Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Murder Was the Case That They Gave Me.

Dear Sir Who Is Preaching About Jesus at 11:15 p.m. on the Red Line,

I will admit, I wrote you off immediately.  Your material?  Completely unoriginal. If I had a nickle for ever time some former gang banger/prostitute/crackhead/junky tried to save my soul through the healing powers of Christ...well, let me tell you, I sure as Hell wouldn't be living in Uptown. Because those nickles would add up mighty fast and I wouldn't have to deal with a SWAT standoff and random shootings.

However, Sir, this letter is not to berate you. Primarily because if I wrote a note bitching about every person out there trying to convert me I would require more bandwidth, which equates back to me being too poor to live anywhere else other than the edge of Bumville and Cracktown.  No Sir, I would like to commend you and your very clever ways of marketing your message.

I encountered you after getting off work and stepping onto the northbound Red Line to head home to my dwindling cache of Christmas Ale.  I heard you witnessing and promptly tossed in one ear bud to enjoy some fantastic Hall & Oates on my iPod.  I left one ear bud out, in the event that there were announcements to hear or you busted out with some great story.  You were giving the typical run-of-the-mill Amazing Grace testament, so I started to tune you out.  Then you busted out with it.  The line that is surer to get my attention more than anything, even more than "FREE BEER AND GIN!" Note: If I've learned anything, free booze is rarely ever free.  No, Sir, you dropped the line that can enrapture even the ficklest of audiences.  With pride, you busted out with,

"Back when I used to be a murderer..."
...

Yes, I am typing a dramatic pause in there.  You just said, "Back when I used to be a murderer."

Wow. Sir, Congratulations, You now have my full and complete attention.  I listened to you tell your tale of shooting and stabbing people who were tied up in your cocaine trafficking business and that you were recently released because you were Saved.  I listened to you tell me about how Jesus helped you see the error of your ways and he loves you despite the fact that you're a sinner.  And I even got a little choked up when you talked about being saved and baptized in that prison bathroom sink.

And then reality hit me.  I was eight feet away from a self-proclaimed murderer.  And no amount of testimony is going to stop me from hopping off the train 5 stops too early and pay the $15 cab ride to get home when you said you once murdered people.

So Sir, my sincerest congratulations on actually grabbing my attention.  And congrats on ceasing the murderous ways.  And I am sure that Chicago Yellow Cab now thanks you for the fare they will be getting from a Fat Girl on Harrison who is not in the mood to be on Former Murderer Watch on her commute home.

XOXO
Your Friend,
Cari

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Ding Ding Ding Went the Bell

A lot of time people tell me that I should write a book.  It is, in fact, one of my life dreams to be published and I oft consider what sort of literature I would want to pen.  I ponder writing the Great American novel and imagine my name being held in the same esteem as Fitzgerald, Vonnegut and Seuss. However, anytime I try to write a novel, I struggle for characters, plots and story lines.  I consider why I have no problem writing a voyeuristic view of my life to the online unknowns but cannot create an original idea.  This past week, a chance encounter with a Salvation Army bell ringer at the grocery store gave me my answer:  Life is better than fiction.

The following encounter is 100% true without any exaggeration.  Folks, I can't make this stuff up.

Last Thursday I hit up my neighborhood grocery store for a few essentials to cook a delicious meal on my night off.  As I was leaving, the Salvation Army bell ringer asked me to donate some change.  I politely declined, and as I walked out my grocery pull cart got caught in a rail and dumped over.  I took this as a sign of karma, and deposited a dollar in the swinging red bucket. The bell ringer noticed the purple ribbon that I wear on my jacket lapel and told me that she appreciated it as she recently beat breast cancer.  I am not sure how she missed the memo that pink is the color for breast cancer awareness given that the city is lit up like Miss Piggy for the entire month of October, but I digress.  Note: The purple ribbon I wear is for Domestic Abuse Awareness.

Anyway, this is the conversation that transpired. Again, I could not make this up if I tried.

Bell Ringer:  "I appreciate that you wearing that ribbon to support breast cancer, I just had a cancer tumor removed in September."

Cari: "Congratulations on beating cancer, Kudos to you! I hope you are feeling better and recovering well."

BR:  Picks up left bosom, swings it around slightly, "Oh yeah, it's better but still a little tender."

C: "Well, it sure beats the alternative.  Congratulations, have a nice night."

BR: "Yah, I sure did better than my daughter, who had cervical cancer."

C: "I'm so sorry to hear that! I hope she is fighting it and healing well."

BR: "No, she died in August. She got it from that papillomavirus.  Doctor said she got it from being promiscuous."

C: "The doctor said that to you?!  That's terrible!"

BR: "Yeah, while she was on her deathbed, doctor said her cancer came from being promiscuous."

C: "Ma'am, I am so sorry that the doctor said that to you.  But HPV is not something you get from being promiscuous.  80% of Americans have some strand of HPV. That was a horrible thing for the doctor to say to you, I'm so sorry she said that."

BR: "So you mean I can sue the hospital because she said that?"

C: "No.....No, that's not what I am saying.  I am just saying that your daughter did not necessarily get the virus from being promiscuous. Perhaps she had a boyfriend that had it and they engaged in unprotected sex."

BR: "No, she was a ho and ran around with all sorts of guys. She really liked those brand name designer jeans, so she slept with all sorts of men to get them to buy them for her."

C: "Oh......Well, regular Pap tests can detect changes in the cervix before it becomes full-blown cancer, so perhaps as  a way to honor your daughter you can encourage your friends and friends' daughters to get their annual exams.  Planned Parenthood performs them, and Illinois offers coverage for the services if you don't have insurance."

BR: "Oh I know!  That doctor told us that she could get treatment for it, but she did not want to have that because all of her hair would all fall out. But then I said, 'Latoya, what do you care, you be wearing a weave anyway.'  But by that time, it was too late and had spread to the lung."

C: Speechless.

C: Still speechless.

C: "Well ma'am, it sounds like you have had quite the year, I hope that 2012 brings you more brightness. And I will be keeping your daughter in my heart.

BR: "Thank you sweetie, I be seein ya."

I do feel it is important to note that while this conversation is happening outside of the grocery story, people are coming and going, and the bell ringer is still ringing her bell and pausing to call out for donations.  It was one of the strangest interactions that I have ever had.

I still don't know what I am going to take away from it, but I do know that I will be chatting up a lot more bell ringers this season.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Goodbye, Monroe

Philip Roth had Goodbye, Columbus, a novella of Jewish-Americans trying to assimilate and break  stereotypes as a character leaves the Ohio State University.  I have Goodbye, Monroe, a story of departing with the crazy cast characters who made a 2 1/2 block walk up Monroe Street so very special.

A few weeks ago I switched jobs.  I know in a previous post I stated that I loved my job and was quite happy in the position I was in.  That did not change.  I was not looking for a new job, but the pastry Gods smiled down on me as they sprinkled me with confectioner's sugar and said, "Here Cari, here's a position that is ridiculous in its growth and learning opportunities.  You would be a fool not to take it." I was offered a peach of a position, well rather a peach cobbler of a position, so I seized it.  And as with my last position, nothing on here reflects my current employer, etc.

