Author Archives: Courtney

How to Run Your First 5K

If you follow this blog or are friends with me on Facebook, you may have noticed that I ran my first 5K this past weekend.  If you didn’t notice, you should probably get your observation skills tested by a professional because I’ve been basically shouting it from every form of social media I have at my disposal.  I’m not going to lie – I am proud of myself.  Proud of myself for signing up, for following through, for finishing, for signing up for more.  It may not seem like the biggest deal; I was among thousands on that day alone, let alone all of the other people that run miles more than that every day. But was a big deal to me.

That being said, I think I may have been overoptimistic and conveniently forgot that the 5K was not just a big party and that before all of the good feels that would come with finishing, I would actually have to run three miles.  While I knew I could do it, I was much more involved in the atmosphere and fun than the actual running portion.

And thus I present to you:  My First 5K – A Narrative

  • It’s RACEDAY, BITCHES!!
  • Sweet Jesus, it’s early.  Is that the moon?
  • I don’t get up this early for work.
  • Whatever.  It’s raceday!
  • NO YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT WEAR A SOX JERSEY TO THE RACE TO WRIGLEY, TONY.
  • This is great!  Look at all of these other runners on our bus!  How fun!
  • Yes, yes, I am a runner too, people.  I have the commemorative shirt on, just like you.
  • Which is a bit smaller than I would like, I must mention.
  • I must have been drunk and optimistic when I ordered this size.
  • We’re here!  Look at all the people!  There’s my mom and dad!  Yay!
  • I have to go to the bathroom right this second.
  • Apparently raceday for me starts in a porta-potty.
  • Okay, I see how it works.  The 7 minute milers start here.  (Show offs.)  I’ll head back a bit.
  • Where, exactly, is the 15 minute miler start line?
  • I’ll just stand back here with the people pushing strollers.
  • They’re all stretching.  I should stretch.
  • Except I don’t really know what I’m doing.  I usually warm up with a brisk walk.
  • I’ll just walk in a little circle for a bit.
  • Yeah, now you totally look like you’ve done this before.  Stop it.
  • Starting horn!  We’re underway!
  • Except my group isn’t moving.
  • Here we go!  There’s the start line!
  • This is awesome!  So many people cheering! Woohoo!!!
  • There’s my mom and dad again!  Look at me!  I’m doing it!
  • That picture they took is totally going to be my profile pic.
  • Wait, why does this hurt already?
  • OW.  Should have stretched more.  That’s okay.  First couple of minutes are always a little tough.  You got this.
  • Awe, look at this awesome couple!  He’s pushing his wife in a wheelchair!  How great are they?
  • I’m kind of sad that I just saw that because he passed me up….
  • Huh.  I thought they were going to mark each mile.  Must have read that wrong.  Because surely we’re past the first mile?
  • I’ll just check my watch.
  • Seven minutes?  It’s only been seven fucking minutes?!
  • Where’d all the cheering crowd go?
  • I should have brought my headphones.  Listening to myself huff and puff is not super motivating.
  • Okay, okay.  Beautiful day, first 5K, we’re doing this!  Look, there’s the first mile marker!  You’re almost done!
  • Yay!  They have one of those water tables and I can totally be one of the runners that grabs a cup of water and downs it without stopping, defiantly throwing the cup on the ground as I continue my strenuous run.
  • Except no one is handing me water.
  • Oh, yay, someone did!
  • Yeah, I’m not sure what made you think you could drink a cup of water and run at the same time.
  • Because now you’re choking.
  • Also, you’re an asshole, because no one else threw their cup on the ground.
  • I’ll just double back and throw that in one of the fourteen conveniently placed receptacles.
  • This went a lot different in my head.
  • Where’s the wheelchair guy?
  • Here we go!  The girl in front of me has on a Marine Corps shirt.  And I’m keeping pace!  You, unknown soldier, will be my motivation.  I shall keep up with you.
  • That bitch just picked up a toddler, put him on her shoulders, and sped past me.
  • Well, there’s like 475 reasons you wouldn’t be a good Marine – this is just another one.
  • Wait, no one said there was going to be a hill.
  • Now’s probably a good time for a little walk.
  • Hey, guy?  On your front porch?  Who just yelled, “Good job!  Only four miles to go!”  You’re an asshole.
  • Water station!  That means mile two is done!
  • Let’s try not to fuck up so spectacularly with the water this time, yeah?
  • I don’t want any more water, anyhow.
  • Wheelchair guy!  Yay!
  • Don’t think about the fact that you’re celebrating catching a septuagenarian who is literally pushing the weight of another human.  Concentrate on the positive!
  • Hey, there’s my mom and dad again!  And friends!
  • Hell yes, it IS almost bloody mary time!!
  • It’s entirely possible my parents have covered more ground this morning than myself.
  • Hey, lady?  With the stroller containing three children?  You are hurting my feelings.
  • Yay, more cheerleaders!
  • Almost there!  I see the field!
  • I do not, however, see a finish line.  Which is unfortunate, because I’m kind of getting done with this whole running thing.
  • WTF do you mean, we still have to run around the whole field before we go inside?
  • DO YOU KNOW HOW BIG THIS STUPID FIELD IS?
  • Maybe just another short walk.
  • Heading into the concourse!  I did it!
  • Except this is kind of uphill, too.
  • And I totally have to pee again.  I wonder if the bathrooms are open?
  • It would probably be the shortest line ever for the bathroom at Wrigley.
  • No one will ever let you live it down if you stop to pee in a three mile race.
  • There’s the finish line!
  • And there’s all of my favorite people that came to see me!
  • That picture?  Is totally not going to be cute.
  • FINISHED!!!
  • This?  Right here?  With my best friends and family, who got up at the crack of dawn to watch me chug past the finish line?  This is awesome.  I love everything.

