Standby: Christmas. Christmas: GO!*

We're starting the holiday a little early here in the Bossy-Melear household. Packages from his side of the family have been arriving steadily, and of course we couldn't contain ourselves, so we opened them all. My favorite is a subscription to The New Yorker. I can't wait to pretend I am one. From my $400 a month Houston apartment. Cue smug laugh here.

When it became very clear that the present I had bought for CameraMan was not going to make the trip to Oregon, we decided to open our presents tonight instead. His present took an entire roll of wrapping paper to cover, it was that big (yes, I am wasteful and anti-environment, I know. Don't tell Al Gore.). Mine, on the other hand, came in a very small envelope. His present? A new soundbar speaker system for our TV, which will replace his 5 speakers, subwoofer, receiver, and miles of speaker wire. It's already set up, sounds great, and looks bee-yoo-ti-ful.

My present? 9 private salsa dancing lessons with CM as my partner! I am so excited—I cannot wait to start (and cross of #30 on my list)! The lessons don't start until January 4, and it's a good thing we have to wait, because a few hours ago I stubbed my left baby toe so badly that I became mildly hysterical, laughing and crying and gritting my teeth and swallowing unladylike expletives. Unfortunately, the pain has only gotten worse since the incident, and putting on even the softest sneakers finds me limping around moaning. Not ideal for dance lessons.

Tomorrow we are Oregon-bound for the Bossy Compound, where I'm hoping that a few days of lying around eating cookies in my pajamas will heal my toe and keep me in the Christmas spirit all week long. I hope you all have equally ambitious plans for the holiday.

*Stage management humor: always hilarious.

Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin' town

A couple nights ago we were at dinner with a friend and he asked me how I liked Chicago. I opened my mouth to answer him, and 5 minutes later I finally took a breath. Because I liked Chicago. A lot. It felt like home, and the thing is, I knew it would, and at the same time was sure it wouldn't quite live up to my expectations. A little like Paris, which I just absolutely knew I would love love aimer, all the while being terrified that the Paris I loved was in books and movies and maybe the 1920s, and not at all in reality. It's terrible to be disappointed in something you've built up in your mind, but in some ways it's worse to be vindicated, to have the place you've exalted actually be just as amazing as you pictured. Because now all I want to do is move there. Immediately. I'm talking about Chicago, but it could just as well apply to Paris, actually.

So I'm crossing it off my list.
  1. Live in Chicago.
I've done it. I've lived right in the middle of Chicago, with Millennium Park as my backyard and the Art Institute and Symphony Center right down the block. I've ridden the El and the Metra to the neighborhoods and the suburbs. I've eaten deep-dish pizza more times than I'd like to admit. I've seen theater both big and small. I've complained about the winter and crowed about the fall. I've walked the Magnificent Mile and been to the top of the Sears Willis Tower and had cocktails at the top of the Hancock Building and taken an architectural boat cruise and eaten funnel cakes at Navy Pier. I've lived in Chicago.

And, like the best items on my list, now that I've crossed it off, all I want is to do it again.

My kind of town, Chicago is.

Peer Pressure List, Vol. 20

This week has left me feeling a bit schizophrenic, what with shuttling back and forth between Chicago and Houston, Janacek and Puccini, walking and driving, freezing and sweating. As of today, I am safely ensconced in our Houston hovel, and I plan on staying here for, oh, about a week before flying away again. And what's more, I start rehearsal for Tosca tomorrow. That's right, TOMORROW! There's time for one deep breath, a few hours of sleep/denial, and that's about it.

So, without further ado, this week's PPL:

  • Southwest Airlines: You know what's great about Southwest? Oh, everything. You know how all the other airlines charge for baggage now? Southwest doesn't. You can check 2 bags for free. Perfect for the girl who's accumulated so much stuff in the past 3 months that she needs 2 trips to schlep it all home.

  • Restoration Hardware towels: On a whim/months of dreaming and planning, CM and I finally overhauled our bathroom and bought all new towels. In this case when I say towels, I mean clouds of fluffy cuddliness sized for a giant and softer than any metaphor you can think of. And while we were at it, we upgraded our shower curtain, too. Now the bathroom is in shades of Sky, Marine, and Azure. It's so luxurious in there that you almost forget the whole room is only 3' x 3'.

