Category Archives: Chicago

Politically Correct and Stupid

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

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

“Food Insecure.”

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

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

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

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

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

Insecurity.  A million strong and growing.

Insecurity. A million strong and growing.

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

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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?

 

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 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.

The Helmet Diaries – A How-To of Riding A Bike in Chicago for the Criminally Uncoordinated

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It’s true.  Somehow,  against all rhyme,  reason,  and gravity,  yours truly has been commuting via bicycle for nearly six weeks. To date,  I haven’t fallen, (other than that one time while standing still in my driveway,) gotten flipped off,  (other than that one cabbie but he was a dick anyway,) hit a pedestrian, (close call with a stupid girl in high heels holding an umbrella,  ipod, and cell phone in the middle of the street but she was a dick too,) or caused an accident,  (that I know of.) SUCCESS!!

If you live in Chicago,  you are likely firmly in one camp; pro-bike or anti – bike. As someone who started strong on one side and migrated to the other,  I find myself in the unenviable position of playing devil’s advocate on both sides of an argument.   Which,  incidentally, is the fastest way to lose credibility. I always end up apologizing for the way I ride a bike AND drive a car and kind of lose momentum.

So,  Chicago, I’ve come up with a list of rules for all of us that should make everyone’s commute safer and less anxiety-ridden in the hopes we can all make it to work safely in one piece and not shouting obscenities at each other.  Let me know what you think.

For The Bikers

*Follow the rules of the road. I’m not saying you can’t ever coast through a stop sign at an empty intersection,  but stop at red lights.  Look both ways.
*Yelling “bike lane,  mother fucker!” at unsuspecting motorists garners you no favorable points,  nor does it help your cause.
*If you are a hipster on a skinny bike wearing an ironic t-shirt, understand you are already a target.  Listening to your ipod whilst cutting off traffic makes you more of one.
*If you are a seasoned bicyclist and notice a chubby girl struggling up a hill,  there is no need to ring your little bell and yell in your best booming outside voice,  “LEFT LEFT LEFT!!” as you literally zoom by.  She is moving at the literal pace of a turtle and loud noises shall only serve to frighten and startle her into turning the handlebars left.  A simple “on your left”  at a reasonable decibel will suffice.  (This one may or may not be personal.)
*Right or wrong,  a bus is always more powerful than your bicycle,  regardless of how much of a dick the driver is.  You can be as self – righteous and pissed off as you want,  but it is still going to hurt when you are plastered to the windshield of the number 66.

For The Drivers

I do understand. You hate the bicyclists.  They get in your way,  block the street,  ignore the signs,  and are usually going a lot faster than you are.  That being said, here’s a few tips from those of us law – abiding riders.
*Please,  please,  for the love of baby Jesus and everything holy,  glance in your rear view mirror before opening your door on a busy street.  Just a glance. No biggie. If there is someone careening towards you close enough you can see the whites of their terrified eyes,  just hold off a sec,  wouldja?
*Same goes for pulling into traffic.  A quick look over your shoulder will tell you if you are going to completely ruin someone’s day by forcing them to split second decide whether it will hurt less to hit your car, swerve into oncoming  traffic, or flip over their handlebars when they grab the brakes. My heart is already pounding from struggling up that fucking hill,  it can’t handle surprises.
*Honking your horn at an unsuspecting bicyclist apropos of nothing as you pull up right next them is simply being a jackass.
*Same goes with cat calling out your window.  Look,  I’ve seen what I look like wearing my bike helmet. I realize you are mocking me and it simply makes me want to “accidentally” scrape against your car.
*Those aforementioned bike lanes? Actually are there for the bike riders and not for you to park for a quick thirty minutes. Know that by blocking it,  you are forcing an unsuspecting rider directly into traffic where one of your fellow drivers is waiting for a reasonable excuse to hit them.

