Friday, February 25, 2011

Spinning Plates

Ever since I started a full-time job a couple of weeks ago, I have been forced to do something I loathe: admit that sometimes, as much as I want to, it's impossible do it all. More specifically, I am referring to maintaining this blog, reading the work of other writers I admire and staying up on current events. Sure I have been able to grab some of the headlines: Libya's Qaddafi the next dictator on his way out, Charlie's Sheen's bizarre war with his long-enabling network, Christine O'Donnell's possible appearance on Dancing with the Stars, and the fulfillment of my secret wish that Eliot Spitzer be allowed to host his CNN hour without the dull as can be Kathleen Parker. Be that as it may, I haven't been able to engage in the media deep dive I had ample time to enjoy as a member of the mass unemployed community.

I am not complaining. I am enjoying a career fulfillment this year which seemed so remote just eight weeks ago. I love my new position and am enjoying the challenges and opportunities to develop my skill set as a multi-media professional.

But there is that Catch-22. While enjoying financial security through ghost writing for another, I must give shorter shrift to my personal ambitions as an author, ambitions that to this point, have done absolutely nothing to pay the bills or provide a life direction. I get so frustrated with myself sometimes. Why can't I let things be enough? I was a miserable, depressed insomniac before I found myself in this place. Being solvent again has rectified most of that turmoil, but in it's stead is a lesser, but still persistent guilt, a voice in my head that not-so-gently goes to sleep and wakes up with me. It whispers that I have TWO jobs - the one that pays the rent and the fiscally thankless one of trying to build my own brand (whatever that means) and hone my craft.

I have written before that I am the ultimate late bloomer. I didn't stop growing until I was 21, finally put on my first big girl bra at age 25, figured out that I wanted (needed) to write at age 30 and removed my braces (and finally gained some self-esteem) at age 31. It is terribly frustrating to realize sometimes that as I round the corner toward 33, I am far from done maturing. I am, in a very real way, still trying to figure it all out. I realize I am not alone in my extended adolescence but when I recall that Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice in her early 20s, I feel so....embarrassed I think is the word for which I'm looking. I can't even imagine being someone's mother and I remain in awe of all the career women who do it, and do it well.

What's my point? Besides articulating the thoughts that have taken up residency in my consciousness the last fortnight, I am wondering if other writers, of both sexes, struggle with this tension between being a part of the literal working world, while still nurturing and cherishing the dream. It's exhausting, it can be exhilarating, but is it sustainable, or does one eventually have to make a decision about which plate they will take off the stick and eat from eternally?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Farewell to the King

Well, I admit I was hoping for a runoff. I never liked the way Rahm Emanuel's win in yesterday's Chicago's mayoral election was accepted as a foregone conclusion almost from the moment he announced his candidacy. We have spent the last 22 years voting (or not) for a virtually uncontested monarch, Richard M. Daley. To quote myself from the link above, "Mayor Daley may have done great things in terms of beautifying the landscape and attracting new business but anyone who has lived in the city for the last 22 years knows how much damage his interminable term has done: skyrocketing property taxes, unaffordable homes, runway gang crime and terrible fiscal decisions."

Yesterday's trip to the polls presented a chance for residents to take their city back, to peacefully foment a revolution, inspired by the examples that are quickly spreading across the Middle East. "Change" has been a political buzzword for several years now, but I am starting to wonder if the citizenry of Chicago is interested in that all. Because now we have Rahmbo. And no matter how young (relative to Daley), good looking and tough he is, is there anyone out there who really believes Rahmbo will make a clean break from The Machine politics of the Daley dynasty? If so, I have an extensive VHS collection I'd like to sell you (valuable vintage!)

I am willing to give Emanuel a chance. In some ways there is much to celebrate in accordance with his trouncing of the competition, earning 55% of the popular vote. We have our first mayor of Jewish descent. And we are spared the indignity of being led by Carol Mosley Braun, whose meager tax returns indicate a woman incapable of running a business (which, make no mistake this city is), and whose mouth suggest a woman incapable of talking sense. I invite Ms. Mosley Braun to crawl back under the pop cultural rock from whence she came.

