Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Dog By Any Other Name

A few weeks ago, I was driving back to my house at about 10 PM on a Wednesday night when an unaccompanied dog ran across the street in front of my car. 

"Crap," I thought.  The poor dog had probably been spooked by the fireworks over Navy Pier (Chicago is a magical city and we have fireworks twice a week all summer.  That's what the highest sales taxes in the nation will buy your city.  Enjoy the show!) and had gotten away from its owner.  I parked the car next to Lincoln Park, just south of the zoo, and started chasing the dog, whistling and calling out "Here puppy, here puppy."  This is the universal dog call, obviously.

I chased that sucker for over a half an hour.  The park was pretty much abandoned and very very dark.  This showed a lot of bravery on my part, as ever since reading about that tiger that escaped from its cage in San Francisco and bit the jackasses that had been taunting it, I have had a secret fear of walking at night near Lincoln Park Zoo.  Every time I walk Coop there, my imagination goes into overdrive and I fully expect to see an escaped lion or seal or gorilla at the top of every hill.  I somehow managed to put these entirely rational fears aside and chase this dog through the darkness, because honestly, I am a hero.  That's all there is to it.

Well, when I finally got close to it, I noticed an odd collar around its neck.  That made me take a closer look at the dog and I realized that it was not a dog at all but a coyote.

I know this is the point in the story where you are shaking your heads and sighing and calling me a liar, or at the very least a person with an overactive imagination.  I got back in my car and called back the friend I had been talking to before the whole chase began, and he was also very skeptical of my findings.

"So wait a second.  Your plan was to chase this dog, catch it,  put it in your car with your own dog, bring it back to your apartment overnight and try to locate its owners in the morning?"

"Exactly, except it wasn't a dog... it was a coyote!"

"Hmm.  So you got out of your car, blocks away from the intersection where you witnessed a shooting in June (Oh, by the way, readers, I witnessed a gang shooting blocks from my house in June.  Come visit Chicago!) to catch a strange dog in the dark.  And it was a coyote.  Hmmm."  The last "Hmmm" sounded like he thought I was either on something or needed to be on something.  I was very offended and so was Cooper, who would have appreciated an overnight house-guest, even if it was a coyote.

Other people, after hearing my story, assured me that I lived in the heart of the city and the odds of me stumbling upon a coyote were very small.  I started imagining that it had escaped from the zoo and that the story was being covered up so people didn't know that lions and tigers and bears and coyotes were now invading our streets.  I started looking for newspaper stories about dead people found with giant bear teeth marks in their head, but so far, no luck.

THEN, today, I read this article in the Chicago Sun-Times.  It says that there is a coyote family living in Chicago, centered in Lincoln Park, my neighborhood.  Oh boy, I love it when a major newspaper validates my crazy stories!  And I am extremely happy I didn't catch the coyote and bring it in my car, because I am sure Coop would have been a delicious snack for it, and washing blood out of upholstery is really a pain in the neck.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Barely Coherent Bits

  • My bathroom is 95% finished, although I still have very little water pressure and a leaking sink.  I have already taken three baths in the new tub, which, while tiny, is four inches deeper than my old one.  I may just install a TV and a microwave in there and start researching growing gills.  It's inevitable that a big part of my winter will be spent in that bathtub.
  • Isn't it weird when you type a word you have used hundreds of times and it looks like it's spelled wrong?  That happens with "which" all the time for me.  Today "spent" looks absolutely ridiculous.  
  • Were you wondering how much it costs to go to the ER for 90 minutes and have an X-ray done on your fingers after you smash them in a garbage chute?  The answer is $800.  That self-employed insurance with the $2500 deductible that I pay $220 a month for is really looking better and better with every injury.
  • Four weeks later, my smashed fingers are still looking incredibly attractive:
  • I got a Kindle at the recommendation of my cousin Peggy, who is a genius.  I was on the fence about it but boy howdy, I love it.  If you have any books that I absolutely must read, please suggest away.  I have nothing but time on my hands and a nerdy electronic device to fill up.
  • My iTunes was hacked this week.  The culprit bought a GPS device for $15 to navigate the streets of China and a couple of Enrique Iglesias songs.  It is comforting to know there are people out there with worst taste than me.
I promise a real actual thought-out entry is coming soon.  I'm still living in a construction zone and eating Sour Patch Kids for dinner almost every night, so be merciful with me.  On that note, a diet update is coming soon also.  I didn't know I wrote horror.  Heavy sigh.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Constuction Zone

