How To Pretend You Fit In At A Music Festival

Thursday, July 30, 2015

This weekend is Lollapalooza. And so I will be forced with the task of playing my greatest character yet, and that is a girl who enjoys Lollapalooza...

Jk (Chris!) I do like a good concert festival, you know for like an hour or two. And then after that hour or two my mind starts to wonder. Mostly about my dog. I wonder what he's doing. If he's on the couch. Or sleeping. Or sleeping on the couch. And then I think about how much I'd like to be hanging out on the couch with my dog. Away from 90,000 teenagers on drugs with butt cheeks hanging out of their shorts because I'm a pervert and when I see butt cheeks I have to stare. I'm aware I have my own butt cheeks, but for some reason when I see stranger butt cheeks I have to look. I can't help it.

But let's get on with today's post.

When entering the concert do not point out people you can tell are visibly sneaking in alcohol. This is frowned upon. The same goes for mysterious little baggies peaking out of their pockets. Simply mind your own business and move on.

Once inside don't complain that there's too many people there, or too many teenagers for that matter. In fact, don't complain at all. Concert go-ers don't like complainers. They're there to have a good time. You should do the same.

Try to wear something cool and hip. I suggest you go to Urban Outfitters and pick out two things from the .99 cent bin, with your eyes closed. At a concert the worse your outfit looks, the cooler you are.

Just look at Chris's outfit for example. This guy gives zero f*#ks at a festival. Especially at Lolla because it always falls on his birthday.

If someone says, "which bands are you going to see today?" and you're not sure how to answer because you don't actually know the names of any bands, simply respond with an adjective followed by the name of your childhood dog. For example,

"Plastic Daisy."

Nobody will question you, especially if you finish the sentence with, "He's a new DJ, kind of underground still, you know."

Not only will they believe you, you're also now cooler than them because you know of a DJ they don't.

Whichever band is most popular for the day, DO NOT GO TO THEM. It's way too mainstream. Instead spend your time listening to the man playing a flute under the tree for an extra hour. He's the real reason you paid $175 for a ticket.

If for some reason you get lost and end up on your own feeling awkward, don't panic. Simply start waving your hands in the air and twirling in slow circles while your eyes are closed. Nobody will bat an eye at this behavior and you will fit right in.

If you smell marijuana do not shout "I smell marijuana!" Simply smell it and move on. There is probably someone with a medical condition near by.

In fact, let's go over an entire list of things you shouldn't say:

Can I sit down?
Why is this music so loud?
Do you think that kid is on drugs?
My ears are going to be ringing for a week.
How much longer do we have to stay?
I'm sorry, but I don't think this is music. It's just weird computer noises put together.
Did you ever see NSYNC live? Now that was a good concert.
Oh great, an encore? Ughhh.
Where are all of these kids parents?
Do you think that girl knows she's covered in mud?
Do you like Jimmy Buffet?
There is no way that kid is 21.
I wonder if they make sound proof ear muffs for adults.
Did you know Miley Cyrus does Molly?
I'm actually a little sleepy at the moment.
They let people smoke in here? Gross!
Oh no, my shoe got a spot of dirt on it.
I can't see anything! Sir, will you please duck down?
I wish Harlow was here right now.

Now go enjoy Lolla you crazy kids! I'll be the grandma in the back sitting in my bag chair reading a Nicholas Sparks novel.

The Perfect Summer Drink

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's 5 p.m., it's still 85 degrees outside, and it doesn't seem like it's going to cool off anytime soon. What do you do?

Grab a drink and embrace the heat. At least that's what I do. After all, it's only going to be a few months before it's coat season already. Now that's a scary thought... So let's stay with the good thoughts. The summer thoughts.

I've partnered with Alize Passion to share a delicious new summer drink with all of you.

It's super simple to make and it's the perfect combination of fruity citrus flavors for a light drink on a hot steamy night.

Simply put together:

1 ½ oz AlizĂ© Red Passion
1 oz. Gin
¾ oz Lime Juice
¾ oz Simple Syrup
Sparkling Wine
Pineapple garnish (or whatever fruit you can find in your fridge.)
See more recipes here.

Combine, pour over ice and enjoy!

It's always fun to try new summer cocktails and Alize has three different flavors, Gold Passion, Red Passion and Bleu Passion, to give you an abundance of cocktail choices.

This weekend is Lollapalooza in Chicago and I will be sipping on all three while we "pre-game" before the concerts to get me in the summer festival mood.

Stay cool, everyone! Today is a scorcher.

This post was sponsored on behalf of Alizé Passion via One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own.

*Comments have been turned off, head to an outdoor patio and relax!

My Relationship With Comedy

My timehop app reminded me that a year ago today our show, The Sneak Around Bunch, was premiering at The Second City.

For eight weeks we had a run on the ETC stage and we performed a newish show every Monday, trying out new material and polishing the old stuff. Even while it was happening I knew it was one of those times I would look back on with a smile on my face and think man, that was really cool. And I was right. I will always remember those eight weeks as a really great time in my life.

It's fun to be a with a group of like minded performers and artists, all fresh faced and full of optimism at the start of such an unknown career.

