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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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Maybe, Just Maybe

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. 

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It’s Too Cold for This Shit.

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??

Four short months ago.

Four short months ago.

Hey Macklemore, I’m Going Thrift Shopping. Again.

To my knowledge, I had never stepped foot in a thrift store prior to September of this year.  If I had, it was by accident and probably against my will as I generally regard shopping as a necessary evil to be performed only as a drastic last measure once I literally have nothing to wear on my person or feet.  Think I’m kidding?  Before my nephew could walk, he owned more pairs of shoes than myself.  This is not because he had an exorbitant amount of shoes, it’s because I literally had four.  A pair of ballet flats, a pair of rain boots, a pair of gym shoes, and some flip flops.  I hate wearing shoes and would walk around barefoot 24/7 if given the opportunity.  Same with coats.  As previously mentioned, I hate wearing them.  If there is a remote chance that I might be hot at some point while wearing the coat, I will rip it off and take my chances on getting frostbite.

Regular clothes pose a bit more of a challenge as it’s illegal to go outside without pants – I think – and once it’s too cold for me to pull off sundresses, I have to figure something else out.  Left to my own devices, I’m perfectly happy to wear leggings, mismatched socks, and a hoodie.  But some people – TONY – refused to leave the house with me a few weeks ago so I was forced to consider that it may, in fact, be time for some new clothes.

Of course, me being me, once I decided I needed to new clothes, it distracted and bothered me to the point that I was in near tears every morning as I schlepped along in my outdated dress pants, scowling at the girls waiting for the train in their a-fucking-dorable skinny jeans and leggings.  It morphed from “Hey, I should probably get some new clothes,” to “OMG I NEED AN ENTIRELY NEW WARDROBE AND I HAVE FORTY DOLLARS AND I HATE EVERYTHING UNTIL I HAVE SKINNY JEANS AND BOOTS.”

Enter the thrift store.  There is a giant one in my new neighborhood, and a few weeks ago decided I would check it out.  Just figured I would take a look, see what I could see, maybe get lucky with a couple of new things.  Four hours later, I was walking home with a vintage Band-Aid dispenser, a wooden black cat statue Halloween decoration that scared the shit out of my cat, two t-shirts, and an obsession.  It. Has. EVERYTHING.  I was a little daunted the first time around, as it’s giant maze of humanity; the kids clothes are by the vacuums, the bathing suits (fucking ew, absolutely not, there has to be a line somewhere,) are by the electronics, the furniture is by the shoes, and the coats are mixed in with the dresses.

In addition to the disorganization, it’s simply confusing.  There’s these random, unwritten rules; for instance, you are supposed to take the clothes off the hangers when you get to the register and if you don’t are ostracized by fellow thrifters and the cashier alike, which – especially for the faint of heart like me – can be relatively tough on the self-esteem.  Also, the clientele at this particular store, due to its location, is comprised of stupid hipsters that are simply looking for the most ironic thing they can find, families that are there out of genuine need, and big, scary soccer-mom types who will muscle past you while talking on a cell phone and somehow traveling the aisles with three carts.  (Note: they’re the ones to watch out for.  Trust.)

All of that being said, there’s somewhat of a party atmosphere; there’s a guy with a cart outside selling elotes and tacos who inexplicably has balloons, and they play the most random, fabulous soundtrack of any store I’ve ever been in.  The last time I was there, in succession, they played the Spanish version of “Unchained Melody,” Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball,” and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.”  It was fucking amazing.

Certainly, you have to go in with an open mind.  You have to be willing to pretty much look through everything; clothes are grouped by color, not size, so there are size zero jeans next to size 22s, size smalls next to XXXL.  But here’s a secret – nothing will open your mind faster than getting six pairs of brand name jeans, two pairs of boots, and five shirts/sweaters for a grand total of $37.00. I have gotten more compliments on my thrift store finds in the past three weeks than I have gotten since I began my job almost two years ago.  And thus, an obsession has been born.  Almost without my realization or intent, we seem to be propelling ourselves there every Saturday morning (it’s HALF PRICE DAY!!  HURRY!!) and coming home only ten or fifteen bucks lighter, but with new clothes.

Downside?  It’s actually cheaper to buy new clothes than to do laundry in our building, which for two extremely lazy people will likely become a problem in the very foreseeable future.  Upside?  Aside from the obvious, it’s possibly the greatest people-watching on the planet save for Las Vegas, and it’s a lot cheaper and less stressful to go to Village Discount.

Case in point?  When we were there Saturday, the lines were outrageous.  This is obviously not a big surprise and again is part of the whole “open mind” part of the experience.  Expect to be there awhile.  Anyhow, we were about seventh in line once we finished shopping and settled into our favorite game which basically consists of  mocking others for sport.  While we debated the purchases of the three – seemingly unrelated – men at the register who were buying, among other things, a badminton racket, a dollhouse, four towels (fucking ew again,) and a VCR, when something caught my eye.

