Category Archives: Uncategorized

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. 

 

 

 

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!

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.

How Life Hacks Really Work

We’ve all seen those Buzzfeed lists touting life hacks; ways to use everyday items that will simply change your world. It appears to make so much sense. “And you thought bread ties should be thrown away – look at the magnificent ways to use the bread ties instead!” I feel like these ideas fall dangerously into the Pinterest zone. Pinterest encourages average people to do non-average things. It makes non-crafty people think they can be crafty. You can’t. You’re either the type of person who can make art out of melted crayons or you’re not. That’s all there is to it. Believe me, I feel the pain. Deep in my heart, a wannabe crafty soccer mom resides; one who believes that she can turn string into art projects, who can quickly and easily make paper-mache* holiday decorations without covering the cats in glue and ruining the kitchen table. ‘Tisn’t true. Pinterest lies.

*Any option spellcheck gave me to spell this correctly made it look French and capitalized the second word. Sorry. I’m not fixing it.

The problem with these life hack lists is that they have an infomercial-like quality to them. You know what I mean? If you watch an infomercial long enough, it makes perfect sense. “You know, it looked stupid at first, but hot damn, I certainly WOULD like perfect pancakes every time! Where’s my credit card?” Same with these everyday product uses. On the surface, it looks great. In reality? Not so much.

Bagel ToteFirst of all, anyone who uses the term “bagel tote” should probably get punched.  Second, last I checked, bagels can be transported pretty easily in plastic baggies, which are a little easier to find than CD spindles, being that it isn’t 1998.

Paint can

Not Shown: Average American trying to wrestle a rubber band around an open fucking paint can.  This ends in tears. Trust.

Drink at the Beach

Okay, sometimes they work.  This makes a lot more sense than dumping a bottle of rum in giant bottle of grapefruit juice.  Touche, life hacks.

Pool Noodle

You know that the fitted sheet isn’t like a magic sheet right?  Just because things are under it don’t mean they don’t move. Ask my cats.  They’ve been accidentally made into the bed many a time.

Lending items

Yeah, I want to be friends with this guy.  Don’t worry, dude, I’ll bring back “Memento.”  You fucking douchebox.

Ninja fold

This?  Is amazing.  Tried and true, no joke.  Google it.

Ketchup

For all of the effort it would take to try and unroll your paper ketchup receptacle, wouldn’t it be easier just to fill another?  Also?  Have you ever used those ketchup containers?  You can easily carry two of them with one hand.  This method makes that impossible and requires a tray.

Pancake Batter Ketchup Bottle

No mess experience.

Not Shown:

1.   Trying to clean a ketchup bottle enough that it is fit for other foodstuffs.  Seriously, I don’t know about you guys but a bottle of ketchup in this house may stick around for a year or so before it’s done.  I don’t really want to think about trying to clean it out.

2.  Pouring pancake batter into a fucking ketchup bottle.  When I think no-mess, I don’t think trying to pour thick liquid from one container with a small opening into another container with a smaller opening.

Spa

I love this so hard.  You know why?  This was born of resourcefulness.  “Well, we’re out of matches and a lighter won’t work.  Get the spaghetti, Betty, I’ve got it figured out!!”

Excuse Me, I Have a Tiny Violin I Want to Hit You With

I don’t read gossip magazines.  I don’t follow celebrity blogs or Twitter feeds, I don’t watch E! or Extra or TMZ.  To be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure if those are the “popular” celebrity sites or shows; those are just the ones I remember flipping past on the television when I do watch my late night reruns.  Part of the reason is that it makes me feel old – either they’re showing videos and photos people like Dakota Fanning and Abigail Breslin doing grown up things when in my head, they are permanently ten years old – or they make me feel dirty and old, i.e. showing a picture of Taylor Lautner shirtless and I’m all “Ooh, yummy,” until I remember that he was probably still in diapers when I graduated high school and then I’m all, “Ew, I’m old enough to be a cougar,” and have a drink instead of continuing to hurt my own feelings.  Another part of the reason?  Is that I despise everything Kim Kardashian and it is fucking impossible to watch any sort of gossip/celebrity show without that stupid bag of hair smiling beatifically for a photo-op with that walking piece of arrogance she’s engaged to.

But the biggest reason of all is shit like this interview with Mariah Carey in which she compares her time on American Idol to working with Satan every day. I had to read the whole thing because I thought to myself, “That’s impossible.  She wouldn’t actually say something so ridiculous.”  She did.  Read the article.  Her exact words? “It was like going to work every day in hell with Satan.”

