Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lyrics of the Day

Can we pretend that airplanes
In the night sky
Are like shooting stars
I could really use a wish right now
- B.O.B. and Hayley Williams

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Happiness is...

... $1.50 Miller Lights, summer evenings, and a date night - townie version - with my love.

... Saturday at Fox Lake, a sunny afternoon, and no where else to be.

... Sunday at the pool, a good girlfriend, and easy conversation.

Just sayin'

Two months from today the Pack is in town to get whollup'ed during MNF. Hopefully Cutler's been practicing learning who is on his team so we can avoid THIS.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Quote of the Day

"What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?" -- George Eliot

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review: Spoken from the Heart

I just finished the Laura Bush book, Spoken from the Heart.

I must admit, I've never been a big fan of her or her husband. I like a strong woman, and frankly, I did not label her as such.

Allow me to say a few things:
  • The book is a memoir, her memoir, but it is dense. The details, the facts she packs in the pages, make it a challenging read.
  • The timeline isn't straightforward. The book starts in childhood and continues on til the present day, but there are many, many times throughout the book where she dances back to other memories, related tangentially, and then back to the present. It's an interesting tactic, but since it is a memoir, it makes the timeline a bit hard to follow.
  • Even with the benefit of hindsight, she thinks George made a good move by invading the Mid East
  • She is waaaay more liberal than her husband. She does not think Roe v Wade should be overturned, for instance.
  • She loves Dick Cheney (gah!)
  • She is utterly and completely likeable
The last point is the one toughest for me to come to. As I was reading, I wanted to dislike her. (Probably because I hate to be wrong... but that's another post for another day). She was likeable. I liked her. I felt for her, I agreed with her, I had compassion for her.

Not for everything, though. I've always thought her to be the kind of woman who is defined by her man. For instance, her three-word biography would be something like "George Bush's wife", rather than "mother and librarian", or whatever. I still sort of think of her in this way. She certainly knew her role, knew what was expected of her as the President's wife. I don't necessarily think of this as a bad thing - I suppose when your husband is the leader of the world, being known as his wife could be sufficient.

Overall, I liked the book. It felt like I was looking in to this world that I didn't have permission to see, but it was intriguing. The book is very well-written. Some parts are hard to read emotionally, or mentally. She describes so many details, "On Monday October 5th" kind of stuff, that it is a challenged to get through all 400+ pages, but I liked reading about her, and it was interestinig to read her story, her side of the story.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Photo of the Day

The week that Scott proposed to me we headed to the Gulf Coast, and I scribbled this in the sand with a stick. It was such a special week (pun not intended) and I can honestly say it was one of the best, most stress-free, most happy times in my life.

Post Edit: I guess what I wanted to say with this picture, is that the Gulf is a special place. Not just to me because of the memories it conjures, and the time of my life it represents, but to our whole country. It's a special place, and right now it's hurting. I don't know what the answer is. I don't know how to fix it. But I know that it is a place in need of saving, and I hope Washington knows what they are doing.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I won't say I told you so...

But I will say this.

And this.

Photo of the Day

I love this picture, even though it isn't really of anything, and it isn't particularly flattering. Incidentally, taken three years ago today!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happiness is...

.... meeting up with friends that are also family, Guinness on tap, and 5 AM bars.

.... a new swimsuit, exploring my apartment pool, and an 88 degree sunny day.

.... Wrigley Field, my newly 21-year old brother, and Starlin Castro up to bat.

.... a summer night with the windows open, chores done, and a new book.

It was a very happy weekend.

on my Father

Shawn Steil is my hero.

Luckily for me, he's also my father.

He has taught me about what it means to be a man, a good husband. A father.

Most people meet their father's at birth, but I met my dad when I was eleven, in the fall of 1995, but he wasn't yet my father. No, he wouldn't hold that title for another few years. To be accurate, the idea of him as a father candidate wasn't even in my mind. He was just a guy that my mom was friends with, and oh heavens did he have a lot of kids.

Surely he wouldn't want another one.

(Or three. We were a package deal).

(Goodness, how I misjudged him).

I can't pinpoint the exact day or month or year that I began thinking of him as something more than my mom's friend, but eventually, it happened. Slowly I began to want his opinion, his help, his guidance. His fatherly guidance. I started asking him to throw the softball with me, to teach me how to parallel park, how to negotiate with my (now four) brothers.

I don't know the precise day, but I do know that it was sometime before July 2001.

Only July 25, 2001 Shawn Steil became my father, legally. At our request, he adopted me, along with my two brothers.

(Perhaps it's misleading to call it "at our request" because to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure who actually said it out loud first. All I know is that it was at his request, and it was at our request. We chose him to be our father; he chose us to be his kids).

Truly, it was one of the happiest days of our lives.

