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Imagine

At this time last week, I was standing in my living room, tears in my eyes, watching the Cubs win the World Series.
Five days ago, I was standing in the middle of Michigan Avenue, tears in my eyes, watching the five million fans celebrate a victory.
At this time about eighteen hours ago, I was sitting in my living room and burst into tears, watching the results of the 2016 Presidential election.
At this time three hours ago, I was standing in the middle of Dearborn St., outside Trump Tower, tears rolling down my face as I watched protestors storm by.

It’s been one hell of a week. 

I have seen things this week that America has never seen before.  I’ve cried more this week than I have than I can ever remember in my adult life.  For me, it’s been a series of highs and lows unprecedented in my life.  I have a really happy Cubs post that I was planning on writing this week, but that has to be put on hold right now.  Because Donald Trump is going to be my President.  And I can’t handle it yet.

It’s not that my candidate lost.  My candidate lost back in the primaries, when Bernie Sanders lost to a political machine.  A machine, I must add, that I wasn’t a fan of.  As a woman, it hurts to say that.  These past few months should have been a celebration of the possibility of the first female president.  I will not lie; love, hate, or indifference, we had a chance to make history yesterday, and part of me really wanted it solely for that reason.  Watching the debates, and seeing little girls watch this woman, this strong woman, this politician, make history in so many ways – it made me want it for her, and for me, and for those girls.  But my optimism, my idealism which I will not apologize for, wanted Mr. Sanders to be up there.  Call it what you want, but I believed in him and his ability to beat this Republican monstrosity we found ourselves with.  That being said, that Republican monstrosity, in my opinion, needed to be defeated no matter what. And if Secretary Clinton was the other option, to me, she was the only option.

I’m hearing a lot today that we’re being overdramatic.  This isn’t the end of the world.  Get over it.  He won, you lost, it happens every election.  But I don’t think we’re being overdramatic.  This is unprecedented.  Never, in the history of the process that we are bound to uphold, has there been a candidate this divisive.  I don’t need to go through it again.   His racism.  His mocking of the disabled.  His misogyny.  His careless talk of sexual assault.  His platform based on division, and hate, and fear.  Do not tell me that these things aren’t true.  Don’t. If you think that this man has not made his platform based on fear and hate, you’re kidding yourself.  It surely worked for him, don’t misunderstand.  But he has found our weakness, America, and it is fear, plain and simple.  He just exploited it, and did it spectacularly.

Fear of the unknown.  Fear of the different.  Fear of the loss of the fragile security we are desperately trying to hold onto.  Fear that our piece of the pie, which wasn’t big enough to begin with, is going to be snatched away by that political machine.  So no, I don’t need to go through it again, but to lend it no credence is doing a disservice to everyone.  The fact that there are children asking their teachers if they’re going to lose their families; the fact that gay couples wonder if the progress they’ve made is gone; the fact that Muslim families that have lived here their whole lives are now terrified and being taunted at schools. The fact that an acquaintance of mine, who is deaf, was accosted by someone today that came up to them and actually said, “Get out of here, retard, Trump’s President now.”  The fact that this is the rhetoric that’s acceptable right now.

So no, this isn’t because we lost the battle, America.  It’s because right now, we’re losing the war.

So we need to take it back.  The war that women have fought, for their own rights, to their own bodies.  The war that minorities have fought, for their life, for their own rights.  The war that the LGBT community has fought for years.  The war against the rape culture that is so acceptable that even this little bleeding heart liberal has questioned it.  The war that the disabled community has railed against.  The war that that shouldn’t be an issue in 2016.   Black people shouldn’t have to fight in 2016.  Women shouldn’t have to fight in 2016.  The disabled shouldn’t have to fight in 2016. Gay people, trans people – they shouldn’t have to fear for their status in 2016.   Muslims shouldn’t have to declare themselves in 2016.  Mexicans should not have to defend themselves in 2016.  We. Are. Better. Than. This. America.

Not all Trump supporters believe this pared down version of his rhetoric.  I know that.  And I have to believe, in my heart, that Mr. Trump himself doesn’t believe this.  I have to believe this, because I cannot believe otherwise.  As I stood today, watching the protestors, tears rolling,

that’s what I thought.  It sounds trite, but love needs to trump hate.  It has to.

This is who we have.  This is who our process has elected, and as an American, I can be embarrassed, and I can be sad.  I’m allowed that.  But.  (Deep breaths) This is our President.  We cannot divide any further.  We need to rail against the divisiveness.  We need to be stronger than this rhetoric, because we are better than this. 

For better or worse, we have elected Donald Trump as President of the United States.  It might be for worse, but we have to hope that it will be for better.  We have to keep fighting for it to be better. We got our change, America.  Let’s make it worth it.

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Here We Are

I’m purposefully writing this tonight.  Before Game Six, before we go back to Cleveland.  Before it’s all over in a few days.  Because win or lose, it is all going to be over in a few days. And I want to soak up every last second of this.  I want to remember, no, to preserve, this feeling that I and so many others have right now.  This excitement, this joy, this happiness that seems to be surrounding the city of Chicago right now.

Our buildings are lit up with Go Cubs in blue.  Our office buildings have Fly the W spelled out in high rise windows and W flags flying in our lobbies.  Our fountains are dyed Cubbie Blue and you can’t walk more than five feet without seeing someone in a Cubs jersey or hat.  Our iconic ferris wheel is decked out with a W and shining red white and blue.  Clark Street Sports must have popped up about a hundred stores and people are clamoring for their World Series gear.  Because we’re finally here.  The Chicago Cubs.  In the World Series.  Last night, I watched, from my couch, drink gripped in hand, standing up for nearly three hours, a World Series win at Wrigley Field.  And while I’m not saying anything new here, I feel the need to point out that there are people who, quite literally, waited their entire lives to see this happen, and plenty more who never got to.

