Strangers with Whiskey

February 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I took a megabus trip home this weekend to spend some quality time with some old friends and fam, and true to megabus form, I had an interesting trip.  I’m not sure what it is about me that encourages strangers to open up and tell me random things about themselves but it seems to happen a lot.  My Friday afternoon bus trip was no exception and was made worse by the fact that the guy sitting next to me was rather drunk.

I did not realize his drunkenness while we stood in line and chatted about megabus in general.  Oh, no.  I was oblivious until

Road trips are a trip

we sat down next to each other and he brought out a bottle of Jack Daniels that was 2/3 empty…he told me offhandedly that he had purchased it that afternoon.  It was then that I knew I was in for a long bus ride.

Over the course of the next three hours I was regaled with stories of his kinky girlfriend, his buddies who were growing some sort of fancy type of marijuana that I couldn’t begin to understand if I tried, his new job and recent move from another large Midwestern City, how his little sister was throwing her life away and how crappy his truck runs in Chicago winters.  At one point, this big burly man had tears running down his face as he told me how one of his friends gave him clean urine so he could pass a drug test.  Apparently, that’s the mark of a true friendship.  It was also around this time that I finally acquiesced and helped myself to what was left in his whiskey bottle.

After disembarking the bus (and leaving my drunken friend behind to go on to the next stop), I stood outside waiting on my ride mom.  While waiting, I somehow managed to get into a conversation about birthing practices in different cultures with a middle-aged woman also waiting for her ride.  In the span of about 90 seconds, we went from discussing the weather to talking about the evolution of the bodies of women and how modern birthing practices don’t take that evolution into account.  The whiskey may or may not have had something to do with my enthusiasm but hey, at least I wasn’t driving.

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Special Delivery!

February 25, 2011 at 11:33 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Since the last post was on the serious side, here’s a nice little story to make your soul happy:

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) – A pizza delivery driver was called a hero Monday after she likely saved an elderly woman’s life.

Before Monday’s incident, most neighbors knew little about Memphis resident Jean Wilson, except that she’s eaten pizza daily for the past three years.

“We make her pizza every day before she even calls, because we know she’s going to call,” delivery driver Susan Guy said.

Guy often delivers Wilson’s regular order, one large pepperoni pizza, but recently workers at her restaurant noticed an unusual break in the pattern.

“She hadn’t called in three days,” Guy said. “My boss told me about it today.”

Guy insisted to her boss that she be allowed to check on Wilson.

“He was like, ‘Naw, you don’t have to do that,’ and I said, ‘Yeah I do.  Clock me out if that’s what you gotta do,'” Guy said.

Guy drove to Wilson’s house and knocked on her door, but no one answered.  Then, she banged on Wilson’s windows, but there was still no response. Running out of options, Wilson ran to neighbor Larry Comeaux’s house for help.

“The pizza lady came over and knocked on the door wanting to know if I’d seen the lady across the street,” Comeaux said.

“And he said, ‘No, maybe she’s not home,'” Guy said. “And I said, ‘Well, not home?’ I said, ‘How many times have you see her leave?’ And he goes, ‘Never.'”

Guy quickly called 911.  When police arrived, they broke down the door to Wilson’s home, and found her lying on a floor inside.

They soon learned that Wilson had fallen on Saturday, and couldn’t get over to a telephone to call for help.  Investigators said it’s possible that her pizza-only diet may have saved her life.

“She treats us really well,” Guy said. “She appreciates us, and that’s something we don’t get in customers a lot.”

Late Monday evening, Wilson was in non-critical condition at St. Francis Hospital.

Tuesday, Wilson was offered help in the form of a Life Alert system by a local company.

