Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Person of the Moment: Keith Brooks

I've had the opportunity over the last several months to meet an insane amount of incredible people.  I can't say any one of them stood out over the rest, because they were all amazingly talented and interesting in their own way.  However, that being said, one of them worth noting is actor/comedian/writer/director/jack-of-all-trades Keith Brooks.  If you've ever met Keith, then you already know this fact, he is definitely not someone you can forget easily.  And not just because he has the skills to Austin Powers mojo-seduce you over a bowl of practically stale nachos.

Keith brings out the best in people.

The first time I met Keith, I was hanging out in Gary, Indiana.  It was his second day there, and he had just returned to the production house from a very productive day.  He had scored a date with a very fertile women who took him, along with her church group, to a baseball game (Go Gary Railcats!).  I repeat, his second day there.  As always I hit him with a line of questioning that would have made many grown men sweat.  However, he was a good sport about it, and let my faux-interview proceed.  It was through this experience that I came to understand why any women would suffer from insta-attraction to this charmer.

A month later, I had the pleasure of interviewing him for my grad school project at the lovely Majestic Diner in Atlanta, Georgia.  My favorite part was hearing his epic stories which make for an entertaining time all around.  If you ever meet him, take a seat (or stand, if you prefer) and ask him to tell you the saga of Dr. Wesley Snipes - you won't be disappointed (unless you forget).  

Besides being a talented actor, he writes, produces, and directs.  He is also a philanthropist; this month he performed at an autism benefit.  And he writes rap songs.

With so much talent, there is sure to be a long and successful road ahead for this young actor. 

If laughter is medicine, then Keith Brooks is the cure.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Revlon 'Shape Your Life' Social: Recap

Last Thursday night, I had the pleasure of attending the Revlon 'Shape Your Life' Social - a collaborative effort between Revlon Cosmetics and Shape Magazine.  The invitation-only event was held at Chicago Warehouse District lounge Lumen, located near the west side.  This was the perfect venue for some late afternoon cocktails, networking, and makeovers.  My make-up artist, Megan, was a doll.  She did great work and was very personable; and my make-up looked fantastic.
The highlight of the evening was definitely the 'Women in Action' panel featuring Nicole Williams, author of Girl on Top, a guide on how to turn dating rules into career success.  Nicole was blunt.  She knew what she was talking about and gave the ladies in attendance the truth - no sugar coating necessary.  She is a great representative of what Shape is all about.

All in all, it was a lovely evening and I left with a copy of Shape Magazine and a free Revlon Grow Luscious Plumping™ mascara

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Feeling blue?

Go to the gym.

It won't really change anything in your life per say, but it's something to do with your time.  Leave your worries and your cell phone in the car; they will (probably) still be there waiting when you get back.  Set your iPod to shuffle and crank up the tunes so you can't hear your own thoughts. Let the smooth melody of Eminem's lyrical flow drown out your potential misery.

The best thing about the gym? 

No one talks to you.  Well, that's not entirely true - spend enough time there and everyone knows your life story.  But in general, headphones in, determined face on, no one bothers you.  If you have the unfortunate predicament of running into someone you know, you can easily deny them admittance to your thought process by pointing dramatically to your headphones and mouthing "sorry, this is my jam!" convincingly.

*Sidenote: The gym is pretty much the only time I allow myself to be separated from my cell phone; it's sad, but true. I sleep with my phone.  I possibly would risk taking it in the shower if I had insurance on it. My phone never enters the gym doors.  

**The gym also works wonders when you're angry, over-caffeinated, stressed, highly motivated, or just unwinding from spending a day as crowd control for 50 5-6 yr old boys on their first day of Kindergarten.

*Sidenote 2: I usually spend 5 minutes sitting in my car after working out answering text messages.  A watched phone never rings, but leave it in the car..magic.    

Day 2 back at the gym..I hurt. Everywhere.  But I love it! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Women and Weight: The Perpetual Conundrum

There's nothing new or breakthrough about the correlation between women and weight issues.  So if you're expecting some startling new statistic to appear below: a) you will be severely disappointed, and b) you're probably new to my welcome!

PhotobucketWomen, more often than men, have struggled with weight loss - or at least publicly so.  The self-esteem of women that don't fit the mold that is widely used by Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vanity Fair, and Vogue - probably wouldn't win any award at the county fair (I'm assuming, I've never been to a county fair).  Although the pages of those magazines are littered with articles and factoids about women and boosting confidence levels, it's just doesn't necessarily seem to parallel reality.  When I'm reading those articles (and I do, I love them, I subscribe to all of the aforementioned magazines) the very first thought that crosses my mind is not "Oh, yea, this writer is onto something," it's "If I looked like the girl in the illustration, I would be confident about my body." Point Blank.  And the truth is, if I looked like those women, I would probably find something else wrong with my body to complain about (but I'm guessing my confidence level would most likely be pretty high anyway).

It's actually sad to say that out loud (or write it), that my confidence is tied so heavily to the shape of my body, but in some aspects - it is. 

Recently a guy called me "chunky" and it really affected me negatively.  Right before I started grad school, I went all out workout-diet crazy.  I lost a ton of weight and everything was nice and toned; I was doing things in the gym that made me look like I was straight out of Women's Health (one of my favorite magazines) - my confidence was high and my waistline was trim(mer).  The feeling of fitting into jeans that I've been hiding in boxes in the basement since undergrad was priceless.

