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...