Anyway, I became quite accustomed to seeing a number of faces  on my stroll from the Red line stop at State & Monroe to my Michigan Avenue employer.  Note:  My new position is still on the Red line, so sleep easy tonight. As I've been gone for a few weeks, I've realized I have missed these secondary characters in the theatre of my life, so I felt that it was necessary to say Goodbye.  Goodbye, Monroe. Note: And Hello, Harrison.  Your crazy is already proving to be bountiful due to the residentially-challenged man who asked me for  a sandwich outside of 7-11 but specified only tuna or egg, as he did not eat meat.  Once again I learn that beggars can be choosers.

Dear Ronnie:

I always enjoyed our banters. You were always polite to ask me about my day and if the restaurant was busy.  I enjoyed dropping day-old pastries and the occasional sandwich into your shopping cart when you were already asleep when I got off work.  I apologize for stopping this practice, but you really pissed me off when you asked me to start buying you burgers and chicken breast.  Do you have any idea what the salary of a pastry cook is?  Let me tell you, one step above poverty, on a good week.  I do not, nor will I for a long time, have the luxury of pissing my money away on protein when there is perfectly good rent to pay and beer to purchase, and I would prefer it if you did not get so brazen in your requests.

XOXO,
Your Friend,
Cari
 _______________________________________________
Dear Batshit Crazy Cuban Man:

I do not miss you. You lived in the alley behind my place of business and I tried everything possible to avoid you.  I lived in a healthy fear of you ever since you once asked to bum a cigarette off me and I refused.  You pleaded that you were homeless, I said if  I gave something to every bum that asked  for something that I would be homeless as well.  You told me that you were Cuban and that you would make me, "Say Hello to your little friend."  I initially thought this was a Date Rape threat and it was not until I came home and Googled that line that I learned it was from Scarface and you were not threatening me with your "little friend" but rather referencing one of the few Hollywood movies featuring a character from your homeland.  Note: How is it that a man without a home, let alone a television, has seen more movies than I?

XOXO,
Your Friend,
Cari

P.S. Thank you for showing me your "little friend,"  I was relieved that it was not a gun and terrified that it was a metal baseball bat. Your comment is the reason I became trained in hand-to-hand combat with a knife and started carrying pepper spray.  Say Hello to Your Little Friend?!?! No No sir, say hello to a punctured lung and a flesh laceration that will not heal AND pepper spray designed to be used in Alaska to stop Bears.  Say Hello to MY little friends!
 _______________________________________________
Dear Bob Marley's Brother:

I am willing to bet that most people who initially see you fear you. We only had one exchange, when I offered you a leftover salad, you refused and then said thank you.  Your shoes are worn beyond worn, your hair is a bouquet of dreadlocks, you just seem to walk around aimlessly for hours and you are as essential to the Loop as the Pink lights at PalmerHouse in October. I don't know what your story is, but  I am willing to bet that you probably have some amazing stories to tell, I hope you stay warm this winter, and if you need a coat/gloves/hat/new boots, I would be happy to procure them for you.

XOXO,
Your Friend,
Cari
 _______________________________________________
Dear Jesus Rapper:

You annoy me.  I do not care what your music is and I do not care that you pound on a timetable rapping about Jesus. I actually once had a bit of respect for you after seeing you drink half a bottle of honey then chase it with a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter.  However, I lost that all after our one and only conversation.

You sit at the Monroe stop, with a shaker of beads in hand, rapping about Jesus.  You always finish each rap with, "Thank you, my name is (edit) and I am homeless.  I get by entirely by your support."  I once thought this was mundane until I saw you taking a shot of honey.  Honey might be the greatest ingredient on Earth, I worship it. I have no less than 17 different varieties of honey in my cupboard right now (This is not an exaggeration.) I also know how extremely expensive honey has become. And to see someone playing the residentially-challenged card when chugging a premium ingredient irks me. We had a conversation about your honey consuming ways and your "career."  You told me you had the skill to not be homeless but chose not to pursue options because the only thing worthwhile in life was, "A dedication to Jesus."

Sir, I respect your devotion; however, I really think you should be able to find time for a dedication to paying taxes through legitimate employment.  Or at least claim your tips when you file with the IRS. Because even if you do not take advantage of the social services provided by taxes, you will have a very hard time finding an audience to make donations when I declare Martial Law in the near future due to the American Economy, or as I prefer to call it, "The Hindenburg: Reloaded."

XOXO,
Your Friend,
Cari
 _______________________________________________

 Dear Monroe Street Residentially-Challenged Individuals,

Thanks for the memories. Carpe Diem.

XOXO,
Your Friend,
Cari

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Life Lessons with Cari

When you are getting ready to take a shot of Jameson with friends and you have a feel a slight tickle of a potential sneeze coming on, wait for that tickle to pass.  Don't think that you will be able to hold that sneeze back in the event that it happens, because you won't.  You will sneeze the moment that the sweet Irish whiskey hits your throat and you will send it all flying back out.  It will go rocketing into the shot glass still at your lips and shoot straight back  and splash your entire face. You will have whiskey all over your face.  And it will get in your eyes and they will burn with an intensity you never thought possible.  People will give you odd looks when you go restroom with mascara streaks down your cheeks and Jamo dripping from your chin.  Not only will it be painful and embarrassing, it will also be a waste of perfectly good whiskey.


Thin Lizzy had Whiskey in the Jar.  I had Whiskey in the Eye.  Learn from my mistake.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Moment I've Always Feared.

The Moment I've always feared has arrived.

I've dreaded this moment. I've denied that it will ever happen.  I've skated around accepting it as my reality for longer than is reasonable. I've just always assumed that it was not ever going to happen, just as a viable presidential candidate who supports women's reproductive rights, embraces gay marriages, did not deploy troops unless absolutely required and was fiscally conservative while still supporting welfare will never happen. It was a unicorn, my white whale... A unicorn that mated with that white whale and stabbed me straight in the arse tonight.

My biggest fear has become reality. I am finally able to admit.

I am an adult.

Holy crap. I am an adult. And I realized it fully tonight after having a few doubles of Jack & Diet, and a few more pints of Sam Adams Oktoberfest (I floated the keg, I rule!)  I was out with a few girls from my former place of employment (tears) and we were heading to our respective homesteads.  The Boilermaker (pretty sure you can figure out by now how she acquired that nickname) said she wanted to go out some more.  It was pushing 2 a.m. and I have 12 hours before reporting to work.  This typically translates into a solid 2-4 more hours of fun (read: Boozing) for the fat girl.  So I said, "There's a great 4 a.m. bar right by my house, let's go."  Then I took two more steps and said,

"Forget that, that was the drunk talking."

Did Cari really just say those words?  And mean them? Yes, yes she did, and in that moment, I crossed that finish line that I've been trying to dodge for the past decade and owned up to adulthood. I believe I followed it up with, "Holy shit, Did I just say that?"  I did. Dear Lord, I just became an adult.

My adulthood did not come from having an IRA and a 401K.  It did not come from earning two college degrees.  It did not come from moving to Asia for a few years and establishing myself as the youngest manager worldwide with a Fortune 500. No, my realization of being an adult came from a walk in the rain with two wonderful women when, for once, my common sense vetoed my sense of constant fun.