We'd joke about the famous Second City members who had come before us, their names scribbled on the wall, leaving behind terrible yet hilarious advice. "One of us has to make it. And this is where it all starts," we said one night before a show (or maybe every night before a show.) And I remember looking around and knowing it was true. Although our version of "making it" would be different for everyone.

Here I am backstage with Aidy Bryant's face on my face. Not creepy at all.

In one year since our run has been over I've seen my cast mates perform in solo shows, houseco shows, real Chicago theater productions, and jump on cruise ships to perform all over the world. It's pretty cool to say the least.

And I... well I'm still walking around with Aidy Bryant's face on my face. Jk jk. But in all honestly I have had a bit of a rocky relationship with comedy in the last year. But what comedian hasn't? That's what this world is all about. No one gets into comedy because they're stable.

I stepped away from improv because I needed a breather. And then I went to New York for a standup comedy festival and saw what my future could be and it made me question everything. Did I want to spend the next 10 + years hitting different clubs every single night? Because that's what they say; it takes every good comedian at least ten years. And that's if you're good. Then what? You go on tour and perform in random clubs and colleges staying night after night in a different hotel. Did I really want that life?

Honestly? No. Not one bit. I need my Harlow, Chris, and couch at least 3-4 times per week.

So I wanted to be done with it. What's the point of pursuing something you don't want to go after?

But I was hosting an open mic every week so I couldn't just walk away. I still had to write new material and get up on stage and interact with an audience. So I kept at it, just a little bit, but I was doing something.

And as it turns out, I needed that. I took a few weeks off around Christmas last year and I missed it. I missed the thrill of telling a new joke that hits. I missed being on stage. I missed the audience. I missed comedy.

So almost one year since my brief run at Second City I've found a good place with it all. It's a hobby to me now. I'm not actively pursuing it like I was a year ago, but I'm not ready to just let it go either. However that being said, I am actively pursuing about 100 other things in the comedy realm, but they're off the stage, more on pad and paper. For now...

And I also cracked and sent in a submission clip for the New York fest again. It's a long shot that I'll get in, but I couldn't help myself. New York in October is too much fun. And now to end with a photo of me with bangs and my stupid stage face.

Life is short, sometimes you just have to do what makes you happy and not care so much about where it leads. Even if that means wearing a shirt with jeweled cut-outs on the shoulders.

The Minnesota Dentist

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

To Whom It May Concern:

I'd like to apply for a hunting license and I'm not sure how to do it.

I have one specific game in mind and I'm willing to pay whatever it takes to obtain the right license. (I think I could crowd source this pretty easily.) I'm a good-intentioned hunter, so I'd like to do it legally of course.

The particular game I'm after is a "Generic Minnesota Dentist Who Likes To Pay Top Dollar To Kill Exotic Animals To Make Him Feel Like He's A Big Man And Can Take Whatever The Hell He Wants In This Life Because He Is A Garbage Person."

Have you heard of this breed?

I know he has young ones, so I'm not going to hurt him that bad. I'm not that big of a monster! I ran over a squirrel once and it still haunts me. I would just like to shoot him a few times with a bow and arrow. Maybe in the knee caps or something? He may feel some pain, but that's what happens in "sport." I know, I know, I'm sounding kind of cruel, but I'm just dying to get a great selfie next to him to hang up in my big game room.

My plan is to lure him out during the middle of night and then attack him when he least he expects it. I'll probably have a crew of people with me, so really he has no chance to fight back, but we'll be humane about it.

Like I said, I'll have a permit!

I'm not doing this because I'm a bad person. It's all for sport. It keeps me active, what can I say! I do this because I appreciate the breed. Minnesota dentists are so majestic I can't help myself.

And it's for Cecil.

Cecil the 13 year-old-lion who was known for being incredibly pleasant around people in Zimbabwe. Who attracted tourists from all over trying to catch a glimpse of such a beautiful and kind natured animal. Who had six cubs, all of which are basically guaranteed to die now.

Cecil the lion who minded his own business, in a "safe park" until he was lured away with bait one evening by the breed of a Minnesota Dentist. See what Cecil didn't realize is that he had a $55,000 price tag on his head.

That price tag almost makes me laugh in a sad demonic way when I foolishly feel proud of my efforts for donating $2,000 to help animals via the shirts I sell. $2000 is nothing compared to $55,000.

We live in a world where humans and animals alike are struggling to survive on a daily basis and yet we have Minnesota Dentists who spend hundreds of thousands to kill innocent creatures so they can take a selfie and hang a detached head in their man cave.

I just don't get it.

Some people say the internet is going "way too crazy" on said Minnesota man. He didn't know he was killing beloved Cecil after all! He meant to kill a different lion! A lion that wouldn't get him in so much trouble, just like all of the other animals he's killed over the years. C'mon, guys.

But we all know how the internet works, in about two days everyone will have moved on to something else. Which is interesting, because that's almost the exact amount of time Cecil suffered for. He was shot with a bow and arrow and managed to cling to life for forty more hours until the hunters found him and beheaded him. And then took a selfie of course.

So in two days everyone might be over this. But Cecil will still be dead.

All that being said, maybe we shouldn't be so hard on the Minnesota Dentist. He's killed exotic animals before and was never in this much shit for it. He's just doing what he loves.

(Photo above isn't Cecil, just another conquest is all.)