And if I have mixed feelings about Rahm Emanuel as Chicago's new mayor (intertwined with my reservations about Bill Daley serving as the President's new Chief of Staff), I am unequivocally thrilled to be rid of the Daley regime. The AP succinctly contextualizes the long running relationship as follows: "It was the city's first mayoral race in more than 60 years without an incumbent on the ballot and the first in more than two decades without Daley among the candidates. Daley and his father have led Chicago for more than 43 out of the last 56 years."

If ever there was an argument for term limits, Daley was it. I was never a fan but I have been forced to stand by idly for two decades as the term "affordable housing" became an oxymoron. Chicago has failing schools, rampant gang activity, and for anyone who raves about all the "beautification" initiatives Daley has undertaken, I invite you to take a trip o the South Side with me. For the most part, the King and his cohorts labored under the misguided impression that the North lakefront was the whole of the city. Coincidently, the North lakefront is where you will find all of Daley's big and rich contributors. I am sure this is merely coincidence.

No matter who was declared the victor last night, I would be happy because today is 24 hours closer to being able to give Daley and his parking meter lease the boot. And not that this has any impact on his eventual ability to govern, but Rahm is certainly an aesthetic improvement over old Dick, with his trained ballet dancer grace and sexiness.

At least Chicago received some national political attention of the positive kind, rather than the interminable corruption charges, trials and imprisonments of our state governors. I know we have wisely placed a moratorium on the death penalty, but couldn't we waive it just this once to rid ourselves of Blago? That clown is like the shame gift that keeps on giving (unasked).

Daley? Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out. Rahmbo? You better mean it, unlike your former boss, when you say you're prepared to ask Chicagoans to make the "touch choices" that will bring the city back to fiscal solvency. I'll be watching.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Don't Trust Anyone Over 30

The adorable little toddler on the right, with the precocious awareness of "serious" camera face that persists to this day, is my husband, Aditya (better known as "Adi" to his Indian mates, and "Eddie" to Western acquaintances who struggle with the unique long "a" sound of the Hindi language). The woman on the left is his fantastically beautiful mother Pratibha, who leaves no doubts as to where my spouse came by his good looks.

This week my chosen life partner turned 30 years old. Yes, this makes me an unashamed cougar (suck it Courtney Cox!). As I experienced several years ago, the switch from 20 to 30-something, which I would argue is the new age in this infantilized world where one typically leaps from child to adult, has been somewhat jarring for my husband. He's still a young man by any definition, but there is now more hair on his back and less on his head, too many little girls call him "uncle" for his liking, and he can't eat anything oily without spending time in the digestive penalty box. At 30, one starts to gain an awareness of their own mortality, to suspect that the peak physical days are in the past after all. Aging is real.

It turns out that Eddie's birthday, February 17th, is also the marker of our years together as a couple. On the same day he hit the big 3-0, we celebrated five years of courtship. I label our relationship as such because even after a half decade together, and three of those as spouses, we are still working out the parameters of our union. We are from opposite sides of the globe figuratively and quite literally, with matching hot headed tempers being one of our common traits. It's tough work but I like that we're doing it together. I don't know anyone else who would even want to try putting it up with me.

I used to think it pretty uncool to get older. All that hippie "don't trust anyone over 30" rhetoric sounded like good, common sense. After age 29, it's like adults become the magically entrenched, the sudden producers of ideology rather than the rebellious anarchists.

But I saw the secure, confident smug worn above by a two year-old, on the face of a 30 year-old man wailing away at a karaoke version of Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" last night as he celebrated his milestone birthday surrounded by friends and family. He may have morphed into a staid software engineer by day, but after five, and his own mind, he's still a rockstar. I think I trust anyone over 30 who still dreams big.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hunt and Peck

When I think about it, there's really no good excuse for my condition. I went through primary school in the 1980s, when American culture exploded in its contemplation of the personal computer's applications. There was no concept of the Internet when I entered kindergarten in 1983, but I had a fair amount of exposure to the PC in those years: a glorified word processor at home, archaic computer game play with my friends (Jeopardy! The Oregon Trail!) and lessons in basic DOS as a part of grammar school curriculum.

