Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wait a Minute...I've Had THAT Burger!

Remember the first time you smelled tequila after one of those nights?

I'll wait.

Yeah, I thought so.

I still shudder thinking about one of those nights with tequila. It involved a housewarming party and a few too many Tequila Sunrises. It was the first (but alas, not the last) time he held my hair while I prayed to the porcelain gods. It's been two and a half years since that night, and I've only had tequila once or twice. Last night, I was watching football at Jimmy's (Hyde Park watering hole that is very popular with the University of Chicago students) and right in front of me, the bartender poured two shots of Cuervo for some people at the end of the bar. I made some sort of groaning noise and clutched my stomach. Ladies and gentlemen, that is sense-memory.

Sense-memory is, of course, a double-edged sword.

Last night's episode of How I Met Your Mother (arguably the best sitcom on TV right now-I will say it's the best because it's MY blag and as far as I know, no one is reading it. I dare you to name another show that's as comical, smart, and topical.) evoked a memory I will never forget.

Go watch the episode right now. Season Four, Episode Two. The one about Marshall's quest for The Burger.

I'll wait.

No, Virgina, there isn't a Santa Clause, but Marshall's Burger exists. As Marshall was talking about this mythically amazing burger throughout the episode, a curious sensation filled me. I've had That Burger.

Unfortunately for Marshall, The Burger doesn't exist in New York. It does, however, exist within the city limits of Chicago, not far from the Chicago Tribune.

It was late February of 2008. I had just moved to Chicago the month before and was coming back from a movie with some friends, when we decided food was in order. Allow me to preface this by saying I never, ever order burgers in restaurants (or at barbecues, because I just don't like beef), but my friend Zach told me I did not, in fact, want the chicken sandwich, I wanted the house's burger. The Blackie's Burger. New friends, new city, why not? I was up for new experiences. I ordered the burger.

Let me tell you, the Blackie's Burger was everything Marshall described, only ten times better. I could taste that burger. I wanted that burger. I wanted to hunt down the cook and the manager, make them open the restaurant, and cook me a Blackie's Burger, medium well, with fries, barbecue sauce, and a pitcher of the house Amber Ale. Ladies and gentlemen, this was a craving on par with White Castle. And believe you me-I've gotten out of bed at two in the morning because I couldn't sleep and was fooling around on the interwebs, got dressed, took an hour bus ride to White Castle, and munched a crave case all the way home. Believe me. I know about The Craving.

If you're ever in Chicago, you must go to Blackie's Boston Tavern, get the Blackie's Burger, and a pint or two of the Amber Ale. You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On Life and Pork Chops

There are a certain set of things people learn, usually by certain ages. Some of these things include walking, talking, using the bathroom, and learning to dress yourself. There is a sense of pride in the eyes of a child who has learned to do these things. I watched a child learn to walk once...she didn't quite do it while I was watching, but she was so close and she knew it. It was truly amazing. I still remember how I felt when I taught my brother to read, and how I felt the first time I heard him read to himself.

When you hit high school, you learn another set of life skills. How to ditch class in the library with your best friend without getting detention. How to sneak off campus for lunch. How to hide contraband (alcohol, marijuana, porn, sex toys, condoms) from your parents. Adolescence is all about secrecy and boundaries. Also, siblings exist for corruption, safe rides, and scapegoats. I owe my brother at least a week of favors for just one incident last year. (This is where I pause and tell him, "Now, if you hadn't gotten your stupid self caught, neither of us would have been hauled in for questioning.") To this day, I pray to the Patron Saint of Sex (Dan Savage) that my mother doesn't find my Bag of Toys before I get to bring them back to Chicago with me.

I was twenty-three when I moved out of my parents house. I had my own little home, complete with high speed internet, cable TV, a very comfortable green couch, and a long-term boyfriend. The boyfriend and I made excellent roommates. I didn't really know how to cook (I could bake, and I could make pasta, ramen, and eggs.) and didn't really trust myself to make meat. We resolved this by having him cook the majority of our meals (and I helped, sometimes) and I did the laundry and other such things. After a while, I stopped being afraid of the kitchen. I remember how I felt the first time I made some chicken when he wasn't home and I was feeling brave enough to try it myself. It was delicious. I could cook!