Questions About My Blog

Every week I get the same emails regarding questions my blog. Or questions about starting a blog, or making money on a blog, or working with advertisers, etc. So today I'm going to answer some of those questions, maybe it will help someone, or maybe it won't. I don't know, tell me what you want from me. TELL ME.

Enough chit chat, let's dive in.

Should I Start A Blog?

No, start an Instagram account. Especially if you don't like to write and are simply starting a blog for financial reasons/you want free stuff (no judgement, free stuff is awesome.) In this day and age Instagram has opened the gates for any Tom, Dick and Jenny to hit the ground the running. Do ten "loop giveaways" every day, spend hours liking random photos, and badda bing badda boom, you'll have 20k followers in no time and companies will be reaching out to you like crazy.

But if you like to write and actually want to stick around for a while, then yes, start a blog. Understand that all good things take time. Rome wasn't built on loop giveaways.

I want to have my own blog. How do I start?

Did you not read what I just said above? But if you insist... Here's my advice on how to start a blog, you just do. Stop over thinking it and jump it. It's going to be messy and awkward in the start, but feel it out and you'll find your niche.

Check out this post for more advice on what I wish I had known when I first started blogging.

How do I grow my blog?

There's two ways. You work at it, or you pay for it. I suggest a little of both.

When I say pay for it I mean buy ad spots on other blogs. I did this a lot when I first decided I wanted to get a bigger blog audience. I was on sidebars and doing guest posts at least once a week.

And when I say work at it I mean write good posts that people will share. Simple as that, yet so damn hard sometimes.

Talk to people who know what's going on and have been around the game for awhile. I suggest a blog sit-down/consultation with this girl. She understands the game of blogging better than anyone.

Also check out this post: 27 Quick Ways To Increase Blog Traffic.

How do I make money on blogging?

You work with networks who pay you to blog about their products. My favorite right now is IZEA. I also work with Blogher, but to be completely honest I haven't been loving that network as much lately. I also occasionally partner with One2One and Collectively.

Making money is tricky. I think there's a balance you have to find between writing posts you're getting paid to write and writing your own content. We've all seen bloggers fall down the sponsor hole where suddenly their entire blog is commercial content. What can you do though, mo money mo probs...

*I think I have some sponsor posts coming up shortly...But I promise you'll love ALL of them. 

And now for the other random emails I always get:

GREAT BLOG! We'd love for you to feature (enter any site/product name) on your blog and in exchange we'll share your post with all of our followers! Can't wait to see what you come up with!

Dear generic person reaching out,

Do you know how long it's taken me to get said followers? SIX YEARS. Six years of writing posts. Of editing photos. Of staring at my computer screen day after day hoping and praying the words will show up one more time. It's taken me six years to Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, Pin, you name it, I've done it. And it's taken time. So much time.

So no, I am not going to feature your product. And yes, I understand I might sound like an asshole. But I think you're an asshole for undervaluing my site and my time.

Dear Sir or Madame, my husband is in prison and I need to wire you $100,000. Can we please discuss further opportunities? 

I'm listening...

And we'll wrap it up there. Was all of this blog talk helpful, or extremely boring? Did I leave anything out you want to know?

I've always secretly wanted to do one of those "ask me anything" posts but I've been hesitant for two reasons. 1. I'm scared no one will have anything to ask me. And 2. I don't know how to set up a survey.

K, thanks bye.

Murphy's Law

Monday, July 27, 2015

Murphy's law states that if something can go wrong, it will.

As of late, Chris has "jokingly" started calling me Murph. If there's a curb, I will trip on it. If there's a pitcher of water, I will spill it. And if I'm opening a small packet of ketchup I will manage to bust it open in a way that shoots the ketchup straight up onto my forehead and all over my face.

Let me go back a bit and explain.

Last weekend I bought Chris and I tickets to watch the Cubs game from a nearby rooftop. I surprised him with the purchase, very proud of myself for setting up such a fun Saturday. All you can eat and drink while watching a little baseball, what could be better?

For starters it might help if you could actually see the game. When I purchased the tickets I didn't realize I got the rooftop right behind the new big screen. Thanks, Groupon.

The first thing Chris asked when I told him about the game was, "I hope you didn't buy the one right behind the new screen."

Naturally I snapped back, "Of course I didn't! Give me more credit."

Classic, Murphy.

There was another floor where the game was actually visible, but we didn't get there in time to get seats on that floor. No, that floor was full of very tan people, in little-to-no clothing, who all appeared to have hit the gym in the morning, then the club, and then made it to the game an hour before every else. It was also the floor where the food was.

It was the third inning and I was on the food floor double fisting hotdogs in my jean overalls with the rest of the children when I approached the condiment table. The small ketchup packet was being particularly stubborn so I squeezed extra hard and suddenly the entire thing burst open, shooting the dollop of ketchup straight onto my face and under the bill of my hat. It was the kind of accident that you'd see in a movie and say, now how in the hell did the ketchup land there?

My face looked like a massacre. There was ketchup splattered on my eyelids and all over my eyebrows.

I searched the crowd trying to find someone to laugh with, but all I could see were pretty people in muscle tees and lace crop tops staring at the girl dressed like a toddler with food all over her face thinking, "Oh, I think she's here all alone. Maybe it's her special day or something..." The worst part was that they weren't even judging me, they were pitying me.

