Category Archives: life in general

No One Wants to Hear About Your Workout

Many of you know that I’ve been working on getting healthier; exercising, losing some weight, eating a less-mashed-potato-centric diet.  That’s part of the reason that I haven’t been around very much – the more I get into working out and eating right, the more it is the only thing I can really talk about.  And really, is there anything less interesting than listening to someone go on and on and on about their workout regime or awesome new protein shake?  Other than, perhaps, listening to someone detail last night’s dream in excruciating detail or take you step-by-step through their work drama.  (“And then Lisa, I told you about Lisa, right?  The one with the boots?  Argh.  Stab me in the eye with a fork.)

My point is, I didn’t want to flood those of you kind enough to follow this blog with a whole bunch of stuff you’re not interested in.  So I created a new site, completely separate from this one, where I can blab on and on about trying to do a side plank and nearly breaking my face without boring everyone to tears.  I’d love for you to take a look at it and follow along with me  - but if it’s not your thing, feel free to pass it right up!

This is the site link: http://undieter.wordpress.com/

This blog will be back to its regularly scheduled asshole cat and partyboy neighbor stories shortly.

Workout

So very true. I get it. I just can’t stop myself.

 

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!

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!

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?

 

 

 

 

Politically Correct and Stupid

You know how sometimes you hear or read something, and something about it just sticks with you for awhile?  You’re not sure what it is or why, but it just keeps rolling around in your subconscious until you have to do something about it, like Google it or ask a friend, “Hey, I know this sounds stupid, but have you ever heard of insert your own weird thought because it’s driving me crazy?” You know what I mean?  You’re watching TV and someone uses some off-the-wall phrase like “cattywhompus,” and wham, you’re thinking about second grade for two weeks before you connect the dots that the lunch lady at your elementary school used to say that all the time.  Or you can’t get a song out of your head for six days and don’t know why until you realize it’s because the singer pronounced something incorrectly and NOW it’s really driving you crazy.

That’s been me this week.  I read an article the other day – which I can’t find, and for that I am sorry to not give proper credit to what I’m sure is a great organization – regarding a group that is raising money and donating meals to those in need this holiday season.  I haven’t been able to get it out of my head all week, and I couldn’t figure out why.  While I’d like to say it was an epiphany about helping the less fortunate, some guiding force telling me to stop whining about taking the bus and instead focus on giving, that’s not it.  I try and give when I can, whether it’s a coffee to my homeless buddy Kevin at the blue line or a buck to the Streetwise guy on the corner, and while that certainly isn’t winning me any philanthropy awards, I knew it wasn’t guilt about not contributing more than I do.  Nope, it was something different.  Why couldn’t I get this damn article out of my head?

“Food Insecure.”

My brain finally caught up with my subconscious and realized it wasn’t about the article or the organization; it was stuck on one little phrase that didn’t fully register.  And when it did, I thought, “What the fuck?  Food insecure??  That’s what we’re saying now?”  Then I did some Google searching and apparently this isn’t new.  This is the actual term that the USDA uses to describe those who are unable to put food on their table.  Hunger is apparently not a problem anymore.  No one is going hungry.  They are simply food insecure.

Does this ring like a sack of BS to anyone else? It makes poverty sound so patronizingly trivial, “Oh, you’re not hungry.  You’re food insecure.”  Just the word insecure takes away the significance.  You’re insecure about your looks, about your talent, about your job, about measuring up to someone else’s standards.  Being insecure is a personal issue, a feeling that one has.  If I heard the term “food insecure,” outside of this context, I would assume it was being applied to a person who is uncomfortable with what they eat, who is worried about what food they put in their mouth.  The first definition that comes up in Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary for the word “insecure,” is as follows: “Not confident about yourself or your ability to do things well.”  Well, that’s nice.  Now you’re hungry AND being judged for it.  That certainly gives off a bunch of good feels, doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing.  There’s a difference between being worried about feeding your family on a short budget for a week and being hungry.  I would wager that a good portion of middle-class families whom we wouldn’t normally consider “hungry,” have gotten their paycheck, looked at their bills, and thought, “Shit.  How am I going to stretch a hundred dollars to feed us for the next two weeks?”  That’s worrisome.  That’s not being comfortable with your situation.  That’s buying whatever meat is on sale and skipping take-out and eliminating morning coffee; it’s eating pasta when you want a steak and leftovers instead of a sandwich from the deli.  And that sucks.  It does.  But that’s not being hungry.  Literally coming home to nothing in the refrigerator or pantry, going to work on an empty stomach – that’s not insecure.  That’s hungry.

I don’t know why this struck such a chord with me – I’m certainly not in danger of going hungry.  If anything, I am a little *too* secure with my food, as in, “Well, of course I can eat all of these mashed potatoes tonight, I can make more tomorrow!”  It just seems that by changing the definition, by using the politically correct term instead of the word that defines the problem of hunger, we dehumanize it.  Think about it.  Take a picture of an average-looking man with the caption, “I am food insecure.”  Then take the exact same picture of the exact same man and change the caption to “I am hungry.”  Which one gets your attention??

There’s many, many terms in our lexicon that we don’t use - at least in polite company – anymore, instead opting for the PC term.  These are usually terms that can be construed as insulting, demeaning, downright mean or ignorant. Hungry isn’t one of them.  Hunger is hunger, and to call it something else simply does a disservice to an entire population that didn’t get dinner tonight.

