Sunday, March 29, 2015

There Goes the Neighborhood

When Homeboy and I decided to embark on this Vegas adventure, our plan was to be out here for one year (Currently at a year and a half, because who wants to rush back to a polar vortex?)  We were not terribly picky about what we were looking for as we figured we could adapt to just about anything for a year.  It did not hurt that I was already residing in Uptown in Chicago, where the Uptown Funk is more likely to be a stale piss smell from under the Red Line rather than a catchy tune by Bruno Mars.  We checked out rental homes online and a couple that I share mutual family with was willing to go out and actually look at the properties we scouted.  When they reported back on a house that we really liked from pictures, the comments were along the lines of “Nice home, but the area is a little rundown” and “Maybe I am really picky, but I would not want to have kids here.”

That was good enough for Homeboy and I, especially since the price of rent was half for five times the living and yard space compared to what we were paying in Chicago. I’ll never forget that hot August afternoon when we turned onto our road after the final stretch of driving through Utah and Nevada - it looked just like the exterior shots of Breaking Bad, only with more broken-down cars on blocks sitting in driveways.  We walked through our new digs, taking in the cinder block fences and faint smell of a dead skunk in the backyard.  We were home.

After only a few weeks of living La Vida Vegas, I started to notice that life in our neighborhood was a bit different from my village back in the Midwest.  One night when walking Boris, we came across a yard that had no less than 653 lawn ornaments and other assorted outdoor tchotchke.  Homeboy said it reminded him of a mini golf course, while I thought of a golf course back home that inexplicably has Snow White and the 7 dwarves dotting the fairways.  I looked closer at the extravagant yard to realize Homeboy was spot on, as the yard was made of Astroturf.  People out here have Astroturf lawns, just like the Brady Bunch.  Only there was never an episode where Alice had to fix the vacuum cleaner to sweep up the yard, and sure as shit there was a woman out on her Astroturf lawn full of ornamental decorations repairing her vacuum cleaner.  So that she could vacuum her lawn.

I let out a sigh and felt grateful that our rental unit had a “desert landscape” AKA a yard full of small stones and palm trees.  I can barely be bothered to run the lint roller over a black dress after an encounter with a hound; it will be a cold day in Hell before I ever vacuum my lawn.


After a few months of living out here, I noticed that the house at the end of the street with all sorts of “Condemned” signs on it was actually occupied.  I was first tipped off when the gate that was previously chained up was gaping open.  Next was the trash accumulating in the back yard.  The final clue was when I saw some Meth Heads aimlessly wandering the streets.  Now our neighborhood is a mixed bag of characters, but for the most part people are friendly and keep to themselves.  So when you see the skeletal figure and vacant eyes of a person on meth meandering your streets, they stand out. 

Naturally, I declare the abandoned house at the end of the street to be a meth house for squatters.  I worry briefly about the possibility of one breaking into our home, but then I realize the 38”-inch off-brand flat screen and dusty leg lamp in our front window probably do not make us a hot prospect for someone looking to score easy money through larceny.  Although, these are people on meth we are talking about, so logic goes out the window. 

Anyway, I decided that the house was a meth house based on the inconclusive evidence of it being condoned and that there were some strange folks in the neighborhood.  By now, Homeboy had developed a high tolerance to my hyperbole as well as my fondness for drawing dramatic conclusions and was dismissive of the theory.  Just because the house was empty does not mean there are junkies squatting in it.  I decide to stop worry about it and as long as the meandering Meth Heads don’t bother me or my hound, then I should ignore it.

One day I am driving home from the market and I am passed by a cop racing to my neighborhood.  My heart briefly leaps into my throat as the quick thought of “OhmygodIhopeHomeboyandBorisareokay!” flashes through my mind.  I know deep down there is no reason to be worried, but instinct kicks in and I want to get home to my boys.  I follow the cop’s trail onto my street and let out a sigh of relief.  They aren’t in front of my house.  They are at the meth house.  And there are seven other cop cars.  And a variety of skeletal people on their knees in hand cuffs in the front yard.  My fleeting fears of something happening to Homeboy fly out the window as I race home, bust through the door and triumphantly yell, “Look!  It WAS a meth house on the corner!!!”

We are frequent walkers of our hounds, which makes us a bit of an anomaly out here.  From what we’ve observed, most people living in our neighborhood keep their dogs outside at all hours.  It is a rare sighting to see someone walking a dog, so much so that we’ve gotten to know the other walked dogs.  There is the old-as-dirt Chihuahua that his geriatric owner happily takes 20 minutes to walk 15 feet with the pooch.  Note: This dog is old.  When it barks, dust comes out.  If we walk past its yard, the poor beast barks staring off in the wrong direction as it likely cannot see or hear anything. Homeboy and I always try to avoid crossing this dog on a walk out of fear that it just might keel over from the presence of our hounds.  No one wants the death of a dust-barking Chihuahua on their conscience.  There is also a pit bull who, contrary to what most media outlets would have you believe, is as sweet as honey.  Meanwhile, SallyMonster (our newest addition) tried to eat him every time she sees him.

