Monday, February 28, 2011

More About Computer Viruses, And The Craziness They Lead To

I wrote a post recently lamenting my woes with a particularly nasty computer virus. Now, every time a program loads slower than expected, I freak out. I wonder if some remnant of the virus remains, waiting to crash my entire system. I can't afford the Geek Squad right now. It's just wearing me down, these terrible thoughts.

In the midst of these paranoid thoughts, I had another "terrible" thought. I began considering how much easier my life would be if I had a Mac. I've gone on rants about how Mac/Apple is the devil and how I'll never partake of their products on a large level with the exception of the iPod. But is that stubborn stance really helping me?

Since I've been looking back over facts about myself I've simply accepted to be true, I have opened floodgates. Now every accepted opinion, every trusted worldview, is up for debate. Am I really that committed to Microsoft? Mac laptops tend to be lighter in weight, and they definitely don't have the crappy computer-killing viruses that Microsoft attracts.

I know plenty of people who use Macs. They are as anti-Microsoft and I am/was anti-Macs. And all I'm saying is maybe they have a point. Possibly, I could load up a computer and have it work immediately. Possibly, I could stop trying to search out what does and does not cause nasty computer viruses.

But then I'd have to learn how the Mac desktop screen actually works. That's the hardest part. I never bothered to learn and was therefore crippled by inability every time I sat at a public computer only to learn that it ran Windows...but the weird Mac version of Windows.

I'm not saying my next laptop will be something other than a Dell or HP with the latest Windows operating system. I am saying that I'm finally considering the possibility. I can't embrace most changes and be so stuck in my ways for this one thing. Especially when the one thing could be ultimately counter-productive.

See, that computer virus is making me think crazy thoughts? Someone help me, I'm considering a Mac. Next, I'll be talking about an iPad. I need my Kindle now...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Nasty Computer Virus

I was trying to catch up on all my back episodes of How I Met Your Mother. The summer after college, my obsession with seeing every episode of every season of a show started. It's the fault of Sex and the City. And my obsession has been centered on How I Met Your Mother for the last couple of days.

And so I've been watching. I've figured out ways to game so they don't make me wait for 30 min after every 72 minutes of viewing. But along the way, I also managed to pick up a nasty computer virus. I think I know what did it. Some random episode in Season 2 didn't have a megavideo link. So I tried another link that I'd never heard of before.

This link opened up about three windows on my computer. After sending an angry glance towards my adware blocker tab, I closed the windows and didn't give it another thought. That was Wednesday night. Sometime Thursday evening, I noticed something was off with computer. It started with a virus scan from a virus scanning program I had no memory of installing.

30 minutes later, I had already stopped the scan, and I did so because it looked off. The scan window looked suspiciously friendly. Seriously, it looked like an Easter card. And then these windows started popping up to tell me that some program.exe or another couldn't start because of a virus. They had the [x] in the upper right hand corner, but the button didn't work. But even though I stopped the scan, I was noticing other hinky things.

I pulled up my task manager to try and close the virus and I couldn't do it. The program didn't show up on my task list or process list. Now I was freaking out and worried that there was a horrible virus on my computer. Then I decided to let the virus scan run to see what the issue was. BIG MISTAKE.

At least 15 different issues popped up and different screens and different processes. This program told me that my computer was basically fucked and my only solution was to upgrade to the full program and debug my computer. That's when I noticed the bottom of the window that said it was a trial version of the program.

While other windows are coming up telling me that I have all these different processes that won't work. Then it hit me, I never downloaded this virus scanner. I never downloaded this virus scan. So I turned off my computer and thanked God I had an alternative to figure out a solution.

I googled the title of the program on my BlackBerry and my Kindle and the third item down had the word "scam" in it. I went to Yahoo answers to find out how to fix the problem. The solution was to download another program that was a malware remover. I googled that program and again the word "scam" popped up. But luckily, this time, it was talking about the scam this program could fix. And the download was free.

So I loaded my computer back up, saw that this virus scam thing had eaten my internet and the first change I had to make, fixing my internet options and proxy server, wasn't able to be fixed. I re-loaded the computer in safe mode and fixed that issue.

I downloaded the program, ran the scan, and suddenly, everything was all better. I re-started the computer in regular mode and crossed my fingers. As soon as it loaded back up, everything was better again and I started writing this blog post.

The moral of the story? 1. Have multiple ways to access the internet. Thank God for my Blackberry and my Kindle.   2. Don't assume your memory is faulty. That's why God made Google.   3. Everything that they charge you for, there is probably a way to get the free download version of it too.   4. Don't click random links, stick with!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

And Since We're On The Subject Of My Life In Chicago

I forgot about the stuff I don't want to do. The stuff that counts as a priority, but only because it's a responsibility. The responsibilities that I have mixed feelings about are the worst. This was brought to my attention early Thursday morning.

My mother stopped by my room before she headed to work. She wanted to ask me a favor. I was to go to my grandmother's house and get her grocery list and go shopping for her. She wanted me to do it in a couple hours.

On the surface, there is nothing at all wrong with this request. Let me point out that this is the grandmother who is currently making my student loan payments until I get a job. I should be bending over backwards doing whatever this woman wants, trying to make her life easier. But it's not that simple.

