Author Archives: Courtney
Well, what a dumpster fire of a year, huh, friends? We lost some of the most creative people ever to exist – and seriously, if I was an iconic celebrity right about now, I’d stay in my house drinking orange juice and pumping the vitamin C for the next eleven days and yes, I’m looking right at you Betty White, because my heart simply cannot handle anymore – the US lost its damn mind and elected a cross between Bif Tannen and President Snow as the leader of the free world, our neighbors over the pond lost its damn mind with Brexit, families aren’t speaking to each other, Facebook has lost its original purpose of showing videos of sneezing pandas and whimsy cat pictures and is instead filled with memes being flung back and forth between family members and friends like small, passive-aggressive missiles. People are shooting up churches and clubs and schools and shopping malls and all of Chicago. It was seventy degrees all of November, and yesterday it was colder in Chicago than on Mars. Babies are being slaughtered in Syria, Flint still doesn’t have clean water, and the U.S. government reprised its role of trying to prove that Native Americans matter less than the rest of the country. People. The Cubs won the World Series. We have indeed opened the seventh seal and ushered in the apocalypse.
All of that being said, it’s almost over. And it’s Christmas, and if you’re reading this you’re alive and have access to the internet, so you’re doing fucking fantastic by this year’s standards. I’ve been getting a lot of Christmas cards of smiling, happy children and this makes me happy. But happier still are the Christmas letters. I love the Christmas letters. I’m not being sarcastic – I enjoy them. It’s fun to see people’s lives in a snapshot and I genuinely enjoy reading about the accomplishments of friends and family members throughout this stressball of a year.
So I thought I’d share my own. I didn’t send it out, obviously, because anyone who knows me knows I am way too unorganized to have something like an address book, but that’s okay, right? You probably didn’t want to hang a picture of my cats on your fridge anyhow. Here it is!!
Happy Christmas, friends!
Hope this letter finds you well. What a year, huh? Where to start?
The cats are thriving. Ramon, in just her 15th year on this planet, has managed to find new ways to show her exuberance at life and we’re so happy. Now she hisses and swipes at everyone who walks by her and not just my family. She only drew blood a couple of times this year, but that was totally my fault for sitting quietly next to her when she obviously wanted to be alone. But she still loves sleeping on your face and purrs happily while trying to rip you limb from limb, and if she’s happy, we’re happy. Potato, in his 12th year, continues to improve from his traumatic escape attempt seven years ago. He continues to be terrified of his own shadow, me, our neighbor’s dog, wind, light, his water dish, movement, my shoes, and all coats and sweatshirts not properly folded and put away. The last part unfortunately manifests in him peeing on anything left out, but bonus? Once we figured out that he prefers an orderly environment, accidents went down and organization went up, so really, we should be thanking him for keeping the place spotless! Unfortunately, in their older age, sometimes they miss the litterbox in the bathroom – because omg they are 12 and 15 years old how is this even possible we don’t even feed them wet food – and that’s obviously a bit of a bummer. But again bonus? It only took a year and a half and three adults to consider putting puppy pads under the litterbox instead of changing the litter and mopping the bathroom floor every fucking day. Double bonus? Now that the puppy pads are down, they never miss. Ever. They might be a little diabolical, but they’re ours and we love them. I’d include a picture, but I can’t get them to get near each other or me.
We hosted our first ever holiday on Easter and it was a great success! My mom brought chairs, a ham, a roasting pan, fried chicken, and Easter baskets for the kids, and my in-laws brought a kitchen table and chairs, paper plates and napkins, a tablecloth, serving utensils (those were from my sister in law, how she found the time four days before giving birth while studying for her nursing finals, I’ll never know!) and more Easter baskets. But we did the really heavy lifting, which was cleaning the fish tank and heat vents and swearing at each other for three days running over whose great idea it was to host Easter. We did a great job!
Our collection of random miniature police, firefighter, and superhero figurines continues to grow. There was a really fun couple of months where they would be hidden all over the apartment. It’s a really good time! Tony and Tony are great at games. They have another fun one where they draw faces on every egg in the carton and hide canned goods where they’re not supposed to go. It’s a great motivator when you’re really hungry! I tell you, we just laugh and laugh.
Of course, we had some tough moments. We had a broken bone (Tony Marzilli,) a broken toilet (me) (twice) (the second one was really all of us,) (but I fixed it!) several arguments that nearly got physical with crackheads (Tony,) an unfortunate “getting pooped on by a bird” incident (also Tony) (wait, and me, what the hell?) a Natalie Merchant concert that wasn’t actually Natalie Merchant (all of us, but I blame them because they’re the 10,000 Maniacs fans and should have known better,) a bike accident (Tony Marzilli) (separate from the broken bone,) everyone loved “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, (more upsetting for Tony and Tony than myself,) and Ramon ate and then vomited the last piece of a 1000 piece puzzle that took eight hours to put together(no one won here) (and I challenge you to find something more frustrating than having 999 pieces of a puzzle.)
We had a great year. We have jobs we like. We didn’t have to move this year (and for those of you playing at home, that’s the first time in five years it didn’t have to happen,) and love our apartment, we kept the cats and a fish alive, we got to ride a camel AND hold an alligator, we went to every festival we could find in Chicago, I rode my bike in a triathlon, we got to be in Wrigleyville when the Cubs advanced to the World Series and were at Wrigley Field on a day that a World Series game was being played there. We caught a lot of fish, played some Pokemon, spent a lot of time at the beach, watched Purple Rain at Milennium Park, learned a whole hell of a lot about politics, and like always, had a hell of a good time.
Here’s to an even better 2017! (Assuming the world doesn’t explode on itself.)
Tony, Courtney, and Tony
At this time last week, I was standing in my living room, tears in my eyes, watching the Cubs win the World Series.
Five days ago, I was standing in the middle of Michigan Avenue, tears in my eyes, watching the five million fans celebrate a victory.
At this time about eighteen hours ago, I was sitting in my living room and burst into tears, watching the results of the 2016 Presidential election.
At this time three hours ago, I was standing in the middle of Dearborn St., outside Trump Tower, tears rolling down my face as I watched protestors storm by.
It’s been one hell of a week.
I have seen things this week that America has never seen before. I’ve cried more this week than I have than I can ever remember in my adult life. For me, it’s been a series of highs and lows unprecedented in my life. I have a really happy Cubs post that I was planning on writing this week, but that has to be put on hold right now. Because Donald Trump is going to be my President. And I can’t handle it yet.
