Friday, May 28, 2010


An afternoon facial mole removal leads to a revelation in fashion:  Round band-aids are the must-have accessory for Summer 2010.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Idol Worship

We are on the cusp of summer, as evidenced by all the familiar signs: the trees are green and lush, the temperatures are climbing, people are shooting each other in Chicago and the season finale of "American Idol" has aired.  My friends and I gathered for one last "Idol" viewing party, and we were of course rooting for our hometown hero, Lee DeWyze.  Who cares about the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup when a Chicago native could be the new American Idol, walking in the esteemed footsteps of Taylor Hicks and Ruben Studdard?

This is Peter is his brand spanking new house, making our dinner for the evening:  BL- Lee's.  Or maybe Lee- LT's.  See kids, follow my lead and one day you can grow up and be in your thirties and eat themed dinners based on the names of "American Idol" contestants.  Dare to dream!

Unfortunately, the camera didn't pick it up, but the toast came out of the toaster with a perfect image of Lee DeWyze burned onto its surface!  Guitar and all.  My friend Lynn was very excited and decided we should sell it on Lee-Bay.

Bob really enjoyed his Lee-LT.  Or BL- Lee.

Anyway, we were very happy that Lee won and we bid farewell to "Idol" possibly forever.  It just won't be the same without Simon.  I'm going to have to find another persnickety British guy who enjoys stomping all over the dreams of the young people of America.  Maybe Hugh Grant is getting bitter in his old age.  It's worth a try.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Non-Solid Food for Thought

Exciting news!  Starting this Tuesday, I will be unable to chew for another month.  If you're keeping track, this will make three solid months of not being able to eat solid food in the last year.  Also, I think I bought my oral surgeon a new Ferrari.  Life is just groovy sometimes.

I know a month of ice cream and milkshakes and smoothies sounds glorious.  The problem is that I can't even THINK about soup at this point.  I spent the first month of not chewing eating soup and the second eating cut up noodles.  Now the very idea of either one of these foods makes me want to strangle someone with a soup noodle.  Being hungry makes me cranky and non-responsible for any homicides I may perpetrate. 

So do you lovely people have any advice or recipes or new ideas or winning lottery tickets?  I'd really appreciate any grand, exciting, non-teeth-using diet advice.  In exchange, I promise really awesome swollen face pictures and maybe some entries written while looped out on pain killers.  Some of these might be useful for blackmail purposes, so this offer is not entirely worthless.  Keep that in mind.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Overreaction Jackson

This weekend, I ran into a store to buy a cardigan and some jewelry before my lovely cousin's wedding.  When I walked through the security gate on the way out, the alarms went off.  Everyone in the store turned and looked at me.  The saleswoman came over and smiled apologetically.  "Did you buy some jewelry?  I'm sure that's it.  I'll take it out and try the bag."

The problem was I was internally panicking and feeling guilty, even though I am not a shoplifter.  The guilt of even being accused or suspected was too much for me.  "Don't you want to check my purse too?"  I asked, helpfully.  She eyed me suspiciously as I started to sweat.  I had visions of being thrown in the clink and maybe even executed.  I can't help it- I live in Illinois, the home of death row inmates being found innocent hours before execution.  You just never know where the yellow brick road of life will lead you.

So the point is I overreact a little bit every once in a while.  Just a smidgen.  And apparently my panicked "I suck at life" post yesterday may have had a touch of the dramatic to it.  Last night I went to the gym and gathered up the courage to weigh myself.  It was the end of the day and I had my clothes and shoes on and a good two liters of water in my system.  I only weighed about seven lbs more than I did the last time I weighed, before the Great Eating Tour of Chicago 2010 began.  So realistically, I probably am up four lbs or so.  This is a far cry from the thirty lbs I was expecting to have gained.  I went from googling rascal scooters and chair lifts for future use to feeling pretty darn good about life and weight in general.  My brain is not always rational.  I've learned to accept this.

 Still walking the miles away for Lyme Disease at the new gym, by the way. 

