as your fan page, etc – Facebook has an new option that will allow you to switch back and forth between your personal profile and any other pages based on it. Just go up to Account, then select Use As Facebook Page, and pick the page you want to “act” as. You then have the ability to like things as your shop (and it will actually show up on your SHOP page, not your personal page) and more! You can switch back and forth as much as you like. Thank you, Facebook!

* * *

Ok! Now – let’s get down to business.

My buddy Alicia sent me the video below, and the rest is history. Watch this video and you will laugh. You will SHAKE IT. You will wonder if you saw her on Yo Gabba Gabba (the answer is yes). But most of all? YOU WILL WANT THOSE GOLD PANTS.

make it, make it, make it, make it, faster, faster, faster, faster, WORK THROUGH THE PAIN, WORK THROUGH THE PAIN

I think we’re gonna go with the quirky theme today. They Might Be Giants may have been one of the soundtracks to your high school years (they were for mine – run out and buy Flood if you don’t have it already!) but they also make tons of kids music . . . kids music that doesn’t make your ears bleed. They’ve done lots of kid show themes, too! This is a favorite in our house. I mean, it has a DISCO CLAP. Come on.

Why yes, it is true that I went to their concert in the Summer of 2009. And? I have to say, I was a little shocked at how the crazy feelings of being overwhelmed when hearing their music hit me in the face, just like it did in 1988. Also? HOT.

For some reason, I couldn’t get this hilarious dance instructional video to post correctly, so you’ll just need to use the link.


It's not too late to enter Annie's giveaway at her Wattlebird blog! You could win 4 FREE cozies. Hurry up, the giveaway closes this weekend!
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