As a result of our frequent walks, we’ve gotten to know a number of dogs in our neighborhood.  There is one I call “Chill Pitbull,” who might be the mellowest dog I’ve ever seen (different from the Sweet Pitt we pass on walks.)  The two Rottweilers next to him will be losing their shit as Boris and SallyMonster walk by, but Chill Pitbull just sits, barely flapping an ear as he suns himself on the patio.  Meanwhile I am wrangling a frothing Boris and trying to rationalize with him, “You have no chance with two Rotties, you dumb ***k!”  There is a beautiful German Shepherd who I dream of liberating- this guy is always always barking at us, playful lonely barks.  I want to liberate him, but he seems well-fed and does bark at my dogs so I do not pay him much mind. Across the street there is Slim, a sleek muscle of a Doberman who always barks at us when we pass.  I am more afraid of crossing the owner than Slim himself as his yard is decorated with pleasant signs such as, “If the dog doesn’t get you my gun will” and “Protected by the 2nd Amendment. If the first shot doesn’t get you, the second one will.” 

These dogs have carved out a little place in our hearts as they are the characters in the place we call home.  However, no neighbor dogs have captured my affections quite like Scooter and Jeremiah.

A few houses down from us lived an old man.  A crazy old man.  His yard and driveway were filled with various crap - an old air hockey table, empty 5-gallon water jugs, flags, pots, and other assorted household items.  Perhaps most noticeable was a large van that had a window air conditioner installed into the backside panel.  Whenever we walked by, the van would bark at us.  At first, we did not pay much attention to the barking van. We would walk by with Boris, the van would start barking and the old man would come out and yell in a gravely voice, “Shut up Jeremiah!  Scooter, keep it down!”  With time we realized that Scooter and Jeremiah lived in the van.  This alone would have been startling, but it was more so when we considered that there were three dogs living in the backyard, why were Scooter and Jeremiah forced to live in a van? 

Rather, why in the Hell are there dogs living in a van period?

I got my answer one evening when I took the hounds out for a walk.  The old man was wheeling a shopping cart through the neighborhood and stopped to talk to me about some puppies he had that he was looking to give away.  Apparently one of the non-van dogs had a litter.  I asked him why he kept Jeremiah and Scooter in the van.  He was surprised I knew their names, I told him I hear him yell at them frequently when we walk by and the van barks at us.  He told me that he used to be an auto mechanic, when he had his shop Jeremiah and Scooter liked to hang out in an old truck.  Once he retired, he found they were more comfortable living in a van than in the house or yard.  Hence they chose to live in the van instead. 

I got home and filled in Homeboy, and we continued about our business of walking the hounds, only now we always greeted Jeremiah and Scooter as we walked past their van.  There was no doubt in our mind that this man loved his dogs; we just hoped the self-installed AC unit on the van would make it through the Vegas summer.  Frequently the old man was out in the yard, playing with the dogs and tinkering with different things.  There was something comforting about seeing him as we walked past his van, eyeing the meth house across the street to see if there were any signs of squatters repopulating the property.

And then we came home to find a shopping cart in the middle of the street.  We rounded the corner, clearing the cart to see the air hockey table and defunct van getting hauled off.  Since then, there has been no sign of Scooter, Jeremiah, the Old Man or any of the other dogs that lived in the house.  Our best bet is that they were evicted, mostly because I do not want to entertain any notion of faulty AC units or meandering early-dementia men.  Wherever they are, I hope that they are well.

And that they know I miss the sound of a barking van in the morning.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Grief Bacon

What a month it has been.  I got to experience joy and happiness like I have never known as Homeboy became my husband.  Our wedding day was filled with many smiles, lawn games, dancing, cocktails and lots of pork (because I really know how to get in good with my Kosher-keeping Mother-in-Law.)  We had an amazing honeymoon in Iceland where I did lots of writing and felt inspired to come home and dive into blogging again. So much joy, so many smiles.

And then my grandfather died.

And it sucked.

I mean just really sucked.  And it still does.  I am stilling trying to grasp the fact that I am never going to talk to this amazing man again, never going to talk about my crazy hound or how I keep killing mint plants in the desert.

It is not easy.

Fortunately, I am a part of an incredible family that is strong and full of love.  And I have this freshly-minted husband who signed up for a “better or worse” deal with me.  So I have been coping.

Unfortunately, Homeboy had to fly back to the east coast this weekend for professional commitments, leaving me to cope with nothing but a smelly hound dog and a few bottles of Cab. 

Since our honeymoon, we’ve been focused on living a healthier life, which includes being more active and eating more foods that we cook at home.  However, I know that in times of stress I love to binge on crap food, booze and cigarettes and most definitely not whole grains, exercise and proper fiber intake. 

