Meanwhile, a Little Awkwardness in the Ladies’ Room…

Holy crap, you guys. Brian and I are safely in California, checked into hotel number one of three for the first leg of our trip, and I already have 27 thousand things to tell you.

The Pros and Cons of Midol

I pack VERY light when it comes to my carry-on luggage, if I can help it. Not so much with the checked luggage, though…I check everything, thanks to Southwest’s Bags Fly Free policy.

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Yes, my suitcases are that big...and that girly.

So when I realized my sinus infection headache was not going away after Allegra, Sudafed, and an antibiotic, I also realized I had packed the Advil in my suitcase. I ran to the shop for a quick headache relief solution, only to be appalled by the gouging prices of everything…except Midol.

I hadn’t used Midol since college, before I started the pill to help dull the effects of my period. But a dude-friend of mine swore by it in college, for obviously non-feminine reasons.

I swear to God, you guys, it was a magic little half-priced pill. I started feeling it break up my headache within minutes. Within an hour, it was gone.

Of course, three hours into our flight, I had to pee…in the teeny tiny bathroom. Insert expletives about the size of my hips here.

I can’t claim that this is 100% correlation so much as coincidence, but I’m telling you…Midol brought my monthly curse right there on the plane. And also a weird dream about my lady eggs. Fucking Midol.

My Whoops Moment in the Airport Bathroom

After our hour plus delay at Midway Airport in Chicago, we arrived safely at SFO. Having only used that sorry excuse for a bathroom on the plane once in a 4 hour trip, I had to pee immediately.

I went into the ladies’ room where there was a crowd of women and just one older woman with a little guy in front of me. She was checking a door to see if someone was in there, but it didn’t open, so she told the little boy, “Nope. Someone is in there.” I noticed that the first stall was empty by peering into the little door hole, and instead of taking it for myself, I pulled it wide open for the little boy and his mom or grandma (not sure which), while I stood behind the door, proudly being helpful. She looked at me, horrified. “Nope. Someone is in there.”

I slowly closed the door, and looked around, nervously. A sweet teenage girl tried to reassure me that it was probably no big deal, but I considered running out of the bathroom faster than I had ever run in my entire life. But thrn my overwhelming urge to pee won, and I stared at every stall waiting for one to open.

The toilet flushed in the stall I had opened. It was now a race between 7 other stalls and this lady. I just needed one to open so I could quickly duck inside. Her stall was about to open, when another miraculously became available. I dashed in, just as the woman was about to walk out. I saw a flash of color from her skirt before I was safely in my own stall.

When I walked out to wash my hands, I’m pretty sure she was still there, taller and scarier than I hoped…she could totally beat the crap out of me…but I walked (or slinked…one of those) to the sink next to her with my head down, avoiding all eye contact with anyone. I washed my hands and raced out of there, paper towels still in hand. I gave Brian the look that says OMG let’s go go go.

“Awkwardness in the bathroom?”
“Yup.”
“OK then.”

And we moved on to baggage claim.

What are your thoughts on Midol? Have you ever accidentally opened a bathroom stall? Have you been walked in on?

Some Things are Actually More Difficult for Chubby Girls

So, I know most of us have body issues…and if you don’t, more power to you. Fat, skinny, chubby, thin…big ass, no ass, huge boobs, flat chest…there are reasons that anyone could feel a little down about their bods. And with the way humans are (in person and through anonymous comments and trolly mctrollerson style), other people don’t often help with our body image issues.

So this is not to say that my problems as a chubby/fat/overweight girl outweigh yours or anyone else’s…

But there are DEFINITELY some things that are genuinely more time-consuming, more difficult and more painful because of the way my body is.

There may also be things that are more difficult for smaller girls (or guys), but not living on that side of the scale…I can’t speak for them.

Shaving your legs

We all know how I feel about shaving and how it’s one of those painful grooming activities that fills me with regret and grumpiness…I’m sure that even the skinniest girl needs to be a flippin’ contortionist to do all the shaving that someone decided was necessary for ladies to be pretty and sexy and delicious…

I fear someone (even Brian) walking in on me while I’m in the bathtub ankle raised above my head or hanging out over the tub while I try to make my pale white legs “pretty” so I can wear a dress because most pants don’t fit me well enough to wear. Let’s not even go into the chub rub that comes from freshly shaved thighs, but seems to disappear when I haven’t shaved in a while.

