Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hoping and Praying

My 93-year-old Grandma is in the hospital.

My best girlfriend’s Dad had a heart attack yesterday.

It’s been a not-so-good week so far.

But luckily, they are both doing okay right now. I am hoping and praying that they will both be feeling much, much better very soon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Don't Get It

Sometimes I don’t understand my husband. Here is a guy who once scored “genius” on an IQ test, beat his entire family at Trivial Pursuit when he was nine years old, and can figure out a complex conversion of one type of computer file to another in mere minutes—

But for some reason, he still cannot figure out how to set the timer on our new microwave. And this is not rocket science, people—there are only a couple of buttons to push. But for some reason, this is a challenge to Iwanski. The same thing happened when we used to have to record t.v. shows on our VCR—I always had to program the VCR, because Iwanski was not comfortable with that whole process. Thank God that we now have Tivo—the easiest and best TV tool ever. But don’t even get me started on how wonderful Tivo is, because I won’t shut up about it. Seriously.

Anyway, in addition to the VCR and the microwave timer, Iwanski also has a hands-off relationship with our clock radio. I swear, I don’t know what he’d do if I didn’t program the alarm to go off each morning. He’d probably never wake up.

Seriously, I know that Iwanski could figure these appliances out very easily if he really wanted to—but somehow he has a mental block against it. I just don’t get it.

I have a secret, though—I kinda like the fact that he asks me to do these things for him. It makes me feel smart. And I like to feel smart, so I don’t complain about it.

But I can still complain about the balled-up socks that appear on the living room floor every night, and the shaving stubble that always seems to end up all over my makeup sponge. Tell me, how can it be that he prepares for shaving by spreading a big beach towel across the entire bathroom counter, and still, shaving stubble ends up all over the countertop? He says that the stubble must just “jump around” on its own, but I highly doubt it—unless it’s magic stubble.

Magic stubble. What would be the point in that?

I guess I just have to face the fact that I live with a hairy man who doesn’t know how to set the alarm.

But at least he makes me laugh.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Greatest Love of All

Today at work, I suddenly realized that I was writing with THE BEST PEN IN THE WORLD.

Writing with the pen was like conducting a fluid symphony...every stroke flowed from my fingers like the notes of a Mozart sonata…it felt wonderful.

Yes, in case you're wondering, I have, indeed, lost it. But hey, you gotta take your simple pleasures where you can get ‘em.

The worst part is, I have no idea what brand of pen this is, so that I may procure more of this exquisite writing instrument. It is a simple black pen with absolutely no markings or writing on it--it doesn't even have a cap.

I have no idea where I got it, so I won’t be able to get another one. That makes me sad.

Somehow I've managed to be sad about a pen.

I have reached the pinnacle of nerddom.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wild Chicago

I would like to live in a place that is in a city, with great public transit nearby, with many different restaurants and museums, a variety of people, and tons of things to do…and that is on the edge of a forest.

Yes, that’s the paradox that is Miss Healthypants. I am City Mouse and Country Mouse, all rolled into one.

Case in point: This past week, I spent some time viewing an art exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center, ate Indonesian Bakmi Goreng at Zen Noodles and Sushi (yummy!), and enjoyed people-watching on Broadway Avenue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood…I also took a stroll through the Che-che-pin-qua Woods (in the city’s surrounding forest preserves), intently watched nesting geese, took a long walk along Chicago’s beautiful lakefront, and watched otters frolic and play on “Wild America.”

I love the hard steel structures of city buildings and trains, and the soft dewy grass beneath my feet.

But this time of year, as the weather starts to get warmer (finally!), I start to get nostalgic for the country life. I love nature and animals, and I want to spend as much time with both of them as possible—but I still want to live in the city. What is one Miss Healthypants to do?

Well, luckily, we do have our share of wild animals, even in the city. Maybe they’re not the most rare animals, but they’re still animals, and I for one, do appreciate them. For example:

1. We have pigeons. Loads and loads of pigeons. My sister Sheri scoffs at them and calls them “rats with wings,” but I really and truly do like pigeons. And I enjoy watching them. If you really pay attention to pigeons, you will likely see a pigeon fight break out, which is always interesting. And let’s face it; the way they walk—jutting their heads forward and back with every step—is just plain funny.

2. We have sparrows. Yeah, I know—not really rare—but they’re cute! And of course, we have seagulls, robins, and all sorts of other “Midwestern” birds.

