The sexiest man alive

I’ve spent the morning reading about what a bullshit thing it was for People to put Blake Shelton on the cover of People Magazine for Sexiest Man Alive and that people are up in arms about it. Personally, I stopped giving a fuck what People Magazine thought about men when — nope. I’m not even playing. I’ve never cared about the Sexiest Man Alive. If Colin Firth and Jeff Goldblum aren’t on that list, it clearly hasn’t adequately captured the heart of sexy. Ever.

On a Facebook post, I saw someone write, “Are there any good ones left?” And I was like, Duh. My husband.

Move over Blake Shelton. This man has it all.

So I decided I’d start my own Sexiest Man Alive award. And the inaugural recipient is, obviously. Brian. But don’t just let me tell you he’s the sexiest man alive. Here are just a few of the things that make him so dang irresistible.

He’s got a soft spot for watching TV with me

And he’ll even watch some things that many husbands/boyfriends/partners would typically opt out of. Not only is he watching The Handmaid’s Tale with me, but he also watched Gilmore Girls. I’m not saying he binged the entire thing in 3 weeks like I did, but he would sit down and watch an episode here and there. I’m also pretty confident he was Team Logan too.

He feeds me

This is why ladies are not supposed to get sick. The boyfriend was left to his own devices. #GetOuttaMyKitchen

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Even if he doesn’t know the correct pan to use for boiling hot dogs.

We all know that I’m the cook in this relationship. He sends me gifs of things like ice cream sandwich cakes and Cheetos mozzarella sticks, and then I make them. But sometimes, he’ll throw together one of the things he knows how to prepare and he’ll hand deliver it to me like the sexy AF gentleman that he is.

He’s got a keen fashion sense

And he was ready to go toe to toe with anyone who fought me on my wedding shoes.

He cleans

Brian’s putting our mop and bucket to good use before holiday party time. #BestBoyfriendEver

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He meets me halfway, even when I’m halfway across the country

I’m pretty sure the only people who lost that contest were the ones in the rooms on either side of mine. Did I mention I was on the executive floor?

He’s a poet and he doesn’t even know it

He takes care of me when I’m sick

He’s smart, funny, and he keeps me on my toes. He’s got science guy and gentleman wrapped up with a bow. You know, now that I think about it…Brian is pretty much an amalgamation of Colin Firth and Jeff Goldblum. He really is the sexiest man on earth. [I really tried to squeeze in a joke about Earth girls being easy, but I just umm…couldn’t…well find a way.]

Move over Blake Shelton. This man has it all.

Move over Blake Shelton. This man has it all.

Really, though, with all of the big-name men being called out for assault, harassment, and more, maybe we should stop putting the people we see in movies and on TV on pedestals. Maybe we should think about how to make the world a better, safer place. And I think a lot of that starts at home. So can we all stop worrying about the guy a bunch of editors at a weekly publication determined was the sexiest man alive and focus on the ones we know in the real world?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

DIY Beauty and the Beast costumes

I use affiliate links for some items in this post to help support my writing habit. Any purchases you make through my links might contribute to my monthly cheese budget. 

Well, there’s only a few days left to get your costume situated, you guys! Might I recommend trying out a classic?

A couple years ago, I conned Brian into Beauty and the Beast costumes. He has costume restrictions:

  • No glitter
  • Lots of accessories (as evident by Captain Mal — guns! — and Jack Skellington — Zero!)
  • The opportunity to get creative with his look (When he was Ra’s Al Ghul)
  • No masks that cover his mouth (This was the biggest problem with Jack Skellington)

And a Beast costume didn’t necessarily break any of his restrictions, so I got to be a Disney princess!

Beauty and the Beast Halloween costumes

Beast costume pieces and tips

We weren’t going for full-on Disney style, but a mash-up of the different versions of this tale as old as time. So we went looking for ways to create a regal beast.

He started with finding the right headpiece. He ended up with this goat head quasi-mask from Amazon (one-day shipping anyone?), and it actually was perfect for what he needed.

Then, he picked up wolf feet from Amazon and wolf arms from Walmart (you can pick-up in store to avoid a shipping delay). We created his chest with a thrift-store jacket, lined with faux brown fur ($7). He cut the sleeves and bottom of the coat off, turned it inside out and backward, and essentially wore it as a dickey.

beast costume head and upper body From there, he needed the right ensemble. For his outfit, we found a thrift-store tuxedo shirt ($3) to make him look fancy. He used the cape he bought for his Ra’s Al Ghul and a pair of dress pants and a belt.