It’s not that my candidate lost. My candidate lost back in the primaries, when Bernie Sanders lost to a political machine. A machine, I must add, that I wasn’t a fan of. As a woman, it hurts to say that. These past few months should have been a celebration of the possibility of the first female president. I will not lie; love, hate, or indifference, we had a chance to make history yesterday, and part of me really wanted it solely for that reason. Watching the debates, and seeing little girls watch this woman, this strong woman, this politician, make history in so many ways – it made me want it for her, and for me, and for those girls. But my optimism, my idealism which I will not apologize for, wanted Mr. Sanders to be up there. Call it what you want, but I believed in him and his ability to beat this Republican monstrosity we found ourselves with. That being said, that Republican monstrosity, in my opinion, needed to be defeated no matter what. And if Secretary Clinton was the other option, to me, she was the only option.
I’m hearing a lot today that we’re being overdramatic. This isn’t the end of the world. Get over it. He won, you lost, it happens every election. But I don’t think we’re being overdramatic. This is unprecedented. Never, in the history of the process that we are bound to uphold, has there been a candidate this divisive. I don’t need to go through it again. His racism. His mocking of the disabled. His misogyny. His careless talk of sexual assault. His platform based on division, and hate, and fear. Do not tell me that these things aren’t true. Don’t. If you think that this man has not made his platform based on fear and hate, you’re kidding yourself. It surely worked for him, don’t misunderstand. But he has found our weakness, America, and it is fear, plain and simple. He just exploited it, and did it spectacularly.
Fear of the unknown. Fear of the different. Fear of the loss of the fragile security we are desperately trying to hold onto. Fear that our piece of the pie, which wasn’t big enough to begin with, is going to be snatched away by that political machine. So no, I don’t need to go through it again, but to lend it no credence is doing a disservice to everyone. The fact that there are children asking their teachers if they’re going to lose their families; the fact that gay couples wonder if the progress they’ve made is gone; the fact that Muslim families that have lived here their whole lives are now terrified and being taunted at schools. The fact that an acquaintance of mine, who is deaf, was accosted by someone today that came up to them and actually said, “Get out of here, retard, Trump’s President now.” The fact that this is the rhetoric that’s acceptable right now.
So no, this isn’t because we lost the battle, America. It’s because right now, we’re losing the war.
So we need to take it back. The war that women have fought, for their own rights, to their own bodies. The war that minorities have fought, for their life, for their own rights. The war that the LGBT community has fought for years. The war against the rape culture that is so acceptable that even this little bleeding heart liberal has questioned it. The war that the disabled community has railed against. The war that that shouldn’t be an issue in 2016. Black people shouldn’t have to fight in 2016. Women shouldn’t have to fight in 2016. The disabled shouldn’t have to fight in 2016. Gay people, trans people – they shouldn’t have to fear for their status in 2016. Muslims shouldn’t have to declare themselves in 2016. Mexicans should not have to defend themselves in 2016. We. Are. Better. Than. This. America.
Not all Trump supporters believe this pared down version of his rhetoric. I know that. And I have to believe, in my heart, that Mr. Trump himself doesn’t believe this. I have to believe this, because I cannot believe otherwise. As I stood today, watching the protestors, tears rolling,
that’s what I thought. It sounds trite, but love needs to trump hate. It has to.
This is who we have. This is who our process has elected, and as an American, I can be embarrassed, and I can be sad. I’m allowed that. But. (Deep breaths) This is our President. We cannot divide any further. We need to rail against the divisiveness. We need to be stronger than this rhetoric, because we are better than this.
For better or worse, we have elected Donald Trump as President of the United States. It might be for worse, but we have to hope that it will be for better. We have to keep fighting for it to be better. We got our change, America. Let’s make it worth it.
I’m purposefully writing this tonight. Before Game Six, before we go back to Cleveland. Before it’s all over in a few days. Because win or lose, it is all going to be over in a few days. And I want to soak up every last second of this. I want to remember, no, to preserve, this feeling that I and so many others have right now. This excitement, this joy, this happiness that seems to be surrounding the city of Chicago right now.
Our buildings are lit up with Go Cubs in blue. Our office buildings have Fly the W spelled out in high rise windows and W flags flying in our lobbies. Our fountains are dyed Cubbie Blue and you can’t walk more than five feet without seeing someone in a Cubs jersey or hat. Our iconic ferris wheel is decked out with a W and shining red white and blue. Clark Street Sports must have popped up about a hundred stores and people are clamoring for their World Series gear. Because we’re finally here. The Chicago Cubs. In the World Series. Last night, I watched, from my couch, drink gripped in hand, standing up for nearly three hours, a World Series win at Wrigley Field. And while I’m not saying anything new here, I feel the need to point out that there are people who, quite literally, waited their entire lives to see this happen, and plenty more who never got to.
For the most part, all I’ve heard is excitement and positivity. Whether this is because most of the people I”m talking to are Cubs fans or because I’m so violently optimistic and happy that they’re afraid to disagree with me, I’m not sure. But people are HAPPY. And you know what? This city, and this country, needs some damn happy. (This is where you assume I’m going to go on a Trump rant, but I promise I won’t here.) But I think people just need something to hold onto. Some hope for a change. Articles that make us smile when we share them on social media, “Hey, did you see Bill Murray start crying when they won? Did you see that interview with Ross? How about that catch?” instead of the constant back and forth I’m right-you’re wrong-let-me-tell-you-why-in-all-caps-and-illustrate-my-point-with-a-meme posts that 2016 has been rife with. (Not excluding myself from this faction.)
Some people say it’s a good distraction, that it’s like sticking our heads in the sand for a couple of weeks; ignoring the real issues to focus on a game. And maybe that’s true. But you know what? Right now, I need to stick my head in the sand. Because this year? Has sucked. A lot. It took Bowie, and Glenn Frey, and Snape, and Prince. It’s taken a lot of our hope in our government and political process, it’s divided friends and families. We’ve lost a lot of good people, both famous and not, and most importantly, it’s robbed even the strongest optimists of their hope. This team? Has given us hope. This team? Has given us happiness. Above all, this team has given us something to rally around, together. And we need that. Desperately.