PhotobucketUnfortunately, after starting back to school, my priorities shifted.  I no longer could head to the gym everyday after work, and when I managed to get there, I was unfocused and lethargic.  I was getting an "A" in all of my classes, but an "F+" on my health.  As anyone that works out on a regular basis knows, if you don't want to be at the gym, you're probably not getting a lot out of your workout - and the more into working out you get, the more you have to push yourself, thus not interested = not getting results.

So over the last 18 months as late nights, stress, and caffeine overdoses took over my life, my muscles reverted back to fat.  I didn't gain a ton of weight - but I looked like I did.  I knew that I would have to refocus my energy and get back to the gym as soon as possible i.e. when classes were over.  I was teetering at the edge of low self-esteem when it came to my body (and it's summer, which means less layers to cover up unwanted fat and more baring your insecurities to the judging eye in order to avoid heat stroke), so when this guy made that comment, it struck me as a) rude (seriously isn't it a universal rule not to mention a women's weight), and b) it stung (because I knew it was true).

Photobucket It's been a week since classes were over, and I'm suiting up for the gym (not literally, since my workout outfits consist mostly of t-shirts and yoga pants) and tweaking my diet (more protein and veggies; less sugar, bread, alcohol, wheat, fruit, well basically less everything else).  I don't like to get a big head, but I really like to hear "have you lost weight?" or "you look great!" from the women at work (and really anyone, I'm not

Stay tuned for periodic updates on the life of a temporary gym rat.

*I really owe my hott trainer for most of my previous success, seriously that's all the encouragement that I needed to get to the gym.

**He was really hott.

What to Expect When You're NOT Expecting

Perhaps the most famous of all "expecting" books is the cult classic: What to Expect When You're Expecting, but why isn't there a book out there dedicated to 'what to expect when you're not expecting'?  A guide book per say to sex without the intention of getting pregnant, or even just a relationship how-to.  I realize there are about a million and thirteen books on dating and relationships, and even sex (besides your standard issued textbook), but why is there not one, singular, edition of a book that is as well-circulated as the aforementioned Yoda of all pregnancy books?

Now I've never personally read that best-seller (as I've never been expecting anything of the baby variety), but I assume it makes a series of generalizations about the female body and typical baby growth and such.  I wonder why it has been deemed the guru of all 'being pregnant' literature?  If it is that easy to generalize symptoms like those, than why isn't there a definitive guide to let's say 'How you should feel when falling in L-O-V-E'?

PhotobucketThe difference obviously is that one has scientific backing and the other, well let's face it, is a crap shoot; often a two-faced Indian coin toss, in fact (think Batman).  There's nothing definitive about being in love, or falling in love, or the steps and stages anywhere in between.  There's very few generally accepted statements that you can even make referring to it.  Women and men react so differently to the same stimulation of whatever hormones effect brain chemistry and tell you, in nothing less than flashing neon (preferably pink) signs that you have feelings for another human being and that it may or may not border on the emotion better known as love.  Just like anything involving hormones, some people are more inclined to react strongly, while others are less impacted.

PhotobucketJust some food for thought.  Relationships are tough cookies, tread with stilettos not flip flops. And always carry bandages.    

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Anatomy of a Summer Vacation

PhotobucketWhen you're a kid, there's nothing you look forward to more than summer vacation; three months of no homework, sunny days, adventures with your friends, family vacations (unless you're a middle child and in that case, it's a coin toss) - three months of lazy in-between.

When you grow up, those same things fall to the wayside as life takes over. No longer do you have three consecutive months to sit, roll over, and play illiterate. Long summer days are filled with responsibility and billable work hours (unless you prescribe to the freelance way of living and in that case, perhaps your days are not consecutively filled with anything of the work-related persuasion).  Deciding how to spend your limited "free time" pretty much becomes the same game that you played last month, except now you can add activities that are warm-weather related (unless you live somewhere that's warm all the time and in that case, perhaps you should just ignore the last line).

However, there's still a strange urge to play hooky (which may be spelled hookey or hookie depending on which dictionary you're relying on).  Even though I landed a j-o-b after undergrad that gave me the summers off, I've never really had the luxury of taking advantage of them in the same way I did when I was a kid.  The first two summer's I scraped by with part time jobs trying to make ends meet, and the last two summer (including this one which is coming to an end in t minus 2 days), I did the same - except I added grad school classes to the mix.

PhotobucketI long for a lazy summer.  One where money isn't the hindrance of my good times and responsibility isn't the backbone of my spontaneity.  I gave myself one week this summer to have an irresponsible good time, to chase something I want, to let the teenage girl in me take over my cerebellum - the whole heart over head conundrum.  I strongly recommend it.  Everything you ran away from will still be waiting when you get back (I promise); the bills and the papers and the friends you don't ever seem to have enough time for aren't going anywhere (unless you've reached the due date and in that case, don't forget that paying bills or turning in a paper late often results in a penalty).      

::insert cliche about life being short and enjoy the ride here::  Summer is once again reaching its finale and the credits are starting to roll in, but when you're an adult you have the advantage of being able to take a vacation during other seasons (unless you can't and in that case, this paragraph is not really for you).  You never get too old to have some quality kid-like time.