Anticipating the time that my buddy, my Homeboy, would be gone during this trying time in my world was stressing me.  How would I still eat vegetables? Would I be able to resist indulging in the hooch? (Answer: No, based on the two wine bottles that appeared in our recycling bin in the 7 hours since he left.) Nonetheless, I knew I needed a coping plan.

And the answer was bacon.  The thought of eating a pound of bacon over two days brought me great comfort.  I know I can get up and run with my smelly hound if I get to come home to fresh juice and scrambled eggs with bacon.  I can resist the usual vices if a BLT is on the dinner plan.  Before he left, I told Homeboy of my grand plan to use bacon as a crutch and he approved, telling me of the German word  Kummerspeck, which literally means grief bacon.

Grief Bacon.  Now that’s a concept I can get behind.

Kummerspeck is a word the Germans use to describe the excess weight gain due to emotional eating.  Now, I wouldn’t know anything about what that’s like…

But, grief bacon? Now you're speaking my language.  And based off my first night without my Homeboy, but with a dinner of a BLTE on na’an, I can say it is actually working (The empty Cab bottles mean nothing!)  I am finding comfort in the delicious cured pork belly, knowing my grief bacon is just a few feet away, ready to meet a sizzling hot skillet. 

And somehow it all sucks a little less.

Below are the words that I spoke at my Grandpa’s funeral.  I don’t actually remember if this is what I said, as it was all so surreal and when I sat down after I swear I spoke Latin for the three minutes I stood before my family.  But, they are the words that I had written down on a few sheets of paper when I tried to collect my thoughts.  They are the thoughts that will carry me through the hard time.

Well those thoughts, and the grief bacon.

Bob had seven grandkids; and we all came at him like a Blitzkrieg, one after another for a few years.  Sometimes I felt lost in the shuffle of my cousins.  My cousin Rachel stole my distinction as both youngest and youngest girl, just leaving me as #6 of 7.

Grandpa Bob made each of us feel special.  When we turned 12, we got to take a ride with Grandpa on his motorcycle.  I was so excited for my chance and watched my older cousins get their ride. I wanted my moment with Grandpa.

Unfortunately, I never got my chance as my Dad vetoed the ride for my brother and I. Bob sold the bike before I was old enough to make the choice for myself, so I never did get that ride; but I did develop an irrational fear of motorcycles.

Thanks Dad.

There were some perks to being amongst the youngest in our pack of seven, too.  I went over to visit with Bob and Jerry when I was 19, and Bob offered me a bottle of beer.  At first I thought it was a test, but then I chalked it up to the fact he probably didn’t realize I was not 21.  It was the first time I ever saw Natural Light in a bottle.  He never once forgot a birthday, but keeping track of our ages once we turned 12  (and then some) and got that motorcycle ride it didn’t matter.

I loved the relationship I developed with my Grandpa Bob as an adult.  The older I got, the conversations got smarter and he got a bit looser with the tales he told – telling me of his times hitchhiking as a young man and sneaking my Aunt Kris into a Vegas casino when she was underage.

For me, though, my favorite memory of my grandfather was from 2nd grade.  Walbridge Elementary had Grandparents Day where students’ grandparents could come in and have lunch and recess.  I was so nervous about spending an afternoon with Grandpa because I had never really spent one-on-one time with him.  When Bob arrived, we got our trays of mashed potatoes and chicken nuggets and he started asking me all sorts of questions.  Grandpa was so interested and excited to be there.  I remember looking around and seeing the face of obligation on the other grandparents- but not mine.  I beamed as I proudly showed him my art on the walls on our walk to recess.  I asked Grandpa if he wanted to join in my favorite game – kickball – and he jumped right in.  He was great, kicking the ball over the outfielders’ heads, snagging up kicks at shortstop.

I did not realize at the time the advantage a man in his 50s had over a group of 7-year olds.  I was just in awe of my Grandpa’s kickball skills.

Us grandkids are all going to remember Bob for different reasons- camping, fishing, a motorcycle ride perhaps.  But for me, he will always be the Titan of the Kickball Field- a man who made me feel so special over a tray of chicken nuggets in elementary school.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Daddy's Little Girl

Babies. Now that I am 30, it seems like everyone around me has them.  I just got back from a trip to Tuscon to meet my godson that I am now complete mush over. I sat cooing, playing, snuggling, feeding and just soaking up every little bit of him that I could, from his soft little feet to the down hair on his head. More than once, I sat taking him in and would comment, "Oh he looks so much like his mom," or "look at him with those flirty eyes, just like his daddy I bet." At nine months old, he cannot speak, so it seemed I wanted to dissect aspects of him and assign them to one of his parents.

We all do it.  Harry Potter spent his entire time coming-of-age hearing how he had his mother's eyes. Little boys get told they have their daddy's appetite and love for Ohio State football (Or, let's at least HOPE they have a love of the Buckeyes.) It's a natural thing to do, to sit and figure out what pieces of each parent made the finished puzzle.

