In the last ten years there have been seven deadly mass shootings across the United States of America. These horrific days in the past decade included the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the babies of Newtown, the theater goers in Aurora, as well as victims in Blacksburg, Virginia, San Bernardino, California, Fort Hood Texas, and Binghamton, N.Y. In ten years, there were 161 people killed and 186 injured by gun violence at the hands of madmen. Innocent people, lives cut short, and for what? As Americans that’s what we wanted to know. We fought bitterly regarding gun laws and safety and police and more recently, about immigration. How do we stop this? What can we do? This is an outrage. This is tragic. We are supposed to be the greatest country in the world and we’re letting homegrown terrorists attack our citizens.
We held vigils. We set up donations and GoFundMe pages. We marched in parades and had moments of silence on the most public of stages. We published People magazine articles giving all of these victims a face, showing their story, and deservedly so. We demanded our politicians give us answers and plans. We wanted change and needed answers; This must be stopped!!
Meanwhile, in my city, in my beautiful Chicago that I call home, let me tell you what’s happening. We’re going to the beach. To the air show. To a fireworks show on the 4th of July. To baseball games and picnics in Humboldt Park. To Puerto Rican fest and pretty much every other festival this city has to offer, and there are many. To concerts and to Millennium Park. To the zoo. We’re having block parties and talking with our neighbors. This summer especially, if you look at my Facebook, we’re living a beautiful life here in Chicago. And don’t get me wrong, we are. We’re taking full advantage of everything this great city has to offer.
But let me tell you what else happens here. Yesterday, my husband didn’t go fishing because at noon, on a Tuesday, there were 20 shots fired less than a mile from us, near the fishing spot at the park. A few weeks ago, my roommate lamented that he’d love to get red Nikes, but he can’t wear them in our neighborhood so what’s the point? It’s not wearing certain football jerseys because of the colors. It’s me asking the question, with hope every time, “Those were fireworks, not gunshots, right?” and being told I’m wrong, to call 911 again. It’s staying home and in the backyard on the actual 4th of July instead of going downtown like we wanted to because we didn’t want to be on the street at night. It’s no one leaves the house alone after dark. It’s crossing the street when coming home late because of the twenty people standing on the corner throwing gang signs. It’s having one of them swing a gun in your direction and walking head down and quickly, trying to get the gate open as fast as possible. It’s calling the police nine times this year because of gunshots and seeing a response twice. It’s learning gang tags and who lives where. It’s not walking north on our street. It’s avoiding the gang member memorial at the end of the block when there are too many people standing there. It’s finding a 9MM shell casing on North Ave. Oh, and it’s paying $1300 a month in rent because our neighborhood is one of the most up-and-coming in the country.
On average, every two minutes someone is shot in Chicago. On average, every eleven hours someone is killed in Chicago. In 2016 alone, 474 people have been killed by gunshots in Chicago. In 2016 alone, 2,589 people have been wounded by gunshots in Chicago. In 2016 alone, 3,063 people have been shot in Chicago. I want you to go back and reread that. Then do it again. Then, for a little perspective, go back to the first paragraph and compare. Ten years mass shootings across the country, 161 killed. One year in Chicago, 474. Ten years mass shootings across the country, 186 injured. One year in Chicago, 2,569 injured. For a little more perspective, 2,996 people were killed on September 11th, 2001. Think about it. More people have been shot in Chicago in a single year than were killed on the deadliest day in US history.
And what do we do? Do we hold vigils or parades? Are all of these murdered ever even recognized by name in our local paper? Do we demand of our politicans answers and strategies? No, we do none of that. We make up names like Chiraq and print it on T-shirts. We profit off of documentaries detailing what a war zone Chicago is. We develop disgusting memes that say, “Chicago, come for the entertainment, stay because you got shot.” We’ve made ourselves a joke, a cartoon. A revoltingly accurate one at that. We don’t do anything. We argue about who’s at fault – is it the BLM movement? Is it the police? Surely it has to be one of those things. We try and argue and pinpoint one specific thing to blame. Because if we have something to blame, we don’t have to really think about it.
But maybe, just maybe, it’s not just one of those things. Maybe it’s the systemic racism and wildly corrupt politics that has held this city captive for years. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the absolute and utter crumbling of the Chicago Public School system, where upper middle class schools have fundraisers and the teachers in the “bad” neighborhoods have to bring their own toilet paper and supplies. Maybe, just maybe, it’s that the opportunities in these bad neighborhoods are few and far between and the kids that are born and raised there don’t know any different than guns and gangs. Maybe, just maybe, when little kids aren’t allowed to ride bikes at night for fear of being shot, they learn that they better be able to shoot. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because it’s pretty clear that no one cares if they live or die.
