Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “strangers

So… This Ban… Y’all Know We’re Being Gaslighted, Right?

[EDITED TO REFLECT A RECENT ARTICLE I READ LIKE 5 MINUTES AFTER POSTING THIS, SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM TO SEE]

IF YOU’RE READING TO SEE WHAT I’VE GOT TO SAY ABOUT THIS BAN, SKIP TO THE NEXT ALL CAPS SENTENCE. I’M GETTING ALL PERSONAL BLOGGY FIRST.

Okay, personal stuff first. Did I tell y’all I am going to a bridesmaid for the first time ever this year? My girl Toya (we grew up next door to each other, and she’s thankfully not marrying the boy next door, lol) is getting married in May. She’s one of the only people on the planet who could get me to go to Florida right now.

Chris and I haven’t been to Florida since George Zimmerman was acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin. That Stand Your Ground law is such utter bullshit that we decided we would do our best to not go back until it was changed. I’m making an exception for this wedding, then the travel ban is back in place.

Being a bridesmaid is such a mind fuck. It’s like being trolled by my own thoughts. Budget worries, body worries, logistics, etc. To put it more simply, trying on bridesmaid dresses has made me get my whole life together. If I’m going to wear a strapless gown at a beach wedding and get photographed in some forever pictures, I need to do better than what I’m currently doing.

Luckily, this feeling coincided with Chris wanting to be healthier too. So for the past couple of week’s we’ve both been way more committed to exercise, and I’ve been cooking 5-6 times a week. it’s better for the budget and the waistline. Simpler meals (if blood orange & herb glazed baked ribs with mushroom rice and roasted butternut squash counts as simple) have been the goal. So far, it’s going well.

We’ve just hit that point where that initial burst of energy because we’re working out 6 days a week is starting to fade. We still have all our regular life responsibilities and we are tired, man. We are committed to pushing through and getting our bodies used to this new pattern. We just gotta get over the hill. I’m grateful that we have each other for support.

We support our goals, and also our mental well-being. We discuss all the crap going on the world, then watch SNL and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for catharsis.

HEY Y’ALL, HERE’S WHERE I SWITCH TO POLITICS, WHICH IS PRETTY MUCH SYNONYMOUS WITH SOCIETAL GASLIGHTING THESE DAYS.

So, unless you’re living under a rock or know literally no one affected by this travel ban, you’ve heard that there are new levels of dickishness that can be reached with each passing day.

That fucker in the White House spent his first week signing executive orders left and right like he was Dolores Umbridge taking over Hogwarts.

The most recent one that has caught everyone’s attention is this immigrant/refugee ban. If you need a breakdown about it, I got you. CNN explains it relatively well here, here, here, and here.

The people responded strongly and swiftly. If  you need a breakdown about that, I got you. The New York Times covers it pretty efficiently as of two days ago, and you can read that here.

I was all on board for grabbing my pitchfork to join the townsfolk to protest this newest outrage. If I didn’t have crazy work hours (also see above for newfound commitment to not having a terrible beach body), I would’ve trekked out to JFK to join the protests the first night they happened.

For the most part, I’m still on board, but I’ve seen this and I really have to share it with y’all.

If you’re like me and you simply open all links in new tabs to be read after you’ve read the main article (or not at all), I’ll sum it up for you. Shaun King, journalist and activist extraordinaire tweeted a Facebook post by political historian Heather Richardson. If you open no other links in this blog post, READ THIS ONE.

If you’re still refusing to open the link I’ve put in ALL CAPS, well fine, you’ve twisted my arm. To make a long story short, Professor Richardson describes this fuckery aka ban as a “shock event.” If you don’t know what a shock event is, well, just click on the word shock event in the previous sentence. Seriously folks, I’m spoon feeding you here. It can’t get much easier than this… unless you’re reading on a browser that won’t let you open in a new tab and won’t save where you left off on the previous screen, in that case, well, I understand.

Okay, back to this term called shock event. The idea is to do something shocking, that will both distract and divide the people. They are focused on this shocking thing, and they have knee-jerk reactions for or against it along expected lines. You know, for example, like instituting an unreviewed ban on immigrants from seven seemingly random countries who haven’t sent us jihadists.

While the people are still in disarray, mounting their response of protest or support, you sneak in the back door (that’s what he said) and enact your real agenda.

Right now you may be thinking, if he is such a badass, usurping the will of the people, why bother with the bait and switch? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because he doesn’t actually want complete anarchy. He wants the people in disarray so they can’t mount an effective defense. It’s in his best interest to keep them from unifying. He knows his true objective is NOT in the interest of the people, and if they knew what he was truly up to, they’d try and stop it. But if they’re too busy fighting over who loves Muslims more than the next person hates Muslims, they won’t notice that he’s about to fuck them all over for something that benefits only a select few.

Let me put it this way. Those fuckers who have confederate flags covering every surface they own, their wives still wearing t-shirts that say Jail the Bitch, their children bullying yours in school to go back to “where you came from,” their preachers condemning all your gay best friends to hell, their healthcare they swear they don’t want being paid for by your taxes, you know them? Can you imagine protesting along side them when whatever Bannon and Trump have planned is revealed?

I for one have a hard time imagining the same people who’ve had vitriolic responses to the protests since Inauguration Day standing beside me to fight against the complete decimation of our tax/healthcare/education/transportation/energy/housing/banking/regulation/immigration/you-name-it system, or whatever the hell their true target is.

But if Professor Richardson is right, we gotta be vigilant y’all. We CANNOT let this man and his puppeteers take away any of the few things that happen to matter to most of us.

Thanks to historians (yay education!) we have an early warning. We’ve got several jobs to do. One of them is to continue to protest the individual acts of fuckery, like this ban, as they pop up. But today, right now, move one waaaaaay up the priority list.

YOU NEED TO FIND A WAY TO STOMACH WORKING WITH THOSE YOU DISAGREE WITH ABOUT DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING.

YOU NEED TO FIND A WAY TO STOMACH WORKING WITH THOSE YOU DISAGREE WITH ABOUT DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING.

YOU NEED TO FIND A WAY TO STOMACH WORKING WITH THOSE YOU DISAGREE WITH ABOUT DAMN NEAR EVERYTHING.

You still with me? Good. Hear me out.

I’m not saying get ready to invite the Klan to your family reunion. I’m not saying continue to work with these fuckers people after the fight is won (see what I did there? I’m already growing. grow with me). I’m saying that when the shit goes down, which those smarter than us are pretty sure it will, do not let ideological divides keep you from fighting together.

I don’t know how much time you need. But do some self-assessment and figure that shit out. I don’t know how much time we have. But take some time, do some meditation, and make peace that you may one day march alongside a white nationalist against a common cause.

Take a moment right now. Breathe. It will be okay. If/When that moment comes that we all need to join together, you gotta be ready to do this with us, you can’t let it take you by surprise. If this ban really was a shock event… Don’t. Let. It. Work. On. You.

Stay strong. Resist. Take care of yourself and those you love.

EDIT: So…. I think the big move may have been started already. I think it might’ve been Trump nominating Bannon to the National Security Council. Keep an eye on this one. For a quick rundown, read this opinion piece by the New York Times Editorial Board entitled, “President Bannon.”.

shock-event


Chicago-Style Girl’s Day Off

What would you do with a day off?

Maybe you’d go shopping and have lunch with the girls? Well, I have no money for shopping and my girls live in Chicago, so that wasn’t an option.

Maybe you’d finally see a movie you’ve been dying to see and maybe even make it a double feature? There are a ton of movies out I’d like to see, but the thought didn’t even occur to me to try to see a film.

Maybe you’d stay up late dancing in your pajamas, just happy to have some time to yourself? That was an appealing thought, but I was out of the house last night, so pajamas dancing will have to wait.

Wednesday was a true day off for me for the first time since I’ve moved to New York. I normally work Monday through Friday, but some schedule shuffling made it possible.

I should have slept in, making myself mimosas and frittatas whenever I finally woke up. I should have walked around with no pants on, letting the hours slip away.

I should have been glad that for once, I didn’t have to wake up to get ready for work, or get ready for the soup kitchen, or get ready for church.

But instead, I volunteered my one morning of free time to the home I volunteer at. I mentioned before how I do tutoring at this home for new mothers who don’t have anywhere else to go. Since I started, the tutoring volunteering has expanded to include much more.