Now that my biggest fear has been realized, I am being flooded with so many other questions and fears.  I am an adult now, does that mean that I have to start wearing actual pajamas? Will these pajamas have to match, and will they be as comfortable as my skivvies/gym shorts/camisoles/nothing that I typically wake up in?  Do I need to start a high-fiber regimen? Will I lose that special magic that has made my life so remarkable, that sprinkling of fairy dust that has made my experiences so extraordinarily charmed, causing those around me to say, "Only Cari"...?

And what do I do about drinking...right now I love gin, red wine and quality beer.  Is it high time I start ordering Manhattans, Seven & 7s, swapping Wild Turkey for Black Velvet and  actually study the wine list as opposed to going with the Second-to-Cheapest Cabernet??? Note: Going for the cheapest one offered= amateur.  And it JUST occurred to me that I do not know how to knit and/or crochet an afghan.  How in the world can I enter female adulthood without knowing this valuable life skill??!

Oh God, why isn't there an instruction manual for this.  Just one too many drinks on a rainy night and I've been thrust into a reality I am not ready for (I should have seen the writing on the wall, no way would have semi-Adult Cari passed on a late night bar after a mere 5-7 drinks.)

But nonetheless, it's happened.  And now it's 3 a.m., meaning I should have been in bed 8 hours ago or should be waking up in 2 to go catch an early bird/low cholesterol breakfast special. I suspect I will be spending the next few hours in bed shaking with fear over what is going to happen to me now that I am finally an adult.

Either that, or I will be scouring the TV Guide to find out when I can catch a rerun of Matlock.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dear Scut Farkus

Dear Skut Farkus,

I see a lot of crazy things on the late-night Red Line, but running into you was an absolute shock.  I always just figured you went into hiding with your crony Grover Dill after Ralphie told you what was up and beat the living snot (and blood) out of you after you chucked that snowball at him, sending him over the edge.

Imagine my surprise to find you located in my same train car on an idle Thursday night.  And drinking a Budweiser when alcohol is expressly prohibited aboard CTA vehicles, nonetheless.  I never thought that you would be someone I would want to get to know after the way you dogged my boy Ralphie, but I am intrigued in learning more about your covert consumption methods, making the already-entertaining red line that much more interesting.  Let's talk.  After all, I suppose I can drop my lifelong grudge because Ralphie did get his revenge in the end. 

XOXO
Your Friend,
Cari



Sunday, November 6, 2011

Antigame

I don't know much of the dating game, having spent more than a third of my life with the same person. I do not know how long someone is supposed to wait to call after a first date. I have no clue as to what the appropriate time period is until your suitor can see you in your favorite lounging pants and do not even ask me when it is safe to introduce a potential partner to friends and family.  I am truly clueless (and trembling with fear at the prospect of having to figure all of this shit out on my own.)

While my dating knowledge is severely lacking, my long-term committed status honed an incredible skill of mine.  I am a superb Wing girl.  For those of you who are not familiar with the phrase "Wingman" or "Wing girl" (ie Mom,) a "Wing person" is an individual who goes out with a friend and helps their friends pick up other people.  We are the ones who are witty and clever, helping to bridge the gap in conversation.  We highlight our friends amazing attributes to potentials while they are off ordering a drink or in the restroom.  We talk and flirt with the sloth-like friend that is hanging with the person your friend is interested in.  We know our role, embrace it and execute it well.  Not only do we help our friends meet people they are interested in, we also aid in screening potential candidates as well as weeding out the rejects.  Men (and women) should never underestimate the power of the Wing girl, because at the end of the night, we will be the one dragging our friends into cabs to get them away from the creepers and encouraging them to give out fake numbers.

As a Wing girl, I have developed some unofficial rules for grading those who are pursuing my friends.  It is not a checklist, per se, but when one violates them, my douchebag radar starts beeping like crazy and I inform my friends that they need to move along.

I was recently out with one of my close girlfriends, and I think that we may have met the man that should have written the book on unsuccessfully picking up women, "Antigame: How to Think You Have Game but Really Come off as a Major Tool."

So I am enjoying a few drinks with my girl, henceforth to be known as The Badger due to her U. of Wisconsin connections, and we are chatting, laughing and catching up on all things life, love and pastry related.  As we are halfway through our first (of countless) round, a good-looking guy approaches the The Badger and opens with, "My friend told me I shouldn't come over here, but you were too beautiful to not approach."

Wing girl says: Strike One.  Terrible come on.  Truly lacking originality, but I will let it slide.

The guy, henceforth to be known as GravelVoice due to the fact that he sounded like he had a chainsaw in his throat when he spoke, then leaned onto our table, putting up his arm to separate me from the Badger

Wing girl says: Strike Two.  Sir, I know you are not interested in me and do not want to give me a mixed signal by interacting with me, but to physically separate myself from my girl is bad form.  And also, sir, where the hell is your wing man to come talk to the Badger's sloth-like friend??  Don't you know the rules?

I was annoyed by GravelVoice's approach, but was amused at watching The Badger bask in his compliments and adoration.  It was fun to see her flirting and toying with him.  GravelVoice then proceeded to offer to buy the Badger a beer, specifically stating, "Can I buy you a Coors Light?"

Wing Girl says: Strike Three and Four.  Everyone knows if you're offering to buy a woman a drink, you offer a round to her friends as well.  That goes beyond the rules of pick-up too.  Don't ever be that person who cherry picks who they buy drinks for.  Don't buy drinks for half the group. Don't buy a drink for just you and your significant other if others are buying the whole round.  And DON'T forget to get the wing girl a drink.  However, terrible round-purchasing etiquette aside, he offered her a Coors Light.  A Coors Light.  Mind you, we were at a bar that does not even serve Coors Light.  This, coupled with the fact that we were both drinking local craft beer and had sampler glasses of other crafts that we taking a few nips off, should have indicated we were clearly not Coors Light girls. Scratch that, The Badger was not a Coors Light girl, as I was never even offered a beverage.

From here things just went downhill. GravelVoice kept telling The Badger that she should just come join him at the bar.  Take note of that sentence, "SHE should come."  He was pretty much saying, "Ditch the broad who looks like she just climbed down from her bell tower.  It will be good practice for when she is older and living alone with countless cats." Note: I will never be a crazy cat lady, ever.  Due to my severe cat allergy. Now, crazy shelter dog lady? Let's talk.  Anyway, Badger said he was welcome to join us. He refused, and finally went back to the bar...

...only to come back an hour later.  The Badger made it known to me that she had no interest in GravelVoice and declared open season on the Man with poor pick up etiquette.  And yet he would not relent and just give up. Badger and I laughed, so naturally I started to make fun of him for being a Yankees Fan (Strike Five and GO TIGERS!) Finally, after a solid 15 minutes of busting his balls, he walked away, duly shamed. I do, however, applaud his self confidence, or perhaps his inflated sense of self due to too much booze.

In closing, I would just like to summarize the rules of being excellent at Antigame:
1. Offer a shitty beer
2. Do not offer a shitty beer to wing girl
3. Ignore Wing girl
4. Be a Yankees fan
5. Ignore blatant ignoring of advances

Badger and I are still laughing about his terrible approach and question (fear?) how many more encounters we will have like this as our nights together are increasing in frequency (hooray!)