We headed down to Wrigley Field last Saturday to stand outside the stadium in the hopes of just hearing the crowd and our team clinch the National League. We couldn’t afford tickets, hell, we couldn’t even afford to get into a bar in Wrigleyville. So we stood outside barricades on Addison and tried to catch glimpses of the game on the bar screens. We talked to people that had flown in from Washington DC just for this privilege. To people that had driven in from the burbs, by themselves, just to be near their team. When the police eventually pushed us so far back that we couldn’t see the TV screens anymore, we stood in an alley and when we heard the crowd cheer frantically checked our phones or asked the people that had pulled their TV outside what happened. When the police pulled up the barrricades in the ninth inning we all ran, cheering and yelling, toward the marquee to hear that last out. And when Chapman threw that final batter out, we cheered and yelled and sang Go Cubs Go and, I’m not ashamed to admit, a lot of us cried.
And there were over 300 THOUSAND of us. Those are the Cubs fans I know. The fans who cried real tears when we lost in 2003. The ones who saved up all year to buy tickets for nosebleed tickets just for the regular season. The fans who have listened to the games on the radio when they couldn’t watch on TV. The ones who went to see the hearse carry Ron Santo around the field for the last time. Who cried when Schwarber went down. Who sat outside and watched on an app on a blurry screen when the playoffs weren’t on cable. Who can say exactly where they were when poor Bartman grabbed at that ball. Who traveled to Milwaukee to see them because it was easier and cheaper than getting tickets to Wrigley. The little girl who loved Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandburg. That same little girl who can clearly remember crying in 1984 in her aunt’s basement. Who waited 45 minutes on a stinky El platform just to go soak up the energy and take a picture in front of a marquee that said “Chicago Cubs World Series Game 4.” That reluctantly left after carefully selecting a ten dollar souvenir pin instead of a hundred dollar sweatshirt or three hundred dollar bar package or a two thousand dollar ticket to go watch at home. The ones who said “It isn’t over,” in the ninth against the Giants. Who rejoiced at Zambrano’s no-hitter and Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeouts. The ones that weren’t surprised by the Montero grand slam. That still well up when they see Harry Caray on the big screen singing the seventh inning stretch. The ones like me.
So forgive me if I get a little crazy when I hear that Cubs fans are bandwagonners, or just want to be there for the party. Of course we want to be there for the party. We’ve waited patiently for this party. Year after year and season after season, we’ve wanted this party.
A quick note here – this is in no way to take away from those fans that have paid thousands in season tickets year after year, or the ones that were able to pay the astounding ticket prices for the series. Because – to borrow a quote – sure as God made green apples, if I had the option, I would do the same thing. And they sure as hell deserve it as much as everyone.
I hope we win it all. And I truly believe we will. I really do. Because this team? Is magic. It’s brought a city together. It’s brought fans hugging and taking selfies with the cops trying to keep order. It’s brought unbelievable catches and unlikely heroes and renewed our love of the game because it’s also the most likeable team I can ever recall watching. It’s brought strangers smiling and talking to each other on the street. I just hope they have enough magic left in them to go all the way.
But if – just if – they don’t? It’s okay. Because we’ll be back next year, no matter what happens.
In the last ten years there have been seven deadly mass shootings across the United States of America. These horrific days in the past decade included the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the babies of Newtown, the theater goers in Aurora, as well as victims in Blacksburg, Virginia, San Bernardino, California, Fort Hood Texas, and Binghamton, N.Y. In ten years, there were 161 people killed and 186 injured by gun violence at the hands of madmen. Innocent people, lives cut short, and for what? As Americans that’s what we wanted to know. We fought bitterly regarding gun laws and safety and police and more recently, about immigration. How do we stop this? What can we do? This is an outrage. This is tragic. We are supposed to be the greatest country in the world and we’re letting homegrown terrorists attack our citizens.
We held vigils. We set up donations and GoFundMe pages. We marched in parades and had moments of silence on the most public of stages. We published People magazine articles giving all of these victims a face, showing their story, and deservedly so. We demanded our politicians give us answers and plans. We wanted change and needed answers; This must be stopped!!
Meanwhile, in my city, in my beautiful Chicago that I call home, let me tell you what’s happening. We’re going to the beach. To the air show. To a fireworks show on the 4th of July. To baseball games and picnics in Humboldt Park. To Puerto Rican fest and pretty much every other festival this city has to offer, and there are many. To concerts and to Millennium Park. To the zoo. We’re having block parties and talking with our neighbors. This summer especially, if you look at my Facebook, we’re living a beautiful life here in Chicago. And don’t get me wrong, we are. We’re taking full advantage of everything this great city has to offer.
But let me tell you what else happens here. Yesterday, my husband didn’t go fishing because at noon, on a Tuesday, there were 20 shots fired less than a mile from us, near the fishing spot at the park. A few weeks ago, my roommate lamented that he’d love to get red Nikes, but he can’t wear them in our neighborhood so what’s the point? It’s not wearing certain football jerseys because of the colors. It’s me asking the question, with hope every time, “Those were fireworks, not gunshots, right?” and being told I’m wrong, to call 911 again. It’s staying home and in the backyard on the actual 4th of July instead of going downtown like we wanted to because we didn’t want to be on the street at night. It’s no one leaves the house alone after dark. It’s crossing the street when coming home late because of the twenty people standing on the corner throwing gang signs. It’s having one of them swing a gun in your direction and walking head down and quickly, trying to get the gate open as fast as possible. It’s calling the police nine times this year because of gunshots and seeing a response twice. It’s learning gang tags and who lives where. It’s not walking north on our street. It’s avoiding the gang member memorial at the end of the block when there are too many people standing there. It’s finding a 9MM shell casing on North Ave. Oh, and it’s paying $1300 a month in rent because our neighborhood is one of the most up-and-coming in the country.
On average, every two minutes someone is shot in Chicago. On average, every eleven hours someone is killed in Chicago. In 2016 alone, 474 people have been killed by gunshots in Chicago. In 2016 alone, 2,589 people have been wounded by gunshots in Chicago. In 2016 alone, 3,063 people have been shot in Chicago. I want you to go back and reread that. Then do it again. Then, for a little perspective, go back to the first paragraph and compare. Ten years mass shootings across the country, 161 killed. One year in Chicago, 474. Ten years mass shootings across the country, 186 injured. One year in Chicago, 2,569 injured. For a little more perspective, 2,996 people were killed on September 11th, 2001. Think about it. More people have been shot in Chicago in a single year than were killed on the deadliest day in US history.