Likely it’s a combination of all of those things. The BLM and police issues can’t be discounted. They’re part of the rhetoric, problem, and solution, all in their own way. But to point the blame directly at either of them is sticking our heads in the sand.
Because the other thing that can’t be discounted? That can no longer be ignored? Are the 3,063 people that got shot here in less than ten months. The 474 of them whose families will never hug them again. The ones who won’t see their own kids grow up. The ones whose mothers won’t see them graduate high school. Because I think the main thing we have lost sight of here is that all of these gunshots? There are actual people on the other side of them, no matter the decisions they’ve made or the paths they’ve taken. They are PEOPLE, just like the 161 innocents that got the respect and mourning they deserved. We are all humans. We are all living in the land of the free, home of the brave. And yes, we should all matter.
And by this shit, I mean absolutely everything. Seriously. I usually try and embrace all of the seasons and take them in stride, “Hey, it’s winter, pretty soon we’ll be complaining about how hot it is!” I even believe myself most of the time. After today, though, when I waited a cumulative 47 minutes outside in subzero wind chills for the CTA, after I slipped going down the stairs, after my I got my stupid coat sleeve wet trying to wash my hands, after I was pushed out of the way by a full grown man for a bus seat, after I dropped my glove and bus card onto the disgusting floor, after I stepped off the bus into a pile of slush up to my ankle, I surrender. This is a big, huge, miserable bucket of suck and I would give my yet-to-be-conceived firstborn for a single afternoon swimming in Lake Michigan. Taking a shower in the morning is the happiest part of my day because it is the only ten minutes of the day I’m actually warm.
- It is too cold to go to the grocery store. I will make a meal out of zucchini and cream cheese if I have to.
- It is too cold for that stupid Erin Andrews probiotics commercial.
- It is too cold to talk about anything other than how cold it is and how much worse next week is going to be.
- It is too cold for every single living soul to turn into an amateur weatherman. Today I heard everything from six inches of snow to 40 degrees tomorrow.
- It is too cold to mop the floors a-fucking-gain.
- It is too cold to listen to one more word about Justin Bieber and the fact that he acts very similar to 70% of 19-year-olds in the United States and it is too cold to scroll through the hundred or so memes that have already been created and are running rampant on Facebook. Two things about this: One, if he was a well-loved superstar to adults instead of teenagers here on a Visa and we were making jokes about deportation, the country would be up in arms. He’s not selling government secrets; he’s an idiot teenager Two, one of the most popular memes thus far is a split-shot of the Biebs and a tough looking criminal with a caption along the lines of “Oh, I’m gonna love you!” Wait, so rape jokes are okay if we don’t like someone’s music or attitude? Come on.
- It is too cold to watch one more fluffed up weatherperson – who is almost always a perky little girl – standing outside in frigid temperatures telling us how cold it is. WE KNOW. WHY DO YOU HAVE TO MAKE HER STAND OUTSIDE??
- It is too cold to remove the plastic Christmas decorations from my front yard because their cords have been frozen to the ground for three weeks.
- It is too cold to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night because no matter how high the heat is, the toilet seat is like fucking ice.
- It is definitely too cold for this idiot, Republican GOP candidate Susanne Atanus, who believes “God controls the weather and that tornadoes, autism and dementia are his punishments for the gay rights movement and abortions.” In other news, Santa Claus really does travel the entire world in one night giving gifts to good, deserving (heterosexual) children and the Easter Bunny is totally real.
- It is too cold to even enjoy the beautifulness that is Harry Connick Jr. on American Idol because J-Lo is wearing a dress without a snowsuit over it and it makes me mutter incomprehensible things like, “I bet SHE didn’t almost freeze to the front gate trying to get in. I bet her stupid front door wasn’t frozen shut.” (True story. That was when it was actually 20 below as opposed to balmy 7 degrees we’re enjoying right now.)
- It is too cold for Captain and Tenille to get divorced. WTF???
- It is too cold to be sitting at the laptop with two fur-covered animals just staring at me instead of keeping my feet warm.
- It is too cold to not have a fireplace.
- It is too cold to not be dressed like Randy from a Christmas Story and I hate scarves.
- It is too cold to drive a car.
- It is too cold to enjoy national media pointing out how miserable it is here. Jimmy Fallon has polar vortex songs and I can’t even be happy about them.
