Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I'm heeeeeeeeeere!

I'm currently listening to dan katie and richard play with a noisemaking monkey, so i must be at the mahoneys!! I got in at about 1:30, thanks to the time change and sporadic snow. And immediately found myself on the receiving end of a frightening amount of hugging. Pretty great to be back, even if richard DID already RUIN fake christmas, by exchanging all his presents before i got here - despite the fact that he arrived a mere hour or two before me!!! see if he gets his christmas presents (that i bought in APRIL) now!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Boxing Day!

I've worked my last shifts, survived christmas, packed up the car, and in just a few short minutes, I will be on the open road on my way to FAKE CHRISTMAS WITH THE MAHONEYS AND RICHARD! Best holiday ever! Like any good end of year publication, I must make lists:

Best 2 products used at madly popn
- booger tape (yes, this is the professional industry name for that sticky tape stuff that comes on packages and you can peel off and squish up in a little ball. we use it to stick gift cards on tins.)
- pacman (a round cardboard with a cutout, so if you screw up part of a 3 way fill tin you can pour it out without disturbing the other 2/3 contents)

Best 2 things I was nerdily excited about on the last day of work at borders
- Getting a $20 donation (in front of my boss to boot) for first book, where we've been collecting donations all month. I've collected hundreds of $s of donations just in a few weeks, which is really cool - first book is great, i've donated to them in the past and almost applied for a job with them, and its nice to offset the excessive consumption. If I could count the number of customers who dropped $200, $300, even $500 without blinking an eye...
-Getting some colombian customers, a woman with her older mother who didn't speak any english, so i got to chat with them in spanish! (also in front of my boss actually. borders loves me.)

Best 2 things about my mini vacation with Becky:
- The drive from o'hare to madison from 2-5 am. I'd worked both popcorn and borders, and becky had worked the morning in quito and then had the same flight i had 3 weeks earlier that makes 4 stops in 3 countries and gets in at 1 am.
- The extreme americana factor. I love how super wisconsin becky is, and i finally got a chance to see her in her natural habitat! We stayed at her grandparents' house in madison. Becky and her 2 siblings all want to U Wisconsin at madison, where they were FIFTH GENERATION. Her GREAT GRANDMOTHER was a professor there. Her whole family is Badgers crazy. Her grandparents are fabulous, super jolly people, who speak with a nice touch of the fargoesque accent. Becky and I had planned to check out state st and other favorite places in madison, but it was rainy and we went to the mall instead! Good american fun. I also learned that she used to work at both walmart and "the racetrack." (she's from a small town.) We had dinner with the grandparents (steak and potatoes!) and then we all watched greys anatomy. (Best part - becky's grandfather watched with an old school radio pressed to his ear, listening to the packers game!)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Since my father has been after me to come clean to my faithful readers...

Okay okay, here's how the story ended: I stayed up packing until 4am, set my alarm for 5:45, slept soundly through it, was awakened by Richard's "Oh shit!" when he magically opened his eyes for no good reason at 7:50, arrived at the airport at 8:30, caught the next flight to Bradley (via Baltimore this time, rather than Chicago) two and a half hours after my original flight had left, and somehow managed to arrive at my final destination twenty minutes before I'd been originally scheduled to. Riddle me THAT!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

And the countdown begins...

Do you recognize this scene? It's 10:00pm/11:00pm/midnight. In less than 12 hours Katie heads for the airport/has a 10-page paper due/is leaving the country. Katie has not started packing/studying/cleaning out her refrigerator. Instead, she is blogging/re-reading Midnight Hour Encores/playing Yahtzee/watching awful tv/lounging on Rebecca's bed. Really my life is one giant Mad Lib: fun at the time, but oh so lame in retrospect. (6-Months-From-Now-Katie: "WHY did I somehow think it was a good idea to stay up until 3am the night before I flew to Massachusetts? HOW did I somehow turn 45 minutes of packing into a 7-hour ordeal?")