I always tell people that I look like my mom and act like my dad. I have my mom's big brown eyes, complexion, bright smile and skin that is pretty much perfect. I have my dad's wit, intellect and general disregard for social norms as to what is appropriate conversation.  That's not to say I do not have some  traits from my mom, as I certainly get my cooking skills, compassionate volunteer's heart and drive to care for others from her. Oh, and a knack for just making messes through general klutziness.

I do have people tell me that I look like my dad, it's just that I tend to take that as more of an insult than a compliment.

At the end of the day, I am my father's daughter. We are frequently described as two peas in a pod, his colleagues that know me well remark, "Old Man, she is just like you." I've always known that fact and am fine with it because I am awesome, and if I am just like my Dad, he must be awesome too. Note: My mom is extremely awesome as well. She once stayed up making dozens of ghost-shaped cut-out cookies the night before a school holiday party when I told her at 7 p.m. the night before the party that I signed her up for it. She frosted them with black sugar eyes and everything. That pretty much sums up her caring, crafty nature and my general disregard for anything that doesn't impact Cari in the immediate.

I had an experience on the highway the other day that was the nail in the coffin for me accepting that I am my father's daughter. Before I get to that, I'd like to provide you with a few examples of how I ended up the way I am because of him:

Back in my school days, I was a member of the Student Council. Note: I have the distinction of being the only member of my class to serve every year on the Student Council (Nerd Alert!) I started my political career off in third grade, young and hungry (always hungry.) By fourth grade, I was elected as Secretary of our elementary governing body.  One of the many great things about coming from a small community is that the school makes a big deal out of mundane things, like a bunch of 8 & 9 year-olds practicing Democracy.  The week after the elections took place, there was a big inauguration ceremony of inducting the Student Council members into their positions. The general representatives were sworn in en masse. The officers were sworn in individually by members of the school board in front of the entire student body and community members.

It just so happens that the year I was voted in as Secretary (for the first time, I found running as an incumbent in fifth grade to be much less stress) my dad was serving on the school board and would be the one that I took my oath to.  The days leading up to the ceremony were a flurry of excitement. My mom took me out for a new dress, let me pick out real nylons! instead of those elephant skin-thick tights AND wear a shoe with a heel on it. Read: heel=1/8" platform rise.  She took me to Busia's to pick out proper jewelry to borrow. The day of the event, Mom curled my hair to perfection, the ideal balance of tease, curling iron and Aquanet. And I got to wear rouge on my cheeks and perfume to boot.

I felt like hot shit. Even at 9-years-old, I looked good and I knew it. Prior to the ceremony beginning, I am standing in the hallway with my Old Man, the President of the School Board (who happened to be our neighbor) and my first grade teacher (who's twin sister happened to serve as Ohio's Auditor as well as Attorney General.) The adults are chatting, I keep tugging at my nylons as I wait for the show to get on the road. I'm terrified I might trip on the stage, or flub my lines, or the curtains might fall on my head.

Old Man senses my nervousness and looks down at me, ready to dispense some fatherly advice. I held my breath, knowing that the words he shared would guide my political career, that I would quote them in my inaugural speech as the first female president. He smiled, looked down at me and said,

"Cari, keep your legs crossed. I don't want to see any beaver shots up there."


The summer going into my senior year of high school, I visited Ohio University to scope out the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, as it was is one of the best journalism schools in the country. At the time, as Editor-in-Chief of my school's newspaper, I had aspirations of going on to work at The Chicago Tribune and winning Pulitzer after Pulitzer for my investigative reporting. After one day in Athens, I fell in love with OU. The rolling foothills of the Appalachians, the red brick roads, 23 bars in a quarter-mile stretch Uptown - it was my dream. Only caveat was Scripps was incredibly selective. The school had rigorous admissions requirements and an overabundance of qualified budding journalists wanting in.  At an informational meeting on our campus visit, it was stressed that applications for Scripps were not even looked at until December 15, so applying early gave absolutely no advantage as the admissions panel waited for all applications to be in before selecting the lucky 115 to get spots within Scripps.

The day after Thanksgiving, per tradition in my home My mom, her lifelong friend, daughter and I are busy baking thousands (not an exaggeration) of Christmas cookies.  An envelope containing a single sheet of paper arrived from OU that afternoon and I assumed it was a standard follow-up to confirm my application was received. I open it, start reading, "Congratulations! You have been selected for admission to Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism..." AHHHHHHHHHHH! I began yelling and jumping and crying, spouting out, "Scripps!" and "Got in!" between intangible screams of excitement and gasps for air. The admissions panel was not even supposed to be looking at applications, let alone accepting students! After I regained my senses, I called my Old Man to share in the exciting news.

A few hours later his Oldsmobile came rolling up the driveway. I ran out with the letter in hand as he pulls out a 12-pack from the backseat, holds it out in offering and says, "You're going to OU, it's time we start preparing."

Note: My mom is just as responsible for my lushy tendencies, as she once showed up to Mom's Weekend with 300 homemade jello shots with clever flavor combos. Lime with tequila, orange with peach schnapps, black cherry and vodka, strawberry and rum. I love my parents.