Instead, let’s talk about the sheer volume of my legs (and arms). As I was shaving the other day (after working from home and not having to worry about the 2-hour commute that I normally have), I thought to myself, you know, Chrissy…you should shave more. It wouldn’t kill you. And then I thought about the process…and how it wasn’t as if it added just 5-10 minutes to my beauty regime…it added 20-25 minutes…at least. And then I asked myself, how the hell do other girls do this EVERY DAY?

And I realized that this size of my legs and arms is genuinely bigger than those of other girls. With the areas that requires shaving—the circumference of my thighs, the distance between the from of my leg and the back of my leg—it’s more time consuming.

Life’s a process for me. I think you knew that. Shaving is one of those processes.  The contortion. The amount of time. The wondering why the hell we do this. It’s a process.

shaved legs
I think I do it so I can walk around (the beach or other place) in a skirt…so I don’t have to wear pants. Because pants=the devil.

Working out

I recently lost a few pounds. I’m still pretty proud of myself even though the stress of my current life has slowed that process. What I realized, though, after losing about 10 pounds, was holy shit! That’s 10 pounds I’m not carrying around anymore.

This one’s harder to explain, so I’ll try a demonstration. Do 10 jumping jacks or some other quick cardio activity. Feels ok, right? Now, pick up a 25 pound weight or a pair of weights or whatever. Repeat the exact same cardio activity while holding the weights. Not as easy, right?

If you weigh 130 pounds, that added 25 pounds is on someone else every. Single. Day. If you add 25 pounds, that’s the weight my driver’s license said 15 years ago when I first got my license. That’s the weight my driver’s license says now.

It was a lie then and it’s a lie now. It’s just a bigger lie.

For the record, I am well aware of the fact that I, too, can do this exercise, and I know that there is someone 25 pounds more than me who has a more difficult time working out simply because of the added weight.

Riding rollercoasters

I LOVE me some thrill rides. Flying down a steep wooden or steel mountain at warp speeds while safely strapped in bt a harness makes me feel invincible. But sometimes, I don’t actually FIT in the coaster. Older rides are definitely more difficult for me. The newer rides tend to be designed with bigger hips in mind.

I’ll stop there.

But I want to know if there are things that are genuinely more difficult for you because of your size? Do you agree with me?

What to do When You Have Access to Your Boyfriend’s Google Account…

My desktop computer is our media server/drive. We have hundreds (if not thousands) of movies, music, TV shows,  and games on this baby. But it’s my computer. (Even though at one time–before I decided I was pretty much never going home, which was sometime VERY shortly after our first date–it was Brian’s computer…That matters not.) My projects live here now. Brian has like 27.8 billion other computers. (Or like 3. Plus a phone. And a tablet. Whatever.)

So sometimes, when I’m not here (or when I am here and tapping my toes behind him), Brian will jump on the desktop to load an audio book to his phone or check Reddit (evil, evil troll-filled Reddit) and Digg and all the sites he finds random imgur images to share with me.

And he logs into his Google account.

Some girlfriends might troll through his chat history, inbox and outbox looking for signs of horrible boyfriend activity.

This isn’t my style (anymore). I’ve trusted Brian since day one…and he trusts me. I would never break that. 

Some girlfriends might write funny Google+ posts (or Facebook posts if he leaves his Facebook open too) to talk about how wonderful they (the girlfriends) are.

I could…but no one reads Google+ anyways. Maaaybe Facebook. Actually. Hold please…Nope. Facebook isn’t open here… Not surprising.

Some girlfriends might just log out immediately so they can log in to their own Google accounts.

We have three different browsers on this computer. I use two of them for my personal and blog accounts. Brian uses the third. He used to log me out all the time and it irritated the crap out of me. Actually…come to think of it…I’m quite surprised HE hasn’t started using my Facebook accounts against me. Let’s keep that to ourselves, eh?

And some girlfriends…at least THIS girlfriend…take(s) his account hostage for her own narcissistic joy.

Google+
Google+ Love

Why yes. I did go into his Google+ account and +1 every single one of my posts.

