September 30, 2011 at 10:21 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

As you may or may not recall from an earlier post this week, I got to experience my first mammogram Wednesday night.  Given that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to play the part of your friendly neighborhood advocate and tell you about my experience.  Self-exams are good and should be a regular part of any woman’s life (and men – they get breast cancer too you know!) but mammograms are something that most women will eventually utilize as well.  I realize I’m a tad younger than the average for this but given my family history and the fact that it’s always better to be safe than sorry, my doctor and I agreed it was time.

Feel free to feel yourself up!

Or rather, she decided and I did what she told me to.  Now, I remember being a wee lass and stumbling across a piece of paper with a sad and pained looking cartoon woman.  She was reciting a poem about the smashing of breasts and how just plain awful it was (this was before email forwards so the trend was to make copies and pass ’em around).  Anyway this was something my mom had in her room and it taught me a lesson in snooping because I’ve been terrified of mammograms ever since.

That said, I’m here to tell you that it was not that bad.  Seriously.  I don’t have boobs of steel or anything but the entire process was quicker and easier than I’d ever imagined (and yes I’m sure the advancements in radiology over the last 20 years had something to do with this).  It was a little awkward to have the nurse hold my girls and move them around for the x-rays but any woman who can handle a PAP smear can handle this.  She did have me hold my breath while the photos were being taken and since I was a bit nervous I was concerned I might pass out with my boob shoved in the machine but luckily that didn’t happen.  Speaking of the machine, I suppose I should describe it at least a little.  It’s basically a piece of metal that compresses your breasts in a few different ways.  You place one on a metal plate type thingy then another part of the machine comes down to press.  Sort of like that equipment that flattens cars on an assembly line before they’re junked.  Hmm…that might not be the most appropriate imagery to use here but I think it applies.  It was uncomfortable, mostly because my boobs were stuck in what felt like a very bad date with a horny Transformer, but I wouldn’t say it was painful.  Of course, the nurse informed me that the pain varies woman to woman as some are just more sensitive than others.

Maybe my boobs really are made of steel?  Yeah that’s pretty doubtful because honestly I’m kind of a baby when it comes to pain tolerance.  So you can take my word for it when I say that it was really nothing to get your panties in a twist over.  After all, your breasts will be twisted enough!

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When Life Hands You Lemons…

September 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

you smack life around a little, grab some vodka and make adult lemonade.

A little issue with two small companies and a jerk who represented them will not get me down!  I’m still going on this trip and I’m still going to have a blast.  I’ve officially booked at Hostel #2 and I hope that they’ll still be there when I arrive.  Just kidding, Mom!  But not really.  Anyway,  I’m also looking into other overnight volcano type tours but I’m not too positive that’s going to work out on my favor.  I’m going to do what I can though and I’m sure I’ll be able to stay busy.  There’s a museum of antique books, coffee tours, random hiking, markets, shops and other museums, ancient church ruins and sights to see and I’ve decided to roll with the punches and take it as it comes.  Which is not to say I’m throwing caution to the wind but I’m determined to have a good time, no matter what.  After all, I’ll be there in 8 days!

“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” – Kurt Vonnegut

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Things Fall Apart

September 28, 2011 at 10:46 am (Uncategorized) ()

Deep breaths.  That’s what I’m telling myself after emailing a simple question to the hostel I’ve booked for next Friday in Guatemala about the tour I’ve also booked to the volcano and receiving an auto-reply that both the hostel and the tour company are closed until November.  Um, what the flying hell?  I’ve already paid.  I thought this thing was set.  I leave in 9 freaking days and now I have nowhere to go and nothing to do.  Awesome.  At least I’m glad I emailed when I did so I didn’t show up to a shuttered building and lack of volcanic action.

So my options are basically scramble to book another hiking trip (if I can even find one) and hostel in the next few days or say screw it all and cancel the trip.  To be honest, the volcano overnight was the primary purpose in going and if that’s out of the picture entirely then I’m not sure what to do.  I know I could find a lot of cool stuff to do there anyway but I had my heart set on that volcano and if I can’t climb that then I might want to wait to go back until I can.  I mean, I only have so much vacation time and I want to get the most out of it.  Of course, if I cancel the flight I lose like $150.00.  However, I’m also hesitant to book anything else after this experience that I’m currently living.  I’m pissed and frustrated and not really sure what to do from here.  Oh, and I get to go have a mammogram after work.  Super fun day all around, huh?

