Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ann- New and Improved!

I would be remiss in my duties as world's most awesome blogger if I didn't address the fact that it's been awhile since I've blogged. A LONG while. While there is no legitimate excuse for leaving my readers longing for more Life Without a Bulla, I do have my reasons. For starters, I struggled to find a topic. After nine months, I'm still grappling with the fact that I'm no longer a student. I've yet to adjust to the idea that my week consists of work. And only work. SO MUCH WORK. This foreign monotony left me confused and uninspired. So, I attempted to infuse creativity and newness (and some 'oldness') into my life again. And, whad'ya know? It worked. The following is Summer 2009, Ann Style.

All Work and No Playdoh Makes Ann a Dull Girl

I pose this question to my readers: Is there anything that Aldi DOESN'T have?

88 cent boxes of turkey sausage links? check
$1 cartons of strawberries? check
Any food in existence found in canned form? check
A 24 color variety box of Playdough for $9.99? CHECK

And with that being said, I think we all know where this entry will be taking us. It goes without saying that I didn't hesitate to throw that box of Playdoh in my cart next to my turkey sausage and canned corn. And it was, perhaps, one of the best purchases I made all year. Moments after getting home, I was on my living room floor with 24 colors and endless possibilities. The smell...the touch...I was hypnotized. It didn't take long for Sara to join me.

But being 24 years old and playing with Playdoh brought about an odd juxtaposition. The last time I played with Playdoh, I was probably around eight or nine and my biggest concern at the time was not getting blamed for making Gracie eat the purple balls of Playdoh which she was somehow led to believe were grapes. Other stresses included making sure I had the latest collection of Limited Too clothing, campaigning for an American Girl doll (Kirsten) and memorizing the words to "A Whole New World" from Disney's Aladdin.

But as I rolled out the dough for my Playdoh Pizza, different thoughts went through my mind this time, like "Is there a job where I can get paid to make Playdoh food?" and "When are my library books due?" and "Is there enough dishwashing liquid left to mop the floors?" So no, I didn't completely revert back to the carefree playfulness of an eight year old, but I still found the whole process familiar and therapeutic. Playdoh Therapy. Click the link below and take a moment to enjoy the awesomeness...


And now for the 'oldness.' I was recently transported back in time with a trip to my mom's house. After pulling out a box of one of my favorite old toys, I spent a solid hour with Grace and Sara "playing" Polly Pockets. I'm talking vintage Polly Pockets. Not your sissy 3 inch Polly Pockets today. Back when "choking hazard" wasn't slapped on every toy. Of course, memories quickly came flooding back to me as we organized the Pollys and tried to remember the names we had given each one. There was Alice, the chef, the two Anitas (I guess naming wasn't our forte) and a 20+ other characters I couldn't remember.

But after a few minutes I began to realize that I wasn't quite sure how to play with Polly Pockets. Granted, I'm at an age where I probably shouldn't know how to play with toys like Polly, but not only that, I couldn't remember how I used to play with Polly. How did I pass the hours with these inanimate objects? What did my Pollys say and do? And what happened to the Ann that played with those toys? Oh right... she plays with Playdoh now.

Art Institute-a-paloozza

I live in what I would argue to be one of the greatest cities in America. There's fine dining, exciting nightlife, free street fairs and festivals, great sports teams (well- kinda), and more theaters and museums than you can shake a stick at (for those English majors out there, I realize I just ended that sentence with a preposition but I don't care! It's my blog!). Yet, I visit these museums a dismal ONCE a year- if that! I know, I'm embarrassed. So I've begun what I hope to be a revival, of sorts.

One lovely Thursday evening, Gracie and I took advantage of the Art Instutute's free night (of course). Having been to the Art Institute quite a few times, I was most excited to visit the Institute's new Modern Wing. I figured we'd breeze through most of the Institute, having seen it all before. To my surprise however, I quickly became enraptured by all its old standbys I'd seen a million times. I think of it as similar to watching a movie you haven't seen since you were little. You think you'll love the movie for all the reasons you loved it when you were little. And that's true. But there's always the element of surprise after watching it as an adult. You find yourself exclaiming, "Weird, I remember this part! I just never knew what it meant..." You realize there were jokes that you never caught onto when you were younger (I seem to have this experience EVERY year with National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation). You wonder why you ever loved the movie as a child because obviously you weren't comprehending half of it. So it's still the same movie you once loved, but different at the same time. It's strangely new and... familiar.

Such was my experience at the Art Institute. I got everything I expected from the visit but viewed through a different filter. Paintings I once glanced over were the ones I loved the most this time. And Grace and I found the most fascinating piece of the night tucked away in the Art Institute's "basement." In a deserted section housing mostly ancient Indian and African artifacts was a necklace from THOUSANDS of years ago. My brain is incapable of comprehending that date. What business did a woman from 1000 BC have wearing a necklace?!? What purpose did it serve? Did it indicate status? Was it a gift? Or was she just a girl looking to spruce up an outfit? It was an experience that created an eerie connection for me because I WEAR NECKLACES TOO. Is this creeping anyone else out??

Necklaces aside, it was a productive and enlightening visit (take a peak at Note- this album also includes my trip to Ye Olde Bristol Renaissance Faire. LIFE CHANGING) With the Art Institute being only a bus ride away, I plan to make more regular visits. The same goes for The Field Museum, The Shedd Aquarium, Lincoln Park Zoo and The Chicago History Museum. On their respective free days of course...

Giant Sandwiches and Bridges Yunz!

After two years of her attending the University of Pittsburgh, I decided maybe it was time to pay Gracie a visit at her college campus. So in late August, Sara, Grace and I all hopped on a plane with ten thousand of Grace's suitcases and made our way to the City of Bridges. Pittsburgh is a lovely city full of unexpected hills and a mediocre mass transit system, albeit much cleaner than the CTA. I liked Pittsburgh for it's ambiguity. Is it Midwestern? Or does its relation to the Appalachian Mountains categorize it as eastern? I was reminded of Chicago's Midwestern qualities in that there were obnoxious herds of footballs fans roaming the streets, shouting obscenities and urinating publicly. On the other hand, Pittsburgh certainly has its own distinctive qualities too. For example, Pittsburghers have a local dialect called 'Pittsburghese' in which they use the term "yunz," the Pittsburgh equivalent of "y'all." Admittedly, I never actually heard the term used but there certainly were lots of T-Shirts and stores that advertised it enthusiastically.

As I said, this was the summer of culture, and so we visited Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Art and its neighboring Museum of Natural History. Again, I was mesmerized and fascinated. We spent hours wandering the Museum's strangely deserted halls and faced the dangers of quickly plummeting blood sugar. I shall now describe our trip in full detail...through pictures! Let your eyes do the listening....

In the end, it was a fun, exhausting, and hilarious three days. Pittsburgh certainly has its charm, but I will always consider Chicago to be superior to any city I visit. I suppose I just prefer my publicly urinating football fans to be wearing a Bears jersey. But 'youse guys' knew that already.

So, you see? My blogging absence wasn't without reason. I needed to recharge my batteries, discover new things, and eat a giant sandwich in Pittsburgh! And I urge you to do the same (especially the sandwich part). So visit a museum, book a flight somewhere you've never been, or just make a Playdoh Pizza.