(And not just because we went to Bennigan's afterward).

Shawn Steil is my hero, yes. But more importantly, he is my father. My dad.

Happy Father's Day to my two fathers: the one who gave me life, and the one who gave me my life.

I will love you both, forever.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Quote of the Day

"I feel comfortable with crazy people" - Bethenny Frankel

Couldn't have said it better myself.

I heart NY (and Matt)

Tomorrow, Matt is moving to NY. I am so envious.

Matt, good luck. I hope you enjoy every second.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sorry for the hiatus

Subtitle: Why my blog sucked this week

You may (or may not?) have noticed that my blog has been a little, ahem, lacking this week.

I apologize.

My only explanation is that this has been, no-contest, the most demanding work week of my life, in terms of both sheer hours, and in the mental focus required during those hours.

(Someone get a violin).

I am not complaining - I love my job and my coworkers, and frankly? I have a pretty great gig. But - I haven't had much time or desire to focus on putting together anything substantial or interesting.

Come back this weekend, pretty please.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Melissa Said

My friend Melissa has a way with words.

Read some of them here.

(And then come back, please).

Essentially, Melissa argues that Chicago is like, if I can dabble in cliche, a fickle lover.

And, holy moly, do I ever agree.

Chicago can love you so hard. The people, the culture, the lake. All amazing things literally within minutes away. When I look out my window in the morning, sometimes I can not believe that this is MY life. That I get to live by the lake, or have two of my brothers across the street. Being minutes away from concerts, shows, cool bars and restaurants. Pretty amazing.

And yet? And yet. Chicago is COLD (and I'm not talking about just January). I've been robbed by a thug robber (don't even get me started), nearly hit by CTA buses (note the plural), and just generally abused ($2 for a fountain Diet Coke? $6 for a Guinness? ABUSE).

There is something magical about it here, though, something that I suspect belongs in most major cities. There's a sparkle of diversity, a sheen of something in the air - excitement, ambition? It's this sparkle, this excitement, this FUN that brought me here.

And keeps me here, too.

I love Chicago.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I think yes

Question: Does a vodka tonic and an entire bin of blueberries make for a suitable dinner?

Monday, June 14, 2010

On health and on wealth

Last week, I was afflicted with the most serious sense of sickness that I have personally experienced.

(Before I go further, let me just say that I am fine. Better than fine. I am solidly on the road to recovery with no lasting detriment).

I woke up Saturday morning with what I self-diagnosed as two pimples on my jaw. They just looked like small bumps. Not ideal for the day that my parents were in town to celebrate my brother's 21st, but fine. Whatever. I covered them with makeup and moved on with my day, slightly annoyed, but again, whatever.

By Saturday night, I also was in the throes of a bad cold. A knock-me-on-my-ass, need-to-be-in-bed, hydrating-like-the-dickens, cold. Hurt badly to swallow, sneezing, runny nose, cough. Left the 21st birthday miserably early. The whole sha-bang.

Sunday morning. More bumps, more cough. Brutal. Spent most of Sunday in bed (or, more accurately, on the couch watching Law and Order and feeling sorry for myself while eating popsicles). On Sunday night, Scott came over to watch the Blackhawks playoff game, and I was finally convinced (in part by the look on his face) that they were not pimples on my face, but a rash.

(Disgusting, right? I hesitated to even blog about this because really? A rash? Not exactly the way that I want to be visualized. But this is real life. It happens. Over it).

Monday morning I called my Primary Care Physician, and she was able to fit me in that afternoon. She diagnosed me with "probably shingles" in my neck, and a common cold. She wasn't confident in her diagnosis, and that alarmed me. Armed with a prescription for some pills, and an over-the-counter cream, I went home and decided to let the meds do their thing.

Tuesday morning? More cold, more rash, more frustration. My cold seemed to be running it's normal course, but the neck was not good, not better. In fact, it was obviously worse. I called a dermatologist, and they squeezed me in. (I may or may not have started crying over the phone when I was told they could not see me for a few days. Mysteriously, an appointment availed itself).

Two hours later, I walked out of the dermatologists office with a second and a third prescription, and a diagnosis of "a bacterial or viral infection". The cause? Undetermined.

It's been a week, and the meds are doing their thing. I'm better. Much, much better. The lab results came back, and everything is normal, I am fine.

Why am I telling you all of this?

Because for the first time in my life, I realize the importance of health insurance. In under 24 hours- a trip to my normal doctor and a specialist. Three prescriptions. Roughly $100 spent in a blink to try to figure out what was wrong with me.

I realize one of the fortunate ones. $100 stood between me and my health. (Frankly, I would have spent 10x that in the shape that I was in). I wanted to go to the doctor, and I went. Bing, bang, easy-breezy. I know that many American's do not have that luxury, and tonight this is really bothering me.