My grandmother is a crazy person. When she sends you grocery shopping, it's with coupons, three different lists for four different stores, and specific requests like the number of ounces the meat you purchase should be. And then when you get back there's always something you've done wrong, like bought "oatmeal", but the wrong kind. They have unlimited types of oatmeal, but her list only says "oatmeal". You'd think she would specify since she does that for so many items. Let's just say I'm sensitive about an oatmeal debacle from a couple summers ago.

But still, lots of old people are difficult, right? That doesn't mean she shouldn't get the help she needs to get groceries. Which brings me to the second problem. My grandmother doesn't need help getting groceries. She has an up-to-date driver's licence, a working car, an independent streak, and a desire to never ask for help from anybody. So why does she ask others to shop for her?

She had surgery on her ankle over two years ago. Walking around the city during the winter scares her because she knows how badly things can go if she falls. When this rationale still applied in June, I realized she was full of crap and had just gotten used to other doing for her when she didn't feel like doing it herself. "But she's a little old lady," you say. Wrong!

My grandmother is very young. My mother was my age when she had me. My grandmother was my age minus 11 years when she had my mother. The point is, granny barely qualifies for the senior discount at movies and restaurants. She is not infirm, nor is she handicapped in any way.

The other reason I'm so obviously irritated is that my mother was supposed to have done the shopping last weekend, but do to a communication error, it didn't get done. She could do it this weekend, but "it's supposed to snow." I religiously check the weather, it's going to snow, but it will be no SNOWmaggedon.

My mother also has extra stuff to do this weekend, but she does have free time. She suggested if we wait til the weekend, we could just go together. That isn't an issue exactly, I am just frustrated with her trying to game me. It's not going to snow so bad that the stores will be hard to get to. It's Thursday, what is the rush with going today as opposed to tomorrow? And why in the world does it have to be early?

I really truly don't mind doing things for my family. I just hate feeling taken advantage of. And I truly loathe doing things for people that they can do for themselves. For example, you will not be able to find a six year old who has gotten me to tie their shoes. Totally unrelated I know, but the point stands!

A Blog Introduction

I already write two blogs. The first one is A Researcher of Life, which is basically a personal blog that talks about my life that I'm trying to build for myself in my 20s. The second one is My Life's Love Medley, which is a lovely amalgamation of the love lives of 8 of my closest friends.

So why do I need a third blog? I'm not sure I do. This may end up being absorbed into my main blog, the narcissistic one, in a few posts because I find I have not enough to say to fill an entirely separate blog. But for now, I feel that I have enough to say about the world around me to fill a separate blog.

I feel pretty often like writing a blog post about Egypt/Tunisia/Bahrain/Libya or Chicago's mayoral race or Obama's stance on gay marriage. I also want to write about books I read, like Spousonomics and all the Charles Dickens classics. And yes, I even want to write about the upcoming announcement of the next cast of Dancing With The Stars.

But I feel like writing about that on my other blogs would take time away from something else I love discussing: me and my friends. Talk of Easy and my nonexistent career are consuming that blog. So I need somewhere else to talk about politics and economics and the media and the weather.

That is what I hope this new blog will be. Will anyone bother reading it? I don't know. I do know I don't have the desire to go searching on the web for people who are interested in reading the types of things I like to say. That's why my first two blogs only get a couple hundred reads per month. But that doesn't matter. Because I have things to be said. And I'm far too wordy for Twitter.

So begins Rants About The Real World. I may split up the days based on the different topics I may want to discuss, but for now, I'll just let it be and see what comes pouring out of my mind on a variety of subjects. Check it out if you'd like. At least for the week I'm promising to give it before deleting it and absorbing it into the other blog.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I'd Forgotten I Had A Life In Chicago

In the two days I've been back in Chicago, there was lots to do. I spent a good chunk of time applying for jobs. I did lunch and hung out for hours catching up with Gloria. I helped another one of my friends find a dress to wear to a wedding.

I spent hours bonding with my mom while watching Harry's Law and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. I spent hours bonding with my dad while watching American Idol and going bowling. I caught up on the phone and via text with Lion and a professor of ours from college. I even had time to spend on the phone with Easy, discussing our days and our plans for his Spring Break in March and my trip to Florida in April.

I did all of that in two days. Plus, I caught up on many old episodes of How I Met Your Mother I managed to miss over the years. What's the point of all this? I had forgotten I had a life in Chicago. I do stuff. I build important relationships with people. I work on my hobbies. I make plans for my future.

I love my time in St. Louis with Easy, but there isn't a whole lot going on there for me. I know the life I have here in Chicago is one I worked on building. I could do that same life building in another place, but it's easy to forget that it's there in the first place.

I was all ready to hop into this new adventure with Easy without considering the trade off. It's not even about what I'd be losing here by moving there. It's about the priorities I had for having a life that's varied and filled with people I love spending time with. In the past two days, I reconnected with those priorities.

Now I just have to figure out how that matches up with my hope for my future with Easy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Having A Title Raises Questions

Even though I know Easy reads this blog, I'm writing this post anyway. He said to me recently that it seems like I don't post the type of stuff I used to post before when I was talking about PT or Leo. I told him it was because I just wasn't posting as often and that I wasn't holding back on my blog simply because I know he reads it.