And what do we do? Do we hold vigils or parades? Are all of these murdered ever even recognized by name in our local paper? Do we demand of our politicans answers and strategies? No, we do none of that. We make up names like Chiraq and print it on T-shirts. We profit off of documentaries detailing what a war zone Chicago is. We develop disgusting memes that say, “Chicago, come for the entertainment, stay because you got shot.” We’ve made ourselves a joke, a cartoon. A revoltingly accurate one at that. We don’t do anything. We argue about who’s at fault – is it the BLM movement? Is it the police? Surely it has to be one of those things. We try and argue and pinpoint one specific thing to blame. Because if we have something to blame, we don’t have to really think about it.
But maybe, just maybe, it’s not just one of those things. Maybe it’s the systemic racism and wildly corrupt politics that has held this city captive for years. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the absolute and utter crumbling of the Chicago Public School system, where upper middle class schools have fundraisers and the teachers in the “bad” neighborhoods have to bring their own toilet paper and supplies. Maybe, just maybe, it’s that the opportunities in these bad neighborhoods are few and far between and the kids that are born and raised there don’t know any different than guns and gangs. Maybe, just maybe, when little kids aren’t allowed to ride bikes at night for fear of being shot, they learn that they better be able to shoot. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because it’s pretty clear that no one cares if they live or die.
Likely it’s a combination of all of those things. The BLM and police issues can’t be discounted. They’re part of the rhetoric, problem, and solution, all in their own way. But to point the blame directly at either of them is sticking our heads in the sand.
Because the other thing that can’t be discounted? That can no longer be ignored? Are the 3,063 people that got shot here in less than ten months. The 474 of them whose families will never hug them again. The ones who won’t see their own kids grow up. The ones whose mothers won’t see them graduate high school. Because I think the main thing we have lost sight of here is that all of these gunshots? There are actual people on the other side of them, no matter the decisions they’ve made or the paths they’ve taken. They are PEOPLE, just like the 161 innocents that got the respect and mourning they deserved. We are all humans. We are all living in the land of the free, home of the brave. And yes, we should all matter.
Fifty lives lost. Fifty more injured. Countless family members and friends and loved ones breaking in half, never to see their loved ones again. Hundreds of people who said goodbye, have fun, call me later, see you tomorrow without a thought in their head that was the last time they’d ever hear their person speak. That they’d never hear their laugh again, or see their smile. Hundreds of people who walked into a bar Saturday night, happy, laughing, dancing, looking forward to the night, with no way of knowing that walking through that door would irreversibly change their life, if they were lucky enough to make it out. Plans for Sunday barbecues that turned into horrific planning of funerals.
How is this still happening again? When the massacre at Sandy Hook happened a few years ago, when those poor babies lost their lives at the hands and mind of a madman, as a country we were up in arms. We were demanding answers. How could this happen? We were resolved in our fight against this monster – This cannot happen again. We need changes! We need reform! These lives cannot be taken for granted!!
So what happened, exactly? What were those answers? Because from where I’m sitting, it sure doesn’t look like a hell of a lot has changed. But this time, the aftermath is even worse. Because where we stood together before, we have splintered apart now. We want to blame someone. It’s left vs. right, Republicans vs. Democrats, liberal vs. conservatives and we’re all so desperate to place blame, so frantically pointing fingers that we’ve lost sight of what’s important. That fifty people are dead. Fifty. That around fifty more are fighting for their lives.
Make no mistake – this was a crime of hate. Religion didn’t do this. Gun control didn’t do this. Obama didn’t do this. Hillary didn’t do this. Even Trump didn’t do this, although I’m sure plenty of people assume I would lay the blame at his feet. Hate did this. Hate, and fear, and confusion, and a crazy person did this. And instead of banding together, instead of Congress standing on the steps of Capitol Hill in solidarity, pledging to work together to start implementing some real changes, ones that might actually make a difference, our country’s leaders are getting into fucking TWITTER wars, slinging mud at each other and the other side. Using this tragedy to further their own agenda and boast that their platform is the correct one to be standing on – election year, after all – and it’s revolting, and childish, and downright embarrassing for this country.
Here’s what we should have seen on social media today. Picture after picture of the victims; stories about their lives. Links to the stories of the hundreds of people who waited in line to donate blood. Articles about the doctors and first responders and medical personnel and police who did their jobs under horrific circumstances, likely saving hundreds more lives. Interviews with friends and family, remembering these people, these innocent people who are now dead because of who they were, who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead it was full of memes – fucking MEMES – from both sides of the spectrum, boasting and explaining why they’re correct and why the blame lies on the other party. Articles depicting tweets from ignorant people who still believe that because this happened at a gay bar, the victims got what they deserved. (Do yourself a favor and don’t look that up if you haven’t seen it yet. It about turned my stomach inside out.) There’s no hand holding or unity or pledge to fight this, just a nasty stampede to prove that someone else’s agenda is or isn’t to blame.
I don’t know a lot about guns. I’ve never been a fan, one, because they scare the hell out of me and two, because I’m way too uncoordinated and like vodka too much to responsible enough to have one. But I do believe that law-abiding citizens should have the right to have them. However, I do not understand the reason that any civilian should ever have access to an assault rifle. Actually, I was corrected several times today that the weapon used wasn’t an assault rifle; that the media made that term up. I didn’t know that. To me, a non-gun owner, a weapon that is made and used for the sole purpose of mass destruction and loss of life, is an assault weapon. But terminology aside, what I do know is that 100 people were shot in a very short amount of time Saturday night. I also know that another 42 were shot right here in my city over the weekend, and that wasn’t even a blip on the news because it happens every weekend here. So in just two cities, in the United States of America, which should be the best country in the world, in the span of less than 72 hours, nearly 150 people were shot with guns, and three quarters of those people were shot with the same gun. That’s not right. You can call it whatever you want, but I’m calling it a problem. A very big, complex, and scary problem that NEEDS to be dealt with. For real – what else needs to happen? How many more people have to die before we address this giant elephant in the room, so to speak? How many more lives have to be shattered before we wake up?