For The Pedestrians
*Much in the same way the bus is always more powerful than a bicycle,  a moving bicycle will always do more damage to you than your flip flops will do to it.  Fair or not,  if a rider is heading right towards you,  simply step aside. Sometimes,  the rider is me and may have lost control.
*Next time you are out walking with your ear buds in while talking  on the phone and sipping your latte,  pay attention to how much you walk like a drunk trying to walk a straight line.  I bet you think you walk straight.  You don’t. I promise.
*If you are crossing the street against the light whilst staring directly into space,  I might say I’m sorry after I crash into you,  but I won’t mean it.
*There is a reason every mother,  teacher,  and babysitter always drilled “Look both ways before crossing the street,” in your head.  It’s because of bicycles. Look right then left then right. I promise,  you won’t be able to miss me heading towards you.  My helmet is purple.

All of that being said,  the bike riders have the most responsibility to be super aware of their surroundings. My hope is that these rules,  written by a law – abiding,  if somewhat clumsy,  bike rider,  will give some perspective.

Can’t we all just get along?

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

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

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

*Bike Riding in Chicago for Dummies: The Helmet Diaries

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

*Why We Suck at the 4th of July

*The Summer Jungle Bugs of the Ukrainian Village

*Why Sometimes My Family Simply Kicks Ass

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

*Why I Am Awesome at the Neighborhood Watch.

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

*Beach Bag Packing for the Insane

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

Oh, Fork You

Occasionally, I like to take a break from regular blogging and do some product reviews.  And by product reviews, I mean eviscerate the inventors of anything in the Skymall Magazine and mock those who buy their products mercilessly.  There is simply so much shit out there that we just don’t need, and we keep coming up with more and more of it.  Back stretchers and garbage “systems” and blankets that are actually backwards robes and stupid shoes for animals; the list goes on and on.  So when I came across an article last week for the HAPIfork, I simply couldn’t stop myself from sharing it with all of you.

What is the HAPIfork, you ask?  I’ll tell you.  The HAPIfork is a vibrating fork designed to tell you when you’re eating too fast.  It is apparently going to revolutionalize the way we eat, because eating too fast is the root cause of pretty much everything from acid reflux to obesity and beyond.  Need me to back up, you say?  Did you get stuck at the phrase VIBRATING FORK, like I did?  You read it right.  The HAPIfork, according to their website, “Records how long your meal lasts, records how much time elapses between each bite of food, records how many mouthfuls of food you consume, vibrates with flashing lights when you are eating too fast, and includes a USB port and is Bluetooth capable,” so you can upload your data and track your progress, you food scarfing monster.

So you’re pretty much using the vibrating, light-up version of a shock collar to feed yourself.  If you are eating too fast, HAPIfork tells you.  If you eat too fast a couple days in a row, HAPIfork tracks your lack of progress via an app you can upload to your smartphone.  If you eat at what HAPIfork considers a normal pace, HAPIfork acts like a regular fork instead of acting like a sex toy while you’re trying to eat dinner.  How does the journal read, I wonder?  Day One: You ate like a cow.  Stop it.  Day Two:  Slightly less like a cow, but still way too fast.  Day Three: Can’t. Stop. The Buzzing.  Day Four: Congratulations!  You ate like a “normal” person!  Maybe next week we’ll give you one of those potties that lights up when you make your pee-pee in it!

The science behind HAPIfork makes sense.  If you eat slowly, it gives your brain time to realize that you’re getting full.  I get that.  So does anyone else who has ever attended a Weight Watchers meeting or, I don’t know, taken high school biology.  But personally – and I suspect I’m not alone – I didn’t get overweight because I didn’t understand that I was getting full.  I got overweight because I really fucking like to eat.  Being full has nothing to do with it.  It has a lot more to do with the fact that, ahem, there’s-still-more-macaroni-and-cheese-and-I-know-it’s-there-and-what-if-it’s-the-last-time-I-ever-get-to-eat-macaroni-and-cheese-I’ll-be-so-fucking-mad-if-I-die-tomorrow-and-there’s-half-a-pan-of-it-left-and-my-last-thought-is-DAMMIT-I-should-have-eaten-that.

Also, I’m not a big fan of the shame-based tactic to try and lose weight.  On one hand, I guess it could work; after all, how do you explain that you have so little self-control that you essentially need a fork with training wheels?  But on the other, if I want to be ashamed of the baked potato soup-a-palooza that was this winter, I will simply go to the beach in my swimskort that I like to pretend hides my thighs and watch the skinny bitches that have the confidence to run in a bathing suit play beach volleyball.  (Seriously?  How does that work?  I suck at volleyball fully clothed.  In a bathing suit, especially my swimskort which can be slightly restricting once wet, I would probably knock myself unconscious when my boobs hit me in the face and end up face down in the sand and on YouTube in one of those fail blog videos.)  (Which is one of my biggest nightmares, by the way, right after getting caught on the jumbotron at a baseball game right as I take a bite of hot dog.)