Next time, though, I’m bringing my headphones.  Ke$ha and Avril Lavigne are infinitely more motivating than my inner monologue.

Finally!

Finally!

This Is What Three Pounds Looks Like

It was the Christmas pictures that did it.  There was my beautiful sister, almost seven months pregnant with her first child, looking radiant standing next to me – fifty pounds (at least, I didn’t ask.  I have to maintain some sanity,) heavier than her, looking like a distorted, bloated version of myself.  What struck me the most wasn’t how heavy I was; it’s not like I hadn’t realized my pants were getting too tight and I got out of breath trying to put my boots on.  I knew I’d put on a considerable amount of weight.  But what struck me the most was how unhappy I looked.  I didn’t look like me.  The me I knew was happy, she wasn’t this puffy person desperately trying to smile.

Once I had untagged myself from all of those unflattering pictures, I made a decision.  I didn’t want to be that person.  I did not want to be the person that did not want her picture taken.  I wanted my as-yet-unborn niece to have photos of her aunt that loved her, not just a vague recollection of a fat lady.  Those pictures snapped something in me and made me question what else I was missing out on.  I’m self-aware enough to realize if I was hiding out from the camera, I was hiding out from other things as well.  What else was I letting pass me by?

So I made some big changes.  I cut out the carbs and sugar, switched my six or seven  Diet Cokes a day for gallons of water.  I quit drinking beer.  (I switched to vodka and diet Sprite.  I’m not a saint.)  I ate vegetables.  Instead of my previous late night dinners of loaded baked potato soup, mashed potatoes, or spaghetti with a half a loaf of garlic bread, I made mashed cauliflower with chicken.  I made smoothies with spinach every morning, despite my previous disdain for anyone that would do such a horrible thing to a delicious beverage.  I found out I was wrong.  They were delicious.

And I started running.  I had quit smoking almost a year prior but still had the smoker mentality that went something along the lines of, “If I am running, you better start, because there someone behind me with a murderous weapon.”  I had never run.  Ever. I always got a C in gym class because I would never run the whole mile.  But I found this Couch to 5K program that boasted it would enable me to run a 5K within nine weeks.  I didn’t believe it for a second after the first day, when I damn near passed out after running for sixty seconds.  I signed up for one anyway.

The biggest thing I did, however, was not get on a scale.  I hadn’t had one in years, and I decided that instead of weight, I was going to concentrate on this 5K.  I set what I thought was a realistic goal: One, I was going to finish the program.  Two, I wanted to run the whole thing and finish under 45 minutes.  They weren’t lofty goals.  There are people that can walk a 5K in 45 minutes.  But they were my goals, and they weren’t directly related to a number on the scale.

I felt great.  Each day after I completed my run, I was exhilarated.  Every other day I was out there; in the bitter cold, in the snow, in the rain – I would run.  I couldn’t believe it – I was doing it!!!  After a couple of weeks, my clothes were fitting better.  I had more energy, I was smiling a real smile again – I was happy.  I was me again.  Most of all, I was so damn proud of myself.  I was achieving my weight loss goals like I never had before. 

About eight weeks into the program, I was over at my sister’s for lunch.  I went to use her bathroom and spied the scale on the floor.  I couldn’t help myself.  I had to see.  I mean, it had been eight weeks!  After all of the changes I had made, at the weight I started, I was confident I had lost at least fifteen pounds.  I had done the low-carb thing before – the wrong way, with no exercise, subsisting on bacon and peanut butter – and lost eight pounds the first week.  So I was, for the first time I can remember, excited about getting on the scale. I kicked off my shoes and stepped on, eagerly looking down at the number.

That can’t be right.

THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT.

It is impossible that I have only lost three pounds.  After all, I’d been eating vegetables.  I got off and let it reset.  Clearly it was malfunctioning.  I got on again.

Damn. It.

In eight weeks, after letting nary a potato or beer cross my lips, after drinking gallons and gallons of water a day, after drinking spinach for breakfast, after increasing my endurance to being able to run a mile and a half at a stretch, after turning down Portillo’s four times, after throwing away the crust on the work-lunch Lou Malnati’s pizza, after eating all of this cauliflower – THREE POUNDS. 

In short, I was devastated.  All of my hard work, all of my good feels, all of my pride and energy; it was like it had never happened.  According to that scale, all of my work was for basically nothing.  And the next thought that crossed my mind was, “Why even bother?  I might as well go back to macaroni and cheese for dinner!”

How. Stupid. Is. That?

I knew I’d lost inches.  My clothes fit better, I’d been getting compliments, the foot pain I’d struggled with for the past year was non-existent.  I was able to keep up when we went for a walk.  I was able to run a mile and a half, for Christ’s sake.  I was no longer sweating while trying to zip up my boots, in fact, I could fit my whole hand in between my leg and the top of them, whereas weeks before I could barely get them over my pants. My yoga pants were dragging on the floor even when I wore shoes.  I didn’t resemble John Goodman anymore.  I felt great.

Yet I was letting a number on a scale determine whether I had been successful. Somehow, none of those great things I’d been feeling mattered anymore, because the scale said they didn’t.  Anyone who has ever struggled with their weight knows that the scale rules all.  The scale has the final say.  The scale tells you whether you are doing well or badly.  And in the end, the scale will break you.