On Wednesday, it extended to babysitting an adorable 2 month old while her mom had a job interview. Getting a job is one of the big steps towards independence at the home, and I was happy to help facilitate it. Plus, that baby is freaking adorable and despite being a bit fussy, she’s a cool baby to be around.

So when I should’ve been at home determining the best proportion of orange juice to champagne, I was instead trying to coax a con artist baby to stay asleep even after I put her down.

I guess it’s not a bad trade. As much as I’m nowhere near ready for my own children, I do enjoy the companies of babies who aren’t jerks. And this baby is definitely not a jerk, so it was fine.

I’m looking forward to helping her mom more in the future once she starts her job. That’s right, she got the job!

After babysitting, I did finally engage in some day-off behavior. I sat on the couch with the husband catching up on TV shows. We watched MARVEL’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Revenge, Castle, Almost Human, and a couple of other shows too. There really is some great writing on TV these days.

Then it was nap time. I highly encourage anyone with a day off to embrace nap time like you’re five years old. There is nothing quite as refreshing as a lovely nap. My heart goes out to kindergarteners who don’t have nap time these days. Poor guys. What are they going to take away next? That wonderfully goopy paste that they use to make crappy crafts projects?

After my nap, the husband and I went out because he had a gig. We went to Small’s Jazz Club, a place I love to go to. The staff is great, the venue is unique, and bonus– it’s in the Village.

I know what you’re thinking. I give any and everything in the Village extra weight of special-ness just because it’s in the Village. Well, maybe you’d be right. Or maybe they just make better versions of everything in the Village and that’s why I love it so much. No way to know.

So we’re out at the club, and as now is the trend, as soon as I sat at the bar, I attracted the attention of a random stranger who’s super friendly. Last week, the attention I attracted was awesome because I met a great couple who I can actually see the husband and myself becoming friends with. We’re hanging out with them next week I think and it will be great.

Now the random European guy who’s attention I attracted last night was a different story. This guy seemed to mean well, but this crazy European man was systematically irritating, annoying, and perplexing everyone in our general vicinity.

He made the sweet bartender ladies roll their eyes because of the way he ordered his drinks. Ten minutes to decide on Stella Artois on tap? Really?

He got pushed aside by the bass player/sound man/ general peacekeeper dude because he wouldn’t stop blocking the aisle even though he had a bar stool.

He got hushed by an already boisterous crowd because his voice carried and was interrupting other people’s ability to hear the solos. I don’t know how much time you all spend in jazz clubs, but you’re really doing too much when you get hushed by the crowd who is also talking and laughing.

And to top it all off, the crazy European man got really drunk and almost threw up, so he got kicked out of the club. I’ve never even seen someone get kicked out of a jazz club before. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen someone get throw-up drunk at a jazz club before.

Needless to say, I didn’t exchange contact information with this crazy European man (who tried to convince me my parents are hippies at heart as illustrated by the uniqueness of my name), nor did I make plans to hang out again.

I spent the rest of the night hanging out with the husband and his musician friends.

20140116_005712_5_bestshot 20140116_021419

Yeah, I have glasses now. Anyway.

Everyone was talking about how much fun our Sunday dinner was, and how they can’t wait until we do it again. I think we’ve started a new tradition, and when they make the movie about one of these musician’s lives one day, my Sunday dinners should make the script, at least it better.

Making new friends is hard, you know?

Especially when the options available are so damn weird.

But I have hope. The husband has another gig on Monday that promises a lot of fun. I ended up inviting 6 people to join me out. I didn’t even know I knew six people here in New York I’d like to hang out with socially outside of a work shift, a Sunday service, or a quick drink after the soup kitchen. The couple we met last week, a guy from work and a friend of his I haven’t met yet, and a guy we met at a bar back in September and his girlfriend.

The fact that I even had more than one person I could think of to invite made me happy. I’m perfectly comfortable hanging by myself at the husband’s gigs, but it would be nice to have some friends with me too.

On that note, I’m going to go make a list of cool ways to spend a day off. The only thing I know is that the next time it happens, I’m definitely not starting my day until after noon.

Any ideas?


That Time I Almost Stabbed An Old Man In The Street

Before I talk about that time I almost stabbed an old man in the street, I first want to follow-up on yesterday. It’s like God heard my not-actually-prayed prayers and found a solution to my problems.

I will have time to wash my clothes before I have to wear more awful clothing combinations to work. I was sitting at work when one of the other shift leaders asks me if I want to go home, take a nap, then come back that night.

I did a quick thinking process and decided I was in. I gathered my things and left. I got home and took a nice long nap until it was time to get up to go do my volunteer thing. I definitely went the wrong way once or twice on the way (anyone want to teach me the difference between north and south?), but I finally got to the place.

The woman I’m working with has her final next week. So when I go back on Monday, we’re going to work hard to make sure she’s as prepared as possible for the final. Then the following weekend, we will celebrate her doing well by taking an excursion somewhere. We haven’t figured out where yet, but I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m glad this is going well because I know sometimes volunteer work can be unfulfilling and boring. This work is anything but. She even showed me her latest sonogram today! My personal opinion happens to be that sonograms look weird and pretty icky, but I was just happy for her that she wanted to show the pictures off.

I’m sure the husband will want to pat me on the back for keeping my strong ass opinions to myself for once. Thank God I have this blog to let it out on you people. I figure you’re asking for my opinions because you bother to read my words.

I’ll probably be one of the few ladies who shuns her own sonograms while she’s pregnant. The doctor will be all, “hey, want a picture of your baby? Isn’t it grand?” And I’ll be all, “um, no that alien looking thing belongs in my womb, not floating around in my purse or on my refrigerator blown up 100x. No thank you.” Then the husband will shake his head at me and request the picture anyway.

Back on topic now. After I was done with the tutoring, I headed to work. I worked until the morning at which point I went home. Now I’m not due back until Friday, so I actually have time to, you guessed it, wash my clothes!

Because I worked last night, I could wear causal clothes, which I haven’t run out of yet. And on casual Friday, I can also wear the jeans instead of the slacks. That gives me four whole days to manage to wash some clothes for work on Monday. Of course, I’ll be quite tired from flipping back and forth from day sleep to night sleep, so I still may not get it done. I’m not gonna worry about that just yet though.

On to the point of this post. In the course of getting ready for my trip out of town last weekend, I decided to take a trip down to Greenwich Village in Manhattan rather than to the Laundromat, you know, to wash clothes.

Down in Greenwich Village, I was reminded yet again of why I love that neighborhood. It just feels neighborhood-y and community-ish. The people all seem to carry the sense of belonging and lack of judgment with them everywhere they go.

My destination when I got there was this lovely little shop that sells essential oils. I’ll explain in a later post why I needed essential oils, but there I was, making some purchases, feeling very Village-like. I left the shop and noticed there was a vegan grocery store, a yoga studio, a sushi bar, and a LGBT community center all within the same half a block.

Even though I’m heterosexual and such a carnivore (pun intended), I felt so at home. That type of acceptance of any lifestyle put a big smile on my face. I don’t know how much time you people have spent around others who aren’t like yourself. I’ve encountered communities that are so supportive of vegans that they judge meat-eaters. I’ve also been around homosexuals and bisexuals that shun heterosexuals.

But nobody was eye-ing my I heart bacon sweatshirt with ire. I fit right in and happily so.

Just as I was reveling in my daydreams about moving into this building that looked like a fancy version of my current brownstone, my thoughts were interrupted by this man. He was leaning forward, swaying unsteadily on his feet. For some reason, he was holding a 7-Eleven big gulp cup partially in front of his eyes in a very I-can-see-you-but-you-can’t-see-me kind of way.

He swayed into my path and began lumbering toward me. When I stepped to the side to go around him, he stepped to the side to stay in my way. Then he started talking. I don’t recall exactly what he said, but he kept calling me Lady and laughing each time he said it.

When he got closer, I stopped walking forward and actually started taking steps back. As I stepped back, he stepped forward. This was officially an awful moment. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I ran through the options.

1)      Mace his ass.

2)      Cut his ass.

3)      Run away.

4)      See if he needed help.

The first option was a good one since I had an adorable pink bottle of pepper spray in my purse. The second option was the most attractive, but I didn’t have a box cutter with me because the husband refused to buy me one. I’m pretty sure it was out of pure laziness that he didn’t buy it for me. And I’m pretty sure it was out of pure laziness that I didn’t buy it for myself.