3. We have ducks and geese. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely LOVE it when a duck calls out in a slowly trailing off tone, “Quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack, quack.” I find it very amusing. And geese—well, you just gotta respect them. They don’t like you messing with them, and they don’t mind letting you know it, either.

4. We have rats. I don’t care what you say, I think rats are cute—especially subway rats. I love to watch them dart back and forth between the rails. A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I had just left a restaurant in Chinatown, and we saw a rat running around the dumpsters near the restaurant. I was fascinated. Yeah, I know I’m weird. I just think rodents are so damn cute!

5. We have squirrels. Believe it or not, where I grew up in small-town Wisconsin, I very rarely saw squirrels. I’m not sure why that was, but I think squirrels are adorable, and I’m glad they’re plentiful in this city. I am always amazed to watch their dexterity in jumping from tree to tree, from branch to branch. They never fall! And also, the squirrels in this city are very friendly. If you come up to them and make a little squeaking noise, they will come running up to you, expecting a handout. It’s pretty funny—and I’ll admit, frightening at times. I know they’re small and all, but I still wouldn’t want one of them crawling up my leg!

6. We have rabbits. On Easter Sunday, Iwanski and I were taking a nature walk, and we came upon a big group of rabbits. The child in me was delighted to see the bunch of Easter bunnies!

7. We have falcons. That’s right, I said falcons. Several years ago, a local group brought some peregrine falcons into the city to try to help try to raise their population (they were at one time an endangered species). And apparently pigeons make a tasty meal for falcons. One time, when Iwanski and I were on the observation deck at the Sears Tower, we actually saw two falcons flying around, one of them with a rat in its talons. That was freakin’ cool!

8. We have otters. Yes, we read that there are actually river otters now living in the Chicago River. Iwanski and I haven’t been lucky enough yet to see them.

9. We have deer. They’re mainly in the forest preserves, but some of the forest preserves are actually in the city limits. Sometimes I wonder if those deer realize that they live in the city of Chicago.

10. We have raccoons. One time, when Iwanski and I had just returned from a summer vacation, we saw a raccoon sitting next to a homeless woman on a planter, creeping ever-so-closely to her, while she sat there, completely oblivious to what was happening. (Luckily, a man who was walking very close-by lunged at the raccoon, and he ran away. That lady was so lucky that she didn’t get bitten!)

Wow, I guess we do have some nature in the city! And let’s not forget the coyote that two years ago, jumped into the cooler at a Quizno’s restaurant downtown, or the huge cougar that had to be shot by the cops on the North side of Chicago, a year ago this month.

I guess Chicago isn’t too bad a spot for both the City Mouse and the Country Mouse inside of me, after all.

And it’s nice to know that if I really start to get a hankering for some “real” nature (you know, the kind that isn’t surrounded by high-rises and screeching el trains), the Cook County forest preserves are only a bus or train ride away.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How We See Ourselves

Yesterday, Lisa from That’s Why mentioned on her blog a book called “The One Question That Can Save Your Marriage.”

And the One Question from the book is (drum roll please)….

What would it be like to be married to you?

Wow. That really made me think.

What must life be like for Iwanski? Yikes.

Now, to be fair, I think I’m a pretty good wife. I’m generally nice to my hubby and do nice things for him like making Lazy Daisy Bars (which he loves) and scratching his back when it’s itchy.

But I’m certainly not perfect. I’m messy and disorganized and not always safety conscious--but the thing I hate the most is when I’m overly critical of him. And sometimes I don’t even realize this until it’s too late—until Iwanski gets upset and tells me to stop criticizing him. And then I feel really bad.

Why is it that we can’t always see ourselves the way we really are?

I remember one time several years ago at work, when my old boss called me on the phone from her office, and I was ignoring her call because I was really busy working on a project. She started to leave me a voice mail, but then instead chose to yell to me, “Carla! Can you come in here for a minute? I have a question.”

Immediately, I got frustrated with her. You see, she had this bad habit of calling me into her office to ask me the same question I’d answered for her 10 times before—and always right when I was in the middle of completing a project for her. It was extremely annoying to me.

So I stormed off into her office, and said, “How am I supposed to get this project done if I keep getting interrupted?” (Luckily, my boss and I had a great working relationship, so I could talk to her that way.)

She ignored my frustration and went ahead and asked me her questions—which, of course, were ones that I’d answered for her 10 times before.

Finally, she finished asking her questions, and I rushed back to my desk.

Right away I noticed that the voice mail light on my phone was blinking, so I went to listen to my messages.