It's two and a half years later. After spending six months with my parents, I'm in another apartment, in another city, with another roommate, with another set of friends, and another boyfriend. I made barbecue pork chops with rice. There is still a satisfying sense of pride when I shovel the last stray grains of rice onto the fork and shove it in my mouth, knowing I did this, I made this.

And it was good, too.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Obama and You Should Too

I had always watched CNN with my mom, but I got really into politics during the 2000 election. We lived in Florida. I was seventeen. I'm still upset that I wasn't able to vote for Gore. In 2004, I went to a number of rallies for Kerry and Edwards and talked to everyone I knew about why I was voting for Kerry and they should, too. I attended a few meetings with the League of Women Voters. During one of these meetings I may have told the woman sitting next to me that the educational system in the state of Florida needed a massive overhaul. She agreed with me. I later learned that this woman, Yvanne Scarlet-Golden, was the mayor of Daytona Beach.

Think about that for a second. Some kid from New Jersey, raised by a single mother in Florida, who found her way to Chicago, got to sit next to the mayor of Daytona Beach and tell her exactly how she felt about the issue that mattered most to her. This, my friends, is what politics is all about.

It's about telling truth to power.

Thinking about that now-that some kid from New Jersey who grew up in Florida (and wound up in Chicago) got to sit next to the mayor and tell her exactly how I felt about the issue that matters most to me, reminds me of what politics should be. We should tell truth to power. We should tell our leaders what's wrong with our country, what's wrong with our community, and what we are personally willing and able to do to try and fix it. I believe very strongly in a woman's right to choose. I've wanted to see an end to the war before it even started. I believe everybody should be able to go to college. I believe in free health care to those who need it. I believe my grandparents should be able to live out their own lives in their own home instead of having to live with my mother because they can't afford their mortgage payments on a social security check. I believe everybody should be able to choose their own doctors. I've been unemployed for almost a year because of the job market. I've got bills to pay. Everybody does. That's why I want to be involved in this campaign. I do it for my gay friends who want equal rights for themselves and their partners, just like I do. I do it for my women friends who may someday need access to an abortion. I do it for my grandparents who have remained independent well into their 70s and want to stay that way. I do it because I don't want to ever have to bury my little brother, who is of military age. I want to help build a better world for the children I want to have someday. I don't care how hippie-dippie that sounds, it's true.

For every election cycle I've been privy to, I've heard the same thing: "We can do better, we deserve better, our children deserve better, and we will do better."

But I don't see or hear things getting better.

I know we have the resources to make universal health care possible for everybody.

I don't think I could ever get an abortion unless I was raped, but if a girlfriend needed to be driven to a clinic, I would do it. I would march on Washington for her rights, for my rights, for every woman's rights.

Marriage rights for gays and lesbians. Yes, Marriage. Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships are a step in the right direction, but are not by any means the same thing as Marriage. Phillis and Del, the first couple who married in San Francisco, had been together for fifty years on their wedding day. Del Martin died this past week. Think of what happened in those fifty years. The Civil Rights movement. The GLBT movement. Stonewall. The Women's Rights movement. These two saw it all and stayed together, no matter how the government tried to define their relationship. I'm sorry, but if even the government can't keep two people apart who truly love each other, that's not an abomination unto God. That's love, pure and simple.

I can't in good conscience vote for a man who would define marriage, define love, as between one man and one woman.

I can't in good conscience vote for a man who wants to tell me, tell the people I love, what we can and can't do with our own body.

I can't in good conscience vote for a man who agrees with Bush's economic plan that has worked out oh so well the last eight years.

Now, Obama and I disagree on a lot of things. I don't think he's the answer we're all looking for and I don't think he's a quick fix. I think it's going to take a lot of time, energy, and dedication on the part of everybody. You can't just blame the president, the government, or anyone else. But I think he's the best chance we've got to begin undoing the horrible damage the Bush Administration has done to our country, not to mention our reputation with the rest of the world.

I took a political quiz at www.selectsmart.com to see who in the 2008 race most closely matched my ideals. I got Kucinich at 91%. Surprised? Not really.

I believe a Green Party candidate and a Socialist candidate were third and fourth. Obama was fifth. Stephen Colbert, closeted pinko-liberal he is, was dead last, as he plays a neo-conservative on his show and he can't seem to give a serious answer to anything.

But I'm still voting for Obama. And you should, too.