So I grabbed some napkins, and of course my hot dogs, and ran down to Chris. By the time I got to him I had taken off my hat and was trying to clean it off and he just looked at me and said,

"Why do you have ketchup in your hairline?"

"Because it exploded on me."

He shook his head knowing all too well I'd probably made a scene upstairs, "You better go to the bathroom and get yourself together."

And so I did. I went to the bathroom and cleaned ketchup out of my hair because that's the type of shit I have to do.

We left around the sixth inning. And because I felt like the food had been bad and we could barely see the game I grabbed a few bags of chips to take on the road.

I thought I was in the clear until I came barreling down the stairs, hands full of miniature sized Doritos, when I nearly ran into one of the tan pretty girls from the top floor. As I stumbled into her she just looked at me and gave me a sympathetic smile and I imagined her thinking, "Good for you ketchup, girl. Make this day great!"

I don't usually steal Doritos. I'm not that person. But I'd had a rough day so I thought it was okay...

Shortly after the Doritos heist I dropped my phone on the cement and this happened.

You're probably not going to believe me, but this is my 17th phone I've cracked. I'm not even lying. The people at the Fix-It store know me by name.

So if you received the "tipsy" snapchats on Saturday now you know why. It wasn't me, it was Murphy. Murphy does what Murphy wants.

Even Chris admits my Murphiness has been out of control lately. I still blame it on the concussion from the backflip incident on the trolley a few months ago... My hand-eye coordination isn't quite back to normal yet.

All things aside it was another great Chicago weekend. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches, you know?

The Mid Summer Panic

Friday, July 24, 2015

It happens to me every year at this time.

That first night I hear the song of the cicada bugs hissing in the trees just as the summer sun starts to set, panic sets in. Because everyone knows the cicada come around to warn us that summer is more than half way over. And I'm not ready. I never am. But more so this year than ever because summer just got to Chicago! Up until last weekend I've been in jeans every single day.

Where are all of those steamy mornings that lead into even steamier afternoons? And nights spent outside drinking beer on a patio under twinkle lights surrounded by friends where everyone is complaining about how warm it still is even at 11 p.m.? I'm yet to feel the sting of the summer heat.

And then I start to remember all of the ambition I had for myself back in May and I can't help but laugh. And also feel guilty like I always do when I never meet my own expectations.

I'm going to run every single morning!

Yoga by the lake at 6 a.m.!

Green smoothies for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

I'll shop at the farmers market every day, who cares if it's almost twice as expensive? It's FUN to pretend I'm a farmer's market kind of person.

And I'm going to write 100 books. 

The goals I make for myself are adorable.

That girl who lives inside my head must have no idea who lives outside of it. I am constantly disappointing her. But she means well.

Every time I step onto our little urban patio to write one of the thirty novels I'm working on I end up like this.

Magazine and wine. Or one of the ten books I'm currently reading. Can you tell I have trouble concentrating on one thing at a time?

So Cicada, while I love your song because you only come out during the dead of summer and you fill my ears with a gush of nostalgia; I think you're early this year. Chicago has at least two solid months left. At least. So try to be a little more quiet for the next few weeks, would you? Thanks.

The summer panic feeling is very real. Does anyone else suffer?

1 Year From Today

Thursday, July 23, 2015

And the countdown is on.

One year from today I'll be waking up in Steamboat, Colorado on my wedding day. As I sit here writing this I'm trying to envision what that will feel like and I can't help but get so excited.

Ideally, I'd like to start the day off with a Bloody Mary. Naturally.

Then gab a bit with my besties about how fun the rehearsal dinner was the night previous. I'm a big big fan of rehearsal dinners. I love the relaxed intimate moment of everyone getting together to celebrate the weekend that is about to unfold. And I also think the rehearsal dinner tends to get a little crazy. And knowing Chris's monster crew there's certain to be at least one guy who does something really stupid that we can all talk and laugh about the next day.

I know it's very girly of me, but I also love the part on wedding days when all of the girls sit around and get their hair and makeup done together. It reminds me of college when I lived with my best friends and we did that every night. I love that moment with the friends I only get to see about one or two times a year.

As for the hair and makeup, let's not talk about that right now. This is my daydream and I don't want to ruin it.

The getting ready part, putting on the dress, the last touches, it's all just fluff when I think that moment when I see my handsome groom for the first time. I'm not very traditional, so I prefer to be the one waiting with my back turned while Chris runs up to me all shy and full of giggles, then coyly taps my shoulder. And then I turn around and pick him up gushing how great he looks.

Sometimes I entertain myself far too much with the thoughts that go through my head. I just envisioned that scenario and I'll probably be getting a kick out of it all day.

But seriously. That whole "first reveal" is such a weirdly intimate moment to me for some reason; I'm not sure I want it photographed. It might make me super awkward and uncomfortable. Maybe that moment might be best if it just happens and the only two people who see it are the ones living it.

Talk to me next year at this time and I may have changed my mind...

The ceremony itself will be personal and pretty short. Harlow will be the ring bearer (obviously.) And then I'm hoping he'll sit like a little gentlemen next to Chris's groomsmen. What I hope for and what actually happens rarely seems to cross paths...