For his makeup, he just grew his beard a little scruffy and used brown make-up to give a furrier appearance than his light red-gray beard.

Ta-Da! A magnificent Beast to complement my Belle.

Belle costume pieces and tips

My costume was a million times cheaper and easier than Brian’s. And I like accessories too. I was just able to pull a lot of them from my closet.

First I needed a dress. I searched on Amazon for the perfect dress, and when that didn’t work, I bought a cute 1950’s style polka dot number that will totally also work if I ever want to be Alice for Halloween, am I right? I had to safety pin the halter straps to the back of the dress to make them regular straps because I’m not so much a fan of halters most of the time. Of course, if they had this pretty blue dress then, I totally would have gone for it instead.

I got the white top to wear underneath the dress at a thrift store, but you may even have one in your closet! The apron came from my closet. Sure, it may say Betty Crocker on the front, but all I had to do was turn it around and kablam! Plain white apron. I finished the look by adding a plus-size white petticoat under the dress for a little poof.

I accessorized with the Chip cup I’ve had since I was a child at Beauty and the Beast on Ice (you can find a similar Chip cup on Amazon) and the biggest, coolest book I could find (my Norton Anthology of English Literature).

For my hair, I did a simple topsytail (Put your hair in a ponytail. Split the top section in half and loop the tail through the hole) and tied it off with a Christmas ribbon. Don’t you judge me. It was available and it worked. And no one else noticed the snowflakes.

topsytail for Belle's hair Beauty and the Beast costume

So there you have it. A relatively easy to put together Beauty and the Beast costume for your next cosplay, whether it’s Halloween or just for funsies.

Beauty and the Beast halloween costumes

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How I ended up in the worst neighborhood in Orlando

It had been a busy week of anxiety and blog conference nonsense. Work was stressing me out to the max. I was in the middle of a month of travel (15 out of 26 days, to be exact), having returned from Vegas two days prior to my Orlando departure, and the exhaustion was starting to wear on me. But I was finally having a magical night thanks to some friends and a fabulous twinkle skirt. We were closing down the BlogHer dance party, and some of those friends got together at the end of the evening and said, “You know what, gang? This just isn’t doing it for us. Let’s get outta here and do something crazy!”

I believe it was Mary who suggested we hit up a local private-room karaoke bar that she had googled. It was only a 5-minute Uber from the hotel we were staying at. I hemmed and hawed something about needing to wake up for an early morning press trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, but in the end, I decided that I needed a “Yes!” moment. And so I said yes. I went up to change out of my now sweaty AF skirt and finish packing for my flight the next day.

We met down in the lobby a half hour later, and I hailed the car that would take Mary, Kristen, Lea, Brea, and me on quite the adventure.

We had been driving for about 7 minutes when I looked at the map on my Uber app. “Hey uhh, guys…I don’t think this is quite as close as we think it is. We’re still about 35 minutes out…”

It was at this point that we thought it might be best to ask the driver about our destination, an address on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando.

“Is the area we’re going to an okay part of the city?”

The driver gave a vague answer, at best, but he was hinting that it wasn’t really the best area for a group of women set to arrive just before 11 pm. We kept probing, spending the next half hour debating whether to turn around and find a different bar to spend the evening. By the time we arrived at Q Karaoke, we noticed the area was definitely the type of place we wouldn’t want to find ourselves stranded on a rainy night. Very desolate, few businesses open, and the ones that were closed were barred up. The bar itself was in the middle of an empty-looking strip mall with the neon lights of an exotic clothing store at the helm. The driver offered to take us back to our hotel, but we persevered.

one-way street sign

We decided to scope the place out. A few of us went inside, asked about prices and took note of the surroundings. It seemed innocuous enough, and so we opted to stay…until 1:30 in the morning. As shady as it seemed, we had A BLAST. Our little gang of singers had an unbelievable time busting out some of the most ridiculous and amazing karaoke tunes that we could muster. If you’ve never tried private-room karaoke, I highly recommend it. The lights flashing and the room jiving was everything. If my twinkle skirt didn’t make me feel alive this adventure sure did.