My only hope for now is that the Badger can be as good of a Wing girl to me as I was to she. And if not, at least I will always have my shelter dogs.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cuckoo for Clocks! Or My New Thrift Shop Adventures

I love clocks, specifically funky analog clocks.  Since entering the world of semi-Adulthood, I've always adorned my walls with clocks.  Every room in my home has always had an analog clock, bathrooms included.  I've had clocks that the numbers were sushi pieces, retro alarm clocks, a stained glass Ohio State bar clock, pretty clocks, boring clocks...I just love clocks.  One of my favorite pieces is my clock  that is inspired by Salvador Dali's painting, "The Persistence of Memory" aka the melting clocks picture for you uncultured proles.  Unfortunately, over the past few months, it has been requiring a lot of batteries and is running on time of a different dimension.  I know I can take it to a repairman and have it up and running, but then I would not have an excuse to buy a new clock.  So I will add it to my clock graveyard of timepieces I plan to get fixed in 30 years to adorn the walls of the library I will have in my home someday.

For now, the dead Dali hangs, waiting to be replaced.  And I know what the perfect replacement piece is- A Cuckoo Clock!  I have always harbored a secret yearning to own a Cuckoo clock.  They take me to a happy place as I associate them with my days as a chubby little toddler running around my Busia and Papa's house.  They had a fun Cuckoo clock that had pine cones hanging from chains that I adored.  I had a lot of fun out at their house in the country, primarily because my brother was not around often, so I did not have to share the spoils of being with grandparents. I was able to bask in their love, attention and new toys without having Big Brother around to snatch it all away.  It's irrelevant that I now know that I was dumped off there due to the fact that my brother was constantly in the hospital and my parents refused to visit me.  Nevermind the fact that the one and only time that my Dad came to visit me I chased him down the street as his car pulled away, yelling for him to take me with him, and he told my mom when he got to the hospital that he was not going back to visit me again.  No, despite my parental abandonment, I have great memories of being out at that house and I associate Cuckoo Clocks with that period of Cariness.

Fast forward a few decades, now I desire to adorn my walls with a clock to remind myself of the happiness I felt at that time in my life.  However, one's desires are often beyond one's means, ergo I am too damned poor to afford to buy a new Cuckoo clock.  I hunted around on E-bay, but I am hesitant to get something like this on there, so I've decided I shall scour through thrift shops and garage sales until I find the perfect clock for myself.  I know that it is going to take some time, most likely years, but it will give me something to focus on besides wine consumption.

And as anyone who's ever smelled the unique funk of a Goodwill store, there are some great finds to be found in thrift shops and second-hand stores.  So as a new feature here on the Follies, I shall be showcasing the best item that I discovered at the various shops that I hit up.  From the Salvation Army located on Broadway south of Montrose, I present this:








Why someone chose to donate this beautiful item to a thrift shop is beyond me.  It's absolutely perfect for the chain-smoking cat enthusiast who has (presumably) her house decorated in pink sea shells.  I can think of three people off the top of my head that fit that bill and would love to own this. Incidentally, it is now sitting on my bedroom dresser as I decide which of the three to give it to at the holiday season.  Perhaps I should let them know they are in the running so they can fight for my affections.

While my first trip did not yield me the desired timepiece, I also found this gem.






Interestingly enough, I knew a number of sluts in my high school college younger days who used this exact same logic to justify their "extracirricular activities." Unfortunately, no one ever manufactured a wall clock to celebrate their methods of getting alternative forms of protein.

Looks like I finally found my way to make my millions!

Cari Ponders...

Do Yankee Candles go bad?  Because this Pomegranate Cider I have burning smells like Pomegranate Poop.

Either that, or there's a flaming bag of dog shit on my back stoop.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cari ponders...

So I grabbed my pair of skinny jeans to wear for the first time since winter so I can tuck them into my rain boots today.  A thought occurred to me.

Can they really qualify as skinny jeans when the tag says size 12 and I purchased them from a plus-size woman's retailer?  Wouldn't sausage casing denim be a more appropriate label?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dear Sir Sleeping on the Loading Dock,

Dear Sir Sleeping on the Loading Dock,

I know I am oft quite callous in my approach to the residentially-challenged individuals; however, I would like to state that I am, in fact, quite empathetic to your plight. I am very fortunate to enjoy the life that I do and that I have the skill set, sanity and knowledge to provide for it.

However, I would be remiss if I did not bring attention to the fact that sleeping with a plastic sheet over your head just screams "Future Darwin Award Winner."

I am on edge that I will be reading about your accidental asphyxiation one of these mornings.  Please heed my concern.

XOXO
Your friend,
Cari

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sarah Connor?

I do not talk at all about my job on my blog for a number of reasons, primarily because I love my job and do not want to put anything disparaging out there that could jeopardize my position or show my place of employment in a negative light that could possible impact whether people choose to patronize there.  Plus,  my employer has a pretty strict social media policy in their handbook, which I actually read and take seriously.  It's unfortunate because there is a slew of hilarious things that happen at work that I want to share, but now is not the right time.  Note: Anything I post on here is in no way, shape or form a reflection on my employer, who shall remain anonymous, and anything I put on here is entirely my views.

However, sometimes there are things too good to keep to oneself.   For those that are unaware, I am an aspiring pastry chef, and I work in a restaurant.  Kitchens are interesting beasts to be a part of, for anyone who has never had BOH(Back of the House) experience.  They are fast-paced and high stressed.  Those who are sensitive and/or lacking a very thick skin need not apply.  You will get corrected frequently, you will get made fun of often, you will have days where you just feel like a complete blundering idiotic piece of shit who should not even be allowed to assemble a Lunchable cracker sandwich, let alone touch the food of your fine establishment. Most of your time is shaded by a healthy suspicion  of what those around you are doing, waiting for some smartass comments to come your way so you can retort with an equally sharp and witty jab back.  Sometimes you instigate the shit talking just to put yourself a little higher on the pecking order, and other days are just spent trying to deflect any attentions.

Then there are days where you have to go in with your loins girded because you know you are wearing a giant target.

Exhibit A:
It was...it was...SOAP POISONING!
No, I am not channeling my inner GaGa.  And no, I am not test driving my next Halloween costume.  I had some ocular issues and I have to keep my right eye dilated for the next five days.  And a dilated eye means blurriness and extreme sensitivity to light.  I can ditch these sexy specs when I am in my poorly lit domain, but the kitchen is entirely too bright.  Meaning I had to spend a Saturday service wearing the equivalent of a giant sign that says, "Make fun of me, please!" I tried to wear a pair of normal sunglasses, but none of them fit over my regular corrective lenses.

If you work in a kitchen, and you have to spend your shift wearing these bad mamajamas over your normal glasses, the following  things will be said and/or done to you:

-Servers will randomly bust out singing, "I wear my sunglasses at night."  Constantly.
-You will be called The Terminator no less than 25 times.
-One of your chef's will start singing Stevie Wonder songs to you...Immediately after he said that he is trying his hardest not to make fun of you.
-Customers will ask you how you are able to to safely prepare food when being blind.
-Your Executive Chef will do a hilarious impersonation of Ray Charles ala the Diet Pepsi "You've Got the Right One Baby" ad campaign from the early 90s.
-A server will ask you to say, "I'll be back" every time you pass through the server station.
-A chef will sarcastically offer his arm to you to escort you through the dining room.
-Servers will continue to sing "I wear my sunglasses at night."
-Customers will blatantly stare at you. Shamelessly stare.
-Food runners will constantly wave their hands in your face.
-Coworkers will laugh at you when you say you are going to "Blind bake" some dough.  
-Every time you will walk past the line you will  hear someone start singing, "Georgia..."
-You will start responding to inquiries simply by saying, "Sarah Connor?" in your best Governator voice.
-People will ask you if they are 3-D  and/or virtual reality glasses. Because life is not already in 3-D and all...
 -Your inquiries and comments will be answered with, "I'm sorry, but I just cannot take you seriously."