We're going to exchange our own vows. I've already written mine in my head 100 times over. I'm assuming I'll probably write Chris's too.

And that moment when we walk back down the aisle as husband and wife is probably the moment I am most excited about. I'm playing it in my head right now and I get a rush just thinking about it. That's the moment I want to live in for awhile.

And then it's time to let loose.

The reception. The champagne. The speeches. The band. The weird wedding dancing. These are my favorite things! I can't wait for this stuff. I get absolutely giddy when I think about being in a such a beautiful place surrounded by so many of our friends and family. It just doesn't get any better.

Only 365 days...

If there's anything I know about time, it's that it goes really fast.

So one year from today, it's wedding time. And also party time.

The Honeymoon

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Tomorrow is the day I have to get serious about wedding planning. I have to buck up and decide which shape of plate sets the correct "tone" of my wedding- round or square? Which set of twinkle lights will give off the right lighting to set the mood of the evening? And most importantly, what color of napkin should I choose? The napkins. So much importance in the napkins.

Until D-day (tomorrow) I'm not going to think about any of that stuff. Instead, I'm going to continue planning the one thing I have dreamed about since I was a little girl. The honeymoon.

I can't wait for the honeymoon.

I want to be that couple on the plane who have that post wedding-glow who can't stop chatting and giggling about how great their wedding was. Maybe I'll even be that girl who wears a shirt that says "wifey." I don't know. Weirder things have happened.

I want to check in at the resort and have the hotel person say, "Oh is this your honeymoon?" And then we respond all coy like, "Yes, yes it is!"

I want to relax on a white beach in my new honeymoon swimsuits that I will obviously buy because I'm certain I'll be in spectacular "bride shape."

And then I want to binge eat and drink every day to make sure I'm no longer in bride shape when I come home.

I want to make weird honeymoon friends that I take photos with and then ten years down the road will look at my honeymoon pics and be like, "who the hell are those people?" And then Chris will respond, "It's Tom and Susan! Don't you remember? We met them at the resort, they were from Buffalo. Good people. Tom sure loved his whiskey though."

And then I want to come home and have everything go back to normal. Just as it is now. Except we no longer have gross mismatching plates like a bunch of poor twenty year olds. Because now we're married and that means we have to eat dinner on plates that match.

Let's take a look at some of my top destinations.

1. The Maldives.

Would you just look at this place? I am dying to get here. The Maldives are a chain of islands in the middle of the Indian ocean and it looks absolutely heavenly. This is my first choice.

There is nothing I want to do more after my wedding than relax in a beautiful villa surrounded by crystal clear waters. I have looked at several amazing resorts and have my top five picked. When I settle on one, I'll make sure to let you know!

2. Greece.

Ever since I saw that movie about Blake Lively and that one Gilmore Girl wearing magic pants I've been itching to get here. And just for the record I own magic pants too, they're called leggings.

3. Portugal.

This is Chris's first choice right now. He surfed here once in college and I'm pretty sure it's become his "happy place" in his memory. I'm definitely not opposed.

4. Amalfi Coast.

Because it just looks dreamy. And what's not to love about Italy? I've only been once and I'm itching to get back to a country where wine at breakfast, lunch, and dinner is totally the norm.

5. Wisconsin Dells.

Had to throw a wild card in there just to make things interesting. An indoor water park where you can BYOB as well as BYOC (bring your own chicken wings) I've seen pics, people do it. Count me in! Plus, Harlow might be able to come along.

And now it's time to open it up to the table. Where did you honeymoon? Did you love it? Do you have any suggestions/dos or don'ts? Should I get a bikini that says "Wifed Up" or is that weird? Can I make Chris wear a speedo that says "TAKEN" across the butt or is that weird?

Honeymoon advice, give it to me! I want to know everything.

What Did You Do For Fun As A Kid?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I watched this clip the other day where people from three different generations were asked the simple question, "what did you do for fun as a kid?"

And then I asked myself. What did I do for fun as a kid? Honestly? Everything. Bikes. Scooters. Forts. Fishing. Running. Jumping. Swimming. I did every damn thing I could.

That is except play video games, they were never my thing. We had the games growing up (okay, I guess I had a very intense winter break in '97 where I got really into playing Aladdin and Super Mario Karts) but when it was summer I wanted to be outside. And I say this like it's a badge of honor now, which for some reason it feels that way.

I look at kids these days with their ipads (at the pool even!) and suddenly I become that grandpa telling them about when I was a child walking up hill both ways to school in the scorching heat of the summer during a terrible blizzard. It's just the way it was.

Aren't kids watching movies like the Sandlot or Now & Then anymore? It was films like those that inspired me to make the absolute most of summer every single year. My friends and I actually attached a radio to my lime green two-seater bicycle and rode it around town singing like we were Roberta and Teeny.

I figured you'd want a pic, so here you go. (Radio does not appear in this photo, but I assure you we had a trusty $5 Shopko thing that played music. Albeit terribly scratchy music, but sometimes we could tell what song it was. )

Kerri and I both had killer Dr. Martens on. No biggy. Also mom, please send me those green Docs ASAP. If I move to Wicker Park next summer those things will be a hit.