I can say with complete confidence that if I’d been weighing myself every day throughout those eight weeks, I would have quit about three weeks in.  No way would I have continued the running that has made me stronger, eating food that doesn’t require a nap after consuming it, drinking water instead of pop, because the scale would have told me I was failing.

So I’m very glad that I don’t own a scale.  Because if I did, I wouldn’t be wearing jeans two sizes lower than I was in January.  If I owned a scale, my smile would still look stretched and forced.  I wouldn’t be excited about the summer, looking for clothes and planning activities that I know I’ll be able to enjoy.  If I owned a scale, I sure as hell wouldn’t have run three straight miles yesterday.  I wouldn’t be looking forward to running a 5K next week – in fact, I’d be dreading it, because it would be another failure.  All because of a number that means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Throw away the scale.  Eat well, be healthy in whatever way works for you, and be happy.  Get your smile back and be proud of what you can do.

ImageImage

This is three pounds. 

 

 

 

To Baby Girl, On the Day of Your Birth

I started writing this before you were here, Violet Mae.  Before you were you, before I saw your head full of hair and your blue eyes and your precious little fingers and toes.  Before your mom and dad were a mom and a dad, before I saw her little nose and mouth and his eyes looking back at me from your tiny face. Before the waiting room, before the joyful anxiousness of looking up every time someone walked by the door, craning our necks, waiting for your daddy to come tell us you were you and you were perfect.

There is no way to impart all of the wishes I have for you in a short list.  What I want for you is infinite; I don’t think I could describe it if I wanted to.  I certainly don’t have all of the answers, and by the time you’re old enough to read this, you’ll probably know that already.  But believe it or not, I have learned a few things along the way that I’d like to pass on to you, baby girl.

  • There are beautiful people in this world, and there are ugly people.  The trick is to learn very quickly that this has nothing to do with their looks.
  • Your mom and dad are very, very smart.  You won’t always think this.  In fact, you might be tempted to stop reading right here.  Don’t.  When they talk, listen.  When they don’t talk, ask why.
  • Find something you love and pursue it.
  • There is something great to be seen in every single day.  Sometimes it’s a beautiful rainbow and sometimes it’s simply that it’s not raining.  Find the joy.
  • Never be afraid to be silly.  It gets harder, the older you get, to allow yourself to be silly.  Don’t stop.  Being silly just to do it, for the sole purpose of laughing, is a great feeling.
  • You are very loved, baby girl.  Not everyone is.  Always remember that and consider it when you may want to judge others.  It’s hard sometimes.  But do it anyway.
  • Never stop singing out loud.  I don’t know yet if you will have the voice of an opera singer or a scalded cat.  It doesn’t matter.  Find music you love and belt it out.  There’s few things more freeing.
  • There will be days that you can’t wait until they’re over, and days that you wish would never end.  It is up to you to decide whether you have more happy days than sad days.
  • There are people who say the phrase “Attitude is everything,” is a cliché.  Those people have bad attitudes.  Don’t be one of them.  See above.
  • Don’t worry about other people’s opinions.  You will never please everyone, so don’t try.  Be nice, and be kind, but know that you won’t be able to win over everyone, no matter how hard you try.  Never spend more time trying to please other people than you spend trying to make yourself happy.
  • In our family, people can be loud.  The same is true with most situations in life, whether it be your friendships, co-workers, or family.  Learn to be loud enough to keep up, but quiet enough to make yourself heard.  It’s a fine line to walk, but an important one to learn.  Ask your grandpa.  He does it well.
  • Your grandma would bend the world for you, if she could.  And because I knew her mama, I tell you this: No one will love you in the way your grandma will.  In her eyes, you will never have flaws.  Look at yourself through her eyes when you’re having a tough day.  She’s usually right.
  • Your mama is awesome, and so is your daddy.  I know I already told you that they are smart, but there are a lot of smart people that aren’t so awesome.  Your parents will undoubtedly teach you the difference, and you won’t always believe them, but this is one of those circumstances you just have to trust me on.
  • Every year, on your birthday, take a moment to remember that in 2014, the day you were born, was the happiest day in the lives of so many people.  The moment you were born, the world tilted in a beautiful way.  I don’t say this as a burden, baby girl, but as a reminder.  You are special.  You are important.  You are amazing.  And you are so, so loved.

I know you’ll be happy, because I know your parents.  I watched them today, as new parents, gauging and learning your moods and noises as you were only a few hours old.  They never faltered, because they already know you; you’re the best parts of both of them.   I watched your daddy be gentle with your mama and make her laugh in the same minute and I watched your mama make you both smile just by being her; to have parents that love like yours do – it’s a precious thing, baby girl.  It’s one of the many things you’ll learn.   In the space of moments, you became the center of their world and the heart of them both.

There are so many things I wish for you, Violet Mae.  I can’t wait to see who you will become.

Love.

Love.

Am I The Only One??

To walk across the fire for you????  Ha!  Now that I have that song in your head, you’re going to want to read on, right?  I wasn’t even planning on going there but as soon as I typed the title, Melissa Etheridge was all up in my brain so I had to share.  Aren’t you glad?

Anyway, it’s been a long week.  Well, it’s been a long several weeks, as most of you living in Chicago understand.  I’m not going to write about the weather because it makes me want to punch everything in the face and wish that wind would become a solid, physical thing for like forty seconds so I could kickbox it to death instead of it calling the shots and propelling me face-first over ice disguised as sidewalks and sonofabitch if you people would just shovel this wouldn’t happen….Ahem.  Suffice it to say, it’s been a bad winter.  When the best part of your day is NOT getting impaled by an icicle falling off of a building, the winter has already beaten you.  Trust.  So us Chicagoans have been pretty much of one mind the past couple of weeks, which consists mainly dreamily remembering those beautiful days last year that didn’t require fucking boots.