The third option just isn’t my style. I prefer fight over flight. The last option didn’t feel very safe. I’m alone in New York, so I can’t afford the risk to my safety by reaching out to strangers like that. I just got here, and I’d like to keep myself safe.

Based on those options, I began reaching for my pepper spray, cursing both myself and my husband that I didn’t have a box cutter. I’m not against cutting an old man who’s starting to scare me. But before I could pull out the pepper spray, another man on the street told the man to leave me alone because he was clearly scaring me.

They argued back and forth a bit over whether or not he was scaring me. Ultimately the creepy old man with the big gulp cup gave up and crossed the street, muttering to himself.

I left my pepper spray in my purse and thanked the man for his intervention.

Then I called the husband and fussed at him for not buying me a box cutter. I clearly needed to cut an old man, but wasn’t able to because he was being lazy.

The husband, who is saner than I am, immediately let me know that it wasn’t a bad thing that I got through the afternoon without cutting an old man.

Agree to disagree.

On my agenda while I have some time at the Laundromat: heading to the nearby hardware store to purchase a box cutter.

That old man may have been harmless, but I don’t want to be naïve enough to think everybody who walks up on me in this city will be. I’ve got plans for my life, and they don’t include becoming a statistic to senseless violence. Yeah, that just got real.


Seriously, I Can Teach Anyone Math

I mentioned before how I was starting to do volunteer work. It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to make that happen, and I’d forgotten how much it means to me to help people for no better reason than they need it.

Reaching out to the organization I did was totally on a whim, inspired by my need to get some “extra-curriculars” for grad school. There was just something about the website they setup that really reached out to me.

They take a lot of different types of volunteers, including tutors. Tutoring is right up my alley. I did a lot of tutoring at my church in Chicago. I also worked in the Chemistry tutoring lab when I was in undergrad. I’ve helped out a few friends over the years with classes they struggled with as well.

As the title of this post says, I feel quite confident I can teach anyone math. I can teach them almost anything. Just not history. It’s hard to teach a subject I don’t know well. I can’t tell you dates and quote all that stuff from history, nor have I ever figured out a way to remember it effectively. But enough about history, I want to focus on math!

If you don’t like math or you swear you’re no good at it, I blame your math teach from the fourth or fifth grade. That seems to be the time in life where people either realize they are great at math and/or enjoy it. If you don’t realize that, resentment builds until it’s finally released the day you don’t have to do math anymore (except for counting money).

The woman I’m tutoring is from the category of people who don’t like math. As expected, her dislike stemmed more from not understanding some of the fundamentals than truly disliking the subject. I blame her fourth grade teacher.

Getting to the location to begin tutoring wasn’t easy. It was a part of Brooklyn I’ve never been to before (there are still so many parts unexplored honestly), but luckily my HopStop app helped me find it. When I got there, the lady who runs the place confirmed I was who I said I was, and let me know the house rules.

They are pretty strict, but they are providing a service to teach women who have no place else to go how to create a stable life for themselves and their unborn child. The work they do and the people they’ve helped is really inspiring.

Some of the people they help come from some pretty bad situations, so I won’t say any more about the actual organization for safety’s sake.

When I mentioned some of my other hobbies and interests, the lady seemed interested in other ways I could help the woman I’m working with as well. She asked if I’d like to come over and show her a few healthy home-cooked recipes for dinner once or twice a month. Also, she asked If I could take her out in Brooklyn or in the city for some cultural excursions.

I thought I’d just be helping someone advance in their pursuit of a degree, but it looks like I’ll be taking on a much more active role with her. It’s pretty exciting to think I could help even more than originally expected.

Once we got through the formalities and introductions, we jumped right into the math. One of the reasons I’m so good at teaching people math is that I teach them not just what they need to know for that lesson, I teach them how to learn the next thing even before it comes.

Math is a language and you have to learn the language if you want to excel in the subject. That’s the fundamental piece most people are missing. Math teachers all over the country are slacking by not teaching their students the language of math.

If you have no idea what I mean, and I haven’t lost you by mentioning the word math 100 times in the last four paragraphs, I’ll explain what I mean.

3 + 2 = 5                3 – 2 = 1

That simple addition is a sentence in math. So is the subtraction. If you want to learn to add, you can learn on a number line.

Image from SparkNotes

If you’re using a number line, then the three represents your starting point. The plus and the minus both represent the direction you’re going to move. The two represents how far you must move. The equal sign represents that the answer is coming. The five and the one represent the answer.

Okay, enough teaching. If anyone is still reading this post, I swear I’m moving on.

We focused on the basics for the first tutoring session. We filled in some gaps in her knowledge and found out how she learns best. She is a visual learner, so the number line method, along with some almond for counting, worked best for her.

We ended up having a pretty good time, laughing and learning. By the time I was heading home, she was asking me to give her some sample problems that were tough for her skill level so she could practice.

When someone requests more work, that’s always I sign that I’ve made the learning fun. I left feeling so energized. It’s been so long since I’ve taught, and I kind of forgot how much I love it. If only they paid teachers more, I might’ve considered that as a career field.

Anyway, I’ll be going back again this week. I gave her a bit of homework to do, so hopefully she got it all done and we can move forward. This woman has an interest in going into the medical field. I’m feeling pretty good about helping someone reach their goals, just because. I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy yet energized like one of those USA Character commercials.

This week I also start my other volunteer projects I’ve reached out to. Wish me luck that it goes well.


Friendly? Yes. Crazy? Maybe.

Don’t think I’m crazy for saying this, but New Yorkers are so freaking nice. Maybe that’s just me. Is it? Well, I stand by it.

Ever since I arrived here, and even before on visits, I’ve just seen friendly, helpful people who have a lot more patience than other places. If Chicago became as crowded as New York City tomorrow, the murder rate would seriously spike.

When you are here, people are just so smushed together. That could go one of two ways. People could constantly fight and bicker because they’re always in each other’s space. Instead, they smile and say, “that’s okay” constantly.

Seriously, where else in America can you hit someone in the head with your umbrella four times in ten minutes and they are endlessly forgiving of it?

If you are careless or rude, however, the claws come out. New Yorkers like to live and let live. If you are encroaching upon them because of selfishness or meanness, they will let you have it in a heartbeat.

But if you are just living and not walking around like Gru at the beginning of Despicable Me, you’re fine.

And my neighborhood is so friendly and neighborly. I really just can’t say enough how great it is. Sometimes it’s crazy and a little hood, other times it’s right out of a novel (or an episode of the Cosby’s).

To fully understand it, I need to describe my walk home on two different days.

Day One:

When I get off the train, there is this park there where there are kids riding their bikes, old men playing chess and checkers, and adorable dogs barking. If it’s sunny, the sun filters through the leaves on the trees and gleams off the bronze statue in the center of the park.

As with most New York City parks I’ve seen, the grassy areas are fenced off, but every so often, there a gap in the gate specifically to let people through.

You could have a picnic over there if you wanted, but today there is a young couple posing for a photographer. She is about 5 or 6 six months pregnant and all belly. He has a fresh haircut and shave. They are both rocking fantastic natural hair and wearing traditional African garb. They look like an art piece on the wall of some African-American History professor’s apartment.

I walk past all the great restaurants on Lewis Avenue until I get to my block. As soon as I turn the corner, I see that the firehouse is open. Yes, there’s a firehouse on my corner, full of muscle-y armed men. There’s this little girl riding her bike in and out of the firehouse. Her pigtails bounce in the wind and she laughs and smiles with the firemen.

Further down the block are the men who always hang on this one stoop. One of them has a girl with a baby with him. The baby is, of course, adorable. They all smile and say hi and I continue on my way.

I get to my fantastic brownstone, check my mail, and walk in the door. Home sweet home.

Almost idyllic, no?

 

Day Two:

When I get off the train, there is a volunteer for some campaign or another passing out fliers. I think this is the fifteenth one I’ve received in the month I’ve been here. I decide to be nice and walk out of eye sight before I toss it.

The benches are lined with homeless people. I kind of want to let them know there’s a wonderful homeless shelter up the street, but I don’t know enough about the shelter yet to open that can of worms. I make a note to myself to learn more about the homeless shelter.

I pass by the restaurants and all the food smells so good, taunting me because it’s not in the budget to eat there at any point in the next two weeks. Oh well, I think, I’ll just make really good meals at home in the mean time.

I get to my block, and as I turn the corner, I see a pile of poop. Some asshole doesn’t know how to clean up after their dog, and unfortunately, it’s no one else’s job either. So this freaking poop has been there for weeks. Weeks!