I don’t see the problem here. In fact, I love Google+ Bombing from my own account. Sometimes, I randomly choose a contact on Google+ and just…like every post from the last month or so. It’s fun for me. So if you have Google+, Google+ Bomb someone. Or yourself. Or ask me to do it. Because I totally will.

Side Note: Ironically, last night, after I had written this post, Brian came up to bed and went into this LONG, DRAWN-THE-FUCK-OUT story about how he happened upon my open e-mail on the aforementioned desktop, and even though he doesn’t usually look at my e-mail, he noticed an e-mail (and I’m thinking, shit…was I bitching to someone about you and you saw it?) from our Realtor and read it (phew! But for the record, I did tell him I was complaining about something he did because we’re a full-disclosure kinda couple…and we talk shit out).

Blog Friends, do you have any narcissistic tendencies? What would you do if you accidentally stumbled upon your significant others’ open Google account?

How to Make House Hunting Less Like Dating

For the last couple of months, instead of estate sailing and garage sailing for vintage board games, Brian and I have been adventuring out with our realtor (who is hilarious and awesome), but you knew that already. Because we almost bought a house. And then we didn’t, and we were heartbroken. It was like a bad breakup. I even ate Sbarro pizza…in CHICAGO. Home to the best pizza known to man. But I ate Sbarro. And inadvertently paused my DietBet(I didn’t gain anything, but I didn’t lose much, either.) I’m not making excuses, just telling it like it is.

Much like dating, the best way to get over one house is to jump right into the next. But that never works out. We needed something fast and easy. We went and saw 5 houses just a few days later. We compared them all to The House. The one we had just broken up with.

Now, we’re much pickier…only seeing 1 to 2 houses at a time…and we go in ready to shoot down a perfectly good house for whatever reason…because we’re afraid of losing it…or it really doesn’t hold a flame to our first.

Is this starting to sound familiar?

House hunting is COMPLETELY like dating. And then I remember how long it took me to find Brian. And I don’t want to wait 27 years to find the right house!
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So I’ve decided to make house hunting less like dating…and more like a game.

Step 1: Create a list of all the criteria that you’re looking for in a house.

Step 2: Assign point values to each feature, based on how important it is to your search.

Step 3: Create a list of the most ridiculous things you can think of and make every house visit a scavenger hunt. Note: This is a mini-game and doesn’t coubt toward win conditions.

Step 4: Visit the house. Check off items on the criteria list to find out if you have enough victory points to buy the house.

Step 5: Without snooping in places you shouldn’t be snooping (furniture pieces like dressers and desks are off limits. Would you want someone going through your things?), take note of items on your scavenger hunt list. Shelves, closets, and items that would stay if you moved in are fair game, but again, dont rifle through anything. Be considerate and think about if it was your house. Besides, people leave enough weird shit out in the open when they know someone is coming to look (remind me to tell you about that time they were showing my college apartment).

Step 6: Another mini-game. If there are pictures of the people currently living in said house, make up a story about them. Feel free to use items on the scavenger hunt as props.

Step 7: Tally up the victory points and determine if it’s your house. Do the pros out-weigh the cons? If so, it may be your house.

I hope this helps you avoid heartbreak while searching for your new home…but if it doesn’t, the mini-games will at least keep you spirits high and your sense of humor actively engaged.

Have you bought a house? Do you want to buy a house? Do you have tips for house hunting?

Pillsbury doughboy at BlogHer13

The BlogHer14 Questions You’re Afraid to Ask…Answered

Greetings! If you’re not a blogger or you’re not going to BlogHer14 and don’t want to read about bloggy things, might I recommend you travel down a rabbit hole of random and ridiculous by reading about that one time I went skiing and didn’t listen to my mom? (Even if you are going to BlogHer14…and you haven’t read that-and the subsequent two posts–go forth and enjoy when you’re done reading about BlogHer).

Some of my bloggy friends have LOTS of questions and since I’m now a veteran, I have some answers…so I figured you might want answers, as well. In no particular order…Here are your BlogHer14 questions answered.

The Expo Hall

Can I bring my kids? Do you have to buy them a ticket?

While I don’t have kiddos of my own, I did a little research for you. Tiny humans are totally welcome, according to BlogHer. Of course, if they’re walking and talking, I believe they need a conference pass (or an expo/networking pass) to play. Conferences in the past have offered childcare, though I couldn’t seem to find any information for this year.