We are in a very scary time in this country. A tragedy like this, the worst attack on our soil in fifteen years, should unite us, not splinter us further into more hate and fear. Our leaders need to get the fuck off of Twitter and start talking to each other, because one party – either party – on its own cannot fix this. This is America; home of the free, land of the brave. And we have to be better. From where I’m sitting, we’re just spiraling further and further out of control and it needs to stop. This has to be the catalyst to make. this. stop. Before it happens yet again.
Stay strong, Orlando. My heart and thoughts are with the victims of this senseless violence. May you all rest in peace.
I don’t understand transgender people. There, I said it. I am a straight, white, privileged female, and I cannot understand how someone is born a female but identifies as a male, or vice versa. I can’t wrap my brain around it. Never, in my life, have I questioned myself in that regard. I had my first crush in kindergarten, (Bobby Rossi, thank you very much,) and my first real crush in the fifth grade. (Oh, Danny Andreeff, how you broke my permed hair with an overbite awkward heart.) It was always boys. There wasn’t a question, never a real curiosity. I didn’t have to think about it. I was a girl, girls like boys, that was pretty much it.
But bear with me here. Because there are a lot of things I don’t understand. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
* Being a cat.
* Having a penis.
* Being African-American.
* How gravity really works.
* Being really rich.
* Being truly poor.
* Not having family that loves me.
* Why Kim Kardashian is famous.
* Why my cats are assholes.
* How a man walked on the moon.
* Why children get cancer.
* How ten minutes when I’m in a spin class can feel like eternity, but ten minutes before my alarm goes off is a nanosecond.
* Why McDonald’s diet coke is far superior to any other diet coke.
* That people actually believe Donald Trump could lead a country. (Sorry. Had to throw it in there.)
* How a parent can harm their own child.
* Where the extra socks go to live after they’re put into the washer, never to be seen again.
* How the internet works.
* How the telephone works.
* Really, how anything electronic works.
* Being disabled.
The list could go on and on and on and on. But here’s the thing. All of those things? Happen. They are real. They are true. Some people understand them. Some people make them their life’s work. They EXIST. They are reality. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t make it untrue. It doesn’t make things not happen.
We used to think the world was flat. We used to think women weren’t capable of voting. We used to think it was okay to enslave an entire race based on skin color. We used to believe that we were untouchable, that no one could ever use our own planes and training against us. We used to think only gay people got AIDS. Guess what? We were very, very, wrong.
To denounce something because we don’t understand it – is that not the absolute height of all arrogance? “Well, that doesn’t make sense to me, therefore, it’s impossible. Case closed.” That’s like insisting two plus two equals five, or that Mars isn’t a planet.
So no, I don’t understand being transgender, any more than I understand standing up to pee. And I’m not going to lie, I’m glad for it. I’ve never had to defend being who I am, defend who I love and have to explain why. I can’t imagine having to do so.
But that doesn’t mean that population doesn’t exist. It doesn’t make them less real, or less than anyone else. People are people. And most people? Are good. Even the ones you don’t understand.
And they all deserve to go to the damn bathroom in peace.
In the back of my head, I had a whole post planned about the GOP and the orange man with the small hands for today. But then today was super irritating and then Kasich dropped out and the orange man is likely going to be an actual Presidential candidate and I’m too scared and angry and plus, I just saw a GIF of Cruz’s face morphing into Grandpa Munster and I’m still too disturbed by the whole thing to write anything productive. (Seriously, look it up. It will haunt you.)
I was recently talking to some co-workers about online dating and it got me thinking about how much more difficult dating has to be now than it was back in the days when I was single and there was (thank you baby Jesus) no internet or Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat. I wouldn’t have been a good internet dater. For one, I am an anxious person. If you don’t immediately respond to my text, please know that my brain has decided you have finally remembered some minor transgression from two years ago that in reality, wasn’t a transgression at all but just something I’ve obsessed over for twenty four months like an offhand comment about a dress. For two, I would have been a stalker. There’s no sugar-coating it. Oh, you wanted to stay home and watch your favorite movie, “The Godfather,” did you? I would have been the asshole combing through your social media, trying to find any reference to said movie, looking for any proof that you had ever referenced said movie. I would have been “that girl.” I’m not proud of this, mind you, just telling it like it is. (Also, the fact that the first movie that came to mind was Godfather should tell you that I’m also old and have only been to a movie theater five times in the past ten years.)
Anyhow, I did some Googling – I love that this has become a verb in our lexicon – and came up with a list of questions that might be on dating sites, a getting to know you type quiz, if you will. Which brought me back to my favorite MySpace pastime, (I told you I was old) which was answering a bunch of questions about myself. Let’s have some fun and forget about the fact that a sexist megalomaniac is about to be a formidable nomination for the PRESIDENT, shall we?
Do you have any pets?
Yes. I have two cats. Ramon recently scratched a hole out of my face and Potato peed on my shoulder while I was on the phone. They’re super cute, if you’re a masochist.
Name three things that are physically close to you?
My phone, because it is physically attached to my right hand, a vodka seltzer because I saw a meme that said it has less calories than a banana and I’m nothing if not health conscious, and a solid bronze statue of a monkey holding a bucket that I put a votive candle in.
What’s the weather like right now ?
Well, it’s Chicago and it’s May, so it’s forty degrees and stupid.
Do you drive ? If so, have you crashed?
No. The last couple of years we had a car, I turned into everyone’s great aunt Sylvia whenever it snowed, there was traffic, it was wet, or it was too sunny. It’s better for everyone that I’m no longer in charge of anything on wheels other than my bike. Which, incidentally, I almost got killed on yesterday when an aggressive John Hancock Shuttle Bus driver broke many laws on Wacker Dr.
What time did you wake up this morning ?
Well, I woke up perfectly rested at 7:30. But because I am bad at being an adult, I forced myself back to sleep until my alarm went off at 8:30 so I could rush around like a crazy person and have to run to the bus.
When was the last time you showered ?
8:42 – 8:44 AM.
What was the last movie that you saw ?
I think we rented the Minions a couple of months ago after many drinks. It took us WAY too long to be sure that they weren’t actually speaking English.
What does you last text message say?
“A pop if it’s not too late! My RC is nothing but ice water…” From Tony, in response to me asking if he needed anything from the store. He had left a two liter of RC in the freezer overnight because he is also awesome at adulting.
What is your ringtone ?
I have no idea. My Fitbit vibrates when I get a call and I am incapable of not answering immediately.
Have you ever been to a different country?
