For Jidd.

(I struggled with whether to publish this or not. While this tends to often take a lighter note, as in all series, heavier moments of life often help us appreciate the comedy that is so needed among tragedy.  With my Jidd’s 40 day mass occurring this Sunday I thought it was an appropriate way to honor the greatest public speaker that I knew and a man who truly loved the written word…almost as much as he did family.)

I remember thinking; It’s hard to feel magical on Christmas when your Grandpa is dying.

I sat across the table from my mom, her hair in disarray, worry lines apparent in her forehead.  The papers before her were scribbled on, as if nothing more than haphazard phone messages from the dentist reminding you about an appointment.  But when you looked closer words like hospice, and the summary from his doctor decorated the pages.  She dialed brother after sister after brother repeating the story from that morning. Things weren’t looking good, we had to make a decision of the next steps, with my grandma’s health failing as well, what would be best for the two of them.  It is only the most passionate of stories that elicit the same response upon each telling.  I saw her face crumble at each crescendo, heard her choke out the truths the doctor had reported to her that morning.  The questions were the same, what was the right thing to do? Had we been doing the right thing all along? But the unanswered questions hung heavier in the air. Shouldn’t Christmas be joyful and merry? Who would give the toast at our Thanksgiving dinner? What would I do without my grandpa? What would my mom do without her dad?

I paused reflecting on what the weekend home had been to me.  I arrived from the airport and immediately headed to the hospital.  The man laying in my grandpa’s bed was not my grandpa.  He was a skeleton, struggling with each breath.  When he smiled at me and asked me about any men in my life though, I held back my tears and teased him that no one could compare to him.  We rotated sitting next to him on the bed, kissing him on the head, chastising him for not eating the homemade desserts every family had brought to him, a measly offering in an attempt to make things right, to get this back to normal.  And then, as if someone yelled out “SWITCH,” we’d each move to a different spot.  We stumbled over each other, made small talk, as new actors in this scene we were unsure of what was appropriate, and each not quite believing CUT would be called soon.

Christmas Eve came and as we sat in mass the choir swelled and like the movie that seemed to be our lives I saw him laying in the hospital bed, alone and fragile.   The words of celebration sang through the air, but it only made me feel more helpless.

Morning dawned and I went to wake up my brother.  In taking a step outside of my room, I ran into my mother as she was trying to sneak our gifts down the stairs.  I walked away knowing that even the magic of make believe was ending.  It seemed so stupid, I’ve known for years she sets up the gifts, but it was just another reminder that I was an adult now.  I envied the children that were blissfully unaware of the things going on around them, their innocent exuberance as they tore the wrapping paper in anticipation.  The only hope they were in search for was what is held in the box and their joyful smiles allowed, for a few moments, to ignore what waited outside of that Christmas tree.  This year we brought Christmas to him, in the hospital. This year would be the last year we’d have a Christmas with him.

That’s the problem with your grandpa dying over time; life continues to get in the way while remaining halted in, as Dr.Seuss explains, the waiting place.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for

Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of

pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

 And isn’t that the case?  You jump at every phone call, dread seeing your mother’s name on your cell phone, become exasperated that it dominates every phone call while at the same time knowing it remains continually on your own mind.   Life progressed as his did just the opposite.

They call my mother’s generation the sandwich generation, taking care of us while taking care of their parents.  But in this limbo, we all switched roles.  My mother spoon fed my grandmother, while cooing words of comfort and coaxing her to take steps forward.  She argued with family about what was the right thing to do for my grandparents, where would they send them that would give them the love and attention they deserve, as if debating between private or public schools, while knowing the matters were much heavier in terms of life or death.  And the thing was, in the moments I could be home, I too began to take care of my mother.  I held her as she cried and shooed her to the shower.  Like a teenage girl crying over a heart break, I know she let her tears mix with the water that sprayed, but if it washed her clean for a moment, it was a moment needed.  I looked to her one night as she fell asleep, book in hand, sitting up as if nothing more than a prop.  When I turned off the light and covered her up, I felt such a tender force that knew I couldn’t protect her from the hurt that was to come, I wanted her to just keep sleeping for awhile longer and not let life wake her with a jolt, as it seemed to continually do.

I know grandparents have lived their life, they’ve served their time, raised their families, worked to the bone, passed on their life lessons, told their stories- shouldn’t it just be time. Shouldn’t we accept the fate that we know inevitably awaits us? But is death truly ever accepted?   I hope in whatever time I’m given I know that I lived life within those days, but there are few that would say “my days are spent, I’ve lived all that can be lived.”  We always want more; more love, more time, one more chance to say goodbye, more, more, more.  Because that’s what the quest for life is; the search for more, to fill us up, the thirst that is never satiated, our brim never quite overflowing.