Really, Mariah?  Was it really so bad?  Was it really just so, so, very difficult to get paid 18 fucking million dollars to judge a talent show?  18 million dollars.  Do you have any concept of how much money that actually is?

 

THINGS I WOULD DO FOR 18 MILLION DOLLARS

Yes – Pretty much anything

No – Eat a baby

I once had a manager when I was waiting tables whose night was not complete unless he made someone cry.  He would scream profanities at you that didn’t even make sense, “Fucking yes bread is slow stop waiting dammit go!” “Don’t care steak broken fryer!” and my favorite, a horrifying Hunger Games version of red light green light, “Get out! Where are you going! Get that out!  Get back here! What are you waiting for?! Pay attention and stop!” until you were slip sliding in your own sweat holding a full tray of food above your head with one hand, questioning every life choice you ever made.  Do you know how much money I made doing that four or five times a week for three years, Mary Poppins?  Three dollars an hour.  And do you know what else?  I did it with a fucking smile, because I had a job and I was grateful. How long would you make it in a regular job, Ms. Mariah?  As a mail carrier, a receptionist, a customer service rep?  A nurse, a social worker, a teacher?  You’re a very lucky woman.  You were born with an extraordinary talent that you’ve used to your advantage, which ensures that you will never actually have to “work,” in the real world a day in your life.  From what the article stated, part of your problem is that Nicki Minaj called you “insecure,” and “bitter.”  Instead of having the audacity to feel sorry for yourself, prove her wrong.  Take a look around and be happy and humble at what life has provided you with. Or at least get a better publicist that will advise you against complaining about the show that paid you 18 million dollars in one year to sit on a stage and look pretty.

Yes.  SHHHHH.  Dummy.

Yes. SHHHHH. Dummy.

 

Great. Now I’m Dysfunctional, Too.

I recently came across the blog post, as I’m sure many of you did, by Matt Walsh entitled, “Abstinence is Unrealistic and Old Fashioned.”  In it, he details a letter written to him by a high school fan who felt uncomfortable with his desire to wait until marriage to have sex after his health teacher called his approach outdated and old fashioned.  It’s an interesting subject, and I certainly don’t envy the high school health teachers of today who have to teach it.  We’ve put them – at least in public schools – in an impossible position; yes, you have to teach sex education because our students are having sex, but don’t glorify it because we really don’t want them to.

I’m a fan of Matt Walsh.  I don’t always agree with him; in fact, I often don’t agree with him, but I like his style and conviction.  That being said, his response to this particular subject?  Pissed me off.  Anyone who blogs – myself included, and believe me, I understand that not everyone believes that all bus drivers and Dominick’s customers are sadists who simply want me to explode in public - writes with a broad stroke, tending to stereotype both sides of an argument.  I’m right, you’re wrong, here’s why.  I get that.  But while I hope that the fan who wrote the letter sticks to his own convictions, it’s because they are HIS opinions, his thoughts, and his beliefs.  Not because his perspective is “right,” but because when it comes to sex, your own convictions and beliefs are the only ones that matter.

So to his scathing response, in which he accuses the teacher of being a gossipy teenager at a sleepover and likens her to a bully out to humiliate those who choose to abstain; where he challenges that any sex outside of marriage is dirty, wrong, and casual; and calls anyone who had an enjoyable sexual encounter before marriage a liar – I have a few counterpoints.

No Matter What You Believe, Teaching Abstinence Isn’t Effective.

There are plenty of articles and studies to back me up here, and I’m not going to list them all.  Instead, I’m going to employ some common sense.  Take a hormone-fueled teenager.  Now, pick one thing in the world – doesn’t matter what it is, but let’s say a grape - and tell them absolutely, no, you cannot TOUCH or even THINK about grapes until you’re married.  Grapes can have very bad consequences and if you touch the grapes now, you’re going to regret it.   Now, in every movie, commercial, magazine, and billboard that said teenager is exposed to, show a whole bunch of people enjoying the fuck out of grapes.  But repeat, over and over, that grapes are totally awesome, but just not until you’re an adult and married.  Does anyone else remember being a teenager?  Do you remember how impossibly far away being an adult seemed?  Here’s a clue – they’re going to touch the grapes.  And if the teenager hasn’t been taught the actual significance and importance of them but instead only been told “NO.  YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE GRAPES AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO GIVE YOU ANY TOOLS TO COPE WITH THE POSSIBILITY THAT YOU ARE GOING TO BE TAUNTED WITH GRAPES,” chances are when they do get a hold of them, they’re going grab and enjoy them with complete and reckless abandon, because they don’t understand what they’re dealing with.  Doesn’t it make more sense to teach them to enjoy and respect the grapes instead of smashing them?