For the most part, all I’ve heard is excitement and positivity.  Whether this is because most of the people I”m talking to are Cubs fans or because I’m so violently optimistic and happy that they’re afraid to disagree with me, I’m not sure.  But people are HAPPY.  And you know what? This city, and this country, needs some damn happy.  (This is where you assume I’m going to go on a Trump rant, but I promise I won’t here.)  But I think people just need something to hold onto.  Some hope for a change.  Articles that make us smile when we share them on social media, “Hey, did you see Bill Murray start crying when they won?  Did you see that interview with Ross?  How about that catch?” instead of the constant back and forth I’m right-you’re wrong-let-me-tell-you-why-in-all-caps-and-illustrate-my-point-with-a-meme posts that 2016 has been rife with.  (Not excluding myself from this faction.)

Some people say it’s a good distraction, that it’s like sticking our heads in the sand for a couple of weeks; ignoring the real issues to focus on a game.  And maybe that’s true.  But you know what?  Right now, I need to stick my head in the sand.  Because this year?  Has sucked.  A lot.  It took Bowie, and Glenn Frey, and Snape, and Prince.  It’s taken a lot of our hope in our government and political process, it’s divided friends and families.  We’ve lost a lot of good people, both famous and not, and most importantly, it’s robbed even the strongest optimists of their hope.  This team?  Has given us hope.  This team?  Has given us happiness.  Above all, this team has given us something to rally around, together. And we need that.  Desperately.

We headed down to Wrigley Field last Saturday to stand outside the stadium in the hopes of just hearing the crowd and our team clinch the National League.  We couldn’t afford tickets, hell, we couldn’t even afford to get into a bar in Wrigleyville.  So we stood outside barricades  on Addison and tried to catch glimpses of the game on the bar screens.  We talked to people that had flown in from Washington DC just for this privilege.  To people that had driven in from the burbs, by themselves, just to be near their team.   When the police eventually pushed us so far back that we couldn’t see the TV screens anymore, we stood in an alley and when we heard the crowd cheer frantically checked our phones or asked the people that had pulled their TV outside what happened.  When the police pulled up the barrricades in the ninth inning we all ran, cheering and yelling, toward the marquee to hear that last out.  And when Chapman threw that final batter out, we cheered and yelled and sang Go Cubs Go and, I’m not ashamed to admit, a lot of us cried.

And there were over 300 THOUSAND of us.  Those are the Cubs fans I know.  The fans who cried real tears when we lost in 2003.  The ones who saved up all year to buy tickets for nosebleed tickets just for the regular season.  The fans who have listened to the games on the radio when they couldn’t watch on TV.  The ones who went to see the hearse carry Ron Santo around the field for the last time.  Who cried when Schwarber went down.  Who sat outside and watched on an app on a blurry screen when the playoffs weren’t on cable.  Who can say exactly where they were when poor Bartman grabbed at that ball.  Who traveled to Milwaukee to see them because it was easier and cheaper than getting tickets to Wrigley.  The little girl who loved Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandburg.  That same little girl who can clearly remember crying in 1984 in her aunt’s basement. Who waited 45 minutes on a stinky El platform just to go soak up the energy and take a picture in front of a marquee that said “Chicago Cubs World Series Game 4.”  That reluctantly left after carefully selecting a ten dollar souvenir pin instead of a hundred dollar sweatshirt or three hundred dollar bar package or a two thousand dollar ticket to go watch at home.  The ones who said “It isn’t over,” in the ninth against the Giants.  Who rejoiced at Zambrano’s no-hitter and Kerry Wood’s 20 strikeouts. The ones that weren’t surprised by the Montero grand slam.  That still well up when they see Harry Caray on the big screen singing the seventh inning stretch.  The ones like me.

So forgive me if I get a little crazy when I hear that Cubs fans are bandwagonners, or just want to be there for the party.  Of course we want to be there for the party.  We’ve waited patiently for this party.  Year after year and season after season, we’ve wanted this party.

A quick note here – this is in no way to take away from those fans that have paid thousands in season tickets year after year, or the ones that were able to pay the astounding ticket prices for the series. Because – to borrow a quote – sure as God made green apples, if I had the option, I would do the same thing. And they sure as hell deserve it as much as everyone.

I hope we win it all.  And I truly believe we will.  I really do.  Because this team?  Is magic.  It’s brought a city together.  It’s brought fans hugging and taking selfies with the cops trying to keep order.  It’s brought unbelievable catches and unlikely heroes and renewed our love of the game because it’s also the most likeable team I can ever recall watching.  It’s brought strangers smiling and talking to each other on the street.  I just hope they have enough magic left in them to go all the way.

But if – just if – they don’t?  It’s okay.  Because we’ll be back next year, no matter what happens. 

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I was going to use one of the great photos of the crowd. But this is mine. It says "I was there," and I was. LET'S GO CUBS!!!

Telling It Like It Is

Part of me doesn’t even want to write this. We’re all so inundated lately with politics; it’s at the forefront of every form Read the rest of this entry

An (Accidental) Advanced Yoga Class, As Told By a Beginner

I should have trusted my gut.  I knew, even while I was waiting outside the yoga studio for the earlier class to let out, that this was going to be bad.  I can’t explain it.  Maybe it was because there were only four of us waiting.  Maybe it’s because two were men.  Maybe it’s because of the earlier epic battle I’d had with my new sports bra.  I’m not sure, but something was telling me, Hey, you should probably just go lift some weights or jump on the elliptical or, better yet, just head on home, take off this medieval constrictor suffocating your boobs, and have a glass of wine.  Anything but go into that room and be stuck there for the next hour and a half.

Yeah, because that’s some other shit people don’t tell you when you begin taking yoga.  The classes are a full ninety minutes long.  Now, I don’t know about you, but there’s very few things I like to do for ninety straight minutes.  Sweating and being ouchy does not fall on that short list.  That being said, I have been enjoying the classes, and I can touch my feet again, so I’m making some semblance of progress.

Anyhow, against my better judgment, I went in, dutifully grabbed my mat and blocks and laid down in the back of the room, away from the mirrors.  When I glanced up as the instructor walked in, I noticed with alarm that not only were the other five people in the room incredibly fit and toned, but were right up front as though they actually wanted to see themselves in the mirror.  By now the alarm bells were dinging a little louder, but it was too late.  The door was closed, and to get up and walk out was to admit defeat before I started.  I closed my eyes again, trying to focus on my breathing like everyone keeps telling me to.

The following is an edited transcript of the class, with the instructor’s voice in bold and my terrified thoughts in italics.

