Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Break(Down) Pt. III - I Joined The Ranks of the Unemployed

As much as I enjoy sharing intimate stories of my unhealthy eating habits and involuntary bowel movements, I don't often talk about many of the more personal stuff that happens in my life, including my job.

Sure, I've complained about it every once in awhile, but for the most part I've kept my job experiences off the Interwebs. Mostly because we all hate our jobs (right?), and because I lived in constant fear that my bosses would somehow stumble across this site and, being the technophobic luddites that they are (there is no talking on cell phones, web surfing or IMing allowed at my place of business), they'd fire me on the spot.

I had not been happy with my job for many months and had been planning an exit. Recently, our agency lost a major account (through no fault of our own; they were getting bought out and needed to suspend all ongoing marketing efforts) and because of this (and some other stuff) productivity and billable hours across the office were down, and there was a sense that things would not be improving anytime real soon. I saw this development as one opportunity for me to discuss my eventual exit in a rational manner with my bosses.

To make a long story short, I found myself one day in a conversation with my boss where I suddenly decided it would be a good time to talk about the future. For the sake of brevity and simplification, the conversation(s) went like this:

Scene I:
Me: "Boss, I don't think this job has been a good fit for me and I think it is time to discuss a transition strategy. And since we just lost a major account, I think this is as good a time as any."
Boss (rather offended): "I'm well aware of the financial stability of this company and don't need you to tell me. Let me think about it and get back to you."

Scene II (a few hours later):
I get a call from my boss to come into the conference room. I enter the room and see him and the other partner sitting with a small stack of papers.
Boss: "We've discussed the conversation from this morning and we've decided that we don't want to pay you to sit around and look for another job and that your last day of employment with this company will be today."
Me: "..."
Boss: "So you have two options. You can work through the end of today, or you can sign these papers here and leave right now. We've cut you a check to cover you through the middle of the month, plus another check for your owed vacation time. The choice is yours.
Me: "..."
Boss: "..."
Me: "I will just leave now, then."

And in a matter of 30 minutes I had cleaned my desk, handed over my keys and was a free man. And the thing is, I think I was/am supposed to feel bad or upset about it, but the truth is that I had been feeling extremely free and optimistic. Sure, it is not the way I wanted it to end, but I've already started a new job (I've started my own consulting business -- wow,it feels weird to write that -- where I'm making good money, can essentially set my own hours, work from home, not have to put on pants) but I now realize how much more of a stress and source of unhappiness that job was for me now that I am out of it. I've used my free time to enjoy the sunshine, connect with friends, and start exercising again. I've stopped shaving and am loving it.

I also started taking classes again so that I can apply to nursing school - but that is another story entirely.

PS - If you're looking for a good online distraction, especially while at work (because really, when and where else would you possibly be looking for a good online distraction anyway?), I highly recommend the game "Five Minutes To Kill (Yourself)" from In it, you run around the office to find items and co-workers to help kill you off so that you don't have to attend that team meeting in 5 minutes. Good fun.

Monday, August 20, 2007

My 12 Hours of Stalking Neil Finn

(Note: If you're looking for a satisfying payoff to this story -- i.e. how the [C]R successfully stalks the great Neil Finn -- go see a Hollywood movie. Because this is real life. And plus, I'm not that lucky.)

This weekend Crowded House descended upon Chicago and rocked my lame ass. To show my appreciation, I decided it would be appropriate for Neil Finn to meet me and realize what an amazing person I am and maybe invite me to hang with him back in New Zealand or at least write a song about me.

I had a great partner in crime in my efforts, Richard (who also bought the tickets for us to the show back in May, the day they went on sale). With help from Niner, Richard and I determined that the band was staying at the Hotel Sax, the former House of Blues Hotel, located right next the HOB, where the magical concert happened.

As I have no real life of any kind, my plan was to arrive in the early afternoon Saturday and essentially hang out in the hotel lobby all day, waiting for Neil to walk through, and then make the Magic happen. This proved to be a pretty easy feat, since nobody there seemed to notice us sitting on the plush couch directly in front of the elevator bank (also, there seemed to be no other groupies around so I was feeling optimistic). So Richard and I sat there in the lobby for about an hour until we started getting really bored.

Richard has plenty of experience in meeting rock stars and knows all the tricks. He suggested that we also hang out in the hotel bar after the concert, and asked the bellhop how late "after the show" the bar would be open (as if to imply he was part of the CR entourage. He was very believable). He also suggested we walk across the street to the HOB to see if perhaps the band was there doing a sound check, so we did. As good an idea that it was, we pretty much got nowhere.

He then suggested we scope out the stage door. We were able to determine that the door was one flight underground, making it a bit difficult access. To make a long story short, we had to walk three blocks west of the HOB, take a parking garage elevator to a sub-basement floor, bust through an alarmed door, endure the stench of vomit and walk through the darkest underbelly of Chicago alleyways. But we found the stage door, and after assessing the situation mapped out a plan to come back both before and after the show (if need be) and meet the band as they entered/left the venue. Because we are clever like that.

