Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Library Etiquette

I have spending a lot of time in the library, as of late. I have had an atrocious amount of school projects to complete in preparation for my upcoming stint as a student teacher in the second grade. I have attempted to take advantage of all the local libraries and I can truly say, there is no place like home. The Elk Grove Library is a comfortable study sanctuary. However, it is not always an option and with my, "take what I can get," schedule, I stop in to whatever library I am closest to.

Today, I sit in the Addison Library on this subpar Wednesday afternoon, I am having a difficult time ignoring my growling stomach. Unfortunately, in my haste of dropping Gigi off at school and maximizing my homework time (as I sit here typing a blog instead....), I forgot to bring any form of sustinance. I was daydreaming about my next meal when I was suddenly brought back to reality by the puddle of drool I had formed on the table, as well as my new study-neighbor.

He announced his arrival with a series of belches. He seems like a shower might do him some good, and I'm tempted to point out to him that he forgot to secure a button at the equator of his large gut and thus, I can see inside his shirt. But, before I have a chance to open my mouth, he begins ranting to himself yet aloud about something. I can't make out exactly what he is saying, other than keywords such as, "F*&K and Damn the Man." I didn't even know people really said the latter of the two. Then, he waddled off out of sight, taking with him, his stench, reminiscent of body odor and sloppy joes. I am feeling slightly clausterphobic and immensely unfocused now that my clean study air has been infiltrated by his odor.

When he returns, he is sporting a pair of eye glasses. I'm guessing he had forgotten them elsewhere in the library and that was the reason for his flirting dangerously with falling off the deep end. Now, he is flipping madly throught a newspaper and he catches me observing him. He shifts his eyes nervously side to side, before holding up a hand and saying hello. I return the gesture and we both get back to our respective work.

As I sit here, listening to him mumble, breathe heavily, and separate phlegm in his throat, I reflect upon library etiquette. I'm certainly more used to the old school version of sit quietly and don't cause a distraction. But, perhaps, there is a new age outlook and despite my love of all things mannerly, I am the odd one out....

Needless to say, my embarrassment about my growling stomach has ceased. And, that is probably because now, my appetite has too.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I'm not Italian. I'm Danish. However, in my everyday life, I am forced to declare myself a pseudo-Italian 40-50 hours a week in order to keep up with the chaos which is my job. The girls that I nanny for, Isabella and Gigi, do not speak Italian but this family is rightfully proud of their heritage and welcome in, "the white girl," as part of their family.

Today was no exception. Enter....Frederica.....

Frederica is 8 years old, an age which she shares in common with my oldest, Bella. Other than that, not much else was similiar. Frederica is a chubby Italian cookie flown in from Sicily. She is crusing the country on a 45 day vacation with her parents and she doesn't speak a lick of English.

I'm not sure if its a Eurpoean entitlement syndrome, but Frederica's parents (cousins of my boss) took it upon themselves to sight-see the Chicago suburbs today, sans Frederica. Instead, they decided to drop her off in my care while they perused Woodfield Mall.

Now, accepting additional kids to watch isn't something I'm a stranger to (Love you, Ang!) but this was the first time that I was subjected to a foreigner of types. Loving a child knows no boundaries, but communication does! Frederica doesn't speak English and I don't speak Italian.


Since Frederica's arrival was a surprise, I was unprepared for what my day held. Bella, although she doesn't speak English, was a playmate for Frederica in days past; however, today, she wasn't home. So, here we sit on opposite couches just smiling at each other. Gigi (4) is in my ear reminding me that Frederica can't understand what I say. Thanks, Gig.

I figure that I will take the two of them to the park. I tried to communicate this field trip to Frederica but all I got in return was smiles, a nod, and reptition of the word, park. Okay, I will just show her what the park is. We arrive and she sets up camp on the swings and doesn't really move. I mentioned before that she is a bit chubby, and I'm quickly sensing that the park is not her bag. Well, I figure that icecream speaks universally to all children, so we hop in the car once again and sit together in the local old-fashioned ice cream parlor. This is when the conversation begins. Oye.

Bless this sweet little darling's heart, she is a doll. She has wonderful intentions, but conversation was not be had. We sat over melting icecream, desparate to understand each other. Eventually, we made a bit of a break through and using single adjectives and a grandiose game of charades, we were able to "discuss," her trip to America.