OKAY EVERYONE!  I’M JEROME, SUBBING FOR KATIE.  LET’S ALL GET INTO PLANK POSITION TO START!!!

Wait, no!!!  Where’s Katie?  I love Katie.  She lets us lie flat on our backs for the first ten minutes, getting used to the room and breathing in and out.  It’s my favorite part.

So we’re just going to hold here for several breaths, and okay, now ease slowly down and right up into down dog.  Go!

And up and vinyasa and now lift your right leg as high as you can!

I don’t think yoga instructors are supposed to yell go, Jerome.  In fact, I don’t think you’re supposed to yell at all.  Katie doesn’t yell.  She lets us lie here and breathe and says soothing things in a nice, quiet, yoga-ey voice.

Also, who starts with planks? Planks are horrible.  I can hardly find my breath while trying not collapse and it’s only been five minutes!

Shit, everyone is standing up.  What’d I miss? 

I clumsily got to my feet and tried to copy the pose of the person in front of me, catching an unfortunate glimpse of myself in the mirror. 

How did everyone get back on the floor so fast?  The fuck, Jerome?  Slow down, for God’s sake.  This isn’t a contest, right?

Okay, now if you want to challenge yourself more, straighten your front leg completely while you touch your forehead to your knee and raising your arm towards the ceiling, raising your gaze to look at your fingers.

Oh, apparently it is a contest, as everyone just managed to fold themselves completely in half and raise their arm up.

Just don’t fall over.  Don’t.  Fucking.  Fall. Over.  You don’t have to look up.  You don’t need to prove anything to anyone here.  Just breathe.

What did I just fucking say?  Don’t look up.  YOU CAN’T LOOK UP.  You don’t have that kind of balance.  At least no one noticed, right?

Of course they noticed. 

If you find that looking up is too challenging for you, feel free to keep your gaze low.

You know he’s talking about you, right, newbie?  I told you not to look up.

Twenty minutes go by, during which I alternate flopping to my mat and attempting to stand up gracefully, consistently five to ten seconds behind everyone else.  I spend a good majority of the time in the downward dog position, face firmly planted in my double D’s,  contemplating a breast reduction.  Also, no one seems impressed that I can touch my feet.

Now we’re going to go into the (insert actual, yoga name for squatting uncomfortably with your knees spread apart, or the pose I like to call, “If anyone is going to fart, it’s going to be now,) pose.

Yay!  I can do this one!

But wait, I know what comes next.  It’s where everyone else manages to do the crow pose (balancing on your forearms in what my preteen self would call the teapot) while you sit in the squat and question why the hell you ever took up yoga.

That’s okay though.  This is sort of motivating.  One day I’ll be able to do it.  Today is just not that day.

So, even if you don’t feel comfortable trying crow, you can put a block in front of you and rest your head on it while you try and lift just one leg off of the ground at a time!

Not going to happen, Jerome.  I learned my lesson with the whole looking up thing.

(Jerome stares directly at me as he repeats his modification.) 

(I stare back, smiling as I sit spread eagled in a squat, hands firmly in front of me like I’m praying.)

(Jerome looks very discomfited.)

Leave me alone, Jerome.  Go help the yoga masters who are somehow balancing on one arm wrapped between their legs.  I’m just going to hope I can make it to a standing position from here without toppling backwards.

You are so not relaxing.  I miss Katie.  She tells me it’s okay and to take it at my own pace.  Plus, she isn’t a contortionist like you all seem to be.

Now would be a good time to mention that every other person in the class?  Is having a blast, balancing on their fingertips, legs shooting straight in the air, twirling around on one hand like circus people while I sit, smiling and squatting.

Now, if you REALLY want to challenge yourself, you can bind your arms and only use the left one for balance.  Use the strength in your arm and core!

Is my foot asleep? 

And….now I have to pee.

If this goes on much longer, you are going to fall onto your back like a turtle and piss yourself.  Get up.  Get up now.

So now to dolphin pose for some inversions.  Dolphin pose is a great way to build that shoulder strength.  Just walk your feet right up as close as you can to your elbows, and if you want to take the inversion, kick up…..(blah, blah, blah, because none of this is happening for you, blondie in the back.)

You know what?  Fuck off, Jerome.  If I ever see you again in front of this class, I’m going to run as fast as my fat ass will let me in the other direction.

Hmm.  I don’t think I’m getting the whole “restorative, cleansing properties,” out of this practice as advertised. 

Okay.  Just do the damn dolphin pose.  We’re almost done and then we get to lay down and breathe quietly.  You excel at that part.

(I spend another five minutes, face firmly planted between my own breasts, desperate for 7:30 to arrive already.)

Mercifully, the class begins to wind down. We lie on our backs, we stretch, we roll from one side to the other.  All things I’m very good at and – btw – Katie says are just as important.

Oh, thank you, sweet dancing Moses I don’t think I could be here much longer.

I don’t even know how to begin to process what just happened. 

Well, thank you all for coming out today.  Katie will be back next week but if you want to see me, I teach at (other Chicago Athletic Clubs) on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday.

From one of the circus contortionists in the front row, “Oh, but can’t you come back and teach all the time??!!!  This was awesome!!”

SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTH!!!

Okay, time to go home.  You almost said that out loud.

With a smile for me, Jerome says, “Don’t worry.  It gets easier.”

I grind out a “Thank you,” through clenched teeth and start to wipe down my mat, concluding my ninety minutes of torture by knocking over my water bottle and stepping on my phone. 

Get. Out. Of. This. Room.

I don’t tell you all of this to scare you away from yoga, because for the most part, I love it.  I tell you so that if you should take a class that you feel is above your level, you can think back and realize, “Hey, this could definitely be going worse!”

(I saw Jerome in a different area of the gym yesterday on the way to my class and immediately broke out in a cold sweat.  Thankfully, I spotted the lovely Katie in the studio and almost hugged her, I was so happy.)

Namaste, bitches.

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How I Spent My Evening. BTW - I didn't look nearly this good doing it. But you could probably figure that out on your own.

Maybe This Is Why We Don’t Have Any Friends?