  • Mercadito: For the past couple months, this has been our go-to after-the-show spot for drinking and gorging ourselves on tacos. The drinks are fancy, the food is delicious, and the lighting is just dark enough for arty photos. I was so happy to go there one more time after closing night of Katya. I'll be dreaming about the pomegranate guacamole. And the company I kept while eating it.

  • Puccini: Good Lord, Tosca is gorgeous. It's Mama Bossy's fave, so I think this music is in my blood somehow. I will not be sorry to listen to it every day for the next 2 months, that's for sure.

  • Christmas: I'm wholeheartedly diving into the holiday season as of now. The Santa Mix is playing nearly constantly on the soundtrack of my life, the (waist-high) Christmas tree is up and decorated, the stockings are hung (although not very gracefully, as we have no good place to hang them), and the ingredients have been assembled to make many cookies this week. And yesterday I ate Puffer mit Apfelmousse at the Christkindlmarket, so it must be Christmas time. I'm so ready.

A tired tale of procrastination

I had two major tasks to complete before tomorrow, when I head to Houston for a few days. I'll only be back in Chicago for one very quick day (and closing night) before I go home for good, so there will be very little time when I get back to complete said tasks. What are they? Finish making my Faust score pretty (why yes, that show DID close over a month ago—I don't want to talk about it), and pack up my apartment. Two tasks.

Here's what I did all weekend instead of doing either of those things: scrubbed pots and pans (have y'all heard of an S.O.S. pad? I had an unfortunate mac and cheese episode which involved a scorched roux and resulted in the bottom of one of my pans being completely burnt. A friend gave me one of these pads, and it was like magic! Apparently they clean ANYTHING! Anyway...), wasted time on the internet, went out to dinner with friends, read a book, took a driving tour of the North Side, caught up on my Hulu queue, and did French verb drills (Je suis sérieuse).

Which meant that today arrived, and I was in a panic to get everything done. Same old story. At the end of the day... I'm mostly packed and my Faust score is half done. The rest will have to be finished Saturday.

My brightest idea of the day was to walk to the UPS Store to ship a box of my stuff home. I looked at a map, and it seemed pretty close, so I hoisted up the box and set off on foot. Turns out, it was actually half a mile away, and the box I was carrying? Weighed 26 pounds. My arms were so tired by the time I arrived that I could barely sign my name on my credit card slip. Thank goodness my job doesn't involve any heavy lifting—I don't think I'm cut out for it.

For the rest of the week, I'll be leaving my tasks behind and winging my way to Houston to snuggle my kitten, smooch my CameraMan, celebrate happy hours with friends, decorate the apartment for Christmas, get a long-overdue haircut, and (oh, right) prep Tosca.

For once I don't feel like procrastinating at all.

Peer Pressure List, Vol. 19

That's right, it's back: The Peer Pressure List. Every Sunday, I'll share five things making me happy that just might make you happy, too.

  • Neutrogena Triple Moisture Hair Mask: I've been using this hair mask once or twice a week for the past couple months, and I love how shiny and silky it makes my hair. And as a girl with admittedly expensive tastes, I also love that it's cheap, available at the drugstore, and lasts a really long time. I keep hoping that shiny hair will distract from my unsightly dark roots, but all evidence to the contrary.

  • The Best American Travel Writing 2009: I buy these books every year, and I ration out the essays for as long as I can stand it because I enjoy them so much.

  • CameraBag for iPhone: I am having fun exploring this great camera app for the iPhone (recently mentioned in the NY Times). It's hard to be unobtrusive among friends when I break out my giant DSLR, so sometimes it's nice to fly under the radar with the iPhone camera. I took this pic last night at a dinner party:

  • XOCO: One of the most delicious Chicago restaurants I have eaten in since I arrived. I had a lime agua fresca and a torta with smoked ham, bacon, avocado, cheese, and a cilantro crema. I followed that up with churros and one of their incredible hot chocolates. If you are a Chicagoan, eat there immediately.

  • Kittens: It started with the Airstream Diva's adorable pictures, and it has only escalated since I saw this video. I have full-on kitten fever, I admit it. I can't help it.


Not having a television growing up (blame it on the hippies) gave me a great love of reading, the ability to play board games opposite myself, and endless hours of backyard playtime. It also gave me a large gap in my pop culture references, because besides afternoons at my best friend's house watching Punky Brewster, Full House, and Saved by the Bell, I didn't have much exposure to TV until high school.