I am declaring this weekend Summer in January. The heat’s going up to 80, static electricity be damned – hey, the ensuing fire will only create more heat!!! – we’re getting beach cocktails, spreading out a blanket on the floor, and only playing Jimmy Buffett for 24 hours. Who’s with me??
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.
If you’re in the Chicago area, you undoubtedly had the conversation today. It was impossible to avoid, no matter how hard you tried. The news was all over it, Facebook was awash with amateur weathermen, (excuse me, weatherPEOPLE,) and casual conversations on the elevator couldn’t help but veer towards it; today was the first day of possible snow. And despite all of the obvious, i.e. it’s the end of October, this tends to happen, and oh yeah, we live in Chicago why are we still surprised at any weather, EVER, we just can’t help but be surprised. It’s like Mother Nature stopped her tease of the past few weeks, which had lulled us into a false sense of security, thinking, Hey! Maybe this will be the year we actually WILL have a fall! and just dropped the temperature like 30 degrees while at the same time taking away the sun, leaving half of us standing in flip flops and dresses and the other half in gear fit for Antarctica on a bad day while we all stare at each other, uncomprehending. Seriously, if one were to come from another planet today and was forced to make assumptions based on how well we dressed for the weather, we would fail everything.
That being said, I’m trying to get over my frustration with the fact that once the temperature dips below 40 degrees social media loses its collective mind and can concentrate only on the weather outside. So I decided to embrace it; cold, snow, sleet and all, and make a list of what I’d like to accomplish during this upcoming glorious six months of slush.
Here’s something that will likely surprise no one – I am woefully lacking in dressing for the weather. You’d think, with all my bitching, that I’d pay a tiny bit more attention to all of the Facebook weather updates and manage to dress accordingly, but you would be wrong. For one, I hate wearing a coat. Hate it. I hate being hot more than pretty much anything in the world, and if walking to a bus stop and then waiting for a bus and train in below freezing temperatures for a total of 30 minutes while freezing in a long sleeve shirt means I don’t have to suffer through it being all hot and twisty and miserable for five minutes while ON the bus, I’m all for it. I tried wearing gloves, a hat, and a scarf with my normal clothes last winter so as not to give myself frostbite, but I was still smoking then and not only almost lit myself on fire, but lost at least one of these items on a daily basis. In addition, being asked 20 times a day, “Where is your COAT???” from concerned citizens and co-workers is only slightly less annoying than being strangled by that stupid coat. So this year, I bought a pair of boots, and this weekend, I am buying a coat. And I am going to spend time – ugh – shopping for said coat, so I don’t leave it hanging up every morning while I throw a DC sweatshirt over my dress pants.
I haven’t been sledding in years. The last time I consciously remember sledding, I was in high school and me and one of the boys in my class damn near killed some innocent schoolchildren while careening down the hill, Griswold-style, completely out of control. It was glorious. I love sledding. There is a big sledding hill at the park near my new apartment, and despite the negative effect the addition of forty pounds, Peppermint Schnapps, gangbangers, and diminished coordination may have on the experience, I am going this year. I don’t particularly care if it kills all of us, because we will die SLEDDING which is awesome. (Note to self – Google “sleds for uncoordinated adults.”)
Embrace the Chicago Holiday Season
Every year, I’m all, “Ugh, it’s so crowded, and who the hell wants to see stupid window decorations and lights with four hundredy billion tourists?” This year, I’m going to embrace it. You know what, Chicagoans? Especially all of you Loop workers out there? We are so, so, lucky. People take bus tours to come see our lights. People from all over the country make a point to come look at our windows and go shopping in our historic stores. People visiting will talk for years of the street performer they saw inexplicably playing the Flintstones theme song on the saxophone, (seriously, that must be the easiest song ever on the sax. EVERYONE knows it.) And us? We just brush by all, Ugh, please, people, learn to cross a street! This year, I am going to do my best to enjoy it. Please note, I said I would try. Should you see a post around December 20th entitled “OMG Why Can’t People Just Stay at Home and Shop in Their Own Damn Stores, I Just Need a Fucking Extension Cord and This Target is Not Any Different Than the One in Kansas!” do not be surprised.