Fortunately, one of my favorite things to laugh at is myself, so it actually made for a fun night at work.  At one point, I declared it "Open Season on Carl." Note: one of my chef's calls me Carl after getting wind of how my name is spelled. Thanks Mom & Dad.

Also, the attention was not all negative.  The owner of my restaurant asked me, "What's up with the Jackie O look?"  Jackie O? Wow, quite the upgrade from The Terminator.  No wonder I enjoy working for him so much. 

Despite the fact that I was the target of a lot of good-natured ribbing all day, there were some positives to wearing those specs.  On the red line ride home, three individuals offered me their seats when there were none available.

Looks like I will be saving these things to pop on during the evening rush ride home.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's a fine line...

...between cracking yourself up and being passive aggressive.




I think that I walk that line nicely.

An Interesting Trip Home- A Picture Story





The other night I had a very interesting trip home. I had the opportunity to have dinner with some good friends that I do I not see nearly often enough and found myself on the North Shore enjoying great conversation over dinner and drinks.  After dinner, I was awaiting for my chariot to fetch me (aka waiting for the Metra to arrive) and was getting impatient.  I already had a few Black & Tans coursing through my veins and was itching to keep the fun going.  And then I remembered that I was taking Metra, not the L, and booze is allowed on Metra.  I quickly considered my options.  I knew the closest liquor store was a 3-minute run away, and I would be taking a risk when my train was coming in 8-minutes. I looked around and saw a bar across the street.  I took a chance, ran across to see if they sold beer to go, and the Hops Gods smiled upon me.  Five minutes, 7 dollars and 6 PBR tall boys later, I am ready for my train ride in.

I hop on the train and promptly offer the conductor a PBR, because one should share the wealth.  He declined, stating that there was going to be a mess of people getting on at Ravinia park, an outdoor concert venue. I learned after the fact that Lynyrd Skynyrd was playing.  I missed out.  Anyway, I pop open a PBR, start reading my book and enjoy the fact that I can get home safely after having a few beers while I continue to enjoy even more beers.  My quiet is quickly broken when I hear some commotion in the back half of the car.  Being the gawker that I am, I turn around and observe, and I realize that the train car is moving and a girl is getting pulled onto the car.  WTF?? Why did the conductor leave when someone was not safely boarded.  The train comes to a halt, the conductor operating the train gets onto the intercom and demands that they exit the train, because apparently the people opened the doors as the train was moving and hopped on because they wanted to finish their cigarettes prior to boarding.  A scuffle ensued, with the drunks who boarded refusing to leave while they threatened to sue and the conductor trying to remove them without force.  I sat watching with great amusement, grateful I had purchased refreshments for the live theatre of life. I ended up chatting with a fellow Metra rider, shared my PBR with her and thought that  I had just experienced the best train ride ever.

I arrive at my stop, and check my CTA bus tracker to see that I am going to have to wait 18 minutes for my bus to come.  I weigh my options: I could take a cab but I am too cheap (read:poor), I could wait for the bus, but I have had 5 beers at this point and the seal has been broken, or I could just start walking home.  I look at the plastic bag with two PBRs left and realize my fate has been decided.  I will saunter home and see where the evening takes me. I threw one of the beers in my purse, wrapped the other discreetly in the plastic bag, crack it open and start east on Lawrence.

First I came across this fabulous vehicle decals
Then I kept stumbling and discovered this real beauty of a vehicle
An eclectic collection of crap.

I continued strolling and made it onto Broadway.  I also got there prior to the #81 bus hitting my original stop, WIN!  I walked passed a sushi shop and saw a man outside and said, "Konbonwa!"  He replied in Japanese and we exchanged a pleasant conversation in Japanese.  Then I looked closer and realized that despite his Sushi Chef status and our banter in Japanese, he was, in fact, Korean.  I called him out on this and learned I was correct.   I told him of my time in Japan, and that I am a pastry chef these days, which lead to him giving me  a tour of his kitchen and extending an offer for me to do Asian pastry work on the side.
This is Shu. The picture is a bit blurry, but when you are on your last beer in a plastic bag, "focus" becomes a relative concept.

Shu's Kitchen
From Shu's, I sauntered on, passing the Wilson Red Line stop, one of the most ghetto of the Red Line stops on the North Side.  I live in fear of driving past this stop because there are, at any given time, no less than 15 people jaywalking and loitering in the middle of Broadway.  I call it the Wilson Red Line Dodge 'Em.  Sort of like bumper cars, only avoiding vagrants. 
Wilson Red Line stop- A great place to nap.
I continued on and realized that Aldi's has a security system on their carts that rivals most military installations.  I certainly do not fault them for it, as I probably would have stolen a cart at this point in the night.
Aldi's answer to deterring shopping cart theft. Probably a wise idea.
Then I saw a Target, and recalled their amazing food courts and had an incredible craving for soft pretzels and frozen cokes
SOFT PRETZELS! Nom Nom Nom!
They were closed, but I saw people, I sat pounding on the doors to see if they could give me the old pretzels that they were going to pitch...no one heeded my call.
Hello??? I see you in there, give me a frozen coke and soft pretzel.
And then I saw the security camera and continued on.
Probably time I get the hell out of here.

I really would love to know the story behind a bike lock on a tree, mainly where is the bike?  Or is tree theft a problem in Uptown?
Finally, 7-11. Oh Thank Heaven!
Finally I get my frozen coke, and top it off with a little cherry for some variety
I drank half of it down while waiting to get my cream cheese & jalapeno taquito. Naturally, I went back to refill it.  Note: I realize there is a splash of cherry on there, sometimes a girl likes a little kick with her coke.
The taquito was  a weak substitute for the pretzel. The frozen coke did not disappoint.


All in all, not a bad trip home.  I drank some beer, took over an hour and a half to make it 1.7 miles, did some professional networking, and got a frozen coke. And all I really want out of life is a frozen coke, so it was a great night!
I scolded the clerk for his terrible knife cuts.  I then learned that their condiments come in vacuum sealed bags.









 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cari's Hard & Fast Rules of Life #4 & #21

Did you grow up with a big brother? I did.

Did you grow up with a ball of raging testosterone looking for a weak punching bag to wail on?  I did.

Did you grow up with someone who was built like an offensive lineman using you as a football practice bag? I did, only he actually WAS an offensive lineman.

Well, little sisters of the world, rest assured that revenge does, in fact, arrive.  Only it's  a dish served cold, ice ice cold.

Cari's Hard & Fast Rule of Life #4 is that a woman who takes public transit alone should always carry some sort of protection...and  I am not talking Trojan man protection. Although also very important to have on hand.

Well, Rule #4 also applies well to getting revenge served cold, which is also rule #21. 