Do you know how much the expo hall and party pass is?

$149 gives you access to all expo hall stuff and cocktail hours/parties, but not breakfast, lunch, speakers or sessions.

Is the expo hall really fun?

I loved being on the expo floor. Not only did I get to try out all sorts of tasty snacks (My favorites last year were Love with Food, Keurig Brew Over Ice, SodaStream, and Kozy Shack pudding) play games, meet cool people and interact with brands, but also I got to meet with a lot of sponsors and brand reps that I got to work with over the past year.
Keurig Brew Over Ice

Do you spend a lot of time (on the expo floor)?

Last year, I did. I got to meet Travis Stork and interview him, courtesy of Simply Saline. I was able to network with a variety of PR professionals and brands that led to sponsored posts, product reviews and other things that are helping me to monetize my blog.

Technology

Should I bring a laptop?

I brought my laptop last year and didn’t open it once. I also didn’t blog during the conference. All of my social media-ing happened on my Android phone and that worked out perfectly. This year, I’m traveling for 9 days, so I’ll bring my small laptop (it’s seriously TINY) for use in the hotels and my tablet and phone will do everything else.

Should I bring my fancy camera or is my phone enough?

I’m totally a fan of my fancy phone because it does most of what I want it to do. That being said, I finally have a camera that I love and bought specifically for blogging, so I’ll probably bring both.

Does everyone sit around with their laptops open?

Some do. Some don’t. Are you the type of person that needs their laptops to take notes? If not, stick with a pen and note pad. Type up details later if you are so inclined. You’re not going to want to cart the heavy stuff around. If you have a tablet or phone, that’s likely to be enough.

I heard the internet can be spotty with so many people trying to use it.

I didn’t have a huge problem with that, but I was also using my phone for most of my internetting.

Party Time

Are the parties really fun?

I think a lot of the parties are what you make of them. Go with your people and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, or even better, to introduce yourself to other bloggers. I didn’t talk to many people outside of my comfort circle, and I missed out on opportunities to meet up with and hang out with bloggers like Lisa Newlin and Kate Whine Hall.

Did you love the official parties?

Some of them. I didn’t go to all of the official parties, but I really enjoyed a few. Expo on Thursday night was awesome with appetizers and beverages, a small crowd and some of my favorite bloggers. One of the Friday night parties we went to was totally stellar with lots of fun activities.

Do some people get way too drunk?

Probably. I didn’t last year, nor did I really see many people stumbling…but there are always a few.

How do you know if you should accept an invitation to a party or not?

If it’s something you’re really interested in, accept. If you’re not sure, wait it out and think about it. You don’t want to over-book yourself and miss lunch…

Do you stay for the whole party or just pop in for a while?

That depends on the party. Some have speakers and agendas, while others are more come-and-go as you please type parties.

Food

Is it hard to eat in time to get back to the classes?

So lunch is a part of the agenda, and the keynotes are during breakfast and lunch. You should have PLENTY of time to eat those meals. Bring snacks if you get that 3 PM drop in energy, because dinners are not part of the conference, so you may be waiting a while to eat. That being said, make sure you take care of yourself and eat enough to get you through the day. One of my biggest problems was over-booking myself last year and not eating enough so that I was beyond HANGRY by the time the evening festivities rolled around. So if you’re like me, plan the con around your dinner not the other way around.

The Pioneer Woman at BlogHer13
After breakfast with Ree Drummond

So dinner is on your own?

Yes.

I better pack snacks then.

Me too. Om nom nom.

Take Care of You

Do you find yourself exhausted at one point and just hide out in your room for a while?

Definitely. That’s why I opted for the hotel that was attached to the conference hall.

If I leave early and don’t stay out until 2 am will I be a total loser/old lady?

Nope. Some people revel in the party all night conference attitude and others are ready for bed by 10 pm. There’s no one right way to rock this place. One night I was up until midnight. The other night I was asleep by 10:30. It’s your conference. Make of it what you want.

General Conference Tips

How do you keep track of parties and sessions and events?

I used my Google calendar to arrange my schedule.

Should I blog about the conference while I am at the conference?

You can. I’m sure your bloggy friends at home would love the play by play, but you may miss some of the fun if you’re busy writing about it.

