Category Archives: family and friends

Is Marriage for You? An Easy Test.

There has been a lot of buzz the past few days about Seth Adam Smith’s recent blog post entitled “Marriage Isn’t For You.”  Take a look at the article if you aren’t one of the 20,000 people that already have.  From the thousands and thousands of Facebook shares with a “Hell yeah!” comment posted with the link, I think I’m somewhat in the minority in that I just don’t agree with his message at all.   Even a little bit.  The quote, “You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy,” just strikes me as all sorts of wrong.  Everything I was brought up with taught me that marriage is a partnership that you want to be a part of because you make each other happy, not to blindly serve.  And while the idea of being married to someone who did whatever I said just to keep me happy has some bright spots – as in, I would totally never, ever wash any silverware or take out the garbage again – the reality is I would have a lot of trouble respecting someone who didn’t value their own happiness or opinion.

However, every marriage is different and what works for some doesn’t work for others.  What some women couldn’t deal with, others relish.  What some women love, others don’t understand.  Some men have to be protectors, some women find that overbearing.  For every woman who wants a sensitive man, there’s another one that cringes when her date bursts into tears at the movies.  To me, this article sounds like a justification, an attempt at explaining, “Well, no, I’m not happy, but I’m not supposed to be as long as she is.”  But I am not part of Seth’s marriage, so if it works for him and his wife, I’ll try not to judge too much.

That being said, I feel like if I weren’t married yet, this would confuse the fuck out of me.  Like, if we’re both only trying to make each other happy, how does anything get done?  It would be a constant loop of “Whatever you want,” “No, whatever YOU want,” until you’re both ready to scream, “I don’t care just pick a goddamn restaurant before we both starve to death!”  I met my husband at the tender age of 20, when I was still too young and stupid to have any concept of what marriage actually entailed and he was still naïve enough to think that I was actually going to keep looking like that.  We’ve been married for over nine years and haven’t killed each other or our pets and still laugh a lot, so I think we’re doing okay, and this makes us pretty lucky.  But for those of you still wondering if you’re with the right person, here’s a test.  Do all of the below things, together.  If you’re both still standing and aren’t actively plotting each other’s demise, you’re ready to get married.

 

Move a Couch Up Three Flights of Stairs.  Bonus Points for Narrow Stairways.

Here’s the thing.  There are people that can move shit and there are people that cannot.  You and your partner?  Will be one and the other.  One of you is a planner, plotter, and thinker.  That’s me.  “Okay.  Well, if we tilt it at this angle, then lift that side over the railing, and then completely flip it over, it will go smoothly.”  The other is spontaneous.  His thought process is this: “Pick up couch.  Move up stairs.  Fucking done.”  Railings, ripped fabric, the person trapped against the wall trying to help – these things are of no consequence or importance to him.  If you could harness your thoughts and talents together, the couch moving would probably go smoothly, because you’re both a little bit right and a little bit wrong at the same time.  However – and this is always, always true – there is no giving in to the possibility that the other person is right once you start moving the couch.  Being right somehow morphs into being more important than actually getting the couch up the stairs, and you would be more willing to cut it in half and throw it away than admit your way won’t work.

Get the Stomach Flu at the Same Time.  With One Bathroom.

If you can survive this, you can survive anything.  Nothing strips your pretenses and dignity like lying on the floor outside the bathroom, spouting lies such as, “I brought you a 7-UP!” while trying not to vomit on the cat.

Pack for a Trip.

Travelling brings out the worst in a lot of people.  Packing brings out the worst in most.  One half of a couple are economical packers, trying to fit as much as possible in a small carryon suitcase so as not to pay the baggage fee, optimistically thinking they will only need one pair of shoes and a couple of mix and match outfits.   They think they are a lot more organized than they actually are.  The other will need to be prepared for any possible situation, including but not limited to meeting the Pope, taming a tiger, being interviewed on television, playing on a organized sports team, scuba-diving, extreme heat, extreme cold, tsunami, blizzard, tropical storm, and mountain climbing.  You will each secretly mutter about what an idiot your partner is.  You will both forget to bring more than one pair of socks and stare at each other, uncomprehending, when one of you dresses in black tie for dinner and the other is wearing their bathing suit.

