Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm a little teapot...

After writing yesterday, I realized that I had many awkward moments this past week.  Of course, new environment outside of my own comfort zone and new people.  Awkward moments were likely to take precedent over normal ones, right?  Most of our workshops last week entailed videotaping.  After we were recorded doing the various presentations, we would then have to go to the video review room.

If you have never seen yourself on video, like I hadn't, this will be rather painful.  My voice was nasally.  I found out I have several odd tendencies as I speak.  For example, when I am doing a cross-examination, I tend to nod and shake my head.  If the witness gives me a good answer, I nod my head, like I am checking it off my list.  Apparently, I am a head-nodder.  Add the pressure of the videotaping, the material and the eight or so other individuals watching me to the fact that I have to be conscientious about keeping my head still.  It was a seemingly insurmountable task.

I then developed another tic.  As I gave my closing argument, I noticed that I had my hand on my hip.  I really believe that I do not tend to put my hand up on my hip as I speak to a jury and I realized I was doing it, but I was incapable of speaking and putting that hand down.  From the time I gave my closing argument to the time of the video critique, I seemed to have forgotten that I had given my closing argument in a very sassy fashion, hand up.

Fast forward to my video review.  The faculty member made a few comments, one about the fact that I was starting to sway at the podium.  Then we both noticed the hand on the hip.  I attempted to divert her attention by discussing my plan of attack of the swaying.  I noticed that my hand went down.  Good, we wouldn't have to discuss it.  And then it crept back up there.  Unfortunately, I was not able to keep jawing this time, and we had to discuss it.  Embarrassing.  I deemed it my "Teapot Move," a term at which we both had a good laugh.

Of course, I go back to the classroom after my video review and demand of my classmates why they hadn't told me about my teapot deliver.  They swear they didn't notice, but I'm not so sure.  I attempted to reign that in by holding onto the podium and only using my hands for emphasis.  Unfortunately, as I was doing my cross-examination in our mock trial, I could feel that hand creep up there.  This time I left it.  Because cross-examination is all about sass, right?

So, apparently, I am a little teapot.  But short and stout.  You'll see my handle, and when I am emphasizing a point, you'll see my stout.  It's true, when I get all steamed up, I might shout.  But don't even try to tip me over.  Seriously.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Awkward Moment of the Week (well, one of them)

I spent this past week in Indianapolis for a training seminar.  Good times.  Honestly, despite it being a lot of work, it was a lot of fun.  I met some terrific people, learned a lot and even managed to have a couple of fun nights out.  Oh, and did I mention that I made it to the gym FOUR times.  That is my world record, I believe.

In any event, of course, there were awkward moments to be had.  New faces, new friends, awkwardness was inevitable.  And this time, it came in the form of my cell phone.

It was Wednesday afternoon, we were giving seven minutes of our closing argument.  Did I mention that we were also video-taping ourselves?  I cannot remember if I had given my argument at this time of this incident.  I had my phone ringer turned off.  That morning was one of my gym sessions.  Because I couldn't really get anything good on the treadmill TV, I had used my Pandora application on my Blackberry. (P.S. This was my favorite application I had downloaded.) Of course, the radio had been turned off for hours.  I had successfully used my phone after I had turned Pandora off.  One of my colleagues had just given his closing argument, a rather persuasive one at that, at which point one of the faculty proceeded to give an impromptu lecture.  My phone began to ring.  Of course, since it was on silent, no noise came out.  I hit the ignore button, at which point I began to hear a noise.  Music.  And it was coming from my phone.  Kanye West.  Love Lockdown.  And I could not get it to turn off.  It seemed every time I hit the off button, my finger would slip and it would stay on.  The music started to get louder.  Everyone started to stare and offer their suggestions for getting the music to stop.  The faculty member who had been drawing out diagrams at the front of the room asked if it was playing a specific song.  And the music continued to get louder.

Finally, I was able to turn off my phone successfully.  The music stopped.  My face was sufficiently red, and I felt like a jerk.  It was a terrific way to introduce my group as to the awkwardness I introduce to each and every day.

I'm back home to Chicago now having survived a week of intensive training and a mock trial, all embarrassment aside.  Stay tuned for a record of more awkward moments.

Friday, March 19, 2010

This post inspired by ::gulp:: Miley Cyrus.