Because stalking is demanding work, we decided to leave and return at 6 (doors opened at 7:30), meet up with friends for a drink in the hotel bar and get friendly with the wait staff in case we needed their help after the show (see how smart we are??).

Fast forward to about 8 pm, with Richard and I comfortably seated at the hotel bar with 4 Long Island Iced Teas, a couple of beers and at least a rum & coke between us. The idea of hanging out at the stage door before the show starts seems like both a distant memory and silly at the same time (damn you LIIT's!).

[This is a re-enactment of me kinda/sorta pretending to be looking for Neil Finn in the hotel bar, hoping that maybe like us, he too decided that getting a drink before the show was a good idea. See how dramatic this whole affair has been?]

We head into the venue and meet up with our friends, who are standing about 25 feet from the stage.
This is where I am supposed to talk about the concert itself. Yes, it was amazing. But the crowd really sucked because everyone around us was old and had forgotten what it is like to go to a general admission concert, and a few skanks and assholes directly in front of us didn't know any fucking words to any CH songs, nor would they dance, and kept looking at their watches. What the fuck is the point? Go back to Naperville and watch "Two and a Half Men" you fucktard douche nuggets!

Neil and crew sounded and played great, rocked most of my favorite songs and truly put on a good show. They came out for two encores, and played until (I think) about 12:30. When they played "Heaven That I'm Making" (from their new album) and "Better Be Home Soon" I may have cried a little. But because it was dark nobody saw me so therefore you'll never know.

Oh, also, early in to the show, during a quiet lull, I yelled out "I LOVE YOU NEIL FINN!" (Apparently the show was recorded so I'm sure my love profession is now history.) Although I am sure he heard me, he didn't acknowledge. He didn't have to. Because he knows and understands the special bond we share. However, the people around me did acknowledge, and everyone turned and looked at me like I was a freak. "What?" I said. "Somebody had to say it!" Only Richard laughed.

Since this story is really long, let me cut to the end of the evening. After the show, we went outside and snuck down into the alley and stage door. During the concert Richard noticed a lot of people with VIP passes, which meant there was probably going to be a long meet and greet backstage after the show, which also meant that we'd be likely waiting a long time outside for them to come out. By this point, we were both really tired and I was becoming extremely comfortable with the idea of not hanging out at the stage door for an hour or so.

Plus, a big security guy stopped us when we arrived, asking us what we wanted. I decided to let Richard do the talking, and the conversation went like this:

Big Security Dude: "Whaddya want?"

Richard: "We're just waiting for Neil and Nick." (See, I told you he was good.)

Big Security Dude: "Nuh-uh. You can't be down here."

Richard and Me: "OK then. Have a good night."

And that is the end of my story. Before we went back to the street, Richard did snap this photo of me in front of their tour bus. Sadly, this was to be the closest I would get to meeting Neil Finn. But the band is supposed to head back into the studio in December to record their next album (yes!), so there will be a next time. Did you hear that Neil? Our Time On Earth* will come. We will be Together Alone** soon.

[This is me in front of the tour bus. You don't have to say it - I am fully aware of what a dork I am.]

* That was a funny Crowded House insider joke, so laugh.

** So was that, so keep laughing.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Does Anyone Know How I Can Find Out Where Crowded House Is Staying While They're in Chicago?

... Because they should be arriving sometime after midnight tonight, and I got me some Stalking to do.

You will be mine, Neil Finn.
O Yes you certainly will.

* And I mean that in a completely non-creepy, non-obsessive way, of course.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Break(Down) Pt. II - I Joined a Cult

Like a rash or pandemic, several weeks ago my e-mail inbox began flooding with messages from both old and current friends and acquaintances, asking me to join the Facebook community. I had received requests before, but for whatever reason, in mid-July it seemed everybody was doing it, so I caved.

When i started, I spent about an hour getting my page set up, adding friends and cute little applets, like a "fun wall" and a "places I've been" map (which seems impressive until compared to those belonging to other friends. Sure, maybe you've been to Copenhagen, but I've been to Hutchinson, Kansas bitches!). I sent out a few messages to people in my network, sent back a few "pokes" to people, joined a few clubs - now I'm a member of a "Chicago is awesome" network and a Patty Griffin fanclub. Yippee.

As I went through it, I thought to myself, "this is kinda boring" but figured I'd get into it. Since there are, like, millions of members I figure it must be pretty fun, right? Daily, I'd get virtual gin & tonics sent to me from friends inviting me to join them for Happy Hour. I've now got craploads of virtual drinks saved up (which I do appreciate friends!) but I stare at the row of beers on my Facebook page and all it does is depress me that I'm not really out getting drunk.

And then there's that whole aspect where now everyone in my circle knows every move I make online. Now, all 28 people in my network get a little notice saying "[Cherry] told his brother to fuck off" or "[Cherry] joined the 'I'm Turned On by Little Superstar' Network on Saturday." Awesome for me.

And do I really want to accept the invitation to join the network of some guy who lived on my floor freshman year in college that I haven't seen since then? First off, how did that freak find me? And secondly, I'm afraid if I reject his offer he'll come after me with one of the many hunting rifles that he'd keep hidden in his closet and show off during our floor progressives.