I’m walking down the street, and it appears that the whole block is out to enjoy the nice weather. I come across these men just hanging out. One of them has a pitbull puppy. This puppy is super brand new and so cute. He’s so tiny that his whole body fits in the man’s hand.

It’s a bit windy, so when the man decides to light his cigarette, he uses the puppy to block the wind so he can get it lit quickly. That’s right, this man used a new puppy to light his cigarette.

Further down the street, there is a family piling into a car to go on some excursion. As they’re piling in, they notice there’s a cat sitting on the hood of the car. This cat eyeballs me on my way past, but seems oblivious to the family.

They begin yelling at the cat to get off the hood so they can be on their way, but for some reason the cat doesn’t move. I wondering why no one bothers to get out of the car to physically move the cat. Or better yet, just start driving. I bet that cat would certainly move under those circumstances.

I shake my head and keep moving.

Further down the street, there are some men playing dominoes. Several of the men have several dollars in their hands. Like I said, it’s windy.

A sudden gust of wind comes up and blows the money out of two of the men’s hands. All of us sudden, I was transported to one of those game shows where they put you in a box with money flying all around. These men would rack up on that show because they seemed to grow extra arms and hands, snatching money out of the wind with ease.

I tell you, they didn’t lose one dollar dollar bill y’all.

After all that hilarity, I was ready to be home away from the constant people. I climbed my steps to my fantastic brownstone, thankful I was finally home.

Even when things are crazy, I still love my neighborhood.  I just hope housing prices are still affordable when it’s time to switch from renting to a mortgage. That’ll be sometime around MBA completion, kid number 2.5, and age 35.

Yup, we’re planning on staying in NYC for at least five years. We’ll see though because that’s a decision based on only living here for one month.

So, could you live in NYC for year? Or at all?


Is It Weird To Ask For Her Number?

Hey everybody! This is my 275th blog post. That’s pretty cool, right? Sometime this fall, I’ll be on my 300th post. I’ve got to make it something special. Bloggers do that right? Eh, whatever.

Continuing with my trend of hopping back and forth from my time in Chicago and my time in New York, I want to talk about making new friends in New York. Or rather, I want to talk about my failed attempts to make new friends.

My girls and I joke about how we’re too old to make new friends. It usually sounds something like, “you chicks are crazy! Y’all are lucky I’m too old to make new friends or everyone would be replaced.”

I think perhaps we could be nicer to each other…?

Since I’ve been in New York, my girls remind me several times a week that I better not be out making new friends. They took a vote and decided against having auditions for a new me.

They realized it would be too difficult to find someone who makes everyone else look tall, mix up amazing cocktails, and always has a witty joke to cosign another joke.

That’s a tall order, so for now I’m irreplaceable.

Because they’re not replacing me, they don’t want me to replace them. That’s fair enough (bitches), but that means I’ve been spending a lot of time alone while I’m waiting for the husband to arrive.

I’ve met some really nice people who would make great friends acquaintances, but I suck at making new friends. You know there’s a story supporting this assertion.

My first weekend as a Brooklyn resident was going well. My best friend was still here and we were exploring to our hearts’ content.

Sunday saw us heading to the nearest Laundromat to wash clothes. While we were washing, we went to this frozen yogurt/smoothie/crepes place called Brooklyn Swirl. When you say the name, you have to be extra fabulous (think: Swiiiiirrrrll).

I ordered some very delicious cookies ‘n cream frozen yogurt. As we sat there hanging out and people watching, we saw a lot of the congregation of the nearby church walking past. Lots of people of all ages, families of all sizes, and church hats of all colors were everywhere.

It reminded me a lot of what I would see at my own home church in Chicago. I made a note to try the church out the following Sunday (which I totally did by the way; that’s going to be another post). The people looked friendly and welcoming, which only added to how awesome I had decided Brooklyn was.

Then the shop owner came over to introduce himself. When he learned I’d just moved into the neighborhood, he invited me to join the rewards program. Something like one free frozen yogurt for every 6 or 8 purchases or something.

We went back to put our clothes in the dryer. They had these huge industrial size dryers, so we decided to throw our clothes in together rather than pay for separate drums. The catch was that my best friend’s clothes weren’t done washing yet.

We started washing at the same time. The exact same time. In identical washing machines.

When my clothes were done washing, hers were still spinning strong, looking very sudsy.

Ten minutes later, her machine is still going strong, still looking full of soap.

At this point, we’re just confused. The lady who worked the Laundromat told us that machine runs a little slower than the others. We gave her this why-didn’t-you-tell-us-that-in-the-beginning-because-we-would’ve-made-different-choices-with-our-lives look.

She was unimpressed with our look and went back to her business.

Finally, another ten minutes later, my friend’s machine finishes.

So we load up the dryer and put what felt like endless amounts of quarters into the machine and ended up with 87 minutes on the clock. That’s such an odd number, right?

While the clothes were drying, we decided to head over to Peaches for brunch. This restaurant is so amazing that I’m definitely going to give it its own What’s Hot In New York post.

We sit down at the bar to eat because we didn’t have the time or patience to wait for a table, hashtag no reservations.

The bartender was nice and provided just as good of service as we would get from a waiter. While we’re eating and chatting away, we’re still doing the people watching thing.

These two girls came in and sat next to us at the bar. During the course of them ordering, we ended up striking up a conversation.

Both girls were transplants, just like us. They were from Philly. One lived in the Bronx and one lived in Brooklyn. The one who lived in Brooklyn was really nice and sweet. She was funny and we had a lot of the same interests.

When she heard the husband is a jazz musician, she was pretty excited at the possibilities of maybe having some future things to get into in the neighborhood just become of incoming local talent.

We were there first, so we finished first. We paid the bill and said our good-byes.

As soon as we left the restaurant, my best friend asked me why I didn’t get the girl’s information.

I considered my responses.

  1. My other friends constantly threaten me to keep me from making new friends.
  2. I’m not a friendly person and so I have no recent experience on how to make new friends.
  3. I considered it and everything I thought of in my head to say sounded like a weirdly lesbian pickup line. “Can I get your number? I’d love to call you so we can hang out some time because you seem so sweet.”
  4. I only really liked the girl who lived in Brooklyn, and it would be awkward to only try and befriend one of the girls.

All the reasons floated around and finally I settled on, “I’m so not good at making new friends.”

She chuckled and said, “clearly.” Then she gave me tips on what I could say for the next time I meet someone I’d like to hang out with again, or if I ever run into that girl again.

My best friend is pretty well versed in this because she lived in New York for some years and she came alone too.

I can totally see myself acting out this scenario in the future:

I’m at a bar or lounge or restaurant and I’ve met an interesting person to talk to. I excuse myself to go to the bathroom, telling them I’ll be right back. I round the corner and immediately call my best friend. I beg her to listen to the situation and give me tips on how to pick up this new potential friend. She laughs at me, but then helps.

So terrible, I know.

The husband will be here in six days (six days, yay!!!) and I do much better at meeting people when he’s here. Pretty much, I just need a Cancer by my side and I can make new friends.

Plus when the husband gets here, we’ll be hanging out with his musician friends and their wives, so that’ll be nice as well.

Okay, back to my story. After I got schooled on how to pick up new friends, we went back to the Laundromat. Our clothes were nice and dry, so we packed the up and headed back to the apartment.

I was really hoping to try out my new friend-making techniques, but I didn’t get a chance.

We ended up at this nice bar/lounge place over on Stuyvesant Sunday night. There was live music playing and it was amazing. I can’t wait to the take the husband there. The way I described it made the husband think it had potential to be our Local Watering Hole. He feels very strongly about us having one of these.

In this bar though, there were only three types of people there, none of which are great candidates for first-new-friend-in-New-York-City.

  1. Almost-Dirty-Old-Men: They were friendly and definitely more nice than lecherous. But if they were looking to be someone’s sugar daddy/friend, they couldn’t afford me.
  2. Couples: I really really really suck at making friends with couples without the husband around. I mostly just come off like I’m looking for a threesome. It’s awful.
  3. Middle Aged Women: these chicks seemed like they were looking to let their hair down in the small gap available between Sunday morning church and Monday morning work. I try to stay away from that.

Perhaps when the husband arrives, we’ll do good with the couples that hang out there. Even though I didn’t hit the ground running with making new friends, I was at least learning new places. Perhaps it will get easier once potential new friends start to see me more often.

Maybe.

Maybe?