Not Fall Down. In Case of Failure, Allow Self to Wallow Under Blanket for the Rest of the Day
Again in the you’re-probably-not-surprised category, each year I tend to “lose my balance,” at some point during the ice-filled, snow-covered season. Sometimes it’s because of black ice, sometimes it’s because my shoes are completely unsuitable for snow, and sometimes it’s because I’m just really bad at walking on uneven surfaces. But this year, I have fucking boots. This year, I am going to pay attention. This year, I am considering walking along with one of those wheelbarrows that spreads salt, just to be on the safe side. However, if this should fail, and I fall down in a puddle of mess on my way down the street, I am GOING BACK HOME. This year, I will not be mocked on the bus when I get on, covered only on one side with dirty slush. This year, I will not be asked, whilst trying to maintain dignity despite being soaking wet and bleeding from my hands, “What happened to you!?” from co-workers desperately trying not to burst out into laughter. I will turn around, go home, make myself a hot toddy or seven, and stay under the blanket where it is warm and dry.
What are your goals for the winter?
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.
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.
It’s true. Somehow, against all rhyme, reason, and gravity, yours truly has been commuting via bicycle for nearly six weeks. To date, I haven’t fallen, (other than that one time while standing still in my driveway,) gotten flipped off, (other than that one cabbie but he was a dick anyway,) hit a pedestrian, (close call with a stupid girl in high heels holding an umbrella, ipod, and cell phone in the middle of the street but she was a dick too,) or caused an accident, (that I know of.) SUCCESS!!
If you live in Chicago, you are likely firmly in one camp; pro-bike or anti – bike. As someone who started strong on one side and migrated to the other, I find myself in the unenviable position of playing devil’s advocate on both sides of an argument. Which, incidentally, is the fastest way to lose credibility. I always end up apologizing for the way I ride a bike AND drive a car and kind of lose momentum.
So, Chicago, I’ve come up with a list of rules for all of us that should make everyone’s commute safer and less anxiety-ridden in the hopes we can all make it to work safely in one piece and not shouting obscenities at each other. Let me know what you think.
For The Bikers
*Follow the rules of the road. I’m not saying you can’t ever coast through a stop sign at an empty intersection, but stop at red lights. Look both ways.
*Yelling “bike lane, mother fucker!” at unsuspecting motorists garners you no favorable points, nor does it help your cause.
*If you are a hipster on a skinny bike wearing an ironic t-shirt, understand you are already a target. Listening to your ipod whilst cutting off traffic makes you more of one.
*If you are a seasoned bicyclist and notice a chubby girl struggling up a hill, there is no need to ring your little bell and yell in your best booming outside voice, “LEFT LEFT LEFT!!” as you literally zoom by. She is moving at the literal pace of a turtle and loud noises shall only serve to frighten and startle her into turning the handlebars left. A simple “on your left” at a reasonable decibel will suffice. (This one may or may not be personal.)
*Right or wrong, a bus is always more powerful than your bicycle, regardless of how much of a dick the driver is. You can be as self – righteous and pissed off as you want, but it is still going to hurt when you are plastered to the windshield of the number 66.
For The Drivers
I do understand. You hate the bicyclists. They get in your way, block the street, ignore the signs, and are usually going a lot faster than you are. That being said, here’s a few tips from those of us law – abiding riders.
*Please, please, for the love of baby Jesus and everything holy, glance in your rear view mirror before opening your door on a busy street. Just a glance. No biggie. If there is someone careening towards you close enough you can see the whites of their terrified eyes, just hold off a sec, wouldja?
*Same goes for pulling into traffic. A quick look over your shoulder will tell you if you are going to completely ruin someone’s day by forcing them to split second decide whether it will hurt less to hit your car, swerve into oncoming traffic, or flip over their handlebars when they grab the brakes. My heart is already pounding from struggling up that fucking hill, it can’t handle surprises.
*Honking your horn at an unsuspecting bicyclist apropos of nothing as you pull up right next them is simply being a jackass.
*Same goes with cat calling out your window. Look, I’ve seen what I look like wearing my bike helmet. I realize you are mocking me and it simply makes me want to “accidentally” scrape against your car.
*Those aforementioned bike lanes? Actually are there for the bike riders and not for you to park for a quick thirty minutes. Know that by blocking it, you are forcing an unsuspecting rider directly into traffic where one of your fellow drivers is waiting for a reasonable excuse to hit them.
For The Pedestrians
*Much in the same way the bus is always more powerful than a bicycle, a moving bicycle will always do more damage to you than your flip flops will do to it. Fair or not, if a rider is heading right towards you, simply step aside. Sometimes, the rider is me and may have lost control.
*Next time you are out walking with your ear buds in while talking on the phone and sipping your latte, pay attention to how much you walk like a drunk trying to walk a straight line. I bet you think you walk straight. You don’t. I promise.