And after biking around town (usually to Dairy Queen to get Dilly Bars) we'd take a break to lay out in the backyard, either on my trampoline or on the roof of Kerri's playhouse. And when the sun started to go down and the night set in it was time for a neighborhood game of Kick the Can or Ditch Em.

And no, I didn't grow up in the 60s. I simply did everything I could to pretend like I did however.

Even once it got late when I had to be inside I still insisted on playing. Let's just say I was an active Barbie enthusiast until I was way too old. I remember one time my brother walked in on me secretly playing and shouted "Are you playing with Barbies???" And I quickly responded, "No! I'm practicing braiding their hair. I'm not playing. I'm learning how to do hair."

I was playing. And I was probably fourteen. That's too old, huh?

As I write this I remembered that once I "out grew" Barbies (and by out grow I mean I realized it was no longer socially acceptable for me to play with them) I did move on to one computer game for awhile. A game called Sims. But I only played that during the darkest hours of the night when no one was around to watch me torture my poor characters by trapping them in house fires and starving them to death... Jk! But really. That was my dark phase as a teenager.

Zabaducci!!! #rosebud (That's inside code for all of my other Sims nerds.)

Anyway, when I watch the clip mentioned above it's sad to me that children today get the most fun out of life via technology. They have their entire adulthood to stare at a computer screen. Why get started so young?

On the other hand, my nephew and niece (ages 4 and 2) know how to work an ipad better than I do.Who knows what other stuff kids will be able to do so young? But then I wonder what skills I had at their age that they don't? Building a tree house complete with a grass floor and bark wallpaper? Or how about making an entire pirate ship out of a tree that fell in our backyard one summer?

You know where those skills landed me? Improv classes... So.... So who am I to say technology is bad?

But still I wonder, is it possible to raise children in today's world that aren't addicted to ipads and video games? I'm honestly asking because I don't know.

The Annoying Kid At The Park

Monday, July 20, 2015

Do you guys remember that annoying kid from childhood who just didn't understand social norms for kids? He was obnoxious and annoying and upon first meeting people would proudly state something like "my parents say I'm precocious" like it was a good thing. He was usually an only child (just being honest here) and for some reason he just couldn't quite fit in with everyone else.

The "rules of playground" were lost on him. He tattled too often, didn't know when to stop talking, and hung around the adults way too much. And from what I remember of this kid, he always had the best toys he liked to show off, yet he never shared them. I'll just say it, he was a child asshole.

I always wondered what kind of parents raised kids like this. Until it dawned on me the other day at the dog park, I was one of them.

We go to the dog park almost every single day, but the only dog Harlow chases and plays with is me, and his best friend "Stick."

He is an outsider. He's that annoying kid the others don't want to be around. It's a hard truth to face, but there was no denying it the other day when we got to the park and the pack of "cool dogs" (Hank the Huskey, Emma the lab and Rex the Pit) were all running hot laps and Harlow tried to join in for a second and they immediately stopped in their tracks and looked at him like, "you serious, bro?"

And then when they picked up stride again he just proceeded to follow them barking at the top of his lungs. But he wasn't barking like a dog, it was more like a toddler screaming "hey! wait for me! hey! wait up." The bark wasn't aimed at the dogs, he was barking at the humans like the tattletale he is. It was painfully obvious. I call it his "left out bark."

The worst part is the cool dogs (they're regulars so that's why I know their names) occasionally let a Weiner dog named Larry run in their pack, and yet they don't let Harlow. That's a hard one to stomach, for both of us. No offense to Weiners or anything...

But the thing is Harlow has earned this title of being an outsider. He's a notorious toy stealer, but only when someone else wants the toy. But God forbid anyone borrow a toy Harlow's brought (we stopped bringing toys years ago because of this.) And the worst part is he's a humper. When he gets a crush we have to leave immediately because Harlow doesn't understand that NO means NO. He's very persistent and does not respect the bitches. Or the male dogs. And nobody likes an unwanted hump.

But the weirdest part is that Harlow doesn't actually know how to hump. He basically just stands next to a dog, lays his head on their back, and starts moving his hips in the air like he's at his first middle school dance. After the dog runs away he's typically still there just "dancing" by himself. Like I said, he's earned his title.

But for the most part, Harlow's the dog hanging out with the humans. While all of the other dogs are rolling in dirt or eating grass Harlow is usually standing in the middle of a group of people (getting a butt scratch of course) all while charming the group with a new joke he heard or saying something cute like "my parents say I'm precocious."

I don't know where I went wrong. Did I coddle him too much as a child... I wonder as he's currently sitting on my lap while I write this post... wrapped in a blanket. Does anyone else's dog act like this?

I'm going to reflect on this today. But right now Harlow is slapping my arm reminding me it's time for his warm breakfast. I don't want to keep him waiting.

Your Best Friends Break Up- How Do You Choose Sides?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Just recently two people I  consider to be very close friends made the painful decision to get a divorce. It's really sad for me because I had no idea they were even having problems. It was one of those situations where to the outsider looking in, they seemed almost perfect. But I guess no one really knows what's going on inside of a marriage except the two people that are in it.

The really difficult part is that I feel like I'm close with both the husband and the wife. I think of all three of us as best friends. So it seems like I have to choose. Which best friend do I pick?