So as with every death, you begin to appreciate the life that is still within your hands.  We all want to feel we carry those who passed with us, letting them shape us into the person that they saw us as, which is most likely a better version than what we’re living. My grandpa made it simple, he only ever ended his toasts with one cheers, one quote on how we ought to carry ourselves throughout life and hopefully in his memory, how I plan to.

“You’ve got to be loving.  You’ve got to be kind.  And never neglect anyone who lays claim on your heart.” 

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Life as an unattractive Cover Model.

I kinda feel like I laid down for a half hour nap and woke up at 7 and since it’s dark outside you’re not quite sure if it’s morning or night.  Did you oversleep, is it the weekend, should I be hungry for breakfast or dinner and isn’t it great that pancakes can actually count as both? But taking a break from this blog kinda felt like that. I woke up and didn’t realize the time had passed and what was the first step to start, or end, my day.  So, instead of putting pressure on the first blog back, like a kind friend who pushes you into the pool and you don’t even have time to scream “MY PHONE, MY PHONES IN MY POCK…” we’re just going to do this.

I was recently emailing my beautiful bride-to-be of a sister and was telling her how the Gods of Irony always seem to have their way with me.  The specific instance I was referencing was back in college when I was out on a dance floor, doing my thang (aka OWNING it)…(or probably whipping my hair back and forth because it’s become a go-to move)…either way I was in the zone, but a quick time out was called and I headed up the stairs.  When I turned around to make sure the masses were following I made eye contact with an individual in a wheelchair who was singing loud & proud “walk it out, now walk it ouutttt.”  I really felt like I was being tested as to whether or not I was a good person. I’m not I discovered, but that’s not on my resume so f it!

Either way, it’s when these very Gods decide to spice up my life (girls of the world! Spice up yo life!) that I think “that’s going in my sitcom”  An episode could revolve around the time recently when I discovered halfway through a work day I had a hole in my new dress, pretty much right down the middle of my derriere.  I hadn’t realized I was walking around the entire morning like a g-damn hospital patient, the sway of my hips opening and closing it like the Aladdin cave.  But that’s a speed bump along this journey, not a stop sign, so the Gods thought to up the ante.

I try to be taken serious as a colleague. Granted my football fantasy team was “Show me your TDs” and I made a hat to wear out of coffee filters and notebook paper the day of the Royal Wedding, but, still, I put the fresh in professional y’all .  Which is why it may have been so detrimental that both instances of my recent harassment came in the work realm.

The first was around my birthday. A lovely gentleman decided to send me flowers to work. My co-workers know I pretty much stay mute on my dating life because it remains less complicated then to drag them through that saga. So when I received flowers you can bet I was bright red and instantly ran to the kitchen for a drink of water and a moment to breathe.  When I turned the corner to return to my desk I noticed the masses surrounding my cube.  While I thought maybe they were admiring, I soon saw snickering and knew this couldn’t be good.  A fellow cubemate in the cuberhood decided it’d be hilarious to send out to the ENTIRE CHICAGO LISTSERV, give or take 150 +people, an email from my name that said “I just got flowers!!!” This only further solidified that my managers can now view me as an obnoxious teenage girl (emailing out about Justin Bieber sheets for the Giving Tree in my office mayyyy have also contributed to that).  The responses I received ranged from “?,” to “I hope they’re from a cute boy,” “thank your dad,” “you’re welcome” to “please do not use this listserv for these reasons as there are managers on this as well.” They say no publicity is bad publicity, which is something I had to continually chant to myself this past Friday during my next escapade.

My bucket list is pretty standard, put my feet in all the oceans, see my favorite gays get married, take an old time western photo, attend an Indian wedding, be incredibly famous..etc. But the life lesson in this 45 minute segment is to be specific in the guidelines around your wishes.  I awoke from a nights sleep like any other, wondering why I had a dream where my co worker shot me and what does this say about my anger issues?   Either way, my roommate soon texted me “you’re on the cover of Redeye #Yup”  I already panicked. We’re best friends. I know what that lack of description means, no “omg I’m so jealous, you made it” or even “can I be in your entourage now?” it was sparse. It was hinting at more. So I immediately texted back “AS MY BEST FRIEND YOU NEED TO TELL ME HOW BAD IT IS.” A few twitter mentions later, I was rushing to the closest newsstand.  I didn’t even have to open the damn box as it was pressed against the glass, glaring back at me. There I was in the corner, 3 people enlarged on the cover with yours truly holding down the left hand spot….LOOKING LIKE THE TOWNDRUNK. Eyes half closed, drink halfway up to my mouth and a speech bubble pretty much coming out that says “I IZ SPECIAL”

It's like "Highlights," locate the person hating their life.