Source

Not going to lie, I teared up a little upon reading this.  It reminded me of a story from my Dairy Queen days, back when I worked the breakfast shift on weekends  (in case you weren’t aware, DQ makes phenomenal breakfasts.  Seriously, that gravy is to die for).  Anyway we had our regulars, the old coffee drinkers who would come in at the same time every day and gossip with one another for a few hours.  There was one man in particular who would show up daily and order the exact same breakfast, but he wasn’t a member of the coffee drinker club.  He was a stroke victim and couldn’t speak with great clarity so he usually sat alone while he ate.  He used a cane and wasn’t very mobile so I became friendly with him and would often help him inside and bring his meal to his table.  He might have been slightly handicapped but he was also a little bit of a pervert…he was always telling my 16-year old self how good I looked and I caught him staring at my ass on more than one occasion.

This is not the direction I meant for this story to take.  Anyway, there was one winter morning that was particularly nasty and as breakfast serving time drew to an end, a coworker of mine and I noticed our cane guy hadn’t been in.  We knew where he lived, as it was right down the road and he drove a distinctive old Cadillac, so we decided to take his breakfast to him (my coworker was a big, burly guy…not that I was worried about the older man, but better to be safe than chopped up under a porch).  While this story doesn’t end with us saving his life, he was extremely grateful for the free meal we brought him and there were tears in his eyes when we left.  It was my good deed for the year and it made me feel a little better about working a crap job in the fast food industry.

I pass by the old guy’s place when I’m visiting home and noticed that his son’s truck usurped the spot of the Caddy years ago.  I like to think my old friend is now enjoying that big, gravy laden breakfast buffet in the sky while checking out all of the jailbait his heart can handle.

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The Times, They Are A-Changin’

February 23, 2011 at 12:06 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Lately there seems to be all sorts of important news stories vying for our attention.  Revolutions are taking place in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and even Wisconsin and we’re actually able to see history being made.  On a different note, reports came out this week that the Gulf will be dealing with the ramifications of BP’s oil spill for longer than anyone had anticipated.  While all of this is important and deserves our attention, I’m going to talk about something else newsworthy today because it is extremely near and dear to my heart – Planned Parenthood.

Please take the time to read this short article, because it sums up the issue better than I ever could:

PORTLAND, Ore. — More than 400 people lined the streets around Planned Parenthood in North Portland in support of the organization that could lose all of its federal funding. The U. S. House of Representatives passed a budget bill over the weekend that includes an amendment that strips funding for Planned Parenthood in fiscal year 2011.

Planned Parenthood says 75 percent of its patients at the clinics in Oregon and Southwest Washington need the funding to receive reproductive services like birth control, cancer screening and family planning. “Now in this economic climate, family planning is so important and we can’t believe the House would vote to eliminate that funding,” said Roey Thorpe, with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. The Republican sponsor of the amendment says the taxpayers shouldn’t support an organization that provides the most abortions in the United States.  But Planned Parenthood says the money doesn’t directly fund abortions because that’s already against the law.

Planned Parenthood also says abortions only account for four percent of their services utilized nationwide. “Planned Parenthood has been a real support to me and to a lot of women I know — a lot of young women especially,” said Ann Branson, who attended the rally. “If I didn’t have Planned Parenthood, I would have nowhere to go for my health care.”

Branson was among several women who have received the health screenings available at Planned Parenthood. “I hope that lawmakers will see this is a really important issue to us and how much it’s affecting the community,” said Rosalie Hatch, who attended the rally.

The bill will be considered by the U.S. Senate, where it’s expected to fail, but Planned Parenthood leaders say they are still concerned about how the organization will fare during the reconciliation process for the House and Senate bills.That’s why they are urging supporters to continue advocating for Planned Parenthood to lawmakers.


I know that the chances of this bill actually being made into law are pretty remote but the fact that it’s gotten this far is alarming.  I utilized Planned Parenthood’s services for roughly 10 years and I know firsthand how important that organization is for young women all over the country.  I would not have been able to afford birth control or annual gynecological visits throughout college if it hadn’t been for my local PP and they helped to keep me informed, educated and healthy until I was financially independent.  This bill would strip young women of that vital information, education and protection, which in turn would lead to a spike in unwanted pregnancies.  And of course, if someone barely has enough money to pay for contraception then they can obviously support a child.