Of course I'm going to support both people. But when it comes to moving forward and staying close friends, I feel like there's only one side I can truly be on.

The husband or the wife?

Ben? Or Jen?

A similar thing happened years ago when two other people I considered to be very close friends got divorced and I made the wrong choice and I'll never forgive myself for it. Nick, if you're reading this I'm still sorry. I had no idea. I thought Jessica was funny and silly, I had no idea how wrong I was. Please forgive me.

Anyway, I guess my only choice is to break it down between Ben and Jen to see who it is I really owe my loyalty.

I feel like Jen and I first became close in 13 Going On 30. This outfit, the hair, the Thriller dance. It was all very me.

Of course I knew her in Pearl Harbor and Catch Me If You Can, but neither of those movies made us bond like we did while hating Tom Tom together in the early 80s.

But then we have this.

Ben in Armageddon. That really did it for me back in the 90s. I mean solidified our friendship of course.

He was cute in Good Will Hunting, but we weren't close-close until Armageddon when I saw him play with Animal Crackers.

Then Jen and I were in a weird place during her filming of Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. It just didn't seem like a role for her. I tried to reach out and tell her this but she didn't get back to me.

But if I'm going to be fair here, Ben and I almost completely ended our friendship when he was in Gigli, Paycheck and Jersey Girl. I think he was on a bender during this time or something.

Jen won me back when she was in Juno. She just played her role so honestly and reminded me of why we're besties.

And for Ben it was The Town. I love when he gets back to his Boston roots. Reminds me of why I liked him in the first place.

Jen is a great mother. Ben is a great father. Ben is hot. Jen is intelligent and hard working. Ben is hot. Jen is classic and beautiful. Ben is hot. Hot. Ben's hot. Hot. So hot. Butt-chin hot.

Even though my gut tells me Jen might be a better person...

I'm shallow and I choose Ben.

Ben. Ben. Ben.

Who am I kidding? He won me over as O'Bannion almost twenty years ago.

Who do you choose? Ben or Jen?

Caitlyn Jenner's Speech On Acceptance

Thursday, July 16, 2015

In December of last year I read an article about a teenage girl who committed suicide by stepping in front a semi truck. Her name was Leelah and she was transgender.

She left a suicide note on her tumblr account, which was published a few hours after her death. Here's part of that note,

"When I was 14, I learned what transgender meant and cried of happiness. After 10 years of confusion I finally understood who I was, I immediately told my mom and she reacted extremely negatively, telling me that is was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong."

Remember what it was like to be a teen when almost everything felt awful and out of place anyway? Everyone was always judging each other and you never wanted to say or do the wrong thing that might make you feel stupid or look like you don't belong.

Imagine those feelings multiplied times a hundred. Imagine feeling out of place in your own body. From that very first second you wake up in the morning, until the moment you go to bed, you're walking around in a body that doesn't feel like it belongs to you.

I almost get claustrophobic just thinking about how terrible that would be. How isolating and scary it must feel. And then when you finally get the courage to tell someone they confirm your biggest fears. That you're wrong. Sick. Mentally ill.

I will never know what it's like to feel trapped in a body that doesn't feel like it's my own. But 700,000 other people do know what it feels like- it's impossible to know the exact number of transpeople in the world, but that is the number most commonly cited.

I've watched Caitlyn Jenner's ESPY speech from last night as she accepted the Arthur Ashe Courage Award a few times now. It's an award given to someone every year "who's contributions transcend sports,"-that last part was taken directly from wiki because I wanted to see exactly how the award is defined.

I think a lot of other people could have won this award as well. There are courageous men and women everywhere, fighting their own fight, and the fight for others, in all walks of life. But last night Jenner was the recipient. And really this award isn't about competing with those other people. If you listened to Jenner's speech it wasn't about her being better or more deserving than anyone else. In fact, it was hardly about Jenner at all.

She took the moment as a platform to speak on behalf of the 700,000 other people who don't have the voice Jenner does. Or the support, the spotlight, or the courage- not just yet.

"With attention comes responsibility," Jenner said. And right now she's taken it as her responsibility to speak up for the transcommunity. For the men and women who are being murdered because of their gender, for the kids who don't understand why they're different from everyone else, and for the teenagers who think death is their only way out.

"If you want to call me names, make jokes and doubt my intentions, go ahead because the reality is I can take it," Jenner said. And the people will. They already have been calling her names and they probably will continue to for awhile. We live in a society where we don't accept what we can't understand.

If Caitlyn Jenner is "mentally ill" as I've heard a lot of people claim, perhaps it's time we rethink our urge to constantly use that label as well. Jenner seems to have a better head on her shoulders and clearer picture on life and the direction she'd like to see this world go in than most of us could ever hope to have.

And finally, if this is all just a big media scam, a ploy to get more attention, I can't say that really bothers me either. Because if Jenner's speech saves even just one more teenager from jumping in front of a semi truck, to me that seems pretty worth the media attention.

The Questions I Ask Myself

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

 Dear Self,

Why do you willingly do things that make life harder than is has to be?