Guys, I knew there was no way this one was falling through the cracks seeing as the Redeye is a free newspaper that every young professional in the city of Chicago reads on their commute.  So ya know, only my target audience in life. I trudged slowly into work, knowing something was to await me.  I turned the corner, had PTSD as I saw masses surrounding my cube, but I carried on.  I then looked inside to find 20+ Redeyes wallpapering my entire office.  I saw iPhones filming my reaction and I think a few clapping with glee at my misery.  At this point I knew it as a stepping stone to my reality series fame, so I took it in stride and laughed my ass off.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one given the responses:

  • “bahahahah” –about 3 txts from people with no follow up, literally only that
  • “famous. #celebstatus #goingplaces”- faithful twitter followers
  • “omg its so bad. I texted it to my wife” – a manager at work
  • “while sitting in the waiting room I saw the cover again and instantly lost it” – a

    I want to make sure everyone has seen this photo of me, do we know if the CEO is in his office?

    coworker that was in the emergency room.

  • “no you look cute!!” – a liar and now an “acquaintance”
  • “It looks like when good photos happen to ugly people” — a “reassuring” comment
  • “please don’t tell people we share the same last name!!!!!!! What’s my itunes password?” –my father
  • “THAT IS NEXT YRS CHRISTMAS CARD. What has seen can not be unseen. Who hates you at the newspaper?”—my brother
  • “I hope that editor was good in bed” — A friend confusing infamous with famous.
  • “I laughed like an insane person upon seeing it. I’ve been in 4 different neighborhoods today and have seen your face in everyone. This is the best day of my life” – said boy who sent flowers
  • “I sent it to only like 3 friends” – about 35 different people
  • “Were you a Sex & the City fan, you had a real Carrie Bradshaw moment there” – my straight guy friend.
  • “You look sober” – a friend in Cleveland
  • “Perhaps offer to autograph copies tonight in return for free drinks to drown the memory…” – My mother

So yeah, I think the God’s got the reaction they were looking for when I collapsed to my knees and screamed out “WHYYYYYYY MEEEEEEEEEE.”

Recognizing my 15 minutes only lasts so long though, I then stood up, gave the skinny arm to the paparazzi now following me, put a check mark on my life goal list and thanked the very Gods for giving me a sense of humor and the push in the pool I needed to get back to writing.

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All men are pigs. Except for my father.

There is a running “joke” in my family. Aside from my father always saying “your face hurt? It’s killing me” (NEVER GETS OLD FOLKS) he also likes to ask, anytime we give a speech or have a presentation, “did you remember to thank me?”  When I was presenting to my marketing class on the advantages of introducing a new product into Poland it didn’t really seem to be an appropriate time to point my finger out to the crowd, grab a mic and say “I LOVE YOU DAD,” but consider this post making up for missed opportunities.

A co-worker came back into the office from a week of travel on Friday.  He had come straight from the airport, suit on, jacket slung over his arm, rolling a suitcase with a fast food bag in hand.  When he walked in I immediately said, “You remind me of my dad right now!” When I went over, asked him for a hug welcoming him back and wondering what he bought me as a souvenir is when HR began to get involved. .. Either way, this memory of my dad, traveling to provide for us, successful, and always coming home to the family at the end of the night is a brief snapshot of what I grew up to see him as.

I wouldn’t say patience is his strong point.  And yet, perhaps it’s because the ways in which I tried it as I got older.  One of my guy friends a bit ago asked me what my dad though of my feminist viewpoints and sometimes overall attitude.  I said, “What? that I’m driven, hope to be successful and confident? I think he’s pretty okay with it.” Because see that’s always what my Dad insisted I be.  It was evident in even the simplest of ways.  Wanting me to help out around the house, he one day suggested I learn how to cut the grass. We have a driving lawn mower and about 5 acres of land. The woman in me thought, “look at us defying gender roles.”  Not yet 16, I could picture the wind blowing in my hair as I blared the top 40 in my headphones, sweet freedom at the wheel.  After he gave me the rundown of safety and which buttons not to push, I hopped aboard and set off into the sunset.  About 5 minutes later, no exaggeration, I stepped into the house yelling “daaaaaaadd?!” My headphones  had fallen into the engine and broke the mower.  So while this may have not been my turn around, all-star moment, I see it as just one vote of confidence, one brick he laid in the foundation of who I am today. 