Still totally winning beauty contests while doing it too.  I am surprised no one asks for my autograph at the gym.  I really do look exactly like Cindy Crawford.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wedding Bells

At our family Christmas party in 1984, I played almost exclusively with my eighteen-month-old cousin Peggy.  She was an adorable kid with a head full of red curls, and after dealing with her wild and crazy older brothers for the first six years of my life, Peggy was a welcome change.

I told her dad, my uncle Mike, that I loved her and he looked at me and said, "You really do?  Well then you can keep her."  Immediately I began making plans in my head for where Peggy would sleep and how I would take care of her with my demanding first grade schedule.  I was nervous, but I was ready.  I would undoubtedly be a wonderful mother.

The end of the night came and I noticed Uncle Mike bundling Peggy up.  This is going to shock all of you, I'm sure, but apparently he was only joking when he gave his toddler to a six-year-old.  I was devastated and cried and made a gigantic and very maternal scene.  It was very Shirley MacLaine screaming for her daughter's pills in "Terms of Endearment."  It did not have the desired effect, however, and Peggy was raised by her biological parents, although I'm sure she secretly considers me her real mother.  Sorry, Aunt Jan.

Anyway, she grew up and on Saturday she married her boyfriend Matt.  I think we can all agree that my daughter, er, cousin was absolutely gorgeous and a truly radiant bride.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hello Dolly

I used to have a nice little collection of porcelain dolls.  There were probably four or five of them, all given to me by my mom's good friend.  They seemed a little boring to me, but they were pretty enough, with their pink satin dresses and corkscrew curls.  You couldn't actually play with them but they looked pleasant, sitting on my dresser and gathering dust.

Then, I read a book called "Annabelle" by Ruby Jean Jensen when I was nine years old.  It's a book about porcelain dolls who come to life and murder people. Soon after, my mom went into my room to put away laundry and opened my closet door.  All of the dolls were lined up facing the back wall.  As she gazed upon this sight, I came in the room and screamed.  "Close the door!  CLOSE IT NOW!!!"  My doll collecting days were over.

I have decided to revisit the terror of my youth by doing a little shopping.  I ordered "Annabelle" along with two other books that terrified the crap out of me as a kid, "The Headless Cupid" by Zilpha Keatley Snyder and "Wait Til Helen Comes" by Mary Downing Hahn.  I am planning on reading them and sleeping with the lights on.  Unless a collection doll comes and kills me in which case all bets are off.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Leaving the oral surgeon's office the other day (after finding out I need two more awful surgeries on my frickin tooth issue), the receptionist looked at me and said, "Oh, I love your hair!"

I was immediately suspicious.  I come from a long line of insincere complimenters.  My mom finds something about every waitress or bank teller and compliments them on it.  I can't even tell you how many times I've had to bite my tongue when she tells someone with four-inch long fingernails encrusted with sequins that she loves their nails and goes as far as to ask where they got it done, as if she's going to rush out and replicate it.  When someone compliments me, I immediately assume they're sending me subliminal messages to immediately change whatever it was that they're commenting on.  Yes, I may be a teensy bit crazy.

I am lazy about my hair.  Specifically hair cuts.  I don't know how anybody considers going to a salon as relaxing.  To me it just seems like a colossal waste of time.  Sitting around waiting for hair dye to set while paging through boring magazines basically is my definition of hell.  I also don't like when people touch my scalp or wash my hair.  It creeps me out.  I probably was executed by guillotine in a past life.  That's the only logical conclusion I can come to for this.

As a result, I am a slacker on haircuts and end up looking like I am in the Manson Family or an extra from the fundy compound on "Big Love."

Keep in mind my hair is curly-ish and four inches longer in the back.  Eeek.  So I caved and got a haircut.  

Don't worry, I saved all of the discarded hair and I'm going to give it away to a random commenter.  Please don't clone me, thanks in advance.