Get Lost.  Literally.

Tread carefully on this one, friends.  Technology has had many evolutions in the last fourteen years and none of them have improved our sense of direction, so we’ve gotten lost a lot of different ways.  Getting lost while following a map is actually much easier and less rage-inducing than getting lost while using turn-by-turn navigation on your smart phone, and here’s why.  When you get lost following a map, you don’t have a lot of choices.  You pretty much have to pull over and ask for directions.  When you get lost following the turn-by-turn directions, someone is always and clearly at fault because obviously, the technology knows more than either of you.  Worse, the navigation system makes everyone involved feel as though it will be simple to backtrack and easily find your destination.  It gives you a false sense of security.  Here’s a tip – the navigation system is a dick.  The navigation system will make you yell such nonsense as “Turn left 300 yards ago!  Aren’t you listening?  Idiot!”  while the driver aggressively pulls a U-turn in front of a semi-truck out of defiance; daring the navigator to criticize his driving.  At this point, the driver already has seventeen responses at the ready, just waiting for the slightest provocation.  He is a pot waiting to boil over, a powder keg ready to explode so that when the navigator says brightly, “Hey, there it is!” the driver can’t help but respond with something along the lines of, “Oh, you fucking think so, don’t you?  Is that it?! IS IT?!?!?!?!  Are you sure you don’t need me to keep driving right into this fucking lake like you wanted me to before, fucking Magellan???”

I think it’s a pretty fair test.  If you can do all of these things without taking a hostage or hitting your partner with a shoe, you’re totally ready for marriage.

It's funny because it's true.

It’s funny because it’s true.

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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?

 

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.

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

image

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…..

Dirty Little Secrets

Last week, my lovely fellow blogger Sasha Cameron was kind enough to give me a a nomination for a Very Inspiring Blogger award.  Which, if I’m being honest, made me super happy because 1) I haven’t won an award since Kirk Cameron was still popular for being cool and not a self-righteous douchecanoe, and 2) I’ve never met Sasha.  It’s all sorts of cool to me that people I don’t even know read some of my stories.  (I get a ton of readers from New Zealand.  I cannot even fathom how they came to find me, but if any of you New Zealand folks would like to enlighten me, it’d be greatly appreciated.)

Anyhow, the rules of the contest are extremely simple – link back to the person that nominated, then link to some of your own favorite bloggers and ask them to state seven things about themselves that people don’t know.  I’m going to do it a little differently – not because I’m oh-so-unconventional but because I’m kind of lazy and can be sort of a dick sometimes.  Remember those MySpace questionnaires before Facebook took over the whole universe?  I loved reading those.  I love getting a little surpise glimpse into someone’s life, so I’m going to take it back 2003 style and ask you to return the favor that Sasha so greatly bestowed upon me.  Tell me about yourself!

I’ll start.

1)  I am addicted to stupid socks with designs on them.

Never mind that they look patently ridiculous with everything I own.  I. cannot. stop.  Flourescent green and pink stripes?  Hell yes.  Polka dots?  The more the better.  Socks with cats on them?  Oh yes.  Santa Clauses, Leprechauns, Easter Bunnies, Valentine’s Day hearts?  Bring it ON.

2.)  I hate silverware.

Not using it, mind you.  I’m not some sort of heathen that can’t properly use a fork.  Granted, sit me down at one of those fancy dinners which requires several forks and I’m likely to embarass you, but that’s more because I’m out of practice than lack of knowledge.  What I hate?  Is washing silverware.  I don’t have a dishwasher, and while people I know recoil in horror when I tell them this, as though I’ve told them that I prefer to wash the dishes in my bathtub while I’m in it, it doesn’t bother me all that much.  I haven’t had one since I moved out of my parents’ house, so I guess I’m used to it.  But once I’m done with all of the pots and pans and plates and cups, believe you me, if you are anywhere in my vicinity I will do everything in my power to try and trick you into finishing the silverware.  Some people have mentioned that perhaps I should just start with the cutlery, but that’s just plain wrong.

3.)  I don’t like gum.