*If you are crossing the street against the light whilst staring directly into space, I might say I’m sorry after I crash into you, but I won’t mean it.
*There is a reason every mother, teacher, and babysitter always drilled “Look both ways before crossing the street,” in your head. It’s because of bicycles. Look right then left then right. I promise, you won’t be able to miss me heading towards you. My helmet is purple.
All of that being said, the bike riders have the most responsibility to be super aware of their surroundings. My hope is that these rules, written by a law – abiding, if somewhat clumsy, bike rider, will give some perspective.
Can’t we all just get along?
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…..
I’m not sure about all of you, but this whole rainy/wet/dreary/no sunshine all week weather we’re having is kind of making me want to take a hostage and make them fly me to anywhere that’s dry and bright. As I’m a fan of self-diagnosing disorders – every time I hurt, I’m pretty sure I have fibromyalgia – I’ve decided I have Seasonal Affective Disorder and require sunshine at least every 72 hours. Otherwise, normal, everyday irritations take on giant proportions. You know that feeling? You’re slightly irritated, then something else minor happens like your pen running out of ink and all of a sudden you’re like the fucking Hulk, wanting to smash everything in sight.
That being said, I decided a Friday Blast Off of things that made me crazy this week would probably be a little self serving and more than likely be an incoherent, profanity filled rant. Instead, I put together a small list of things I’ve learned this week. They’re nothing life-changing, but hopefully my experience will help to serve you well in the future.
- Don’t go to Sephora in a hoodie and jeans. The salespeople will either think you’re trying to rob the place or descend on you like vultures, assuming you are there for a life-changing makeover and your desperate ass will be grateful for their helpful tips. (Yes, I know I could use an eyebrow wax, thank you, Skyie. Is that seriously your name?? How do you say it?)
- Rain gear is never where you need it. I have boots, I have a raincoat, and I have an umbrella. (Well, I had a raincoat. My stupid Potato cat decided to take out his frustration with me buying cheap cat food by pissing on it, so now I’m down one piece of rain gear.) But Tuesday, I did have a raincoat. However, all of these things were snug and dry in my office, while I walked through a torrential downpour Wednesday morning in gym shoes and a cotton cardigan because it was the only thing I had with a hood. Lesson? Keep two sets of rain gear. One at work, one at home. When they both end up in the same place, BRING ONE SET HOME.
- The floors at any CTA facility will be permanently wet and slippery as soon as the first raindrop falls. Proceed with caution. Very few things incite a panic attack than that split second when you slip atop the stairs, an image of your smiling face on the front page of the newspaper under the headline, “CLUMSY GIRL WIPES OUT COMMUTERS DURING FALL DOWN STAIRS,” flashing before your eyes.
- Speaking of the CTA, you’d be wise to remember that the bus drivers don’t care that you’re wet and trying to stay dry in the shelter. They will cruise through that puddle, splashing you head to toe with dirty, filthy water before they stop the bus. That’s why the busses smell so bad. Another note? The bus floors are also slippery. Grab hold of something immediately upon entering said bus if you’d like to keep your pants clean.
- Last but not least, if you make the copycat recipe of Red Lobster’s Cheddar Biscuits, keep in mind two things. 1) There’s a reason people go to Red Lobster. It’s the fucking biscuits. They’re amazing. If you are the type of person with little self control, having twelve of them within grabbin’ distance is probably a bad idea. 2) They have a lot of garlic. Your co-workers probably don’t want you to eat them for breakfast.
Happy Friday!! Everyone have a great weekend!!!
When did we Chicagoans turn into a bunch of pansies when it comes to snow? It’s a disturbing trend that seems to worsen each year. Every single time it snows, the media plays it up so much that one would think the fucking end of the world was imminent. Up until a few years ago, the news broadcast would be something like, “Oh, and we’re probably going to get some snow tomorrow, so plan accordingly!” Now, each time the radar has a speck of white on it, they’re all, “OH MY GOD IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD SHUT THE STATE DOWN AND BEGIN STOCKING CANNED GOODS!! EMERGENCY!!!!” And like freaking sheep, we buy into it, nodding our heads, bemoaning the disaster to befall us the next day.