Do you stay in touch with new people you have met at the conference after the conference?

Isn’t that what this is all about? For me, the best part of blogging conferences and networking with other bloggers is meeting new people who really fit into your tribe. I’ve started attending a lot of events in the Chicago area and I love running into other bloggers that I’ve met and followed.

I read to skip the classes and mingle with people because that’s better for your blog than the classes are; is that true?

This TOTALLY depends on the workshops and how they relate to you. If it sounds like information you already know? Don’t go. If it sounds like something you don’t want to know about? Don’t go. If you want to learn about the topic or improve yourself on the topic, then go. I didn’t go to many of the sessions, but this year there are more that appeal to me. So you may see me in a session or two.

Does going to BlogHer make you a better blogger or is more about seeing people you are friends with?

I think everything we do makes us better bloggers. Whether we’re actively attending workshops or reading new bloggers to get some inspiration or meeting your blog friends for hilarious blog fodder, you’re going to get something out of this conference to improve your blog.

If you’re not really into brands or doing product reviews, is it worth going to BlogHer? Will you make other types of connections that will make it all worthwhile?

I think so. Last year, I stayed in a little bubble of bloggers I knew, but ventured out a smidge. I wanted to network with brands and see where that could take me, but I think there’s a lot of opportunities for bloggers who don’t want to monetize with brands. If you’re an artist or Etsy seller, showcase wearable products. Design a bag on Zazzle with your art that you can carry your stuff in. Make friends. Exchange business cards.

Is voices of the year something I’d want to miss part of?

I think it really depends on you. I also think that last year I had a very unusual experience because Queen Latifah was REALLY late and they wouldn’t start without her. And I had missed lunch. And I was starving. And crabby. Beyond Hangry. So you might see me there. With a snack pack.

Should I really pack an extra suitcase for all of the free stuff? Will it really be that much stuff?

I don’t want the bloggers who hate girls who love free stuff to hate me…
But that’s what I’m doing. (I’m also going to be in San Francisco and Sonoma the week before the conference and bringing home souvenirs, so there’s that.)

Brands

Do brands ask you to do reviews, etc at the expo or is it more like they take your info and get back to you later?

Some of the brands will ask you to use social media at the expo, but for reviews on your blog or sponsored posts will likely be later.

Did you see any artsy-type brands at the expo, last time?

You can actually go check out who the past and future brand sponsors are!
BlogHer 2012 sponsors
BlogHer 2013 sponsors
BlogHer 2014 sponsors

What to Pack

What should I wear?

Seriously–BE comfortable. You can look professional and be comfortable at the same time. There was a point one day last year where I had worn a strapless bra and was so miserable that I hid behind a wall in the expo hall, pulled it off, and continued with the rest of my day. I’m a fan of cropped yoga pants with nice shirts, skirts and comfortable, but clean and adorable, sandals most of the time. (I wear yoga shorts and crops under skirts for fear that I’m going to fall down and show everyone my lady bits.)

What about shoes?

I bought several pairs of shoes from brands I know and trust in order to be comfortable while still looking cute and showing off the pedicure I’m going to get…I made you a little Amazon widget with the shoes I’ll be sporting. (Yes, I’ll get a teensy tiny affiliate commission if you buy them, but they’re really awesome shoes.) I swear by Merrell and Naturalizer. The Bare Trap shoes aren’t as supportive, so I had to add arch support to keep them comfortable.

Should I wear a fancy dress to the cocktail parties?

I ended up wearing dresses and outfits that could easily transition from day to night. Some people were wearing jeans; others wore dresses. I still say stick with your comfort zone.

Blog Friends, do you have other questions? How can I help you get ready for BlogHer? BlogHer veterans, what tips do you have? If you’re going, look for me and say hi!

I agree with the Supreme Court…But Not for the Reasons You Think

In the last few days, I have been having this massive, internal struggle.

Because…

I kind of agree with the Supreme Court.

Hear me out before you get angry at me. I’m not against birth control at all. I was on it for almost a decade. I’m pro-choice. In ALL matters. I believe in a PERSON’S right to do what they want pertaining to their lives and bodies, so long as it doesn’t physically or mentally harm others or break laws.