Tada.  Seven inches of hair gone and my yearly beauty obligation is completed.  By the way, that is my neutral face, which I am told makes me look like I am pissed off all the time.  I am not.  I was just born with it.  If I am pissed off, my mouth will be moving and I'll be telling you why, so don't worry. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Car-pe Diem

After five years of dedicated service, yesterday I bid farewell to my sweet ride, my 2000 Pontiac Grand Am.  It was the color of rotten meat, it had an ever-present check engine light blinking on its dashboard and it shook heavily every time it went over fifty miles an hour, but I did love it.  Stockholm Syndrome, probably. 

What, pray tell, am I doing for a chariot now?  I am the proud new owner of a forest green 2005 Buick Century.  It's fancy schmancy and has a remote to open and close the doors and pop the trunk.  Welcome to 1999, Taryn Harper Wright.

Where am I getting all of these lovely vehicles?  My dad sells used cars.  I know, and yes, I am ashamed.  I'm sorry though, when you look like this, what else is there to do but become a Chicago cop and sell used cars as a side job?  He had no choice.

His business slogan is "Wright Cars, Wright Prices, Jack Wright."  His repossession rate is right around 50%.  In fact my new little cream puff is a repo with 100,000 miles on it.  It's seriously extremely nice, though, and it was free.  It's the ONLY perk of being my father's daughter, so I take advantage of it any chance I get, even though I am nearly 32 years old.  He used to have a summer house which was nice too, but now that that's gone, the car thing is the only bonus to being his kid.

Having a father in the used car biz has lead to some interesting moments.  My first car was a 1984 Chrysler LeBaron named Nellie.  It could start without keys- you'd just turn the ignition and off you'd go.  My friends used to move it during their free periods in high school, so every afternoon was a game of Where's Nellie.  There was a timer built into the dashboard, which is the dumbest feature ever to include in a car driven by a seventeen year old.  I timed my commute every day, trying to shave off precious seconds by running stop signs and driving into oncoming traffic.  I have no idea how I survived.

He also had a 1976 Buick Limousine.  It was a rust bucket clunker, but its horn played "La Cucaracha" and we had a chauffeur hat.  We drove it to school dances and other events, always making a confusing half-hillbilly, half-fancy pants impression, an impression I strive to replicate every day of my life.

Probably the most infamous of my dad's cars was the one that ran on a metal can of gasoline lodged in the trunk.  It was composed mostly out of duct tape and it had a barbecue grill on its front hood.  There was a button next to the ignition and when you pressed it, flames would shoot out of the grill on the front hood.  My friends and I drove it around the neighborhood with steaks on the grill, slowly cooking them with shooting flames as we drew looks from passersby.  These childhood experiences really can't be replicated or underestimated.  I am truly a lucky lady.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Save the Last Dance for the Dinosaur, Kids

My beautiful goddaughter Jamie went to her prom last weekend.

I'll give you a few minutes to catch your breath after gazing upon her radiant gorgeousness.  She is just as stunning on the inside too.  Also she has wonderful taste in both Asian cuisine and musical theater.  I am so lucky to have her in my life.

You may wonder how I became a godmother at such a young age, particularly when I am not terribly religious.  Well, Jamie's parents had been trying to have kids for years and years and finally decided to give up.  One day, we were on vacation and the phone rang.  I picked up and my aunt Jen blurted out that she was having a baby.  This should have been shocking news, but I took no time to process at all and immediately asked, "Can I be the godmother?"  I am sure she had misgivings about allowing a twelve year old to be her unborn child's godmother, but I think my optimism that everything was going to be okay with the baby inspired her.  Either that or I caught her on an off day.  Whatever the case, I'm grateful that I was able to call dibs first, because I am crazy about this kid.

Did I mention Jamie has a twin brother?  This is Johnny.

He is pretty awesome himself.  I give him a hard time because he is probably smarter than me, although Jamie and I kicked his butt in Catchphrase and I will never let him forget it.  I also have a collection of nerdy Johnny posing with his calculator and in Civil War regalia, so I basically own his soul when it comes to future blackmail.