Some would say that no one should have sex until they’re financially stable enough to have a child.  In that case, most of my friends and I would be wearing chastity belts until the day we died.  People (especially teenagers) are going to enjoy sexual relationships and there’s nothing wrong with that, so long as they understand the inherent risks and precautions they should take in order to minimize and avoid those risks.  Planned Parenthood is the best organization to help them do just that.

I feel rather helpless with this whole situation (this is actually how most of the big news makes me feel) but if you feel like I do about Planned Parenthood then at least you can sign a letter to Congress – here you go. It might not be much but it’s the absolute least I can do.

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Chicago Tough

February 21, 2011 at 11:41 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

This is my third winter in Chicago and I like to think that I’ve somewhat adapted to the frigid temperatures and bone chilling winds.  Growing up in Indiana, I was around snow and cold but since living up here I’ve realized it’s typically 10-20 degrees warmer at Mom’s house than it is at mine.  Case in point: back in my first winter here, when I still had a car, I once spent roughly 15 minutes with a blow dryer trying to melt the ice off of my car door so I could get in and go to work.  It was like something out of a bad sitcom – I had the dryer hooked up to an extension cord and everything.  I never did get in my car and had to get a ride to work that day.  That’s also when I realized I was dealing with a different kind of cold.

I like to think I’ve managed pretty well in the time since then and now I’m a pro at layering up and going out (the recent ginormous snowstorm also adds to my Chicago street cred).  However, this does not mean  that I don’t bitch and moan about the weather on occasion and lament that fact that now, sans car, I must deal with it a bit more than I used to.   It makes me feel somewhat legitimate though…something about being able to look Old Man Winter in his windy face and keep on walking makes me feel like a badass.  I have no problem walking the two miles from class to work when it’s 20 degrees and I even contemplated participating in the Polar Bear Plunge (the event where a bunch of crazies jump into Lake Michigan at the end of January) but as I was still getting over a cold at the time of the event, I didn’t think participating would be the most responsible adult decision.  However, no matter how tough I think I am, there are people in this city who deftly put my winter handling abilities to shame. They include:

Toughen Up!

  • Hotel Valets
  • Garbagement (and Garbagewomen)
  • Bus Drivers
  • Construction Workers
  • The Homeless
  • Bicycle Delivery Drivers
  • Bicyclists in general
  • The people who try to collect signatures and donations for Greenpeace on the street
  • Taxi Drivers

These people (and many others) deal with the elements on a daily basis and don’t often get relief.  When my cubicle starts to drive me crazy and I itch for fresh air and freedom, I think of these people who might enjoy their time outdoors perhaps 40% of the year.  As Chicago Tough as I like to think I am, I just can’t compete with these hardcore citizens.  Although doing the Polar Bear Plunge next year might be a step in the right direction.

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Horsing Around

February 18, 2011 at 12:12 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

As I’ve mentioned, much of my weekend time lately has been spent at the Field Museum doing various volunteer activities.  Last weekend was no different and my happy butt was sitting in a lecture hall at 9am on Saturday morning.  Which meant I woke up around 7:15.  If you know me, you know I like my weekend sleep so I’m obviously pretty committed.  And while it wasn’t exactly easy to get my body out of bed that early, in the end it was totally worth it.

The 7 hour lecture Sunday was all about the new exhibit that opened this week, The Horse.  I learned about the physiology, evolution, breeding and domestication of horses, as well as how they and humans have interacted over the years.  I won’t lie, I geeked out over a lot of it because I just thought it was so damn cool to be a part of.  I’m not even a huge horse lover (I’ve been thrown more than once and have accepted that I’m scared of riding them.  They’re big animals and they can sense my fear, so my feet are better left on the ground) but I do like to learn so it all worked out.  A few random facts for you:

  • The average horse produces about 50 pounds of manure every single day

    A sculpture made of driftwood at the end of the exhibit - please excuse the crappy phone quality, it looks much better in person