It took me about 30 years to figure it out, but I do not enjoy gum.  It serves no purpose to me; why in the world would anyone want to be actively chewing all the time?  I do everything I can to NOT chew in front of people – likely a holdover from my junior high days when it was kindly pointed out that I chewed like a horse due to my giant overbite – there is no way I want to do it constantly.  However, I have some trouble turning down gum, for some reason.  People are surprised when you don’t want a piece of gum.  I always feel like I have to explain myself, which makes me super endearing to the unsuspecting person that was simply being polite by offering a stick.

4.)  What most people find cheesy, I find absolutely fucking adorable.

It’s not really any secret that I’m kind of a sap.  I like my books romantic, my movies to have a happy ending, my music to make me smile despite rendering everyone around me gobsmacked with horror that they’re listening to Justin Bieber, and my TV shows funny.  A special aside to this?  Commercials.  You know the Folgers commercial with the little girl and the soldier that everyone else is creeped out by and tired of?  Still love it.  Completely unrealistic Budweiser Clydesdale commercial where the beautiful,gorgeous horsey remembers the owner that raised him?  Forget it.  I will shush you throughout it so I can enjoy the special moment.

5.)  There’s four songs that will make me cry, every single time.

Baby Girl by Sugarland, The Star Spangled Banner – this one can quickly turn into the ugly cry if I happen to be at a sporting event where it’s being sung or if there are military personnel and/or children involved, American Pie by Don McClean, and Pomp and Circumstance.  There’s not a whole lot I can say here that can make me NOT sound like a raving lunatic, so I’m just going to leave it.

6.)  I remember names, faces, and birthdays like some sort of savant.

Seriously.  I can tell you my first Jr. High boyfriend’s birthday and parents’ phone number.  Sat behind me in science class sophomore year?  I remember you.  Did we work together for two weeks at Subway in college?  I can find you on Facebook.  It’s to the point that for the most part I don’t mention it when I recognize someone for fear that said person will think I’ve been building a shrine to them in my basement for the past 12 years, because who in the fuck remembers the birthday of someone they knew fleetingly in college??  (Also, this eidetic type memory is of absolutely no fucking benefit to me in everyday life; I routinely forget such things as the fact that I’m out of shampoo, where my shoes are, and the fact that I cannot drink gin without turning into a SNL caricature of myself.)

7.)  I cannot listen to two things at once.

The fastest, easiest way to make me crazy is to turn on the radio juuuuuuuust loud enough that I can hear it while I’m watching television.  Something about having two things to listen to at once makes me completely lose my shit.  It’s like something short circuits in my brain; I get overstimulated and the only thing I can do is rock back and forth, stifling the urge to either mute the TV or pull the skin off of myself.  I’m not sure if this means I have a high or low attention span, but I do know it makes everyone uncomforable when a grown woman puts her fingers in her ears in the middle of a party.

What about you?

I feel ya, kid.  It doesn't have to make sense.

I feel ya, kid. It doesn’t have to make sense.

Not One of the Cool Kids

I have to start by saying I was completely unaware that Abercrombie and Fitch was still considered the store for the cool kids.  I was also unaware that teenagers still use the terms “cool,” and ” the in crowd,” when referencing the popular kids being that the last I checked, teenagers today are not characters from “Grease,” and use a whole slew of words that most of us born before 1990 don’t even understand.  But if the backlash surrounding this article highlighting their CEO’s comments is any indication, the war between the popular kids and the geeks is still going strong.  Only now there’s the added stipulation that you can’t be one of the cool girls if your pants size is in the double digits.

CEO Mike Jeffries made this comment in an interview with Salon (several years ago, to my understanding, if we’re all being fair,) ““In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either,” he told Salon.”

So let me get this straight.  Essentially, the CEO of a clothing line known for their overtly sexual advertisements showcasing standard-sized fashion models – which is somewhere around a size 2 -stated that they make their clothes with their target demographic in mind.  Their target demographic is teenagers who fit the common perception of beauty.  And the common perception of beauty for a female is not a size 16.  It’s just not.