As we called our next Uber for the ride home, we were flying high on adrenaline and friendship. A night that surely wouldn’t be forgotten. When our driver arrived to pick us up, he seemed surprised to be collecting 5 30-something-year-old women, and we, of course, asked him about our location. He pointed out a few things that we had missed on our way in (a woman who was likely a prostitute, different establishments, etc) and told us that they called this stretch of road the OBT, known for the violence and crime rates. He even mentioned a recent murder that had occurred.

Welp. We survived that one, guys. 

We made our way safely back to the Hilton and hugged goodbye to each other until our next adventure. I proceeded to ask my next two Uber drivers about the OBT, and both were as surprised as anyone that we were hanging out down there. My driver on the way to the airport just shook his head and smirked like I was crazy.

I love saying yes to adventure.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Never have I ever

When I was younger, I hated playing the game, Never Have I Ever. For those of you who don’t know how the game is played, this covers a brief rundown (before people start adding house rules):

  • One person says, “Never have I ever ___________ (insert something they’ve never done)”
  • Everyone in the group who has done that thing does something to indicate that they have (typically taking a drink from an alcoholic beverage).
  • Those who haven’t done the thing sit quietly while the others in the group explain or don’t (it really depends on the group), but there’s often a lot of oohing and OMGing.
  • The game continues until everyone is wasted or someone gets bored enough to start dancing on tables or running around the block naked. (This may indicate that the game has moved onto Truth or Dare).

I hated playing the game in my early years of college because I NEVER GOT TO DRINK ANYTHING. Because everyone liked to throw down the dirtiest things people did, and I was a shy prude. Here are a few nuggets that would have given me ample drinking opportunity prior to attending Bradley University:

Never have I ever…

And until my junior year of college, the only thing that really changed was my alcohol consumption. So I hated playing the game. Because I wanted to do more things, and the few things that I had done felt embarrassing to me.

But now, as an adult, I’m proud as fuck of the things that I’ve done. I love playing never have I ever because almost everything I’ve done has been an adventure, even if it was stupid/crazy/insane/ridiculous/horrifying.

Just for reference, a few of my favorites that would cause me to drink:

Never have I ever…

  • Seen Stephen King speak (20 feet away from me)
  • Gone on vacation by myself
  • Gotten married
  • Been fired from a job (one I hated)
  • Ordered a pizza for delivery while finishing a plate of nachos in a taco joint
  • Seen Hamilton performed live in Chicago
  • Made out with the same guy as three of my girlfriends
  • Gone home with someone on the first date
  • Punched a hole in my apartment window because I was mad at my boyfriend
  • Smoked my first cigarette after smoking was banned in bars
  • Stayed up partying for an entire weekend without sleeping more than 2 hours ( with no drugs involved)
  • Gotten lost in France
  • Dated a drug addict (or two)
  • Threatened to punch a bouncer at my bachelorette party
  • Gotten lucky on a golf course

My bucket(list) hath runneth over. And I can’t wait for the next notch on my wall.

we took wedding photos at a playground, and had so much fun on the purple dinosaur.

What’s on your completed bucket list?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Storytelling false starts

I’ve been telling stories here for more than 5 years now. Sometimes, I’ll get an idea and run with it, publishing almost immediately. Other times, I start something, but can’t quite find the right words. And more times still, I’ll think of what I think would be a fantastic fucking title, only to forget what I wanted to say entirely. Luckily, I’ve saved some of these titles, and I thought I’d share some of my favorites. Maybe you can offer some inspiration, and I can get these word babies in the air.

possible blog post titles from a writer

Titles in time

  • How to get a thigh gap and other pertinent answers from the universe
  • Meet my uhhh new boyfriend Ryan and wife Mandi
  • What Hillary is doing for little girls
  • Screenshots of a year in my life
  • All the fucks I have to give
  • Lectured for laughing at a humor conference
  • That one time I went BATSHIT crazy or why my life is like a Taylor Swift song
  • There are people who hate me and other confessions
  • Things I wish I did before I left my old job
  • Let’s talk about narcissism
  • On parenting, from a non-parent
  • Let’s talk about your kinky group on Facebook
  • When it comes to red light tickets, the internet fucking lies
  • Giving more fucks this year
  • Clark Griswold is my spirit animal
  • How to passive-aggressively handle passive aggressiveness
  • We built this city…we built this city on rock…to roll?
  • That’s the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage
  • People, for the love of all things logical, look shit up before you post it: A lesson on clickbait
  • How many how-to videos does a girl need to watch to figure out how to put together a freakin’ mop?
  • How I ended up in the worst part of Orlando

What do you think, guys? Any of these titles look delectable?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The homeless man living in our backyard