  • The only truly wild horses that still exist are in Mongolia
  • Horses evolved from having three toes to one hoof
  • The Sakha people in Siberia drink horse milk during solstice
  • Horses can be milked
  • Horses have been hunted by humans
  • The height of a horse is measured in hands – each hand is about 4 inches (the length of pinky to thumb when your hand is horizontal)
  • Horses have therapeutic purposes (I already knew this from a program I was involved in during college with at-risk kids and horses but didn’t realize just how often they’re utilized for such purposes)
  • People mount on the left because it was easier to maneuver swords back in the day

There was a lot more, trust me.

After the lecture, we were allowed to tour the actual exhibit.  That was especially cool since it wasn’t yet open to the public.  In fact, after I walked behind the black curtain a couple of girls my age followed me and some guard had to tell them to leave.  Yup, I kind of felt like a bad ass.  The exhibit featured dioramas of the evolution of horses, replicas of ancient cave paintings featuring them and displays of how horses have been utilized by humans through the ages.  They also discuss things like The Kentucky Derby (being a near-Louisvillian myself, this was extra cool).

This was the first traveling exhibit that’s come to the Field since I’ve been a docent and apparently every time a new one arrives there’s a training session much like the one I attended.  The next one is on Whales and after that…well, I think I have to keep that one a secret for now but it’s going to be awesome.  And yes, I’ll probably geek out over those too.  At this point, you should expect nothing less.

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Melt Baby Melt!

February 16, 2011 at 12:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Temperatures are above freezing and the snow is finally melting!  People are literally busting out the shorts around Chicago and while I think that’s getting a bit ahead of the game, I’m certainly enjoying wearing one less layer to work every day.

Here’s a list of things I’ve happened upon on the sidewalks since the Big Thaw:

  • 3 random keys in 3 different parts of the city
  • a handful of change
  • 2 gloves (not matching)
  • one large men’s sneaker
  • a spoon
  • one sad looking, soaking wet teddy bear
  • a car bumper
  • a broken camera
  • 4 broken umbrellas
  • a bag of charcoal
  • a bottle of hot sauce (found next to the charcoal…someone was trying to stay warm by any means possible)

I didn't realize I was being followed...

However, just because the snow is melting doesn’t mean the sidewalks are yet safe.  My 2 year record of making it through a winter without falling down has been blown to hell, as I fell twice in two days right after the snowpocolypse.  The first time was the day after my birthday, when I lost balance and wound up sitting on a huge pile of snow.  I was hungover, which made it even worse.  Since it was just snow though it wasn’t a big deal.  The second time was a bit worse – I still landed in a huge pile of snow but I fell further to get there.  I’ve come close to wiping out numerous times but have mastered the art of the slip and glide, where I usually manage to catch my balance.  With all of the snow finally melting, I thought I was in the clear.

Wishful thinking.  Snow may be melting off the sidewalks but it’s causing them to become covered in ice, which I learned the hard way two nights ago.  I was walking home from the train and talking to my mom on my cell, which is normal enough.  She was asking me about the weather and I was in the middle of explaining how icy everything was when it happened – ice and gravity got the better of me once again.  I slid for a few feet and managed to stay upright but my poor phone flew from my hand and wound up in four pieces on the sidewalk.  I imagine anyone watching me got a good laugh and I could almost hear passerby’s saying “Wow, that sucks” as my phone hit the ground.  My first thought was that I was going to have to find a pay phone so I could let my mom know I didn’t get hit by a car.  I then gingerly picked up my phone and was thrilled to see that while it snapped apart, it was easily put back together.  By the time I had it turned back on I had a frantic voicemail from Mom (shocker) but I was just glad the thing was working.  And that I didn’t break any bones, because for a half second I had a horrible vision of snapping my elbow in two (and for a nanosecond I was thankful I have health insurance again).  At least when there was 2 feet of snow on the ground there was a little bit of padding.