Ultimate Blog Party 2013

Ultimate Blog Party 2013

I didn’t even know this was a thing until yesterday afternoon, when I was checking out My So-Called Chaos, a great blog you should check out. I’ve been looking for a way to connect to more bloggers other than yet another social network (sue me, I’m not on Facebook), and this is the ticket.

From April 5th – 12th, Janice and Susan over at 5 Minutes for Mom are hosting their 7th Annual Ultimate Blog Party!

They want everyone to think of this as a blogger conference of sorts, with a focus  on not having to leave your couch, desk, etc. to participate. They are having two live events this week you can join in. So head over to their blog to read all about this party.

The first step to join this party is by doing exactly what I am, writing a post about it and linking up at their website, which is party headquarters. I’m so excited to do some blog hopping and Twitter following. I’m always looking for new and inspiring blogs to read.

The second step is to introduce your blog to new readers so they know what to expect if they keep reading.

What A Chicago-Style Girl is all about…

This blog is all about my life as a twenty-something being a born and raised Chicagoan.

I Doooooo, Cherish Yooooouuuu

I Doooooo, Cherish Yooooouuuu

Say cheese

Say cheese

I talk about the husband a lot. We’ve been married for just shy of 14 months. He’s amazing and probably way too emotionally mature for me. But he’s my best friend and my partner in music, TV, and avoiding getting pregnant. He’s a full-time musician (primarily jazz), and we do some pretty amazing things together. Also, he’s funny as hell. I’m hoping our future children have his chin, my eyes, and either smile.

Donate LifeI talk about work more than I should. Donation is 24/7 and sometimes it feels like I work exactly that much. I’m a bit of a workaholic. I’m that chick who’s out at a famous fancy restaurant in Manhattan, calling work to check in because her gut told her to. I suppose when I get an ulcer, I’ll calm all this down, but for now, I’m all in at work.

Love me and my cat tricks

Love me and my cat tricks

I talk about my friends and family. They are amazing and the husband and I are just as likely to double date with our parents as one of our couple friends. I also talk about our cats. Belle and Jasmine (Jazz for short, the husband named her) are crazy cats who act like people, dogs, and cats all rolled together.

I make surprisingly human facial expressions

I make surprisingly human facial expressions

I share tales of my attempts at being healthy, unpacking my apartment, and traveling the world. So basically that means I rant about Tracy Anderson trying to kill me, I admit to the world I’ve been living with boxes for almost two years, and every couple of months I cross another state of  my list after a trip purely for food purposes.

And, every now and again, I talk about amazing places I’ve been that you need to go to as well. I’d like to think I can tell you what’s hot in Chicago, as long as you’re not looking for a great dance club. For that, you should see this guy.

Stefon

Full disclosure, most of my posts never have this many pictures. And most of my posts have much more cursing. And also–

Bacon!!!

Bacon!!!

Now, please comment and let me know you stopped by, and I’ll return the favor!


Strep Throat and Strippers

To swing fully away from my last few work-centric posts, I’d like to completely switch gears. Let’s talk about strippers. Stripper and strep throat.

Okay, one last thing about work. Strep is going around. Sore throats and fevers popping up here and there. I was lucky enough to escape the flu going around. But the strep got me. I blame changing weather and a 60+ hour work week. Stupid lack of overtime pay.

Moving on back to the strippers. One of the husband’s good friends has a show tonight. Two of them do actually. In fact, it’s likely that most of them do because it’s a Saturday night. But there are two shows we’re going to try to see tonight since the husband has no gig.

I’m looking forward to seeing both guys because I’ve never seen them playing their own gigs. I’ve only ever seen them on someone else’s gig. I’d love to see what type of set list and song choices they put together. The music is just totally different when you’re playing to your own preferences.

One of the friends is getting married this September, so the strippers aren’t related to him. Not that being married means strippers go out of your life. I wouldn’t suggest anyone pretend they don’t like strippers just because they said I do. But that’s a conversation for another time.

The friend who is nowhere near getting married is the one involving the strippers into tonight. After his gig, he has a party bus, and there are reports there will be a stripper or strippers there. The husband thought it would be fun for us to go to the shows and then join the party bus.

Of course I said yes, mostly because it’s one of those experiences to cross off a bucket list, should I ever get around to making one. I mean, think about it. A party bus just sounds fun, even more so under these circumstances.

This was all before the strep. Now I feel like crap. All the lights are too bright, the sounds are too loud. My throat hurts and I’m tired as hell. And truly, if I’m contagious with strep (unconfirmed strep), should I really hang  around strippers tonight?

What if I sneeze on one of them or something? I would never sneeze on a person if I could help it, but I’m trying to figure out why I would be that close to the stripper in the first place. On a party bus, they’d have my married heterosexual self in the back of the bus so I don’t get in the way of anything.

But in this sneezing scenario, I’ve infected the stripper. Let’s say she doesn’t get sick. What if she just becomes some highly contagious strep carrier? She’d start infecting people and there would be a small strep epidemic.

It wouldn’t take long before some sap visiting her strip club walks in with a weak or weakened immune system. Next thing you know, that guy’s dead. Then people will be tracing all the strep back to the stripper, who will point the finger at me.

Then I’ll have to explain how I could’ve possibly infected a stripper with strep, and only the 13 1/2 people who read this blog will know the truth.

And then the local news will want to talk to the source of the outbreak because it didn’t follow normal disease patterns. I’ll end up on Wikipedia after a few more people die. Let’s face it, if you’re going to find a grouping of people with weakened immune systems, a strip club is a great candidate.

I can’t have that. I can’t become famous or infamous.

I guess that means we’ll have to avoid the party bus with the stripper(s). Not that I wasn’t dying to go, mind you. I’m just trying to save lives here.

I guess we’ll have to figure out something  else to do. Maybe we can double date with the husband’s work wife, but without her non-boyfriend.

Did you follow all that? The husband has a friend we both consider his work wife. We’ve been trying to double date for a while, but she’s not really a fan of her current guy, so we’re thinking of double dating without him.

Is it even still a double date if it’s just three people? I need a name for it other than having a third wheel because it wouldn’t be like that at all.

The husband’s work wife is a waitress though, so there is epidemic potential there as well. Eh, I won’t worry about it because her job has signs everywhere telling the employees to constantly wash their hands. I doubt the party bus even has a sink.


You’re Not On The Side Of The Road If You’re Standing In The Road

With that title, I feel like this post could be a metaphor for relationships, or career paths, or self-love. But it’s not. It’s just a story about these people who gambled with their life when their car stalled on the expressway.

The husband and I were driving somewhere on one of the expressways in Chicago. It was raining pretty badly, but not so bad that you have low visibility. I think visibility was just the right level that you might not notice a man standing in the road until it was too late.

If you aren’t familiar with the expressways in Chicago, the exit and on-ramps don’t give a lot of space. There’s usually only about 50-100 feet of merging. That’s not a lot if everyone is driving super fast. But it is a lot if your car stalls out and you need to pull over.

For some reason, this man has his car pulled over not on the shoulder, but in that gray area right where the lane splits off for an off-ramp. The back of the car barely fits into the space, and he decides it’s a good idea to stand next to the back of the car. Yes, ladies and gentleman, this man was standing partially in the expressway.

And it wasn’t just him. There were two other people with him. At least the other two had the good sense to stand on the side of the car where the traffic wasn’t. So let me paint this picture for you. It’s raining. A car is stalled right where the expressway splits off into an off-ramp. The car barely fits into that space. Three people are gathered around said car, one on the side where he’s got one leg out in the road like he’s trying to catch a cab in Abu Dhabi or some 1940s movie. And it’s raining. Oh yes, and the hood is up.

People are flying past at 55-75 MPH because it is Chicago after all. I began imagining all sorts of horrible things. I’m talking Final Destination type things. What if the tail end of the car was hit by someone who was going to exit the expressway but changed their mind at the last-minute? It happens all the time in Chicago, and with the rain, they might misjudge the space they have between them and this stalled car. They could hit that car and all three people near it. With the open hood, a spark could ignite and BOOM, now there’s a fiery crash that shuts down three lanes of expressway.

Or maybe he just hits the guy’s leg that’s sticking into the road like a poorly positioned scarecrow who hasn’t yet learned to ease on down the road. Then you end up in jail because this dumb ass didn’t think to utilize the large number of people in the stranded car to push the shit 200 feet. You know what was 200 feet away from him? An underpass that would protect him from the rain and allow them to be fully on the should and out-of-the-way of cars flying by.