I saw a picture on Facebook yesterday demonstrating how we can save ducks’ lives by cutting the plastic rings from a six-pack so they don’t get caught in them and choke.  A year or so ago, I wrote this post on that same topic, as I was surprised that other people didn’t do this all the time.  It got me thinking about some other things that I do or think that I assume are perfectly normal, but other people consider to be a teensy bit crazy.

Am I The Only One?

  • That Thinks We Need to Leave Bieber Alone?  Yeah, I said it.  Leave. Him. Alone.  Is he a punk kid with little respect for authority?  Absolutely.  Does he deserve the wrath of an entire country actively awful upon him?  No.  One, making jokes about how hilarious it would be for him to get raped in prison?  Doesn’t make us look very smart.  Ditto for starting a petition to get him deported that received so many signatures the government actually had to act on it.  Folks, if we deported or imprisoned every nineteen-year old that made a couple of really stupid, arrogant decisions, it would be the end of the population as we know it.  Do you not remember being 19?  Hell, I was an asshole at 19, and I was a rule-abiding kid from the suburbs with only $45 a week to work with.  If I’d had access to millions of dollars with no supervision, the least of my problems would have been smoking pot and drag racing, I promise you that.  Is he a shit?  Yes.  Did he make some mistakes?  Absolutely.  In one way or another, he’ll pay for them.  I hope it’s in the form of realizing he’s a shit and straightening up.  Hoping for him to fall into the revolving door of drugs and rehab like so many celebrity teenagers before him, hoping for him to fail, is just mean-spirited.

 

  • That is Completely Terrified about The Missing Plane?  Is it just me, or is this some Langoliers shit come to reality?  Two hundred people and thousands of tons of metal just gone into thin air?  How have we just gone on about our business, like, “Oh, well, can’t find it, that’s weird.”  I just picture them all in some abandoned airport in an alternate universe all, “What the fuck?  Why are we not the top story on the news?  What is WRONG with these people?”

 

  • With the Musical Taste of a Preteen in the 90′s?  I’ve been running a lot, and I’ve found there is a direct correlation between how long I can run and how much 90′s angsty pop music is on my playlist.  Ludacris and Eminem have taken some top spots in the rotation to keep me going, but the number one song that pumps me up and propels me to keep going?  Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend.”  Why?  I don’t know.  It’s been over a decade since I’ve had any reason to hate someone’s girlfriend, and if you really listen to it – which I have, often – it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Yet here we are, and every time it comes on, I go faster than I did the day before.  If the folks in the park had any idea what was blasting in my headphones, they’d actually be LESS scared of me than they already are, which is a tough spot to find.

 

  • That Has Notebook Paper Decorating the Fridge with Magnets, Despite Being Childless?  Currently, my refrigerator boasts a notepad, three coupons for Family Dollar, a picture from 1980, a pen-draw picture of an eyeball, my sister’s baby shower invitation held up by a Bert and Ernie magnet, and a note scribbled in Magic Marker that says nothing but, “SOUL TRAIN IS ON.”  The notepad?  Not for grocery lists, or things we’re out of.  (Which is likely we make frequent trips to above-mentioned Family Dollar at 9PM for things like toilet paper and cat food.)  No, it has sports predictions for the upcoming week.  The eyeball was drawn by a friend late one Saturday night and we deemed it a work of art.  The Soul Train note?  My husband was on the phone one Sunday morning and he would not appropriately respond to my frantic gestures to run into the living room for this grand moment in television programming.

Everyone has their little pockets of weird, right?  Right????

Adulthood.

Adulthood.

 

 

 

 

The Running Diaries

Last year, I starting riding a bike to work in an effort to not murder someone on the CTA and hopefully improve my fitness at the same time.  I learned a lot in those first couple of weeks; drivers in Chicago despise bike riders more than Steve Bartman and Lovie Smith combined, speeding joyfully down a hill whilst reminiscing about the freedom you experienced as a child riding a bike lasts only as long as it takes for a car to pull into the intersection at the bottom, and people should really pay more attention before whipping their car door open on a busy street with a bike lane.

I loved riding the bike to work and can’t wait to start it up again. Of course – it has to be mentioned – this is partially because this winter is by far the biggest bitch I have ever encountered and the CTA, as hard as it tries, cannot possibly keep up.  There’s too many people, there’s too much snow, there’s too much slush, there’s problems with Ventra, everything is freezing to itself – it sucks.  My commute, on a good day, should be about 30 minutes, door to door.  This year?  It runs between 45 minutes and an hour and a half, and that’s on a day it’s NOT snowing.  Which isn’t often.  So the thought of walking out my door, not almost killing myself on the stairs, getting on a bike, riding through the wind and sunshine, and arriving at work not swearing and covered in salt and slush is extraordinarily appealing.

I did not take off any weight after starting this regimen.  In fact, I gained some.  That was disappointing – I mean seriously, who gains weight after going from zero activity to riding a bike six miles a day?  The answer is someone who carb loads as if they are training for a marathon instead of mildly exercising for 40 minutes a day.  (Very mildly.  I’m so slow on the bike that everyone passes me.  Old people, young people, overweight tourists on the Divvy bikes – everyone.) Baked macaroni and cheese, loaded mashed potatoes, and my favorite creation entitled spaghetti monster – baked spaghetti with cream cheese and mozzarella in the sauce – this is what I lived on.  Unsurprisingly, by the time Christmas rolled around, I was a giant, puffy version of myself and more closely resembled John Goodman than I ever would have liked to.