With the forecast calling for weather in the upper 50’s (I know, can you believe it?!) later this week, hopefully the snow and ice will soon be gone for good.  Or at least, until two weeks from now when it’s sure to make yet another unwelcome appearance.  But hey – today marks the second day that we’re closer to March than January.  Spring can’t hide forever!

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The Single Life

February 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Ah, Valentine’s Day.  While I’d like to bitch and moan about how this holiday was created by corporate American in order to turn a profit between Christmas and Easter, in reality it’s been celebrated since 496 AD. That means that for hundreds and hundreds of years, singles have been made even more acutely aware of their relationship status on the 14th day of the shortest month of the year.

Not that I’m bitter.  Oh no.  In fact, this holiday makes me want to celebrate by running into a park and shooting arrows at unsuspecting couples.  However, I don’t want to usurp Cupid’s job so I’ll leave the shooting to him.

Cupid gets the point

Technically, this is the first Valentine’s Day in something like 13 years that I wasn’t dating anyone.  Since this is by my own volition I don’t really mind, though it does make me roll my eyes even harder at the candy and hearts displays bursting forth from every aisle at the grocery stores and Target.  It also makes me question my desire to be single…in fact, this is something I go back and forth on almost a daily basis.  I miss the intimacy of having a partner, of having someone who genuinely cares about what goes on in my life on a day to day basis and always has my back.  I miss having a built in buddy for movies, dinners and events around town.  I miss having someone help me carry my groceries up three flights of stairs.  However, I love having my independence and time to myself and I truly enjoy living my life without really taking into consideration how it’s going to affect anyone else.  I also love having a huge queen sized bed to myself every night.  Besides all that, I loathe the idea of dating.  Why would I want to rehash my entire life story to some stranger on a regular basis?  Perhaps I’d like it better if, on first dates, we could just exchange the Cliff Notes versions of ourselves and get it over with.  In other words, I think I’m too lazy for dating. So what’s a single girl to do?

Yup, stay single.  I don’t really have time for dating anyway (or at least that’s what I’ll continue to tell myself).  I do, however, have time to take advantage of the candy sales that will be starting tomorrow.  I also have time for target practice.  Now if only I can find my arrow…

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Can’t Park Here

February 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

As seen in front of my apartment

Since my move to Chicago, I’ve become rather fond of some of our local traditions.  Dying the river green for St. Patrick’s Day, hating on our politicians and gorging ourselves on food and drink are all things I can get behind but there’s another tradition I’m happy to avoid because it can be downright dangerous.  Of course I’m referring to saving parking spots in the dead of winter

I’ve known about this for a while but have never given it much thought, especially since I no longer have a car.  Apparently the particular tradition of  “if you dig it, you dib it” is a pretty common practice throughout neighborhoods where cars get double buried due to plows.  Things are really serious now since we still have so much damn snow all over the place and Chicagoans aren’t messing around with their spots.  I realized this a few nights ago upon arriving home, when I noticed two spots that had been saved.  As you can see, the first one had a stool in it.  This next one (in case you can’t quite tell) featured a couple of boxes with a piece of plywood stacked on top.

I’ve seen lots of chairs, milk crates, boxes, debris, road construction cones and even a concrete pillar saving spots all around the city.  I understand the reasoning behind the idea – if I spent 2 hours shoveling out my car I would want that spot back too.  Most Chicagoans acknowledge and respect this Ancient Law of Dibs but it remains controversial nonetheless.  Some people say that if everyone shoveled out

Don't walk the plank!

their cars then no one would have to save a thing, but given that the majority of the population tends to be lazy and unmotivated in the middle of winter, this idea isn’t likely.  The For and Against groups post fliers, write lengthy editorials and even start organizations based on their position (Chair-Free Chicago anyone?).  Politicians even talk about this while running for office – current Mayor Daley supports it, as do new hopefuls Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico.  It seems that everyone who owns a car has a die hard opinion on the matter – personally, I’m thankful it’s something I don’t really have to deal with.