This might sound self-depreciating, and it is.  In reality, I rock that swimskort and have a blast at the beach several times a year. It doesn’t hurt that we bring a bottle of rum with us, but that’s besides the point.  The point is that I’m able to have fun despite the size of my ass.  I play catch and go underwater and get sand in unmentionable places and laugh all day with my husband and friends.  And you know what?  I’ve yet to notice anyone making fun of me.  Because they’re too busy laughing and playing catch and enjoying the day with their own family and friends.  The last thing I need is to pull out a vibrating, glowing fork that records and broadcasts my eating habits to the general public.

I so don’t want an app for that.

My utensils?  Don't need a USB port.

My utensils? Don’t need a USB port.

Lessons Learned

I’m not sure about all of you, but this whole rainy/wet/dreary/no sunshine all week weather we’re having is kind of making me want to take a hostage and make them fly me to anywhere that’s dry and bright.  As I’m a fan of self-diagnosing disorders – every time I hurt, I’m pretty sure I have fibromyalgia – I’ve decided I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and require sunshine at least every 72 hours.  Otherwise, normal, everyday irritations take on giant proportions.  You know that feeling?  You’re slightly irritated, then something else minor happens like your pen running out of ink and all of a sudden you’re like the fucking Hulk, wanting to smash everything in sight.

That being said, I decided a Friday Blast Off of things that made me crazy this week would probably be a little self serving and more than likely be an incoherent, profanity filled rant.  Instead, I put together a small list of things I’ve learned this week.  They’re nothing life-changing, but hopefully my experience will help to serve you well in the future.

  • Don’t go to Sephora in a hoodie and jeans.  The salespeople will either think you’re trying to rob the place or descend on you like vultures, assuming you are there for a life-changing makeover and your desperate ass will be grateful for their helpful tips.  (Yes, I know I could use an eyebrow wax, thank you, Skyie.  Is that seriously your name??  How do you say it?)
  • Rain gear is never where you need it.  I have boots, I have a raincoat, and I have an umbrella.  (Well, I had a raincoat.  My stupid Potato cat decided to take out his frustration with me buying cheap cat food by pissing on it, so now I’m down one piece of rain gear.)  But Tuesday, I did have a raincoat.  However, all of these things were snug and dry in my office, while I walked through a torrential downpour Wednesday morning in gym shoes and a cotton cardigan because it was the only thing I had with a hood.  Lesson?  Keep two sets of rain gear.  One at work, one at home.  When they both end up in the same place, BRING ONE SET HOME.
  • The floors at any CTA facility will be permanently wet and slippery as soon as the first raindrop falls.  Proceed with caution.  Very few things incite a panic attack than that split second when you slip atop the stairs, an image of your smiling face on the front page of the newspaper under the headline, “CLUMSY GIRL WIPES OUT COMMUTERS DURING FALL DOWN STAIRS,” flashing before your eyes.
  • Speaking of the CTA, you’d be wise to remember that the bus drivers don’t care that you’re wet and trying to stay dry in the shelter.  They will cruise through that puddle, splashing you head to toe with dirty, filthy water before they stop the bus.  That’s why the busses smell so bad.  Another note?  The bus floors are also slippery.  Grab hold of something immediately upon entering said bus if you’d like to keep your pants clean.
  • Last but not least, if you make the copycat recipe of Red Lobster’s Cheddar Biscuits, keep in mind two things.  1)  There’s a reason people go to Red Lobster.  It’s the fucking biscuits.  They’re amazing.  If you are the type of person with little self control, having twelve of them within grabbin’ distance is probably a bad idea.  2) They have a lot of garlic.  Your co-workers probably don’t want you to eat them for breakfast.

Happy Friday!!  Everyone have a great weekend!!!

Rain, rain, go away, I hate you!

Rain, rain, go away, I hate you!