Something had to give, and that something was carbs.  I won’t bore you with all of the details of my newfound love affair with cauliflower as a substitute for every single thing I used to make - take a look at my Facebook and you can see plenty of that as I am, unfortunately, that person who now posts pictures of their dinner with alarming frequency.  (But seriously – cauliflower pizza?  Genius.)  So I’d been feeling good, had taken some weight off, had more energy – all the good feels you get with eating better.  And somehow, somewhere in my brain along the way, I got it in my head that I wanted to run one of the 5K’s that Chicago always hosts throughout the year.

Let’s get something straight right here.  My family?  We’re not runners.  Even my little sister, who does run, who has run a half-marathon, who attends those terrifying-looking fitness classes that make me want to vomit just watching them – even she admits we are not runners.  It’s not that we’re lazy or have never been athletic; in fact, some of my favorite memories are bike riding in the forest preserve as a family when we were younger.  My sister and I always played softball or soccer, and she was a cheerleader and - believe it or not - I was in my high school dance troupe for two years.*

*People are always surprised by this.  For some reason, they are never as surprised when I tell them I played the tuba.  Go figure.

At any rate, the most I had run since high school was at a haunted house about 15 years ago when one of the actors chased me out the exit with a chainsaw. I ran about fifty yards out of sheer terror before my body realized what it was doing and I collided into a tree.  So when the thought of running a 5K first crossed my mind, I dismissed it as pure madness.  Like, Okay, Courtney, we’re not drowning in a vat of mac and cheese every night – let’s just go with that win instead of getting all crazy here, okay?

But I couldn’t get it out of my head, and soon I found myself researching 5K’s and how to get started running.  I found a program called Couch to 5K promising to turn me from a couch potato into someone able to run three miles in nine weeks.  I found myself looking up success stories and starting to think that I might be able to do it.  There were other people, both smaller and bigger than myself, with pictures of themselves smiling with medals and thought, well, it’s worth a try.  And I decided I would start the next day.  And I did, which is possibly the first thing I’ve followed through on in three years.

Week One. Longest run time – 1 minute.  I learned that when one is 35, out of shape, and an ex-heavy smoker, running for even such a short amount of time should be approached with more caution than exuberance.  By the third repetition of the “run” portion of the workout, I was running slower than I was walking and being outpaced by toddlers in snowsuits.

Week Two. Longest run time – 1 1/2 minutes.  An increase of a measly thirty seconds.  Pssht.  That’s nothing, right?  I learned that thirty seconds is a really fucking long time when you’re trying to run.

Week Three. Longest run time – 3 minutes.  This time, I knew.  I knew it was going to be harder.  So I downloaded some inspiring music to keep me going.  I was feeling good and enjoying the challenge, so I really wanted to keep it up.  I learned that just because you like a song does not mean that it is good to try and run to. (Eminem’s Lose Yourself?  Good.  Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe?  Not as much.)

Week Four. Longest run time – 5 minutes.  This is the week that I got hit in the ear with a piece of rock salt by a passing car so hard I almost went blind and Mother Nature dumped a whole shitload of snow and horribleness on Chicago – again – and I had to repeat it over the course of about three weeks.  I learned that I should pay more attention to cars in my path and that Mother Nature is fucking pissed beyond belief at us for spraying all that Aquanet in the 80′s.

Week Five. Longest run time – 20 minutes.  I know.  Hell of a jump, right?  It was eight minutes the first day, then the last day of the week – WHAM.  Twenty minutes.  Like you weren’t huffing and puffing through 90 seconds just a few weeks ago.  I learned that this stupid app on my phone has been right since January, which is a longer track record than I’ve had in quite awhile.

I’m signed up for three 5K’s this year.  The first one is the Race to Wrigley in April.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to run to the whole thing.  My app says I can, so I’m hopeful.  But I do know that I will finish, whether it takes me 35 or 60 minutes.   And if the Cubs’ past few seasons are any indication, it is the happiest Cubs fans will be all year at Wrigley unless they’re going to a concert there.

So there’s that.

To be fair, I only make that face when I'm about to fall.  I don't look nearly that cute the rest of the time.

To be fair, I only make that face when I’m about to fall. I don’t look nearly that cute the rest of the time.

 

So, There’s a Live Animal in Your Wall.

Thursday, 10PM.  “Hmm, why are the cats skulking along the baseboards in the kitchen?”  “Oh, there’s a loose floorboard.”  “Hmm, I hope that rat/mouse I saw in the summer doesn’t try to get in.”

Friday, 7PM. “Aaah.  Excellent.  Long week complete.  Time to sit down and relax with a drink.  Hey, you’re home all alone for the first time in forever.  This is sort of nice.”

Friday, 7:48PM.  “I’ll just go ahead and stir this pot roast.  What a great dinner this is going to be!”

Friday, 7:51PM. “What’s that scratching?  Hmm, I never noticed that hole below the kitchen cabinets.”

Friday, 7:53PM. “OMG SWEET JESUS THAT WAS A FUCKING PAW THERE IS SOMETHING SCRATCHING ITS WAY INTO THE APARTMENT.”

Friday, 7:54PM. “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK STOP IT STOP IT OH MY GOD OH MY GOD HELP!!!”

Friday, 7:56PM. “No, I don’t THINK there’s a rat in my wall.  There IS something in my wall.  I saw it. Send help, like right this second.”

Friday, 7:57PM -Friday, 8:05PM, Pounding on wall frantically whilst yelling out loud. Go away!! Oh my god oh my god!!!