It had finally happened.  After a solid month of waking up every single morning exactly twenty minutes before my alarm went off to the sound of chainsaws, jackhammers, large equipment being broken, and heavy appliances being dragged by loudly irritated construction workers, the apartment above us was finally complete.  (Seriously.  I don’t know what the fuck was happening up there, but I can’t wait to see it.  By the sounds of it, they built an entire bowling alley/theme park/festival grounds.  I had thought Mr’s Stomps-A-Lot, our previous neighbors, were loud.  They had nothing on these workers.  Nothing.  Plus, I’m a night person, so their bowling tournaments/boot stomping competitions at midnight didn’t bother me.  This was happening in the morning.  Not cool.)  For an entire month, the first words out of my mouth were “Oh my God why??!!!  Just shut up!!!”  So on Saturday, when we walked out to see two guys moving actual furniture in, I was elated. 

We met Preston, and he told us his girlfriend Courtney was moving in with him.  How fun!  The last female neighbor I had was awesome, maybe I’d make a new friend – and she’d have my name!!  How exciting.

Saturday was awful, weather-wise, and all previous plans went out the window in the face of cold pouring rain.  (Seriously, Spring, get your shit together.)  Anyhow, we planned on grilling and watching the Hawks game, but even we weren’t willing to stand in the downpour just for grilled sausages, so we elected to tailgate on our inside back porch instead.  That porch is shared with the other tenants, but it seemed as though they were done moving, so we didn’t think we’d be in their way.  We found an eighties playlist on TuneIn, got some beers, and hung out most of the afternoon.  We were having a lovely time. 

The day prior, I received a frantic call from my landlord, stating there was a leak in the first floor apartment, which is unoccupied, that seemed to be coming from our place.  Now, I’m no plumber, but I do know two plus two equals four, and I quickly deduced it was likely from the plumbing work that was being done upstairs the day prior.  But  no, he was pretty sure it was coming from our place, despite no water being on and never having a leak before.  Also, he didn’t have a key to our apartment because of course.  “I don’t know what to do, Mrs. Drobick!!  This is really bad!”  (Did I mention my landlord is 27
years old?  And bought up half of the damn city last year?  Ugh.)  He said they were going to have to break our deadbolt, but assured me that they would fix it right away and make sure the cats didn’t get out.  Based on the fact that he had also called the exterminator due to the complaints of giant rats in the basement and then texted to say they’d be right out with the ant spray, I didn’t have a whole lot of faith in this, but what was I going to say, no?  The kid was freaking out.

***Side note?  They drilled two giant holes in my pantry which shares a wall with our bathroom to be clear the leak wasn’t coming from us.  It wasn’t.  But that led to me being woken up that Monday by a gentleman pounding on my door, yelling in broken English, “Miss!!!  I’ve come to fix your holes!!!”  I have dropped so many f-bombs before nine in the morning the past month, I can’t even tell you.***

In the course of having to drill said holes in the pantry, they had to pull out all of our pots and pans because for some stupid reason we have no cabinets.  So all of my pots, pans, cutlery, baking dishes, etc. were piled on the kitchen table when Tony got home.  They had, of course, put the stuff they pulled out first – i.e., the stuff we actually use – on the bottom, meaning the top of the pile was oddly shaped tupperware, the blender, and three stupidly small saucepans that I cannot even fathom why I have.

Oh, and a cake mold shaped like a penis.  That was right on top. 

To be clear, it’s not like I use said cake mold.  For one, I don’t bake.  It has been used exactly once, almost thirteen years ago, for my friend Kelly’s bachelorette party.  Kelly got married when we were still really young, and that type of stuff was super funny.  But for whatever reason, it has traveled with me through five moves since then.  Sure, I’ve lost an entire set of tools, a box of ticket stubs, a set of flatware, and approximately seven pairs of shoes in those moves, but the cake pan?  Of course that made it.  (Other ridiculous items include the box full of marbles and dice, every stuffed animal any of us has ever won at a carnival, a jar of flour, a crystal rooster with its claw broken off, and a fake bronze monkey statue we use to hold a hackey sack.  Because we’re good at adulting.)

When I got home, I started putting pots and pans back, despite the holes.  I didn’t know when they would ever be back to fix them and didn’t want everything sitting on my kitchen table all weekend.  Tony and Tony, of course, thought the cake pan was hilarious, and decided that instead of putting it back, they would use it as an ashtray.  Which, okay, even I thought was kind of funny.  (Again, see “Adulting: Things we’re bad at.) 

Back to Saturday.  The three of us are hanging on the porch, singing along to a little “Buffalo Stance,” looking forward to hockey, and having some beers.  It was a good day.  Around 5PM, we heard someone walking down the stairs.

“Hi!  Do you guys always listen to such fun music?  And I’m being serious, this has been awesome!  I’m Courtney, I just moved in upstairs!  Thought I’d bring a beer down and introduce myself.”

It goes without saying that Courtney is super cute, about 24, and appears to be a yoga instructor, right? And that I’m wearing a hockey jersey, zero makeup, and my whole socks with sandals deal because I’m old and have bad feet?

She really is super nice.  We talk for a little bit, they met at Iowa State and just moved here.  She works downtown too and is asking about riding her bike to work, saying maybe we could go together the first time.  They’re sports fans, they love to play cards, and she says once they’re settled in they’d love to have us up to have some drinks and play.  Yay!  How fun would it be to have friends as neighbors again?

And then.  And THEN.  She lights a cigarette. 

Well, shit. 

I’m guessing she’s going to want to put that out at some point.  Which is worse, acting like we’re dirtbags who put out cigarettes on the floor, or handing her a penis-shaped cake mold?  Has anyone ever had to make this decision???

I do, apparently.  She seems pretty cool, hopefully she’ll think it’s funny? I reach under the chair next to me and say, “So, they’re using this, but there is a reason…”

“I did notice that, I have to say.  That’s hilarious!”  she replies.

Right.  Can’t you just hear how that conversation went when she went back upstairs?  “How’re the new neighbors, honey?”  “Well, they’re a little older, were listening to Rump Shaker, and use a dick mold as an ashtray, but other than that, they were great!”

I can imagine she was met with a slow blink.

Surprisingly, they did not take us up on our offer to watch the Hawks game at our place as their TV wasn’t hooked up yet. 