So yes, in theory I'll be on the east coast in 18 hours, god willing and the creek don't rise. It had better snow while I'm up there, or at least be cold enough to freeze one's nose hairs so I can tell all my sweaty Texas friends about it when I get back.

And please indulge me in a moment of boasting about the most awesome present ever that Richard gave me last night: a beautiful 1930's Smith Corona in perfect working condition. Look at me, I'm Zelda Fitzgerald! What's more, apparently there's an appliance store specializing in old manual typewriters just a few blocks away, so when I inadvertantly break it for the first time (wait for it...) I can just walk it down to Mr. Wizard's Electronics.

Okay, I've finally got that mildly panicked nausea that usually leads to at least a limited burst of productivity. Happy travels to myself, and I'll see lots of you soon!



Monday, December 18, 2006

Hey, isn't that just your old car with new rims?

So I did buy a car today! And yes, as you can see, my new car is EXACTLY the same as my previous car. A 1999 "champagne" Honda Accord. Which I actually find rather creepy, but didn't quite feel that was sufficient grounds to pass on the best car i found. Other than the rims (of which i actually found the originals in the trunk, so I could change them back if I gave a shit about rims and/or wanted to take fake pictures of road trip 2005) the only radical changes are the addition of a CD player and the disappearance of a few (ahem, twenty) thousand miles. Can't wait to burn some rubber off those brand new tires to come see YOU!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Baruch ata adonai...

(sing along folks!)

so happy hanukkah! i celebrated the first night on friday by closing at borders (5-12:30... fun fun fun!) Tonight I only worked one job, which felt like a vacation, so I had time to light candles with my parents. I already got 2 out of the 4 things on my wish list - a new computer battery and the Awake my Soul DVD! Can't wait til I have time to break those out. Since I may or may not be around for Christmas, and I'm working most nights this week, we're having the big Chrismukkah (damn you and your addictive O.C. DVDs Rebecca!) extravaganza tomorrow night. Latkes and hastily wrapped presents coming up!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Who's gonna build your wall?

Just heard a highly entertaining country song on my dad's XM radio... Tom Russell's "Who's gonna build your wall?" A nice change of pace from a genre that usually leans strongly towards flag waving (from Toby Keith's contraversial song - "And you'll be sorry that / you messed with / The U.S. of A. / 'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass / It's the American way" to even Johnny Cash's "It's a Ragged Old Flag").

Now the government wants to build a barrier like ol' berlin, 8 feet tall
But if Uncle Sam sends the illegals home
Who's gonna build the wall
Who's gonna build your wall, boys
Who's gonna mow your lawn
Who's gonna cook your Mexican food
When your Mexican maid is gone

Listen to the song
Read a great article about it
Listen to same article in podcast form with clips from the song
Check out Tom Russell's blog, where he writes about the inspiration for the song

Monday, December 11, 2006

My double identity - popcorn by day, books by night!

So as if my life wasn't boring enough before, I just got a second job! Apparently I have what it takes to be a seasonal cashier, because Borders did finally call back. I'm already set to work 6 days this week, closing 3 of them (until 12:30 am!) So expect my blogging to decrease even more over the next couple of weeks (which at this point i think means my older posts are going to start disappearing!) Working for a place like Borders (500+ stores, new ones opening every day, 50,000 employees!) is quite a shock to the system after a year in Ecuador, bastion of inefficiency, and more recently my sting in family popcornland (where i've been working for over a week and still haven't filled out any paperwork). I've already had 8 hours of training, (paid fortunately)! But as giant corporations with the goal to conquer the world go, Borders is pretty cool. They're all about treating both customers and employees super well. We get all kinds of perks and if you stick with the company they will really help you out with anything you need. Like the godfather, except with a 401k. And they like hiring interesting, eclectic people, and encourage you to chat with the customers and whatnot. (it's only slightly creepy that this is all laid out in the manual, and it's all in the interest of the bottom line...)

Upside of two jobs: Lots o car money! I've checked out a few accords, and hopefully on my day off on wednesday i'll be able to go see a couple of them out. If I weren't planning on leaving town soon, I wouldn't be in such a hurry... I'm quite enjoying my private car service! (My dad, probably not so much...)