Friday, 8:05PM to 8:35PM. Hysterics.  There’s no other word.

Friday 8:35PM to 8:37PM. Silence.  No one cares.

Friday 8:38PM to 8:42PM. Scratchedy scratchedy scratchedy, motherfucker!  I’m going to get you!!!

Friday, 8:43PM to 8:51PM.  Camped out at kitchen table, making as much noise as possible.  “Come on, Ramon, hiss at the dirty shit filled rodent – yeah, okay, it’s a mammal – trying to attack our lives.  And my pot roast.”

Friday, 8:52PM to 8:56PM. “Why are you throwing up, you stupid cat???  This should be your shining moment!  Your one chance in your eleven years to do something that doesn’t make everyone angry!”

Friday, 8:57PM to 9:01PM. OMG this is totally worse than when that possum got onto the porch.

Friday, 9:02PM to 9:05PM.  And when that stupid skunk had babies in the backyard and they were all digging everything up and trying to act like they were cute but were actually horror-filled stink bombs that ruined entire weekends.

Friday, 9:06PM to 9:10PM. Scratchedy scratchedy scratchedy!!!!  Ima get you!!  You’ll never sleep again!!!

Friday, 9:11PM to 9:15PM. Yes, yes, I do believe it’s time for another vodka drink.

Friday, 9:16PM to 9:21PM. “Die, motherfucker!” yelled while pounding on the wall.  “AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEE!!”  (that’s me screaming, if you didn’t catch it.)

Friday, 9:22PM to 9:30PM. Maybe it died?  Or fell asleep?  Does that happen?  Do they just give up?

Friday, 9:31PM to 9:45PM. “All is calm, All is bright!”

Friday, 9:46PM to 9:47PM. I am not losing this pot roast.  You don’t scare me, rodent!

Friday, 9:48PM to 9:51PM. Seriously, this has to be the one night in six months that the partyboys upstairs haven’t come home around this time to gear up for the night.  I don’t know that they’d be that much help, but this is one situation I’m not ashamed to admit I really wish there was someone of the opposite sex here to give some advice.

Friday, 9:52PM to 9:57PM. Am going to be found here, alone, eaten by rodents.  I swear, Mom, I was just about to clean up and organize that dresser.  I got sidetracked.  I’m sorry.

Friday, 9:58PM to 10:01PM.  Might as well have one last drink.  The thing has been quiet for a few minutes.  I can only assume this means it is gathering reinforcements.

Friday, 10:02PM to Present. Clutching glass of vodka, head spinning as if on a swivel, just waiting for the noise, spontaneously yelling and/or stomping feet.

Just know I loved you all.

Image

See that little hole right underneath the cabinets? That’s where the scary monster is trying to get in.

It’s Too Cold for This Shit.

And by this shit, I mean absolutely everything.  Seriously.  I usually try and embrace all of the seasons and take them in stride,  “Hey, it’s winter, pretty soon we’ll be complaining about how hot it is!”  I  even believe myself most of the time.  After today, though, when I waited a cumulative 47 minutes outside in subzero wind chills for the CTA, after I slipped going down the stairs, after my I got my stupid coat sleeve wet trying to wash my hands, after I was pushed out of the way by a full grown man for a bus seat, after I dropped my glove and bus card onto the disgusting floor, after I stepped off the bus into a pile of slush up to my ankle, I surrender.  This is a big, huge, miserable bucket of suck and I would give my yet-to-be-conceived firstborn for a single afternoon swimming in Lake Michigan.  Taking a shower in the morning is the happiest part of my day because it is the only ten minutes of the day I’m actually warm.

  • It is too cold to go to the grocery store.  I will make a meal out of zucchini and cream cheese if I have to.
  • It is too cold for that stupid Erin Andrews probiotics commercial.
  • It is too cold to talk about anything other than how cold it is and how much worse next week is going to be.
  • It is too cold for every single living soul to turn into an amateur weatherman.  Today I heard everything from six inches of snow to 40 degrees tomorrow.
  • It is too cold to mop the floors a-fucking-gain.
  • It is too cold to listen to one more word about Justin Bieber and the fact that he acts very similar to 70% of 19-year-olds in the United States and it is too cold to scroll through the hundred or so memes that have already been created and are running rampant on Facebook.   Two things about this: One, if he was a well-loved superstar to adults instead of teenagers here on a Visa and we were making jokes about deportation, the country would be up in arms. He’s not selling government secrets; he’s an idiot teenager    Two, one of the most popular memes thus far is a split-shot of the Biebs and a tough looking criminal with a caption along the lines of “Oh, I’m gonna love you!”  Wait, so rape jokes are okay if we don’t like someone’s music or attitude?  Come on.
  • It is too cold to watch one more fluffed up weatherperson – who is almost always a perky little girl – standing outside in frigid temperatures telling us how cold it is.  WE KNOW.  WHY DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE HER STAND OUTSIDE??
  • It is too cold to remove the plastic Christmas decorations from my front yard because their cords have been frozen to the ground for three weeks.
  • It is too cold to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night because no matter how high the heat is, the toilet seat is like fucking ice.
  • It is definitely too cold for this idiot, Republican GOP candidate Susanne Atanus, who believes “God controls the weather and that tornadoes, autism and dementia are his punishments for the gay rights movement and abortions.”  In other news, Santa Claus really does travel the entire world in one night giving gifts to good, deserving (heterosexual) children and the Easter Bunny is totally real.
  • It is too cold to even enjoy the beautifulness that is Harry Connick Jr. on American Idol because J-Lo is wearing a dress without a snowsuit over it and it makes me mutter incomprehensible things like, “I bet SHE didn’t almost freeze to the front gate trying to get in.  I bet her stupid front door wasn’t frozen shut.”  (True story.  That was when it was actually 20 below as opposed to balmy 7 degrees we’re enjoying right now.)
  • It is too cold for Captain and Tenille to get divorced.  WTF???
  • It is too cold to be sitting at the laptop with two fur-covered animals just staring at me instead of keeping my feet warm.
  • It is too cold to not have a fireplace.
  • It is too cold to not be dressed like Randy from a Christmas Story and I hate scarves.
  • It is too cold to drive a car.
  • It is too cold to enjoy national media pointing out how miserable it is here.  Jimmy Fallon has polar vortex songs and I can’t even be happy about them.