When you are ending a great night out with your brother, the one who used to beat the snot out of you, and he asks, "Are you going to be okay and safe getting home?"  The decades of pent up revenge rage are completely worth it when you can pull a knife out that can cut through elk pelt and pepper spray that can stop a bear at more that 45 feet away from you when he is inches away.  The look on his face as you tell him you know how to properly jab up and under the rib cage to lacerate the liver while puncturing a lung makes every bruise worth it. It is irrelevant that he is now asking the question as a concerned older brother and completely relevant that you are finally seizing your moment to strike him cold with fear.

  Cari's Hard and Fast Rule of Life #4 combined with #21 will make your inner 10-year-old little sister sing with happiness, because when you pull a knife and pepper spray on your big brother and he retracts with fear and begs you to put them away, you feel that even though he won the battles, you won the war.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

*That's* Chicago or The Good, Bad and Ugly of Late Night Second City

Most of those who know me that the movie Chicago is one of my favorites and I can watch it over and over without ever tiring of it.  For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's a great musical show set in the height of jazz in Chicago where all these women go around killing their men then getting put on death row.  It's great entertainment.  In the movie, there is a line delivered by the hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn (played by Richard Gere) in which he says to Renee Zellweger's Roxie Hart, "You are a phony celebrity. You're a flash in the pan. In a couple of weeks, no one's gonna give a shit about you. *That's* Chicago."  Anytime something interesting happens to me, I always hear Richard's voice saying, "*That's* Chicago."  While I certainly take it out of context as I am no flash in the pan and I am willing to bet that in a couple of weeks more people will be giving a shit about me than they do at present time, when I have big city moments, I just think "*That's* Chicago."  I know it sounds odd, but please consider the fact that I grew up in a small village in a rural community where the only stop light in town turned off in the summer months when school was not in session.  And it was always big news at the park when the light started working again because it signaled (no pun intended) the impending end of summer freedom of coming back when the street lights came on. 

So yeah, going from 18+ years in Ohio's answer to Mayberry to one of the largest Metropolitan areas in the country, it is easy to see why I can get a little thrill over the happenings that only seem to come with city living.

This past week during my late night adventures I had a few, "*That's* Chicago" moments ranging from good, to bad to just outright ugly.

The Good: Last week I went out for a few post-work drinks with a few other culinary professionals.  When I set out, I had every intention of being tucked into bed by 12:30 as I had a grueling day facing me.  However, the night turned to ridiculous (post to follow) and I found myself fumbling with my keys after 4 a.m.  *That's* Chicago!  Note:  The smell of a red line train at 3:45 in the morning can best be described as sulfuric urine.  I need to invest in a face mask.  Or carry really horrible perfume samples and rub it under my snout prior to boarding.

The Bad: When walking home from IHOP at 3:30 in the morning a few nights later, a group of random men stopped me and the person I was with to have us fill out pamphlets to support The American Cancer Society...because there is nothing suspect about someone wanting your name, address, banking information and signature in the middle of the street at 3:30 a.m. Seems legit. Perhaps I can provide you my mother's maiden name, social security number and name of my first pet while we are at it. 

The Ugly: Upon said post-last call visit to IHOP, we passed some interesting things.  Including but not limited to: a residentially-challenged individual begging for pennies who said that I, "looked like a nice girl." Ha! Clearly he did not end up in his current economic situation because he was an excellent judge of character; next were two "women" of the night, and I use women in a loose manner as their appearance was reminiscent of Charlize Theron in Monster; and a man passed out in a park with an empty 40 of King Cobra.  He vaguely reminded me of myself circa 2003 post-Thug party in Athens, Ohio.  Anyway, the clear winner was a man that came out of an apartment building with a baseball bat. Now, I am still pretty small town naive, but I know when a man with a face reminiscent of Clubber Lang  comes rolling out with a baseball bat at 2:15 a.m., I need to get the rock out of there...and to the IHOP.  My dining companion and I laughed over the random group of people we saw in a single block of the city, on a Sunday night to boot, and then a police car comes by.  And another.  Then comes the ambulance.  And they are all stopping right where we saw the interesting cast of characters. Not too hard to piece together what probably went down. Random street hoods + angry man with a baseball bat= crazy damn shit going down.

Now *THAT'S* Chicago!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear Woman on the #80 Bus

Dear Woman on the #80 Bus,

Have you ever heard the phrase that "Fur is Murder?"  Well, the same rule applies to Muppets. It is a tragedy that you had to skin Grover, Gonzo and the Cookie Monster for the sake of that most unfortunate hat.

In the future, please refrain from committing any more acts of Muppeticide for the sake of fashion.  My heart (as well as my eyes) just cannot handle anymore.

XOXO
Your friend,
Cari

Monday, August 22, 2011

The World's Most Expensive Stromboli, or What You See While Sitting on a Porch Stoop at 2 a.m.

People watching is one of my favorite past times.  I get such  enjoyment out of observing people experience life.  The outfits, interactions, nuances, and commentary that comes out of watching the theatre of life cannot be beat.  Typically my people watching is limited to street fairs, sitting in the park, riding the CTA or waiting for planes at airports.  Airports and street festivals provide great people watching, but variety is the spice of life. Note: My old man once taught me that airports are the best places to spot toupees.  Some little girls learned from their dads how to dance with a boy or change a car tire.  My Dad taught me how to spot rugs.

Upon reflection, not an all-together bad skill to have.

I recently learned that if you sit on  your property manager's stoop at 2 a.m. on Wednesday mornings out of sight from those passing by , you see some very exciting things which include but are not limited to:
  • Young woman singing the timeless TLC classic "No Scrubs" aloud, presumably along to her iPod, without her knowledge, a la Me with "Janie's Got a Gun."
  • Two middle-aged men who live in the assisted living building across the street from me racing their motorized wheelchairs down the street. I was cheering for the man in The Rascal, but it seemed as if the HoverRound swept the 3 out of 3 series.
  • A truly intoxicated young woman being guided home by two faithful friends carrying her along. It reminded me that I owe a lot of my girls from college belated thank yous.  Who am I kidding with college?  I owe my girls thank yous for the last time we hung out. 
  • A guy that was a dead ringer for Dude Lebowski. Tragic sweater and all.
  • Rats. Eww.
Needless to say, one sees a lot of very interesting things at 2 a.m. in the morning. However, being the street savvy young gal that I am, I try not to make a habit of sitting outside alone at night.  This is where the world's most expensive stromboli enters the scene.

I arrived home from work around 12:30 in the morning, riding high on life and poured myself a stiff G&T. I had blood work in the morning that required that I fast, so naturally I decided it would be a logical idea to order some late night food to accompany my Tanqueray.  So I get my grubhub on, order myself a banana pepper, black olive and pineapple stromboli and call my girl Bonita to tell her a great story. Note: Don't knock my flavor combo until you tried it.  It's an excellent balance of sweet, salty and spicy.  Just like me, yuk yuk yuk!

Anyway, I am chatting away with Bonita, and my other line rings to inform me of delicious stromboli making its arrival.  So I keep chatting, grab my keys from the key hook that I so expertly installed, and head out.  I make the exchange and head back in.  My keys are not fitting. I jam them harder into the key hole. No luck. 