I went to Canada once on a choir trip? My friend Steve fell in Niagara Falls and lost his bandanna. (Yes, that’s my main memory of Canada. Other than that they have black squirrels.)
Do you like sushi?
I wouldn’t know. I hate fish cooked and the idea of it raw makes me want to never stop vomiting.
Where do you buy your groceries?
Well, I finally discovered Aldi and was enthralled, but – as things tend to go in my life – it immediately closed for renovations for eight months. So I’m back at good old Cermak produce, where I have to frantically count in Spanish while at the deli counter trying to figure out my number because no one speaks English there. As I can only count to ten and the numbers are usually in the seventies, I spend a lot of time smiling and holding my ticket up.
Have you ever taken any medication to help you fall asleep faster?
Does whiskey count? If so, then yes. If I have a cold, whiskey and Theraflu is my jam.
How many siblings do you have ?
One younger sister who did me the massive favor of being awesome and having a gorgeous child so I don’t have to.
Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?
A tablet. (See? This wouldn’t have even BEEN a question in the nineties.)
How old will you be turning on your next birthday?
38. Apparently my 20 year high school reunion is this year, but that’s impossible because only old people have 20 year high school reunions.
Do you wear contacts or glasses ?
I have both. But I’m lazy and like to tempt fate, so I wear my contacts 24/7 until I get an eye infection.
Do you colour your hair ?
Oh yes. I’m pretty sure the phrase, “Dirty/dishwater blond,” was invented to describe my natural color.
Tell me something you are planning to do today:
Well, I’m going to finish this vodka seltzer and eat an entire head of cauliflower for dinner. Because I like to party.
When was the last time you cried?
A couple of weeks ago when I saw a picture of a German shepard puppy on his first day on the job as a police dog with the caption, “It’s my first day! I hope I do great!” Seriously – he looked so excited and proud! (Side note, I may have been pre-menstrual.) (Side side note, apparently that doesn’t matter because I just teared up again thinking about it. If this were a dating site, I would for sure be gone by now.)
What is your perfect pizza topping?
Doesn’t really matter. Pizza is just a vehicle to get bread into my mouth hole.
Which do you prefer, hamburger or cheeseburger ?
Cheeseburger. Because there’s when there is an option for cheese, you should always take it.
Have you ever had an all-nighter ?
This is where one would assume that I’d have some crazy college story – or not, because I probably come off as pretty fucking boring, but I did have some all-nighters in college, being a professional procrastinator and all – but my most recent all-nighter was at my niece’s second birthday party. Because that’s what one does at a toddler party.
What is your eye colour ?
Green? Hazel? I never really thought about it. That’s something I should know, right?
Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke?
What kind of terrorist can’t tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi? That’s madness.
So yeah, I think we can all safely assume it’s a good thing I stopped dating in 1999, because otherwise it would for sure be just me and these stupid cats until one of them killed me.
I haven’t written a post about working out or being healthy in quite a while, largely because I had a bit of a slip down the rabbit hole during which I remembered how much I like eating potato soup and forgot how much I enjoy being able to button my pants and only having one chin. While there are other things I’d like to write about as there’s a lot going on right now, I’m still too angry at what I’m calling Bathroomgate, too sad about Prince, and too disgusted by Trump and his merry band of idiots to write about them. Plus, if the internet has taught me anything in the past few months, it’s that no matter how many opinons I put up, or memes I use as a comment, or facts I present, or how RIGHT I AM – chances are no one is going to read my diabtribe and decide, “You know what? Everything I believe is wrong. Thanks, Courtney!”
So I’m trying to focus on the positive. When I finally decided it was time to get off of my expanding ass and get back to feeling good, it took awhile for my stomach to catch up with my brain. Sure, I was still going to the gym, but it was halfhearted, and while last year no matter what was happening – rain, snow, sleet, apocalypse – it wasn’t stopping me from getting my workout in, since about November it’s been more, “Well, it’s sort of dark and the Voice is on, so I should probably just go home.” As for food, I had great intentions nearly every day. But despite solid, tried and true evidence in the form of losing over fifty pounds, I kept just trying new ways of eating that would allow me to incorporate spaghetti on a daily basis. (Spoiler alert? There isn’t one.) I decided about a month and a half ago to get back to basics, to what I had the most success with originally, which was an accountability group, a new challenge program, and the shakes that always made me feel great. (Yes, it’s Beachbody. No, I don’t sell it. No, I’m not trying to get you to buy it. Just throwing that out there, because some of the coaches give the company a really bad name. Mine in particular is great, and the programs have worked for me. That’s all.)
Because I am a masochist with no sense of my own capabilities, I picked what appeared to be the most difficult program for me, a boot-camp style military workout. Sure, even at my most fit I couldn’t do own pushup, a pullup bar basically just laughs at me, and I kind of hate to sweat, but the fact that it boasts only 22 minutes a day was a huge seller for me. Like everything else I’ve ever tried, I was immediately sold and convinced this would be the best thing ever. (Previous examples include buying a car because it was blue and in my price range, leggings, and researching triathlons exhaustively despite not having access to a pool and not really being able to swim.) But hey, 22 minutes a day? Anyone can do that, right?!
I started yesterday. Here’s how it went.
Okay! This is going to be tough, and we’re going to work hard, but I promise, you just need to keep up. 22 Minutes, that’s all I’m asking you. Let’s go!
Let’s go, indeed, Tony! I am ready!!!
Wait, remember when you started running, and thirty seconds basically felt like seventeen hours? 22 minutes might not be that easy….
We’re going to start with T-Jacks. Watch along, and Go!!
(After nearly knocking out a tooth) Well, this apparently required a new sports bra. Let’s just close these blinds, shall we?
And, bear crawl!
Well, this is hardly attactive. It’s kind of like a crab walk on all fours while trying to pee. Also, where is that handy modifier person?
That’s not a modifier! He’s just going slower. If I went any slower I’d be standing (squatting) still.
What number are we on, Todd? “Twenty sir!”
Three. Asshole. And that’s only because modifier guy showed up.
Round One is over! Take a break!
Yay! I love breaks!
Break’s over – Round Two!
The fuck? I didn’t even get my water bottle open yet!
******Basically, this happens three times over the course of the next fifteen minutes, during which I learned exactly how much stamina I have lost and remember exactly why I never took a bootcamp class in public. I clamber along, keeping up as best I can, huffing, puffing, and swearing the entire time.***
Day Two! You’ll need a pullup bar, a resistance band, and a sandbag.