Here is what I now know about Frederica: She went to Disney World. She lives in a house. She is going to be in 4th grade. Her school is not pretty. She has not pets but her cat scratched her. She likes vanilla icecream.

I can't be sure about the accuracy of most of those "Frederica Facts." I think she will be in fourth grade this year, but then she kept counting past four to thirty. (Something we finally had in common, because, I too, can count to thirty). I also think she chose vanilla icecream because it was easier than trying to decide on a flavor.

From there, we reached a cultural understanding. We were going to bond our countries and teach eachother the language. We proceeded to point to things, for instance the washer and dryer and I would tell her what it was called in English and she would repeat it to me and then tell me the name in Italian. This satiated my teaching tendencies, but all good things must come to an end.

Gigi, I think, was stressed out and to dodge all the hardwork it took to communicate, she fell asleep on the couch. That left me and Fred. She wanted to watch tv. YES! Ohh, wait. TV-Disney Channel is in fact, in English. I turned in on anyway and quickly tuned myself out. I was quickly brought back to reality when Frederica showed up in my face, nose to nose, and relayed to me that she couldn't understand it. Oh boy. Finally, she just agreed to basically stare at the tv and admire how "beautiful," (a word in her English vocabulary, also used to describe my car) Hanna Montana is.

Finally, my Italian speaking boss arrives home and bridges the huge gap that crossed two countries. I slinked back onto the sidelines and nursed my tired Danish brain.

Lucky for me...the adventure doesn't stop here...Frederica is in town until next Thursday. Stay tuned.

Marriage Counseling

July 18th of this year offered the official exit for Pat and I from newlywed-dom. We are still new at this game, but the formal title has since expired and we are now on our own, no excuses.

It was just prior to our first wedding anniversary that I was unintentionally subjected to marriage counseling by the unlikliest of sources... my 9 year old nephew, Austin.

Austin was up visiting for the weekend. He loves coming to, "Chicago," so much that he will even settle for just his ole Auntie Ash when Pat is away for work. This was one of those weekends.

Austin and I had just exited a movie and sat down at Buffalo Wild Wings to eat dinner. Being 9, Austin was more intent on the video game at the table and his soon-to-be delivered hot wings than a conversation with me. I felt like I was dining alone. Then suddenly, he interupts my thoughts and offers me some advice.

Austin: "I don't have a girlfriend anymore. I pretty much just like being single."
Me: Really? What about Izzy? I thought you really liked her?
Austin: "Yea, but she always wanted it her way. That's how girls are. I wanted to play football at recess and she always made me chase her."
Me: "Do you think that is how all girls are?"
Austin: "Yea, that is why I don't think I'm going to get married."
Me: "Pat and I are married and we are happy."
Austin: "Yea, but wives nag. They always say you have to take the garbage out or clean up. You can't be like that Ash. It starts with recess and ends with the garbage."
Me: So that's what you think, huh?
Austin: "Yea, if you wanna keep married you can't be nagging. You gotta let Pat do what he wants."
Me: "So, I should say he can play football?"
Austin: "Yea, it's the only way."

My nephew can be a guy of few words, but when he has something to say, he likes to be heard. I definitely heard him that day. I laughed and relayed that story to Pat and my parents, but I never forgot his advice.

From that day on, I was careful to make sure Pat felt he had his freedom. But, for some reason, he still likes to chase me around..... ;)

I see London, I see France, I can see your underpants....AGAIN!

As of tomorrow, it will be three months since I posted my last blog. It seems that I have all but abandoned my role as the blonde blogette; but, truth be told, it has simply been a busy summer. This evening, I am out-sourcing my services on the late shift, so I have ample time to catch you up on the latest and greatest news of the sunshine season.

One of the highlights of my summer has to do with my favorite holiday, Fourth of July, and my favorite pair of polka-dot underwear from Victoria's Secret. Underwear seems to be a pretty popular and laughable theme of my adventures, so it is deemed appropriate to share this story with you. Far be it for me to determine what one may find sexy; however I think I jumped to the waayyyyy other end of the spectrum with my granny panties debacle.

Pat's Aunt and Uncle host an annual Fourth of July party that brings together his own extended family, as well other's who are related on the other side. This was my first time attending the much talked about soiree and I was looking forward to seeing my newly married-in famly, as well as meeting the others. In total, I believe 35-ish people were invited.