This can include but is not limited to:

-unloading the dishwasher through out the entire day rather than all at once
-not buying stamps when you know you need them
-taking 4 days to fold one load of laundry
-glaring at the dirty stove rather than just cleaning the damn thing
-not responding to emails, but instead reading Facebook comments that have nothing to do with you
-thinking about everything you have to do rather than just doing it
-sleeping past your alarm, at this point why are you even setting it?

Sleeping too late in the morning throws off your entire day. We have the same pep talk every single night. It's starting to get old. Get up by 7:00 (like normal adults do) go for a quick run/walk with Harlow and attack the workday by 8:00 a.m. It's really not hard. You did it when your were sixteen when you had to be at school by 6:45 a.m. some days... Don't let teenager you be better.

On another note, enough with the torture reading. Your Facebook newsfeed is now 95% animal shelters. Why? What happened to the good old days of creeping on actual people that you thought were ridiculous? Remember those days? They made you cry a lot less. We both know it doesn't help anybody when you read 20+ articles a day about animals being abused or animals needing help in shelters. It sends you into that damn hate cycle which takes away time from doing things that actually help. Less sulking, more doing.

Dear Self,

What is most important to your right now? Right now in this very moment? Then focus on that. Your attention span is less than ideal lately and you're only hurting yourself. Pretty sure you've started ten different to-do lists since Monday and haven't been able to finish one before you get distracted and already move on to something else. And I mean finish writing the list, never mind actually doing what's on the list.

Do your social media work, t-shirt packing, fiction writing, blog posts and move on. A ten year old would kill to have your schedule.

And speaking of blogging, you've had the privilege of working with a lot of great bloggers, so why dwell on the one girl who wasn't so great? So what if she took a shirt and then never posted about it like she said she would? MOVE ON. It's just one damn shirt. It's the principle, I know. She makes bloggers in general look bad, I get it. But you're being petty. Hopefully this one little passive aggressive message right here will make you feel better. Does it? Okay, good. Now go get an ice cream cone and get over it, little girl.

Also, perhaps it's time you seek a part time job outside of the house where you can work around actual people... I mean I've just written this entire post in third person? Or is it fourth? Or what in the hell is it? I'm not sure. People might start to worry. Your social skills are going down hill once again.

And one last thing self, get over the fact Ben and Jen broke up. It's done, stop dwelling. They've moved on now you need to, as well.

But I can'ttttttttttttttttttt.

The Children of Lincoln Park

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I've made the decision that when I grow up I'd like to be a Lincoln Park child.

Lincoln Park is a neighborhood about two miles from downtown, give or take. The homes are immaculate, the yards are beautiful, and almost every child has their own nanny. The only thing older than the brownstones in this area is the money that lives in them.

Lincoln Park is the only neighborhood I've lived in since I moved to Chicago. I've tried to move to Wicker Park or Logan Square a few times when I start pretending I'm super cool and hip, but it's never worked out. Because I am not super cool or hip. Lincoln Park just fits my old stuffy soul.

The only thing better than growing old in this beautiful neighborhood would be being born into it.
I decided this the other day while I was sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by a table of well dressed pre-teens. It was a warm Thursday afternoon, the sun was shining, and these four young girls were having book club. They were discussing, in great detail I might add, Jane Eyre.

Do you know what I was doing on a warm afternoon in the summer when I was their age? I was either covering my trampoline with shampoo and water, then sliding back and forth as fast as possible, often times getting my head stuck in the springs and enjoying every second of it.

Or I was sitting on a sprinkler. Literally sitting on it just for the hell of it. I enjoyed the rush of water, what can I say. To answer your question, no, I wasn't the sharpest child. I also used to enjoy putting tape over my mouth and spinning around in circles as fast as I could until I fell over.

So I couldn't help but be totally enamored with these intelligent young girls. I stopped what I was working on and just observed.

They all wore hip glasses and skinny jeans. One of the girls was wearing a Bulls jersey, but it was like a fashion statement and not in the way I used to wear jerseys as a kid. I wore jerseys because my brother had outgrown them and passed them down to me. And then I would proceed to wear a huge t-shirt underneath it that fell out of the sleeves and from the neck of the jersey just to ensure everyone was certain I was wearing clothes two sizes too big. This girl was rocking hers like it was specially made for her. Which it probably was.

They had better highlights than me. And nails that looked like they had never been chewed on or had ever had to endure pulling weeds from the front terrace while their dad shouted from behind them "you're staying out there until every damn weed is pulled! And stop trying to hide them under the rocks."

"But dad, they make sprays for this stuff now! Please, I hate this..." while mumbling every swear word they could think of under their breath.

No, these girls were a classy bunch. Have you ever felt inferior to a table full of children? It's an odd feeling. I wanted to snap a photo of them simply for this post, but I've heard parents frown upon strange adults taking photos of their children so I resisted.

Their discussion moved from Jane Eyre, to weekend plans, and they even touched on gay marriage for a bit or two. They all had gay friends and didn't understand why it was ever an issue.

I was just about to ask their savvy young group if I could please join their clique as well as their book club, when one of them got a text from a boy and they all went from being classy young women, to boy obsessed little girls.

The reaction to a cute boy texting is universal, no matter where you are raised.

And for a second I felt bad for turning my back on my rural upbringings. But at 4:00 o'clock on the dot when the girls were picked up in a white Range Rover I thought, no I would probably do okay here as a child after all.