Or rather, someone caught my eye.  This girl a couple carts in front of us, all hundred and twenty pounds of her, wearing leggings with cute little patterned leg warmers under her knee high boots (seriously, I don’t even want to talk about how difficult it is to fit my pants inside my boots; you have to have a special kind of tiny baby-giraffe legs to wear thick knit leg warmers underneath them,) a teeny-tiny shirt, and super cute jean jacket.  She had curly hair all piled up in a bun in that way that is meant to look messy but takes most people three hours to accomplish.  She was pretty much stunning and what I pretend I look like when I am putting outfits together in my head, and she was hurting my feelings just for existing.

I looked down at my yoga pants and big comfy t-shirt – perfect for shopping! – and, noticing a stain, remarked to my husband, “Life’s not fair.”  Without missing a beat or taking his eyes off of her, he replied, “No shit.”  A couple of minutes later, he nudged me.  “Yeah, this is probably more our speed,” while pointing down another aisle where a woman was trying to knock a shirt down from a high rack by waving a Halloween scarecrow at it wildly, muttering, “Come on, come ON,” prompting me to burst out laughing so hard I couldn’t compose myself and he nearly sent me outside.

So yeah.  The thrift store pretty much has everything; entertainment, music, people watching, and every possible item you could ever imagine wanting for under five dollars.  Grab some friends and forty dollars — I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

Is that your grandma's coat?

Is that your grandma’s coat?

 

Surviving Winter

If you’re in the Chicago area, you undoubtedly had the conversation today.  It was impossible to avoid, no matter how hard you tried.  The news was all over it, Facebook was awash with amateur weathermen, (excuse me, weatherPEOPLE,) and casual conversations on the elevator couldn’t help but veer towards it; today was the first day of possible snow.  And despite all of the obvious, i.e. it’s the end of October, this tends to happen, and oh yeah, we live in Chicago why are we still surprised at any weather, EVER, we just can’t help but be surprised.  It’s like Mother Nature stopped her tease of the past few weeks, which had lulled us into a false sense of security, thinking, Hey!  Maybe this will be the year we actually WILL have a fall! and just dropped the temperature like 30 degrees while at the same time taking away the sun, leaving half of us standing in flip flops and dresses and the other half in gear fit for Antarctica on a bad day while we all stare at each other, uncomprehending.  Seriously, if one were to come from another planet today and was forced to make assumptions based on how well we dressed for the weather, we would fail everything.

That being said, I’m trying to get over my frustration with the fact that once the temperature dips below 40 degrees social media loses its collective mind and can concentrate only on the weather outside.  So I decided to embrace it; cold, snow, sleet and all, and make a list of what I’d like to accomplish during this upcoming glorious six months of slush.

winter

Dress Appropriately

Here’s something that will likely surprise no one – I am woefully lacking in dressing for the weather.  You’d think, with all my bitching, that I’d pay a tiny bit more attention to all of the Facebook weather updates and manage to dress accordingly, but you would be wrong.  For one, I hate wearing a coat.  Hate it.  I hate being hot more than pretty much anything in the world, and if walking to a bus stop and then waiting for a bus and train in below freezing temperatures for a total of 30 minutes while freezing in a long sleeve shirt means I don’t have to suffer through it being all hot and twisty and miserable for five minutes while ON the bus, I’m all for it.  I tried wearing gloves, a hat, and a scarf with my normal clothes last winter so as not to give myself frostbite, but I was still smoking then and not only almost lit myself on fire, but lost at least one of these items on a daily basis.  In addition, being asked 20 times a day, “Where is your COAT???” from concerned citizens and co-workers is only slightly less annoying than being strangled by that stupid coat.  So this year, I bought a pair of boots, and this weekend, I am buying a coat.  And I am going to spend time – ugh – shopping for said coat, so I don’t leave it hanging up every morning while I throw a DC sweatshirt over my dress pants.

Go Sledding

I haven’t been sledding in years.  The last time I consciously remember sledding, I was in high school and me and one of the boys in my class damn near killed some innocent schoolchildren while careening down the hill, Griswold-style, completely out of control.  It was glorious.  I love sledding.  There is a big sledding hill at the park near my new apartment, and despite the negative effect the addition of forty pounds, Peppermint Schnapps, gangbangers, and diminished coordination may have on the experience, I am going this year.  I don’t particularly care if it kills all of us, because we will die SLEDDING which is awesome.  (Note to self – Google “sleds for uncoordinated adults.”)

Embrace the Chicago Holiday Season

Every year, I’m all, “Ugh, it’s so crowded, and who the hell wants to see stupid window decorations and lights with four hundredy billion tourists?”  This year, I’m going to embrace it.  You know what, Chicagoans?  Especially all of you Loop workers out there?  We are so, so, lucky.  People take bus tours to come see our lights.  People from all over the country make a point to come look at our windows and go shopping in our historic stores.  People visiting will talk for years of the street performer they saw inexplicably playing the Flintstones theme song on the saxophone, (seriously, that must be the easiest song ever on the sax.  EVERYONE knows it.)  And us?  We just brush by all, Ugh, please, people, learn to cross a street!  This year, I am going to do my best to enjoy it.  Please note, I said I would try.  Should you see a post around December 20th entitled “OMG Why Can’t People Just Stay at Home and Shop in Their Own Damn Stores, I Just Need a Fucking Extension Cord and This Target is Not Any Different Than the One in Kansas!” do not be surprised.