I am declaring this weekend Summer in January.  The heat’s going up to 80, static electricity be damned – hey, the ensuing fire will only create more heat!!! – we’re getting beach cocktails, spreading out a blanket on the floor, and only playing Jimmy Buffett for 24 hours.  Who’s with me??

Four short months ago.

Four short months ago.

Ten Signs the Chicago Winter Has Beaten You Senseless.

One year, I had tickets to both the Bears and Cubs home opener.  The day of the football game, it was 105 degrees on the field.  The baseball game?  Was snowed out.  We know the weather is bipolar in Chicago, but somehow we are continuously surprised by it.  “I don’t remember it sucking this much last year.  Was it this hot last year?”  “Remember last year on this day, when we went to the beach?  Why is it snowing?  WHY???”  We have approximately seven days a year of perfect weather, and generally even those are marred by the impending bitchfit we know Mother Nature is brewing.  Oh, are you enjoying this unseasonably warm day in March?  Opened up all of the windows and pulled out the grill in anticipation of an early spring, didja?  I have two words for you, losers.  WINTRY MIX.  What?  You’re surprised?  Don’t worry.  I’ve got a tornado I’m working on for next week that’s going to make this miserable shit seem like rainbows and sunshine. 

That being said, this winter has been particularly brutal.  Snowstorm in January?  Not surprising.  Wind chills of negative 40?  That’s new.  And being that it’s only January 9th and we’ve already had nearly two feet of snow and several days in which Alaska was enjoying temperatures 30 degrees higher than here, I think we have a legitimate argument that spring should probably start next week.  Here’s a couple of signs the weather is winning.

You Have Worn More Than One Pair of Pants.  To Work.

I don’t generally even pull out a coat until it dips below 25 or so.  This year?  I had seven outfits on at the same time.  Once arriving at work, it was like the unsexiest strip show ever -  and I wasn’t alone.  The whole office was like a graveyard of outerwear.  Boots strewn about, sweatshirts laid out on desks, extra socks under desks; coats, scarves, and hats ripped off haphazardly to counteract the 80 degree difference in temperature between the ground floor and the 29th.

Every Single Person You Know Has a Cold.

Coughing, sneezing, sniffing, that gross clearing of the throat and sound of snot in Kleenex – these are your days now.  The only place I’ve found to be comfortable is in a sweatshirt, yoga pants, thermal socks and slippers on the bathroom floor with the shower running full stop to create my own personal sauna.  Sometimes I bring whiskey to make it a party.

If You See That Post About How Beautiful Chicago Looks Under Ice Posted One More Time, You’re Going to Punch Someone.

So many of my social media friends – currently not in sub-zero temps but instead in places with reasonable weather like California and the South Pole – posted this article this week.  Yes, it IS beautiful.  Unless, perchance, you happen to be attempting to walk through it.  Then, you can’t stop to admire the beauty.  You know why?  Because YOU’LL FREEZE TO THAT SPOT FOREVER if you stop moving for even a second.

Ditto to the “Chiberia” Folks.

Just, ugh.  Fucking stop it already.  That’s worse than “Chiraq.”  Sometimes I hate Twitter.

Your Kitchen Floor Looks Like This.

"There's only so much I can do!!!!!"  cried the mop.

“There’s only so much I can do!!!!!” cried the mop.

You’re About to Spontaneously Combust At Just About Any Second.

It’s so dry in your house/apartment/workplace due to the constantly running heat that shuffling along the floor on carpet is a deadly game of Russian roulette – the next thing you touch might be your last.

You’ve Developed a Love-Hate Relationship with Your Mode of Transportation.

I can’t speak to those of you poor souls trying to drive in this nonsense.  But those of us taking the CTA have developed a drug-dealer-like dependency on our bus drivers.  “Please, please, please, be on time, you miserable f-ing piece of garbage.  Please.  I’ll be nice.  Please just show up.  Please don’t make me wait out here longer than three minutes, you f-ing jerks.”

You Forgot How to Walk Like a Normal Person.

Anyone who has thought that they were walking on innocent snow or slush who has violently found the black ice underneath is terrified of it happening again.  So we all walk gingerly, which, in boots, is more of a slow uncoordinated clompstomp across the street.  Walking the full block and a half from the El to work becomes a terrified mantra of “Don’t fall don’t fall don’t fall don’t fall WATCH OUT SEWER COVER don’t fall don’t fall don’t fall please please don’t fall.”

You’ve Done This.  Or At Least Watched a Video of One of Your Friends Doing This.

For those of you lucky souls who aren’t currently dealing with Mars-like temperatures, this is what happens when you throw a pot of boiling water into the air when it’s 14 below.  (Also, yes, I am considering a second career as a cinematographer, how did you know?)

Gray, Dirty, and Wet is the New Clean, Shiny, and New.