What the hell, universe?  It’s not like we ALWAYS  use a penis-shaped cake mold as an ashtray.  Why today?  Why??

In other news, Tony just told me that she came down earlier and knocked on the back door – which was open – to inquire whether the laundry in the washing machine was ours while he was lying on the couch in only his boxers.  Thank you, baby Jesus and all that is holy, for the fact that he had pants in there to put on and didn’t answer the door all Cousin Eddie style, beer in hand, like he did that one time to my cousin Sherri.

So yeah, this is why we don’t get out much.

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I was going to take a picture of the penis-mold ashtray, but then realized that might not be the picture I want showing up next to my name. See? Sometimes I think ahead.

15 Things I Learned This Week

I posted yesterday about finally fixing a problem after a year and a half of throwing coats over chairs and hanging them on every possible surface that was at least four feet off the ground.  When we had company, every door would be overgrown with coats, scarves, hats and sweatshirts.  I would occasionally comment, “Hey, we should get a coat rack,” as I was balancing yet another coat on the one hook we had, but that was about it.  Yesterday, I went to Family Dollar and bought one of those over-the-door coat racks.  The entire process, from decision to installation, took exactly seventeen minutes and six dollars, and it made me so immeasurably happy that I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner.

I do shit like this a lot, and it’s only partially to make my mother crazy.  For instance, every week, I take a train and bus each morning and afternoon to get to and from work.  This costs almost exactly $25 each week.  Each week, I know this.  The CTA is not going to change prices, the weather is not going to break enough that I can ride my bike – therefore, on Monday, the smart, adult-like thing to do would be to load my CTA card with $25.00.  Instead, each day, I like to play a game called, “Hmm, I wonder if I have enough money to get on the bus?” while running down the street with wet hair to catch said bus.  Inevitably, I do not, and then – you guessed it, load $5.00 onto the card just so I can repeat the fun the next day.  (I used to do this when I drove to work and it made my friend Kelly insane.  I’d be on the phone with her and she’d yell, “I hear you at the gas station!  Don’t you dare only put six dollars in that tank.  Fill up the fucking car!  I know you have money!”)

Before you ask, no, I don’t know why I do this.  It’s not about the money.  I have enough.  There’s literally no explanation.  None.  I don’t enjoy it, and yet every other day or so, I can’t seem to pull the trigger on pushing the $25.00 button.  It’s decision making like this that makes me occasionally question my ability as a functioning adult in society.  Here’s a few other things I learned this week.

1.    Just because you can use Tide pods in the dishwasher when you run out of dish tabs and they get the dishes sparkly clean doesn’t mean you should.  (See also, “How to Fix Your Dishwasher without Alerting Your Landlord to the Fact that You’re an Asshole.”)

2.    There’s really no good food to eat when you feel like you’re starting to get the flu, but the absolute worst thing to eat would be the delicious pot roast and mashed cauliflower that you love more than anything.  Throwing up your favorite meal makes it less favorite-y.  Beer is also a poor choice.

3.    The fact that it’s early in the morning does not mean that you can make time go slower.  Everyone does this to some extent, but convincing yourself that you can shower, make a smoothie, look presentable, and be at the bus stop in seven minutes is unreasonable and counterproductive.  Especially because you don’t have enough money on your card to get on said bus.

4.   By the time you’re yelling at and bargaining with the cats to leave you alone, you have already lost.  Go hide in the bedroom and take a timeout.

5.   When one decides to try and mimic the super fit girl  at the gym doing pushups using TRX straps, (Google it if you don’t know,) one should assess their ability to do a regular pushup on flat ground first  (nonexistent) instead of blindly putting their feet in straps and swinging wildly until they fall on their face.

6.    Speaking of the gym, one should never, ever glance at the full length mirror while trying to do a deadlift.  You do not look cute.  Trust.

7.    After you have spent the better part of 12 hours vomiting from the flu, two of which were spent on the bathroom floor (okay, fine, on the toilet) eating a popsicle because you were so dehydrated but afraid to leave the bathroom, if, when you walk out of said bathroom to go back to bed and step in a pile of cat puke, you WILL start to cry uncontrollably. 

8.    When your husband publicly calls you out on Facebook for not ever telling him that you’re out of dishwasher tabs or cat food, looking up as he walks in the door and exclaiming, “Oh, shit, we’re out of cat food!” will be met with homicidal glares.

9.    The next time you see a patch of ice and think that you’ll gracefully hop over it, remember that A) You are not graceful, B) You are wearing dress boots with no traction, and C) Your hands are in your pockets because you didn’t bother to put your gloves on.  When you fall, it’s going to hurt.

10.   If you are meeting a friend at Walgreens to then go shopping, coming up the escalator to meet him while proudly holding the bargain deal muscle roller you didn’t realize looked just like a sex toy will not be met with enthusiasm.  He will refuse to walk with you until you find a bag that completely conceals it.

11.   Engaging in debates on Facebook about whether “50 Shades of Grey” glorifies abuse will make you want to take a hostage.  (It. Doesn’t.)

12.   Drinking an entire pot of soothing tea before bed is a good idea.  Not checking to make sure its decaffeinated is not.

13.   Stopping at your gym on the way home from a night out to use the bathroom is acceptable.  Being half in the bag while doing so will get you mocked when you come in the next day.  (Whatever.  For 70 bucks a month I’ll do what I want.)    

14.  The cashiers at Reckless Records on Milwaukee Ave. are assholes.  Big smiles and attempts at conversation will be counteracted with huge sighs and eye-rolls, no matter how friendly you want to be.

15.   Proudly exclaiming you’ve seen New Kids on the Block eight times in concert will not garner you the positive attention you were looking for.

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                                                                                              Whatever.  I got the coat rack thing done.  I’ll work on the rest.

This Is What Three Pounds Looks Like

It was the Christmas pictures that did it.  There was my beautiful sister, almost seven months pregnant with her first child, looking radiant standing next to me – fifty pounds (at least, I didn’t ask.  I have to maintain some sanity,) heavier than her, looking like a distorted, bloated version of myself.  What struck me the most wasn’t how heavy I was; it’s not like I hadn’t realized my pants were getting too tight and I got out of breath trying to put my boots on.  I knew I’d put on a considerable amount of weight.  But what struck me the most was how unhappy I looked.  I didn’t look like me.  The me I knew was happy, she wasn’t this puffy person desperately trying to smile.