I’m pretty confident there was a homeless man living in our backyard this summer. I found a man’s winter coat tossed haphazardly in the weed forest a few weeks ago, and that was my initial suspicion. The thought hasn’t let up. What else could it possibly be? No one wears a winter coat in the middle of summer except homeless people — or someone with a serious case of the flu. Maybe.
homeless man's coat in my backyard
Brian, who’s been home most of the summer while I galavanted across the country, suggested that it was one of the neighbor’s coats, so I marched next door, knocked on the door, and when he answered asked if the coat belonged to him. It didn’t. He also looked at me like I was insane (probably because of the crazy eyes). Well, there goes the most plausible explanation. It was time for my imagination to run wild.
I walked back to the house where Brian was busy painting the deck and didn’t have an opinion…or even care that this giant coat was found in our backyard. It couldn’t possibly have been blown through the neighborhood because it was one of those super heavy work jackets, and there hasn’t been any gale-force wind up in the Chicago suburbs lately. 
Which left a couple of options.
1. It belonged to a homeless man sleeping in my backyard.
2. It’s discarded evidence from a crime.
I graciously placed the coat on my fence because a. I was not bringing that thing inside — it could have bugs. Or germs. Or be evidence for a murder or something and b. I thought if the homeless man came back, he would realize that I had left his coat in a place he could access without coming into my backyard, and perhaps he’d realize that I was on to him. And would possibly sick Louis the squirrel on him. Or maybe the cops. 
Brian apparently spoke with the other neighbor on the other side of our house, and they both think that it was left by a ComEd dude. But I just want to point out that IT IS SUMMER. No one wears a heavy coat in the summer.
Nearly a month later and the coat and I are at a standstill. I refuse to move it from the fence and it refuses to disappear. I realize that I could also throw it away, but it’s a pretty decent coat.
But I’m also left wondering, what happened to the homeless man who was living in my backyard? Maybe he moved to someone else’s backyard across town. Though heaven only knows why. I still have tomatoes and peppers galore in my garden if he were to get hungry. And my backyard is welcoming and cozy as fuck. It’s all Illinois Prairie gardeny and shit.
Illinois prairie backyard with milkweed
What would you do? How do you think it got in my backyard?
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Sometimes, you have to add a battery pack and twinkle lights

In June, I attended my fourth BlogHer conference. But this one felt strange. The last six writing conferences I attended all had a similar feel — one in which I knew dozens of people and was comfortable just…being me. That’s when I thrive.

This time, I started the conference off with a bang. After 3 flights in less than a week, and a truly amazing Disney adventure, my back was acting up for the first time in months. I was in pain, which only exasperated my desire to hide.

I know what you’re thinking. Chrissy? Hiding?

So, I’m an introverted extrovert. If you know me, you couldn’t possibly see me as shy. But if you don’t, you might think I’m the quiet one. Adding to that, I spent much of this year suffering from mild depression and anxiety, and now, I’ve got a recipe for disaster.

And so at BlogHer, only knowing a few of the several thousand people and trying to fight through pain, anxiety, and depression, I found myself hiding. Skipping sessions to nap in my room. Barely taking any photos throughout the events. Wandering the exhibitor hall by myself instead of sitting through full keynotes from really interesting speakers. Opting out of late night partying with new friends, and instead, I found myself floating down the lazy river with my roomie, Renee.

It was still fun, but it was a different kind of fun than one should have at a writing conference full of like-minded people. I found myself asking why I was even there.

On Friday night, I took a Valium for my back pain and crashed early.

On Saturday morning, Renee left, and my dear friend, Samara, was doing her own thing…so I wandered the expo for a while. I was interviewed for a Forbes podcast, and the guy looked at me — sporting a normal-ish blonde hairstyle and simple blue dress — with douche eyes and actually said, “Quirky Chrissy? You don’t look very quirky. Now, I saw this other girl who had rainbow hair and a unicorn horn. Now, THAT’S quirky.” Maybe it was the place my brain was hiding, but I wanted to simultaneously punch him and cry. But how do you defend your personality when someone mocks your chosen moniker?

I left the expo feeling down in the dumps.

The thing about being an extrovert who suffers from depression and anxiety is that you need people to help lift you out of the cycle, but you don’t want to be around people when you’re depressed or anxious.

