Monthly Archives: October 2013

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clothes, it distracted and bothered me to the point that I was in near tears every morning as I schlepped along in my outdated dress pants, scowling at the girls waiting for the train in their a-fucking-dorable skinny jeans and leggings.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?

 

Well, Color Me Hurt and Confused

I’m not even sure how I came across this article; one minute I was reading about Tori Spelling’s money problems (that post almost writes itself, but I have to take a step back before writing it so as not to be a hate-filled obscenity spewing rant about how she should be ASHAMED of herself even saying such a thing as how she lost a million dollars in her efforts to scale down,) (Seriously?!  Many other notes aside, you had to make some money of your own playing that unbearable Donna character, lording your virginity over poor David Silver for so long,) and the next thing I knew I saw this article by one Abigail Geer entitled, “10 Signs Your Kitty Actually Loves You.”  Well, I thought to myself, I could use that!  Perhaps there’s some signs here I was unaware of that will help me understand why I keep feeding and cleaning out boxes of shit for two animals who – at least on the surface – would eat me if I stayed still long enough.

Ms. Geer’s article gives, as advertised, ten cat behaviors that supposedly prove their love.  For her reasoning, please feel free to read the article linked above.  Here’s what I thought.

1. Head butting. Right. Because very few things say “I love you,” more than face-to-face combat, especially if one opponent is wide awake while the other is in a blissful slumber.

2. Powerful purrs.  My stupid small cat sounds like a motorboat when he purrs.  It’s actually cute – he only weighs like six pounds and it’s unbelievable what a loud sound he makes when he’s purring.  Unfortunately, he purrs the loudest and most frequently while he is licking the (surely lead-based painted) walls.  Try to pick him up or pet him and he recoils as though you’re trying to throw him in a vat of boiling acid.  The other one?  See sign number three below.

3. Love bites.  Apparently there is a difference between a “love bite,” and a “cat bite.”  Hmm.  Tell me, Ms. Geer, when the cat is chomping about your ankles while you’re making dinner, is that a love bite?  When the cat curls up all sweet right next to you while you rest and then sinks her teeth into the tender flesh on the underside of your arm when you pet her, is that a love bite?  How about when she tries to take a chunk out of your knuckles while you attempt to eat a popsicle?  Which type of bite is that?  Cause I’m pretty sure it’s the “my cat is simply a complete asshole,” bite.  Does yours have one for that designation?

4. Tail twitching. You know what my cat is getting ready to do when his tail twitches?  Pee in my shoe.

5. Tummy up. Ms. Geer says it shows trust.  I say it shows a grim determination to trip me to my death while trying to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, as that’s the only time either of these jerks ever flops down in front of me.

6. Licking your hair or ears.  Hmm.  Have you ever woken up to a cat trying to pull your hair out of your head via her teeth in the middle of the night?  Do you know what that sounds like when it wakes you out of a sound sleep?  It sounds like the murderer you’ve known has been coming TRYING TO SAW THROUGH YOUR HEAD, that’s what.  To your other point about the ears, I refer you to my husband who suffered an (undiagnosed) punctured ear drum when the cat resting on his melon got scared and clawed his way to the ceiling via his head.

7. Kneading.  Nope.  This does not make me feel good.  This reminds me I really, really need to go to the gym and stop eating so much damn macaroni and cheese.

8. Slow blinking. You call it “kiss with their eyes,” all you want, you weirdo.  I call it the creepiest staring contest ever because my cats?  Don’t fucking blink.

9. Nap time. Apparently cats crave a safe place when they sleep, so if they pick you to be their naptime spot, you should feel honored.  Sure. Recently, Potato fell asleep with his head and front paws hanging off of the top of the refrigerator.  Ramon once got trapped INSIDE the refrigerator (not a good day,) and when I opened it she blinked repeatedly, jumped out, and took a swing at me; apparently I’d ruined her nap.

10. Gifting.  This was geared towards a cat leaving a mouse they’ve killed at your doorstep, showing their prowess and bounty to you.  If that’s true, when that baby possum got on the porch and I was chasing it down the stairs with a broom – CRYING, mind you – where the fuck were these cats then?  Cowering under the blanket, that’s where.

I’m starting to think maybe I should have a dog.  Or a pet rock.

Thought I was kidding?  Tell me these aren't faces of evil.

Thought I was kidding? Tell me these aren’t faces of evil.