I was visiting one of my usual celebrity gossip sites the other day and came to a blurb by Miley Cyrus.  Yep, none other than Miss Hannah Montana herself.  She used to be quite the tweeter (via twitter.com) and now professes to dislike the internet.  Read here, further, if you can stand a little annotation by a crass individual:


(On an unrelated note, I know that this blogger is rather crass, but he makes me laugh out loud every day.  Or LOL for the teenie-boppers.)

Of course, this made me think about how digitalized our world has become.  We update facebook statuses so the entire world, or just our facebook community, knows our whereabouts.  There was an article in the Chicago Redeye about this the other day as well.  For the record, do not judge me for reading the Redeye.  It is free, I enjoy the crossword puzzle and sudoku, and if I were to subscribe to a real newpaper, it likely would get stolen from my front stoop.  So I make do.

In any event, a link to the discussion via Redeye: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/redeye/2010/03/foursquare-worth-your-time-or-forget-about-it.html

I do not participate in twitter, nor do I participate in this foursquare idea.  Facebook (and this blog) is about as far as I go in the sharing department.  Furthermore, let it be known that I am very careful with what I share online.  I learned that lesson the hard way via blog number one.  I prefer it that way, actually.  God forbid that I end up on one of those websites such as oversharers.com or lamebook.com.  I also like to maintain a bit of class in my life.  So I hold back a bit, and give little snapshots of my life.  My status updates tend to be shortened versions of my blogs: funny or snarky little tidbits.

One area where I may be guilty is the whole "photo-taking" business.  I bring my digital camera with me everywhere to document my life.  Sometimes I wonder (and worry), much like Miley Cyrus, that I am going to "miss life" by taking all these photos.  Yes, I do post them on facebook.  I wondered the other day, "Am I living my life vicariously through myself?"  My answer?  No.  Since mid-2008, I have been living my life like never before.  The photos mainly document my good times.  They capture my friends, family and I in our shared journey through life.  Most importantly, they provide documentation of the way I have lived my life.  When I look back on these photographs, they make me smile and remind me of my good times.  Face it, I tend to forget things, which is the reason I leave post-it notes for myself everywhere and ask people to send me reminder texts.  If I didn't have these photographs, I wouldn't have the vivid memories of the laughter my friends and I shared on St. Patrick's Day or the reminder of the way I felt the first time I was in New York City.

While I likely will not get on the twitter bandwagon, nor is it likely I will join foursquare, I will continue to take and post my pictures.  It makes me happy, and is a part of who I am.  Judge me, Miley, I don't care.  For the record, I will continue to type out "laugh out loud."  I'm too old for LOL.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Why blog?

I'm always apprehensive to tell people that I have my own blog.  It seems a bit narcissistic, no?  I was thinking for my reasons for having my own blog.  The main reason is that I enjoy writing.  I always have enjoyed writing and used it as my creative outlet.  Ask my friend, Lisita de la noche, a co-author for this scintillating (at the time) story we composed in sixth grade in our Creative Writing notebook.  Creative Writing, indeed.

Recent involvement in the website yelp.com reawakened my desire to write, and write more than just a little.  Sure, on yelp.com I write about food, mainly restaurants and some other businesses.  This blog is supposed to be about more than just food.  Of course, food and going out sneaks into this endeavor.  It is only natural given that I am a young, single twenty-something (for another six months or so) who enjoys exploring her city by eating her way through it.  True story.  However, in my life, I believe that I have amassed some great stories.  I also tend to see the oddness in everyday occurrences that I enjoy writing.  Perhaps they are funny only to me.  I am relatively certain that they are awkward to most.

My last blog got me into trouble.  Perhaps that was serendipitous.  I realized how truly unhappy I had been in my career and started taking greater action to make myself happy.  I have moved onto a job in which I am much more satisfied and started having better life quality.  I am not angry all of the time.  Granted, the angry all the time stories were amusing, and I still have the occasional angry facebook status: Amanda is angry at the woman smacking her gum on the bus.  (But seriously, who ISN'T angry at that display of bad manners?)

Some people blog because they want to be discovered as a burgeoning writer.  Don't we all?  We blog because writing is our passion, and we want to be able to make it our profession.  Honestly, all bloggers won't "make it" in the literary world.  I don't realistically expect to become a full-time writer, as much as I think I'd enjoy it.  Passion is the key here.  My job, although I went to school for it many years and I enjoy it, does not fulfill me in the creative ways that writing does.  So here we are.  You can read my creative endeavors and if it makes you laugh, I feel good about myself.