My father has put up with me calling at 12:15 am, when my curfew was 12 to say “I’ll be on my way,” he’s listened to me give a rundown of who I was flirting with the night before and kissed goodbye to which he often covers his ears and sings “lalalala,” as he walks out the door and yet I still do it because I find it so hilarious.  He’s sat through 16 years of dance recitals, which seriously even Mother Theresa finds the 5 year olds wandering offstage during a tap number tiresome. He’s helped me move in and out of dorms, houses and new cities.  He’s taken me to the batting cages and watched me swing and miss…swing and miss…swing and miss…but then cheered in only the way a Dad can when I got a hit during a game (freshman year, probably not so much senior year).  He lets me walk in 45 minutes late into a movie and still answers about 75% of the questions I ask every five minutes. He’s seen me walk out the door in an outfit that causes my mother to text me and say “your father asked that I see what you’re wearing.”  Raising a daughter isn’t easy. I’m well aware of this fact folks.  But he made it look as if it was so.

My father is an intimidating man. As I imagine most Dads can be described as.  Ex-boyfriends worked to get him to turn his head away from the TV for a hello and I often comforted them by saying, just know him ignoring you is probably a better response than the possible alternative.   Despite the fact that he can bring down an auditorium with a speech if he so chose to, I know it’s the simple words he’s spoken to me over time that resonate the most.  When I was unwilling to face the fact that a relationship in my past was over, as my sister and brother teased me, I remember him cutting them off and saying, “Cassidy’s never had a problem breaking up with a guy in the past. She’ll be just fine.”  I didn’t see it as him calling me a heartbreaker (or asshole depending on which party you ask), but rather he knew that I would trust my instincts and make the right choice.  He encourages me to make that right choice, and forgives me when I don’t. He’s the one I want to speak to before a job interview, when I’ve experienced disappointment, to explain to me what the hell a 401k does, when I’m a blubbering mess because of a car accident, what do I do that I booked my ticket to Liberal, KS and not Liberia, Costa Rica (24 hr cancellation policy, ya’ll!) and so much more.

We met through Craig's List.

But if there’s one thing he’s really taught me over the years, it’s his golden piece of advice. The money-maker that he insists we repeated back to him from the moment I mentioned Brad had given me a popcorn ball at lunch but his breath smelled.  “All men are pigs Cass. All men, except for your father. Don’t forget it.”

 

Thanks dad.

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To the most fabulous woman I know, aside from a mirror.

When I was younger and still just as much a nerd as I am today, I used to sneak into the bathroom after bed time and read sitting on the ground beside the toilet.  My butt would go numb, my eyes a little droopy, but I couldn’t quit till I finished that damn book.  As I grew older and would be late getting ready for functions because I was finishing “just one more chapter,” it reached the point where my mother would open the door on me in the bathroom (CHILD ABUSE I SAY!) or take my book away from me until I was ready.  She’d shake her head as my Father could be heard in the background “Oh really? It’s annoying? WHO DO YOU THINK SHE GETS IT FROM.”  My bunions, my tendency to be “there in 5 minutes” when it’s really 15, and my love of the written word all comes from that woman who popped me out of her.  On this day of celebration, it’s only right to look back at some of what she’s taught me along the way.

  • Sometimes, it’s okay to flick off the day.

Second grade for me wasn’t Lisa Frank, glitter pens and pigtails. One, that color combination of rainbows and Unicorns was too much for my Tomboy persona to handle.  Two, my teacher was too busy telling me that I hold pens wrong…thus ruining any hope of a future with chopsticks…for me to get crazy with my pen choice. And lastly, we’ve discussed my curls. Pigtails? Really? Let’s just throw those on my braces & four-eyes for kicks. While it had its high points, second grade could be a bitch. And so could my friends and I. I was 3-way called even before Mean Girls made that shit popular, and was passed a note while watching “School of Rock” that said “even my mom who’s a hairdresser couldn’t cut your hair.” (please refer back to pigtails note).  I remember one day coming back from a particularly rough day in my second grade world and I was crying to my mom in the car.  She pulled into the garage, parked the car and started sweetly singing in my ear, “Cassidy, Cassidy, her friends are …Assidy’s.” I looked up in shock, tears still streaking my face. My mother NEVERRRR swore. “Pissed” and “shut up” included.  Despite the fact that I have a mouth like a trucker now a-days, resulting in me answering “only if she buys me dinner first” when people ask, “you kiss your mother with that mouth?,” looking back now I’m not sure if it taught me to laugh at myself, or if it’s to sometimes curse the day and know that it’s okay.