So yeah, these kids clean up pretty good.  They're thirteen years younger than me, and I think that means I've somehow wandered into a time wrinkle or something since my own prom was less than two years ago, in 1996.  Oh... wait.  Yikes, I'm ancient.

(Please note my white bra.  Classy!  I also enjoy my best friend's foppish hair and the space between us.  We left room for the Holy Spirit!  The nuns would be so proud).  

Monday, May 17, 2010

Brazil's Primary Export: Agony

Thankfully, mercifully and luckily I inherited most of my genetic traits from my mother, but I did get one lovely trait from my dear old dad: a flat ass.  (I debated including a picture of my butt here, but contrary to some strongly held beliefs, I don't want to send my mother to an early grave.  Happy Early Mother's Day 2011, Mom).

I am not really a butt person.  My sister Annie brags a lot about how great her butt is and chastises me for my own flat rump. Personally, the butt is the last thing I notice in a person, right behind choice of socks and lack of boogers in nostrils, but I know the booty is an important aspect of sexy for a lot of people so I try not to judge.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a good NFL huddle as much as the next lady, but I'll take a nice pair of thighs over a well-developed tush any day of the week.

A few months ago, I was complaining about how it is impossible for me to buy jeans due to my flat butt, thick waist and medium thighs.  One of my cousins piped up, "Oh, I used to have a flat butt too!  It turned out that I didn't really- I just had a fat back."  Ouchhh.  Point taken, anonymous relative.  It was time for me to do some lunges and squats and whatever the heck else develops butt muscles.  (Know that if you are giggling at all the sexual innuendos you can make from this entry that I am REALLY holding back here.  My inner twelve-year-old boy is yucking it up, but my mother does read this so be nice).

My friend Stacy manipulated me invited me to try her new work-out DVD system, the Brazil Butt Lift.  It's a system of ass exercises developed by this man.

That's Leandro Carvalho, who is known as the Brazilian Butt Master.  (I'll pause while you snicker.  Don't feel bad).  Leandro promises to help me lift, firm and shape the perfect behind, just as long as I do his system of seven or eight DVDs several times a week.  No problem.  I have nothing but time on my hands and flab on my butt.  So Friday night, Stacy and I popped the DVD in, extremely motivated to soon be able to pick up pennies off the street with our newly-developed butt muscles.

The first problem was that although the DVD is recorded in English, we couldn't get the track dubbed over with Spanish to stop playing.   There is nothing more motivating than exercising to a Brazilian man in dubbed over Spanish with English subtitles.  "We will develop your buttocks!  That is your boom boom.  Get ready to shake your boom boom into shape, yes?"  I laughed at cute little Leandro.  I laughed right up until that jerk started making me exercise.

We did ten minutes.  TEN MINUTES.  I can spend ten minutes doing basically anything, but the evil Butt Master kicked my flat ass.  We bounced around, huffing and puffing as Leandro reminded us that this was just a warm-up.  I think Leandro might be from Hell.  His smile looks suspiciously satanic to me.  Don't dismiss my opinion either- I had twenty years of Catholic education and I know a demon when I see one.  I ended up collapsing on the couch and limping around all weekend, cursing Leandro, Brazil, Stacy, my flat butt and anything else that caught my attention.  My thighs ached and my calves screeched out in pain.  I was not a happy camper.

The very worst part?  After ten minutes of this exercise system, my boom boom has not changed a bit.  I woke up on Saturday morning and stood up, looked behind me expecting a Brazilian butt and saw my old flat droopy behind.  False advertising!  If ten minutes of warm-up doesn't make my butt look like you could bounce quarters off of it, I don't know what else will.  My plans of a muscley butt lay next to me on the couch watching Glee reruns.  There's absolutely nothing I can do.