Some people, they just wanna dance.  Me?  I wanna write.  Oh, and make people laugh.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

All this talk about travel...

Thinking about a big trip, I am forced to reminisce for the next six months or so about my past travels.  Obviously, my most significant trip thus far in my life was my summer abroad.  A month in Rome, a few weeks in France, Belgium and Luxumburg, and two weeks in the UK (mostly Oxford and London).

I had been to London before, and Mexico briefly, but that was the extent of my international travel.  I had never been someplace where people generally did not speak English.  The horror, I know.  When given the opportunity to spend nine weeks overseas, I jumped.  To Rome, I went. Rome involved much sight-seeing.  The problem?  There is just so much to see in Rome, let alone the entire country of Italy.  We saw the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Colloseum, and of course, visited Vatican City.  Sadly, I felt that i never scratched the surface.  My efforts to do weekend trips to other cities in Italy left me exhausted and broke.  Word to the wise, do not attempt Florence, Venice and Pompeii in one weekend.  Just don't do it.  They are in different directions.

Needless to say, after one month of studying in the morning, trekking around Rome all afternoon and evening, and training off to other cities from Friday afternoon until late Sunday evening, I was burned out from "sight-seeing."  My efforts after Rome were more of an attempt to make sure I saw something worthy.  I saw a lot, not to worry, but my tourist vigor had left the building.  Rather than hit up museums at every chance, I would sit in an outside cafe and have lunch and wine (or beer once we got to Belgium).  I attempted to enjoy my experience, knowing that it most certainly would be the last large chunk of time where I was truly unemployed and able to "charge it," knowing that  some big fancy law job was waiting for me when I graduated and passed the bar in two years.

(Ha.  Hahahahhaha.  I was so young and naive.)

All youthful hopefulness aside, one story never fails to get a laugh.  We were in Oxford on our very last night. My bus to Heathrow was set to leave at 5:00 a.m. for my flight back to Chicago.  Never one to miss a party, I attended the pub crawl through town, organized by our professor, mind you, and proceeded to live it up.  One thing you must know about the pubs in England is that they close at 11:00 p.m.  And by close, I mean, hand over your pint glass, it's 11:00:01, time to go.  When put into that situation, "Kindly give me your glass," the server requested, I did the only thing that made sense: I took that pint glass, three quarters of the way full of some thick, not-cold-enough ale, and drank it.  One fell gulp.  Down the gullet.  I chugged it, if you want to be a crass American.  That swift maneuver earned me the respect of several classmates and one marriage proposal.  Classic.

Of course, after that, our professor located a "club" to where we proceeded to dance and continue drinking the night away.  Bad move, considering my early flight the next day.  Let's just say, a seven-hour flight while recovering from an authentic pub crawl sitting next to a Pakistani man offering you his curry and naan bread and asking you for your phone number is never a good idea.  Good to know I have a person to visit in Kansas City should I ever need one.  He was good enough to offer up his place for me to stay.

I have grown up much since that trip.  I now save money for my vacations.  (As of today's date, I have $130 saved up for my fall vacation.  Miss Money Bags, right?)  Charging is not an option.  I don't have a fancy lawyer job to send me on exotic travels without caution to money.   I have to plan my work schedule around vacation months in advance.  I can only really go for a week or so at a time.  I likely will not be "chugging" beers on my vacation this fall.

But I do look forward to that wide-eyed wonder of viewing new, undiscovered-by-me territory.  I can't wait to take pictures of everything, from the monkeys I hope to encounter on our hikes, to the little grocery stores I hope to visit to grab a snack.  I look forward to whatever next year's vacation may hold.  Mostly, I anticipate longer than a weekend off work with my favorite person in the world, my P.I.C.  I will just tell him to "hold the naan bread" for our flights.  Never a good idea.  Trust me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bit by the travel bug.

Lately, I've been getting a bit of cabin fever.  Chicago seems to be perpetually cold and gray.  Spring, while it may be around the corner, is never long enough here.  Settling for it being lighter for another hour seems to be the greatest of concessions these days.  So I have taken to buying plane tickets.