  • Life’s a balancing act
This Mom just finished filming Season 3 of “16 & Pregnant”

You know the cliché, a child gets trapped under a car and a Mom, full of fury, lifts that SUV off her baby all in the name of love. While I was only dumb enough to get trapped under my brother who used to do half nelsons on me for “fun,” I still learned the power of strength from my Mama. The most obvious display? Carrying in the groceries.  I don’t know if you fully appreciate this till you’re on your own and manhandling the bags of milk, eggs and bread.  It’s a gentle balance between lifting weights and not smashing a decorated cake top.  While some question why you don’t just make multiple trips to the car, I say who has that kind of time?  And even more so if you’re in the city, you basically have one shot to lug it all upstairs.  I would see my mom lift about 12 bags in her arms, dig the keys out of her purse, drop her phone (because it’s always the phone) and get inside long enough to yell “GROCERIES! COME HELP!….QUIT IGNORING ME”  This woman is a brute and I’m sure she’s very appreciative right now that I’m painting a picture of her to be an amazon. (C’mon Nay, you wear that MILF badge proudly).   Just to dig a bit deeper here, I’m clearly not just referring to her physical strength.   One of my favorite quotes is, “There is nothing more powerful than a woman with an open heart.”  She is our family’s rock. Steady and strong, allowing us to fly from and take comfort in the fact that we can always return to her, her arms open and ready.  She’s the one I have to call in private on a bad day, because just a “hello,” is enough permission for me to unleash the waterworks as she soothes me through the phone.  She’s the one I butt bump as we dance around the kitchen cooking and trying to hit the notes of “Don’t Rain On My Parade.”  She’s middle man between my father and sister as they wedding plan, she’s my brothers proofreader (& sometimes author) of his 13 page essays, she’s the planner of family vacation, she’s the host with the most on the Fourth of July, Christmas Eve, birthdays.  As she plays her many roles, she continues to give us all our strength. And also, obviously, the supplies for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  •  Contrary to the popular song, you don’t have to be “Cruel to be Kind”

On this day while everyone updates their twitter and Facebook with “My mom is the best. Better than yours. Our generation may give everyone a trophy, but seriously MY MOMS GETTING THE STANLEY CUP BITCHES,” it’s clear we’re not appreciative for only the big moments; their huge smiles at graduation, the first break up they held your hand through, for taking the blame when we’re playing victim.  But also for the littlest of things; that extra $20 they would slip before you traveled back to school, the text that they send you when you visit California, “Don’t come back a hippie freak. Peace & love” (No? only me?), for putting up with us through moments like this ,this , & this or reminding us to be thankful for moments like thisEither way, I think one of the simplest acts that still resonates with me occurred around Christmas time, when we picked names off the Giving Tree from church.  The families never asked for much, a gift certificate for Best Buy or groceries, just something to be able to give their house some of the magic that many of us are blessed to have every year.  She had gotten a bunch of little kid’s wishes that year and bought some stuffed animals.  While filling the stuffed animals with candy and tying the gift card on it, she would always proclaim it wasn’t much, just a little something extra to open on Christmas morning…I slowly began to realize the magnitude of a little.  It’s that little that my mom continues to give over and over to me, to my sister and brother, to friends, family members and strangers that makes it to be SO MUCH. So much joy, laughter, love, compassion, healing, strength, humor, best friendship and Mommyisms that makes me hope with all my being that it’s not just her reading habits I’ve inherited, but that I can one day be half the mother and woman that she is. 

Happy Mother’s day to all the Moms expecting, crazed with a full clan, keeping a watchful eye on us from the heavens above or simply basking in the love they should be receiving today!

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Everybody plays the (April) fool.

April’s Fools has come and gone but since the Universe was pranking me the entire week leading up to, I think it’s appropriate that I write about it a few days after the fact. (Justification: helping me eat that extra cookie and swearing there was only one of my sizes left, so it must be meant to be, since 2006.) It’s clear there are a few situations that certain groups are discriminated against. For example, career fair and people with sweaty palms.  The daylight and anyone who wears glasses but has too much self-respect to get tinted, changing lenses. A krumping contest and white people. You get the gist. Well, April Fool’s and my kind, the gullible gertrudes of the world are like Ronnie and Sammie from the Jersey Shore, one of us is content where this relationship is at and the other is drunk…I’m sorry, and the other is not pleased.

My susceptibility to believe pretty much anyone and anything can be highlighted by a college gem. I was entering a restaurant after a long night and right next door was a bar’s patio, stocked with individuals looking for a good time and clearly an innocent victim. We’ve learned by now that really all it takes to get my attention on a Friday night is to throw a compliment my way and hook, line and sinker I’m sold.  So when a drunken buffoon threw out “you’re not horrendous looking,” I instantly began a conversation.  My then boyfriend at the time knew that my weakness is hearing people’s stories (it’s the journalism major in me), so when he came out to see me talking with a group leaning over the railing, he just took a seat, began to eat and watch the show unfold.  Basically the guy began that he was a winner on the “Price is Right.” While at first I declared “NU-UH,” clearly holding firm to my disbelief, he soon began to convince me that Drew Carey had in

You can’t see it but his other hand is giving a big middle finger to his Mom.