Surviving Winter

If you’re in the Chicago area, you undoubtedly had the conversation today.  It was impossible to avoid, no matter how hard you tried.  The news was all over it, Facebook was awash with amateur weathermen, (excuse me, weatherPEOPLE,) and casual conversations on the elevator couldn’t help but veer towards it; today was the first day of possible snow.  And despite all of the obvious, i.e. it’s the end of October, this tends to happen, and oh yeah, we live in Chicago why are we still surprised at any weather, EVER, we just can’t help but be surprised.  It’s like Mother Nature stopped her tease of the past few weeks, which had lulled us into a false sense of security, thinking, Hey!  Maybe this will be the year we actually WILL have a fall! and just dropped the temperature like 30 degrees while at the same time taking away the sun, leaving half of us standing in flip flops and dresses and the other half in gear fit for Antarctica on a bad day while we all stare at each other, uncomprehending.  Seriously, if one were to come from another planet today and was forced to make assumptions based on how well we dressed for the weather, we would fail everything.

That being said, I’m trying to get over my frustration with the fact that once the temperature dips below 40 degrees social media loses its collective mind and can concentrate only on the weather outside.  So I decided to embrace it; cold, snow, sleet and all, and make a list of what I’d like to accomplish during this upcoming glorious six months of slush.

winter

Dress Appropriately

Here’s something that will likely surprise no one – I am woefully lacking in dressing for the weather.  You’d think, with all my bitching, that I’d pay a tiny bit more attention to all of the Facebook weather updates and manage to dress accordingly, but you would be wrong.  For one, I hate wearing a coat.  Hate it.  I hate being hot more than pretty much anything in the world, and if walking to a bus stop and then waiting for a bus and train in below freezing temperatures for a total of 30 minutes while freezing in a long sleeve shirt means I don’t have to suffer through it being all hot and twisty and miserable for five minutes while ON the bus, I’m all for it.  I tried wearing gloves, a hat, and a scarf with my normal clothes last winter so as not to give myself frostbite, but I was still smoking then and not only almost lit myself on fire, but lost at least one of these items on a daily basis.  In addition, being asked 20 times a day, “Where is your COAT???” from concerned citizens and co-workers is only slightly less annoying than being strangled by that stupid coat.  So this year, I bought a pair of boots, and this weekend, I am buying a coat.  And I am going to spend time – ugh – shopping for said coat, so I don’t leave it hanging up every morning while I throw a DC sweatshirt over my dress pants.

Go Sledding

I haven’t been sledding in years.  The last time I consciously remember sledding, I was in high school and me and one of the boys in my class damn near killed some innocent schoolchildren while careening down the hill, Griswold-style, completely out of control.  It was glorious.  I love sledding.  There is a big sledding hill at the park near my new apartment, and despite the negative effect the addition of forty pounds, Peppermint Schnapps, gangbangers, and diminished coordination may have on the experience, I am going this year.  I don’t particularly care if it kills all of us, because we will die SLEDDING which is awesome.  (Note to self – Google “sleds for uncoordinated adults.”)

Embrace the Chicago Holiday Season

Every year, I’m all, “Ugh, it’s so crowded, and who the hell wants to see stupid window decorations and lights with four hundredy billion tourists?”  This year, I’m going to embrace it.  You know what, Chicagoans?  Especially all of you Loop workers out there?  We are so, so, lucky.  People take bus tours to come see our lights.  People from all over the country make a point to come look at our windows and go shopping in our historic stores.  People visiting will talk for years of the street performer they saw inexplicably playing the Flintstones theme song on the saxophone, (seriously, that must be the easiest song ever on the sax.  EVERYONE knows it.)  And us?  We just brush by all, Ugh, please, people, learn to cross a street!  This year, I am going to do my best to enjoy it.  Please note, I said I would try.  Should you see a post around December 20th entitled “OMG Why Can’t People Just Stay at Home and Shop in Their Own Damn Stores, I Just Need a Fucking Extension Cord and This Target is Not Any Different Than the One in Kansas!” do not be surprised.