Suggestions on the trip?  I’m all ears.

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September 27, 2011 at 12:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

I haven’t had coffee in almost two weeks because I’ve been drinking lots of tea but this morning was cold and rainy and I had such a hard time waking up and coming into work that I drank two cups of coffee and now my mind won’t stop and my fingers keep typing and I have so much energy I can’t sit still at my desk.  Why do I do this to myself?  I know I have a one cup limit unless I want to be a jittery mess who raves like a lunatic and now I can’t stop moving and I have class tonight and chances are I’m going to crash off this coffee high right around the time I leave work and head that way which means I’ll be even more tired for class and I guess I can change that by drinking more coffee this afternoon but is that really a good idea?  Also I don’t even really like the taste of coffee and I’m afraid that having any more will make me sick to my stomach but I hate energy drinks and don’t do cocaine because that is bad so I’m not really sure the best way to keep myself awake until at least 9pm tonight although I think drinking lots of water would help but if I do that I’ll have to pee all the time however since I’m already bouncing and moving around so much that might give my legs something to do and could work out in my favor.


In other news I’m really excited for my trip but there’s a bunch of stuff going on at work and it looks like the timing is going to cause me to be stressed with work crap up until my trip and then again when I get back but luckily I plan on leaving all that behind as soon as I leave the office on my last day and if I have any work thoughts while gone I will throw them into the volcano.  Holy crap I’m going to be climbing a volcano and when I really start thinking about that I get a ball of excited nervousness in my stomach that makes it even more difficult to sit still so I should probably put those thoughts on the back burner at least until this coffee wears off.  I just wish I knew when that would be so I could plan around it appropriately oh hey look that rhymed oh man I need to stop right now before this gets out of hand.  I apologize if you’re now as befuddled and all over the place as I am – perhaps tomorrow I’ll make more sense?  Yeah no promises on that.

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Shady Shady

September 26, 2011 at 10:33 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I have a story to tell but I’m going to try to keep it vague because I don’t want to end up sleeping with the fishes.

Everyone knows that Chicago has long-held mob ties and criminal activity is one of the most infamous traits of this city.  Which causes me to let my overactive imagination run wild when I pass over the Chicago River or near Lake Michigan because I envision all of the people tied to concrete that are likely hanging around at the bottom of the water.  Sometimes my imagination is a good thing but other times it freaks me out.  Case in point: the mysterious businesses somewhere in the city that I’ve seen but can’t be any more descriptive about due to fear that they’re run by mob bosses looking to off a nice young girl like myself.

Bada Bing

These business are next door to one another and seem inconspicuous enough, although they are clearly run by the same owner.  The type of service advertised may or may not among the following: dry cleaning, tax accounting, barbering, lawyering (and this last two may or may not be actual words), dentistry, art gallery displaying and tattooing.  However, these two businesses never seem open and have matching signs that clearly state appointments can be arranged by phone only.  I’ve never seen anyone in either of the spaces and that’s what got me thinking that perhaps they are being used as storefronts for an illicit operation instead.  I would think these thoughts on a regular basis (whenever I happened to find myself in the general location of the mysteriously closed stores) and that’s about as far as I would let my imagination wander.  Until last week.

That was when I noticed the doors open, for the very first time.  But when I tried to covertly check out the interior of the store as I walked by I realized that there were no customers inside.  Instead, some workmen were tearing out carpets and replacing them with new while some guy in the background that I couldn’t see barked orders left and right.  This did not help my imagination and now I’m almost entirely convinced that some awful bloodshed went on in the backrooms of these “businesses” and the owner is carefully covering his tracks.

I should also mention that I’ve been watching a lot of “The Sopranos”.  Perhaps this has something to do with my assumptions?  Yeah, probably.  Either way I’m going to keep my eyes open and my mouth shut (at least, after this post).  Shh!

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Fall into Fall

September 23, 2011 at 10:10 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

It’s official – summer is over.