By the time the closing party rolled around, I was ready to go home. But I told Samara I’d meet her down there. And I knew there would be snacks — I was starving, and I’ve yet to find a reason to say no to free food. So I decided I had one last chance to bust out my magic twinkle skirt.

And then I found some more of my people, and people recharge me the way the battery pack sewn into this skirt makes it light up. They bring me back to life (that’s the extroverted part of my brain). I met the unicorn girl, Elliotte, — who, by the way, is AMAZING — and she was kind and wonderful and inspiring…and she gave me a pink unicorn horn.

writers posing at the blogher17 closing party

Photo credit: BlogHer17/SheKnows Media

If I could have gone back in time and worn this fucking skirt the whole time I was in Orlando, I think I would have. Because there’s no better way to make 50 new friends than to wear a light up twinkle skirt. It was my superhero transformation and for a few hours, I wasn’t depressed or anxious or homesick. It wasn’t a REAL fix, but it helped me.

It was my superhero transformation and for a few hours, I wasn’t depressed or anxious or homesick. It wasn’t a REAL fix, but it helped me end the weekend on a high note.Twinkling Stars Skirt - Blue. 3X by ThinkGeek

I started seeing writing friends at the conference, some of whom I knew were there and that I’d said hi to, but hadn’t made a point to actually hang out with, despite my desperate need for more human interaction. I was shy and nervous. I convinced myself they didn’t want to hang out with me. I was afraid. But once I put on my magic skirt, and it was like I could hide my insecurities behind the sparkles and just illuminate the bright spots. It was a Band Aid, but at the time, I really needed a Band Aid.

selfie with writing friends at BlogHer

Eventually, I met up with Samara and she was ready to DANCE. And so I danced. And twirled. And shined brighter than I had throughout the whole conference. I felt glimmers of the me that I love to be, and I knew I had to get back there.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Bachelorettes and all that jazz

You already know my wedding had a bomb-ass cheese theme. But did you know I also had a kickin’ bachelorette party theme?

At 29+, I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted the whole bachelorette thing. All my college friends did the party in Peoria, where we went to college, and we traipsed the sentimental bar tour we took the last week of school before graduation. Unfortunately for me, by the time I opted in to the marriage achievement, most of those bars had closed.

20s themed bachelorette party

So I debated whether to have a party at all. Ultimately,  as many of my friend groups’ token extrovert and party girl, they all kind of expected something epic from me. Not one to leave my friends disappointed, I told Katie that I wanted a theme. And costumes.

Tuxedo oreos for a 20s themed bachelorette party

We settled on the 1920s and all things flapper and gangster. The party would start with a small shower of my friends at my house and conclude with a party bus to the city and stops at a few speakeasies in Chicago. Costumes not required, but highly encouraged.

Photo booth station with costume add-ons for a 20s themed bachelorette party

Yes, that is a photo booth in my stairwell.

My bridesmaids made fancy crafty things (some of which are still decorating my home today), set up tasty snacks, baked pretty desserts, and planned games and activities for guests to enjoy. I provided the booze because we always have plenty of liquor and bubbles for thirsty guests (I really like to throw parties).

20s themes bachelorette party - homemade decor- signs and boas and pearls everywhere

Ally was basically Pinteresting the shit out of this thing…you know, something I refused to do for my wedding. I expect that when she gets married, I’m going to have my work cut out for me.

Bead and martini glass waterfall for a 20s themed bachelorette party

My friends are incredible. Several of them flew or drove in from out of town and even out of state for this shindiggity. How lucky am I?

20s themed bachelorette party 20s themed bachelorette party

To start my look, I had the hair trial scheduled, because what better day to test out your wedding hair than the ultimate girls night out?

I had my wedding hair trial the day of my bachelorette party

My friend Laura, who also did all my wedding flowers, is super crafty and provided upcycled dresses from Savers for costumes. She added beads and feathers and much to Brian’s dismay, glitter to the dresses and brought them over for me to try on. Katie made me a selection of mix and match headpieces for the ultimate bridal set.

Bride costume for a 20s themed bachelorette party

My pal, the Banosnapper, doing what she does: Bano snapping.

I think the ensemble turned out pretty awesome.

As the day went on, I drank A LOT of champagne. When we finally hopped aboard the party bus, I was flying high.

20s themed bachelorette party

We made our first stop at a speakeasy that inspired the whole plan. One of my city-dwelling friends, wearing her sassy dress and headband, had already been to the venue to scope it out since we couldn’t make reservations. She came out to greet us but to our dismay, the bouncers informed us that we could not proceed. He said that costumes were not allowed. Now,  we may have had flapper style dresses, but no one was wearing anything that you wouldn’t find in a store save a few added embellishments.