Once I had untagged myself from all of those unflattering pictures, I made a decision.  I didn’t want to be that person.  I did not want to be the person that did not want her picture taken.  I wanted my as-yet-unborn niece to have photos of her aunt that loved her, not just a vague recollection of a fat lady.  Those pictures snapped something in me and made me question what else I was missing out on.  I’m self-aware enough to realize if I was hiding out from the camera, I was hiding out from other things as well.  What else was I letting pass me by?

So I made some big changes.  I cut out the carbs and sugar, switched my six or seven  Diet Cokes a day for gallons of water.  I quit drinking beer.  (I switched to vodka and diet Sprite.  I’m not a saint.)  I ate vegetables.  Instead of my previous late night dinners of loaded baked potato soup, mashed potatoes, or spaghetti with a half a loaf of garlic bread, I made mashed cauliflower with chicken.  I made smoothies with spinach every morning, despite my previous disdain for anyone that would do such a horrible thing to a delicious beverage.  I found out I was wrong.  They were delicious.

And I started running.  I had quit smoking almost a year prior but still had the smoker mentality that went something along the lines of, “If I am running, you better start, because there someone behind me with a murderous weapon.”  I had never run.  Ever. I always got a C in gym class because I would never run the whole mile.  But I found this Couch to 5K program that boasted it would enable me to run a 5K within nine weeks.  I didn’t believe it for a second after the first day, when I damn near passed out after running for sixty seconds.  I signed up for one anyway.

The biggest thing I did, however, was not get on a scale.  I hadn’t had one in years, and I decided that instead of weight, I was going to concentrate on this 5K.  I set what I thought was a realistic goal: One, I was going to finish the program.  Two, I wanted to run the whole thing and finish under 45 minutes.  They weren’t lofty goals.  There are people that can walk a 5K in 45 minutes.  But they were my goals, and they weren’t directly related to a number on the scale.

I felt great.  Each day after I completed my run, I was exhilarated.  Every other day I was out there; in the bitter cold, in the snow, in the rain – I would run.  I couldn’t believe it – I was doing it!!!  After a couple of weeks, my clothes were fitting better.  I had more energy, I was smiling a real smile again – I was happy.  I was me again.  Most of all, I was so damn proud of myself.  I was achieving my weight loss goals like I never had before. 

About eight weeks into the program, I was over at my sister’s for lunch.  I went to use her bathroom and spied the scale on the floor.  I couldn’t help myself.  I had to see.  I mean, it had been eight weeks!  After all of the changes I had made, at the weight I started, I was confident I had lost at least fifteen pounds.  I had done the low-carb thing before – the wrong way, with no exercise, subsisting on bacon and peanut butter – and lost eight pounds the first week.  So I was, for the first time I can remember, excited about getting on the scale. I kicked off my shoes and stepped on, eagerly looking down at the number.

That can’t be right.

THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT.

It is impossible that I have only lost three pounds.  After all, I’d been eating vegetables.  I got off and let it reset.  Clearly it was malfunctioning.  I got on again.

Damn. It.

In eight weeks, after letting nary a potato or beer cross my lips, after drinking gallons and gallons of water a day, after drinking spinach for breakfast, after increasing my endurance to being able to run a mile and a half at a stretch, after turning down Portillo’s four times, after throwing away the crust on the work-lunch Lou Malnati’s pizza, after eating all of this cauliflower – THREE POUNDS. 

In short, I was devastated.  All of my hard work, all of my good feels, all of my pride and energy; it was like it had never happened.  According to that scale, all of my work was for basically nothing.  And the next thought that crossed my mind was, “Why even bother?  I might as well go back to macaroni and cheese for dinner!”

How. Stupid. Is. That?

I knew I’d lost inches.  My clothes fit better, I’d been getting compliments, the foot pain I’d struggled with for the past year was non-existent.  I was able to keep up when we went for a walk.  I was able to run a mile and a half, for Christ’s sake.  I was no longer sweating while trying to zip up my boots, in fact, I could fit my whole hand in between my leg and the top of them, whereas weeks before I could barely get them over my pants. My yoga pants were dragging on the floor even when I wore shoes.  I didn’t resemble John Goodman anymore.  I felt great.

Yet I was letting a number on a scale determine whether I had been successful. Somehow, none of those great things I’d been feeling mattered anymore, because the scale said they didn’t.  Anyone who has ever struggled with their weight knows that the scale rules all.  The scale has the final say.  The scale tells you whether you are doing well or badly.  And in the end, the scale will break you.

I can say with complete confidence that if I’d been weighing myself every day throughout those eight weeks, I would have quit about three weeks in.  No way would I have continued the running that has made me stronger, eating food that doesn’t require a nap after consuming it, drinking water instead of pop, because the scale would have told me I was failing.

So I’m very glad that I don’t own a scale.  Because if I did, I wouldn’t be wearing jeans two sizes lower than I was in January.  If I owned a scale, my smile would still look stretched and forced.  I wouldn’t be excited about the summer, looking for clothes and planning activities that I know I’ll be able to enjoy.  If I owned a scale, I sure as hell wouldn’t have run three straight miles yesterday.  I wouldn’t be looking forward to running a 5K next week – in fact, I’d be dreading it, because it would be another failure.  All because of a number that means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Throw away the scale.  Eat well, be healthy in whatever way works for you, and be happy.  Get your smile back and be proud of what you can do.

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This is three pounds. 

 

 

 

Ten Signs the Chicago Winter Has Beaten You Senseless.

One year, I had tickets to both the Bears and Cubs home opener.  The day of the football game, it was 105 degrees on the field.  The baseball game?  Was snowed out.  We know the weather is bipolar in Chicago, but somehow we are continuously surprised by it.  “I don’t remember it sucking this much last year.  Was it this hot last year?”  “Remember last year on this day, when we went to the beach?  Why is it snowing?  WHY???”  We have approximately seven days a year of perfect weather, and generally even those are marred by the impending bitchfit we know Mother Nature is brewing.  Oh, are you enjoying this unseasonably warm day in March?  Opened up all of the windows and pulled out the grill in anticipation of an early spring, didja?  I have two words for you, losers.  WINTRY MIX.  What?  You’re surprised?  Don’t worry.  I’ve got a tornado I’m working on for next week that’s going to make this miserable shit seem like rainbows and sunshine. 