I didn't think too much into my outfit for the day other than comfort and breathable alleviation from the heat! So, I wore an average white ribbed tank top paired with a navy blue cotton skirt. Very basic yet understatedly holiday-appropriate.

The party was a great time, but the heat was pretty intense so I spent the majority of the time following my very pregnant and very hot sister-in-law around like a lost puppy. I had lost my husband to a grueling volleyball game and the two cocktails that I had drained to ward of "dehydration," instead left a headache probing my left temple, so I sought refuge in the air conditioning (which by coincidence was also closer to the margarita machine). Danielle (that's the very pregnant and very hot sister-in-law) was pretty miserable so we sat inside where she could be more comfortable. I was enjoying bossing her around by making her move to the darker portion of the living room when she decided that she couldn't take it and ran off to the bathroom to lose her lunch. Like any lost puppy, I began to wander around aimlessly. I went upstairs, grazed the food, chatted up a fellow-partier and excused myself to the restroom.

When I returned, the interior of the home was deserted. I went back outside to join the party and stood in a cluster of my new family. I was chatting with Danielle, her husband Mo, and my parents-in-law. There was talk about the party winding down and the dispersing of families to their own dwellings, so my mother-in-law went off to start saying goodbye. Danielle and Mo wandered away as well, leaving my father-in-law and myself watching the volleyball game with our backs to the rest of the party. My father-in-law spotted my mother-in-law's shoes and holds them up to let her know he has them. All of the sudden I hear someone running up behind me. I glance over my shoulder and my mother-in-law is headed full speed at us. I kind of laugh and think to myself that these must really be her favorite shoes, or that her pedicure is suddenly at risk if she is warranting speeds that could challenge a cheetah.

As I turn back around to face the volleyball game, my mother-in-law fakes left and instead of scooping up her sandals she is pulling on my skirt! Um, excuuuuse me? I realize that I am newer to the family and some initiation may be due, but is depantsing me in front of family, strangers, and God really necessary? I spin around with what I imagine to be a horrified look on my face to see her expression mirroring my own. Then she lets the bomb drop. She alarmingly whispers, "Your skirt was tucked into your underwear!" I am shocked speechless. Um, Victoria obviously can't keep a damn secret if she is flashing my polka-dot pseudo granny panties to everyone at this party! Granted, they were bikini underwear, not true to form granny panties, but at this point we are just comparing apples to oranges.

I recover slightly and march directly over to Danielle. If you know anything about my newly-appointed older sister, you know that she wouldn't hesitate to point out my faux pas so I was shocked that I stood next to her for 15 minutes without a peep. I approach her and vehemently say, "I absolutely cannot believe that you didn't tell me that my skirt was tucked into my underwear after I had just you about the leftover vomit in your hair." It turns out, she hadn't seen. As many of the other party-goers hadn't also. I'm not sure why my humility was spared that day, but it turns out the only person that did see, was Mo. He is very conservative and he was embarrassed on my behalf and so instead of calling attention to it, he just walked away. Thanks. A. Lot.

Surprisingly, I wasn't all that embarrassed by the situation. I laughed a lot. But that is probably because it seems as though no one accepted their invitation to my peep show.

I wanted to make a good impression, and instead I made a lasting impression...welcome to the family, Ash!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Cop on Top

I enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning to jump-start my day. I enjoy the taste, and the smell, to me, is motivating because I associate it with getting my day started.

However, I am not a self-proclaimed addict that has trouble speaking or functioning prior to that first cup 'o joe. Nope, not me. Some days, I may yearn for it more intensely than others; but overall, I simply find it an enhancement to my morning.

And, on days when I want to up the ante on that enhancement, I drive-thru Dunkin' Donuts and order a medium easy/easy (easy cream/easy sugar). On this morning, in particular, I had difficulty waking up; so, as I neared my job, I decided to use my extra 7 minutes to grab a cup.

I pulled into the parking lot and immediately came upon two individuals accepting donations for the Special Olympics. Now, if you know me or have read my previous blogs, you know that I cannot turn-down the opportunity to help a cause, especially the Special Olympics.

Unfortunately, I came to a stifling realization that I had nothing to offer. I do not carry cash and two weeks prior, I had emptied my ashtray of change into the donation bucket for the fire department. Oye.