P.Note: Halfway through my junior year I became disenfranchised with the media and realized my calling was not to be a great journalist. I shared this with the Old Man and he encouraged me to finish the degree anyway as most people do not end up in fields that they majored in. So now I use my elite journalism education to ramble on a self-indulgent blog when I get too tipsy. Two of my favorite bloggers out there are former classmates of mine from Scripps and I highly encourage you to check them out: Caitlin at How To Place House writes about being a married Expat living in London and Kate writes honest commentary on being a wife, mom and career woman at Kate's Beautiful Chaos. I can assure you if you like my ramblings you will enjoy both of these talented writers.


Old Man was primarily responsible for teaching Big Brother and me how to drive. My mom would let us drive for errands with her, but  I think it was too much on her nerves to see her babies driving. She swears to this day I got her Astro minivan up onto two wheels by taking a harsh right turn on my way to basketball practice.

The Old Man did not just teach us the rules of the road and good defensive driving, he also taught us helpful skills such as cruising through a drive-thru backwards, how to do donuts in empty parking lots and the art of eating a double cheeseburger while doing 70 in a construction zone.

The one lesson that stayed with my from my time driving with my Old Man was when he taught me how to express my displeasure with other drivers.

"Cari, don't flip other drivers the bird. That's pussy stuff. If you really want to piss off a guy that cut you off you, you point at him and say, 'You Suck!'" He then proceeded to show me the proper hand and face motions that go along with said insult.

I never was quite comfortable using my Old Man's method of giving other drivers the business. As a teenage girl, I was afraid that if I gave the gesture to male motorists, they might think that I am offering roadside fellatio instead of expressing how pissed I was. So I perfected my flip of the bird - one solid fist, no thumb sticking out, given in one fierce thrust as opposed to waving it around maniacally.

The other day I was cruising to the driving range and was at my breaking point with Vegas drivers. They are the worst I have ever seen, worse than Michigan driver (and I did not know that was possible!) I realized I was in the wrong lane at a red light, checked to make sure no traffic was coming up in the lane I needed and crossed over. A truck that was souped-up so extremely that the man was clearly overcompensating for *ahem* other aspects of himself was coming up in the lane about 1000 feet behind me. Seeing me cross lanes, he sped up and slammed on his breaks behind me at the red light that had been red since before he even exited the highway. He starts honking his horn, I make a clever witticism about the size of his gingerbread, immediately regretting that I wasted the line without an audience. The No Turn On Red light changes and Napoleon comes flying up next to me, flying the bird and honking his horn. And then it happened.

I yelled, "YOU SUCK," made the ugliest face that I could and gave him the fellatio gesture my Old Man taught me 15 years prior.  The driver looked stunned as he put his flying middle finger down,  realizing he lost this round of road aggression and sped ahead of me.

I pumped my fist in victory, feeling proud that I finally felt confident enough to own the gesture my dad taught me half my life ago.

Guess it's true what they say, father really does know best.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Life Recap: From the Wind to the Sin

Yeah, it's been a while.

Remember how I was going to speak a lot more openly my dating life, back in January? Funny thing happened, as I was penning that post, I was chatting with a guy from the online dating intrawebs and he asked me out for a beer. Seven months later I'm living in Las Vegas with him. Let me bring you up to speed, because even though the horror stories of past dates are gone, things were not exactly fireworks from the get go with my new Sin City Roommate, henceforth to be referred to as Manfriend/Homeboy/etc (just follow along, okay?)

It's a cold Saturday night in the Windy City and Homeboy from the dating site and I agreed to grab a few drinks at a watering hole we both enjoyed and watch the NFL Playoffs.

My first impression: He's much taller and balder than his photos

Homeboy: Damn, that's a yellow jacket.  (I told him I was wearing a bright yellow jacket, I failed to mention I loaned it out to O'Hare to guide in 747s in dense fog.)

Anyway, we are both clearly nervous and Homeboy grabs a few pints of porter from the bar as we both idly pretend to watch the 49ers while nervously sipping (chugging) our beer and sizing each other up.

Just as my girl Frances arrives at the bar to stalk the first encounter, we decide to leave for a quieter environment. Yes, I have a friend who stalks first dates. I cannot do her work justice, perhaps I can get her to guest blog sometime. Note: Chicago singles, if you ever see a female Judah Friedlander  stalking you on a first date, know you are being live tweeted. You've been warned...

The next watering hole is quieter, we grab a table and the server tells us that Carbombs are on special. Being a girl that has her whole apartment decorated in Guinness, I perk up. Homeboy, being someone that was Bar Mitzvahed, perks up at the word "special." We down a round of the unholy chocolate milk-tasting concoction before I, declaring that as a Buckeyes fan,  cannot spend another round in this Wisconsin Badger bar.