Single People Can Have Meaningful Relationships, Too.

The author disparages what he calls “casual sex,” which in this post, at least, seems to blanket all sexual encounters outside of marriage or a lifetime commitment.  Someone who considers themselves sexually liberated is actually just a sad, lonely person willing to settle for, and I quote, “Use me and I’ll use you.”  The fuck? Say I am a single woman in her thirties.  I have a career, a home, a plethora of interests, and an active social life.  I don’t get to have sex? Or I do get to have sex, but any encounter I have is sad, lonely, and meaningless?  Bullshit.  Not everyone’s life map directs them to a singular committed relationship, and to say that those people don’t understand sex or what it means is ludicrous.

There’s a Whole Lot of Dysfunctional Folks Out There.

There was one particular quote in this post that really made me want to respond, and this was it. He asks, to anyone who had premarital sex, ” Are you glad that you gave yourself to someone other than the person you now love eternally?”  and if the answer is anything but no, “you’re dealing with someone in a very dysfunctional marriage.”  How dare you?  How do you unilaterally decide that anyone who didn’t save themselves for marriage and isn’t despondent about it is incapable of a healthy relationship?  It’s untrue.  And telling people they should be ashamed of themselves for enjoying something natural does nothing but make people question themselves and really, don’t we have enough to fucking worry about?

Here’s the thing.  The letter from the kid who wants to save himself for marriage?  Good for him.  I hope he follows his beliefs and is happy with whatever decision he makes. He’s not wrong - because it’s his decision - and maybe his teacher didn’t respond appropriately. But that girl sitting next to him in health class, the one who thinks she’s in love with the boy that may be in love with her, who is going to “give herself” to him – she shouldn’t be made to feel bad about her decision, either.

Everyone is going to enjoy the grapes eventually.  Let’s not shame anyone for deciding when to take them.

Forbidden grapes.  You know you want them.

Forbidden grapes. You know you want them.

Hey Macklemore, I’m Going Thrift Shopping. Again.

To my knowledge, I had never stepped foot in a thrift store prior to September of this year.  If I had, it was by accident and probably against my will as I generally regard shopping as a necessary evil to be performed only as a drastic last measure once I literally have nothing to wear on my person or feet.  Think I’m kidding?  Before my nephew could walk, he owned more pairs of shoes than myself.  This is not because he had an exorbitant amount of shoes, it’s because I literally had four.  A pair of ballet flats, a pair of rain boots, a pair of gym shoes, and some flip flops.  I hate wearing shoes and would walk around barefoot 24/7 if given the opportunity.  Same with coats.  As previously mentioned, I hate wearing them.  If there is a remote chance that I might be hot at some point while wearing the coat, I will rip it off and take my chances on getting frostbite.

Regular clothes pose a bit more of a challenge as it’s illegal to go outside without pants – I think – and once it’s too cold for me to pull off sundresses, I have to figure something else out.  Left to my own devices, I’m perfectly happy to wear leggings, mismatched socks, and a hoodie.  But some people – TONY – refused to leave the house with me a few weeks ago so I was forced to consider that it may, in fact, be time for some new clothes.

Of course, me being me, once I decided I needed to new clothes, it distracted and bothered me to the point that I was in near tears every morning as I schlepped along in my outdated dress pants, scowling at the girls waiting for the train in their a-fucking-dorable skinny jeans and leggings.  It morphed from “Hey, I should probably get some new clothes,” to “OMG I NEED AN ENTIRELY NEW WARDROBE AND I HAVE FORTY DOLLARS AND I HATE EVERYTHING UNTIL I HAVE SKINNY JEANS AND BOOTS.”

Enter the thrift store.  There is a giant one in my new neighborhood, and a few weeks ago decided I would check it out.  Just figured I would take a look, see what I could see, maybe get lucky with a couple of new things.  Four hours later, I was walking home with a vintage Band-Aid dispenser, a wooden black cat statue Halloween decoration that scared the shit out of my cat, two t-shirts, and an obsession.  It. Has. EVERYTHING.  I was a little daunted the first time around, as it’s giant maze of humanity; the kids clothes are by the vacuums, the bathing suits (fucking ew, absolutely not, there has to be a line somewhere,) are by the electronics, the furniture is by the shoes, and the coats are mixed in with the dresses.