fact sent him to good old Miami of Ohio.  Silly Drew though, he meant to send them to Miami Florida, but their tickets somehow got messed up. He said they had a wonderful time jet skiing at a nearby lake and would be leaving soon. I swear I’m not as idiotic as this post makes me sound, and as Akon sang we’re going to blame it on the alcohol, but I walked back to my boyfriend and in disbelief said, “Did you hear that! How crazy!” He was like, “If you weren’t so ridiculously good-looking, I’d break up with you here and now (or something to that effect..) Our airport would be Dayton or Cincinnati, not Miami.” As it began to dawn on me, the couple at the end of the bench decided to join in and also declared me too incompetent to have gotten into this school. Which yes, was justified in that moment, but let’s just use this as a precedent for what April Fool’s would most likely bestow on me.

I should have known what was to come when the weekend before, the pranks began.  We had (surprise) more visitors. We decided to head up to Michigan Avenue for some brunch. I rode the bus, walked to Grand Lux and ate a delicious meal with a group of girls.  Normal, right? WRONG. After we left the restaurant and began to cross the street to get to Chase Bank I felt something on the back of my thigh. I know this wasn’t a growth, but to any individual checking out my ass behind me (aka ALL OF THEM) it most likely looked like that to them.  I stopped mid cross walk and asked my friends what Alien creature was growing out of my back leg and when they looked and couldn’t control their laughter, I knew it was time for damage control. I went into chase and pushed the foreign object down my leg. After a few minutes out came my underwear. Take comfort in the fact that there’s proof that I do laundry, but seriously, who leaves the house without realizing this. Did I just take it to be extra cushion at breakfast? Fat bottomed girls we make the rockin’ world go round..

The week progressed and on Wednesday my roommate had a shitty day, I had a shitty day, and the only thing that wasn’t so shitty was the price of a bottle of wine at dinner. We indulged and things seemed a little brighter. Well due to work overload and the enchanting effect wine has on me, I passed out around 9:30 pm, early for a creature of the night like myself. My mother, also a night owl, gave me a call an hour later. Delusional and half out of it I heard the phone ring and tried to gather my thoughts. I reached for what I assumed was my phone and held it up to my ear. “Hello?” I mumbled. I couldn’t understand why my phone was still ringing till I looked in my hand and saw a T-shirt pressed against my ear and my phone still sitting on my dresser.  That went well.

Finally April Fool’s day came and I peered around corners, checked seats before I sat and generally remained a blissful, ignorant fool.  I’m happy to say the only prank pulled was when a good friend from home and a fellow member of the SAC CLUB (Sister Act Club Club. A middle school clique, all three of us clearly wore pink on Wednesdays and sat alone. BY CHOICE) convinced me she saw Sister Mary Clarence herself, aka Whoopi Goldberg out in DC.  When she said she approached her at lunch and she was really friendly, I thought “so cool! awesome! Oh happy day!”  When she elaborated on the story and said she had shown Whoopi our senior show tape, I though, OH NO YOU DON’T! NOT THIS TIME! See, as seniors we did the Sister Act dance for our showcase. I in fact, did fake sign language as my actually gifted friend sang the opening a capella verse, until more friends joined us on stage for some rapping and choreographed absurdness. So while there is no doubt in my mind Whoopi would have been extremely impressed, I knew my friend was just up to her usual tricks.  It took all I could to not type back “THE PRICE IS WRONG BITCH.” But I thought no. Let’s leave the bitter memories and emotional scars for Valentine’s Day, April Fool’s can just remain the harmless class clown, pants’ing us in the middle of the crowd. Cause we recover from that in due time. …right? …RIGHT?!

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Your mama said the only thing I could give you was a reputation

Back in college, as many of us were from the driving distance area, there was a well-known landmark. It was a simple house, tucked between a common looking neighborhood. A little run down, it was distinguished by a cliché blinking neon sign in front of it that simply said “Vacancy.” I’m never quite sure where certain things get reputations. Take for example white vans. They will never live down that they give away free candy and every child has been taught to avoid them at all costs. Similar to the white van, when anyone passed by this house they felt the need to call it out: ST. CLAIRES! St. Claires was believed to be a brothel. And while everyone had a friend of a friend of a cousin that said that she heard her boyfriend’s brother say he KNEW it was true, FOR A FACT….was it ever really? I say all this because I fear the door men of my apartment complex whisper, call out and are sure it’s confirmed that my roommate and I run a, er, similar business. And not for the reasons you think. You see in the past two months, we’ve had about 10 different visitors stay with us. It’s the hotel, motel, holidayyyy innnnnn. And while I have friends question if I get annoyed, if it messes up my schedule, if I can afford it, all I can think is I’m so blessed to have a house continually filled with love & visitors who make my heart happy.