In all actuality, I hold back on my blog anyway. Always wary of the image I'm presenting to a whole bunch of strangers who are basically reading my diary. But I'm going to try to dobetter about that. Realness is always more interesting than a carefully calculated prism through which one's life is seen.

Plus, I had waaaay more angst with Leo and PT than I have with Easy. Things with him are just easy. No need for long diatribes about how unsure I am about things and trying to decipher each little thing. Easy just tells me how things are. I think I make him do more guessing than he does me. I feel bad about that and it is something I'm working on.

That being said, back to the point of this post. I never really explained why being boyfriend and girlfriend was such a big deal to Easy. Once I explain that, it will hopefully become clearer why I am a bit freaked out by the fact that I can now call him my boyfriend.

Easy feels like that title means much more than most people do. To him, it's a pretty big deal. The time you spend "dating" is the time you get to know someone. You learn their strengths and weaknesses; you fall in love. You see if your life as it is today and what it will be in the future fits together. Making the decision to become boyfriend and girlfriend means that you're making a commitment. A huge commitment. It means the next step is marriage. He sees having that title as a pre-cursor to marriage. As in, now that you're my girlfriend, it's only a matter of time before I propose unless something goes wrong.

To me, it's not at all that serious. Having a boyfriend is no biggie. It's just the next natural step after I realize I love spending a lot of time around you getting to know you. But if it means that much to him, that means he's thinking about the next big step. I'm thinking about the next big step too. I think about it with Easy specifically. But also, it's just my nature to think about it in general all the time no matter who I'm dating. It's what I do.

I have this... part... of me that just wants to be done looking. I want to have my soul mate and get started on my happily ever after. I love dating and flirting and being on the singes scene. But I would give that up in a minute for a happy marriage, kids, and paying a mortgage. Somewhere in the future, my 45 year old self is wishing she could backhand me. But I feel that way, and there's no use pretending I don't.

So, invariably, I meet a guy, realize he's kind of great (or great enough) and figure, "hey, I could settle down with him. I could be done with the singles thing. With him." I start imagining a wedding and what our kids will look like. Usually this isn't based on reality, it's based on my desire to be done.

Only once in my life have I ever actually felt "done" as opposed to "could be done". At least, only once before I met Easy. But those feelings freak me out. As much as I know it'd be nice to be done, that's all in theory. I've never put in the work planning to make that happily ever after feasible. I'm usually busy dong imagining. It's when I realize my imagination looks nothing like reality that I realize the guy in front of me isn't The One.

But for Easy, my imagination isn't even as good as reality. I can't even say everything with him is a fairy tale because it just isn't true. I could make it sound like that though. He brings me flowers often. He tells me he loves me several times a day. I can't remember the last time I opened a door for myself when he was around. Everyone who spends a large quantity of time around us calls us their favorite couple.

But that's just some of the stuff that might make one go, "awwww." We spend a lot of time comparing notes about life. Religion, raising kids, credit history, caring for aging parents, graduate school, where to live throughout an adult life, career plans, dreams/goals, tastes in music and movies and wine; nothing is off limits. I feel like with Easy I'm actually laying the groundwork for the future in a realistic way, but the joy of our honeymoon phase still exists as well.

How long is a honeymoon phase supposed to last anyway? Depending on when you start counting, we've been involved for 4 days or 3 1/2 months, or 4 1/2 months, or almost 7 months. I guess with that type of ambiguity, it's easy to stay in a honeymoon phase.

But the ultimate question is now that we're boyfriend and girlfriend, why exactly do I feel freaked out? Now I feel like we're on this countdown to being engaged. And let's say he has no intention of proposing for like three years. That will make me into a craziery person. But what if he's going to propose next month?

I keep saying I want Easy and I to make our own rules. And I mean it, but my logic keeps creeping in. If he proposed next month, I would say yes with no doubts. I just wouldn't want to have to explain to everyone around my why I was agreeing to marry someone I didn't even know a year ago.

The best reaction I can have to these crazy thoughts it just to focus on the today-ness of our relationship. All of our discussions about a future are just that: discussions. They are not today. Today I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves me and treats me better than I ever knew was possible. Thinking about when and whether he'll propose is counter-productive.

I promise to do my best to keep these type of rambling posts to a minimum. Not the fact that it's rambling, mind you. Just the fact that it's about something that is pure speculation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Applying For Jobs Is Suddenly A Dizzying Matter

So, I spend hours of many of my days applying for jobs. I try not to talk about it too much because the shit is depressing. It's been almost a year, and still nothing. But I keep persevering because I can't live off my parents forever. My old ass needs a source of income.

But things have changed now. I'm not just applying for jobs in Chicago with dreams of moving to Hyde Park or Lincoln Park or Wicker Park. I'm applying for jobs in St. Louis with dreams of moving to downtown St. Louis, or U-City or Clayton.

So now the question is, which dream do I follow more carefully? How do I split up my time applying for jobs? If St. Louis is really the tentative plan, why am I still applying for jobs in Chicago?

These are questions that racked my brain earlier today as I was pulling up links to websites for jobs in both Chicago and St. Louis. I started thinking about the possibilities of job interviews for really great jobs that sounded like exactly what I would want to spend my time doing.