We bop around from bar to bar. Naturally, I am being engaging and charming, but homeboy seems disinterested. He sat observing me and it never occurred to me that 1. He might just be listening or 2. Mama got a new pair of cutlets and a low-cut dress that drew his attention else where.

It's midnight and we're at another bar. Conversation is at all lull as all I can think about is eating, I assumed our meet up meant dinner, he (foolishly) thought meeting up for drinks meant just that. Note: Always feed the Fat Girl. Always.  I decide to call it a night, bummed in the lack of chemistry, exchange a sloppy Carbomb-fueled kiss, give him a swift slap on the ass and get in a taxi.

I go to the Nutcracker's, who cooked me a proper midnight dinner while I bitched about another lame date. Homeboy met up with his friends who were at that same bar and listened to them tell him how the date seemed like  a dud.

To my surprise, Homeboy texts me the next day saying how he enjoyed meeting me, yada yada yada usual post-date bullshit. We both expressed an interest in bar trivia, and as one of my New Year's Resolutions was to give nice guys a better chance, I told him I wanted to do trivia with him sometime. This is where it gets fuzzy: Homeboy invited me to go on Tuesday night trivia with him. He maintains he told me it was with a usual group he plays it. I was under the impression it would just be the two of us. He invited me and I accepted, assuming it would be a second date of sorts.

Tuesday night I groom and primp, making sure my knee-high camel leather boots match my scarf and earrings just perfectly. I show up and see Homeboy, along with 5 of his friends. Great.

I quickly order the beer with the highest ABV on tap and brace myself, I'm in for the long haul.

Homeboy does not talk to me on a personal level. Or, talk to me at all, really. I sit, nursing (read:inhaling) my microbrew stout, secretly lamenting that I wasted a Friday night outfit on a Tuesday while trying to make painful small talk with his friends. Homeboy can see that this is going well as the Hindenburg, but chooses not to act but rather watch the carnage unfold.  Trivia ends, the check comes, I promptly throw my cash on the table and leave without so much as a polite hug.

Ten minutes later I on my way to meet a friend for drinks and regale him with the nightmare as I am telling KB over the phone over the mess that was a date with five of his friends.

KB and I hang up as I meet my buddy for beers.  I start in with how terrible of a date it was as Homeboy texts me, asking me to come to dinner at his place Saturday night, I read it, look at my friend and say, "Ugh, I really do not want to waste a Saturday night on this guy."

I respond with a polite, "Thanks for thinking of me, I'll have to get back to you" sort of brush off and dismiss him.  Meanwhile, my friend say, "Cari, you're always so quick to judge people, he seems nice, give him a chance." On cue, Homeboy texts and says, "I know tonight didn't go well, but I enjoyed being around you, and would like to see you again."

Sigh. Fine. I'll consider giving you Thursday.

I get up the next day and head off to meet with my personal trainer for some weight lifting (Yeah, fat girls can be fit, too. It's called over consumption, not  laziness. Note: I once had a doctor who was helping me get my weight managed say, "You're not from dainty people, are you?" No, no I am not, we are designed to do the work of 20 oxen in a field, not float around in a delicate manner.) But I digress.

So I am at Belmont waiting to transfer to a Brown Line and there are no trains coming. I try to catch a cab and am unsuccessful. I call my trainer and learn that due to a shooting at Merch Mart the Brown Line is not running.

Oh Chicago, only your random act of violence could lead to love.

I find myself at home with time to kill, text Homeboy to see if he'd want to get lunch, because my friend the night prior convinced me to give him one last shot.

He agreed and suggested a vegetarian diner. Despite my reservations, I agreed. Note: What the Hell was someone who cooks for a living thinking  when going out with a lactose-intolerant vegetarian? Really. Talk about a glutton for punishment.

Homeboy and I arrive at said restaurant at the same time, I brace myself for scarfing down my meal and being on my way so I can officially write this one off. However, after 2.5 hours of talking, laughing, taking entirely too long to eat my vegan Reuben (blasphemy) and ordering dessert, I realized I was genuinely drawn to Homeboy, and I liked him.

I accepted his second invitation for dinner at his place on Saturday night and ended up falling for this guy who can't eat lactose and chooses not to eat delicious (DELICIOUS!) cows.

We both fell hard and quickly. By May, I was bringing him back to Ohio to parade him around like he won Best-in-Show.

On our last night in Ohio, we went to dinner with my Mom at  a local Mexican joint. Over Margaritas, Manfriend/Homeboy regales her with the story of how his Mom was glad I was from Ohio because we would want to move back east someday (They are from Philly, and this was in the same conversation of him telling them he had a new girlfriend.) My mom offhandedly busts out with, "Why back East, why not Vegas?"

As natural as yawning I say, "I've always dreamt of living in Vegas for one year." Because I did always dream about. Just like I dreamed about meeting the Tooth Fairy, taking a pill that consumed the calories I ate and finding a viable Congress that could actually work for the country.  Total pipe dream.

Conversation moved on, we said our goodbyes and I didn't think twice about the evening's discourse.