I avoid eye contact with the first woman as I am frantically trying to come up with something offer as I approach the second one. Obviously, these people want cold hard cash and the contents of my car which includes: hand sanitizer, bubbles from a previous weekend's wedding, and a pair of tap shoes will not suffice.

But, suddenly I am ripped from my flustered thoughts by a voice "encouraging," the female in the black ford escape to stop and make a charitable donation.

Umm, excuse me?? GOD, is that you? 

I slam on my breaks, convinced that I am receiving Divine signals to do big things. I pull up to the lady holding her can showcasing participants of the Special Olympics and my heart tears even more. Yes, I must give her my car. Certainly, they can use it for something for these people, right??

Just as I am about to unbuckle my seat belt I glance over my shoulder and what should I see? A police officer. On. The. Roof. Yea, not The Almighty. I was both silently relieved that I could keep my car and irritated that he had called me out on a bullhorn for not stopping at the first lady.

Still, this does nothing for my fear of having nothing to offer her for one of my favorite causes. I'm flipping through my wallet hoping some cash magically appears, and, IT DOES! I offer up $4 and just as I'm about to pull away, I hear Officer Bull-Horn calling out to me again. This time, requesting that I give him a wave. Well, officer, let's not make this about us or anything, right?

I give an obligatory hi-de-ho and in response receive: "Hey! Be in a good mood, its Friday!" Really?? REALLY? Look, I said that I don't need a daily dose of caffeine to function, but it certainly helps. So, how fair is it to accuse me of being crabby prior to having my first taste of caffeinated bliss. Its not.

And, for the record, I was in a good mood. Forgive me for being a little shocked at being shouted at from the rooftops, literally. All in all, its a good cause and I am thrilled at having contributed to it, even with my measly $4 and near-fatal heart attack.

I drove away and my coffee tasted particularly delicious knowing that it was hard-earned and went toward the Special Olympics. But, I'm not gonna lie....everywhere I go today, I'm looking up so I can be prepared for the next, 'Cop on Top.'

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gazelles and Guidos

As I mentioned in previous blogs, once my wedding came and went I decided to indulge in all of the things that I had prohibited in my diet prior to the "BIG," day. And, again, as I mentioned in previous blog. I. Never. Stopped. It was a sad sight and now I am most certainly paying for it.

Now, left to my own devices, I have made a peace offering with my arch enemy, CARDIO, by joining my local $10/month gym, and decided to learn to tolerate it. (Really?! Like I'm gonna pay some outrageous membership at a big name gym. I'd rather look like a sausage in cute casing).

That brings us to tonight. After I locked myself in the library for 3.5 hours worth of writing papers, my guilty conscious got the best of me and the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the parking lot of the gym at 10 o'clock at night. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment.

I trudged inside only find out that EVERYONE in the entire world, was at the gym. Ugghh, you have to be kidding me. It was almost as bad a Saturday morning! I tend to prefer keeping under the exercise radar. I like to do my business, sweat, watch some muted tv, and head home for a shower.

Unfortunately, tonight, I was forced to take my spot between a guido that obviously had the Jersey Shore: GTL down to a slick science, and a former cheerleader with a pretty face but a severe case of camel toe. In case that isn't enough, the guy in front of me was fighting a serious bout of back-acne that was sprouting out of his wife-beater.

It was at this point that I stopped the cross trainer and checked my heart rate...I was convinced that I must be working too hard because it was not possible that this was my reality. It was. Planet Fitness after dark brings out the crazies. People don't come to work out, they come to be seen and scope out the opposite sex. Eeps! I was used to the 7am geriatric crew who really showed up for the poppyseed bagels provided on the first Tuesday of the month. This made me hang my un-makeupped face even lower. As I did so, I began to examine my movements on this cross trainer device. I was a newbie, I usually stuck to my normal routine but per a suggestion, sought put a cross trainer.

Now, now, don't make fun. I've tried the elliptical before and I am an absolute mess! I get discombobulated and twisted and motion sick. As a result, I have never done much research into it's close relatives, until tonight. I hopped on one, entered my height and weight and, I was off! I suddenly felt very free! Like I was a gazelle, hopping magically throughout the gym.