Insecurity.  A million strong and growing.

Insecurity. A million strong and growing.

****All jokes and ranting aside – if you’re in Chicago and would like to help, please visit No 1 Goes Hungry to see how you can provide for a family this holiday season****

Blame the Media! Blame the Media!

I saw this video yesterday entitled “How the Media Failed Women in 2013,” and it confused the hell out of me.  It’s only about three minutes long, take a look.

Am I the only one that thinks the message got a little lost here?  Don’t get me wrong, overall, I think The Representation Project, which produced the video, has a great mission and anyone striving to make the world a better and fairer place should be commended.  But this particular video completely missed the mark to me for a couple of reasons.

One, women did a lot of great things this year.  The first part of the video supposedly focuses on this, but I lost the plot.  How is the Hunger Games and Gravity  breaking box-office records a win for women?  Because it’s a strong female lead?  That’s great and all, but we can’t just skim over the fact that two stunning, Oscar-winning actresses starred in said movies and that just *might* have had something to do with it.  Malala Yousafzai being named one of TIME magazine’s most influential people?  Yes.  GoDaddy veering away from the sexual in their multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad and sticking with humor?  NO.  Not the same thing.  Not even close.  Aside from the fact that one is fighting for women’s rights in a war-torn country at an age where most American girls are still getting a allowance and one is changing their advertising – the real reason they’re not doing those commercials is because they were stupid, awful commercials, despite the pretty and talented women involved.  I promise you they’re not changing their tune out of respect to women. It’s simply a poor example.  What is being celebrated here is a lack of perceived sexism as opposed to actual accomplishments, and it defeats the purpose.

Which brings me to the second part of the video, where we start to see how far we have to go.  In this segment, there’s several clips of current advertisements, music videos, and performances all portraying women in a sexual manner.  There’s Rihanna in her own music video, Miley Cyrus in a performance she helped design – and seriously, we all just need to get the fuck over that one – Megan Fox on a magazine cover.  To say that they are being sexualized and exploited is ridiculous.  These are grown women who are using their sexuality and talent to make money and achieve celebrity and there is nothing wrong with that.  They aren’t the victims we somehow we want them to be.  But by victimizing them, we make them into poor misguided little girls who don’t know up from down or left from right instead of the strong, confident women they are.  Which only perpetuates the stereotype that women are easily confused and will blindly go along with whatever the media tells them they should.  We live in a world where sex and beauty sells.  What do you want them to do – put on their sweats and recite math problems onstage to prove a point?

Also, since when are we offended that attractive people are being cast in commercials to sell products?  This part of the video targets commercials showing attractive women in bikinis because again, this can only be perceived as exploitative and misogynistic.  Untrue.  Why don’t they show average looking people in their commercials?  I’ll tell you.  Because one wants to see me chowing a giant Carl’s Jr. cheeseburger in a bikini.  TRUST.  I certainly don’t want to.  Here’s the thing.  What do we want to happen differently here?  What should a commercial for Axe Body Spray be?  Explain it to me.  Don’t use anyone who fits society’s standard of beauty, male or female, and make it interesting and suggestive to the prospective buyer.  It’s for Axe freaking Body Spray.  Why are we placing one iota of importance on their commercial?

The last portion of the video has nothing to do with the sexualization of women, nor is it exploitative.  To me, it’s a hundred times more terrifying than seeing a woman in weird bikini dancing with a foam finger.  Why?  Because it’s not commercials, it’s not advertising, it’s not music videos.  Nor, to be clear, is it a misrepresentation of women.  It is actual comments from men, both elected officials and media personalities alike, in regards to women in positions of power.  Comments like, “Well, you can’t do that, to be fair…women just haven’t done that much.”  Men lamenting the fact that the changing the hats the military wears to something more unisex actually has a headline that reads, “Military switching to girly hats.”  Fox News, “We only have the prostate, the women have the breasts, the ovaries, the uterus,” in regards to women paying more for health care due to having more working parts, apparently.  Fox News again, “I’m not saying she deserved to be raped, but…” which is a sentence that has no possible acceptable ending.  Fox News yet again, “Know your role, and shut your mouth,” to the lone female on the panel.  Perhaps the most frightening, a headline from the New York Post that reads, “No Wonder Bill’s Afraid!” next to a picture of Hillary Clinton.  Why is this the worst, you ask?  Because Hillary Clinton was the fucking Secretary of State at the time, furious regarding one of the most maligned operations of the United States and somehow this headline tried to  reduce her to a hysterical female and elevate her husband - who held no office at the time – as the more important party to the story.

Let’s pick our battles, shall we?  Let’s concentrate on getting ignorance – both male and female – out of office and making our decisions.  I don’t know about you, but I’m much more concerned that an elected official in the United States of America believes that women have super abilities which make their bodies able to distinguish rape from consensual sex than I am about what Robin Thicke’s backup dancers are wearing. I’m much more worried about the fact that people like Rush Limbaugh still have a following than I am about the fact that Flo-Rida’s latest video has half-dressed girls in it.

The fact remains that WE are the ones watching this.  WE are the ones demanding it.  We can’t keep blaming the media for clamoring to provide exactly what we’re asking for.  They aren’t going to change their content until we change the channel.

Yeah, I feel really fucking sorry for this girl.

Yeah, I feel really fucking sorry for this girl.

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