I wish I could’ve sent the man a message to let him know to move. That he literally had body parts just hanging in the road waiting for someone to swoop by and amputate one of his limbs. After discussing and agreeing that this man was a complete idiot, the husband and I began contemplating if his friends were complete idiots too. Why didn’t one of them say, “hey, dumb ass, stop standing in the road like a deer with a wish to become jerky and wall art.” Nope, I think the woman was fishing for something in the backseat and the other guy was just standing there looking rather forlorn.

I’d be forlorn too if it was raining and I was in a danger zone and shelter and relative safety was 200 feet away. I’d be making plans for smarter friend recruitment. And I’d be walking my ass to the gas station that was just up the off-ramp at the next corner. I mean it’s Chicago. This death-defying situation did not have to happen.

I was feeling a bit ranty, but now I feel better. Thanks for listening.


A Grown Up House Party, I Think

So, I’ve gone all the way out of my comfort zone and agreed to hang out with a co-worker this weekend. This is the girl I mentioned in two previous posts. She is the one dating a man who doesn’t play games. She had a refreshing story and a follow-up to that story that I simply had to share.

When she’s not enjoying the affections of a man who is coming correct, she spends a lot of time with her friends. A good number of her friends have married; she’s one of the last single girls. I wonder if she’s invited me along to hang with her friends this weekend because I’m married so I won’t throw off the balance of the group.

Every time I hang out with a new friend, I feel like I’m on a date. Most of my dates recently have been double dates. The husband and I are like each other’s wingman as we see if the couple across the table is compatible with us. But I’ll be doing this one on my own without my wingman.

The plan is to go out for drinks and possibly appetizers. Next stop is a house party at one of her friend’s house. Apparently they just moved in, but this is not a housewarming, it’s a house party. Occasionally, I like meeting new people, so I’m looking forward to it.

I figure best case scenario, I’ll find some new couples for the husband and I to date. Worst case scenario, they’ll make me feel completely out-of-place because I’m about five years younger than most of them and haven’t been part of this group of friends for years.

I doubt she would’ve invited to me to this party if the worst case scenario was possible. What’s most likely is that in order to have a real house party, you need random fun new blood there. I”m totally random being a friend from work in a different age box. I’m sometimes fun (can’t say I was much fun at those two weddings I went to last weekend). And I’m definitely new blood.

Even though these people will probably know some people I know, I doubt I’ll see anyone I actually know. I’m just sort of used to meeting random people at a party who have either 1) seen the husband play or know him somehow, 2) knew my brother from hanging out with him before or after he became a minister, or 3) been in my mother’s courtroom. Yup, musician, minister, and judge for family members reduces degrees of separation like you wouldn’t believe.

I can’t figure out why I’m looking forward to this party so much that I had to write an ahead-of-time blog post about it. Perhaps because it’s the first uniquely new activity I’ve done in such a long time. I can’t remember the last time I went to a random ass house party. Likely it was back in 2007, right before I graduated college.  No wait, it was in 2008 for Halloween in med school.

I’m interested to see how grown ass people do a house party. As in, people who are over 30, done with being full-time students and have a full-time job, married with children, but still (reportedly) know how to have a good time.

And then when I’m done, I’ll gladly take my butt back home and climb into bed with the husband. I have to admit that this being an adult this is really working for me so far.

Go optimism.


Too Much Online Shopping

Do you do too much online shopping?

Well, it’s official that I do too much online shopping. You know how I know?

I was leaving for work the other day. I had on my phone a test message from Amazon telling me I had a package coming by 8:00 pm. I knew it was the Season 4 DVD of Leverage, which I pre-ordered the day I found out when it was coming it. But I had to leave for work by 6:00 pm.

As I was heading outside to my car, I saw the UPS truck up the street. My car was parked near it. As I approached my van, the UPS man was coming out of a building. He saw me and flagged me down.

He spoke to me, by my full name, and told me to hold on a second. Fifteen seconds later, he emerged from his truck with my package. He had me sign for it right there and wished me a good evening.

I was glad to have my DVD, which I had been wanting for months. But I felt like perhaps I do too much shopping. Wedding gift deliveries aside, this man knew my name. He recognized my face and grabbed my package out of the truck.

Does your UPS man know your face? Your full name? If he does, you do too much online shopping. Because of my own experiences, I’ve come up with a list to help you realize you’ve gone too far.

Disclaimer: I don’t have any solutions to the problem. I don’t intend to stop my online shopping, it’s so convenient since I’m usually sleep during business hours.

Signs You Shop Online Too Much

  1. Your UPS man knows your face.
  2. Your UPS man knows your full name without looking at the package.
  3. You get a delivery at least 4 times a month.
  4. You know your debit/credit card number by heart
  5. Your computer has all your purchase information saved.
  6. You get at least 5 e-mails each morning at 6:00 from stores advertising sales for their special customers.
  7. Your husband/parents/roommate has stopped asking what’s in the package unless you bring up that it’s a gift.

Once you’ve realized you do too much shopping online, I have no idea what you should do next. Consult your budget I guess. But if you stay in the lines and don’t overspend. I don’t see the harm.


The Little Party That Could

Aren’t you a cute little party! Yes you are. Just a small hang with the people from the wedding party. You can make it happen, right? I think you can.

Sure the wedding party had damn near 25 adults in it and only 2 live out of town. Well, that’s still a little party. I’ll cook dinner since so many of the husband’s friends have never had my cooking, but have heard good things. You’re such a good little party, so I will make a nice summer meal that’s easy for that many people. Lasagna, chicken strips, corn, and rice. You can make that happen right? I think you can.

Wait, what? The husband invited more people? Well, then I guess I should invite more people. There’s our friends we spent so much time with on the cruise. There’s my friend from downstate who will be in town for the weekend. Then there are other friends who simply have to come but they don’t know anyone else, so they should bring a friend, right? Okay, so more food, and what about drinks? You can still make this work. I think you can.

The husband had a great idea. He’s been telling everyone to just bring something to drink with them. I even asked a few people to bring something dessert-y. So we’ll have enough drinks and food and dessert. Oh wait, what wast he head count again? You can still make this work, little party. I think you can.

Okay little party, you’re not so little anymore. But still. My biggest worry is that there’s nowhere for people to sit. But that’s okay, right?

That was my crazy line of thinking as the days after Memorial Day went by. The husband and I ended up inviting a ridiculously large number of people to our house that Friday. So how did this Little Party That Could end up?

It ended up with good food and good friends. Lots of people who had never hung out before or hadn’t seen each other since our wedding all spent time.

The food was delicious. There was a snafu where all the vegetarian food was gone by the time one vegetarian arrived, but with promises of his own special pan of lasagna in the future, all feelings were healed.

There may or may not have been a drinking game that surely separated the thinkers from those less able.

We don’t usually make a habit of staying up super late these days, so we were quite proud of ourselves for not getting to bed until after 3 am.

We are definitely looking forward to doing it again next month.


Getting Home To The Husband From Arizona

I just got back from Tempe. I went for a work conference, all expenses paid. Technically, all expenses paid/reimbursed, but close enough. I was looking forward to coming home to my husband. He’s usually the one leaving for his music, and I’m usually the one waiting.

This is the first out of town trip I’ve taken without him since we got engaged. I missed him and couldn’t wait for the wine, candles, etc. promised me upon my return home. But all hell broke loose at work. On a really terrible night, we’ll have 4 or 5 organ cases going at once. We get lots of people transplants, but it a heavy workload for whoever works that night.

This night, there was only one organ person on plus our supervisor. She asked if anyone could come in. My flight didn’t get in until midnight, but I still said I’d come in. I guess I’m more committed to my job than I thought. The super-understanding, raincheck-cashing, chauffeur-impersonating husband drove me straight to work from the airport.

Because it was so late at night, there was no traffic. I was glad to spend at least a little bit of time with him. I was also glad for the air conditioning in the car. I may love Tempe for the Southwest cuisine and the amazing integrated diversity, but I hate their lack of air conditioning. Everywhere is air conditioned, but it never gets cool enough. My hotel room was set on 69 degrees.

If my house was set to that low temperature, I’d be bundled up in sweats (as if I own real sweats!) and a blanket. But in Tempe, that was barely enough. So I will focus on how Latinos, black, whites, and Asians of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds fill up the same spaces. Being a born and raised Chicagoan, integration stands out to me. I need to make sure I change that so I don’t pass the expectation of segregation on to my children.

