Archive | October, 2010

If I Was Brave…

27 Oct

This week, I watched/stalked several friends as they moved away from home or out of state, for the first time since college. It’s always been a dream of mine to just pack my things up and go, just like some of these friends.

But realistically, in my world, there are things called leases, job contracts, and relationships that will keep my suitcase empty until (at least) May.

Many of you will think, “Well, why cant she just go, if that’s what she really wants? Leases can be broken, or apartments can be sublet. Job contracts are only ways of determining salaries, and relationships can be made elsewhere or kept stable with extra effort.”

The truth is, I’m just not brave enough. I’m not like Ms. Seattle or the two Ms. Floridas, who seemingly found a destination and went without reassuring measures (i.e. have a job).

But a lack of bravery isn’t just stopping me from moving. Here’s a look of all the things I would do if I only had “the nerve.”:

10. Moving away

  • What it would take: A new job that pays better than what I have currently (it honestly wouldn’t be that hard to find)
  • What I would risk: My current job, a great relationship, and breaking a very expensive city lease
  • Then when?: My goal is to be out by the end of June.

9. Telling people off

  • What it would take: Coming to terms with the fact that there are certain people in my life who I find ridiculous or toxic.
  • What I would risk: “Friendships.”
  • Then when?: Undetermined, but if I might hit a breaking point soon.

8. Performing in public

  • What it would take: A band and some alcohol
  • What I would risk: Looking unworthy of my four year degree and countless years of voice lessons and band practices
  • Then when?: As soon as someone jumps up on my offer to form a alternative folk band/or when I get good enough at guitar to want to post something online

7. Cook complicated dishes

  • What it would take: Someone, who is equally brave, to ask me to make it for them
  • What I would risk: Food poisoning
  • Then when?: After maybe 3 or 4 more months of this cooking 3 new meals deal I’m on

6. Take a CTA bus alone (to anywhere)

  • What it would take: Alcohol, alcohol wipes, and a destination not reachable by car or El line.
  • What I would risk: Germs, robbery, and depending on the amount of old people, pee covered seats
  • Then when?: Hopefully never

5. Run a 10K

  • What it would take: Well, I’m on that “journey” now, but I’m having some mental blocks that need to be plowed down
  • What I would risk: Being the “big girl running.”
  • Then when?: March is my target. Yesterday, I managed to run outside for the first time in months. It was great. And I’ve been honestly flying through my re-do of C25K. It seems like I’m getting back that running strength that I had 2 years ago when I ran my first 5K.

4. Go to a concert- alone

  • What it would take: Alcohol and an amazing band everyone else hates
  • What I would risk: See “CTA bus” risks
  • Then when?: As soon as I can come up with the money to even treat myself to a concert.

3. Pay off my credit cards completely

  • What it would take: A savings account with more money than 2 months emergency rent
  • What I would risk: Same savings account
  • Then when?: When I get that dream job in a different state/country that will pay me double of what I am earning now

2. Wear high heels to work

  • What it would take: Insoles and the mysterious disappearance of all of my flats
  • What I would risk: Falling on my ass or face
  • Then when?: Do they have classes for how to walk properly in heels? How about one on how to make foot pain disappear?

1. Tell everyone important in my life just how much they mean to me

  • What it would take: Deciphering who those people are and what I should say to them.
  • What I would risk: From most people, nothing. From some, an entire relationship
  • Then when?: …

Speaking of important people in my life, a certain boyfriend and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary. This year has flown by. I know it’s corny, but it really does feel like yesterday when he called me up for the first time (while my car was being towed). And then his second call took place during a friend’s breakup. It seemed like we weren’t going to even be able to talk, let alone go out on a date or have a relationship.

Our first date was pretty typical, sports bar for food and a terrible teenage cover band followed by a night of drinks in Elmhurst. Our first kiss was in the parking garage, thinking we were saying goodbye… And it continued like that for the rest of year. We’d spend one night a week together- mostly at the Elgin Public House.

In January, it became much more serious as our one day together became two. We seemingly became official without it ever becoming official as I met his friends and family. I said the three words first, while laying down, unafraid of what he was going to say back. He relented a week later, a day after his birthday, in my kitchen, eating my supposedly vegan chocolate chip cookies.

