Magic Number 100, or things I want to do before I turn 30

Yippy!  This is my 100th blog post!  Excitement abound at the Schmidt Ranch, and of course by excitement I mean me (in pajamas) skipping around the house and sipping an extra large bottle of bubbly, Canada Dry ginger ale.

For me, faithful blog followers, this is an exciting day.  That I have had enough things to bitch and complain about to constitute one hundred entire blog postings is, in itself, something exciting.  But it also may not be surprising – I have a whole cadre of things filed away in my head, just waiting to get out.  The topics have been varied, although it is obvious what my pet peeves are:  stupid people, hipsters, hillbillies, poor use of the English language, things that put me either in danger or at an inconvenience, and … well, basically the rest of humanity.

So for my 100th post, though, I wanted to do something different.  While it is the B(itch)log, I thought it would be nice if I didn’t bitch for once.  Instead, I thought I would talk about something more positive:  My Revised List of Things I Want To Do Before I Turn 30.  I decided to do this for my 100th blog post, mainly because hitting 100 posts was one of those things I recently added to the list of things I want to do before I turn 30; also, because I am just a few, short days away from 6 months out from the big 3-0.  For years (actually over a decade), I had this extensive list that I wanted to achieve, all of which I have failed to do.  So recently, I started scaling back and accepting that I probably won’t publish that book or finish that Ph.D. in the next six months.  That doesn’t mean I can’t do some things, though.  So here we go, and I am counting on you, faithful blog followers, in keeping me on task:

My Revised List of Things I Want To Do Before I Turn 30

1.  Finish 40 books for the calendar year 2011 and get a good start on 40 for 2012.  At the beginning of this year, I decided I was going to keep track of the books I read and try to read as many quality books as I could before December 31st.  Now that we are nearing the end of the year, I am within site of 40 and think I can do it.  I have just finished numbers 30 and 31 … just a few more to go.  For my completed list, click here!

2.  Go on a date with Wolf Blitzer.  I know, sounds psychotic, right?  A week or so ago, I blogged about my hatred of Chicago news-weatherman Tom Skilling and in it mentioned that I have a secret love of Wolf Blitzer.  After that blog went out, people emailed me, Facebooked me, and even asked me in person what it was that gave me the hots for Wolf.  In truth, I can’t explain it.  But as I grasped for any reason to give people, I realized that I really do have an infatuation with most news anchors that are as hard-hitting as Blitzer is.  Since my chances of even coming in contact with Wolf Blitzer, let alone going on a date with him without finding myself in divorce court shortly thereafter, though, are slim and none … not to mention I would probably pee my pants if Wolf, Chris Matthews, or any of the other dream-teamers were actually in the same room as me … see photoshop below.  Mission accomplished?  I think so!

3.  Prove to myself once and for all that I am going to stop letting what other people say influence me so much.  A few weeks ago, I realized that I spend more time writing as an author based on what other people suggest and what other people are going to want, rather than what I want to write and what I know is good.  This is something that, unfortunately, is in almost every aspect of my life:  I let myself get pushed around by the wishes of others rather than either a compromise or what I know is right.  Before I turn 30, I want to prove it to myself that I am working to get over this (sometimes crippling) fault:  be it in my writing, my blog, or some other arbitrary aspect of my life.

4.  Buy a plane ticket to take a trip home sometime in 2012.  This is a big psychological problem for me, mainly because I know that flying home to sweet home Chicago will make it very difficult for me to get on the return plane home.  I am that homesick that often.  But I have missed so much in the last decade of my absence that to continue to forestall a trip back is just plain assholish of me to do.  It’s time for me to put on my big girl pants and buy myself a trip home.  While I know it won’t be the same as it was a decade ago (when I was last there), I also know that there is so much there I need to see and do before I turn the page to the next chapter (so to speak).

5.  On the note of trips … take a road trip to northern California to visit the John Steinbeck museum.  I really have few other interests in northern California besides that, but it is something I have wanted to do for years and yet never done.

6.  Eat sushi.  I have never eaten sushi – real sushi, that is – and yet every time we go out for Japanese food (which is frequently), I pine after it.  I have no idea what my fear of it is – probably the fact that I don’t really like fish all that much, as well as the fear that I would develop deadly tomaine poisoning – but I want to get over it and try it, just once.

That’s six things, as compared to my prior list of twenty-five (which you do not even want to read, it is that sad).  If you count my 100th blog post, which I am now about to hit “publish” on, that is seven; I think manageable given the time frame and my idiosyncrasies.  Let’s knock another one off that list … right ….. now …. this was on our way out for a nice, celebratory dinner in honor of my 100th blog post (in my head, that is) …………. the only thing needed is an audio file you faithful blog followers could play over and over of me going “Oh Wolf!”

Happy 100 Blog Followers!!  Thanks for reading!

Pizza Face

As has been made quite evident at this point, I can be a bit of a snob on a lot of different things.  I’m a snob about the books I read, a snob about the food I eat.  I’m a snob about wine.  I’m a snob about the groups I associate myself with.

More than anything, though, I’m a snob about pizza.

…as well I should be.  Born in Chicago, in the heart of the land that could be otherwise known as the Land of Pizza and Breadsticks, snobbery when it comes to my selection of pizza is almost a given.  What people that aren’t from Chicago don’t often realize is that it isn’t just about the Chicago-style pizza people typically think of – the deep dish pan with sauce on the top.  It’s about the way it’s made – the spices in the sauce, the quality of the dough, and the proportions of the ingredients that you put on top.  When someone says “Chicago-style pizza,” they aren’t always talking about that heavy, deep dish.  They’re talking about an inherent quality to any style of pizza that is characteristic of anything that you will find in the Chicagoland area.

Perhaps I am just a snob, or I have a bias after growing up in an area where even Pizza Hut served a quality slice of the pie; but as soon as I moved away from the wonderful city that is Chicago, I immediately was confronted with a plain and simple fact:  no one outside of Chicago knows how to make pizza.  Every time I try out a new pizza place, or (worse) go out with others for a slice, I’m confronted with having to put on a Pizza Face – much like a poker face, it is my fake smile and indication of enjoyment, despite the fact that inside I am slowly dying over the atrocity that is sloshing itself around inside of my mouth.

The worst are places like Papa John’s or Santinos, who pride themselves on an excessive amount of toppings.  “Now a full pound of cheese!” is not pizza, it’s a sin.  Or the independent franchises, like Bocalli’s, that leave out essential ingredients to their sauce.  There are the Dominoes of the world that have marked their pizzas down so much in price that you are lucky to get one with anything other than the crust.  There are the imposters, claiming to serve authentic Chicago-style pizza, and yet don’t, like BJ’s.  And then there are the people making their own pizza, at home, using Bisquick for the dough.  This should be illegal.

Pizza is a dish that should be savored; one that should be treated with respect to the artistry that is involved.  Rather than putting on our Pizza Faces, we should be standing up for what’s right and demanding a proper pizza once in a while.  But then again, I could just be a snob.