Not Fall Down.  In Case of Failure, Allow Self to Wallow Under Blanket for the Rest of the Day

Again in the you’re-probably-not-surprised category, each year I tend to “lose my balance,” at some point during the ice-filled, snow-covered season.  Sometimes it’s because of black ice, sometimes it’s because my shoes are completely unsuitable for snow, and sometimes it’s because I’m just really bad at walking on uneven surfaces.  But this year, I have fucking boots.  This year, I am going to pay attention.  This year, I am considering walking along with one of those wheelbarrows that spreads salt, just to be on the safe side.  However, if this should fail, and I fall down in a puddle of mess on my way down the street, I am GOING BACK HOME.  This year, I will not be mocked on the bus when I get on, covered only on one side with dirty slush.  This year, I will not be asked, whilst trying to maintain dignity despite being soaking wet and bleeding from my hands, “What happened to you!?” from co-workers desperately trying not to burst out into laughter.  I will turn around, go home, make myself a hot toddy or seven, and stay under the blanket where it is warm and dry.

What are your goals for the winter?

You Be The Judge

We recently moved – yes, again – to a new apartment and are in the process of decorating, putting up pictures, and generally making the place feel like home.  That is, in between rounds of me loading the dishwasher.  I have a dishwasher for the first time in my adult life and the love I have for said dishwasher knows no bounds.  All of a sudden, I am that person who is grabbing plates out of unsuspecting hands mid-bite and then using every pot, pan, and fork in the place just so I can fill up the dishwasher and run it.  I look up product reviews on dishwasher tabs and research how to remove water spots, nodding sagely along with advice because now I, too, have a dishwasher and can commiserate with the difficulties of getting my cutlery squeaky clean.   My husband, who lived through the past seven years consistently repeating the phrase, “Letting it soak, my ass.  It’s been soaking for three days,” is bewildered by this crazy person who can no longer abide by a dirty dish in the sink, this person who empties out leftovers to wash the bowl, who starts emptying said dishwasher at 8AM on Saturday morning.  (On that note – the quieter you try to be is directly related to the number of forks you accidentally send clattering to the floor when the cat tries to help be jumping into the sink next to you.)  Anyhow – I am loving the new place.  We are still deciding on exactly what pictures/posters/memorabilia to put up on the walls.  I thought we had it mostly figured out, until two weeks ago when Tony went for a walk in the morning and came clambering up the stairs an hour later, exclaiming, “I found art!!!” Which brings me to this, which is currently propped up against my living room wall, unsure of its place in the world.

Is it art?  Is it garbage?  And more importantly - who is it?

Is it art? Is it garbage? And more importantly – who is it?

 

At first, I was all, sweet, you found a graffiti covered canvas!  But the more I looked at it, the more I was intrigued.   It’s actually pretty cool and definitely different.  However, I’m still vacillating between, Hey, that’s totally creepy and Hey, this is really cool and you should ask me about my edgy, artistic side.  (Heh.  I can’t even type that without laughing.)  But my biggest hang up with it is I DON’T KNOW WHO IT IS.  Or who it’s supposed to be.  Or if it even is supposed to be someone?  A few people I’ve shown the picture to think it may be a rendering of Mayor Daley.  Which would make sense, and like a friend said, I could build some cool Chicago décor around it.  But what if it’s the artist’s creepy uncle Fred or something? And then I have a dinner party or something and some fancy guest is all, “Why do you have a painting of that dirty old man?”  (I’m not sure what about the painting or apartment makes me think that I’m all of a sudden going to start hosting dinner parties, but I want to be prepared.)

 

So I’m turning to you, friends.  What do you think?   Do you know who it is?   Does it matter?  Help me get this either onto the porch or onto a wall or into the garbage.

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a dishwasher to unload.

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

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

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

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

For The Bikers

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

For The Drivers

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

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

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

Can’t we all just get along?

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

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

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

*Bike Riding in Chicago for Dummies: The Helmet Diaries

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

*Why We Suck at the 4th of July

*The Summer Jungle Bugs of the Ukrainian Village

*Why Sometimes My Family Simply Kicks Ass

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

*Why I Am Awesome at the Neighborhood Watch.

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

*Beach Bag Packing for the Insane

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

Oh, Fork You

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

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

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

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

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

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

I so don’t want an app for that.

My utensils?  Don't need a USB port.

My utensils? Don’t need a USB port.

Lessons Learned

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

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

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

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

Rain, rain, go away, I hate you!

Rain, rain, go away, I hate you!