And yet somehow, I never learned to type. Oh I am typing now, and obviously I get by. What I mean is that I am incapable of doing so the "right" way. After 25 years of loquacious communications, I have a confession to make: I am a hunt and pecker.

Mind you, and I don't like to brag, but I am the quickest draw there is. I may look down at the keyboard whilst I produce words, but my fingers fly over the numbers and letters like a concert pianist. The only real problem to this point has been the noise. I drill the keyboard like I am in the middle of a World War II blitzkrieg, typing out a potentially life saving SOS message, but when you work around me, it quickly becomes common white noise. I have survived 21 years of formal education (including a Master's in English Literature), 11 years in the corporate/nonprofit world and two years as a freelance writer and blogger. I can interview subjects with a phone expertly balanced between my ear and my shoulder while I type furiously.

This never bothered me before. It was one of my charming idiosyncrasies, or so I liked to believe. Anyone can type correctly. How boring.

I was completely unselfconscious about my quirk until yesterday, the first day on the job at a small publishing firm. Anyone who has checked in with me the last four months knows all about my unemployment saga, the self-flagellation I publicly engaged in over fear that I would never work with my words, that I had chosen my life's dream rather poorly, that I was condemned to a life of thankless freelance hustling (emphasis on the "free"). Well through a mixture of networking, patience (?) and highly practiced interviewing, I finally secured a full-time web writer and editor position with a highly respected financial guru. There's so much to learn as I remain a relative newbie to the journalism/publishing worlds, but I have finally have my shot.

I showed up Day 1 determined to impress. There are so many diverse and demanding projects into which I will eventually sink my teeth. The new boss made it clear that a three month learning curve is expected, but I will do all I can to ensure that timeline is shortened. I can't endure feeling out of my element for that long. I was ready to be confused, overwhelmed, possibly even a little panicked. What I was not prepared for was a sharp indictment of my sub-par typing abilities.

The new boss stood over my shoulder while I formatted a press release, an experience inherently designed to create discomfort, and her words took me completely off guard: "We are going to have to do something about your typing. There are plenty of classes and online tutorials."

Slightly stunned and embarrassed, I began to protest that my unorthodox style had served me well to this point, but I was shut down immediately with a challenge: "Well we can do a test. If you can produce 150 words per minute, I'm good."

I politely declined and it seems therefore that I will have to learn the proper method of word processing. I am the proverbial old dog tasked to learn a new trick. I expected many, many deficiencies to show themselves in this training period and usually do a terrific job of cataloguing anticipated flaws before they can be pointed out. I do not want this stupid issue to stand between me and publishing success

Saturday, February 12, 2011

No, 'Dancing with the Stars,' Just No!

Please don't do this to me y'all. I have watched every episode of every season you have ever had. I have stuck with you through Tom Bergeron's multiple co-host changes (and sorry ladies, none of you can ad-lib your way out of a Smart car). I have suffered through Bristol Palin and feared your casting team could go no lower than Evander Holyfield, but now you are thinking of doing this? Does my loyalty purchase no gratitude?

Rumor Mill: Brett Favre to Join 'Dancing with the Stars?'

I knew it. I was finally lulled into the belief that I might be free of seeing this grizzled old drama queen wince his way across my TV screen. I swore that after a highly publicized episode of texting his pee pee to a female employee of the NFL, after leading the Minnesota Vikings to a horrendously disappointing season, promising once and for all to free the league of his divatude, he might take his millions and crawl into a pop cultural cave for a spell. But no, the ultimate media whore has decided instead to give ballroom dancing a whirl.

Though a loyal fan, I have never cast a vote for a contestant of this show before. However, if the rumor pans out and Favre does compete on the 12th season of the program, I will start my own robo dial campaign - for everyone but him.