Unfortunately, I (stupidly) told Stacy I would try out the Butt Blaster again.  I am going to have my head examined first, but if that goes well, I'll lace up my shoes and start booty building soon.  If I don't end up having the world's most titillating tush by the end of this week, Mr. Brazilian Butt Master is going to hear from my team of attorneys.  Either that or I'm calling the Vatican and scheduling him an exorcism.  

Friday, May 14, 2010

What Motivates You?

I love planning diets.  Seriously, I am great at it, mapping out what I'll eat and what exercise I'll do, and then imagining how well it will go and how at some point I'll pop through a picture of my starting weight like on "Biggest Loser."  I am great at diets that start tomorrow or start on Monday.  Actually getting off my ass and DIETING?  Not so much.

Motivation.  If you could bottle it, you'd be richer than a Hilton before the end of the week.  It's so easy to realize you need to lose weight and even know how to do it, but taking that first step is just not that simple. 

I get motivated when I look at my before pictures.

... and looking at my -100 lb pictures and remembering how great that felt.

I get motivated reading blogs about people who are doing well and have lost massive amounts of weight.  I'm crazily competitive and knowing someone else can do it inspires me to work harder.  Or at least turn off "Toddlers and Tiaras" and go to the gym.

What inspires you guys?  I'm not even talking exclusively about weight loss.  What motivates you to better your lives, to dream of something better and the accomplish it?  Seriously, I'd love comments bragging about stuff you've done and how proud you are of it.  Don't worry about sounding like a pompous conceited butthead.  There are certainly plenty of those in the world.  One more is not going to kill us.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Like a Good Neighbor...

One fine day, I was walking my dog around the block when I heard a faint banging sound.  I happened to look up and see a woman frantically gesturing for me from an upstairs window of a gigantic house.

Because I am me, I immediately thought that this woman was being held captive in some sort of white slavery ring.  It just seemed like the most logical explanation.  I imagined myself storming in with the cops and rescuing her and ending up on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, and then maybe featured in one of those Reader's Digest "Drama in Real Life" segments.  Yes, I do dream big, Reader's Digest big.

Anyway, the woman apparently couldn't open the third floor window, and I could barely hear her.  I got my cell phone out, ready to call 911 or Batman or whoever takes the suspected white slavery ring calls.  Then I saw the top of a little boy's head in the window next to her.  I started trying to read her lips instead of trying to get a SWAT team on its way.

It turns out the woman's son had pulled the doorknob off while they were inside a room, locking them in.  She had been standing in the window for two hours, trying to get someone's attention.  Luckily I am a looky loo and spotted them.  She mimed me the code for her garage and I ran around the block (she lived in a row house) and entered her house, ran up the stairs and MacGyvered the door open.  The woman was very embarrassed that a total stranger had to rescue her, but we laughed about it and moved on with our lives.

A few months later, I found a dog in my alley.  He was older and had no collar or tags, so I brought him home.  Because I am ten years old, I made a flyer about him and passed them all over the neighborhood.  Guess who's dog he ended up being?  Yes, the non-slave woman.  I think she started getting suspicious of me at that point, like I was following her around just waiting for her to slip up in some way, but I got a $25 gift card out of the deal, so I was a happy camper.

I'm still wandering the streets of my neighborhood with my eyes peeled for white slavers, though.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What the Heck is a Ramp?

A ramp is a wild leek.  According to Time Magazine, ramps are the new arugula.  Obviously I am always on the cutting edge of a trend, what with my unwavering love of Wham! and my genuine sadness that A-Ha is breaking up, so yesterday I chopped up some ramps and gave them a try.