In addition to the disorganization, it’s simply confusing.  There’s these random, unwritten rules; for instance, you are supposed to take the clothes off the hangers when you get to the register and if you don’t are ostracized by fellow thrifters and the cashier alike, which – especially for the faint of heart like me – can be relatively tough on the self-esteem.  Also, the clientele at this particular store, due to its location, is comprised of stupid hipsters that are simply looking for the most ironic thing they can find, families that are there out of genuine need, and big, scary soccer-mom types who will muscle past you while talking on a cell phone and somehow traveling the aisles with three carts.  (Note: they’re the ones to watch out for.  Trust.)

All of that being said, there’s somewhat of a party atmosphere; there’s a guy with a cart outside selling elotes and tacos who inexplicably has balloons, and they play the most random, fabulous soundtrack of any store I’ve ever been in.  The last time I was there, in succession, they played the Spanish version of “Unchained Melody,” Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.”  It was fucking amazing.

Certainly, you have to go in with an open mind.  You have to be willing to pretty much look through everything; clothes are grouped by color, not size, so there are size zero jeans next to size 22s, size smalls next to XXXL.  But here’s a secret – nothing will open your mind faster than getting six pairs of brand name jeans, two pairs of boots, and five shirts/sweaters for a grand total of $37.00. I have gotten more compliments on my thrift store finds in the past three weeks than I have gotten since I began my job almost two years ago.  And thus, an obsession has been born.  Almost without my realization or intent, we seem to be propelling ourselves there every Saturday morning (it’s HALF PRICE DAY!!  HURRY!!) and coming home only ten or fifteen bucks lighter, but with new clothes.

Downside?  It’s actually cheaper to buy new clothes than to do laundry in our building, which for two extremely lazy people will likely become a problem in the very foreseeable future.  Upside?  Aside from the obvious, it’s possibly the greatest people-watching on the planet save for Las Vegas, and it’s a lot cheaper and less stressful to go to Village Discount.

Case in point?  When we were there Saturday, the lines were outrageous.  This is obviously not a big surprise and again is part of the whole “open mind” part of the experience.  Expect to be there awhile.  Anyhow, we were about seventh in line once we finished shopping and settled into our favorite game which basically consists of  mocking others for sport.  While we debated the purchases of the three – seemingly unrelated – men at the register who were buying, among other things, a badminton racket, a dollhouse, four towels (fucking ew again,) and a VCR, when something caught my eye.

Or rather, someone caught my eye.  This girl a couple carts in front of us, all hundred and twenty pounds of her, wearing leggings with cute little patterned leg warmers under her knee high boots (seriously, I don’t even want to talk about how difficult it is to fit my pants inside my boots; you have to have a special kind of tiny baby-giraffe legs to wear thick knit leg warmers underneath them,) a teeny-tiny shirt, and super cute jean jacket.  She had curly hair all piled up in a bun in that way that is meant to look messy but takes most people three hours to accomplish.  She was pretty much stunning and what I pretend I look like when I am putting outfits together in my head, and she was hurting my feelings just for existing.

I looked down at my yoga pants and big comfy t-shirt – perfect for shopping! – and, noticing a stain, remarked to my husband, “Life’s not fair.”  Without missing a beat or taking his eyes off of her, he replied, “No shit.”  A couple of minutes later, he nudged me.  “Yeah, this is probably more our speed,” while pointing down another aisle where a woman was trying to knock a shirt down from a high rack by waving a Halloween scarecrow at it wildly, muttering, “Come on, come ON,” prompting me to burst out laughing so hard I couldn’t compose myself and he nearly sent me outside.

So yeah.  The thrift store pretty much has everything; entertainment, music, people watching, and every possible item you could ever imagine wanting for under five dollars.  Grab some friends and forty dollars – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

Is that your grandma's coat?

Is that your grandma’s coat?

 

And Here’s What You All Have To “Look Forward” To.

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How the fuck is it July?? Somehow I blinked and it’s been a month and a half. Apparently this is some sort of adult phenomenon, but as I have no children and thus no busy t-ball / summer camp/birthday parties/insert your own exhausting activity here,  I’m just blaming it on the fact that I’m sort of a spaz and just today flipped my calendar from May.  (what? It was a pretty picture.)
Anyhow,  this isn’t a real post because I’ve been away so long my brain short circuited trying to decide what topic to start with.  
Here’s my top contenders.