So when Hobby Lobby took their plight to the U.S. Supreme Court, I wasn’t thrilled. But when the Court determined that it was their right to refuse birth control, the liberal world went guns blazing in attack mode. And I started feeling this unyielding urge to agree with the Court’s decision.

I couldn’t figure out why.

I don’t believe that anyone should be denied birth control…and quite frankly, with this decision, no one is being DENIED anything. Employees of a known religiously-motivated company will not have their birth control paid for by the company.

The aforementioned employees are not being told they’ll be tested for use of birth control or fired for using it. The company doesn’t want to pay for it.

Fine.

If you don’t agree? Don’t work there.

But we’re missing the point.

There is a MUCH bigger issue here than birth control or the idea that this is about women’s rights. Because it’s not. Health care in the United States is tied to employment.

TIED TO OUR JOBS.

Pissed-off liberals will tell you that the employers just gained the right to tell employees what they can and can’t do with their bodies.

But you know what?

The employers have had that privilege for YEARS.

As I mentioned earlier, I was on birth control for almost 10 years. Never. NOT ONCE was it covered by my insurance. Not even partially.

Currently, I use several medications (completely unrelated to contraceptives or mental health, but completely related to my well-being and ability to function on a daily basis). Because some of these drugs are available over the counter, I can’t even use my health savings account (which is SUPPOSED to cover medication prescribed by a doctor) to purchase them.

ADDITIONALLY, my current employer will only insure my prescription drug purchases as long as I don’t use one of the big four pharmacies in the area. Because they are direct competitors with my company. Did you hear that? Let me repeat it for you. My company is dictating WHERE I can make my prescription purchases.

Because health care is tied to our jobs.

I spent the better part of my twenties uninsured. I didn’t go to the doctor. I didn’t take care of myself with regular checkups because I couldn’t afford it. Was I unemployed the entire time? No. I worked part time jobs, freelance gigs, I had to wait for grace periods at new jobs before being granted health insurance, and yes…at some points I was unemployed.

The Obamacare plan was a step in the right direction, but it was just a step. Babies don’t start walking and run a marathon the next day.

The Supreme Court is right.

Why is the government forcing these mandates on companies? Because from where I’m standing, companies shouldn’t be in control of insurance. They need to regulate insurance companies (or do away with them altogether). The government should be making healthcare the same for everyone. Employed. Unemployed. Religious. Non-religious. Sick. Healthy. All health services should be readily available AT THE SAME COST for everyone.

Insurance is a big fat multi-billion dollar operation. These companies make COMMISSION on you. They’re gambling on your health. They “negotiate” prices with doctors’ offices and hospitals to give you a “discounted” rate…except that many times, you’ll get a better rate if you DON’T have insurance. Or if you qualify for Obamacare. I’ve discovered, after talking to several people, that some insurance plans available through employers cost the same, or more, but offer FEWER benefits than Obamacare. And yet people who are offered “reduced-rate” insurance through their employer don’t qualify for a reduced-rate Obamacare plan.

There are still problems with the system, but we’re moving in the right direction.

So maybe both sides of this debate should stop worrying about one company’s beliefs and a single court ruling, and instead they should worry about the bigger picture. Because this isn’t about women or contraception or religion. This is about corporate entities having control over ALL of our medical decisions.

What do you think? Do you agree, disagree, or is there something else that negates both either sides?

An Open Letter to Metra: The Way to Really Fly

Dear Metra Bigwigs and People Who Make Things Happen,

I have seen you administer surveys, ask questions, and make promises that you have yet to follow through on. In my commuter lifetime, I’ve been a regular on two different Metra rail lines. Both have their pros compared to the other, and both have their cons. But there ARE a few common traits that can be improved upon easily and with little cost. Let me solve your problems.

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Notification of delays

All you need is a two-way radio on every train (don’t tell me you dont communicate with the main station via radio. And if not, there’s this little invention called a cellular phone that offers easy communication between two people) to regularly update the station as to the delays and estimated arrival times. Then have a person (Hell. You can even have two because there are hundreds of thousands of people looking for work and a couple salaries wouldn’t seem to break the bank considering the number of daily riders on this train I’m currently writing from) to relay this information in writing to the digital platforms you’ve already set up.

Keep the website notifications up to date. You can update the site every 10 minutes; people would be appreciative and might not bitch at or about you quite so much. Checking a notice that was written 25 minutes ago and says tour train will arrive 10 minutes ago when it hasn’t is worthless.