Okay, this whole change of seasons thing is okay after all

I’m dealing with this about as well as can be expected and have begun slowly bringing the sweaters and sneakers back into my life.  I always hate putting away the sandals for the year and I’m still stubbornly wearing them as much as I can but today’s chilly temps might soon make me think otherwise.  This summer was a great one (even if it did rain way too much for my liking) and I’m sad to see it go but since Fall is pretty much my favorite season, I think I’ll manage.  What makes Fall so great?  Shocker of shockers, I’ve got a Top 5 list:

  1. New clothes!  Or at least, clothes that feel new.  Hell, if I haven’t worn something in two or three months it’s new to me so every time the temperatures drastically change I bust out a more appropriate wardrobe and pretend that I just went on a shopping spree.  This may or may not include me rolling around on top of clothing on my bed.
  2. Cute accessories!  I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much of a girly girl (though the two reasons listed so far seem to prove otherwise…) but I do love me some scarves and jackets.  I like to mix and match and since the Fall is perfect for layers, it’s a great time to play dress-up.  I’m also excited to bust out some boots again, especially since they’re so made for walkin’.
  3. Soup!  Mmm soup.  I’ve already had tomato soup and grilled cheese like three times in the past two weeks and that won’t be letting up soon.  A friend of mine keeps a super-intimidating yet amazing food blog and she’s recently posted some good looking soups that I may have to finally break down and attempt to cook.  Fall is also good for things like pumpkins, squash, apple cider and other warm and delicious treats.  Who doesn’t like that?
  4. Holidays! Fall marks the beginning of the holiday season and I like holidays.  Especially since that means more time off work, more time with my family and more time having a good time.  Bring it on!
  5. Changing Leaves! Now, I don’t get to enjoy this so much now that I live in the city but I can still appreciate it to an extent.  There are actual, real trees just outside my living room windows and I live just down the street from a park so I’m still able to get out and watch Mother Nature do her presto-chango act.  And in my near-28 years, I still get the urge frolic and jump in big piles of leaves.

Obviously, the end of summer isn’t all bad.  And I’m not too down about the plunging temps because I know it’ll be warmer in Guatemala and that’s just around the corner.  So I’ll spend this weekend enjoying comfy sweaters, warm beverages and who knows…maybe some soup.  We’ll see if I can handle such craziness!

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Dinner Time in a Rhyme

September 22, 2011 at 9:52 am (Uncategorized)

Mmm food

A few nights ago, when time was short and hunger sat in

I looked in my fridge to see what needed to go

After all, wasting food was taught to me to be a sin

But I didn’t want to make something just so-so.

I managed to come up with some veggies that were lying around

Zucchini, spinach, tomatoes and green peppers galore

After tossing in some oil, spices and cheese the aroma began to abound

And I began to get excited for what was in store.

I toasted some wheat bread and added garlic salt

Then arranged it all nicely on a plate

It was gone before I knew it but that wasn’t my fault

I was hungry, plus it was late.

I was glad to have used so much that was in the fridge

and went to bed happy and well-fed

there was a bit more to it and this post is abridged

but it was super easy and better than cereal, which I would’ve had instead.

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Well Hello There

September 21, 2011 at 10:44 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Last night I began the third and final course needed for me to complete my certificate in Museum Studies at Northwestern.  Now, these classes begin at 6pm and run til 9pm and I walk there straight from work, so it’s a long day for me.  I had some rather heavy stuff on my mind when I rolled into class and plopped in my seat and I didn’t really look around or pay attention to anything or anyone until we got started.  We did the usual “say your name and tell a bit about yourself” thing and we started with me, as I was in the back of the class (just call me trouble).  As I began to speak and the class turned to look at me, I realized that the girl sitting directly in front of me lived on my dorm room floor my freshman year in college.  I promptly said “HEY!” and stopped for an awkward moment because I wasn’t exactly prepared to see her.  I quickly mentioned (to the entire class) that I knew her from college but hadn’t seen her since and then had to try to salvage the rest of my introductory speech.  It was weird and random and while I knew she lived in Chicago I hadn’t really seen or spoken to her in like….8 years.

We managed to catch up a bit over the break and since my last class buddy finished the course already, it’s nice to have another familiar face.  It also served as a good reminder that it really is a small world and even in a city of nearly 3 million people you can still manage to run into people from your past.

I cannot make this shit up

The rest of the class went well and as I trudged to the train I encountered something else that is worthy of a mention on this here blog.  Right around Michigan Avenue, I came upon a young couple pushing a stroller.  Adorably predictable, right?  Not so.  As we passed, I glanced in and was more than surprised to see a dog, not a baby.  A.  Dog.  In.  A.  Stroller.  I did a literal double take and realized that it seemed to be a stroller specifically for dogs and I almost lost my shit.  As I was staring behind me in disbelief, the male portion of the couple leaped ahead, crouched down and snapped a picture of the pooch while the lady smiled proudly.