Health insurance is, dare I say it, critical to my well being, and I don't mean physically. The peace of mind that comes with being insured are nearly tangible. I know that the state of health care in this country is laughable, but I believe that better days are ahead.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Quote of the Day

You can’t change your entire life.

You can only change your next action.

You can’t change a relationship with a loved one.

You can only change your next interaction.

You can’t change your entire job.

You can only change your next task.

You can’t change your body composition.

You can only change your next meal.

You can’t change your fitness level.

You can only start moving.

You can’t declutter your entire life.

You can only choose to get rid of one thing, right now.

You can’t eliminate your entire debt.

You can only make one payment, or buy one less unnecessary item.

You can’t change the past, or control the future.

You can only change what you’re doing right now.

You can’t change everything.

You can only change one, small thing.

And that’s all it takes.

-The Think Big Manifesto

Friday, June 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Scott!

Today is Scott's 25th birthday. On my 25th (10 months ago today!) Scott gave me a beautiful diamond ring and asked me to marry him. It was one of the best days of my life. I was thinking about what I could to to make his 25th as special (get it? never gets old) as he made mine.

I'm thinking a blog shout-out is just as good... no?

Love you Scottie! Happy 25th!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

#20 Learn Three Cheers (Toasts)

If we've ever had a cocktail (or four) you know that I love to "cheers". It drives people crazy- because I practically want to cheers before every sip. Without further ado, here are my three favorite cheers':

Here's to good ships,
And wood ships,
And ships that sail to see
But the best ships,
Are friend-ships,
And may they always be.

Here's to you,
And here's to me,
The best of friends,
Forever we shall be,
But if we should ever disagree,
Then to hell with you and here's to me!

For every wound- a balm.
For every sorrow - cheer.
For every storm - calm.
For every thirst - a beer!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Photo of the Day

My obsession with Chicago flowers continues...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Ever seen Wordle? You provie your blog URL and it draws a picture using the words found on that page.

Monday, June 7, 2010

My oldest friend

Growing up, I lived on 40 Koser. Anna lived at 120 Koser (is that address right, Anna?) She was one year older in age, but somehow that never seemed to matter. I'm not exagerating to say that she made my childhood what it was. I truly thought that life was going to end when her family moved away. It couldn't possibly continue without the Kukulka's up the street, it just couldn't!

But somehow it did.

Fifteen years later, we reunited in Chicago for a quick drink, a long hug, and (of course) a photo.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Book Review: The Murderer's Daughters

I recently finished the book "The Murderer's Daughters" and I must admit, I loved it. I haven't loved a fiction book this much in ages.

The book begins with a family: father, mother, and two young daughters, Merry and LuLu. In a drunken rage, the father murders the mother, and stabs one of the daughters, Merry, before he is restrained by an adult that LuLu has screamed for. Merry survives, barely, but is deeply scarred - and the physical scars are just the beginning.

The two daughter's lives are always connected. They are literally all that each other has (their mother dies, and their father is sent to prison). They go to a relatives home, briefly, before being sent to an orphanage, and then taken in by an older couple with grown children. While Merry and LuLu are competely entangled in each others lives, and in many ways, completely dependent upon each other, they are also completely different: Merry continues to speak to her dad via letters to prison, and regular visits; LuLu chooses to ignore him, to rip up his letters and never visit, despite his begging.
The book skips back and forth, chapter by chapter, being told by each daughter. If I had to sum it up, I would say that the point of the book is: is it better to face the past, and painful memories, head on? Or, is it better to forget, to move on and not revisit them?

Since it's a fiction book, I'm going to stop there, before I give anything away. Let me just say that I loved it. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. (Though, I will say that I struggled through the first 50-100 pages. It drags a little in the beginning, but then it picks up, and I was so glad that I stuck through it).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Twenty One!

Happiest of birthdays to my baby brother, JFM. 21 today. Makes me feel kind of old, actually, because I remember my twentyfirst like it was yesterday.

The fridge is stocked in preparation...


Friday, June 4, 2010

the boy is back in town

It is official - my love has come home.

After almost three years on the road, he is back in Chicago, and better than ever.

As for me? Let's just say I smile a lot.

So yes, after roughly 1,000 days apart, we are reunited.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

#26 Keep A Plant Living

My plant? Still livin'. Check check!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend: A Recap

Pretty sure this was the fastest three days in the history of three day weekends. A summary of what when down:
  • One Cubs Game
  • Two Bloody Marys, three beers, and a couple vodka Sprites
  • Two grill-outs
  • 1 batch of homemade ice cream
  • 1 lunch with JFM
  • 4 walks along the Lake
  • 1 boating sesh on Lake Mich
  • Two birthday bash's
  • Two graduations

(I really wish that it was a 4-day weekend!!)