Well, now I'm making up for lost time. I love so much of what's on TV now (and a few recently canceled shows—REALLY, PUSHING DAISIES???), and I don't even want to talk about how many hours I've logged on the couch watching my favorite shows. I DVR, I Hulu, I Netflix TV on DVD…I do it all. Currently my tastes are turning toward quirky comedies, most of which, coincidentally, air on Thursday nights. I would like to turn your attention to my 3 faves of the fall:

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. I don't always watch the videos people post on their blogs, so if you don't want to watch all of these, please at least watch the first one. This video pretty much sums up everything I love about this ridiculous show, and it has cheered me greatly on several hard days in the past few weeks.

Community. I started watching this one a few episodes in, but now I'm hooked. This little clip, while awesome, is lacking my favorite part of this show: Joel McHale. Hubba hubba. He's smart.

30 Rock. This show gets funnier all the time, despite my growing fear that I might actually BE Liz Lemon. Although, I guess that would work out pretty well, since Tina Fey is CameraMan's #2 celebrity crush. I don't think being his #1 celebrity crush is quite so attainable for me.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Ever since my schedule for this year was set, I've been bragging about it. Not in terms of the jobs themselves, but in terms of the weather. Autumn in Chicago, winter in Houston, spring in New York. Sounds perfect, doesn't it? And so far, it has been. Crisp fall days, changing leaves, hot cocoa, and most importantly, fall clothes. Velvet blazers, cashmere scarves, cable-knit tights, jeans tucked into riding boots, sweater dresses...this is what I live for. Sure, it rained some, but mostly it's been idyllic, with just enough unseasonably warm days sprinkled in to give my favorite silver ballet flats a workout.

I have no complaints. Except...

This is Chicago. In December. Is it too much to ask for one teeny tiny snowfall before I leave? It doesn't even need to stick—I just want to feel it. Real honest-to-goodness Midwestern snow. Where is it? Time's running out, and there's not a flake in sight.

Besides which, if I leave now, without having experienced even a little bit of the infamous brutal winter, I'm going to have to be physically restrained from moving here the minute I get the chance. Because so far, Chicago hasn't given me any reason not to.

Come on, I dare you.

Let's December it up!

Dear readers, I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings full of laughter, transcendent food, and just enough family drama and awkwardness to keep things interesting. I am just now emerging from my binge eating-induced coma, and I cannot believe that it is December 1st already. Where did the year go?!? I'm wrapping up my time in Chicago, and with it these 6 months away from home. In less than 2 weeks, I'll be back in my Houston hometown with my CameraMan, my kitten, and the couch of my dreams. FOR TWO WHOLE MONTHS. I am so ready.

CM was just here for 5 days, and I got completely spoiled by having him around all the time. We Amtrak-ed it* to his hometown in Western Illinois for Thanksgiving with his family, complete with multiple turkey dinners, many many babies and toddlers of all sizes, and plenty of Midwestern staples like corn casserole and jello salad. (Okay, I just read back that sentence to myself, and it kind of sounds like we ate babies for dessert. I'm leaving it.) I had to be back in Chi-town for a show on Saturday night, and then CM moved his flight back a day, so we ended up with 2 1/2 great days all by ourselves in the big city. He saw the show, we Mercadito-ed it up*, we pajama-ed* for a whole day, and only emerged from the apartment to do fun things (like bowling!). It was heaven in vacation form.

But now he's gone and it's back to life (back to reality). There is a lot to be done in the next 12 days. Two scores cleaned up (and the Faust one is really really long, so it should count as two), paperwork finalized, my life packed up (how did I accumulate this much stuff?!?), and Tosca studied hard. Plus, there's the last-minute socializing, since the panic is setting in that I won't be seeing any of these people again for far too long. And the sending out of résumés, which sometimes feels like a full-time job in itself, although mostly because I spend so much time whining about it that by the time I get down to actually doing it I'm exhausted. And the Christmas shopping (lots of good ideas this year). I'm a busy girl.

There's something about the first of the month that always feels like a new chalk-free slate. It makes me want to start a project or a new routine. Maybe a gym routine, other than the one I have now which consists entirely of talking about going to the gym. Maybe a face washing routine, because the lady at Sephora was very judgey when I said I never do that. Maybe a blogging routine. Who knows?

*Sidebar: I've recently become overly enamored of creating new verbs out of words that are not verbs. For example, to sit in a booth is "boothing," or the informal, "boothing it." Or, to cook from a recipe is "to recipe," or "to recipe it up." Please help me in taking this thing viral—you'll be glad you did.


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