And when I moved to the city, closer to him, we became the couple we are today. I’m so glad to have found a man that I can laugh with, scream at, and try new foods with. He constantly challenges me intellectually and keeps me on my toes with surprises and excitement. He’s always willing to be present when I need him, drive my car when I’m tired (or park it in a difficult spot), and make me mix tapes for when I’m feeling blue.

But most importantly, he’s the man I’m always willing to share my homemade popcorn with. And seriously, that takes some bravery.


A Tour of the Gym

18 Oct

I’m a pretty experienced gym person. I’ve been around and experimented like every college girl should.

I’ve been in the expensive, purpose driven, Olympic athlete-filled chain gym. For about 80 a month, you get to watch as girls the size of toothpicks and men with pecks the size of my head bounce up and down on the stair master for hours, or until someone enforces the dreaded “time limit.” The treadmill is for running only. And by running, I mean sprinting for said “time limit” or until the machine forces the person to slow their ass down.

Gym etiquette is actually quite lovely at gyms such as these. Mainly, it’s because everyone is so focused on running or elliptical-ing off every last lettuce induced calorie possible that they are too faint to talk. There’s no loud chit chat (plus, it’s hard to hear over the 90s pop blasting over industrial fans) or brutish men trying to pick up heavily makeup-ed women. It’s get in and stay in till you drop or are removed by a staff member with a shovel.

Then there’s the college gym. Tried and true it never fails to be a melting pot of athletes clinging to the hope that maybe they’ll make it to the professional leagues, even though they play AAA sports. But there is also the unfortunate mix of frat boys working off the hangover from last night, sorority girls trying to pick up currently puking frat boy, and overweight smart people who are there only to fulfill the requirements set down by some 90 year old pseudo-gym teacher.

Obviously, gym etiquette is non-existent, except for Saturday nights or Sunday mornings when sorority girls get their cardio from the walk of shame.

And of course, there is the community gym. I am currently occupying a community gym every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. What you get from a scholarship and merit based facility is the mix between the college and the purpose driven.

There are people, like me, who are obviously there to get healthy. We’re trying. We’re trying our hardest and it may not be pretty (ask my boyfriend, I’m not pretty when I sweat), but give us credit. It’s a mix bag of moms, old men, and 20-30 year old single women with nothing else to do on a Tuesday night (but watch Glee while training for a 5K).

Many of these people bring their children for the low child care cost and pool availability. But apparently, putting these kids in the care facility is easier said than done. Instead of fighting off bros and hos for the next spot on the elliptical, I get to be cut in line by an 8 year old who cant even pedal. They’re, of course, sweaty, sticky, and full of germs that not even industrial strength gym cleaning fluid can get off the bench press.

But they aren’t the worst. The worst is the high school boys. They are the inspiration, nay muse, behind this post. High school boys come in groups, or as I like to refer to them as drones, because as instantly as they set their weights up, everyone drops. Who knows what compels them to blast “Iron Man” at 8pm on a Thursday, but who even knows why they need it when they clearly tend to shout over poor Ozzie to. And what they shout is always a vulgar comment about a girl on the ski machine or an older man lifting light weights. They ruin the gym experience.

This weekend, I had my revenge. After overhearing a high school basketball player talking about how he had to enroll in a “fat woman’s biking class” because his coach made him, my motivation kicked in to high, bitch like gear. Instead of helping him properly find his bike settings, every woman in that class ignored his grunts as he realized how uncomfortable a spin bike is. Then the class started. Through sprints and “half way ups,” I could see him failing. His eyes grew beady and he was clearly in pain. When we shouted out our mileage, he was far behind us. And then it happened, he asked to leave. He blamed it on cramps so the teacher, a waif of a girl, pulled him off the bike and escorted him to the fountain. She made him down some pretty hysterical yoga stretches while we “fat women” continued to spin. He watched, head in his lap, trying not to pass out.

So, the next time you’re at the gym, remember the gym/societal rules:
1. Children have no place in an adult gym. Nor do college frat boys with the same intelligence level.

2. Wipe down your machines so to avoid spreading last night’s fresh herpes.

3. Dont wear makeup to the gym. Seriously. You’ll look redic if you actually break a sweat. No one likes a sweaty raccoon.

4. “Iron Man” may seem appropriate. But it is never warranted.

5. Heed the time limit, even if you have the “big race” the next week.

5. Do not underestimate the power of a woman on a diet and her will to beat the treadmill/bike/elliptical/free weights/etc. She’s got much more important things on her mind than which size of triceps will impress the most.