But it's different now. With the tentative plan of moving to St. Louis, imagining interviewing for jobs in Chicago only seems like I'm postponing my plans with Easy. I know if I got a job here and lived here until next year when it was time to plan for grad school, it wouldn't be the end of the world. Easy and I would be okay, the long distance wouldn't kill us.

But then I think of how much I would love to find a great job and a great apartment in Clayton. Clayton really is the top of my list for areas I'd like to live in now. Even if Easy and I don't live together in St. Louis, and I have a job there, Clayton is the area I'd pick.

But then I think of all the time I spend with my family here. The life I've built for myself here in Chicago since coming back from med school is nice. I spend so much time working with the kids and teenagers of my church. It's not like they can't survive without me, but I had plans. My pastor and I were going to work together on putting together a medical clinic that serves my community. That dream is either going to have to wait or move to a different person.

There's just so much to think about. And there is a part of me that doesn't want to have to choose. So I guess I'm just not going to choose. I'm going to let the employers decide. Today, I applied for a slightly higher number of St. Louis jobs than Chicago jobs. Because right now, I'd rather be headed there than stuck here.

With the exception of a few people who have found career success (or something like it), most people I know in my age range start to feel like Chicago isn't really the land of opportunity. They feel stifled here like they can't really spread their wings. That feeling has been growing inside me for a while. I'm sure it wouldn't feel so bad if I wasn't living with my parents though. But now I truly understand why so many people want to fly the coop and try their luck elsewhere.

But I'm still applying for jobs in Chicago, especially since my going to St. Louis (something I said I'd never do by the way) isn't set in stone yet. I'm just applying for more jobs in St. Louis. I will go where the work is. If someone chooses to interview me, that's where I'll be. I can't wait to unload my storage unit. And I don't care if I'm taking my stuff across state lines. I just want to be employed.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm Going Back To Chicago. For Real This Time

Easy asked me to be his girlfriend. That seems odd, right? Anyone who knows Easy and me from listening to me talk would respond with, "he wasn't your boyfriend...?"

And they wouldn't be crazy for asking such a question. Why would I spend the majority of February here in St. Louis? Why would I be looking for jobs in St. Louis? Why would I be doing a number of things that don't make sense to do when you're not in a committed relationship?

All those are good questions, but what can I say? I'm in love. People do stupid stuff when they're in love. Also, Easy is weird about being boyfriend-girlfriend. I just call it weird because I've never come across anyone who acts like that before.

To him, it's one of the big steps in a relationship. It's the pre-cursor to being engaged. I always took it to be the natural next step after you realized you like a person and want to spend time together exclusively. But whatever, we did it his way.

And now I have a boyfriend. This will be interesting. Since Easy cares so much about this designation, I wonder if it will matter to him about our anniversary. I'm not sure when it was. It may or may not have been after midnight when he asked me to be his girlfriend. I never checked.

So our anniversary will either be February 19th or February 20th. I will likely not remember anyway, I'm just grateful it doesn't coincide with Valentine's Day. He said he planned on waiting until the anniversary of the day we met to ask me. I'm glad he didn't wait that long. Seriously? A whole year to become girlfriend and boyfriend with all the man hours we've been logging?

At least that's a date I can remember though. It's my friend's wedding anniversary. It would have been rude to co-opt their anniversary. Maybe Easy will propose before next February and then I won't have to remember our anniversary. I know I know, worst reason ever to get engaged because that's just another anniversary to try and fail to remember.

But how do I celebrate us being officially couple? By heading back to Chicago. I've been here forever! It's time to act like I have a life outside of the space Easy has made for me in his life.

Plus, election day is Tuesday. There's no way I'm missing that. I'll be on an early morning train back to the city Tuesday. Sonny will be picking me up from the train station so we can catch up over coffee (after he takes me to go vote).

I'm kind of glad there's a mayoral election. I take the political process very seriously, and it would take something that serious to pull me away from here. But it's for the best. I don't live here. That would totally freak my parents out.

There's only a few things left that I could do that would just completely piss my mother off. Live with a man I wasn't engaged or married to, elope, have a child out of wedlock, dye my hair some unnatural color like sky blue, or get a tattoo on my face. Those are pretty much it.

So like I said, I need to go back to Chicago. One thing that will be difficult is maintaining my schedule for studying for the GRE. That's been amazing here in St. Louis. I have guaranteed uninterrupted time to study. That will change once I'm back in the city, but I will do my best because I do intend on taking the test next month.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Creating Things Day Nineteen - Warm Tilapia Salad

When Easy got home from work today, he was hungry, but didn't want leftovers since that's what he had for lunch.

Salad was the trick seeing as how neither of us wanted to head to the grocery store and call a food delivery.

He had some frozen tilapia fillets in the microwave. I feel some kind of way about frozen fish in the microwave, but it happened and I didn't stop it.

I had some romaine lettuce hearts that I chopped up to make the salad (they are tasty and far less expensive than bags of salad).

I had the chopped lettuce, shredded carrots, Mexican style (from Kraft) shredded cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and cheese and garlic croutons all tossed together.

I cut up the fish and placed it on top of the mixed salad. Then ranch dressing for him and creamy Italian dressing for me.