Is that fair?  Fuck no it’s not fair.  Is it right?  Of course it’s not.  Does it need to change?  Of course it does.  But bear with me a minute.  When I was a teenager, there was a store in Woodfield Mall – I’m not sure if they were a chain or not – called 5-7-9.  Why were they called that?  You guessed it – those were the sizes they carried.  Of course, they also carried sizes 0-4, but they didn’t carry anything above a size 9.  When I was a teenager, I would have sold my goddamn soul to have bought my dresses from 5-7-9.  That’s where everyone who was ANYONE bought their clothes.  However, Jesus blessed me with early puberty and a set of knockers that required underwire at the tender age of 12; juniors clothing was out of the question way before I was a junior.  Was I overweight?  No.  Not at all.  At 16, I was a solid size eight.  (And yeah, it has to be said that OF COURSE I want to go back in time and bitch slap teenage me and tell her that that Mountain Dew addiction was going to catch up in a major way and manifest itself in a lifelong affair with sugar and fast food that she will never, ever shake.)  But my point is that I was a very healthy 5’4, between 130-145 pounds, and a I felt like a GIANT compared to my girlfriends.  And not being able to fit into clothes from 5-7-9 was kind of heartbreaking.  I couldn’t understand.  Why did all of their clothes look terrible on me?  How did their size 9 jeans not pull over my hips?  I wanted their dresses, I wanted their clothes, I wanted to fit in.  I didn’t want to buy my damn dress in the Misses section of fucking Penneys, no matter that it looked a thousand times better on me.  It wasn’t from the POPULAR store.

Fortunately, my mother has a low capacity for unwarranted histrionics and finally – likely after a hissyfit of giant proportions on my part – put her foot down and said something along the lines of, “Their. Clothes. Don’t. Fit.  It doesn’t matter how mad you get about it, they’re still not going to fit.  I’m not sitting here anymore.”  And while at the time I was probably apoplectic with the anger only a teenage girl can muster, she was so right.  And I am so, so damn glad she didn’t let me buy an ill-fitting dress just because it would have made me happy in the short term.  Christ knows I have enough pictures of me with a mullet and with a tuba and braces and glasses and perms; I certainly didn’t need to add a too-tight, fuschia-feathered nightmare to the mix.

What’s my point?  That was damn near twenty years ago.  The stores and the trends might have changed, but the perception is the same.  Mr. Jeffries certainly surprised people by coming outright and saying it, but to me, the backlash is misplaced.  Saying that Abercrombie hates fat people because they don’t make sizes above a ten for women is like saying that Lane Bryant is discriminating against the single-digit ladies.  Boiled down to semantics, it IS  the same thing.  They’re both making clothes to fit their target audience, to flatter and fit their customers.  And Abercrombie isn’t the ones making their audience the cool kids – there’s about a million other societal factors that make the “cool” kids synonymous with the “beautiful” kids.  Abercrombie is simply cashing in on it.

There’s no easy answer or quick fix.  But I think my mama had it right: this doesn’t work for you, here’s something that DOES, go kick ass in that instead.  Who the fuck cares where it’s from, who cares what the label says, who cares what size it is, look at how great you look.  Concentrate on that, drill it into your daughter’s head every day.  You look beautiful, you ARE beautiful, I love you.  No clothing line is ever going to do that. no matter how popular it is.

And if your kids are part of Abercrombie’s “cool” standard and you don’t want them to shop there?  Tell them why.  They may not get it now, and they might not agree with you because, hey, they’re teenagers.  But explain yourself.  So many of the comments I’ve seen in response to Jeffries’ statement have been contradictory to what their point should have been, “Well, he obviously wants to try and be around the cool kids now because, look at him, he clearly wasn’t when he was in high school.”  What is that proving?  It’s okay to make fun of someone’s looks if they did it first? It’s okay to call someone ugly if they call you fat?  What does that teach anyone?

No wonder kids are confused.  I am too.

Yeah.  I'm not sure why we're surprised the CEO said something unpopular.

Yeah. I’m not sure why we’re surprised the CEO said something unpopular.

 

 

 

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.

Looking For the Helpers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Bucket List for the Insane

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

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

Courtney’s (Sort Of) Bucket List

Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

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

See the Northern Lights

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

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

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

Do One of Those Walks/Bike Rides For Charity

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

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

It's Still a Bucket

It’s Still a Bucket