To Indianapolis next week (that wasn't really a voluntary purchase).  Onto Tampa in April/May.  New York in June.  And, the grand trip: A Panama en octubre, el mes de mi cumpleanos.  Oh, sorry.  Did I just start typing in Spanish?  Well, I hear that I will need my Spanish-speaking skills there.  Now THAT is a vacation, right?

Now that my partner-in-crime and I no longer work at the same place of employ, we can take a real vacation.  We can go someplace for longer than four days (with two of those days for travel).  We tossed around many ideas, both being enthused about the prospect of actually getting to travel together.  We discussed Europe, but figured that there were too many places we'd been and too many places we wanted to go that it was overwhelming.  Mexico?  That was an option, but we wanted a bit more culture than the average resort.  Costa Rica?  Same idea.  But then PIC told me that he'd read about Panama (not the city in Florida) being a great place to visit.  Panama was like Costa Rica before it got very touristy.  We researched it, found out we can do it on a dime.  Face it, while we might be able to take a vacation for longer than a few days, we still need to be budget-conscious.  We can use our backpacks.  We can hike in the rain forest with monkeys.  MONKEYS!!!!  We can go to the beach and pretend like we will try to surf, but likely end up finding a beach bar and relaxing.

Most importantly, Panama seems to be a trip that neither of us have taken.  It is a place undiscovered by either of us: Central America.  We can get a bit of culture, a bit of nature, and a bit of beach.  At this point in our lives, it seems like the perfect vacation.  For me, it seems the perfect place to spend my thirtieth birthday, a date that seems to be more quickly approaching by the month.

We haven't bought our tickets yet.  We have, however, started looking in Mountain Gear catalogue.  You know, a nature trip requires the appropriate gear aside from our REI backpacks.  More than anything, we have started saving money.   The trip of a lifetime awaits us.  (And I'm not referring to Indianapolis.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Because it's perfectly reasonable to have a bottle of cava before dinner, right?

Day three of our Restaurant Week experience was spent at the Affinia Hotel.  More specifically, it was spent at the C-House restaurant located in the Affinia Hotel.  A Friday night, I was feeling a bit frisky, so I stopped on the way home from work at my favorite wine shop for a bottle of cava.  Cava is Spain's answer to France's champagne.  In The Wine Bible (my newest purchase in my effort to educate myself about wine), Karen MacNeil explains that a nineteenth century wine salesman by the name of Don Jose Raventos, inspired by a visit to Champagne, began creating his version of the bubbly using imported equipment.  A rousing success (naturally!), it was later named cava, which MacNeil translates as Catalan for cave or cellar.

Now that you know the history, you can appreciate it like I do.  Who am I kidding, the best way to appreciate is to drink it.  Which brings me back to that Friday night, before our reservation at C-House.  We appreciated nearly a whole bottle before we left for dinner.  In that time of appreciation, we nearly decided it was a good idea to buy tickets to Sasquatch, Seattle's music festival.  2010 was deemed to be the year of music!  We knew we were saving some money aside so that we could go to Lollapalooza this year.  But what would it be like if we  went to a music festival in Seattle, arguably a ground-breaking region for new and undiscovered music.  Fortunately, reservations called before we clicked "Add to Cart" and we left home.  Music can wait, right?

Funny enough, we almost decided to scrap our plans for C-House.  After a second and third perusal, we were worried that the menu offerings were slightly sparse and that we might not care for our dinner.  After an evening of luxury at C-House, we were so grateful that we gave the place another chance.  A Winter Manhattan to start may have changed my opinion about whiskey and another glass of cava with my meal made me positively giddy about my whole roasted trout.  My young man opted for the beer pairing menu, of course, and enjoyed three courses of beautifully presented food alongside various Bell's Brewery beers.  Yet another costly evening, but worth every penny, C-House was probably one of the better dining experiences I have had in a very long time.  And that's not the cava talking, I swear.

And as for the Sasquatch Music Festival?  We decided that probably wasn't the greatest financial decision.  But who knows, a bottle of cava may appear in my house again and rash decisions might be made.  But for now, we'll stick to our $10 tickets to go see the Canadian band You Say Party! We Say Die!  (The Empty Bottle is only a few blocks away and we don't need to find a hook-up for our RV.  Nice.)