Send e-mails promptly. Most people have to leave for their train 10 to 45 minutes before departure. If there’s a problem that you know about, srnd the e-mail immediately. We signed up for this service for a reason. Help make it worth our while. If I get an e-mail about the delay when I’m already on the train, it was ineffective for me and is likely ineffective for the person at the next stop, 2 minutes away.

Bathroom Cleanliness and Operation

While I’m here, I figured it would be helpful to discuss one of the ongoing problems I’ve noticed. I don’t know how I always seem to need to use the bathroom when there is not one functional bathroom on the train, but it’s true. I know that it’s mostly drunk assholes late at night l, and your staff didn’t clog up the toilet or leave it spraying water from 3 directions (yes, I’ve witnessed this), but the train was hanging out at the station for 25 to 35 minutes prior to departure…would it kill you to hire a cleaning crew between trains (at least the non-commuter trains that operate every hour or 90 minutes)?

I’ll stop here. This is enough to fix for one day.

TL;DR: Hire 2 to 5 people to send notifications and alerts. Hire 10 to 15 people to clean local trains while they’re stopped at the station.

Sincerely,

Just another commuter.

Blog Friends, do you have commuter problems? Public transportation problems? Do you pay a lot of money for a service that doesn’t deliver?

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Those Were the Best Days of My Life…Or Were They?

The other day I was jammin’ out in the car to Summer of ’69. As I was singing (and likely annoying the crap out of Brian), I started thinking about the places that this song takes me.

As a little girl, I was a junior cheerleader for a K-8 football and cheerleading organization. I was with the same team from 3rd through 8th grade, and we competed in poms against other suburban cheer teams. One of our first-place routines was choreographed to Summer of ’69, so it certainly has fond memories for me. I almost busted out a kick line and imagined myself ponying. In the car. In case you forgot.

But this time, instead of just reminiscing to my childhood, I found myself listening to the lyrics as I belted them out to Brian’s dismay (the singing, not the thinking).

In the song, Bryan Adams sings about the good ol’ days when he was carefree and in love, before responsibility and adulthood.

Those were the best days of my life…

And I looked back on my past (all *cough*29*cough* years) life and thought about it. Which of those years or experiences were the BEST days of my life? Where would I go back if given the chance? What summer truly seemed to last forever?

And the answer was simple. I’m living the best days of my life. Good, bad and ugly, my present is so much better than my past. Because my past led me here. And the here and now will lead me to my future, so that I can always say that my present is the best days of my life.

Those were the best days of my life…

I have had some absolutely wonderful experiences, childhood vacations and camping trips. Family memories full of love. Friendships that have withstood the test of time. A growing circle of friends that has expanded and multiplied with more friends and their families. Relationships that helped me realize who I am and what I want so that I could find (and pester until he finally took me out on a date) and recognize the person that I am meant to be with.

I’m lucky.

But for every bright day, there was a dark one. For every memory of love, I have a memory of being bullied or watching my brother get bullied. For every memory of friendship, I have a memory of deception or cruelty or loneliness. For every memory of sheer happiness, I know and understand depression. For every heartwarming relationship memory, I’ve known gut-wrenching heartbreak. For every success, I also recall the failures.

Our lives are not measured solely on the successes. Nor are they measured on the failures. Each piece of the puzzle has added a layer to our personality. Every triumph, every stumble. But each of these experiences is merely a stepping stone to the next. And the days, whether dark or light, that shall come to pass will be wiser steps to a brighter future.

Those were the best days of my life…

We are unique. Our experiences are shared, but different. Alike, but completely one of a kind. We empathize (or don’t).

I struggle. I have a hard time keeping it all together. Working a full time job. Commuting more than 10 hours a week. In total 55+ hours devoted to work. Looking for ways to progress my career, to learn more, to see more, to be MORE. Looking for a new home by buying a house and making it a home. Writing for me. Blogging, but also creating characters and stories, so that one day I may have that best-selling novel all writers hope to attain. Living a life that I can be proud of. Enjoying time with friends. Family. Experiencing things so that I can have something to write about.

I struggle, but I’m not alone. I’m surrounded by my family. My friends. You.

