Monday, December 24, 2007

In preparation for Christmas Eve mass, hungover

Favorite Holidays, ranked from most to least:

1. Halloween
2. Thanksgiving
3. St. Patrick's Day
4. 4th of July
5. Memorial Day/Labor Day
6. Summer Solstice (I don't actually celebrate this, but think I should start.)
7. My birthday/friends' birthdays
8. Christmas
9. Valentine's Day
10. New Year's Eve

The saving graces of Christmas:

1. Wrapping my brother's gift in an egg carton.
2. Our annual ugly sweater party
3. Cookies
4. White Christmas/Love Actually/It's a Wonderful Life/Linus
5. Nat King Cole
6. Festivus
7. Families who drink

Friday, December 14, 2007

In the vein of Allison's subterannean homesick blues

It is 9:15am on a Friday morning. My first quarter of grad school completed, I'm sitting on my parents' loveseat, enjoying the hour before I have to be at work. Really enjoying it. There's no one in my family's house, and I realize that this is the first time I've been alone in a few weeks. As I drink my tea and putter around on my computer, I realize how relaxing this is. The TV is off, no one is stomping around the house, and I can make all the loud sounds with my nose that I want.

I miss my place in Chicago. I don't know if the emotional tumult of moving created a dramatic shift in my brain, but something happened and my parents' house is not my place anymore. My apartment is my place. The sense of comfort I feel in my parents' house will never go away, but it has changed dramatically. There is no way for me to finish what I started while I'm in this house. I don't know what it is that I've started, but it has been abandoned these many days now.

I've had the "coming home" conversation with many people my age. For some, the home they grew up in stopped being their home once they started college. Some felt it shift after they got home from being abroad. (Side note: What enormous privilege we have.) I think for me, this is the first time the shift hasn't felt like a bad thing, like a betrayal. After I graduated from undergrad, I came back home and tried to make this my life. I tried for two years. And I was happy here, but I wasn't full. And maybe I won't be in Chicago, but for now the difference is so great that I'm at least distracted.

Side note: Check out this website Emmy led me to. It's a bunch of graphic designers who created a phony medication in an effort to display the manipulation of our nation's health. It is so funny. Be sure to take the quiz.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cooking for the Vice President

Last week, Kansas City had the great pleasure of hosting VP Dick Cheney for a day. Over the past three weeks, I've had the great pleasure of being in Kansas City. Thus, our paths have somewhat collided.

In these KC weeks, I began the work I came home to do: make money. The easiest (or so I thought) outlet for this cash flow would be working for my friend's mother, a caterer. I signed on to work parties and do prep work and dishes in the kitchen. Mostly, it turns out I am a slave to the kitchen. Imagine my shock at the foot and back pain gained by working a 9 or 10 hour day on one's feet. Life is full of new experiences. A borrowed pair of running shoes from my mother has improved my outlook tremendously, though.

Last Thursday, the kitchen was catering a luncheon for someone we were referring to as "The Republicans." This fundraiser featured a special, mystery guest, a VIP that had to remain unnamed due to security measures. Yes, you put those pieces together correctly - I cooked lunch for the Vice President. I, Helen E, chopped vegetables for Dick Cheney's crudite. I, Helen E, mixed roasted red pepper dip with twice the amount of required garlic (whoops) for Dick Cheney's enjoyment on the pita chips I created myself.

Actually, the truth is, Cheney wasn't allowed to eat any of the food our kitchen prepared. Security was too tight. My boss had to go meet with Secret Service the day before, and all the servers working the party had to report their dates of birth, full names, and social security numbers to these same Secret Service. Apparently, before the party began, they were all forced to wait in the garage while they were supposed to be setting up. Those SS guys aren't effing around. I was supposed to work that party, but I got cut at the last minute, due to poor turnout. I think some higher power never meant for me to meet that scary devil of a man. Our forces were never meant to collide.

Aside from the VP, cooking has been a trip. It's tiring, but I must say that I've had worse jobs. The other day, I was peeling carrots, and had no less than four smells assaulting me: carrots, thawing lobster, baking chocolate, and sauteeing onions. It's quite stimulating, plus I get to listen to NPR all day. I like to feel like I'm up to date again. Though each night when I come home, no matter how glorious the food smelled that day, I flipping stink. Apparently that vibrant mix doesn't travel well. There are worse things, I suppose.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Fun Stuff

Check this lady out. She's got it goin' on. I giggled while reading.

I found her on this, most excellent, Chicago art-dudes site. Many thanks to Abigail for sending me their way.

Today, my (temporary) work catered a party for some local Republicans. These dudes happened to be hosting VP Dick Cheney. Unfortunately, I had to stay back in the kitchen to wash dishes and make horseradish sauces. I guess the world wasn't ready for a Cheney/Maggard pairing just yet. Maybe someday??? More on the catering later. I have to ice down my thighs and drink four beers to recover first.