Why hello there.  I have not abandoned you people, I promise.  I have been sleeping on various couches and futons throughout the Chicagoland area because of the following:

Yes, my bathroom is being remodeled.  It didn't occur to me until the first afternoon of construction that it would not be possible to live in my apartment without a toilet.  This is why people consider me a deep thinker, almost like a philosopher, at least on the level of Britney Spears.  Oops, I did it again, indeed.

I am told the project will be finished today and I will be able to move back in and get back into a normal routine that does not include replacing the cushions on the couch after I wake up in the morning.  Fingers crossed.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

From the Mixed-Up Files of Ms. Taryn Harper Wright

I didn't realize until I landed that most of my expectations of New York were based on young adult books I read during the 80s and 90s.  Most of these involved sophisticated children who were poorly supervised and who had doormen, so of course I was always extremely jealous of them.  Damn my mother, never letting me ride the subway by myself, let alone letting me hide in dumbwaiters or run away and live in an art museum.  How I suffered as a child.

Anyway, New York itself was wonderful.  Admittedly I didn't see very much of it in three days, but I'd go back tomorrow if I could.  I saw Bryant Park (no Michael Kors, though, although I am sure he would have looked down his nose at my Tiva sandals), Times Square, Central Park and Rockefeller Center.  I also saw my very first Broadway musical, "Mary Poppins."  We ate pastrami at Carnegie Deli and marveled at the celebrity pictures adorning the walls, from Vicky from "Small Wonder" to Ricky Schroeder.  I loved the city and I plan on going back there very soon.

The BlogHer conference itself was a great time.  How could you not have a good time when you're meeting Ronald McDonald and Padma Lakshmi on the same day?  The sessions taught me a lot, and I came home with a gigantic bag of very essential free stuff.  From Mr. Potato Head to 4000 reusable grocery bags to Bare Assets suck-it-in panties, the various sponsors treated us very well.  It was fascinating to see the different ways that companies market products to women.  Spinning the wheel and pretending to be excited when winning a fifty-cent coupon off a can of tuna was an experience in itself.  I'd like to thank all of the companies who sponsored the conference.  You definitely made it a memorable weekend.

The best part about BlogHer was, of course, the new friends that I met.  First of all, my roommate Kate.  As nervous as I was about going to the conference, I never worried that I wouldn't like her.  We bonded big time and I hope that we are friends for life.  She assured me that no one noticed when I fell out of the photo booth at the Cheeseburgher party, landing flat on my ass.  And I was wearing a dress.  I did have underpants on, thank heaven for small miracles.  Every woman that I met was interesting, easy-going and happy to be there.  And no one threw urine filled water balloons at me, so that fear went out the window.

Everywhere we went the first few days, whenever we were confused or overwhelmed, Kelly magically appeared with hints and reassurances.  I started to call her The Chief like in "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"  Her friendship, help and hospitality was much appreciated and I'm happy to call her a friend.

So all in all it was a great weekend, and I really hope to be at BlogHer11 in San Diego next year.  If you're on the fence about going to one of these things, as I definitely was, I'd recommend giving it a try.  It was great to meet so many women with stories to tell,  and I'm happy to have made some new friends in a city that I never knew I loved.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Help, I'm a Celebrity and I'm Serving OJ!

So BlogHer is over and done with, and I had a wonderful time.  It started off with a bang.  On my way to the hotel, my cab driver and I struck up a conversation.  Thirty minutes in, after questions about how many farms we have in the city of Chicago, he asked me how old I was.  When I said 32, he appeared shocked and said he thought I was 24.  I smiled smugly and thanked him for the compliment and started to say something about sunscreen when he followed up with, "You look young because you're so fat."