Not Fall Down.  In Case of Failure, Allow Self to Wallow Under Blanket for the Rest of the Day

Again in the you’re-probably-not-surprised category, each year I tend to “lose my balance,” at some point during the ice-filled, snow-covered season.  Sometimes it’s because of black ice, sometimes it’s because my shoes are completely unsuitable for snow, and sometimes it’s because I’m just really bad at walking on uneven surfaces.  But this year, I have fucking boots.  This year, I am going to pay attention.  This year, I am considering walking along with one of those wheelbarrows that spreads salt, just to be on the safe side.  However, if this should fail, and I fall down in a puddle of mess on my way down the street, I am GOING BACK HOME.  This year, I will not be mocked on the bus when I get on, covered only on one side with dirty slush.  This year, I will not be asked, whilst trying to maintain dignity despite being soaking wet and bleeding from my hands, “What happened to you!?” from co-workers desperately trying not to burst out into laughter.  I will turn around, go home, make myself a hot toddy or seven, and stay under the blanket where it is warm and dry.

What are your goals for the winter?

You’re a Big Mean Bully, Social Media

Remember when you were in junior high school and there was that one awful, mean girl?  The one who made a big point to take your usual seat at the lunch table and leave you standing with your stupid lunch bag, too timid to stand up to her and turning bright red when none of your other friends did either?  She was the one that told the boy you liked how you wrote his name in your notebook, made fun of your bookbag, helpfully told your teacher about the note you wrote (at her insistence,) and loudly announced that you had your period in a room full of prepubescent boys.  Then she asked that boy to the dance for you, bought the same bookbag in a different color, and conspiratorally asked you for a tampon in the bathroom, fooling you once again into thinking she was your friend.

Of course you remember her.  She was a fucking menace.  All of us remember her.  Because at one point in time, we all knew her, or we were her, or wanted to be her friend, depending on which way your hormones were raging that day.  Junior high girls are the epitome of bullies; they’re why no woman, ever, recalls with complete happiness the preteen years.  There may have been good moments, but they were all tainted by that awful girl.  You show me a woman that cannot recall, with alaming accuracy, a traumatizing encounter with that girl at her school and I will show you a woman who is still plotting her revenge.

So what is it, exactly, about social media that makes grown women turn into the adult version of that girl?  Under the guise of screen names, we have no problem calling other women fat, ugly, stupid, the list goes on.  We have no trouble criticizing a woman’s entire parenting style based on one photograph, her entire wardrobe based on one outfit, her entire personality based on one comment.  What the hell, ladies?  What about the anonymity of the internet has turned us all into Regina George?

I bet Maria Kang is wondering the same thing.  If you haven’t heard – and I’m sure most of you have – Ms. Kang is a fitness blogger who has come under a staggering amount of scrutiny for a photo she posted to her own Facebook page.   Here’s the picture.

What's my excuse?  Macaroni and Cheese?  Does that work?

What’s my excuse? Macaroni and Cheese? Does that work?

Looks pretty good, doesn’t she?  Three little kids and still puts that much time and energy into her fitness and health?  She probably eats healthy and hardly ever uses the cats “bothering her” as a reason not to do her home fitness DVDs.  I bet she doesn’t have a recipe called “Spaghetti Monster” that includes cream cheese.  And I’d wager she doesn’t eat chicken kiev for breakfast whilst watching the marathon on TV!  Kudos to you, Ms. Kang!

This is what went through my head when I saw the picture.  Did it make me feel bad about myself?  No.  Did I feel as though she was chastising me or shaming me?  Not so much.  Did it propel me off the couch?  No, but if I was forced to pick an emotion, it would be “inspired” as opposed to “shamed.”  If she can do it with three kids, I certainly could.  Then I saw she was a fitness blogger with a huge following, and honestly, I thought, what a fabulous tagline!  If I was actively trying to lose weight, I would print this picture out and put it on my fridge.  Good for her!

The internets disagreed.  While there were certainly people that supported her and agreed with the message, a good portion of the 18,000 comments – yes, you read that right, and I bet you couldn’t find an article about the government shutdown with half as many comments, but that’s another bag of apples entirely – were downright hateful.  People called her a liar, (because obviously she couldn’t look THAT good,) a terrible mother, (because clearly a nanny was raising her children; obviously the only thing that is important to her is looking beautiful,) and even went so far as to question her children’s parentage, (“They’re probably not even her kids; they all look different.”)  Common denominator in these comments?  All women.

What the hell, ladies?  Why the hate?  Here’s a successful woman – a wife and mother who blogs about what works for her and how she’s been able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and workout routine while managing a busy family.  She’s a fitness blogger, which leads me to believe that most people following her are women trying to do what she does, who are looking for advice and inspiration.  So why, instead of taking that photo as an inspiration and getting moving, are we sitting behind our computers, trying to find the faults to tear her down?  It makes no sense.