 

How We Survived Childhood in the 80s

Like approximately 600,000 or so people have this week, I recently came across the hilarious “Reasons My Son is Crying” on Tumblr.  If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a picture blog written by the dad of a 21-month old, who, like every other 21-month old I’ve ever known, cries for no particular reason.  His dad, instead of sticking his head (or the baby) in the oven, documents all of the silly reasons that his son is crying.  They include such gems as “The milk isn’t juice,” and “I wouldn’t let him drown in this pond.”  Great stuff, and I imagine if you’re a parent who lives with a toddler, you’ll find it even funnier.  I cracked up looking through it, and then made the mistake of scrolling through some of the comments.  I was astounded to see comments stating this man was a horrible father, that he was humiliating his poor child, and a comment from one woman – whom I have to assume is one of those crazy people that tries to REASON with her toddler – in which she diagnosed the child with a sinus infection who needed his Eustachean tubes removed.  What in the fuck?

It got me thinking about that whole helicopter parent mentality – parents who would like to put their child in a bubble, shielding them from any and all disappointment, pain, and fear until they’re like 21.  At which point they will not have the capability to understand that not everyone is like their mommy; sometimes really bad shit happens and it hurts like hell.  But as I don’t have the experience or fortitude to discuss parenting strategies, I instead started thinking of the things we did as kids that our parents would probably be arrested for should they try them in the no-dodgeball playing, everyone-gets-a-trophy present that we live in.  Here’s a few things we all survived.

The Backyard

My next door neighbors have little kids.  They have a perfectly even yard, an entirely plastic playset, complete with plastic bats and balls, plastic cup holders for their water bottles, a shaded area for those hot days, and perfectly even steps leading up to the (plastic) slide, which they climb up in their little plastic Crocs so their feet don’t get burned.  You know what was in my backyard?  A tire swing made out of an actual tire and rope,  a trampoline, and a slip and slide set up on a slope which was secured at the end with bricks because my mom lost the (metal) stakes that went with it.  And a hose.   We used to make a game of pushing someone as hard as we could on the tire swing to bounce them off of the tree.  And then we would run around, playing running bases and kick the can in our bare feet. We would sit on the edge of the trampoline, with our legs dangling between the (metal) springs, waiting our turn to jump, and sometimes, someone would fall off.  Occasionally, if you were unlucky enough to be waiting while I was jumping, you got knocked off while I attempted a backflip and then overcorrected when I had a panic attack because HELLO? Even then I knew I wasn’t destined to be a gymnast.  Then, when someone inevitably ended up bleeding, we washed down their skinned knee or toe or face with the hose and right after took a big drink from it.  And you know what?  We didn’t die.  And it was fucking AWESOME.

Roller Skates

My next-door neighbors had a circular driveway, and my friend Becca and I used to fancy ourselves famous roller skaters, careening around the driveway, coordinating routines that included jumps and spins.  The thing is – roller skates?  Make no sense.  They especially didn’t make sense for me. Let’s strap four wheels to this obviously uncoordinated child’s feet and put a rubber stopper on the FRONT of the shoe, so every time she tries to stop, it will be immediate and painful.  As we clearly had no helmets or wrist guards or shin guards or safety suits that kids today have, learning to stop properly on cement was imperative to our being discovered as world-class skaters.  Being a spaz, I never quite grasped it.  I could gain speed like no one’s business, I could even pull off a little jump and twirl but come to the end of my routine?  I was on the ground, picking cement out of my palms, crushed in my disappointment of ruining yet another stellar performance.  You know what I did?  I didn’t stop roller skating.  I didn’t learn to use those stupid rubber stoppers.   I knew my limitations, and stopping gracefully wasn’t happening, no matter how hard I tried.  Instead, I used my imagination, and choreographed the end of MY routine to end in the grass.  Sure, sometimes I tripped over the sprinkler head or a rock, and yeah, there were those few times I hit the tree in the middle of the yard.  But I didn’t stop roller skating.  And while I’d love to chalk this up to my grim determination, it was more likely because we weren’t allowed to play inside when it was nice out and I’d be damned if I was going to let her have all the fun just because I couldn’t figure out shoes with wheels.