Who are these people who say they spend hours a day on Facebook? How? And Why? While I'm not complaining that I've got great friends in my Facebook community, who has time to keep all this up? Is there something else about this whole movement that I'm not getting? Something else I should be doing besides poking other people and sending them drinks? Am I missing the point?

As far as I can tell, Facebook is pretty much only good for one thing: reminding me of the birthday's of people in my network (btw, Happy Birthday Kathy!). I'm pretty sure I'm over it. I think I'll stick to my tried-and-true cults, like Blogger and Wang-Wang.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

In the Passenger's Seat - Recken Roll

Today's guest blogger is my friend Recken Roll, coming to us all the way from London. Recken and I sat side-by-side together during my working stint there two years ago. I knew we would be friends when she took me out for "dirty Indian" the first of my many late nights there, sent me links to Blagg Blog, and dared me to race her through SoHo, me on foot, her in a rickshaw (long story). I won of course.

However, she failed to tell me that one of my favorite drinks - lager and lime - is actually a "chick drink" and when I told her the exciting story of how I met Jessica Alba in a Carnaby Street shoe store, her only reaction was "So what did you buy?" (She was jealous.)

I begged her to write about something that didn't involve me, but that can be so difficult, given the temptation of such great subject matter. So I take no responsibility for the text that appears below, which was not edited by me in any way...

So to get right to it, The [Cherry] Ride and I spent a lot of time together in London – six quality weeks of sitting just 2 feet away from each other is bound to bring you closer together, right?

We also spent a lot of time in the pub and during those special hours wallowing at the bottom of a pint glass, we had several deep and meaningful conversations. I got to know our friend Cherry pretty well and was often surprised to learn that he had lived such an interesting life for someone so young. I know they always say “what happens at the pub stays at the pub”, but some of this is just too good. Therefore, I’d like to introduce you all to The [Cherry] Ride that I know and love…

ThTop 10 Things You DON’T KNOW About The [Cherry] Ride
All of the facts below are based on one conversation or another I had with Cherry before he left London. *Some* of the details have been filled in from fuzzy drunken memories but dear readers, you should know that all of these are based in truth…even if some of these CherryRide wishes weren’t true:

  1. The [Cherry] Ride can beat me at arm wrestling…even when I cheat.
  2. In his early youth, The [Cherry] Ride was one of Madonna’s favorite club dancers. (He worked the cage at the Limelight in NYC where Madge would scout for new talent.) He was even slated to be “dancer on the left” in the Vogue video. Unfortunately, their love affair ended when he stormed out after she refused to let him pop it and lock it during rehearsals. Famous last words as he left the studio: “Vogue is so gay.”
  3. Following his failed dance career, The [Cherry] Ride moved to Washington D.C. After several years of hard work, he was actually on track to become the top secret service agent to the president…until he sharted in the Oval Office.
  4. The [Cherry] Ride now lives in Chicago where he is currently writing an auto-biographical screenplay about his troubled youth. I’ve seen an early draft and it’s a beautiful tale of a young man and his personal journey of self-discovery. Although, last I heard, the working title was “Helen Mirren’s Boobs: Proper!"
  5. The [Cherry] Ride often goes shoe shopping with Jessica Alba. He may or may not be the reason she broke up with Cash Warren. (I really can’t discuss the details.)
  6. Because of The [Cherry] Ride, all McDonald's in Chicago have a size even larger than the super-size. It’s not on the menu, but when ordering, just ask to be "CherrySized." You’ll get a ginormous burger plus 2 orders of fries, an apple pie and a side of pancakes.
  7. The [Cherry] Ride once auditioned for American Idol but he walked out of the audition in tears after Paula Abdul crawled over the desk and started licking him and meowing. He never did get to do the robot on national television but it’s still a dream he keeps alive. (The lawsuit against American Idol is pending.)
  8. The [Cherry] Ride once dressed like a giant panda for Halloween. No, seriously. There is photographic evidence. I can’t make this shit up.
  9. As many of you know, the [Cherry] Ride collaborates with Dr. Ken, Classy and 5of9er to form the Liars Club. What you may now know is that this is not their first time writing together. They also all share writing credits for “Shake Your BonBon.” That’s right, The [Cherry] Ride is the proud owner of a Latin Grammy AND 2 pairs of leather pants.
  10. The [Cherry] Ride is filthy gorgeous.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

In The Passenger Seat - MysteryGirl!

Today's guest blogger is MysteryGirl! - known throughout the land for her quick wit and especially for her stick figure drawing abilities (jealous).

And as awesome as my blog is (
cough), one thing it has been lacking is the kick-ass stick figure drawings only MG! can provide...

Where in the world is Cherry?

Here are my two guesses:

I hope it's the pool.

I hope it's not the bathroom, since that cleanse should be over by now.

Now my blogging world is complete. Couple things: I love the pink drink but what is it, MG!? The Paul Poon is blue in color. Although the real answer is up for debate, rest assured I am not in the bathroom (all that much).