Back to the air conditioning in the car. It felt great! The air conditioning on the plane was a joke. It was so warm in Chicago last night, that it didn’t get any cooler as we arrived over Midwestern airspace. Something about the air on the plane was messing with me.

I began experiencing a series of symptoms that possibly made me think I might die if I didn’t lie down immediately. I felt nauseous. I felt lightheaded. My respiration rate slowed way down and I had to force myself to breathe in and out. At the same time, my heart rate went way up, so I felt on edge. The light was low, but I still had to close my eyes to shut out the light. The only thing not wrong with me was I didn’t have a headache. I felt similarly on the plane on the way to Tempe, but I chalked it up to not having drunk enough water.

I don’t know what happened on the plane, but I’m not interested in re-living it. Warm climates are apparently not for me, at least if I ever want to arrive or leave by plane. Making matters even more disconcerting was the woman next to me on the plane.

I don’t know many of you talk to people on planes, but I’m not one of those people. There were two boys in front of me who were travelling alone. They were maybe 9 and 10. I think the woman thought I was also a kid travelling alone. She kept asking me all these questions, and finally she asked my age. When I responded “27,” she asked me four more times, repeating, “no, I’m asking you your age.”

When I finally got her to understand that I was truly saying I was 27, she told me she thought I was 13. I know I look young for my age, and even younger when I have all my hair off my face, but really?! 13?!? I swear that only black women over 45 ever come at me with that “you look like a baby” shit. If I were a worse person than I am, I would inform them that they’re husband/boyfriends/sons/brothers would all recognize I was a grown ass woman and just because I haven’t aged my skin with too much drug, alcohol, cigarette, or sun exposure doesn’t make me a child.

But I’m a better person than that. So I just smiled and pretended to be asleep while thinking about how excited I was to see the husband.


My No Good, Extra Crappy, Waste of Time Day

This day I’m gonna talk about sucked! It sucked in such a way that I regressed back to my 4 year old self and started singing that Barney song. You know the one if you spent any part of your childhood in front of the TV.

This story is about how my car ruined several people’s days. I love my car. I picked it out from a rotating circle pedestal at the car dealership and took it home that very night. It’s 10 years old, but it’s just so pretty, and it’s perfect for my short ass to drive around in.

But the “maintenance needed” light came on. And then the “check engine” light came on. So I took my baby to the Honda dealership to see what could be done. After an evaluation, they told me there was $3200 worth of work to be done. After my eyes finished rolling around in my head, I started asking questions.

If the problems were supposedly these terrible long-wear problems, why was this the first I’d heard of any of them? I bring my car in 1-2 times each year and fork over hundreds of dollars for issues, but no one’s ever mentioned these particular ones. I was livid and not sure what to do.

My father suggested I go over to the dealership side and see if they had any certified used cars in a reasonable price range. If we were gonna shell out thousands of dollars, we figured it should be for a car with a slightly longer life.

Fast forward 3 hrs and I had test driven and priced three cars, all with more miles and just as old as the one I already owned. I found that my car only had a trade-in value of $500.

A very nice car salesman had spent hours with me trying to see if he could find a car in my price range. An exasperated mechanic was waiting to see if I would approve the work to be done so he could start on what was sure to be 10+ hrs of work. I had spoken on the phone with both of my parents and the husband.

They all thought I should scrap my beloved car and get a newer used car and get a car note. I told them they were all insane and I wasn’t taking on a car note for a car I’d only need for 15 months. We’re not taking two cars to NYC.

I was so frustrated. I only wanted my car to last until we left for NYC. Pushing the trip back a year didn’t make much difference because she didn’t even last until the first day of spring.

Then we decided doing nothing– for now– was best. So I told the salesman thank you but no thank you. Then I told the mechanic thank you but no thank you. I got my car and drove back to my parents’ house. After more than 4 hrs at the dealership, I had only accomplished the task of getting my oil changed and tires rotated.

I felt so terrible and just knew they were all super upset because I had wasted half of their days. It wasn’t my fault, but it kind of was. I was so listless when I went to vote before heading to my parents’ house to meet the husband there. And the four of us went to dinner at my grandmother’s house. She’s… a handful. So by the time 10:30 rolled around, I just said my goodbyes and left.

It’s not at all like me to be the first one to leave a dinner party. But I just couldn’t do it. The issue with the car still wasn’t settled. But at least I’d done something good. I’d voted.


Versatile Blogger! What What!

I like winning awards. Not a participation badge for just showing up, but something that shows my effort has counted. And much like the SAG awards make actors feel special, the blogger peer awards make us feel special.

I haven’t gotten any of the ones directed towards my looks, so that means I must post more photos of myself online I guess. But I do write about enough random crap to get the Versatile Blogger Award. Go me!

A lovely blogger with the pseudonym Aurathena has given me this award. I officially lover her forever. Check out her blog West End Singleton. You will love it and find yourself excited to follow her journey toward her stated goal. And through her blog I found several others that I hadn’t come across before.

All these lovely award come with ridiculous demands. There are four for this one, which isn’t so bad when I think about it.

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post.

I already did this one above.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

I just got married last month. Dishonesty and injustice are the worst things ever. I only like being surrounded by pretty things. I quite sure that I’m too old to make new friends. When confronted with emotional things, I usually clam up and refuse the conversation. I love my job, but I couldn’t stay here for my career. I can’t wait to start having children, but I would be so upset if it happened anytime in the next two years.

3. Pass this award along to 15 or 20 of your favorite bloggers.

There’s no way I’m passing this to 15 people. I delayed this post for two days because I was trying to decide if I was going to. I’m being a rebel and skipping this step.

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Also no need for this step. But really do check out the bloggers on West End Singleton’s blogroll. They’re great.


The Mystery of the Missing Contact Lens

I’ve got a story for you that starts in a strip club, and ends with haikus written in the emergency room.

The husband and I pride ourselves on not turing into some mutant married couple. At least not yet. Sure we break into song and dance and have ridiculous inside jokes, but we’ve been like that since the day we met, so it doesn’t count. But the things guys do with their friends, like go to strip clubs, stayed on the list of activities. We pat ourselves on the back for our behavior. Go us.

So the other night, the husband goes out with a couple of his boys to a strip club. The other participants shall remain nameless because some of their significant others think strip clubs only exist for bachelor parties and not random Friday nights out. But they were there and they were enjoying the show and having some drinks.

The husband decided to spend the night at his parents’ house in the suburbs rather than make the drive all the way back to the city to our apt. When he awoke the next morning, he noticed he only had one contact in his eye. Since he was drunk, he wasn’t sure what happened to the other contact. Undeterred, he cleans the still in place contact and puts in a new one on the naked eye and moves on with his day.

Later, while I’m at work that night, I get a call. It’s the husband. His eye is swollen. The eye that was missing a contact earlier. I immediately suspect, as you likely have by now, that he didn’t lose the other contact, it just moved out of place. Luckily, I was in medical school and his mother is a nurse practitioner. Between the two of us, we explain how he can work the contact down and out of his eye.

It doesn’t work. I told him to give it 2-3 hours and if he can’t get it out himself to go to the ER nearest to our house. His mother suggested an urgent care clinic would be quicker. So it’s either a long ass wait at the ER up street, or a long ass drive to the only 24 hr urgent care clinic we know of. With only one fully functioning eye, he heads to the ER.

The husband tell me that even though his eye is uncomfortable and he’s lost a huge chunk of his night, it was worth it. To have a great time out with his guys was worth it. I think part of it was dispelling myths that he’s married an unavailable for fun. His friends that know me are aware that’s not true, but guys just can’t believe it til they see it apparently.

After first falling asleep on the couch because he’s possibly narcoleptic the husband finally gets to the ER. After waiting for quite a while, the husband decides he will amuse himself. They tell him it’s a 2-3 hour wait, and he still doesn’t feel like driving out to the suburbs. In hindsight, he’s almost certain to regret this decision. I worry that someone about to deliver, or bleeding to death, or with an arm hanging off will jump in front of him in line. I share this worry with him.

But since he’s in the ER, what does he do to amuse himself? He starts texting me haikus to chronicle his experience at the ER. This is after a gunshot wound comes in, guaranteeing his time will be extended even further. I figured I’d share these with you because I found them hilarious. The husband is so creative!