I almost gagged.

What, were the dog’s feet so dainty and delicate that they couldn’t bear to touch the sidewalk?  Or is this couple so delusional and rich that they had nothing better to do than to shove a poor animal into a cage on wheels?  I don’t know.  I do know Catsby would smother me in my sleep if I tried a stunt like that with her.

Oh, city living.

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Farewell to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

September 20, 2011 at 10:13 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Woohoo for progress!  Today marks the first day that GLBT men and women can wake up within the confines of the military and really, truly be themselves.  Below is a piece written by a gay man who served under DADT and I think it eloquently highlights the reasons for celebration as well as the legitimate concerns of the ending of this hateful piece of legislation.  It’s not a long read but it’s interesting:

Today, the legislated homophobia known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” comes to an end. As a young gay soldier who served between the ages of 17 and 22, DADT forced me to live a life that was defined by a fear of being open about my sexuality. It isolated me from meaningful relationships with my fellow soldiers, entrenched within me an internalized homophobia that took years to undo, and in one dark moment almost led me to take my own life.

Let that pride fly!

DADT repeal means that these soldiers won’t have to go through what I went through. It means that they will be free and open to be themselves with the backing of a very visible out LGBT military community that will be there for them at every step. Repeal makes me feel happy, accomplished, and proud.

Yet, it makes me a little uneasy as well, because deep down I know that hate and discrimination don’t disappear that easily. I know that when it becomes unpopular to freely spout those kinds of ideas, they simmer underneath the surface and are manifested in various ways. Having been an African-American soldier in the US military long after the troops were integrated, I know firsthand how the -isms and phobias of mainstream society are often replicated within our military, and understood why legal protections were in place to prevent any race-based discrimination.

Sadly enough, this protection is not being afforded to the gay soldiers who will serve in the future, as the nondiscrimination clause for gay and lesbian soldiers was dropped from the DADT repeal language in order to guarantee its passage. Yes, gay soldiers will be able to serve openly, but will have no legal recourse as to battle any type of anti-gay discrimination they may experience while serving our country.

This is wrong, and is worth discussion, as is the continued discrimination on a national level that will keep these soldiers and their spouses from enjoying the benefits of equal marriage. It is these issues and more that will keep them and other LGBT people in this country second class citizens, in or out of the military.

Today, the fight against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is over, but with it comes the signal that the battle for LGBT rights has just begun. This is one win that was hard fought and well-earned, and now is the time to be vigilant and to push forward in gaining the rights that we deserve in all areas. Now is the time to push for equal marriage rights, anti-bullying protections in school to protect LGBT youth, extended HIV/AIDS funding, and to continue the fight against homophobia wherever it manifests itself.

We now know that we can win, so it’s time to gear up for the next battle.


Perhaps one day I’ll live in a world where my children will be baffled and horrified that this was ever even an issue.  Here’s looking to the future!

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Here Comes Halloween!

September 19, 2011 at 8:50 am (Uncategorized)

It’s almost that time of year – the time to watch scary movies like Hocus Pocus, dress up to your heart’s content and eat so much candy you start to go into a diabetic coma like my cat.  Even though my costume skills have been seriously lacking these past few years, I really enjoy Halloween and everything that goes with it.  So much so that I couldn’t keep myself from decorating my apartment last night.


There are many things that happen in my life that make me think I should’ve been a teacher and holidays are included in that list.  I take great pleasure in taping scary faces to my windows and hanging spiderwebs and ghosts from my ceiling.  I have two boxes of various holiday decorations and another thousand of them back home that my mom has been trying to pawn off on me for years.  Unfortunately, a one bedroom apartment does come with space limitations so I must settle for the two measly tubs of crap that I already have.  So last night I decorated my front door and the main rooms of my place while visions of ghouls and goblins danced through my head.

I know it’s a tad early for this but I spent yesterday just lazin’ around my apartment and it seemed like as good a time as any.  I don’t have any idea what my Halloween plans will entail this year and I don’t even have potential costume thoughts yet but this is a start.  Actually I lied – my boyfriend is a redhead and I have totally considered trying to sweet talk him into going as Hermione and Ron from Harry Potter.  He’s never read the books or seen the movies though and for some reason doesn’t seem too keen on the idea.  So I’m open to suggestions on that one but in the meantime I’ll be enjoying my spooky apartment and trying not to give myself a heart attack when I turn around and see Frankenstein in my living room window.

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