It was really good. Better than I expected considering the fish came from the microwave. Since Easy was sick, we had tea and orange juice with our salad.

More About Being Sick

The sickness that I mentioned had the possibility of ruining my entire Valentine's Day celebration?

Well, here's the whole story. On Thursday evening, I was feeling a bit sore throat-y. I didn't think much of it because I didn't have any other symptoms.

Friday it got worse, but I drove home, went to bowling league, not much to tell there. Except, before bed, my mother and I were downstairs in our freezing ass house discussing something for over an hour.

By the time I went to bed, my back was spasming from all the shivering. So I went to bed with a headache, a backache, and a sore throat.

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling all kinds of horrible. I literally couldn't talk my throat hurt so bad. I start drinking water to try and loosen up the pipes.

Then I called Easy to tell him that our plans might be de-railed. I told him I felt like my symptoms were coming from different sources and I would drug myself and let him know. The drugs helped and our v-day celebration was on.

Of course, while we were out I felt ever worse as the day wore on. So I called an audible and we ended the night early. We had non-v-day plans for the next day so I made a note to bring back-up meds for the next day. I wanted a shelf-life of longer than 4-6 hours.

Sunday, I feel even worse when I get up. I must've looked even worse than I felt because my parents were super concerned.

They hadn't heard me come in the night before (prolly cause I came in so early, they hadn't started listening for the door yet) and I looked miserable.

They were questioning if Easy did something and if he needed to be immediately murdered for even considering making me look like that.

I let them know I looked that way because I didn't feel good and that the previous night had been good. I drugged myself some more and brought back up pills.

Easy came to get me and took me to church with him. I met a close friend of his, who had a headache and who took my extra Tylenol. To be fair, he asked a general question to the crowd and I offered them.

But without my Tylenol, things took a turn. The sore throat wasn't the problem, it was the back pain that hadn't gone away.

But we got through the day. I ended with a much better mutual opinion of this close friend than the last one I met.

On Sunday night, Easy and I discussed how much we were gonna miss each other when he went back to St. Louis.

Then it occurred to us that he didn't have to go back without me. After all, it's not like I had to be at work the next day.

He knew I was feeling pretty awful and so he told me if I came back with him to St. Louis, he'd take care of me.

He did no such thing, but it was a learning experience for the two of us.

Easy has never taken care of a sick person. Why then he thought it was a good idea to offer his services to me? I dunno. But he always has good intentions when things go awry. I suppose that's better than outright neglect or malice. I don't suppose. I know it's better.

That is something learned after the sickness passed. Monday was horrible. I hadn't eaten for over 24 hours, there was no medicine in Easy's house. He kept asking me what I needed and I'd just stare at him.

For someone who turns into a baby himself when he's sick, I don't know why he expected me to have a full conversation about all my needs.

But I dragged myself out of bed and made food and then went to Walgreens. And he learned that I act just like he does when he is sick, and so I don't need a whole bunch, just tea, soup, medicine, and backrubs.

And now he's sick. And I feel so bad for getting him sick that I'm staying in St. Louis to nurse him back to health.

I think I've been doing a pretty good job of making sure he eats good food, has plenty of backrubs, tea, hot cocoa, throat lozenges, even sex.

Easy is the only person in the world who would still want sex when he can barely talk and doesn't have the energy to sit up and drink an entire cup of tea. Well, the only one I've ever dated.

Also, I spoke to Top on the phone the other day and she spoke of how much happier I sound when I'm here versus when I'm in Chicago. She encouraged me not to rush back to Chicago. So I didn't.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Valentine's Day That Lived Up To The Hype

Yes, my Valentine's Day was great this year. Thank God we chose to celebrate early. My sickness on Monday threatened to ruin it all.

So we had planned ahead of time to celebrate Valentine's Day on Saturday, February 12th. The logic was we wouldn't actually be together on Valentine's Day.

I have mentioned once or twelve times about how I've had a whole bunch of horrible Valentine's Days. Easy heard me and planned something great for us.

He wouldn't tell me what the plans were, he just let me know it would be good and it would be exactly what I asked for.

I told him, I didn't want him to go over-the-top. I just wanted a nice day that we got to enjoy together that wouldn't break the bank.

And boy did he deliver. He told me to be ready at 4 pm and wear jeans since we'd be outside for a bit.

He arrives at my house on time with roses and those Fannie May Pixies everyone loves. The Pixies were for me, the roses were for my mother.

Everyone in the house swooned appropriately.Well, not my dad. He just probably subconsciously counted the roses to make sure his bouquet would be bigger two days later.

Then we headed downtown. I saw the address he put into the GPS and I couldn't figure out for the life of me where we were headed.

I sat there thinking I could have sworn I knew that area very well, but I couldn't visualize that corner of the city and so I gave up guessing and just waited until we arrived to see where we were headed.

It was this great little Italian restaurant I've always wanted to try and never got around to it. Easy didn't even know this place has been on my To Do list forever, he just knows I love Italian food.

He got lucky on my love for group dining, new places, and great decorations. Or maybe he listens better than I thought and picked that place for all those reasons.

Dinner was fantastic. It felt like Italian-style tapas, which only made it more fun for me. The wine was great too. It was Orvietto. It's this wine I discovered with Bad at this place in the city called Vintage 338. I believe I wrote an entire blog post about this place.