Downside of two jobs: It's going to seriously cut into my new favorite pastime... indulging in piracy, American style! Instead of buying bootlegs from nice shiny unregulated stores, I can download them from the privacy of my own home! Veronica Mars, Season 3, how sweet it is...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Plein de pain

Between us, R & I just killed about 2/3 of a huge loaf of artisan bread that he pulled out of the oven a little over an hour ago. We spent that hour on the couch watching "Daily Show" clips online and dipping said bread in olive oil. I feel extremely fat and very content.

I starting to get cranky that none of my regularly-checked blogs have been updated lately, but had to admit that I too was guilty as charged. So here I am. Hmm, what's new of late? My most recent brush with fame (not to be confused with "brushes" with fame, or brushes with "fame," both of which I've had an abundance of) came this afternoon, when I attended a NARAL intern lunch hosted by Liz Carpenter. Because I am a hopeless ignoramus, everything I actually know about Liz Carpenter (LBJ's executive assistant, Lady Bird's press secretary, co-founder of National Women's Political Caucus, at the forefront of the Women's Movement... okay, duly impressed) I learned from Wikipedia. Last night. She gets around in a motorized scooter these days, and she had to cut the lunch short because she was stressed out about finishing up a commencement speech she delievered this evening (yes, that's right; the woman who, according to the Dave Barry quote on the back of her latest book, "knows more about speechwriting than any other living human," was freaking out about penning a few vapid inspirational paragraphs for college kids... what a gal), but it was a good time nonetheless. Apparently she has a group of 8 friends (all in their 70's and 80's, I think) and every Thursday they meet at somebody's house and bring a "covered dish" for a potluck dinner and spend the night gathered around a piano singing. I love it.

Last night a group of us assistant preschool teachers (now THERE'S a sexy-sounding demographic...) went out for drinks to bid farewell to TC, my favorite pot-dealing, droopy-pantsed, aspiring-realtor, boy-you'd-peg-as-least-likely-to-work-with-small-children-if-you-had-to-pick-him-out-of-a-lineup assistant teacher from the classroom next door. My co-teacher Noelle and I have been mourning this moment ever since we found out about his resignation the Monday before last. There's no one who can keep us entertained like TC during otherwise endless 50-minute sessions on the playground, and he's just a joy to watch with the kids... they all adore him, and he keeps all the badass 4-year-old boys in line. We're all hoping for a male replacement; there's just too damn much estrogen in that school otherwise. We already lost two other full-time male teachers this summer, and another one is going down to only part-time starting in January. Nothing beats 25-year-old boys taking care of preschoolers... cuteness factor is off the charts, every time.

Apropos of nothing at all, I'm almost done with Wuthering Heights and I've gotta say, I'm pretty disappointed with it. Too many unlikeable people and cruel revenge schemes; not enough unrequited love and pining. Jane Eyre may be equally goofy, but at least it's got all the mushy love scenes between goodhearted people you could ask for. I know we're supposed to sympathize with Heathcliff, the diamond in the rough who's been crushed by life and love - but damn, that gentleman is just plain MEAN.

Tomorrow we have our last potluck and sing-it-yourself "Messiah" rehearsal at Bill & Quincy's before the performance on Saturday. Not quite as stressful as most of the other dress rehearsals I've participated in - seeing as how we're the ones who are in fact dishing out $16.50 for the distinct honor and privilege of getting to sit in the audience and mumble along with the Actual Choir onstage who will most likely drown us out to begin with - but it should be a fun. B&Q are offering up chicken soup and chocolate-walnut pie, and I'm still debating my contribution. Previous "Messiah" potluck offerings include 1.) gingerbread, 2.) peanut chutney with apple slices, and 3.) crepes with sauteed veggie filling (crepes were definitely sub-par due to experimentations with whole grains, but they served the dual function of dinner and dessert, since Quincy had some Nutella and I brought bananas, so I guess they made up for it).

Lastly, do any of you want anything from Texas before I head for the great white north in 11 days? Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sweet sweet space heater...