I have none of these things. I have three pound dumbbells and a couple of cats I wouldn’t mind tossing around the room.
But yay! I like weights. I like strength training. This will be better.
Let’s start the warmup with jumping jacks.
I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do cardio two days in a row. Step it out, I will, because I still didn’t get that sports bra and if I lose a tooth I’m quitting for real.
Pushups! Let’s start with thirty.
Are you sick????? If you told me, right now, that you would give me ten million dollars in cash if I did ten true pushups, I would still be broke. And even more angry with you.
Core Work! On the floor! If you can’t sit all the way up, only go halfway, but don’t let your shoulders hit the ground.
I got my shoulders OFF the ground, and I would like my reward now, please, in the form of rock hard abs and some size six jeans.
***This one I actually am able to keep up better at, save the pushups, and I actually do okay with it.***
And – DONE!
But there’s three minutes left, so BONUS MOVES!!!
Fuck you, my man. Mean it.
Running-burpee-pushups!!! Let’s go!
I know you’re kidding.
“What number are you on, soldier?” “Ten sir!” “And how many are you going to do?!” “Thirty sir!”
I decided to hang out in downward dog because I can’t even hold a pushup position at this point, but am trying to “keep up.”
Seriously, why does every new workout I attempt end with my face in my own chest, contemplating breast reduction and the possibility of just living in yoga pants and Cubs t-shirts, happily drinking beer and feeding Burger King to my cats?
You better mean it, SIR.
Yay, he meant it! Stretch time is my favorite time!
I don’t need to be told all of the standbys – I know I will get better, it will get easier, etc., I just need to keep at it. I really do know all of these things and when I finally get that ever-elusive fucking pushup done, believe you me, I will be shouting it out loud and from every form of social media at my disposal.
I always said I’d be a terrible military person for a variety of reasons; I can’t go more than five hours without talking to my mom, I panic on a very real level if I can’t get a hold of anyone in a reasonable amount of time – which, with texting, is really no more than 90 seconds, if I’m hungry for more than half an hour I get homicidal, I immediately burst into tears if anyone yells at me, and I don’t like to be uncomfortable or hot for any reason.
I’m just adding, “Cannot do pushups in any capacity,” to this ever growing list.
I salute you, real soldiers. And anyone else that can do a thirty pullups.
In my family, holidays are a big deal. I’ve written about this before, detailing the extraordinary lengths my grandparents and later my parents, sister, aunt, and cousins go to to set a beautiful table filled with delicious food. As we have always lived in an apartment, we haven’t really been in a position to host any holidays, and I always kind of wished we could. (I suspect no one in my family has been too heartbroken about this, as I’m not really known for my organizational or homemaking skills, plus, my cats keep sending them to the hospital.) But while we do still live in an apartment, it’s now a very nice one with space and a pretty kitchen and lots of countertops and places to lock cats and their sharp, angry teeth away and room to sit down.
So I thought this year, Hey, you know what? You should offer to host Easter! You have room! People don’t hate coming over anymore, especially if the cats aren’t allowed in the room. Even you can’t fuck up a ham! (I started drinking wine in the past few months. Thus far, all of my brilliant ideas have come after a couple glasses of Walgreen’s finest Pinot Grigio.) So when my mom brought it up, I tentatively said, “Well, I thought maybe I could do it? Since we have space?” I suspect she was surprised, but gamely said, “Sure! If you want to do it, that’s fine!”
Yay! I’m hosting! Look at me, all grown up style! Wahoo! I shall make baby girl Violet a beautiful Easter basket and we’ll have an Easter egg hunt and she will love it and everyone will talk for years about how fun Easter was that year and she’ll always remember how Auntie Coco hid eggs with candy in them for her.I told Tony and Tony, and was met with just a bit of resistance in the form of, “WHAT? Where the hell are we going to put everyone?” Whatever. They’re pessimists. I got this. I told my sister, who responded with a “Heh. Okay! Have fun!” Again, whatever. I’ll be FINE. I emailed my friend Autumn the next day at work to tell her, and she responded with, “OMG! Can I please come and bring popcorn to see how this goes?!”
I faltered a bit here. Autumn is my champion. She’s my cheerleader. If she was questioning my abilities, I may just have bitten off more than I can chew. Oh well, too late now – I have lists to make and hams to buy! Except, hmm, I have no idea what kind of ham to buy or, now that I think about it, whether my Puerto Rican grocery store even carries ham. Moving on.
T Minus Two Weeks:
Phone calls with my mother. “Okay, you need to plan a menu, and we’ll bring a table and chairs, and you need a tablecloth, and do you have enough plates and cups and silverware?” “Um.well, I thought ham? And yeah, I for sure have enough plates and stuff.” (SHIT! Mental note, go buy all new plates, silverware, and glassware.) Mom, “Okay, I have little dessert plates and pastel napkins. I’ll bring you a roasting pan, table, chairs, plates, napkins, and I’ll bring a vegetable and appetizer. And I’ll send you a recipe for a glaze.” Me, “Sounds good! Did I tell you I’m going to do Easter eggs for baby girl?!” Do you see a theme here? I am awesome at ideas, poor at execution.
T Minus One Week:
Tables, chairs, roasting pan, Easter baskets, dessert plates, and napkins have been delivered. Me, Oh, well, this is great! Realistically, all I need to do is buy the ham – SHIT find out if Cermak has ham – and get the Easter eggs for the fun hunt!
Tony, “Hey, my parents are coming too!” Okay! More the merrier! What a fun party we will host!
Phone call with mother, “Okay, well, you’re going to need more food. I’ll get some fried chicken too. Did you get a tablecloth? Did you get a ham? Did you tell your sister what to bring? You’re going to lock the cats up, right? What about dessert? Do you have brown sugar and whiskey for the glaze?” Me. No, no, yes, I don’t know, no, and I’m drinking the whiskey. “I got rolls?” “Okay. You realize Easter is over a week away, right? Bread won’t keep that long.” Me. “Duh. I put them in the freezer. I’m not stupid.” (This is where I suspect my mother began drinking.)