This week we were discussing this tradition at the food pantry where I volunteer.  Out of morbid curiosity, I asked a few Chicago natives what happens if someone stops their car, removes the space-saver and takes the spot anyway.  You would’ve thought I had just told them the Cubs were going to win the next World Series.  After wiping the incredulous looks from their faces, they both just shook their head and said you wouldn’t want to do that.  I’ve heard horror stories of people getting their back windows smashed in after swiping saved spots and apparently that kind of thing really happens.  I was told that at the very least, someone who usurped a spot with dibs could expect a nice car keying.  Really.

I’ll stick to the sidewalks any day.

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Pizza Pizzazz

February 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

According to aol.com, a pizza was created to celebrate the most recent Super Bowl.  Half is made with cheese (tangent: I just spelled that cheeze because of my unhealthy addiction to Cheeze-Its) and pickles and the other half is ketchup.  Ketchup.  I know that it’s relatively close to tomato sauce and I’m even a fan of ketchup myself, but really? That side is supposed to represent the Pittsburgh Steelers, since Heinz is one of their big sponsors and is the name behind their field.  The pickles are in honor of the old Green Bay nickname, the ‘Green Bay Pickle Packers’.  Of course.  Apparently the guy behind the pie has been doing some sort of Super Bowl hybrid pizza for years.  Last year it was Cajun seafood jambalaya for New Orleans and half horse meat jerky for the Colts.  Yum.

Delish Dish?

I’m going to gloss over the fact that the business website the AOL article links to looks like it was made by a 12-year-old and has the word bongwater in the address.  I’m choosing not to comment on the other related articles, which all claim that a few years ago this guy planned to try to market pizzas with actual road kill for toppings (though I can’t find any record of whether or not he ever did it…).  I’m also not going to say anything about the pizza company other than it’s Road Kill Pizza and features a cartoon of a small squished mammal sporting tire tread.  I’m just going to leave all of this information here for you to ponder while you decide if you could every try this yourself.  Technically it’s vegetarian so I could eat it…but I’m not a fan of pickles and the thought of ketchup on my pizza made me gag a little.  To each their own though.

Would you try this pie?

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Only as Old as You Feel

February 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

My birthday weekend came and went and I had a pretty fantastic time.  I also still feel roughly 17 so it’s good to know that some things might never change.  I’m so thankful to the friends who trekked out to the…uh, interesting bar for the burlesque show and I hope they had a good time as well.  The show started much later than I thought it would so I wasn’t at my most sober when it began but since it was a bar that didn’t really matter.  We managed to nab pretty much the only tables in the place and we all had a spot for the show.  There were hula hoops, a guy dressed as a clown, a large man wearing a small g-string and women in pasties.  Lots and lots of pasties.  This photo pretty much sums up the night:

Cheese!

I know this is only the second photo of myself I’ve ever posted on this blog, but I kind of felt like I had to.  Also, the fact that a lovely friend of mine made an appearance in the background just made the whole thing better.  The big guy with the g-string and I danced for a moment but no one was quick enough with their camera to capture that – though if you look on my right arm in the above photo you’ll see some of his make-up that rubbed off on me.  When I woke up the next day I thought I had gotten a skin rash from him for a hot minute, which made me more nauseous than I already was.  Luckily it came off in the shower so no dermatology appointments were needed.

I also had to post the above picture because the woman I’m with reminded me of the time that I dressed up like Prince for a rock and roll themed party my old roommates and I threw in college.  I kind of feel like I have to post that too, so here it is:

See the resemblance?

Apologies to my sister because I know how much this picture freaks her out.

So yes, my birthday night was a big success.  The rest of the weekend was full of dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, more quality time with my sister and some of our friends and an afternoon hanging out at The Field Museum – obviously, a great weekend all around.  It’s even snowing a little today, which isn’t something we exactly need but it’s pretty to look at.  Although I kind of wish it was purple rain instead.

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