Go away Brett!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Trending Now on Yahoo (9:30 AM CST)

I will confess that after purging myself emotionally with the last post, and trying to prepare for the start of a permanent full-time writing and editing job (remember those?) that kicks off Monday morning, I am feeling a little short on creativity. But thank goodness I can always take advantage of the nation’s short attention span to mine material for pop cultural discussion. As my title suggests, I pulled this list from Yahoo a short while ago. When I woke up at 6:00 AM and turned on my computer, the navel gazing night shift was preoccupied with a whole different set of issues. If I want to stay relevant, I had better move quickly, so here goes:

1. Julia Hurley
I confess I did not even know who this woman was, but of course as she sits at #1 on the trend list, I figured it had something to do with sex, drugs or murder. Ding, ding, ding! Give Becky Sarwate a prize. Of course it the former scandal in play. Julia Hurley, a 28 year-old candidate for the 32nd Legislative District, according to an Examiner report, may or may not have been wearing pants in a photo taken back in 2005, when the would-be lawmaker was still a working model.

Clearly her constituents should take part in a real debate over whether an “artistic” picture snapped at 23 have anything at all to do with her fitness for office now (I would argue no). However, I suspect the reason Ms. Hurley sits atop the Yahoo search is because there’s a lot of pervy folks out there trying to locate the since removed pantless shots. They would like to assess her”credentials” for themselves.

2. Britney Spears
Ms. Spears is no stranger to trending high on search engine lists. She’s been doing her thing for well over a decade, a thing I confess I adore. Mercifully, after a serious 2007 case of personal and professional meltdown, Britney is back to getting the right kind of attention for her work. With a new album dropping at the end of March, a will-she-or-won’t debate over a possible Grammy performance and a smash radio single, “Hold It Against Me” on the airwaves, there are plenty of reasons everyone wants Brit.

3. Charlie Sheen
Sigh. Oh Charlie. What could possibly be left for us to know? We have been aware of you and your hard partying, hooker loving ways since the mid-80s. It’s as dependable as death and taxes. I will admit the smiling, toothless photo that circulated on TMZ before you went to rehab (smoke crack much?) was a surprise because I believed you to be vainer than that, but honestly after you have shot a girlfriend, held a knife to you third wife’s throat, and nearly burned down a hotel, nothing is novel anymore. Please go away and get healthy so that the rest of us who are not mystifyingly addicted to Two and a Half Men can love you again.

4. Jennifer Hudson
The extremely talented and resilient Ms. Hudson is garnering all sorts of media attention for her new Weight Watchers-induced sexiness, a pending album, and her participation in an all-star Grammy tribute to the legendary Aretha Franklin. There is talk in Hollywood that Jennifer may also play the Queen of Soul in a developing biopic. Make this happen! This woman has endured tremendous tragedy, but she is back with a new family, an inspirational attitude and a brilliant career. American Idol never knew what it had. 7th place? Bah!

5. iPhone
Wireless carriers Verizon and AT&T are finally going head to head to market and sell the mega-popular smartphone. Conflicting reports abound that Verizon service results in fewer dropped calls while Team AT&T purports to have the superior app functionality. You know what? I still don’t care and I never will. I just want to know if Steve Jobs is going to be ok. We need him – one of the last great rock star innovators of a generation.

6. Julia Roberts
The pretty woman and mother of three is bucking type to portray the “Evil Queen” in a version of Snow White that’s currently in production. Julia has played some morally ambiguous characters before, in movies like Closer, but this might be the first time she will let her unabashed villainess flag fly. Ms. Roberts has not produced a plethora of great movies in recent years (Eat, Pray, Yuck), so I am interested to see how this works out.

7. Elvis Presley Enterprises
The group is suing men in Florida, England, Wales, and elsewhere for infringement of intellectual property rights after the circulation of unauthorized box sets. Are you bored? Me too. Next!

8. Valentine flowers
With everything going on in my personal life, the advent of this Hallmark holiday nearly escaped me - nearly. I was about to write a legion of incredibly snarky comments but it seems American men and woman have taken to the Internet in the quest to find flowers for their loved ones. Only a real cynic could find fault with that part of the ritual.