Nothing you own will ever be the same.  The slush alone is enough to ruin the best of pants and shoes, no matter how hard you try.  Just let it go.  You need all of your strength just to not fall on your fucking head and break every bone in your body. Everything is ruined.  We’ll start again next year.

So thanks, Polar Vortex.  For making us appreciate this so very much more.

SEVEN MORE MONTHS!  SEVEN MORE MONTHS!

SEVEN MORE MONTHS! SEVEN MORE MONTHS!

Freedom of Speech is a Species?

So Phil Robertson doesn’t agree with homosexuality.  He thinks it’s a sin.  He thinks bestiality and sexual promiscuity morphs from homosexuality.  He’s not alone in his beliefs, if the public outcry is any indication..  And it doesn’t necessarily make him a bad person.  From what we’ve seen on television – which is clearly an excellent, clear perspective on his entire family life and belief system, because if we’ve learned anything, it’s that reality TV is totally like real life - he appears to be a family man in love with his wife.  He has an opinion based on his beliefs and he is certainly allowed to voice said opinion. Just as his employers are allowed to suspend him for doing so.

People.  We can agree or disagree with his opinion; we can agree or disagree with A&E’s decision.  You know why?  Because we have FREEDOM OF SPEECH.   No one is throwing the man in jail.  No one is calling for his arrest.  No one is shutting down GQ for publishing his words.  No one is threatening the journalist.  No one is cancelling “Duck Dynasty,” in fact, I’d wager every single cent I have that the next show they have has the highest ratings of their entire tenure. Phil Robertson got suspended from work for saying something that wasn’t in line with his private employer’s beliefs.  That’s all.

I’m much more concerned that someone who was nearly the Vice President of the United States posted this sentence, “Free speech is an endangered species. Those “intolerants” hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us,” on her Facebook page.

  1. Free speech is not a species.  It’s the First Amendment to the Constitution and you should probably take another look at the definition.
  2. “Intolerants” is not a word.  “Intolerance,” however, is a word, as in, “The American public should develop an intolerance to Sarah Palin jumping onto every bandwagon photo-op.”
  3. “Hatin’” is a word better suited to teenagers than an *ahem* respected politician, as in, “Awe, Ma, why you hatin’ on me?” when they get grounded.

In my opinion, there is a plethora of other reasons that this has become such a hot button issue that involve religion, beliefs, politics, censorship, exploiting sexuality on television, etc., and those are always worthy of discussion.  But this is not an issue of freedom of speech.  People have died for their right to freedom of speech, they have been imprisoned fighting for their right to it, they have dedicated their careers to preserving it.

A man who makes whistles for a living being suspended from his job as a reality TV star is not even on the same planet.

freedom of speech

 

 

 

 

Christmas List

Dear Santa,

I know you’re busy this time of year.  I know you’re probably inundated with adorable letters from adorable children; children who have probably spent their year trying to be good instead of calling people doucheboxes on the internet and secretly harboring fantasies of tripping people on the bus that were mean to them like I have.  So I’m not going to ask for anything too crazy or expensive, because I just might not deserve it.  But I’ve put together a list that I think will benefit everyone should you choose to grant any of my Christmas wishes.

1.  No more twerking.

2.  A do-over button on Candy Crush for when you notice the move you should have made right after swiping out something useless.

3.  A worldwide, yearlong ban on Kanye West’s name being mentioned in the media.  If any media outlet slips up and runs a story on him or even says his name, they face a punishment of spending an entire day with him and Kim telling each other how amazing, special, and talented they are.  No breaks, even for vomiting.

4.  The Blacklist should be a weekly show all year long – none of this “Season Finale” nonsense until we find Red.

5.  A pop-up box on Facebook anytime a user tries to share a story that says, “Are you sure?  Have you checked Snopes?”

6.  Speaking of Facebook, AnE1 WhO PoSTs a STaTus ThAt LoOks lieK DIs has to go back to third grade for two days.

7. Ditto to anyone who says “supposably,” “irregardless,” or “Valentimes day.”

8.  Every year at this time, we retire one awful Christmas song in the rotation and replace it with a new, good one.  This year I vote we switch “Wonderful Christmastime,” with “Underneath the Tree.”  Sorry, Sir Paul, but Kelly Clarkson rocks that shit and your song?  SUCKS.  So hard.

9.  My neighbor to please drop his new habit of whistling like a mass murderer as he’s walking up the stairs in the middle of the night so as to ease my night terrors.

10. Please let Jay Cutler not throw any interceptions in the endzone this Sunday; I simply cannot handle any more controversy.  (I know this will happen before Christmas, but trust me as I believe in you, if you lived in Chicago, you would feel my pain.)

11. Every news story about a celebrity or athlete being arrested or just generally being a moron is to be counteracted by a story of an athlete or celebrity doing something good.  There are more like Andre Johnson than there are like Lindsay Lohan.

12. Anyone cataloguing the triumphant exploits of their Elf on a Shelf must also show the aftermath, whether that be the cleanup or the careful explanation of why Elfie was in the car with Barbie to begin with.

13. On a personal note, I would like a nonstick pan.  And by nonstick pan, I mean nonstick even when it comes to eggs, or at least an honest advertisement which states, “Nonstick unless you are cooking eggs, in which case you’re going to be really mad trying to clean this.”

Pretty please Santa?  If you can’t accommodate them all, maybe just a few?  Or if you only pick one, can it please be the Kanye ban?

Merry Christmas,

Courtney

Also, can I get my cat to sit still long enough to take a fun picture like this?

Also, can I get my cat to sit still long enough to take a fun picture like this?

 

 

 

 

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