T Minus Six Days:
My mother in law, Sharon, sends my brother in law with a new kitchen table and chairs that seats five. (Because ours only sat two. Hey, when you move four times in four years, shit breaks.) My sister in law also sent him with sturdy plastic plates, silverware, and servingware. Score! Sharon also comes with two Easter tablecloths, a myriad of Easter napkins and an Easter bunny placemat for Violet. So really, all I need are the Easter eggs for the hunt. Dammit! And the ham.
T Minus Five Days:
“Hey, mom? So I’m at the store and I know you said get the biggest ham, but I just realized I have no point of reference here. What’s a big ham? Three pounds? Twenty two pounds? Should the bone be in?”
Hmm. I wonder if my grandma ever had to carry a ten pound ham home in her purse?
T Minus Four Days:
“Okay, Court, so I’m bringing the chicken, a vegetable, a cheese platter, stuff for mimosas – do you have champagne glasses? – and another appetizer. What else do you need?” Me, “Oh, I’m all good! I think we’re ready! Didn’t you see, I posted the picture of the ham on Facebook??” Still have no glaze, glasses, Easter eggs, candy, or ingredients for potatoes. But that’s nothing!
T Minus Three Days:
Tony, “Can we have corn? So I can eat something?” Sure! Let me just put that on my list that I haven’t written out because it’s all up in my head. “Okay, well you have to work tomorrow, so me and Tony Marzilli will clean and go grocery shopping and we’ll be all ready by the time you get home, and then all we’ll have to do is make the potatoes and set up the tables on Sunday. We’re good!”
T Minus Two Days:
I should probably get on this shopping list. I still need to get Easter eggs for the big hunt! Oh, and glasses. I know! I’ll head to the busiest Target on Earth at State St. at four pm on Good Friday. It’ll probably be empty. Spend the next two hours growling at tourists, aggressively pushing my cart through the Easter aisle, buying two bottles of wine, an Easter bunny because seriously I am not spending fifteen dollars on a basket, twelve fillable Easter eggs, candy, and rationalize that small plastic glasses are totally acceptable for Easter dinner. Go home and drink one of the bottles of wine, because really? There’s nothing left to do.
T Minus One Day:
OMG GET UP GET UP WE HAVE SO MUCH TO DO AND WE NEED TO GO SHOPPING AND FILL THE EGGS AND WASH THE CARPET AND SET OUT THE NAPKINS AND CLEAN EVERYTHING IN THIS HOUSE AND I NEED NEW CANDLES AND WE NEED BEER AND ICE AND THE BACK PORCH IS A MESS AND I FORGOT TO GET MY SISTER’S BIKE FIXED AND I NEVER ASKED JOSE ABOUT PARKING PASSES AND I DON’T THINK WE HAVE ENOUGH GLASSES AND WE NEED A HUNDRED ROLLS OF PAPER TOWELS AND TOILET PAPER BECAUSE CARLY AND BOB WOULD NEVER RUN OUT AND ASK THEIR GUESTS TO USE THEIR NAPKINS, NO MATTER HOW FESTIVE AND HOLIDAY APPROPRIATE THEY ARE.
Two hours, a hundred dollars, and a very grumpy Tony Marzilli later, we’re ready to begin cleaning. Approximately thirty minutes later, Tony Drobick walks in the door after a full eight hour day, quite dismayed to find me scrubbing the vents with a toothbrush on the floor and Tony Marzilli covered in bleach, yelling, “I swear to God, if I see an Easter bunny I’m punching it square in the mouth.” I throw paper towels and windex at him, saying, “Here. You don’t have to do anything. Just dust the entertainment center, wipe off all of the books and everything in it, sweep the floor, and take out the garbage.” He complies – seriously, once I hit this level of crazy there’s no reasoning – muttering, “Have Easter, they said. It will be fun, they said,” whilst rolling his eyes. Finish all the cleaning, and my beaming, “Hey, look, we’re all ready!” exclamation is met with hostile stares.
Okay! All we have to do is set up the tables and stuff the Easter eggs, and then it’s time to cook!
Hmm. This tablecloth is really big for this table. Let me just tape it up with the flourescent green duct tape. That’ll work, right?
WHO THE FUCK SEALS PLASTIC, FILLABLE EASTER EGGS WITH TAPE?! Terrorists, that’s who. The next forty minutes are spent stabbing at them with scissors, swearing at each other and sneaking far too many M & M’s.
Okay, let’s hide these eggs! (Brief yet extraordinarily heated argument questioning the timing of cleaning out the fish tank.)
Another, increasingly hostile argument regarding my festive idea of putting colorful napkins on the bathroom sink for guests to wipe their hands on. Physical struggle ensues as Tony Marzilli wants to fold up actual hand towels instead. Culminates in me yelling, “I DON’T LIKE THE TOWELS THEY DON’T LOOK PRETTY PUT THE FUCKING NAPKINS IN THE GODDAMN EASTER BASKET!!”
I should probably have a glass of wine.
No, Courtney, no one wants to stick their hands in salt cellars, I don’t care if they were your grandma’s. I passive-aggressively leave them on the duct taped covered table anyhow.
OMG START PEELING THE POTATOES THEY’RE GOING TO BE HERE IN AN HOUR.
My family shows up, complete with carrots, crackers and cheese, an antipasto platter, a seven layer salad, champagne glasses, two bottles of champagne and a bottle of wine because they know I get my wine from the drugstore, orange juice, an Easter basket for the baby full of chalk, a gift for my new nephew, and a bag full of toys.
My glaze is not thickening as the Pioneer Woman had promised.
Violet is pointedly disinterested in her Easter egg hunt and is much more interested in the fish.
My oven grates are upside down, apparently.
An hour later, my in laws show up with Tony straight from work, also carrying another chair, a leaf for the table, two pies, and a gift for Violet.
You know what? We had a great time. I didn’t drop the ham, the cats didn’t escape and attack anyone, the baby had way too much candy and enjoyed bossing the boys around, and everyone liked my potatoes. My mom took a picture of my napkins in the bathroom to send to my aunt Sheila, who is basically Martha Stewart, so it was pretty much the highest of praise. My cousin showed up around dessert, and we finished the night watching old home movies – during which I was mercilessly mocked, I might add – happy for a great end to a fun day. Everyone ate, we laughed, we drank, we enjoyed our company and I looked around and felt very grateful for this family of mine.
Everyone praised me for doing a great job hosting my first holiday. This is my thank you to all of the people that basically did it for me.