As my friends tried to explain, the bouncers got even more defensive.  “This is a speakeasy. Not a club. And you can’t wear headgear.” We were wearing headbands. No one asked us to remove them before entering; they just told us point blank we were in violation of their dress code, and we could not enter. We also tried explaining what a speakeasy is, and the premise of the 1920s to no avail. They must not have paid attention in history class.

Some of my friends went to the speakeasy’s website and looked up the dress code. Nothing about costumes or headbands being banned. It definitely felt like we were being discriminated against due to the appearance and size of the bride and some of the guests (it’s an unconfirmed suspicion, because how do you even confirm that?).

After I found out what was happening,  I may have gone to yell at the bouncers. I was pissed off that they were ruining my plans, and I don’t like when my plans fall through. It’s part of my Clark Griswold complex.

20s themed bachelorette party

This is our motley crew at Black Finn. That’s me in the back hugging the manager.

Luckily, my friends were quick to recover, dragged me from the bouncers before I punched one of them, and pointed us in the direction of Black Finn, where the manager bought us a round of shots and things got way better. I also got way drunker, but that’s expected at this sort of party.

Drumk girl selfie at a 20s themed bachelorette party

Things got a little fuzzy after that…

We made our way to a third bar, where I started doing shots with strangers at the bar and wandering around a bit more than one should. It was time to go home.

We called the party bus for our pickup and started winding down. In the bus, I called Brian, who had spent the afternoon out of the house but came home shortly after we left. I told him we (me and the 8 other people who’d be spending the night at our house) were on our way. And we really NEEDED tacos.

He said he’d pick up tacos and we texted him an order. My sister-in-law was also texting him with apologies for getting me so drunk and warning him of my impending arrival.

We came home to tacos and beds everywhere. Brian had set up air mattresses and put sheets and blankets on all the couches, so there’d be room for everyone to sleep. The dining room table was overflowing with tacos and burritos and horchata. If he hadn’t already proven he was going to be the best husband ever, this definitely solidified it.

Did you have a bachelorette party? Have you been to any crazy or themed bachelorette parties? Tell me your stories!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The story of train nemesis

Today is the second day without my train nemesis. She’s gone forever. I know this because I was listening to her conversation on Monday, as I tend to do in close quarters with strangers, and she told some new guy that she was donezo and then again when she told my favorite conductor. Of course, I had already noticed she was using a ten-ride instead of a monthly, so I was suspicious that she would no longer be a regular.

My relationship with Train Nemesis wasn’t long lived, but important enough that I feel the need to eulogize her existence in my life. 

Riding the metra in Chicago

The backstory: Brian and I take the train together. Since our first train line back in Downers Grove, we’ve always appreciated the double seats that face each other. We usually get a little extra space and we look at look at each other should we decide to converse.

Riding the metra

Occasionally, though, the train will become overcrowded, someone will try to sit down next to me and across from Brian, and I’ll walk away from the seat.

The first time this lady demanded to sit down, I got up and walked away, giving her my seat. Brian says I’ve done this with a smidge of an attitude,  but I am tired and grouchy in the morning. And okay fine, irritated that anyone thinks these four seaters are designed for more than two adults. Also, my mama didn’t teach me the words, “excuse me,” “please,” and “thank you” for nothin’. 

Now, this has happened with a few people prior to and after my first encounter with Train Nemesis. It’s rare, and I just deal with it. Each time, I get up and walk away. Sometimes,  I set in the train vestibule, which I used to do in the mornings back on the Downers Grove line. Sometimes, I sit on the stairs. Sometimes, I’ll just go find another seat. 

It was January 2017 when I realized this lady wasn’t playing. She was miserable, and she was going to enjoy judging the fuck out of me.

She was the ringleader of the ladies who gossip about the horrible girl who gets up and switches seats so she doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or, worse, hurts her back in the process.

The first time I heard her talking about me, Brian was sitting in the seat across from her. She was talking to some other women about me, but I couldn’t quite hear her. According to my intel, she was snottily talking about how I do it all the time and what in the world is wrong with me? How could I possibly expect to not share the seat?

There's no leg room on the metra

Can we talk about the leg room here? How can you possibly expect to share this with four people?