The keys I grabbed would work well if I was trying to get into either of my parents' homes in Northwest Ohio.  Getting into my place in Chicago, not so much. I not-so-silently curse myself for deciding to simplify my life and split my key chains up. I sit and debate my options. There's a tree that runs next to my second story unit, and my windows are open.  I calculate in my head the strength of the trees branch and my abilities to jump from a tree to my window, managing to kick out a screen while flying through the air.  I quickly realized I have a much better chance of facing charges of arborcide and breaking my neck (Plus destroying the precious stromboli), so I decide to wake up my property manager.

For 20 minutes I leaned on their call box and nothing. Either he sleeps like the dead or figures I am just another drunk tenant who locked themselves out (Six out of Seven nights a week that would've been a safe bet with me, but it was night seven and I only had one drink.)  I debate just sleeping outside when I see a sticker next to the call box for a 24/7 locksmith.  At this point, its 1:30 a.m., I need to scarf this stromboli down if I have any chance of "fasting" prior to my blood work, and I have to be up early to catch the Metra.  So, I make the call of shame, that I have been locked out, and am advised that in 20 minutes they will arrive.  Naturally, I do what any fat girl who is bored does and ate. I sat down on the porch stoop and scarfed down the stromboli, avoiding the glances of the neighbors coming in who must be wondering about this size 14 in her pajamas downing greasy cheesy goodness.

The locksmith finally came.  He laughed at my predicament and actually gave me a hefty discount because I did not mutilate the locks trying to get in.  Oh, and I may have attempted to scale the tree to his entertainment after telling him of my original plan.  I made the right call, no way I could have pulled a Batman by jumping from the tree  to the window while successfully kicking the screen in and landing safely in my unit.  I made it two feet up the tree before gravity kicked in and I decided I was more interested in the other half of the stromboli

So the night wasn't a total loss. I saw some awesome things, ate a delicious stromboli, talked to my friend Bonnie and learned some great skills that will help me should I ever decide to pursue a career as a professional cat burglar.

I also learned that, despite the popular adage, the best things in life are,in fact, not free.  Because my stromboli ended up costing me $103.56, with tip and delivery. Fortunately that thing was frickin delicious.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dear Sir with the Classy T-Shirt

Dear Sir wearing the "You've Got to Lick It Before You Stick It" t-shirt,

There is an adage that goes, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."  While I am sure that 13-year old boys everywhere giggle and smirk as they are just beginning to understand the innuendo implied with your apparel, the the rest of us would like to thank you for removing all doubt without having to wait for you to open your mouth.

Way to keep it classy, Sir.

XOXO
Your friend,
Cari


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thunderfoot

Apartment living is a rite of passage.  It is character building- a test of patience and an opportunity to grow more accepting.  There are random smells that waft into your apartment, leaving you wondering why the place reeks of masala curry when you zapped a fettucine Lean Cuisine for dinner. There are the squeaks and creaks of walls moving as your neighbors hang stuff on the walls, or perhaps are nailing things of a much more carnal nature.  There are the awkward glances in the hallways as you think, "That's the guy who listens to reggae while smoking pot all the time," while he thinks, "That's the drunk girl who sits with her lights off and yells taunts at people crossing the courtyard."  Note: That last example was purely hypothetical.

Anyway, for all of the quirks and annoyances that come with apartment living, there is something charming about it. Consider it- a bunch of near strangers cramped on top, below and side to side in a community, taking on this thing called life.  At least, that is how I always considered apartment living to be, even though I never actually lived in one for any great length of time.  I envisioned myself in a lovely courtyard unit saying hello to my neighbors, hosting potluck dinner parties, chatting by the mailbox and loving the communal existence.

And then Thunderfoot moved in.

For the first month in my new place, I lived in relative quiet bliss.  I occasionally heard my neighbor upstairs stirring about, but nothing that was excessive.  Normally his steps reminded me that I was very happy that I did NOT have a downstairs neighbor, because I am my father's daughter, and anyone who has ever been a floor below him knows he has a step that can crush concrete, and his step is hereditary. No, I actually appreciated my neighbor's quiet ways and was tempted to take him a cake or perhaps some scones to say I appreciate his delicate dancer's steps. But August 1 came.

And then Thunderfoot moved in.

Apartment living is no longer as glamorous as I once thought it to be. Gone are my visions of hosting progressive dinner parties with our units and bringing delightful baked goods to the man upstairs. No, these hopes have no been replaced by vengeful thoughts of me jamming pitchforks through the ceiling and launching molotov cocktails through the window upstairs.

Because Thunderfoot moved in.

The person who currently resides above me walks heavily. And frequently.  His PSI per step far exceeds anything Drago put out per punch in his fancy Communist training camp.  Every time he walks, I half expect to see bolts of lightning shooting out from my ceiling fan lamps.  Sincerely, with every step this man takes I look out the window to look for rain, because it is like a damned thunder storm. However, his heavy steps are something I could probably deal with. After all, we are living in relatively small units, there are not many places to walk.  However, this man must be training for a full marathon in his apartment based off of the number of steps he takes. I can not, for the life of me, figure out how and/or why he is constantly walking!  Every moment I am home anymore is spent ruing the day Thunderfoot ever moved in, wishing I had taken baked goods to the original neighbor so he would have stayed, that he and his angel feet would have stayed. It's not only that he walks constantly with a giant step though, Thunderfoot also plays Office Chair Race EVERY DAY. EVERY DAY I hear the constantly wheeling of an office chair zipping around his living room, making me question just how many computers, exactly, does this man have to monitor? And why?

But no, delicate neighbor could not stay, and now I have Thunderfoot, no doubt a direct descendant of Thor. I have not quite resorted to banging on my ceiling with a broomstick, but I am getting close.  I am trying to give Thunderfoot the benefit of the doubt, he just moved. Perhaps he is moving things around and getting settled.  Perhaps his feet are very rough prosthetics made out of solid lead.  Perhaps for recreation he enjoys stomping around on empty coffee cans with strings in them like I did in 3rd grade gym class. Note: It was rural Ohio.  Levies did not pass, and if they did, there still was not that much money.  Yes, our gym class activity was, in fact, stomping around in a circle for 40 minutes on old coffee cans that had strings that served as rudimentary handles to keep the can on your foot. No, this was not 1955, it was 1991. Welcome to the Heartland.

Digression aside, all I know is that my patience is running thin and Thunderfoot better correct his step soon before I start taking the broomstick to the ceiling.  Because I am damned tired of seeing my water glass shake with every step he takes and having a heart attack expecting to see some Jurassic Park bullshit going on behind my shoulder. Unless you are a Tyrannosaurus Rex, Thunderfoot, soften that step up IMMEDIATELY!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Jesus, Take the Red Line

He may be able to walk on water, but even the Son of God cannot avoid the frustration of traveling on the CTA.

Cari's Hard & Fast Rule of Life #17

When driving in one's vehicle and Lynyrd Skynyrd's iconic tune Free Bird comes on, one must turn the radio to full volume and rock out.  Singing at the top of one's lungs is required, as well as  doing a bitchin' air guitar solo, especially if it is the full-version and not the condensed radio edit. It shall be mandated that one shall also lower the windows if the weather permits and exceed the speed limit by a minimum of 15 miles per hour.  One must ignore any taunts, looks or reactions from passing motorists as it is FREE BIRD!

Failure to follow this Hard & Fast Rule of Life shall result in a punishment of a lecture from Cari on learning how to lighten up and live in the moment.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dear Future Cari,

Dear Future Cari,

Consider changing your password to something you have to write down to remember, then hide it somewhere that Current Cari will not think of.  Perhaps this will prevent you from blogging while tipsy, because You, Ma'am, are no Ernest Hemingway.