It’s been a whirlwind of travel, a sales conference in DC, back to my alma mater for recruiting and then home where my sister, my freshman roommate, my 2 housemates, my best friend from home, my roommates best friend, my gay best friend, my friend whose a senior still at school, my friend who now lives in Cleveland while I live in her hometown of Chicago….you get the idea….all rotated swinging by and checking in. They never overlapped, which tells me subconsciously there was a Vacancy/No Vacancy sign above my head as we discussed their visits. Annnnndd right about here is where I’m gonna end the brothel comparison because we’re treading in treacherous waters, people.

Either way, I had a fantastic time with the many young’ns who stopped on by and the episodes of my future sitcom are numerous. I think a recurring theme in my show will be my entire lack of knowledge of directions. When one of my better halves was in town we decided to go downtown and grab some breakfast. Bfast is my weakness and I’m sure I’m not alone here. Can honestly one person reading say they don’t enjoy a small town’s pancake breakfast or eggs for dinner? As I slowly become a connoisseur of the hotspots for a 12 pm “breakfast” when I finally muster the energy to get out of bed, I decided my visitor needed to be along for one of the journeys. We went to a place real close off of Michigan Avenue, ya know, only the most recognizable street and easy to access (brothel joke here) location in Chi. We made one turn off of it and were at our restaurant. Well, after we had finished we were fully immersed in discussing the details of the night before and must have missed our turn somewhere because about 20 minutes later we looked up and saw a dead-end and very few humans.  If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times, the only reason why I want a smartphone is for the GPS/Google Map directions. Other than that, I like my 1999 A.C. Slater throw back that I know will probably be lost in two months anyways. At least in Chicago the people spoke english and could direct us back to the H&M. Unlike Italy where, when traveling there with my housemates as a graduation gift to ourselves, I boarded the wrong train and traveled an hour out into the Rome “suburbs.” It was only when I realized me and one other woman were still riding that I thought, “this can’t be close to the Spanish Steps…” A short panic attack, a $200 pay phone bill later, I united with the crew. So see, all is well that ends well. THAT’S AMORE!

A few of the above Euro travelers that I pissed my savings away trying to simply meet up

Cheers to you. And you. But not you.

 on day one visited this past weekend. I recently saw an ad from Grey Goose that was a simple cheers to really great friends. I was lucky enough to live with 5 of them throughout college. And despite the fact that we were only a 3-headed monster this weekend, I knew damage was going to be done. We spent St. Patricks Day Saturday hitting on doormen with girlfriends, dancing where there was no dance floor, shittalking about the jerseys we were repping, making friends in the bathroom line and just generally being inappropriate.

We decided to end the evening at “Bye, Bye Liver” and for those of you who never claimed to be the “cool mom,” let me explain. It’s simply an interactive comedy and drinking show.  Since I really find any reason I can to be in the spotlight, when they asked for a single, ring-less wearing loser to come forward I proudly held up my hand and gave those desperate eyes men are accustomed to seeing to get chosen.  A lucky fella a few seats up and I then played a game to determine if we were a match made in Saturday night, beer goggle heaven. While we answered questions such as “What determines if you are in a serious relationship, is it A. You keep a toothbrush at their place. B. You piss on their leg in the shower. C….” all I heard was “whisper, whisper sweet nothings.” The show ended and my match.com helpless victim offered to buy me a drink and introduce his italian- chain- wearing friends.  While most would envision this story ending in a typical good time as the opposite sexes mingled over peeing on your leg icebreakers and did you grow that chest hair yourself conversation, that’s just not how we roll. See, as time passed quickly it was soon only my comrades, the guidos, and a group of women nearby celebrating their friend’s 50th birthday. Maybe we identified with the women’s clearly strong friendship, maybe we saw our own mother’s in their faces, whatever it was we couldn’t ditch the guys fast enough to join the dance circle that was forming a few feet away from us as “SHAKE IT LIKE A POLAROID PITUUREE” bumped through the air. The women welcomed us by throwing boas our way and getting lower than a seventh grader at a Catholic school dance.  My friends were pulling out their best moves in the middles as I was asking the DJ to play “I’m every woman” and give a special shout out to the birthday girl. If you’re asking why, you’ve clearly never had an “ALL MY WOMEN WHO INDEPENDENT THROW YOUR HANDS UP AT ME” while your hands are actually in the air- moment.  We did this for much longer than you’d think is humanly possible and soon, with a look of longing cast back, waved goodbye to our future selves. It was a magical night to say the least.