I'm going to do a summary of my New York trip tomorrow, but today I wanted to make you all jealous with pictures of the celebrities I met on my glamorous trip.

This was Gavin DeGraw performing under a gigantic pomegranate-scented razor at the Schick Intuition party.  The same party saw models pretending to shave their legs in an imaginary mountain stream.

Then, at breakfast, who served the ladies of BlogHer Tropicana Orange Juice?  Why, Kardashian stepfather and Olympian Bruce Jenner, of course.

Later on, I got my picture taken with more celebrities.

That is the REAL Marmaduke from the movie.  This impressed me a lot more than Bruce Jenner (sorry, Bruce).  

And this is the REAL My Little Pony.  So obvious she's had work done since the 80's, but impressive none the less.

The next day, I met "Top Chef's" own Padma Lakshmi at the Hillshire Farms booth.  

She was extremely excited to spot me, as you can tell.  Then I got a picture of Padma with the Jimmy Dean Sun Mascot!!!  In the flesh!!

From the look on Padma's face, I can tell this was a career highlight.  No word on if she liked the new Turkey Bacon breakfast sandwiches.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

They're All Going to Laugh at Me!

I have been a terrible blogger as of late.  My go-to excuse this time of year is that I am keeping summer hours, but people who know my work schedule will snort and sneer and roll their eyes if they read that, so instead I will just apologize.  My mind has been focused on my New York trip to BlogHer, an event where I'll meet 2500 women, none of whom I know in real life.  The anxiety is rising just a little and I'm envisioning that scene in "Carrie" where the mean kids pour the pig's blood on her head.  Yes, I'm crazy.  This shouldn't be a surprise at this point.

Oh, also I am remodeling my bathroom.  No, not by myself.  I still do not know the difference between a wrench and a hammer.  That is an exaggeration, but I don't know the difference between a wrench and a pliers and I can never remember which screwdriver is the Phillips one, the crossed tip one or the single tip.  I also have donated all of the tools my mother insists on buying me to the Salvation Army, twice.  This infuriated her, but typically if I don't use something in six months, I get rid of it.  Bob the Builder I am not.  But anyway, yes, I am concentrating on tiles and bathtubs and light fixtures, areas of expertise for me for sure.

  Yes, I'm getting rid of the giant hole in the wall, although that did come in handy for hiding my stash of diamonds and rubies and other various gemstones.  I'll have to finally invest in an actual treasure chest.  Oh the things we have to do as we age.

Hey, Taryn, how's that whole inner fat girl diet thing working out for you?  It has stalled a little.  I did just read a great book that was very inspiring, and I will write a post about it soon.  I am still the same weight but I have definitely not been exercising or eating right.  Chocolate covered acai berries from Costco really are delicious, though.  That can't be denied.

So please cross your fingers that I don't pull a patented Taryn Wright move in New York and trip carrying a tray of food or get kissed by a random cab driver or accidentally get on a plane to York, England.  Well, the cab driver idea would be okay if he looked like Smith Jerrod from "Sex and the City."  A lady can dream after all, right?

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Smashing Good Time

Yesterday evening, I went to put a garbage bag down our building's garbage chute.  Because I like a challenge, I attempted to do this one-handed.  The heavy metal door slammed on my fingers.  The pain was incredible.

I am not someone who runs to the ER a lot, but holy crap this was painful.  I had visions of my fingers falling off or at the very least becoming unusable.  Since one of the smashed fingers was my middle one, obviously we couldn't have that.  I am going to New York on Thursday and what would a visit to that city be without being able to use that expressive finger?  Anyway, my beloved sister Annie took me to the emergency room and after three hours and some x-rays, it was determined that it was just a painful bruise.  I got some pain meds and was sent home to a sleepless night of pain, cursing my garbage chute and trying to figure out who I should sue.  I'm thinking Donald Trump.