9. Pepsi can
I am glad I held onto my snark, because I plan to make ample use of it here. The carbonated beverage company recently announced a redesigned Diet Pepsi “skinny can,” to pay ostensible tribute to “beautiful, confident women.” Ah yes – Pepsi gets us, don’t they ladies? The regular can of artificially sweetened syrup just does not allow a full expression of the self. However, skinny cans are only a short tangential walk away from the horror-inducing idea of skinny jeans; you know the ones that 98% percent of woman cannot fit into? I say if you want to pay tribute to yourself as the beautiful, confident woman you are, drink a glass of water instead – good for the skin, waistline, hydration and best of all, it will prohibit Pepsi from further lining their corporate pockets by trading in sexist bullshit.

10. Chipotle
And once you’ve finished that glass of water, celebrate your banging female curves by indulging in a giant Chipotle Burrito.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

13 Going On 33

I felt stretched nerves pushing against my skin as Eddie and I searched for a parking spot on the familiar side street. Covered in a blanket of nearly 30 inches of snow, we had to be careful about where to leave our little Honda Civic if we wanted to depart without getting stuck. And on this Super Bowl Sunday, I required the security of knowing I could make a break for it at any moment.

For the first time in 14 years, and longer since we had substantially interacted, I was about to see Cara. Cara was my closest friend and confidante from kindergarten through fourth grade, the first person I idolized, the first person I allowed to make me feel less by comparison. That is not to say that Cara was a Mean Girl in any sense. In fact the situation was quite opposite. With her diminutive stature, smattering of freckles and unforced smile, my friend was one of the easiest people to get along with that I have ever known. Not only was she cute beyond all reason, but I can’t recall her once mistreating anyone. In a way this pained my bitter heart more than if she were a total bitch. We enjoyed the imbalanced dynamics of all lopsided relationships where one half possesses the perfect combination of beauty, academic excellence and athleticism while the other proceeds to bully herself before anyone else has the opportunity.

I don’t think Cara ever knew how much I envied her, because she exercised a frustrating lack of awareness of her own superiority, which only served to make her more damningly likeable. I was pretty intelligent myself, smart enough to look at Cara’s educated, healthy family and the way that every boy I had a crush on grew besotted with her instead, and experience a painful, burning jealousy.

After we completed our fourth grade year, my parents pulled my sister and I from formal education for a disastrous experiment in home schooling. When I saw Cara again at age 13, we had traveled down different paths: she now best chums with the other two most fabulous girls in our class, while I ran comfortably with the outcast, delinquent crowd.

Somehow the situation had actually gotten worse. I was the last girl to wear a bra, the last to get her period (that really seemed important at the time – oy!). I wore huge glasses and was desperately in need of braces after a first grade radiator collision caused all of my adult teeth to grow in haywire. I was in short, the most awkward looking, embarrassed young teenager to discharge hormones. In the meantime, if it were possible, Cara had grown more charming and attractive. I hated her just as much I wanted to be her.

Flash forward to February 6, 2011, the scene of my handsome husband and I parking our car in a snow drift. Almost poetically, Cara now lived with her brother in an apartment across the street from our grade school. Though I have supposedly matured, long since traded the Harry Caray glasses for contacts, and had my braces removed a year ago, I feel a familiar panic. After two years of missed opportunities, my old friend and I are about to reunite for some Super Bowl tailgating and a long overdue gab session. What should I say? Do I look ok?

Over the course of the next 90 minutes, there are multiple moments when I wish to take myself out to the shed and kick my own ass. It’s like no time has passed. When I laugh, I instinctively cover my mouth, as I used to do before orthodontic intervention, so that no one can see my crooked teeth. I reach up multiple times to push up slipping eyeglasses that haven’t been there in 15 years. Meanwhile Cara is effortlessly vivacious, chatting with Eddie, making genuine inquiries after my family and showing real interest in my career as a writer. It was almost more than I could take.