That being said, this winter has been particularly brutal.  Snowstorm in January?  Not surprising.  Wind chills of negative 40?  That’s new.  And being that it’s only January 9th and we’ve already had nearly two feet of snow and several days in which Alaska was enjoying temperatures 30 degrees higher than here, I think we have a legitimate argument that spring should probably start next week.  Here’s a couple of signs the weather is winning.

You Have Worn More Than One Pair of Pants.  To Work.

I don’t generally even pull out a coat until it dips below 25 or so.  This year?  I had seven outfits on at the same time.  Once arriving at work, it was like the unsexiest strip show ever –  and I wasn’t alone.  The whole office was like a graveyard of outerwear.  Boots strewn about, sweatshirts laid out on desks, extra socks under desks; coats, scarves, and hats ripped off haphazardly to counteract the 80 degree difference in temperature between the ground floor and the 29th.

Every Single Person You Know Has a Cold.

Coughing, sneezing, sniffing, that gross clearing of the throat and sound of snot in Kleenex – these are your days now.  The only place I’ve found to be comfortable is in a sweatshirt, yoga pants, thermal socks and slippers on the bathroom floor with the shower running full stop to create my own personal sauna.  Sometimes I bring whiskey to make it a party.

If You See That Post About How Beautiful Chicago Looks Under Ice Posted One More Time, You’re Going to Punch Someone.

So many of my social media friends – currently not in sub-zero temps but instead in places with reasonable weather like California and the South Pole – posted this article this week.  Yes, it IS beautiful.  Unless, perchance, you happen to be attempting to walk through it.  Then, you can’t stop to admire the beauty.  You know why?  Because YOU’LL FREEZE TO THAT SPOT FOREVER if you stop moving for even a second.

Ditto to the “Chiberia” Folks.

Just, ugh.  Fucking stop it already.  That’s worse than “Chiraq.”  Sometimes I hate Twitter.

Your Kitchen Floor Looks Like This.

"There's only so much I can do!!!!!"  cried the mop.

“There’s only so much I can do!!!!!” cried the mop.

You’re About to Spontaneously Combust At Just About Any Second.

It’s so dry in your house/apartment/workplace due to the constantly running heat that shuffling along the floor on carpet is a deadly game of Russian roulette – the next thing you touch might be your last.

You’ve Developed a Love-Hate Relationship with Your Mode of Transportation.

I can’t speak to those of you poor souls trying to drive in this nonsense.  But those of us taking the CTA have developed a drug-dealer-like dependency on our bus drivers.  “Please, please, please, be on time, you miserable f-ing piece of garbage.  Please.  I’ll be nice.  Please just show up.  Please don’t make me wait out here longer than three minutes, you f-ing jerks.”

You Forgot How to Walk Like a Normal Person.

Anyone who has thought that they were walking on innocent snow or slush who has violently found the black ice underneath is terrified of it happening again.  So we all walk gingerly, which, in boots, is more of a slow uncoordinated clompstomp across the street.  Walking the full block and a half from the El to work becomes a terrified mantra of “Don’t fall don’t fall don’t fall don’t fall WATCH OUT SEWER COVER don’t fall don’t fall don’t fall please please don’t fall.”

You’ve Done This.  Or At Least Watched a Video of One of Your Friends Doing This.

For those of you lucky souls who aren’t currently dealing with Mars-like temperatures, this is what happens when you throw a pot of boiling water into the air when it’s 14 below.  (Also, yes, I am considering a second career as a cinematographer, how did you know?)

Gray, Dirty, and Wet is the New Clean, Shiny, and New.

Nothing you own will ever be the same.  The slush alone is enough to ruin the best of pants and shoes, no matter how hard you try.  Just let it go.  You need all of your strength just to not fall on your fucking head and break every bone in your body. Everything is ruined.  We’ll start again next year.

So thanks, Polar Vortex.  For making us appreciate this so very much more.

SEVEN MORE MONTHS!  SEVEN MORE MONTHS!

SEVEN MORE MONTHS! SEVEN MORE MONTHS!

Blame the Media! Blame the Media!

I saw this video yesterday entitled “How the Media Failed Women in 2013,” and it confused the hell out of me.  It’s only about three minutes long, take a look.

Am I the only one that thinks the message got a little lost here?  Don’t get me wrong, overall, I think The Representation Project, which produced the video, has a great mission and anyone striving to make the world a better and fairer place should be commended.  But this particular video completely missed the mark to me for a couple of reasons.

One, women did a lot of great things this year.  The first part of the video supposedly focuses on this, but I lost the plot.  How is the Hunger Games and Gravity  breaking box-office records a win for women?  Because it’s a strong female lead?  That’s great and all, but we can’t just skim over the fact that two stunning, Oscar-winning actresses starred in said movies and that just *might* have had something to do with it.  Malala Yousafzai being named one of TIME magazine’s most influential people?  Yes.  GoDaddy veering away from the sexual in their multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad and sticking with humor?  NO.  Not the same thing.  Not even close.  Aside from the fact that one is fighting for women’s rights in a war-torn country at an age where most American girls are still getting a allowance and one is changing their advertising – the real reason they’re not doing those commercials is because they were stupid, awful commercials, despite the pretty and talented women involved.  I promise you they’re not changing their tune out of respect to women. It’s simply a poor example.  What is being celebrated here is a lack of perceived sexism as opposed to actual accomplishments, and it defeats the purpose.

Which brings me to the second part of the video, where we start to see how far we have to go.  In this segment, there’s several clips of current advertisements, music videos, and performances all portraying women in a sexual manner.  There’s Rihanna in her own music video, Miley Cyrus in a performance she helped design – and seriously, we all just need to get the fuck over that one – Megan Fox on a magazine cover.  To say that they are being sexualized and exploited is ridiculous.  These are grown women who are using their sexuality and talent to make money and achieve celebrity and there is nothing wrong with that.  They aren’t the victims we somehow we want them to be.  But by victimizing them, we make them into poor misguided little girls who don’t know up from down or left from right instead of the strong, confident women they are.  Which only perpetuates the stereotype that women are easily confused and will blindly go along with whatever the media tells them they should.  We live in a world where sex and beauty sells.  What do you want them to do – put on their sweats and recite math problems onstage to prove a point?