While we’re on tearing down – can we all please leave Miley Cyrus the fuck alone?  I swore I wasn’t going to chime in on this so as not to add to the fact that WE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT HER, but I can’t help myself.  I saw today that Paul McCartney finally weighed in on what is apparently the debate of the goddamn year.   It’s only a matter of time before the President chimes in and then we’re all going to be mad because he has better things to be doing but you know what?  We made this happen.  We have taken a performance on an awards show and elevated it to a national concern about the youth of today, turning Miley into a cautionary tale about what happens to good little Hannah Montana when she doesn’t listen to her parents.  Give me a break.   You don’t want your daughter to look up to or emulate her?  I bet your mama didn’t want you to act like and dress like Madonna, which only made you like her more.  And I bet her parents didn’t want her dating that boy who tried to look like that dirty hippie, Paul McCartney.

My point?  She isn’t really doing anything different – it’s just that every single word, thought, and action is immediately visible and public now.  And at this point, it doesn’t matter what she does or says – she could be saving orphans and kittens in her spare time and people are still going to be all, from behind their computers, “Yeah, but did you see those shorts she was wearing?”  Which is how I hope she sees it – something along the lines of “Well, they’re not going to be happy anyway, might as well get naked on a wrecking ball!”

Maybe next time instead of automatically assuming the worst, we think for a second of whether we would say out loud to one person what we’re about to publish silently to hundreds?   Don’t turn into that junior high bully.  You remember how awful that felt – I bet women like Maria and Miley do, too.

You Be The Judge

We recently moved – yes, again – to a new apartment and are in the process of decorating, putting up pictures, and generally making the place feel like home.  That is, in between rounds of me loading the dishwasher.  I have a dishwasher for the first time in my adult life and the love I have for said dishwasher knows no bounds.  All of a sudden, I am that person who is grabbing plates out of unsuspecting hands mid-bite and then using every pot, pan, and fork in the place just so I can fill up the dishwasher and run it.  I look up product reviews on dishwasher tabs and research how to remove water spots, nodding sagely along with advice because now I, too, have a dishwasher and can commiserate with the difficulties of getting my cutlery squeaky clean.   My husband, who lived through the past seven years consistently repeating the phrase, “Letting it soak, my ass.  It’s been soaking for three days,” is bewildered by this crazy person who can no longer abide by a dirty dish in the sink, this person who empties out leftovers to wash the bowl, who starts emptying said dishwasher at 8AM on Saturday morning.  (On that note – the quieter you try to be is directly related to the number of forks you accidentally send clattering to the floor when the cat tries to help be jumping into the sink next to you.)  Anyhow – I am loving the new place.  We are still deciding on exactly what pictures/posters/memorabilia to put up on the walls.  I thought we had it mostly figured out, until two weeks ago when Tony went for a walk in the morning and came clambering up the stairs an hour later, exclaiming, “I found art!!!” Which brings me to this, which is currently propped up against my living room wall, unsure of its place in the world.

Is it art?  Is it garbage?  And more importantly - who is it?

Is it art? Is it garbage? And more importantly – who is it?

 

At first, I was all, sweet, you found a graffiti covered canvas!  But the more I looked at it, the more I was intrigued.   It’s actually pretty cool and definitely different.  However, I’m still vacillating between, Hey, that’s totally creepy and Hey, this is really cool and you should ask me about my edgy, artistic side.  (Heh.  I can’t even type that without laughing.)  But my biggest hang up with it is I DON’T KNOW WHO IT IS.  Or who it’s supposed to be.  Or if it even is supposed to be someone?  A few people I’ve shown the picture to think it may be a rendering of Mayor Daley.  Which would make sense, and like a friend said, I could build some cool Chicago décor around it.  But what if it’s the artist’s creepy uncle Fred or something? And then I have a dinner party or something and some fancy guest is all, “Why do you have a painting of that dirty old man?”  (I’m not sure what about the painting or apartment makes me think that I’m all of a sudden going to start hosting dinner parties, but I want to be prepared.)

 

So I’m turning to you, friends.  What do you think?   Do you know who it is?   Does it matter?  Help me get this either onto the porch or onto a wall or into the garbage.

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a dishwasher to unload.