Kim gave me some great ideas for recipes to try with ramps.  I decided to try her pasta suggestion first, mostly because it involved bacon.  I have all sorts of catching up to do when it comes to bacon.  In second grade, I read "Charlotte's Web" and gave up eating pigs until I was 25.  It's still one of my favorite books with *spoiler alert* one of the saddest death scenes of all time.  Anyway, I don't regret my Wilbur-related pork boycott, but bacon sure is delicious, so I cooked two slices of it, chopped it up and browned the chopped ramps in the bacon grease.  Then, I added this to some already made cheese tortellini and sprinkled it with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

The verdict?  Kind of meh.  I think I screwed up with the bacon grease.  It was a little too much on the pasta. If I made it again, I'd probably keep the bacon separate, brown the ramps in butter and then combine them.  The ramps were delicious, though.  I liked them raw, a mild combination of green onion and garlic.  Kim also suggested making pesto with the ramps, so that's on the agenda for this evening.  I have never undertaken a pesto sauce before, so keep your fingers crossed- those food processor blades can be deadly when you're a klutz.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Veggie Tales

I am now a person who has tried and enjoyed both swiss chard and arugula.  Although I do not currently own a monocle or a pair of spats, I am researching those items on Ebay and hope to be a real fancy schmancy pants by the end of the week.

I am still trying to use up my vegetables from my Irv and Shelly's box.  Above is sauteed swiss chard with garlic and olive oil and baby greens sautéed with mushrooms.  Yum yum.  Both were winners, big time.

These were roasted carrots.  Less impressive, but also delicious.

If you're keeping track at home (and really, why would you not be?) I have tried and liked beets, broccolini, rapini, swiss chard and arugula in the past couple of weeks.  I also discovered how incredibly delicious roasted broccoli can be.  Seriously, if you have never tried this, you need to go preheat your oven to 350 and roast yourself some broccoli in olive oil with salt and pepper.  I love broccoli, but this brought it to a new and never before experienced level of excellence.

HOWEVER, I still need help.  I need to use fresh chives, boston lettuce and ramps.  I have some ideas for the ramps, but I'd love any advice you guys might have about them or delicious recipes that I need to try before I die.  Thank you in advance.  I appreciate it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Buried Family Secrets

Happy Belated Mother's Day to all the moms out there!  My beautiful goddaughter Jamie gave me these lovely tulips yesterday.  She is the greatest and I got all the benefits of Mother's Day without that pesky giving-birth-and-raising-a-baby thing.

Everyone who knows my mom loves her.  It was actually annoying in high school, when I would complain to friends about what a terrible tyrant she was and inevitably my friends would take her side.  Sigh.  I lucked out in the mom department, big time.

I've never been one of those people who has a great fascination with family genealogy.  I think this stemmed from the time in high school when my dad told me that Brendan Behan, the Irish playwright, was a distant relative on his side.  Right away, I ran to the internets and googled this famous relative.  The first hit was titled, "Brendan Behan:  Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live."  After that, I was afraid of what I might find on the twisted branches of my family tree, so I mostly avoid even thinking about it.

Last night, I was reminded of what a great decision ignoring my family history has been.  My mom started talking about her grandfather.  She had gone to the cemetery where he was buried years after his death and asked for help locating his grave.  The woman at the front desk looked it up for her, and it turns out that my great-grandfather has not one but two graves.  How is this possible?  Maybe this obesity thing is genetic and I have him to thank for my fat battle?  No.  It turns out his body is buried in one grave... and his leg is buried in another. Apparently he lost his leg in a streetcar accident years before he died, and it was important enough to him to have it buried.

The best part about this story is that my mom has the most tragic face ever when she is relating sad news.  Her brow furrows and she looks down as if she is in pain.  She is a very empathetic person.  Anyway, she was telling us how poor her Irish immigrant relatives were, so poor that some of them are buried six to a grave.  Annie chirped up and asked how they had afforded burying a leg if they were so poor.  (She also wondered if the leg had a mini leg coffin).  My mom shook her head.  "No, I'm sure it wasn't that expensive.  Someone else died and they just tossed the leg in there after him."  Dead serious.  Annie replied, "Tossed the leg in?  Like held it by the foot and swung it in?"  We're not a sensitive family.

So yeah, I am staying away from learning about the Harpers and the Wrights of the past.  The ones currently walking the earth are frightening enough.  There's no point in getting worked up about the amputees already dead.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Trader Traitor

You may have heard a little something about a stock market crash on Thursday. The Dow dropped a thousand points in a matter of minutes, all because of a trader error.