XOXO
Your friend,
Current Cari

P.S. And after you hide your password, why don't you hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husband too!

P.P.S. Run and tell that! Homeboy!

Dear Sir in my parking lot

Dear Sir Peeing in the Parking Lot Directly outside my Balcony,

Are you aware that it is 11 a.m. on a Wednesday morning?  Are you aware that you are in the parking lot of a dentist office and not on the blue line?

Next time, I suggest you try the alley that is 30 feet to your right.  And perhaps lay off the 40 of Cobra before noon in the middle of the week.  While I am not opposed to your daytime indulgence, perhaps cutting back would have saved you the 45 minutes it took you to find your way out of the parking lot you meandered into.

XOXO
Your Friend,
Cari

Dear Sir at the 7-11

Dear Sir working the night shift at my neighborhood 7-11,

For shame on you sir, for shame.  Tonight I stop by your oasis in the storm to indulge in my beloved Nacho Bowl after enjoying one or two too many nips of the potion.  I was full of anticipation and excitement because my nacho bowl comforts me when I come home and tends to me through out the night, ensuring I awake free of the headache and discomfort that comes with one too many swigs of the hooch.

Tonight, my hopes and dreams were dashed.  Would it really be too much to ask that the heavenly, liquid orange mass that comes out with a press of the button be served hot?  Or at least luke warm?  Imagine my disappointment when I arrived home, opened up my bounty expecting a hot container bursting with convenience store fiesta goodness and felt a cold container.  Cold? Really?  Sure, I could go ahead and microwave it, but microwaving does not work in the same manner as the hot cheese from your dispenser. The dispenser cheese's heat helps makes the nacho bowl chips soggy with cheesey goodness, allowing me to eat them with a fork, rather than my hands.  Tonight, however, I was able to hold up every chip without it falling limp, victim to cheese and transfatty oils.

Shame on you, Sir.

XOXO
Your friend,
Cari

P.S. Your chips were stale too.

P.P.S. As much as I love your traditional flavor, would it kill you to come out with a "Baseball Game Nacho Cheese" flavor for these summer months? A girl likes a little variety.

P.P.P.S- Your frozen coke Slurpee was, in fact, too syrupy. As an industry professional as well as a Black Belt in Frozen Coke Kwan Do, I can tell the right syrup consistency to ice ratio from 60 feet away with one eye shut.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Late Night Red Line-She's Bringing Sexy Back

If you are ever in the Chicago area, on a tight budget and in need of some entertainment, then hop on the CTA Red line. It never leaves one disappointed.  I suspect that it is the best of the lines due to the fact that it runs from the northern edge of Chicago down through the loop to the south side.  As anyone who resides in the Windy City knows, there's a wide range of demographics and individuals who fall into the North side/Loopers/South Side geographic range.  The character base is heightened to even more interesting levels due to the fact that it is a 24-hour line, meaning that those who are residentially challenged, out for late night binges, feeling the need to preach about Jesus at 3 a.m., or beg for money to feed their pregnant wives who are chugging mountain dew and eating Hostess snack goods can cruise the red line at any time of day.  It's a colorful cast of characters, that's for sure.  Due to the late hours that come with my profession, I frequently encounter these individuals on my commute home.

It should be noted that the Blue line is also a 24-hour line as it provides services to O'hare Airport- where optimistic hopes of flying with ease go to die.  However, I will not be writing of the blue line as 1. I do not live off of it and 2. I once saw a pile of feces under  a seat on one of the rare occasions I rode the blue line.  Having to be 6 feet away from a fresh pile of human poop of unknown origins is enough to make me deal with the buses or eat ramen noodles so I can afford a cab.  Really, who shits on the L?

Anyway, the other day I was going into work and saw a fashion choice that rendered me completely speechless. Note: this was not late night at all, but rather 4 in the afternoon. I'm just calling it late night red line for consistency's sake.  Plus, Mid-afternoon Red Line just does not have any punch. Back to things, I am on the train, bebopping to some Gaga on my headphones and reading Breakfast of Champions (the book, not a box of Wheaties. Despite my fat girl status, I can handle a 20 minute commute in without shoveling food into my face. Most days.) and I notice a woman out of the corner of my eye.  I don't use headphones and keep a strong sense of situational awareness on my late night rides, but in the mid afternoon, I relax and enjoy the time to space out on my book.  I try not to look her way as I have found it best to avoid eye contact of any sorts on the train lest risk someone begging for loose change/job/crack/your soul, but something was amiss. So I finally glance up and am momentarily stunned by what my eyes meet.  Seated adjacent to me was a very "plump" woman wearing a teddy.

Actually, it was more like a baby doll teddy, but it was still a flipping teddy! As in a piece of lingerie best used in the privacy of one's own home. A teddy, as in blue satin-black lace trim on the bust and bottom-peek a boo cut outs on the side-OH MY GOD DID I JUST SEE YOUR SNATCH?!?- teddy! What. The. F***!

I tried to avert my eyes, mostly because I knew my face was completely revealing my shock/awe/embarrassment. I pulled my Vonnegut closer to my face and kept sneaking glances to the side. Her demeanor was what surprised me.  She sat quietly, pocket book on her lap (Thankfully, because I was not in the mood to get a crotch shot), seemingly unaware of the fact she was wearing a negligee or that it was garnering a number of responses from those around her.  In different attire, she could have been going to work just like I was.  Or perhaps she was going to work, and just does not feel the need to be discreet about it.

I truly wanted to applaud her confidence in herself to wear what she wants, because as a fellow larger framed lady, I know it can be daunting to show off a little skin.  So kudos to her for saying to hell with what society and/or decency laws might dictate about what is appropriate attire. 

Next time, however, I hope she remembers to wear the skivvies that typically come with lingerie, because I am adding vagina to the list with human poop of things I never want to see on an L car.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Guess Who's Back? Back Again?

Cari's back. Tell a friend.

Okay, I mean it this time.  I am getting back to blogging.  The Follies are going to undergo a bit of an overhaul.  Rather than just write strictly about my adventures with weight loss and trying to live  a healthier life, I am just making this a blog that has to do with all aspects of my life. 

My absence from the blogosphere has garnered a few complaints from all five of my loyal readers, but I have legit reasons.  I am going through a period of transition in my life, and I tend to shut down when transitioning.  The primary reasons that I did not update Follies was because there were no follies to write of.  I have not: sang aloud to Aerosmith on an elliptical machine, had my dog randomly hump another person's dog that was in heat, knocked myself out cold while following along to Billy Blanks, fallen down the stairs doing the Sprinkler celebrating a weight loss milestone, or tried to grow a tapeworm in my GI tract. I've successfully kept more than 50 pounds off for almost two years now and have reached a plateau.  Quite frankly, if I do not have anything worth writing, than I would just prefer not to blog.

However, those who stalk me on facebook frequently point out that I do have some musings that could be basis for a post.  My encounters with the "Residentially Challenged" of Chicago, experiences on the late night Red Line, my general rules for life, and just the things that only seem to happen to Cari. So, as I sally forth on a new chapter in my life, I decided I would start to share my experiences again.

Welcome back to the Follies of a Fat Girl.