After dinner, we headed off to another part of downtown Chicago. I wasn't where we were going, but it turned out we were headed to go ice skating in the John Hancock building.

If you know that area of the city, you understand how even while we were walking toward the ticket counter, I still couldn't be sure of the plan.

Well, the plan fell through. Those tickets to ice skate have to be purchased in advance. It's the world's tiniest ice skating rink, ladies and gentleman. Seriously, it's small. They sell tickets by the half hour. Seriously.

I was feeling pretty horrible by this point. The sickness, which I'll dedicate an entire post to later was taking over as the medicine was wearing off. All I wanted was to go home.

But I really truly appreciated that he tried to get it on the agenda because I mentioned a while ago that I really wanted to go ice skating and he actually remembered. I accuse him (quite often) of not listening and not remembering anything anybody says, but he remembered this. So that was definitely bonus points for him.

So instead we went to the movies earlier than planned and back south so we weren't that far from my home.

We ended up going to see that Jennifer Aniston Adam Sandler movie which I can't recall the name of right now.

That movie was hilarious!! Even with a sore throat that was making it increasingly difficult for me to even speak, I was cracking up laughing straight from the gut.

Those two have great chemistry. Even the kids, who I was not fans of until damn near the end of the movie were a good fit.

And then Easy just took me home after that. It wasn't quite the day he had planned, but I thought it was great. Considering how bad I felt for most of the day, I couldn't have asked for more.

He didn't get me a giant stuffed animal (which would have been horrible). He did get me Italian food. And lots of cough drops from the 7Eleven right across the street from the restaurant.

Oh, I forgot to mention the gifts I got him. I wasn't expecting anything outside of whatever our events were for the night, but I sure as hell was making sure I got Easy a gift.

He's never received anything besides a card before, so I had to do something great (on my nonexistent budget of course).

I got him 2 crunch bars (his favorite chocolate). I also got him Pixies. Another of his favorite chocolates. I definitely cracked up when I saw he got me the same thing I got him. Especially since both of our reasoning was because he liked it. But hopefully next time he'll remember my favorite chocolate and get that instead. Though I have been enjoying the all the Pixies.

I also got him two shirts. He likes screen t-shirts. I'm not the hugest fan of a man closer to 30 than 20 wearing them, but I can accept it. Bad does it, so does Sonny, so does Lion. Easy just fits in with the clothes.

And so I got him two shirts. One I knew he'd love, one that I liked a lot, but isn't really the style he generally goes for. I figured we'd see if he actually even wears both shirts, but he said he likes them. The one I knew he'd like? It says "This Is What AWESOME Looks Like".  I have to admit, I love that one too.

Creating Things Day Eighteen - Baked Chicken Thighs and Roasted Asparagus

On my last night here in St. Louis (for at least a while), I figured I should cook the rest of the food in the refrigerator.

Easy has little no to cooking skills, so leaving fresh meat/produce in his fridge would only go to waste. And there were chicken thighs and fresh asparagus sitting in the fridge.

I like baked chicken, but I rarely bake it just by itself unless it's a whole chicken. Seeing as how the chicken thighs are not a whole chicken, I needed extras.

Easy loves soup. He can't cook, remember, so his love of soup is expressed through canned soup. He recently bought a whole bunch of soup. One of those soups unfortunately was the cream of chicken condensed soup for Campbell's.

I love that soup. I make it and add rice and corn and it's delicious. Other than that, it's uses include cooking and cooking.

Easy doesn't want to eat the soup because he tried it once by itself and didn't enjoy the gloppiness of it.

I made him dinner one day last week with the cream of chicken soup for chicken legs and he loved it, so I figured I'd try again with thighs.

And of course, almost everything I make in this house has chicken broth in it. I just does. Don't judge me.

So first I had to clean the chicken. Seriously people, if you buy chicken with skin and bones, please clean your chicken before you start cooking it and thinking of serving it to people you love and cherish.

Then I seasoned it. Next came sauteing in the large skillet to sear the chicken and crisp up the skin.

I took the chicken out of the large pan and then made a quick sauce. First make a roux, then add the cream of chicken soup and chicken broth (and white wine if you have it).

I add the chicken back to the sauce and pop it all in a baking dish. Into the oven (375 degrees) for about 35 min. It only takes that long because the chicken is already 3/4 cooked.

In the last 10 minutes, put the asparagus which you've trimmed, drizzled with EVOO, salt, and pepper, onto a baking sheet and into the oven. Something new I tried was using the rest of the shredded Parmesan cheese from the cheesy garlic bread I made over the asparagus. It will melt over the top, but not mess up your baking sheet. I promise.

The food should come out bubbly and delicious. And it's a perfect use for all that unwanted Cream of Chicken soup. At least when one doesn't know how to make rice.

Creating Things Day Seventeen - Lasagne

I've decided that for now, I'm going to focus on food for my making things each day. I just really don't have the funds right now to make crafts. Perhaps that will come back when I get a job.

But I made a great lasagna. I mentioned to my girl Top that I made lasagna tonight for dinner. She got excited for Easy because he's never had my lasagna before.