The Playground

Have you seen a playground recently?  It’s all soft mulch and rounded edges and plastic that doesn’t get hot and the only possible way to hurt yourself would be to climb to the highest point and try to bungee jump off of it, headfirst, without using any calculations.  Or a bungee cord.  Do you guys remember the park when we were kids?  The park at the end of our block – which we got to go to without parental supervision – was possibly the most dangerous place in the world for an eight-year old outside of a war-torn country.  First of all, the entire thing was rocks.  Not mulch, not grass, but rocks.  Small rocks, to be sure, but still – ROCKS.  Except for the spot where you could run around the merry go round, which was cement.  I still have a scar on my leg from one time when I was pushing someone on it and trying to run with it and fell down, but being the spaz I was, didn’t have the the wherewithal to LET GO of the bar and instead held on for dear life as the wheel of death dragged me around and around and around on the concrete, which just so happened to have broken glass on it.  That?  Hurt.  But the merry go round had nothing on the most dangerous piece of equipment at the park, which was clearly the slide.  Those of you younger folks whose asses have only slid down plastic slides can’t possibly understand the pain of a slide in the eighties.   Because you have never had the pleasure of having your bare legs stuck to a white hot piece of metal that’s been sitting in the sun all summer after you made the foolish attempt to go down it in shorts.  The slide at our park didn’t even have stairs; it had metal chain ladders on either side and a single bar on the back that the more coordinated children in the group could climb up from.  And you know what we used to do?  Play King of the Hill.  Which, for those of you nineties kids, basically means one person stands at the top of the slide on the platform, and attempts to KNOCK EVERYONE INTO THE ROCKS BELOW as they try to climb up from every direction.  Super fun game.  Amazingly enough – I don’t even recall an emergency room visit.  “Oh, you’re fine.  Let’s spray the shit out of those bleeding hands with Bactine.  Rinse it off with the hose first, you’ll be fine tomorrow.”  And guess what?  We were.

Gym Class

Admittedly, I haven’t been to a grade school gym class recently, but I’m going to go ahead and guess that’s it’s a pretty different picture than last time I was involved in one.  First of all, I know there’s no dodgeball anymore.  Which is ludicrous.   If the arguments were simply safety related, that makes sense.  However, it seems to me that people are more concerned with their kids’ feelings being hurt, “Oh, poor Connor isn’t that athletic, it isn’t fair to him!  The other kids pick him last and gang up to get him out first!”  Or course they do!  You always go for the weakest link!  I know, I was one!  You know what happens?  One of two things: you either learn to duck, which will serve you well later in life, or you get the fucking wind knocked out of you.  And believe me, if you get the wind knocked out of you, you learn to duck faster next time.  You could learn a lot from gym class.  When I was in fourth grade, we were playing hockey with these giant plastic sticks and I got hit so hard in the face that the boy that hit me started to cry.  You know what I learned?  Playing hockey with boys hurts, there’s a reason high sticking is a penalty, and if you don’t cry after getting hit in the face with a hockey stick, fourth graders think you’re cool.  One time, my sister ran smack into the wall during a heated game of Army/Navy and broke her finger.  (Apparently, she learned how to stop from her big sister.)  And despite the fact that her finger was the size of a sausage, the gym teacher told her it wasn’t broken and she went back to her classroom.  Were my parents pissed?  Probably.  Did they sue, as I have to imagine a lot of parents today would?  Not so much.  They probably told her to work on stopping BEFORE she ran into the wall with her hands out and put a splint on her finger.

I’m not against implementing some safety precautions that make sense.  Mulch instead of rocks?  Yes.  Games where everyone wins just so no one gets their feelings hurt?  No.  It’s been said before and I’ll say it again – if kids are given a trophy every time they try something, they are going to be super disappointed when they grow up and have to learn as adults that a lot of the time, your best isn’t good enough.  Life’s hard and it’s messy and it hurts and sometimes you fall down and sometimes you get laughed at. There’s always going to be a bully or a mean girl or a kid with a hockey stick.  Things will break and you’ll get sick and you’re not always going to win.  But the sooner you know this, the more you appreciate your victories.

Believe me.  I had glasses, braces, AND a perm.  If I survived middle school, so will everyone.