And that’s when I realized what I am certain I knew all along. I am my own Mean Girl. I am the one who stood in front of the mirror as a primary school student, poking at the various imperfections and mistakes in breeding I saw reflected back. I still do it now. In a quick flash I recall all the efforts at self-improvement I have undertaken that I vowed would make me happier – contacts, braces, Botox, personal training sessions, extensive therapy. Yet there I was, 13 again, feeling like a loser, the last picked for the team, though no one but I enforced the segregation. All along I needed Cara to put a face to my own feelings of inferiority. I required her to be perfect so I could indulge my own petulant worthlessness.

As the hour and a half session progressed, I felt myself relax by increments. It turns out, naturally, that Cara has her own set of adult problems. Once I finally took her off the pedestal and spoke to her like a real person, I was reminded of what drew me to her as a kindergartener in the first place. I began to castigate myself for being such an insecure wingnut, but abruptly ceased when I realized this is how all the trouble began in the first place.

One of the lessons I have learned in life is that in some ways, we never grow up. We may have careers, children and adult responsibilities but “they” don’t warn you that passing through life stages will not produce a corresponding level of maturity unless you do the hard work. I have fixed all of my visible imperfections, the aesthetic weaknesses I always believed held me back. It’s time to get out of own way psychologically. It’s fitting that Cara, long ago the impetus for outward improvement, now serves as the catalyst for a desire to be less petty.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Silver (Crazy Like a) Fox

Generally speaking, I have nothing but respect for Anderson Cooper, the superstar journalist and face of CNN's cable news network (no matter what Wolf Blitzer may think). Despite being sired by the Vanderbilt, money as old as it comes clan, despite being privileged and ruggedly handsome and instead of contenting himself with the easy lifestyle of the East Coast aristocracy, A.C. has made a respectable name in his own right. Whenever you see a snug fitting black t-shirt and effortlessly tousled silver hair, look beyond the telegenic sexiness and you will see an honest, determined professional who is not afraid to get in the trenches.

While those of us couch surfing at home certainly appreciate the in-your-face, up close and personal gritty bent to Cooper's quest for truth, I am beginning to wonder if the man isn't a little touched in the head. The thought first occurred to me on Tuesday night, as Eddie and I hid from the blizzard, watching endless coverage of the Midwest winter storm. When CNN wasn't breathlessly discussing the impact of "Snowmageddon," the other big story of the evening, and in fact the last week, has been the populist revolt in Egypt.

What began as a mostly civilized, large scale and diverse turnout of Egyptians demanding immediate regime change has quickly devolved into the worst display of lawlessness and street thuggery. Someone (President Hosni Mubarak) seems to have recruited a brutal gang of armed responders in an attempt to crush the democratic protests of fed up citizens. Therefore instead of reasoned intellectual debate, or even impassioned demonstration, we are seeing images of Moltov cocktails, the resulting fires, beaten and harassed civilians splashed across our television screens. Cultural institutions such as the famed Egyptian Museum are suddenly in peril. The panic and pain of Tahrir Square has been frustratingly heartbreaking to observe.

Keeping more than just an eye on the situation throughout most of the week has been our man in the field, Anderson Cooper. Between dialing in to the network with reports throughout the day, appearing on late afternoon segments of "The Situation Room," and continuing to anchor his own nightly program, "AC 360," it doesn't seem like The Silver Fox has had any time for sleep. And you get the feeling that Cooper is not out courting Pulitzers. His dedication is real. But at certain moments, you have to wonder about the man behind the serious gaze. As I said, on Tuesday night, I began to psychoanalyze A.C. a bit as he sort of carelessly informed viewers of his crew's precarious situation. He chuckled more than once as he warned, "we may have to flee at any moment."

So of course when I woke up Wednesday morning to the news that Cooper and his colleagues had indeed been mobbed and beaten in Cairo, my first thought was, "Well that was inevitable, wasn't it?"

I realize that there are more urgent issues to consider coming out of the crisis in Egypt, such as its long-term effects on the stability of the Middle East region, the succession plan (if any) for President Mubarak, and the possible security fallout in Israel. But in times of great danger, it seems natural to wonder about those who go chasing it. Why exactly is Anderson Cooper the first to raise his hand when CNN needs someone to wade into a hurricane, wander into a war zone or pick a fight with powerful corporate and government interests? Fearless love of humanity or death wish - you decide.