So in a cruel twist on last June's bitter defeat, when we stoically resisted running the a/c for as long as humanly possible before collapsing in a sweaty puddle on the floor with just enough strength left to reach out and hit the "On" switch, I finally caved and turned on the heat (which ironically is produced by our air-conditioning unit) this evening. Sure sure, my nor'eastern friends, chuckle all you want at 30-degree nights and 65-degree days... but when you're living in a poorly-insulated shack with no curtains to keep out the cold at night, no windows big enough to let the sun in during the day, and a chilly concrete floor, you start to look suspiciously like a Yankee, all the time. When I put some sweet potatoes in to bake this evening and found myself completely unwilling to shut the oven door, I decided it was time to spring for some heat.

On another house-related note, our landlord showed up at our doorstep the other day to hand over our "holiday rebate": five twenties in an old jury duty envelope. He may be the awkwardest man on the block, but damn, is he a good landlord. We toyed with the idea of dinner at Uchi but ended up storing our newfound fortune in a drawer, as the first of (er, hopefully) many contributions toward the mythical IRA's that we would open if ever we had more than $46 between us. Lucky for me I live with such an egghead, or it would never have occurred to me to make such a corporate-sounding move... but the infallible logic of his argument ("If you save money now, you'll have it later") eventually wore me down and now I'm sold. Our new year's resolution is to set aside $40 each every week, which will probably last all of three weeks.

Okay, time to go eat said sweet potatoes. Stay warm, y'all!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

I think the popcorn smell has permeated my brain...

Wait, did I suggest in my last post that getting a job would make my life MORE blogworthy? Let's see, my schedule from Tuesday through Saturday pretty has not seen much variation... working 6+ hours a day and coming home to a hot shower to wash off that good old popcorn smell and then indulge in my own personal veronica mars marathon. (Before jumping into the season 2 dvds I had to rewatch the 1st season dvds first and get myself reinvested in who was at veronica's door?!) This is not to say that I haven't been enjoying myself (merely that I am boring)! My job rocks... quick survey... how many of you can say your boss' job title is "Master Popper"?? When I showed up for my first day, it was like I had walked into an episode of Unwrapped on the Food network (ps, i think my boss is even more perky than the host of that show, if such a thing is possible.). I got the full tour of the backroom where the boys keep the poppers going nonstop and the basement where the gals put together the giant corporate orders (everything is nicely gender segregated, not that i'm complaining that I don't have the dirty hard manual labor job... i'll deal with my feminist guilt some other time.) I get to do a little bit of everything on the girly side of the equation, mostly out front helping customs where we get the rare walk in, or in back filling internet/phone orders. And sampling the product. God, good thing I've never been the low-carb type... 30 flavors of popcorn just covering every surface, plus all kinds of other snack foods... today I spent all morning heatsealing bag after bag of pistachios and chocolate covered pretzels... oops, i think this bag is too full, guess i'll have to take another bite for the team..
ok see, it's like i said, I've been trying to spare you from suffering through too many popcorn filled posts. Moving on...

Besides popcorn and VM, the big news lately is:
-SNOW! The first few days back here were just to spoil me... 60s and sunny, making it better weather than thunderstorm happy quito right now. The snow hit Thursday overnight and now everything looks like a christmas card. Of course, with our nice heated houses and door to door car service, it's hard to work up to a good snit about chicago winters.
-Natalia! I had my weekend early, when I hit the town on Thursday night with the girls. The high powered/salaried lawyer generously offered to take out her poor day laboring friend for a belated bday dinner. We hit up Sushi Samba, which is upscale but chic japanese/south american fusion. You know it was tasty, and I tried not to faint at the prices for our caipirinhas and choclo. And I got to catch up with Lillian, who in the time I haven't seen her started and completed the Ny teaching fellows program and is back in Chicago teaching at a charter school... she's probably the only person ever to enjoy teaching 7th grade and instead of complaining about her students, say they are "cute." And I met my first ecuadorian since being back - the restroom attendant at the restaurant. She voted for Noboa.