Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Some of My Best Friends Are Masterminds

You see, I headed to Illinois this past weekend to celebrate my birthday with friends and had a little surprise. I left for my dad's on Friday morning, where I later met up with Kirsten and Travis. We were supposed to catch the Aurora showing of 'Night of the Living Dead: The Musical,' but traffic and other factors interfered. Instead, we went out to grab some food and drinks, and spent the rest of the evening talking. Afterward, they dropped me off, and I made plans to meet up, again, with Kirsten on Saturday. I hopped onto 55, and we hit the Orland Park mall, where we tried on a few dresses. I found one that was perfect for our Drama Awards ceremony, but knew I'd be dropping another dress size, so it would no longer fit. Next, we made a "quick" visit to the Clinique counter that ended up lasting an hour and a half (we both got makeovers). We wandered around for a bit longer, before returning to Kirsten's. The next hour was spent frantically getting ready, before grabbing our trusty Google maps directions for our destination: Al Capone's Steakhouse and Hideaway. Travis asked me earlier in the week to push back the reservations from 6:00 to 7:30 for a class he was teaching, and I was more than happy to oblige - it gave us more time to get ready! What we didn't realize was that the clock we were watching was actually an hour behind, so we had to really scramble to get ourselves out of the door, to the gas station, and on the road. Surprisingly, it was only 40 miles from 'The Hills' to StC, so we were there in no time at all. Unfortunately, though, Google decided to leave out an essential street from our directions, which delayed us. But, after a quick phone call to the restaurant, we were able to figure out where we needed to go. By the time we arrived, the parking was absolute madness, so Kirsten had to create a spot just down the road. Once inside, Travis met us at the bar and almost immediately instructed me to head toward the end of it. "Someone at the end of the bar wants to buy you a drink," he said. Puzzled (and a little fearful), I made my way down to the end of the bar to take a closer look at the man in the pinstriped suit and Capone hat. I didn't recognize him at first, but then it dawned on me: it was Mike! He flew all the way from LA to spend my birthday dinner with me! Not only did he manage to surprise me, but he conspired with Kirsten and Travis! I was with them Friday and Saturday, and neither of them said a thing! (By the way, Travis needed to move the dinner date NOT because he had a class to teach, but he was picking Mike up from the airport. Sneaksy and tricksy!) Anyway, if Mike had not already been sitting up against the wall, I would have knocked him off his barstool and onto the floor. As it was, I scared the hell out of a nearby man when I shrieked, "Oh my God!" just before I tore across the bar. It was definitely unexpected and it made my birthday weekend complete. We spent the rest of the weekend together, until I inevitably (and reluctantly) had to take him back to the airport. Even though I'll see him in a couple of months, it was still hard to say goodbye, again. It seems like we're always saying goodbye - then hello - then goodbye. It's a series of smiles and agony, until I move down there permanently.

In the meantime, I'll continue being thankful for the caring and loving people in my life, while I plot different ways of getting back at them for being the only successful group to ever surprise me this way...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chivalry Still Exists in Hollywood...

...thanks to Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell.

The original story can be found here.

'Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' stars donate to Heath Ledger's daughter

Little Matilda Ledger's bank account just got a boost thanks to three generous actors.

Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell, the actors who played variations of Heath Ledger's character Tony in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus," have donated their pay from the film to the late star's 2-year-old daughter.

The actors made the donation out of concern for Matilda's financial future, as her father did not update his will to include the toddler after her birth.

"They didn't take money — it goes to Heath's daughter," director Terry Gilliam told Britain's The Sun newspaper.

"That's extraordinary! And wonderful . . . and when you're part of that, you think, 'Ah, this is maybe why I went into the movies in the beginning. I thought it would be full of wonderful people.'

"We've got a movie full of wonderful people who did extraordinary things to help."

Production on the film shut down for two months following Heath's death of an accidental drug overdose in January.

Donation aside, it's unlikely Matilda will be hard-up for cash in the future. The tike's mom, Michelle Williams, has three movies coming out in 2009, according to IMDB.com.


May the gods smile upon these three men for taking care of Matilda in this way. They should be honorary godfathers - 'Three Men and a Baby' style! It is truly inspiring.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Best Birthday Ever

I would know...I've had plenty of them. This year's birthday was, by far, the best, though. What made this one so special, you ask? Well, allow me to elaborate.