The next day on our drive back to Chicago, Manfriend says, "So you want to move to Vegas."

I pause.


"Yeah, but just for a year."

"Wanna go in August?"

"We've only known each other since January."



"Okay, I'm in."

And that's pretty much how I landed in the city that was designed for a girl like me. But  I could not just stop writing about crappy dates and start writing about life in Vegas without letting know how we got here.

(Un. Very Un)Fortunately, the Manfriend left for two weeks in Asia a few days after we landed here, which has given me plenty of freedom to eat as many animals as I can consume.

So if you will pardon me, there is some bacon in my fridge that needs to find it's way to my belly.  While the vegetarian is away, the carnivore will play!

The adventures of Fat Girl in Vegas are officially on.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fat Girl Rant- Listen Up, Designers!

I apologize for my absence.  Truly. I do this a lot, and I appreciate your patience.

Over the holidays, a number of friends and family asked about my blog and why I haven't updated.  I could list a litany of meager excuses, but I realized tonight that it was simply that I lost my voice as a writer. I was experiencing life and would think, "this would be great for the blog," but then when I sat down to pen something, the words were forced.  I realized that my voice has been changing, I've been wanting to open up at more personal level and have not had the courage. I started to feel pretty backed up.

Fortunately, the universe has helped relieved me of my copy constipation. And the huge dose of print Pepto came in the form of a visit to a local sex goods shop. While my shopping experience was quite pleasant, a realization brought on by the selection of merchandise just pissed me off. And made me want to rant to the masses.

If you feel uncomfortable with the  notion of sex good shops, I have two things to say to you: 1. Why the Hell have you been reading this blog? You do know me, right? 2. Either lighten up or stop reading, I promise you that 2013 is taking my musing to a much rawer and open environment.

 If you find yourself curious as to what I was doing wandering into a sex goods shop on an idle Tuesday after work, I have one thing to say to you: 1. I'm pushing 30, single, live alone and drink excessively. You draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, while browsing for a few items, I took a couple of moments to peruse the lingerie selection at the store.  This particular retailer advertised that they carry a wide variety of Plus-Size lingerie, so naturally I wanted to shop. I happen to love lingerie. In a society that demonizes, discriminates against and generally hates on overweight women, it's nice to have a few things that make me feel sexy. Note: If you think that we do not live in a Sizist society, particularly against women, you are wrong. I cannot-CANNOT- even being to tell you of the outright hateful comments I have had thrown into my face as a result of my weight my entire life. I've gotten, "Your size offends me," to the always unoriginal "Moooooo" as I pass by (jokes on you-Cows are delicious!) to just last week when I was strolling up Michigan Avenue and saw this Asshole look at me and start laughing, waiting until he was one step past me to say, "That's a big bitch." If you think I am exaggerating the prevalence of hate spewed at overweight women (especially the confident ones) you are in an incredible state of denial. Or a part of the problem.  The hate that has been directed at me is a big reason of why my blog title is, "Follies of a Fat Girl." It's my way of telling the people who judge me harshly based on my obesity to screw off. Because guess what Asshole who has to be ugly and passive aggressive towards me? I know I am fat. And I like me. I still think I am quite pretty and attractive. And smart, worthy of respect, hilarious, talented, and an all-around amazing little Bear despite what you say. But I do feel quite sorry for you that you are so emotionally constipated that you have to lash out at people you dub as weak or unworthy. And I am sexy enough to rock some amazing lingerie...

...even if I am just wearing it to wash dishes while dancing around to David Bowie while drinking gin martinis. (See above: Almost 30, single, alone, drunk. What else would I do with racy garments?)

Anyway, a number of the garments came in packaging with attractive women modeling the negligees.  I scoped them out, wanting to see how the corsets and bustiers looked. Plus I just think boobies are neat and wanted to sneak a few peeks.

While selecting a few items to try on, I had the realization that lingerie designers have it all wrong. All so terribly, terribly wrong. The Plus-size lingerie advertised? All baby dolls and loose flowing things were made for us bigger gals while all the corsets came only in small sizes for thin women.

There is something fundamentally wrong about this. Skinny women are not made for corsets. Corsets are made for holding in all of our delicious, supple curves, flesh and folds. Baby dolls are designed to conceal the fact that skinny broads lack solid child bearing hips and often have no ass.

Think about it in respect to my favorite thing: Food. Let's take a meal of asparagus and beef (Nod to the many men who have "Mooooooed" me.) Now asparagus is long, lean and looks most appetizing when smothered in a billowy swath of delicious Hollandaise.   Meanwhile, there are fewer sights on earth more salivation worthy than a delicious beef tenderloin trussed and restrained, the succulent beef bursting to free from those ties as juices radiate, so delicious.

Now flip it. Imagine that same beef tenderloin, all shapeless and frumpy covered in Hollandaise. Imagine those lean and mean asparagus spears trussed together with twine, merely resting inside the restraints rather than screaming for sweet freedom.