And I was surprised to hear my own voice on the voice mail. Somehow, my boss apparently had never hung up the phone after calling me, so she had inadvertently recorded our whole conversation on my voice mail.

I was stunned. And ashamed. As clear as day, I could hear my own voice—sounding extremely shrill and impatient-- whining at her about being interrupted.

I could not believe how awful I sounded.

And from then on, I vowed to really pay attention to how I was talking to others.

I learned a big lesson that day—no matter how impatient or frustrated you are, it’s never helpful to yell at someone (especially not your boss!).

And believe me, that lesson has REALLY helped me out in my current job in customer service. No matter how impatient I get sometimes with my customers, I always try to keep it in the back of my mind to be kind.

It’s not always easy, but I’d really like to be the kind of person that can look honestly at myself and not cringe in horror.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bitchin' and Scratchin'

Dear Mother Nature,

I don’t so much like you right now. I mean, first you take a Monday—which is already the worst day of the week—and then you add rain, wind, and temperatures in the low 40’s. Screw you. You suck.

Of course, I shouldn’t complain. There is worse weather out there somewhere in the world…right? I just have to remember—and for those of you who are as sick of this cold weather as I am, repeat after me—at least we’re not in Barrow, Alaska, at least we’re not in Barrow Alaska… Right now in Barrow, Alaska it’s TWO degrees (but with the wind, it feels like minus 13 degrees!). Good Lord, how do people live there????

Honestly, though, I feel like sometimes I need to bitch about things that irritate me, just so I can get it out of my system. So hey, while I’m on a roll, let me share with you some other things that have annoyed me today:

--The little paper clip guy that pops up because he thinks that I’m actually writing a letter to Mother Nature, and he wants to help. Dude, if I wanted your help, I would have clicked on "Help"!

--When a car rolls down the street with its bass booming so loudly that everyone on the street can not only hear it, but also have to actually cover their ears and cringe. I mean seriously, man, can you even hear the music when the bass is booming so loudly? And must we all hear the boom? Do you think you’re the only person in this world?

--The fact that technology hates me. Seriously, no matter how simple a task, computers often find a way to mess it up for me. For example, I started writing this on our desktop computer, but I couldn’t seem to get on the internet to find out the temperature in Barrow, Alaska. All I got was a blue screen that said “Internet Explorer” on the top. Fifteen minutes later, Iwanski gave up the laptop to me (thank God), and of course he is using the internet on our desktop computer--with no problem at all.

--Did I mention the weather? Did I mention that it’s April 13th and the temperature is currently 40 degrees, with a wind chill of 32 degrees?


Okay, I feel a little better now.

Today was just one of those days when I felt down in the dumps. Then, after I ate dinner tonight, my leg started itching (apparently it’s warm enough for mosquitos—grrr…), and as I reached down to scratch it, I thought, “Boy, there are not very many feelings in the world as good as scratching a really bad itch.”

And then, since my fingernails are very short (as I chomp on them often), I set out on a search for the perfect scratcher. Here are the results of my clinical research.

Experiment #1—Asthma inhaler, minus the cap (cap whereabouts unknown)—adequate size, but too rounded. Need to find something pointier.

Experiment #2—Cell phone antenna—surprisingly, pointy in shape but poor in scratching ability. Need to find something sharper around the edges.

Experiment #3—Success! The best scratching device ever--one of those fastener doo-hickey things that holds bread bags (and other bags) closed. No, not a twist tie—the other thing. This thing—what do you call this?**

I asked Iwanski what he thought it was called. He decided to call it Dave.

I call it a Dermatological Annoyance Vanquishing Enjoymatizer. (Or Dave, for short.)

And suddenly, my day didn’t seem quite so bad.

Thank God for a good scratch.

**Note: Try searching Google images sometime for an object that you don’t know the name of. It’s good fun.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Peep This!

Happy Easter, everyone!

It’s that time of year again—time for eggs, Easter baskets, new beginnings, and…peep shows?

Yes, that’s right—we have our own peep show, right at the Tribune Tower in downtown Chicago. See?

Now go ahead, take a peek…

This made me LAUGH. Man, I love this city! There’s always something fun to see right around the corner. Oh, and by the way, in the Peep Show, there was also a Marshmallow Peep wearing a tiny little boa, positioned on a miniature “stripper pole.” I SO wish I would’ve gotten a picture of that!

Whoever created that display has a great sense of humor. I think it’s awesome.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Big Surprise

A few days ago, Buck called me, and he sounded really excited.