What is biographically known about the famously guarded media darling suggests both Mommy and Daddy issues. His father, writer Wyatt Emory Cooper, died in 1978 when Anderson was 11. His mother, famed socialite Gloria Vanderbilt, paraded her son around on The Tonight Show and kept him occupied with high profile modeling gigs for Calvin Klein and Macy's. So naturally at age 17, Cooper went to southern Africa in a "13-ton British Army truck" where he promptly contracted malaria and ended up in a Kenyan hospital. This appears to be the beginning of a well-worn pattern for A.C.

So I wonder, though I will never have the chance to ask Mr. Cooper, do you run toward tragedy to escape the pain in your own life? If so, I can sort of relate. Growing up in a terribly traumatizing home, I deflected processing my emotions by becoming the busy caretaker of everyone else. It was often a welcome, if damaging, distraction.

Last night's edition of "AC 360" featured Anderson and his crew broadcasting from a secret, dark and dingy location, sitting on the floor, voices barely above a whisper. I pray for the safety of everyone in Egypt but I admit to a special concern for my favorite journalist. Because I suspect that even with all his fame, money and repute, he may not care much about himself.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stuck in the Blizzard With You

Did you hear the news? The Midwest has been hit with the worst snowstorm in a bazillion years!!! In truth, it's still pretty bad out there, but I think the phenomenon that sets this blizzard apart from the norm is the extremely high wind factor. Our power flickered briefly last night - fairly unusual for a condo building in the middle of a major metropolitan hub, but thankfully I was still able to finish my viewing of The Biggest Loser (while I consumed strawberry shortcake) unmolested.

Eddie and I are both telecommuting today. While neither of our offices is technically closed, King Daley and his outgoing minions have encouraged everyone to stay off the roads today if possible. You don't have to tell most of us twice. That means my marriage has, for the moment, turned into a workplace situation comedy. I am plugging away on the desktop while Eddie sidles up to my left attempting to configure his laptop. Let the passive aggression begin. We have never really had the opportunity to watch each other work, and as we are both completely dependent on functional Internet service, pray that our wireless network holds up. As I write, he is standing over my shoulder critiquing. It's going to be a long day.

However, we have the benefit of new vocabulary to keep our minds occupied should the tension grow too thick. Between the weather people and my Facebook community, I am now able to add three key terms to my verbal arsenal. Apparently "life threatening" snow is manna for the cultural creative process.

I. thundersnow

- noun
1. a winter phenomenon whereupon frozen precipitation is interspersed with the traditional rainfall effect of lightening and thunderclaps.

This one I had to see for myself. When I heard the meteorologists bandying this term about with giddy relish yesterday afternoon, I thought they might simply be trying to wish a new weather experience into reality. But it happened. Heavy drifts, blown about by 50 MPH winds, punctuated by fairly loud booms. And still the extreme right insists global warming is a myth. I kept waiting for John Cusack and Woody Harrelson to run across my rooftop as the pavement buckled.

II. snowmg

1. an emotional contraction, conveying one's shock and awe at the power of nature's wrath. Sample use: "SnowMG! That wind is stinging my forehead!"

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised anymore at the way instant and text messaging have transformed our language into a network of cutesy, abbreviated phrasing. Still in an LMAO, BRB, IMO kind of world, this one is a bit much for me.

III. pancake ice
[pankake ise]

a form of ice that consists of round pieces with diameters ranging from a few inches to many feet, depending on the local conditions that affect ice formation.

Wikipedia has an entry for this definition dated October 14, 2010, so I can confirm the relative newness of the word. I have heard of black ice, thin ice and icebergs, but apparently those old terms just won't do anymore. We are wanting a bit of creativity with our natural disasters. However, other than making me hungry, I fail to see what the addition of this descriptor to our lexicon contributes.

If you are one of the 100 million folks affected by this record breaking event's power, I hope you are staying warm, dry and somewhat amused. Eddie is about to try making oatmeal from scratch. If the power does finally go out, perhaps a kitchen fire will provide the necessary heat.