Monthly Archives: March 2014

To Baby Girl, On the Day of Your Birth

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

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

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

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

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

Love.

Love.

Advertisements

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.