*How to Plan a Surprise Party for Your Incredibly Nosy Parents

*Bike Riding in Chicago for Dummies: The Helmet Diaries

*Courtney’s Culinary Adventures – possible alternate title – WTF Mama Why WOULDNT I put Cream Cheese in Baked Spaghetti? – other alternate title – How Not to Lose Weight Whilst Cycling Six Miles a Day.

*Why We Suck at the 4th of July

*The Summer Jungle Bugs of the Ukrainian Village

*Why Sometimes My Family Simply Kicks Ass

*Air Conditioning? Who Needs Air Conditioning? (Special Response from my Husband Entitled, “I’m Fucking Melting.”)

*Why I Am Awesome at the Neighborhood Watch.

*Being 83 in a 34 Year Old Body and Why Apparently it IS Important to Not Wear Flip Flops from Walgreens – Alternate title, Why No One Wants to Go Anywhere With Me Unless it is Less than a Block Away.

*Beach Bag Packing for the Insane

So that’s what’s been happening here…..

Looking For the Helpers

Like so many others yesterday, I watched the tragedy in Boston unfold on the news – standing with co-workers in the lunchroom, mouths covered in horror, heads shaking in disgust, eyes tearing up in sadness at yet more lives lost and damaged beyond repair.  The act of one person ruining the lives and hopes and dreams of so many.  What was supposed to be a triumphant celebration of achievement, a joyous occasion of accomplishment shattered by unspeakable violence.  More questions of what can we do, more fear of where we can go, and more disgust at the actions of cowards.  Our country mourns yet again; this time with another city, with another demographic, over another type of violence.

I think any writer with a modicum of a platform, no matter how small it may be, would be remiss in not addressing this attack on some level.  The part I need to address is hope.  Yes, hope.  Since the advent of social media, anyone with access to the internet can voice their opinion publicly, can share their thoughts and feelings and words.  And so very much of what I saw on Facebook and Twitter yesterday was, for the first time in a long time, simply support.  From tweets simply reading, “My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in the tragedy in Boston,” to statuses sharing from all over the world, “NY Loves Boston,” “Dublin’s Heart is With Boston,” to pictures of the Boston skyline, to entire articles depicting the emergency personnel and civilians alike running toward the injured instead of away from the chaos.

The helpers.  The picture and words I saw the most yesterday were that of the beloved Mr. Rogers, who said this, “Always look for the helpers.”  What phenomenal advice.  Look for the helpers.  Look for the ones who are doing what they can to make a horrible event bearable.  There were so many yesterday. The exhausted runners who should have been celebrating the culmination of years of hard work with an ice bath and a chair continuing to move, to push wheelchairs and help people up and give blood.  The people of the city of Boston opening their homes and hearts to those stranded in a strange city that had just been attacked, no questions asked.  The restaurant owners giving out free meals without regard to their bottom line.  Google setting up a site to help frantic family members find their loved ones.  The emergency personnel; the doctors and nurses and fireman and police and EMT’s and servicemen who have dedicated their lives to helping being put to the ultimate test and stepping up once again.  The list goes on and on.

Smartphones make it almost frighteningly easy to immediately share pictures and videos without censure; many of us saw some raw video footage of people with limbs blown off, puddles of blood, and tearful horror within minutes of the explosions.  But so much of what I saw yesterday gave me hope.  These videos were unscripted; this was real life and real reactions, and so much of it showed helpers.  These are real people.  This is the real world we live in.  In the midst of explosions and terror and unknown, these were real people that did everything they could to help.  And that is what our country is made up of.  Helpers.  We’ve shown it over and over and over again, in New York and Pennsylvania on that dark day in 2001, in Newtown just before Christmas, in Boston yesterday, and countless other times; there has always been more helpers than evil. There has always been more love than hate.  We just need to remember it.

There’s many who will say I’m being naive, that I’m trying to find the rose-colored lenses for a pair of broken glasses.  I’m okay with that.  Because I’m right.  I may not always remember it, but we’re surrounded by helpers.  Try using my rose-colored glasses – you’ll see it too.  Instead of the sadness of the homeless person on the corner, you’ll see the helper who drops a quarter in his cup.  Instead of the frustration of a crowded bus, you’ll see the helper give up his seat for a tired mom.  Instead of anger at being stuck in a long line, you’ll see the helper patiently counting out change for the elderly person at the front.  And instead of pure evil in a time of terror, you’ll see the helper in not only the people in Boston that physically risked themselves, but in the millions of us around the world who did what little we could to show our support.  To help.