We didn't get any signs.  You live, you learn.

We didn’t get any signs. You live, you learn.

Yahoo’s Top Searches: Time To Reevaluate Again

I did a post a while back about the top searches on Yahoo! and how maybe, just a little, this is why other countries hate us.  Very rarely are they related to politics or war or hunger or poverty or – well, the list goes on and on, but safe to say they’re generally a little too Kardashian-based to warrant actual news or current events.  That’s not to say they’re not interesting search terms, but seeing what hundreds of thousands of people apparently search on a daily basis never fails to intrigue me.  Today’s was one of the more abstract I’d seen in quite a while, so I decided to share.

Here’s a few of the top searches from today.

Nude Beach Shut Down

First of all, is anyone else a little concerned that the nation’s top nude beach is in Mazomanie, WISCONSIN???  Don’t get me wrong, I love Wisconsin.  I love my family there, I love camping, I love Summerfest, I love fishing.  But nude beaching it?  In Wisconsin?  Have I missed something?  Is a Midwest state where it’s only warm enough to even be on a beach like seven times a year really the go-to spot for nudists?  If that’s not curious enough – the nude beach has apparently only been shut down on weekdays, as that’s when the majority of “shenanigans,” ensue.  Apparently, 83 of the 92 citations issued in the past four years have been on weekdays.  On one hand, I’m thinking maybe I’ve been in Chicago too long, as 92 citations in four years seems extremely low, considering we have nearly as many murders every two months here.  On the other, I have to ask – if you are arrested on a nude beach in Mazomanie, Wisconsin, on a Tuesday afternoon, where exactly is your rock bottom?  That has to be it, amirite??

Vonn Waits in Car

Apparently Lindsey Vonn showed up with her “boyfriend” Tiger Woods at his daughter’s baseball game, but instead of walking in the arm of her new man proudly, she stayed in the car for an hour to avoid seeing Tiger’s ex-wife.  Is it just me, or is this guy the dumbest person, like, ever?  Don’t you have publicity people?  And do they not realize that hiding your girlfriend in the car is going to garner more attention that showing up unobtrusively and watching the game?  I get not being ready to have them both in the same place, but having her sit in the car like a dog or naughty child seems relatively counterproductive to your image. Also, honey?  Just start running now.  You’re pretty, you’re smart, you’re talented – you do not need to be this jackhole’s arm candy.   If it was you who wanted to wait in the car – you are not ready for the scrutiny your relationship is going to garner.  If it was his idea?  I repeat, he’s a jackhole.  Start running.  Nothing good is coming from this.

R. Kelly Mansion Loss

The rapper’s home apparently was sold recently, in foreclosure, for a reported $4 million dollars less than it was worth.  I’m going to skip over the fact that someone who had enough money to take out a $4 million mortgage and who “Isn’t having money problems,” according to his financial advisor, isn’t paying his bills because it makes me want to eat my own head.  My question is more – why is this news?  The man has a video of himself peeing on adolescents.  (Yes, yes, he was acquitted.  So was O.J.)  He’s clearly not the brightest crayon in the box.  Are we really surprised that he didn’t balance his books properly or invest his money wisely?

Cheerleader Stretcher

This has been on the list all day long and I was finally curious enough to look at it.  An Atlanta Hawks cheerleader fell on her head in the middle of a performance last night and had to be carted off the court on a stretcher.  Um, hello?  Is this really that interesting?  I fall down ALL THE TIME.  Seriously, someone should follow me around with a camera; it’d be like YouTube gold.  Not long ago, I slipped on some ice and simultaneously hit my head on a glass door – it was a far more entertaining fall than this one was.  That being said, if I am ever to garner unwanted publicity, I sincerely hope that the most interesting thing someone says about me is better than what was said about Kristen here, which was “She’s obsessed with oatmeal creme pies.”  Fucking seriously?  That’s the only defining characteristic you can come up with?  She likes COOKIES???  I hope she gets out of the hospital and immediately punches/disowns the person that gave that information to the reporter.

So there we have it, folks.  The most interesting things that happened today involved a cheerleader falling, a rapper losing a house, a philanderer continuing to be a dick, and a nude beach in Wisconsin.  Way to go, internet!!!

dude wtf