When did we forget that 90% of the time, the weather broadcasters are wrong? And barring that, when did we forget that we live in Chicago?? It’s the Midwest, everyone! We’re hearty people! Five inches of snow? Pssht. Shovel it out, throw a lawn chair in your parking spot, and head on into work. Unless there’s over a foot, the only thing that needs to be said is, “Eh, really coming down out there, huh?” This is why we keep shovels in our cars (well, obviously I don’t, but that’s because I’m woefully unprepared for pretty much any situation. Sometimes I forget to wear a coat,) bags of salt in our doorways, and have boots. Because we live in Chicago. And it fucking snows here. Occasionally, it snows a whole fucking lot. And we know this. Because it’s CHICAGO and that’s what happens in the winter.
That being said, here’s a couple things to help you keep in mind for the next “Snowpocalypse,” which will probably happen sometime around the second week in April.
Whilst Waiting for the Bus – Use Caution.
I was actually pretty happy it was snowing this morning. It was that big, pretty snow that just made the city look beautiful. And while it was coming down pretty hard by the time I left for work, it was relatively warm and I happily made my way to the bus stop, listening to Pandora and just generally enjoying my lovely, snow-covered city.
When I got to the corner where my stop is, I was the only one there and saw a bus coming from only about a block away. I learned quickly in my CTA adventures that if you are the only one at a bus stop, it’s necessary to make yourself visible as otherwise your transportation will go zooming past you without a second glance, leaving you standing on the sidewalk like a dolt with your bus card in your hand, all, “But, whaaa? Wait! You didn’t stop!” (This doesn’t make them come back for you, FYI.) So I was standing right up under the sign, trying to make eye contact with the yet-unseen driver, when a complete douchetard in a stupid car came flying down Chicago, going way too fast for conditions, I might add, spraying the giant pile of accumulated slush over my head in a manuever that probably should have been on YouTube. The first time this happened to me earlier this year, I laughed it off, saying I hope someone at least saw it so they had a good story. This time? Kind of wanted to throw baseball bats at his car. Added bonus? The aforementioned driver saw the whole thing and added insult to (wet) injury by remarking, “Pretty messy out here, huh?”
Pretty, Giant Snowflakes Can Cover Up Ugly, Giant Ice Patches.
If you live outside city limits, you probably don’t have to do a lot of walking in the snow. While this certainly presents its own challenges – namely, driving in stop and go traffic because everyone forgets how to operate an automobile the second cumulus clouds develop – having to travel on foot in snowy weather is a whole other bag of pain in the ass. Especially if one lives in a neighborhood where shoveling your sidewalk is not a priority. Which my neighborhood apparently is. Despite it being a relatively mild winter, what snow/ice that has accumulated has stayed right where it started and to put it bluntly, it’s slippery as all fuck outside. Which, if you have a short memory like yours truly, can pose a problem. As I stepped out, my enjoyment of the beautiful snow was quickly undercut as I stepped one foot into the alley and nearly snapped my leg in half trying to overcorrect after hitting a patch of ice the size of my dining room table. Use caution, folks. There’s evil underfoot in the form of solid ice posing as snow.
Don’t Log In to Facebook. I Promise. Just Don’t.
As I may have mentioned before, weather updates via Facebook make me kind of homicidal. Pictures of your backyard, kids/dog in the snow, a fabulous snowman? Bring it on. Love it. I get that. Got stuck for four and a half hours in traffic? Okay, I can understand that one. Posting statuses freaking out from 5PM the night before the impending doomstorm that may or may not actually happen? Stop it. Just stop it. Yes, it probably will take forever to get to work tomorrow. Yes, it probably will take forever to get HOME from work tomorrow. Yes, it probably will snow. Yes, it probably will be messy. Yes, drivers probably will be fucking morons. Yes, you probably will be one of them. STOP. IT.
Side note? I have to say this. Teachers? I do love you. You have a nearly impossible job, which is thankless, underpaid, underappreciated, and extraordinarily stressful. So please don’t misunderstand when I say if I see one more post about how you have a snow day BEFORE THERE IS ANY SNOW, I will kind of want to punch you. Also? To those few who didn’t get a snow day and took to social media whining and complaining about how you can’t believe your school is the one that didn’t give you a snow day and how dare they expect you to work – um, you’re pretty much part of the only profession that gets to not work due to weather. Every single other person in the Chicagoland area has to figure out how to get to work tomorrow – you can do it too! You’re a teacher! I have full confidence that you can navigate your way to school just like the rest of us have to navigate ourselves to work.
In a nutshell – stand back from the street, watch your step, and quit your bitching. Embrace the snow. Enjoy it. It’s a short few months before we’re all sticking to the seat of the car and sitting in front of box fans and complaining about our sunburns. And guess what? We’ll survive that too. Promise.