She knows how good it is. I've made a couple different versions of it for her and even taught her how to make it (yay for webcams, she was in DC at the time).

This lasagna is a basic recipe, you just need the sauce, the noodles, the cheese, and you add in whatever else you want.

Tonight I used a marinara sauce with diced tomatoes added in. I used Colby, Jack, and Mexican cheese blends in addition to the ricotta-Parmesan-egg mixture.

I used ground Italian sausage meat and ground turkey mixed. I also used one large portobello mushroom and yellow bell pepper, sliced and diced. Oh, and of course spinach sauteed in butter.

The steps are as follows:

1. Coat a large skillet with butter or oil or cooking spray, whatever you have on hand. Brown the meat in a skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Once the meat is done, remove it from the skillet. Add another tablespoon of butter or whatever fat you're using. Now saute the vegetables, excluding the spinach.
3. Once the veggies are done, remove them from the skillet. Add another tablespoon of butter or whatever and saute the spinach. Remove that once it's done.
4. Add the diced tomatoes and chicken stock and wine and whatever other liquid you'll add to your sauce. Stir together and bring to a boil. Then add the tomato sauce. Cook that until it's all mixed and reduced the the desired volume.
5. Mix 15 oz. ricotta cheese with two large eggs and about a 1/2 cup each of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
6. Prepare lasagna noodles per directions on whatever box they come in.
7. Layer the lasagna in the pan. I follow the basic pattern of sauce-noodle-ricotta mix-veggies-meat-shredded cheese-sauce-noodle, you get the idea. The last layer on top has sauce put onto the shredded cheese, then the noodles, then the last of the sauce, then more shredded cheese.
8. Stick it in a 375 degree oven for 50 min. Make an aluminum foil tent so the cheese doesn't stick. Then cook for 5 min uncovered. If you have a lot of veggies in the lasagna, let it sit another 10 min because it will be really liquid-y if you don't.

This also reheats and freezes very well. I would recommend if you know you're going to freeze it, to just freeze the whole pan before you ever put it in the oven. Add 15-20 min to the cooking time if you freeze it.

I didn't put too many quantities of anything except the ricotta cheese because you can use as little or as much as you want of any other ingredients. I would suggest a 9 * 13 pan that's at least 2.5 inches deep if you want three layers of noodles.

That's the basic recipe I followed to make our lasagna. Lots of steps, but actually really easy. You mostly just need a lot of dishes to hold all the parts til you put it together.

It was soooooooo good.

Since Easy has caught whatever throat thing I have had the last week, we had chamomile tea with dinner instead of our usual glass of wine. And that actually tasted really good.

Tomorrow's dinner idea? Baked chicken thighs and roasted asparagus. The wonders that can be done with a can of cream of chicken soup will soon be unfolded...

I Know, I Know, I Was Supposed to Be Back

And I had every intention to pick back up my habit of blogging daily.

But, I got sick.

I've had the most horrendous sore throat for about a week. Literally, tomorrow evening, it will be exactly one week.

Does anyone know what that feels like? It sucks!

Luckily, it didn't ruin my Valentine's Day. I will post tomorrow about how that went.

Then I'll do a post about being sick and how Easy and I took another step in getting to know each other. Here's an intro. He's the type of person who always has good intentions but doesn't always have the knowledge to carry that through. But it was a learning experience for us both.

But first, I'll finally do Day Seventeen of Creating Things. Tonight for dinner I made lasagna. And I didn't take a picture of it. Sorry.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The First Thing Obama Has Done That Has Seriously Disappointed Me

I don't talk about politics too much on this blog. But I just felt like talking about this right now. So I'm going to.

The whole situation with Egypt has been an eye opener. I realize that when the people who run our country make decisions regarding our allies and enemies, a lot of it comes from self-interest.

But I can't imagine what would make them choose between that self-interest and ideas we hold up as the most important.

When it comes to supporting President Mubarak or not, they choose to support him? Are they fucking kidding?

Him and that other asshole, Vice President Suleiman, have made it perfectly clear they don't feel Egypt is ready for true democracy.

The organized protests would say different.

Those assholes say that an orderly, cautious path to democracy is best. They'd rather keep the poor even poorer. They'd rather let all those college graduates remain unemployed (a problem near and dear to my own heart). They'd rather keep all the money they get in their own pockets. They'd rather keep a police state in spite of proven abilities to maintain peace from the protesters.

And how does the Obama administration respond? By talking about Israel. I know their right to exist is important and all that. Whatever.

I just didn't realize their right to exist was more important than others' rights to democracy, freedom, and representation.

Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel. Great. If they become a democracy, will that peace treaty really end? Even if it does, it that a good enough reason to support keeping and autocracy in Egypt?

Obama is on the wrong side of history. By not supporting the people of Egypt, he is sowing seeds of mistrust and discontent. Right now their saying "up with Egypt." I wonder how long it will be before that starts to include, "down with America."

This is one of those times I'm ashamed of what my country stands for. Democracy is the reason we've ruined so many lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. But apparently we don't actually mean that shit all the time. At least not when it could possibly maybe just a little bit affect the Israelis.

I don't want to turn back the clock on the progress they've made. But why does progress for one country have to mean oppression for another?