In reality, the mirror next to me showcased a less graceful blob in all black, chugging along. Oh well, I hadn't lost my footing yet. Oh no, spoke to soon. Just as I was looking down to figure out whether my feet were moving forward or backward on this magical device, I tripped. I was able to recover but not without squeal and death-grip on the handle bars.

Those handles were my favorite aspect. Not only did they save my life, but you could hold them in three different places for your cross training comfort AND they didn't move. This was a stellar addition to my lack of coordination. Once, I regained my composure from my near death-by-gliding, I peeked up to see if anyone had noticed. The unfortunate looking red head to my left had since abandoned his machine, I hope I hadn't scared him away from his 6 minutes of exercising. And, the sassy Latina to my right side was simultaneously text messaging, popping her chewing gum, and making kissy faces at Jose with her frosted pink lips and burgundy lip liner. Jose liked her too, she had an ass for days.

Ultimately, though, my time came to an end. All of this people watching had made it pass by quickly and after my initial hiccups, I mastered the machine. I'm thinking that late-night working out isn't such a bad thing, its good for people watching. Except next time, I'm going to have to do better to develop sports bra cleavage, tease my hair, and get tips from the ex-cheerleader on how to achieve optimal camel-toe in my yoga pants.

All in the name of health and wellness....

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Carolina Thieves

Following my latest blog, I noticed that all of my topics seem to follow a similar theme: sleep. I do enjoy catching my fair share of Zzzz's, but perhaps if I think of a new topic, my insomnia will subside. Let's find out...

Today, while Bella was watching a movie and Gigi was napping (shoot! there is that sleep thing again...) my phone rang. It was sitting next to me on the couch and began ringing and vibrating violently against the leather cushion. I scrambled to silence it so that it wouldn't wake up the Gig and instead sent it crashing into the leg of the coffee table before finally landing on the floor. I swooped it up only to see an unidentified number being displayed. Shit. I hate those. It wasn't private, but I wasn't familiar with the arrangement of numbers flashing on my screen.

To answer? Or, not to answer? This 'twas the question and I was running out of time before it went to voicemail and I would risk never knowing the caller's identity. (P.S. I haaaaate when people don't leave messages. If you don't, chances are I just won't call you back. Sorry, but if it was important you would have notified me...) ANYWAY, I finally decide to put my big girl panties on and answer it.

Oh, its Kathy...of course. Oh. Wait. I don't actually know that many Kathys that would actually being calling me. Okay, now I'm intrigued while also frantic and silently ticking off my monthly bills in my head to make sure I didn't miss any payments. Kathy. Kathy, from National City. Oh, that's my bank, now she has my attention. Kathy is inquiring about whether I am currently travelling. Thanks Kathy, that's nice but as much as I would enjoy a vacay about now my location isn't changing anytime soon. Why??? I'm sorry, I visited how many gas stations in North Carolina yesterday? Nine? UM, NO.

Kathy is a lovely woman, but I'm not liking where our phone call is headed. Apparently, my check card number had been stolen from under my nose and this "individual," has been helping themselves to Pat's and my hard earned money. Once we verified that I had absolutely not, under any circumstances authorized these debits we began taking the necessary steps for future prevention. While going through the process of cancelling my card, my mind wandered to the character of this type of, "individual."

Obviously, we are not dealing with someone honest or kind. But, apparently, not smart either. I mean realllly, did they gas-up an entire fleet of vehicles? Was it a one-person attempt at alleviating gas prices for the community by filling up people's cars at my expense? Literally.

Personally, I am not very criminally-astute but I imagine that if I was going to steal someone's credit card and had only a few days to go unnoticed, I'm not going to be hanging out at the local 711. Nordstrom would probably be my first stop for clothes to pack my bags for the vacation that I would be funding shortly thereafter. I don't know about you but, right?!? Not that the amount of money in my checking account would be enough for a lavish get-away, but where is the creativity people?

I hate to judge this person, okay I really don't, but we are probably talking about some redneck from the hills who had to stock up on the latest Nascar travelmugs cigarette lighters, and a case of PBR. Or, twelve. What are those original Jeff Gordon mugs going for these days anywho? Guess we will see when the bill comes in.

Until then, I am forced to hold vigils over my checking account and fill out a form for every. single. mysterious. purchase. Thank YOU, Mr. (or Mrs.) Dishonest Asshole from North Carolina. I hope you gasssed up to your heart's desire, because Karma is a biatch.