First of all, I'd like to assure you that I was not the trader that made the collective hearts of every stock person in the world skip a beat. I can see why you'd wonder, but it wasn't me this time. Phew.

I did need a while to recover from all the excitement, so please enjoy this picture of Cooper covered with all his toys. I think it's a good visual to help picture the stress that one poor trader must be feeling. Better you than me, my friend. Better you than me.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cream of the Crop

Last night, I got home late after the Blackhawks game and I was just exhausted.  My delivery from Irv and Shelley's Fresh Picks had arrived and I took a picture for you guys.  This is the picture I thought would be just fine and dandy to illustrate the bounty of organic produce that arrived yesterday:

Like I said, I was tired.  This morning I took a much better picture.

In case you do not have a degree in agriculture, that is lettuce, crimini mushrooms, ramps, arugula, saute mix, chives, chard and carrots.  Please, if you have suggestions for what to do with all this, let me know.  Thanks to Kim for advice about the ramps.  I am definitely going to try her pesto idea.  The rest is up in the air.

I've been doing great with eating at home.  I've discovered that I love beets and homemade kale chips, thanks to my friend Stacy, who owns the garden that I covet.  By the way, no progress on the garden front.  I was eyeing those upside down tomato things at Walgreen's yesterday.  We shall see. 

My food pictures continue to be just terrible, as evidenced by this picture of the delicious Chicken Cordon Bleu I made last week:

Yummmmmm.  I sure do have a gift for photo composition.  

Oh, and here's Coop on his birthday, posing with an equally regal statue near the Lincoln Park Zoo.

I'm still a Diet Coke addict, have been getting my butt in gear for Lyme Disease, am rooting for my fellow Chicagoan Lee DeWyze on American Idol, and am enjoying not scraping snow off of my car window every morning.  Now we're all caught up.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Cooper

Six years ago, my sister Kerry was volunteering at the animal control shelter when she guilted me into getting a dog.  Seriously, I was dragged into dog ownership kicking and screaming.  I loved our family dog Harvey, who died in 2008 and who I still can't really talk about without crying, but he was more like a person than a dog.  I was definitely not a dog person, and when Kerry lead me through rows and rows of barking shelter dogs, a part of me knew I was making a major mistake.  I picked Cooper because he was the only dog in the place who didn't bark.  We took him home and two years of misery began.

Can you guess what Coop liked to do as a puppy?  I'll give you a hint:  he destroyed the rug in the picture above, ate a chair at my mom's house, ate half a Christmas tree (ornaments and all) and even occasionally ate a live victim.

I'm sure you get the point.  Having a puppy is NOT fun.  They are born cute for a reason, because if they weren't, people would punt them out a window after about two days. That's a conservative estimate.

I have to admit I've become fond of the animal.  Today is his seventh birthday.  I used to make fun of people who celebrated dog birthdays and now I post pictures of my dog dressed up in a party hat.  Life surprises you sometimes.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Targeting Bullies

Breaking news from the land of duh, obese children are more likely to be bullied in school than their thinner peers.  I just about fell over with shock when I read that article.  Fat kids as targets for insults and jokes?  Unheard of!  What's next, CNN will report that grass is green?

This weekend I was looking at dresses at Target and a woman began browsing through clothes on the other side of the rack.  Her daughter, about eight years old, came up behind her and said, "Yeah, mom, that dress would look good on you... if you weren't so FAT."  Startled, I looked up and made eye contact with the woman and smiled, as in "Whoa, sometimes kids say the darndest things."  She looked away without smiling back.  Did I mention the woman was maybe a size 4?  Her little darling continued to berate her about her weight and about how she was lazy and needed to exercise.  Then the kid looked up and saw me watching out of the corner of my eye.  She seriously gave me the meanest most judgmental look ever and did one of those dismissive little half-chuckles that bullies used to do in 80s movies.  I resisted the urge to point out her unibrow and moved on with my life.  I've said it before, I'm not really a nice person.