The day began with a frantic drive to school at 7:58am (I have to be there at 8). During the whole 4 block drive (yes, I drove, today, because I needed to take a co-worker to pick up her car at the dealership)I remembered that my license needed to be renewed - today was the expiration date. Once I arrived at school, I dropped off the treats in the lounge, flew up to my classroom, set down my bag, e-mailed the school to tell them there was free food, and the office phone startled me. I answered and Lisa, from the main office, asked if I could slip downstairs for a minute. So, I headed down to see what was going on. Waiting for me in front of my mailbox was a bouquet of daisies, dyed with food coloring in all sorts of vibrant colors. It was absolutely beautiful! (They were from Sue and Claudia.) I asked if I could leave the bouquet with her while I ran an errand (the DMV), where I then proceeded to wait for 40 minutes. It was all right, though, because they took my new, thinner, picture for the license and I looked smashing. Once I returned to the school, I picked up my flowers and returned to an inbox full of birthday wishes (18 or so). As I busily replied to all of them, Sue came down to visit. We had a nice chat before the maintenance man showed up. He told me they would be installing a volume control in my classroom. No more loud speaker interrupting my middle school classes! Hooray! The day was getting better by the minute! My creative writing class came in soon after that, and we videotaped their dialogue scenes. The period flew by, and then my 9th graders arrived. We worked on the class webpage until lunch rolled around. Down in the lounge, I received more birthday wishes. My 7th graders arrived at 12:30, and in the middle of class, the phone rang, again. This time it was Jodi from the main office. She told me I had a package waiting for me downstairs. Intrigued, I headed down after the kids left and picked it up. R sent me calla lilies - one of my favorite flowers! The day went up another notch! Soon after, my 8th graders entered my room, soundless and single file. Once they were arranged at the front of the room, one of them turned to face the others and began conducting the 'Happy Birthday' song. I got a little misty eyed and thanked them - I never once mentioned that my birthday was coming up, but they somehow knew! They're the best part of my day and I'm going to miss them tremendously when I move! Whenever I get sad and wonder why I chose to stay on another year, I remember that class and it reaffirms my decision. Anyway, when they left, I headed down to Bev's room, and we made plans to go get dinner after school. I met her over at her place, so we could drop off her husband's truck and run over to get hers from the dealership. It was then that I realized just how badly my car needs a detail job. Once she got her car back, we met at Salamis and had overstuffed potatoes and good conversation. I headed back home at around 6:30 and got a ton of stuff done that has been needing attention: washing the dog, edging the yard, and transplanting the yuccas. Since I've been inside, I've gotten 7 phone calls and multiple messages wishing me a 'Happy Birthday!' and I'm still getting them. There are only about 10 minutes left, so I'm waiting to see who the very last person will be! I am so very blessed to have such fantastic people in my life. Thanks so much to all of you who helped make this birthday so very special!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Please, Don't Make Me Puke...

Typically, I stay out of political debates, because they piss me off. For one, it's all a lot of spin doctoring and social manipulation that makes my head dizzy. It seems that this particular campaign lives and breathes drama. I don't know about you, but I have enough drama to deal with in my own daily life. I am really not interested in hearing the latest 'sensational' coverage that's happening when most of it is absolute BS. (The 24 hour media gurus, who create drama and news for the use of ratings through the use of emotion-evoking words, is another rant for another time!)I mean, seriously, we are the laughing stock of the entire world! There we were, making an enormous, politically charged deal about the possibility of a female leading this country, when Israel, Great Britain, Germany, Chile, Liberia, the Philippines, and even Pakistan have all had female leaders within the past 50 years! It seems like we're amongst the only purely racist and sexist country in the world - yet we'll always claim to be the best at everything, because we're free Americans!

But, I digress. I wanted to share a quote I ran across by Fred Thompson that made me sick to my stomach. He tears into Obama about his inexperience and tries to piggyback his mantra of hope: "We hear a lot of talk about hope. John McCain knows about hope. That's all he had to survive on."

Ok, first of all, wasn't McCain a POW? Do we want someone who has dealt with unmentionable physical and mental tortures in charge of that red button? Secondly, to throw this notion into the faces of America about how badly he suffered is doing nothing but fishing for a sympathy vote. "Aww, he had a bad time in war. He must deserve this more than Obama, because he could have died! Let's vote for him, so he feels better about himself!" If you buy into that, do us all a favor and migrate to your nearest institution of faith and have a telepathic conversation with your Lord, asking for forgiveness for being so ignorant. Third, I hear a lot of talk about how inexperienced Obama is. Does our constitution not state that once you hit a certain age and meet a specific criteria, that you are eligible to run for president? Do we not teach our children to reach for the stars and aspire toward big dreams? Is that not what this man is doing? I feel that he is an inspiration and a fair representation of the majority of this country. Why should I put my political trust into an older, "more experienced" man, when all he has done so far has been to undermine his opposition with immature tactics and false accusations? Obama has managed to rise above all of the pettiness during this run, and maintained his integrity. He has a made a solid choice in his vice president, and I'm satisfied that the two of them will do a great job working together. There is already a strong rapport between them that appears to be genuine, while McCain struggles to spin the events of his own vice preident's personal bombshells and meltdowns. Go here for more on that topic. (She wants to cut funding for sex education and ban abortions in ALL cases!)

The bottom line in all of this is that neither side has ever been president. How can one truly gauge "experience" or "readiness" unless thrust into a position of power? Do doctors not go through an internship before becoming a professional? Do teachers not endure student teaching before becoming certified? One might argue that Obama is a fresh-faced senator, but I would rather have his untainted views of hope over a man who desires to run this country through fear, while using a woman as his wild card. But, I'm just a woman. What could I possibly know?

(Photo from www.agoravox.com/article.php3?id_article=8337)