Or, if you're not a food person, take a La-Z-Boy recliner and a lawn chair and cover them both. Imagine the recliner covered in a sheet and the lawn chair shrink wrapped in plastic. Now close your eyes and imagine how much more welcoming that scrawny lawn chair would be covered in some beautiful cotton sheets. And that La-Z-Boy wrapped so tight in some plastic, seams screaming to break.  You can see through the tension how incredibly soft and welcoming that recliner is. All that fun just bursting to get out.

Get my point? Retailers need to realize that: 1. Yes, fat women do exist and yes we do have sex (ok, some do, I just drink martinis and throw olives at my dog)  2. Not all of us want to hide our bodies and 3. We have money. Lots of it that very few retailers have tapped into. Offer us products that are not made of tragic floral prints on Lycra and cut garments to fit the curves of a size 16 (not just make the model size 2 bigger- I'm looking at you Old Navy! Where am I to put my beer gut in these low rise jeans!?!!?!)  Oh, and while we're at it, have you considered reinforcing the thighs of your pants? I am pretty sure I am the sole supporter of the GDP for whatever Asian country without labor laws manufacturers those wonderful little patches that iron on. I've probably saved thousands on simply reinforcing my pants that have worn through as a result of the massive amount of friction my thighs create when hanging out next to each other all day. I'd pay good money to know my pants weren't going to land me in a situation where I hear a rip on an inside thigh to only look down and see a puff of flesh fighting for  denim liberation.

Got it designers? Truss us Chubbies up nice and tight to highlight and accent our beautiful curves and save the Hollandaise for the the broads who need to conceal the fact they will probably leave bruises all over their partners from their boney hips.

In the interim, I am going to continue on my crusade to get retailer Dress Barn to drop the livestock housing part of their name.

But first, I need another martini to enjoy with some Ziggy Stardust...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Who Are These People? Or, No Seriously, Who Are These People?

 I have a handy little tool encoded on my site that allows me to keep track of how many visitors I am getting, how long they hang out and also what keyword phrases bring them to the Follies.  Not surprisingly, if you search, "Fat Girl Follies" or some combo of those word, this oasis of wit in a desert of shit if the #1 hit.

There are some some searches that I can relate to:
"Hard to date when fat" (I am #23) Yep.
"Fat girl clothing ugly" (#5) Yep.

There are some that reflect the wonderful city I call home:
"Beggars in Chicago to give or not to give" (#17)  The answer is No. Just No.
"Fat girl in Chicago Bears underwear" (#3) WTF!?! I am a Lions fan, I am insulted to be the third hit for that!

There are some that state the obvious:
"Sexy Fat Girl" (#3) Duh. This is all of us.
"Quit smoking weight gain" (#5) Duh. Up 8 pounds since quitting mid-July

Then there are some that disturb me. Deeply:
"Fat girl murder" (#2) *crickets*
"I want to murder a fat girl" (#17) *crickets*

I do not know what disturbs me more, the fact that there are people out there searching "Fat Girl Murder" or that I am the second most popular response for this query on the intrawebs. More disturbing is that there is someone out there who hates fat girls so much that he wants to MURDER one! That puts me in the potential victim pool.  And he knows I live in Chicago! It might be time to  hide my hound and run because I consider myself to be Target #1, as this crazy man thinking his searches are private has now seen my picture and knows (roughly) where I live. If he and the guy who searched "Fat Girl Murder" ever join forces I am royally effed.

Fortunately, there is some hope in humanity.  While I am keeping a vigil watch out for fat girl murderers, I will also be trying to find the person who found my site my searching, "Handle of Tanqueray." We would be great friends as we both already love gin.

Oh, and the fact that he does not want to murder me.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Too Much of Your Personal Life, Even for Me.

Dear Woman On The Brown Line,

We have all had days when we are struggling to make it out the door in one piece.  I have had days that I did not realize I only put mascara on one eye until I got home or wore a shirt inside out for the better part of the day. I get it. Sometimes there just is not enough time to get it all done at home and perhaps some time prepping on the L is necessary.

Whatever your reason was for needing to groom on a packed morning-rush hour car last week, it does not excuse you or justify the fact that you plucked your nose hair on the train. I did not bat an eye when you pulled a compact out of your purse. And while I did think it was odd you had tweezers, I figured you were just going to snag a stray piece of unibrow that popped up.  However, nothing could prepare me for the sight of watching you repeatedly pull stray hairs out of your snout and proceed to drop them idly onto the shoes of those standing near. I mean, really woman??? Of all of the times you could shove tweezers up your nose and pull out hair was on your way to work?!? I realize that I should not be so creeped out as it was not an issue for me when I thought it was a piece of eyebrow you were extracting, but the fact is that public nose hair grooming is not something I am ready to accept.

And in all honestly, lady, let's look at the big picture. You were wearing black capris that had teal seahorses and magenta sea shells embroidered on them. I think we can both agree you have bigger issues to address than a few stray nose hairs.

Your Friend,