“I got something for you!” he said, “You have to come over and see it.”

“Really?” I said. “What did you get me?”

“You have to come over and see it,” he said again. “Do you want to come over tonight?”

Now I was really intrigued. What the heck did he get for me? My mind reeled with what item he might have procured for one Miss Healthypants. Well, I had just written about my fancy-ass olive oil and vinegar on my blog—maybe it was something oil or vinegar related. But he kept saying it was a large item. Perhaps some furniture type of item? But why the heck would Buck get me furniture? I really had no clue what he had gotten for me.

And unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to find out until a couple of nights ago. That night, Iwanski, my best girlfriend Diane, and I headed over to Buck’s apartment. When I called Buck to tell him we were on our way, he told me that Iwanski and Diane should walk into his living room first, while I waited—just so I could see their reactions to the surprise first. I found myself getting a little nervous. What the heck could it be?

A few minutes later, we arrived at Buck’s apartment, and as he had requested, Diane and Iwanski walked in first. Immediately, they both gasped and smiled. “That is awesome!” Diane said.

“Oh my God, now I’m nervous!” I laughed.

“No, it’s good. It’s really good,” Diane said.

So finally, I walked in.

There, sitting there on Buck’s coffee table, was…a trombone! Just like the one I played during junior high, high school, and college!

“No WAY!” I said, with a huge smile on my face. I couldn’t believe it. I used to LOVE playing the trombone—but it had been over ten years since I last played! “Oh my gosh, this is too cool!” I picked it up and hoisted it on my shoulder, just like I had done a million times before. It felt great. “Did you buy this?” I asked.

“No, I rented it for a month,” Buck replied. “I also rented a french horn for myself.”

I laughed. “You’re kidding me! Now we can do duets!” I could not stop smiling.

Then it came time for me to try to play. For the past ten years, every time I thought about playing the trombone again, I had secretly feared that I would not be able to play at all. I’d even had dreams where I picked up the trombone and only air would come out—no sound. Yep, I was nervous. But hell, I had to try.

So I put my lips to the mouthpiece, and—“Bwow!”—out came a sound—a note! An actual musical note! I could still play, after all!

Now mind you, I certainly wasn’t NEARLY as good as I used to be—and I hardly remember the notes, nor do I remember any real songs—but I could still play! I felt alive—like there was a part of myself that had lay dormant for so long, but came alive again that very second.

I played some more notes, and then Buck brought out his french horn, and we actually harmonized for a few notes. It sounded just lovely.

What a brilliant surprise it was!

And what a wonderful friend Buck is!

We already have plans to get together and play on Thursday night. I can’t wait.

Now, if you want to hear Miss Healthypants squawk out a few notes on the ole’ trombone, check this out. But remember—I haven’t played in TEN years. So I’m not so good. But at least I can still play!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Somehow, I Got Stuff Done

Today I had a bad backache and—well, let’s just call it lady problems!—so I decided to work from home.

So at 8:30 this morning, I settled into our comfy recliner, turned on the laptop, and was blissfully unaware of the challenges ahead. Here is what I learned.

Challenge #1 – Iwanski is funny. Really funny. So if you really want to get some work done, you need to tell him to go for walk. A long walk. And ask him ever-so-sweetly if he’ll stop at the store and get you your list of 15 healthypants items so that he’ll be gone for a really long time.

Challenge #2 – The cats are cute. Really cute. So if you hear one of them snoring contentedly in a high-pitched feline snore, you must resist the urge to get up and pet her belly.

Challenge #3 – The cats are stinky. Really stinky. So when one of them drops a deuce in the litter box while you’re trying to work, be sure to throw open the balcony window immediately before you literally have to stick your head out the window in order to get a breath of fresh air.

Challenge #4 –When you have the window closed and you’re under a thick snuggly Cubs blanket and the laptop has been on your lap for several hours, you are in extreme danger of overheating. Open that window immediately! (See aforementioned window-opening.)

Challenge #5 –AKA “I Hate Computers”—Do not assume that just because you’re able to do a simple task while you’re working in documents at work, that you’ll be able to do the exact same task when working at home. This could also be called the “Miss Healthypants Wastes Fifteen Minutes Trying To Figure Out Why She Can’t Copy and Paste from One Document to Another” challenge.

Yes, it was a slightly challenging day. But despite its challenges, I actually got a whole bunch of work done. Because there was one challenge that was missing from my day—other people.