You make this blog worth writing. Because of you, I am here. And for that I thank you.

Do you agree? Do you think the present is full of the best days or is there another, more relevant time in your life that constitutes the best? Do you wish you could go back or are you always looking ahead?

We Broke Up With Our House…Or…We Almost Bought a House

Remember two weeks ago, when I was planning all the exciting things for a house we hadn’t bought?

And last week, when I bragged about a secret?

And Tuesday when I teased about an exciting day to my Facebook followers?

And the majority of those two weeks were spent pinning home decorating images to my Pinterest board?

Last Saturday, Brian and I put a bid on a house. And within two hours of starting the paperwork, we had negotiated a deal with the sellers.

We were on cloud nine. We had a quirky amazing house. And plans.

Old bones with big additions. I was calling it my 90′s chic 90-year-old house.

Vaulted ceilings, book nooks, connected closets, walk-in closets as big as bedrooms, a gigantic jet tub in the master suite, a loft–it was insane. Great location. Near the train. Near highways. A little extravagant, perhaps, but somehow fell in our price range. We couldn’t turn it down. It called to us.

When we walked in, we knew it was our house. Just like everyone says about houses…you just know.

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Vaulted ceilings in the bedroom
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Built-in bookshelves and nooks

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Tuesday, we had our inspection. We had told ourselves that there wasn’t anything they could find that would deter us from the house.

We were wrong.

Our inspector was GOOD. I mean as a person? Not my kinda guy…a cocky dude who talked down to Brian, for sure, but he knew what he was doing. He was thorough.

His thoroughness quickly found major issues with the foundation and property grading, some current, some potential. But big.

And we can try to append the contract to factor in these major problems, but do we want to?

Brian’s stipulations had always been that he didn’t want to deal with foundations or roofs at the starting gate. I can’t blame him. It’s a lot to deal with.

So we both grieved. Which seems bizarre for a house that we’ve only known for two weeks.

We learned a lot from the inspector (about clues to look for, how to tell the age of certain appliances and fixtures, features we should recognize…it was eye-opening).

And we realized that there were other things we were willing to overlook, but we’re relieved that we won’t have to deal with (ALL old appliances, huge heating and cooling costs, a creepy basement, and unusually high taxes, among other things…)

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The creepy basement

I do know, though, that we will find a house. It just isn’t this one.

Have you bought a house before? Have you lost a house? What was your experience with the inspector? Tell me your story.

Feeding Hungry Kids is Good for the Soul

Good morning, Blog Friends!

Today, I’m partnering with the lovely crew from Love With Food to tell you a story.

A couple years ago, I ventured out with my friend V to a facility where volunteers package food to feed hungry people around the world. It was exciting. I wasn’t one of the food preppers, as I could only stay for a short while, but I made friends while sticking labels into each food pack.

Prior to volunteering, we were asked to watch a video about the process and the people who would benefit from this facility. It gave me warm fuzzies.

I learned from Mama early on that helping other people who are less fortunate than me is important. Because people need compassion.

I volunteer when I can, though time has been a hot commodity for me lately. I donate to causes that I believe in. And I try to live a life that Future Me will be proud of.

One of the small things I do, though, is easy. So easy that I don’t often think of it as helping others…but it is. Every month, I donate a meal to a hungry person. I subscribe to Love With Food, and for a monthly fee of just $10, I get a snack pack box of treats and donate a meal to organizations like Share Our Strength and the Feeding America network.

In July, one of the snacks comes from a company called 2 Degrees that makes tasty snack bars. I know they’re tasty, because Love With Food sent me a few samples to try out.

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Not pictured is the chocolate peanut bar currently in my tummy.

I tried the chocolate peanut bar and it was.DELICIOUS. I’m looking forward to the other flavors in the coming days.

One of the really cool things about 2 Degrees, though, is that they ALSO donate meals to hungry kids! For every bar that is purchased, they donate a meal.

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And what does this all have to do with you?

If you purchase a Love With Food box for the month of July (you’ve gotta order by June 30), you’ll be contributing TWO meals to hungry people. I think that’s pretty damn awesome.

I was not paid by Love With Food or 2 Degrees to say nice things. I just really like helping people and eating snacks. If you use my referral link to purchase a Love With Food subscription, I’ll get bonus points to buy more snacks.