Boas: Bridging Generational Gaps since 1978

And the truth is, I can see all too easily me writing about celebrating my 50th with many of the visitors above and talking about some crazy kids who joined in cheers’ing to fabulous friends.  Obviously, after icing my knees from getting low. (End scene on brothel sore knees joke.) G’DAY.

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Balls, Bruised Egos & Better Days Ahead.

I saw a woman get hit by a car on Sunday. I know. My various friends will have different reactions to that. Some will laugh, though I can’t lie I just have never found “America’s Funniest Home Video” funny, despite the subliminal messaging in the title. Some friends will be concerned, knowing how serious it could have been. She lived and seemed okay, to answer the question all of those without a black abyss for a soul were wondering.  Since it seems I started with the big bang ending (inappropriate pun) let’s start at the beginning. My roommate and I were waiting at the bus stop, heading off to church. And despite my cardinal rule of not discussing dreams (It just bothers me. The stories go on too long and I never know the appropriate reaction because the events didn’t actually happen..) but since I had a nightmare, I clearly was willing to break this code as I described in detail why I woke up feeling so unsettled. As we were lamenting, we turned suddenly when we heard the sound of a body hitting a car. It was hard to tell if she was walking when it wasn’t her turn or if he had gone through a yellow light, but either way, girlfriend got hit by a car. I instinctively screamed out “OH MY GOD,” as I swear the whole intersection froze. It was broken when a cop car came whirling up and a woman waiting at the bus stop, almost as if quoting the Dane Cook skit was talking to us, “Did you see that?! I flagged down the cop car!” …. “Look at this guy with shoes!” Either way the girl who got hit has been giving me perspective for the week.

Work has been interesting (read: MIZ) lately. But the minute I start to get down it’s like the Universe is saying, “Shut your mouth or I’ll shut it for you” (BOSSY).  I know people overcoming cancer, dealing with a sick child, or even just having a shittier day than me. There’s an old saying that if everyone threw their problems into a pile, you’d be amazed how quick you’d move to retrieve yours right back. I know that’s the beauty of time, or an attempted hit and run by a Chicago cabbie, you gain perspective. For example, my 8th grade embarrassment now seems not nearly as catastrophic…even though I will admit I sometimes still blush telling the story.

I was a cheerleader, deal with it.  I’ve danced since I was 3, grew up sitting through my brother’s football practices and I like attention (honesty hour), so it was a logical end career.  It was eighth grade and it was pep rally day. I don’t care who you are, when you are going out in front of your entire school, your palms, pits and knees are probably going to be sweating. We were sitting by class, 6th grade on the right, 7th grade in the middle and 8th grade to the left.  The cheerleaders spirited their way out onto the floor, partnered up and stood in front of each class. I took pity on the minions, the newbs of the school and held my ground in front of the 6th graders. They looked so innocent…if I would of only known… Anyways, the Vice Principal got on the microphone and asked us to see what grade had the most school spirit! Make some noise, raise the roof and chant “West Is Best!” 6th grade was first, so I turned to face the crowd, smile on, hair bouncy. My counterpart started chanting “West is Best!” But I, in a sober black out, just kept clapping and repeating “West! West! West!” like a child who just discovered the word “HI.” I noticed confused looks but I couldn’t stop, I was too far gone, I cringe thinking I may have even sped up. Soon the whole grade was chanting WEST. WEST. WEST. (I still hear it in my dreams some days.) We finished up screaming our school pride and I swear to god the Vice Principal paused and then went “Okay…..7th grade?” Which the grade then started chanting “West Is Best,” ya no, as one cohesive sentence. That’s when it hit me, did I think the 7th grade was going to chant “IS. IS. IS. IS?!” I burned in shame and pretended that I wasn’t mortified when my then boyfriend mocked me for weeks straight after that one or even years later when my best friend chants “WEST” when I’m feeling most fragile. 

She's beauty and she's grace...She's Miss United States..

I’ve had worse public humiliation. I got hit in the face with a softball at practice in high school. I then went off to college and got hit in the face with a football while waiting in line outside of a bar… to which alter-ego-ghetto-me (she appears at random, you can never predict it) tried to hunt down who did it to no avail.  (It was drunk colonel mustard, in the 21 and over line, with a frat pack!) A few months later into my freshman year, I got hit in the eye with a baseball while playing catch in our quad on the first nice day of spring (i.e, the whole dorm was out there).  I know. The Universe was kindly trying to tell me I’m not athletic.  When recounting these tales to my friends at home over break, I chose to use the following sentence; “I always get hit in the face with balls.” (Cue immature snickers) And just to really send the message home, in case the Universe was unsure if I was listening– I GOT HIT IN THE FACE WITH A FOOTBALL WHILE TELLING THAT STORY. MID SENTENCE. I SHIT U NOT.

But I guess that’s better than a car. #PerspectiveWin

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