Also, since when are we offended that attractive people are being cast in commercials to sell products?  This part of the video targets commercials showing attractive women in bikinis because again, this can only be perceived as exploitative and misogynistic.  Untrue.  Why don’t they show average looking people in their commercials?  I’ll tell you.  Because one wants to see me chowing a giant Carl’s Jr. cheeseburger in a bikini.  TRUST.  I certainly don’t want to.  Here’s the thing.  What do we want to happen differently here?  What should a commercial for Axe Body Spray be?  Explain it to me.  Don’t use anyone who fits society’s standard of beauty, male or female, and make it interesting and suggestive to the prospective buyer.  It’s for Axe freaking Body Spray.  Why are we placing one iota of importance on their commercial?

The last portion of the video has nothing to do with the sexualization of women, nor is it exploitative.  To me, it’s a hundred times more terrifying than seeing a woman in weird bikini dancing with a foam finger.  Why?  Because it’s not commercials, it’s not advertising, it’s not music videos.  Nor, to be clear, is it a misrepresentation of women.  It is actual comments from men, both elected officials and media personalities alike, in regards to women in positions of power.  Comments like, “Well, you can’t do that, to be fair…women just haven’t done that much.”  Men lamenting the fact that the changing the hats the military wears to something more unisex actually has a headline that reads, “Military switching to girly hats.”  Fox News, “We only have the prostate, the women have the breasts, the ovaries, the uterus,” in regards to women paying more for health care due to having more working parts, apparently.  Fox News again, “I’m not saying she deserved to be raped, but…” which is a sentence that has no possible acceptable ending.  Fox News yet again, “Know your role, and shut your mouth,” to the lone female on the panel.  Perhaps the most frightening, a headline from the New York Post that reads, “No Wonder Bill’s Afraid!” next to a picture of Hillary Clinton.  Why is this the worst, you ask?  Because Hillary Clinton was the fucking Secretary of State at the time, furious regarding one of the most maligned operations of the United States and somehow this headline tried to  reduce her to a hysterical female and elevate her husband – who held no office at the time – as the more important party to the story.

Let’s pick our battles, shall we?  Let’s concentrate on getting ignorance – both male and female – out of office and making our decisions.  I don’t know about you, but I’m much more concerned that an elected official in the United States of America believes that women have super abilities which make their bodies able to distinguish rape from consensual sex than I am about what Robin Thicke’s backup dancers are wearing. I’m much more worried about the fact that people like Rush Limbaugh still have a following than I am about the fact that Flo-Rida’s latest video has half-dressed girls in it.

The fact remains that WE are the ones watching this.  WE are the ones demanding it.  We can’t keep blaming the media for clamoring to provide exactly what we’re asking for.  They aren’t going to change their content until we change the channel.

Yeah, I feel really fucking sorry for this girl.

Yeah, I feel really fucking sorry for this girl.

How Life Hacks Really Work

We’ve all seen those Buzzfeed lists touting life hacks; ways to use everyday items that will simply change your world. It appears to make so much sense. “And you thought bread ties should be thrown away – look at the magnificent ways to use the bread ties instead!” I feel like these ideas fall dangerously into the Pinterest zone. Pinterest encourages average people to do non-average things. It makes non-crafty people think they can be crafty. You can’t. You’re either the type of person who can make art out of melted crayons or you’re not. That’s all there is to it. Believe me, I feel the pain. Deep in my heart, a wannabe crafty soccer mom resides; one who believes that she can turn string into art projects, who can quickly and easily make paper-mache* holiday decorations without covering the cats in glue and ruining the kitchen table. ‘Tisn’t true. Pinterest lies.

*Any option spellcheck gave me to spell this correctly made it look French and capitalized the second word. Sorry. I’m not fixing it.

The problem with these life hack lists is that they have an infomercial-like quality to them. You know what I mean? If you watch an infomercial long enough, it makes perfect sense. “You know, it looked stupid at first, but hot damn, I certainly WOULD like perfect pancakes every time! Where’s my credit card?” Same with these everyday product uses. On the surface, it looks great. In reality? Not so much.

Bagel ToteFirst of all, anyone who uses the term “bagel tote” should probably get punched.  Second, last I checked, bagels can be transported pretty easily in plastic baggies, which are a little easier to find than CD spindles, being that it isn’t 1998.

Paint can

Not Shown: Average American trying to wrestle a rubber band around an open fucking paint can.  This ends in tears. Trust.

Drink at the Beach

Okay, sometimes they work.  This makes a lot more sense than dumping a bottle of rum in giant bottle of grapefruit juice.  Touche, life hacks.

Pool Noodle

You know that the fitted sheet isn’t like a magic sheet right?  Just because things are under it don’t mean they don’t move. Ask my cats.  They’ve been accidentally made into the bed many a time.

Lending items

Yeah, I want to be friends with this guy.  Don’t worry, dude, I’ll bring back “Memento.”  You fucking douchebox.

Ninja fold

This?  Is amazing.  Tried and true, no joke.  Google it.

Ketchup

For all of the effort it would take to try and unroll your paper ketchup receptacle, wouldn’t it be easier just to fill another?  Also?  Have you ever used those ketchup containers?  You can easily carry two of them with one hand.  This method makes that impossible and requires a tray.

Pancake Batter Ketchup Bottle

No mess experience.

Not Shown:

1.   Trying to clean a ketchup bottle enough that it is fit for other foodstuffs.  Seriously, I don’t know about you guys but a bottle of ketchup in this house may stick around for a year or so before it’s done.  I don’t really want to think about trying to clean it out.

2.  Pouring pancake batter into a fucking ketchup bottle.  When I think no-mess, I don’t think trying to pour thick liquid from one container with a small opening into another container with a smaller opening.

Spa

I love this so hard.  You know why?  This was born of resourcefulness.  “Well, we’re out of matches and a lighter won’t work.  Get the spaghetti, Betty, I’ve got it figured out!!”