My point is that unless this kid is the 2010 version of The Bad Seed, she didn't arrive at this lovely attitude about obesity on her own.  She had to have heard this at home.  I felt so terrible for the mother that either she spent time berating her own body in front of her daughter or had to put up with a husband or another family member making her feel bad about herself.  I also worried that the woman didn't try to silence her daughter from spitting these comments out in front of me.  Maybe she was just embarrassed, but there's a part of me that wonders if she really saw nothing wrong with her eight-year-old calling her fat and questioning her fashion sense.

My cousin Jamie is my goddaughter and there are few people in the world I love more than her.  A few years ago, while undoubtedly fishing for compliments, I remarked on how fat I was at some family gathering.  Everyone immediately jumped in to reassure me how great I looked.  I saw Jamie standing there, picking up this negative, body-obsessed attitude and it made me ashamed of myself.  Yeah, I have issues with my body, but there's no reason for me to share those with her.  Love of musicals and sushi, yes; hatred of thighs, not so much.

Since then, I've tried to make a point to not be negative about weight around younger people.  I wear a bathing suit at family swimming parties, even though I sometimes worry someone will call the Coast Guard and report a beached whale at the swimming pool.  I keep my body quibbles quiet.  Even after losing so much weight and having younger family members point it out, I've always tried to stress that I was just fine and dandy when I was super obese and that this new thinner me isn't better, it's just different.  I'm not sure any of this is working but it keeps me with a self-satisfied little liberal smile on my face and so far they haven't made me return my Women's Studies minor, so I suppose that's something.

I don't ever pretend to know what it's like to be a parent.  Don't you just hate single childless people who are experts on everything they've never experienced?  I do know, though, that it's not fair to shove your insecurity issues down your children's throats, because all you'll do is create a new generation of kids who see fat as a statement of character instead of just a body type.  That's how little bullies are made.  Unless having your offspring horrify strangers at Target is somehow desirable, I would guess most parents want to avoid raising kids who could star in a sequel to "Mean Girls."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lyme Away

After gaining a pound this week, it has become apparent to even dumb old me that I need to step up this diet/exercise plan thing.  Yeah, eating whatever I want and exercising sporadically has been great, but it's not working. Time to take out the cartridge of  this diet, blow in it, shove it back in the Nintendo and hit reset.  (It pains me that younger people will not get that reference at all).

So, the new plan is that today I am switching gyms.  There is a new one closer to my house that is cheaper and will meet all of my needs, plus they have branches out near my mom's house in case I ever feel the need to exercise when I'm out there (you never know, don't roll your eyes at me).

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month.  Unfortunately, my family is all too aware of Lyme Disease because my sister Kerry has struggled with a chronic case for years now.  She was bit by a tick in 2006, and although the infection was caught right away, it ended up affecting her brain, heart and joints.  She sees more doctors than anyone I know.  Watching her suffering so much from something caused by a simple tick bite has been awful.  I'd give anything to have her completely cured. 

In May, I am going to donate a dollar for every mile I do on the treadmill or the elliptical machine to the Lyme Disease Foundation.  But Taryn, won't the idea that you're actually losing money working out make you want to spend less time sweating away while listening to "Ultimate Broadway" at the gym?  No, because although I am incredibly lazy, I do love my sister and would look like a jackass if I got to the end of the month and announced I was donating five bucks.  I am highly motivated by shame, what can I say? Twenty years of Catholic schooling will do that to a person.

Another way to support Lyme awareness this month is to tint your Facebook (or MySpace for you people who still cling to your VCRs) profile picture lime green.  This is a lot easier than wearing yourself out on a treadmill or breaking out the ole wallet, but it still brings attention to a very worthy cause.

So yeah, it would be great to get to May 31st and see some good results on the scale and a nice check going out to Lyme Research.  I'm going to keep you posted on my progress on the sidebar. I appreciate you guys cheering me on, probably more than you know.

Sunday, May 2, 2010