I think it doesn't. There are plenty of smart and reasonable diplomats floating around the Middle East and North Africa. They can't keep peace treaties for Israel even with a democratic Egypt?

Bullshit. I call bullshit.

Looking Forward to Valentine's Day

It goes against my better judgement to look forward to Valentine's Day.

I've got 26 V-days behind me that let me know the only people I can count on to make the day enjoyable are my daddy and other also-single female friends.

But this year I'm in a weird spot. Easy and I aren't boyfriend and girlfriend. I may write a post one day about how weird he is about that title.

The point  is we are in a place that makes the assumption that we would be spending Valentine's Day together. But we are not in a place that keeps exes from popping up to ask if we're free for that night.

Nevertheless, Easy and I are celebrating Valentine's Day together. I was very hesitant to look forward to it because of the disastrous days I've had.

It ranges from the day being completely ignored to a guy trying to make it special and failing miserably.

But I won't dwell on how horrible my experiences have been. Instead I'm going to talk about this coming weekend.

We're choosing to celebrate Valentine's Day on Saturday. He has to work Monday and we live in different cities, so that pretty much settled that.

I've already decided what I'm going to get him. That will be new for him. He says he's never gotten more than a card before. That's weird to me, but he's happy I'm getting him something, I believe.

He won't tell me what he's doing for me. Seriously, I know nothing. I figure I'm getting another charm for my charm bracelet he got me for Christmas. That's all I know.

He has a rehearsal in Chicago that morning. I'm supposed to keep the rest of the day free. Part of me is really excited about the possibilities.

I've tried to hard to have lowered expectations because of all the holidays I love so much, this one can't feel happy simply because of me. The happiness of the day rests in the hands of whomever I'm involved with.

Easy says he has it under control and I should just sit back and let someone make me happy. I'm gonna try it. I think it will end well. Well, that's not true. I'm skeptical and cynical. But I hope it will end well.

I'm not expecting some big fancy day with lots of activities. I just want us to spend the day together having fun with each other, like we always do. If there's some chocolate or wine involved, that will be nice as well..

I guess the thing I'm looking forward to most is celebrating Valentine's Day like an adult. Like how I brought in the New Year. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I desire to look back on my 20s with happiness at all the fun I had. I'm hoping this day fits the bill. I'm sure it will. I'll be with Easy. Him + me is a pretty simple recipe for fun and romance.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Back From Oblivion

I've been MIA. I have no better explanation than I just didn't feel like blogging.

It happens. Not to all people, but to some.

But now I'm back. I'll be back on Creating Things tomorrow. I'm just going to pick up where I left off. I am at day seventeen I believe.

What have I been up to in the time I was missing?

Romantic Life
Things with Easy and I are going great. Better than ever. Somehow, it still feels like we're in the middle of our honeymoon phase. I don't know how long it's supposed to last, but it's still lasting.

We are still learning things about each other, which is always interesting. Compromise is the name of the game when it comes to us.

We are talking about the future. Our future plans for ourselves don't exactly lead in the same direction, so we're seeing about making the paths line up a bit more.

Family Life
Things are pretty good with my family. My parents and I always get along great. I'm sure they will be happier when both their grown-ass children are gainfully employed and living not in their house. I'm working on it.

My brother and I still have a non-existent relationship. Eh, whatever.

My cousins and I still aren't that close, but I'm working on it. It's hard to come up with a group effort to act like a family when you weren't raised with that idea, but I'm thinking it will become easier once we are all adults.

Friends Life
My friends are still my awesome friends.

Having so many close friends in stable, serious relationships is a new thing for me. But I think as the months pass, we're getting better at maintaining our friendships in this new world where all our free time isn't our own.

I'm just thankful that I like all the significant others of my friends.

And my friends are all also making big strides in their career choices. Great for them. The biggest change (in terms of its effects on me) comes from  
We had plans to move in together once she graduated this spring. But now she's staying there for another year to get a graduate degree. It's really a great choice for her. She gets to skip GRE crap and application processes and long grad programs.

But it really changes the short-term plan I had for my life. This has to do with what I was talking about Easy earlier trying to make our paths line up better. But I'll talk more about that in a later post.

Career Life
I had intentions to apply to grad school to start this fall. I've been talking to Easy and Top and Lion about how I really don't want to start grad school just yet. But in the absence of a job, it seemed like the best choice.

I have to get ready to do things like sign up for the GRE etc in the next few weeks. But for what Easy and I have been discussing, it makes those decisions all the more important.

But I am still applying for jobs and hope something comes up soon so I'm not just floating out in a unemployment abyss.

Hobbies Life
There's not much new to report here. I'm still bowling in my league (and improving every week). I'm still wishing I would spend more time reading/writing, working on gardening, playing the piano, etc.

I have finally figured out my hobbies roadblock. I guess I feel like it's wrong somehow to be spending so much time doing things that are just for me when I'm not contributing anything to my future.

If I spend hours in a day applying for jobs and getting nowhere, I feel like I shouldn't spend my evenings relaxing. What would I need downtime for? I haven't done anything that needs relaxing from.

But I'm working on not having that mindset because it's a bit self-destructive. I need to have something I can count on, even if it's not having a job to get up and go to each morning.

So yeah, that's the basic recap. It's good to be back blogosphere.

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