Pandora's Bottle of Marsala

13 Oct

Pandora, according to the myth/wikipedia, was the first woman on Earth. Just like Eve, Zeus created her out of his own flesh and that of the other gods and goddesses. Because Zeus is vengeful and quite the little a-hole, he decided to give the first woman a jar full of disease, depression, famine, and any other misery you can imagine.

I imagine that the first woman would have the intelligence level of a five year old and the patience of of one as well, and we all know what happens when you give a girl a beautifully decorated tupperware and tell her to wait till Christmas…

Bitched opened it. She opened it, and suddenly we have to deal with blisters, malaria, potato famines, and crab hats.

Pure evil.

Eventually, women wised up and evolved. We learned that opening fair-warned jars and evil cat boxes shouldn’t be on the shoulders of women. No, it should be on the men that made such ridiculous contraptions such as bottle tops, corks, lids, and child proof locks.

Women, collectively, got together and did a big “F-that” and each found a man who would believe their calls for “Oh, dear, I cant get this bottle open… whatever shall I doooo?!” And men, being made out of the same fibers that made Zeus such a dickwad, continually opened that jar for the sake of looking strong and masculine. And women stood back just in case it released something like a new wave of anthrax or republican Voldemorts.

Of course, women continued to evolve while men continued to invent things to make life so much more difficult on their extra ribbed counterpart (i.e. dog and child safety gates). And as women depended less and less on their brute own strength, the jars became more and more of a challenge.

So much so, we have headlines like this, so we can point out the freaky women arms!

That leads me to my cooking fiasco. Excited that I am getting in the workout track, I searched sparkpeople for some recipes to try. I’m not much of a cook, to be honest (an apparent sign of the fast food evolution), so I figured I’d try something easy for my first go at it… chicken marsala. After a great gym session, I sped off to the grocery store to find a bottle of marsala cooking wine. After frantically searching for it for about a good half hour, I left, bottle in hand.

… not knowing what was to come.

It started off great. Chicken was spiced up, sauce pan was full with extra light olive oil, and I had a bottle opener at hand.

… Then the theory of the pitfalls of man’s need to show off and create unnecessarily hard items became ever more true. That damn bottle cap of marsala would not budge. I tried putting the top in boiling water, hitting it gently (and then more violently) on the counter, using a knife to pop the sides, utilizing a towel/blanket/shirt end/brillo pad to aid in hand friction, googled solutions, and I of course screamed every profanity I knew.

Nothing. An hour of just staring at it, cursing the women of my family for giving me genetically lacking arm strength, and pleading with Zeus or whatever God may be up there for some relief got me nowhere.

And I gave up like the pussy I was. Today, I will reluctantly hand it over to my boyfriend who will undoubtedly open it on the first try, and then will spend the rest of the night making fun of my sex’s inability to open things.

You win this time marsala/Zeus/men. But when B opens that bottle and we get cursed with a world full of Justin Bieber hair-related communicable diseases, don’t come looking at me. This time, I didn’t open it.


10 Oct

Recently, there was a crisis in my family. It was one that completely shook me to my core. Of course, it was totally unexpected and I heard about it from the worst source possible. And obviously, because this is deeply personal, I will not discuss this here.

However, this event did spark something in me that I have been secretly struggling with over the past couple of months- motivation.

Before I moved out to E-town for my year as a teacher, I became extremely dedicated to exercising. I ran a 5K, tracked almost everything I ate, practiced yoga almost daily, and was at my lowest weight in 5 years. Being active gave me confidence to end a going south relationship and to make several important life decisions.

Only, it didn’t last. I moved to a neighborhood where a gym wasn’t free and I wasn’t making enough to pay for it. I tried to run outside, but my neighborhood was occasionally dangerous, hilly, and was located right next to high schoolers who could be quite cruel to passers. I stopped working out, I drank more, and I went out to eat like crazy.

That ritual pretty much summed up my entire last year. And obviously, my body has paid for it. And this is where I am going to be brutally honest. I gained back the 15lbs I lost when I was at my peak and then gained about another 7. I haven’t felt good or comfortable in my skin, and those around me or close to me have seen this change.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to be pro-active. I started up running again, but my previous problems with shin splints hindered me. I finally bit the bullet and joined the Y. Not only does it provide me with a ton of free or low fee classes, I also get to use this activtrack fitness helper. And of course, I’m back on sparkpeople. Find me if you use it because I love spark buddies.