Mr. Rogers was a smart man.  Always, always look for the helpers.  They’ll be there.

We're with you, Boston.  Kudos to all of your helpers.

We’re with you, Boston. Kudos to all of your helpers.

Bucket List for the Insane

A friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook page, “Skydiving!!!  One more thing to mark off the Bucket List!”  and for some reason, it stuck with me.  I love the whole idea of a Bucket List.  Things to do before you die, things to strive for,  places to go.  It’s a great idea.  It gives us a sense of purpose; it helps us give our lofty dreams some sort of structure.   I started thinking, “Hmm, what would be on my Bucket List?”  I did some Googling – is that a word?  It should be – and stalked some other people’s lists and oh, holy baby Jesus, you people have some GOALS.  Hiking Everest and ziplining in the Everglades and saving starving children and starting charities – amazing.  My list?  Not quite so lofty.  And even as I wrote mine down, my mind immediately came up with 400 reasons of why that particular idea was the dumbest one I’d ever had.

But I’m not giving up.  It’s my Bucket List and I can do with it what I want.  So I still wrote out my list, and then let the rational part of my brain yell at the hopeful, creative side.  The result is that now I think maybe not everyone needs to make a Bucket List and some of us should probably just be happy for every day that goes by in which we don’t get hit by a bus or shit on by a pigeon.

Courtney’s (Sort Of) Bucket List

Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

  • Thought: I love cats!  I have time! Ever since my stupid Potato cat went missing and I visited every shelter in the south suburbs looking for him, my heart breaking at these poor kitties in cages, I have wanted to volunteer and spend time loving on these neglected animals.
  • Counter Thought: Are you even serious right now?  First of all, at that one shelter you went to looking for that idiot cat, there was a fucking PIG there that had just had babies.  Can you see yourself caring for a PIG, Courtney?  Think about it.  Also, remember that one time you went to the pet store when you had PMS and almost came home with an ugly dog, even though you don’t even like dogs all that much?  Let me paint you a picture of how this ends – you, fourteen cats, and a piglet.  Alone.

See the Northern Lights

  • Thought: That would be so amazing to see.  I hear Alaska is a great place to see them – I could kill two birds with one stone!  I mean, who ever goes to see Alaska?  Plus I’d see the amazing lights!
  • Counter Thought: You know what else is in Alaska?  A raging drinking problem.  And darkness.  Given your love of beer and the fact that not seeing sunlight for more than 48 hours makes you homicidal – this is not the place for you.  Any lights you see are likely going to be hallucinations.  Why don’t you try for an eclipse or super moon here in your home state, yeah?  We’ll get you a telescope or something.

Live in a Continuously Organized, Orderly Space In Which the Corners of Baseboards are Always Clean

  • Thought: This isn’t impossible.  My mom does it.  My sister does it.  It’s likely just a simple system – a routine I need to get into.  I bet if I do a complete overhaul, I can keep everything spic-and-span and never have a heart-stopping panic attack again when someone drops by unexpectedly!
  • Counter Thought:  Really?  It’s just a routine you haven’t quite picked up in the past 20 years?  Sure.  I wasn’t going to do this, but let me remind you of what happened last week.  Remember? DO YOU??  You got a new towel off of the shelf and then had to take a whole new shower after using it because it was covered in cat hair.  Why don’t you concentrate on never, EVER letting that happen again before you start scrubbing baseboards with a toothbrush.

Do One of Those Walks/Bike Rides For Charity

  • Thought:  Why not?  I could help people and get exercise all in one.  It looks like such a rah-rah good time, and for such a good cause!
  • Counter Thought: Are you even fucking kidding me right now?  You bribe people on a weekly basis to go places for you so you don’t have to walk up your stairs more than twice a day.  Also, not to be the bearer of bad news, but giving up cigarettes did not magically take 50 pounds off of your frame, give you the gift of balance, or shrink your giant head so that it will fit in a normal-sized bike helmet.  This one’s a super nice idea, but let’s keep it on your level.  Try a nice short walk at a local high school – I know you, you’re going to sign up for that 3 Day Walk and you know damn well you don’t like to do ANYTHING for more than 45 minutes at a time and you’re simply setting yourself up for disappointment.

There was more, but one can only imagine what my subconscious revolted with when the word “Skydiving” crossed my mind, so I had to stop because I was hurting my own feelings.  Regardless, I still think it’s a good list and am standing by it.  What’s on yours?

It's Still a Bucket

It’s Still a Bucket

 

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