Man enter the room / He is pacing back and forth / This person is weird

Grimacing in pain / He has not registered yet / The man walks around

He just spit on floor / Security yells at him / He still has not sat

He has disappeared / Girl who got shot just rolled in / She has not bled though

The girl is waiting / The girl says she saw no blood / Where she got shot at

I just switched my chair / Irritating that seat was / Because of the squeaks

I’m sure she is drunk / And has no clue what she says / That girl in the chair

The man has come back / In the emergency room / Finally sat down

Second man smelly / He is bothering my nose / Sitting behind me

First man is talking / Says his arm is killing him / He is hurting bad

Second man switched seats / The man who sat behind me / My nose feels better

Third man has come in / He screams out loudly in pain / I don’t want to look

His leg is broken / Or maybe his foot, can’t tell / He is also drunk

New person sits down / Tells me she has been here once / Waited 6 hours

I no longer feel / The the contact that is stuck / Was worth my good time

Everyone just sits / Waits for help that does not come / I am not happy

I had told the husband that it’s hard for me to feel sympathy for self-inflicted troubles. After all these haikus, I was feeling sympathetic, and I told him so.

This you say is true / I am having no fun here / In this hospital

Only few are left / There is not many people / Who came before me

First man left again / I think he went outside to smoke / With another man

I am so sad now / I realized I messed up / With the last haiku

Many syllables / I had eight in middle line / Instead of seven

I metion to my little haiku master that he must be sleepy. Honestly at this point, I’m surprised he’s even still awake, even in an uncomfortable waiting room chair.

Sleepy indeed yes / As I sit in this room here / Waiting for some help

Second man sleeps hard / Ear is touching shoulder blade / He is in dream world

Snoring he is not / But I am sure that his smell / Would wake a village

 I sit all alone / People here but we don’t talk / My eye feels much worse

He doesn’t text me for a while and I figure he’s fallen asleep. Or maybe even better, they’ve called him to the back Then the haikus resume.

First man is in gown / Asking if I have a light / I tell him no quick

It is almost 5 / I still have not heard my name / Everyone else is sleep

Second man was called / James Hunter is his real name / Should be stinky pot

I am still here / So I will talk in haiku / Until I am called

I have seen one show / And a movie since I came / Both were not that great

Guy who checkec me in / Said “almost dude” right to me / Hope has been restored

All I respond is ,”yay!”

Look waht you have done / A pregnant girl just rolled in / See what words can do?

I responded confused, all I said was yay!

Two girls just walk in / One girl is drunk and says she / Has to go to church

Pregnant, shot, shattered / One of each have come in here / You said that they would

All I think is Oops…

Third guy is next door / He snores like the alking dead / He yells out in pain

His leg is broken / Doctors seem apathetic / Third guy gets a splint

Drops are in my eye / No scratch on the cornea / Might be infected

At this point the haikus stop. I don’t get the whole story until I get home from work. They give him antibiotics for a periorbital infection. Somehow, there was a tear in the skin around his eye and it got infected at some point in the last 24 hours. His eye wasn’t infected, just the skin around it. He’ll be on antibiotic pills for 14 days.

I mentioned before that my friends and I like to spread rumors about each other only to each other for our own amusement. Terrible things you can only say to someone you’ve known for 20 years. With this whole story, of course I can come up with many terrible rumors to share with our friends about what happened to the husband’s eye. But I also want to share it with the 2.5 people who read my blog.

I think he was motorboating a stripper at that club, and she gave him some sort of eye infection. Could be pink eye, herpes, who knows? And as to that contact, I think it’s lodged somewhere is the sequins of a large-breasted stripper’s bra. Did I mention that the rumors my friends and I make up are just horrible? Well… they are.

What do you think happened to the husband’s contact lens?


Getting Access To Your Records

After watching far too many episodes of Leverage, and through the course of my job, I’ve realized something.

If someone wanted access to your records, it’d be pretty easy to get.

People call in to my job asking about people’s donor status, test results, surgical history, etc. If their call seems to be from one of our partner agencies, they get the information. We don’t confirm identities or anything. We just take people’s word for it.

Everything is recorded and verified. Eventually verified. It’s that “eventually” part that worried me.

It kind of freaks me out to know how easy a person’s information can be accessed. We bypass HIPAA or rather have an exception to HIPAA that allows us access to everyone’s information. By proxy, so do our partner agencies.

All the stuff that we figure is kept safe in our doctor’s files is open for the world to see. Now if you have no crazy stuff going on, you’re fine. Also, most of the time we access someone’s records, they’re dead or about to be dead. And it you’re dead, are you concerned about your records anymore? No, you’re not.

There is the occasional patient who gets called into us because they’re on a ventilator. We get all their information and share it with our partner agencies. But then they don’t die and all they’re stuff is out there.

No one at my office is selling medical histories on the black market, or whereever you’d sell that kind of stuff. We take our jobs very seriously. As far as I know, there’s never been a breach of confidentiality. Considering that we get hundreds of calls every single day (lots o’ people die in Illinois), that’s a very big success rate.

This is mostly because of my too many episodes of Leverage. but let’s say someone wanted to access a recently deceased person’s records for nefarious purposes. I’m not going to say what they’d do to get it ( *cough* fake being an employee of another agency *cough*), but most of our business is conducted by phone and fax. Hardison and Parker would have all our shit in like 10 min flat.

But enough worrying… your records are fine… Probably…

I apologize because I did write this at like 5:00 am, when really sleepy at work. I get like this. And I watch too much TV.


Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël!

I know a lot of useless things in three languages. The Pledge of Allegiance is one perfect example. Why on Earth would anyone recite it in French or Spanish? That’s what a “good eduation” got me.

But one good thing of my useless tri-lingual-ness is my ability to wish all of you a very happy Christmas in three languages!

I hope all your family and friends are happy and joyful today. If you celebrate Hannukah (Chanukah?), I hope all your presents were linked together and increasingly awesome (earbuds, iTunes gift card, iPod anyone?). If you celebrate Kwanzaa, please join me in reminding people that it’s not a replacement for Christmas, merely a supplement to it. If you were raised by anti-commercialist Atheists, I hope your friends snuck you gifts without telling your parents.

Mostly, I hope your hearts are warm and your troubles light. At this time of year, it’s easy to forget that someone close to you may be going through rough times. You may even be going through rough times. Just remember to take time to smile at a stranger on the street. It will make you both feel brighter inside.

And when it’s tomorrow and no longer Christmas, remember how amazing this time of year is and think about ways you can make it last through the whole next year.


“You Available?”

As I’m writing this post, I’m at the library. I’m here to help out my friend. I mentioned in a previous post that she was starting an etiquette class and that I’d offered to help. I rode with her down here and helped bring everything upstairs.

We had to take several escalators up to the level where the room she reserved was located. On the way up the last escalator, there was a man coming down the other side.

He looks at my friend and goes, “you available?”. She didn’t understand him at first so he had to repeat himself. As he spoke louder, his voice reverberated off the tile on the really high ceiling.

She responded, “No. I’m married.” He said okay and we all kept going on our escalators.

I was flabbergasted. I’ve never had anyone approach me in that way. When I said that, she was surprised. I told her that there was only one explanation as to why he talked to her like that.

It was her fault.

She asked was it wrong to smile at strangers. Now my friend is not a smiler by nature. She’s a happy person, but people have told her throughout her life that she doesn’t smile enough. So my question is why is she smiling at random leery strangers?

We had a good laugh about the whole thing because she isn’t married or even close to it but telling an inappropriate stranger that you’re married really is the easiest way to get rid of them.

And yes, she could smile at strangers less and that might help. But even if she fixes her part in it, it probably wouldn’t keep it from ever happening again because guys like that dude run amongst the rest of us normal people. I really think that man should know better.

I mean, has he ever gotten a response other than rejection when he approaches someone that way? How lazy and noncommittal can one get?

Ugh, if you want to approach a complete stranger, and you feel compelled to do it at a library, don’t do it in passing. Approach someone who’s already there. That way you can do some research.

Do they look approachable? When you do a drive-by approach, you don’t even consider that. Do they look available? Looking for a ring saves you a lot of time.

Seriously, I still can’t believe he did that. I find it hilarious and disturbing, disrespectful and odd, and absurd and inappropriate all at once.

Did I mention that he was carrying a box of snickers bars? You know, the kind you carry when you’re selling them for a fundraiser? Perhaps for your kids? That doesn’t make someone more likely to want to talk to you.

Have you ever been approached by a creeper? What’s the worst pickup line you’ve ever heard?