Yesterday was my first spin class, by the way. Oh man, it was insane. I had taken a couple of spin classes here and there, but never full hour sessions at high intensity. But there was something great about channeling all of my anger and hurt in pushing my body to the limit.

Anyways, I might post more about my fitness as time goes by and I may just forget or be unwilling to post about it period. But, if you want to motivate me with emails, facebook messages, and the occasional phone call… that would be great.

Being the Pretty, Pretty Princess

5 Oct

I grew up in what I would like to call “The Golden Age of the Disney Princess.” From 1987 (my birth) to present, there have been at least 10 princess-centric Disney films released. That’s not counting sequels and direct release videos. They include:

Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
Lion King… I’m counting it because I was obsessed with Nahla as a child
Princess Diaries (1 and 2)
Princess and the Frog

As I’ve grown up, the nostalgia towards Disney Princesses have not died. In fact, I’m sure I am not the only 20 something who got a wee bit giddy when she heard that Beauty and the Beast was to be re-released for the super secret Disney vault.

I’ve always assumed Scrooge McDuck guarded the Disney Vault with his visceral Scottish accent and three meddling nephews.

In fact, it is my age group that drives and scorns what myself and others call Disney Princess syndrome.

Disney Princess Syndrome is (not) medically described by symptoms that include:

  1. An unhealthy obsession with pink and other various jewel tones
  2. The owning of several +, officially licensed Disney Princess goods
  3. The ability to sing at least three songs from any of the listed in character voice
  4. Fostering long term, serious relationships against the will of a Father figure
  5. Desiring to run away for adventure
  6. Frequent attempts to talk to small, woodland creatures or household goods

I’d assume Disney Princess Syndrome also includes dressing like Mrs. Potts and other various inanimate objects featured in these movies (found here)

Recently, there have been several crusades against the Disney Princess Brand. After being inducted in the Disney family, the sale of merchandise related to Disney Princess has been over $100 million in 6 years, and has sold over $3.4 billion since the first Disney Princess, Snow White, graced the screens. There is no denying that Disney has created an evil stepmother of a marketing scheme by marketing Belle, Jasmine, Ariel, Cinderella, Snow White, and Aurora as a pivotal part of childhood. (source)

Those who fight against the Disney Princess trend look at the emotional stability of the young girls that fall prey to the pastel gowns. There have been several studies that dive in to the emotional or psychological effect that Disney Princess have on elementary aged girls. In every study, doctorate paper, and blog article I’ve seen, nothing has pointed that the idealizing of a pretty in pink life will lead to anything out of the ordinary. In other words, girls do not become an ivory tower, lady in waiting just by being exposed to the stories. Fantasizing about becoming a princess at a young age is just a part of growing up, just as superhero play for boys is common between the age of 4-10.

For all of you DP haters out there, consider that the Disney Princesses have grown and shaped society. Just looking through my list, you can note that many of these princesses have been portrayed as highly intelligent, brave, and independent. All could have stood alone without the romantic element in their stories. And let’s face it, the men in these movies are often quite daft and in need of much more help then the girl using a ancestral dragon to burn the bottoms off of the Huns.

But who, if anyone, is to blame for whatever mixed messages these people protest against? In my opinion, it is the parents, not the marketer who bring on the emphasis of romance over independence in these stories. For centuries, we have told the story of Helen of Troy as one of romance, not of stupidity. Instead of mentioning her long rule and defeat of the Spanish Armada, Queen Elizabeth I is simply known as the Virgin Queen- famous for never marrying a man. It is the parents and teachers who fail to give their children the lesson or to discuss the importance of stories of these famous women.

It is also up to the parents to not project the Disney Princess lifestyle on their young, impressionable youth. Instead of buying only castles and fake lipstick from the Disney Princess Brand, take them to karate (like Mulan), go on a hike (like Pocahontas), sew some doll clothes (as in Enchanted), or learn to cook (Princess and the Frog). Integrate their adolescent obsession in to the world instead of playing into the perceptions that these anti-Disney bloggers and researchers are crusading against. It is the only cure without a total loss of the Disney culture- one that I would be especially sad to loose.