The second time it happened, I had moved two seats back on the train, and I watched her as she spoke about me with such vitriole. She laughed as she thought about me sitting on the stairs and not having a seat, because I was so stupid and didn’t like to share.

I wanted to cry, but I tweeted instead. She was so mean about it, loudly proclaiming what a horrible person I was, that I considered switching trains. But I decided that the next time it happened I would tell her how mean she was behaving. 

And instead of there being a next time, she’s gone. 

Of course, she did have the occasional redeeming qualities. Her sense of holiday style was not unlike the one I plan to exhibit in my sixties.

So here’s to you, Nemesis. You were a meanish lady, but you might sort of be missed on this train, if only for the fodder.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

This is why I’m not good at surprises

Calling all of my massage therapists in a tizzy on Sunday morning, I had hoped to scheduled a same-day appointment. To my dismay, none were available. So I did the next best thing. I scheduled an appointment for Monday morning.

Brian overheard my call, and yelled up to me, “Wait. What time did you schedule it for?”

“9am. You’ll be sleeping.”

“Well, there’s the brunch thing for my aunt.”

I vaguely remember him mentioning this and not having any other details. “What time?”

“11.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere out by them.”

His uncertainty irritated me, and I immediately wished he was better about remembering details. I mentally calculated the time it would take to get approximately to his cousins’ and assumed I was fine with my appointment.

Over the course of Sunday, I asked Brian for details on the brunch at least 5 times. And each time, he brushed it off with ‘yeahs’ and ‘probablys’ and ‘oh I have to text my cousins’.

I suggested he set an alarm as I wouldn’t be there to make sure he was up and told him that I’d get home and we’d leave straight away.

On Monday morning, I asked Brian again, “Where are we going?”

And he still didn’t have an answer. Half-asleep, he told me, I’ll find out. Just go. So I didn’t have a lot of stock in this brunch thing, and I put on my favorite pair of tie-dye yoga pants and left the house.

After my massage, I assumed I’d have a few minutes to stop in the store next to Massage Envy for a quick peek. I figured it would take about a half hour to get to brunch, and I definitely thought Brian would still be slowly waking up.
As I got into the car, Brian texted me, “How’s it going?”

I told him I was on my way, and then, thinking about my outfit choice, decided to call him. “Where are we going, babe?”

His own mental calculations had done their due diligence and he realized I was probably hungry…and looking forward to brunch, as it’s one of my favorite meals.

“We’re going to Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to see a man about a sloth.”

Wait, what?

“For brunch?”

“No, there’s no brunch.”

“Will there be food?”

Well, guys, I’ve learned something about myself, and it’s that food is always a priority. Then panic. Then excitement.

My peddle to the metal, I jetted home while talking Brian through some sort of rapid food prep.”Toast the bagel on the counter! Quick! Okay fine, I’ll just eat my leftover sammy from Panera.Gah! I’m not dressed for a sloth!”

My heart was racing a mile a minute, and I thought I might have a full-blown meltdown as I ran into the house, climbed the stairs and hunted for my slothwear. It’s  kind of amazing and crazy how excitement, anxiety, and fear all kind of have the same feelings inside you. I didn’t know whether to run, scream, or cry. I thanked God I had recently cleaned, and I knew the sloth shirt was hanging and my sloth socks were paired in my sock drawer. I painted on a little lipstick and eyeliner, brushed and dry-shampooed my hair, and ran back downstairs. I was panicked and excited and nervous and thrilled and couldn’t even believe I WAS GOING TO MEET A SLOTH!!

Brian noted my anxiety (and extreme lateness, because I’m a gigantic dickhead) and felt terrible. “I should have known better than to try to surprise you. I realized too late you were probably planning your food schedule around brunch. And you get a lot of joy around anticipation. You would have been flying high all weekend on this.”

I probably would have, but you guys…Brian was taking his day off work to DRIVE into the city and take me to see the sloth, even though we all know he would have much preferred to be at home sleeping and vegging out.

While we drove, I googled the sloth, and found out that it was a show with several animals, and that I would be able to pet Steve. I also found out that for about $275, Steve could come to my birthday party for an hour…

Brian’s cousin texted and said the sloth was last, so unless we were an hour late, we wouldn’t miss him.

We missed the flying fox, hedgehog, and fruit bat, but we got to meet a chinchilla, armadillo, kinkajou, and bat-eared fox before the main event.


There he was. In all his Steve glory. I loved him as soon as I saw him. He clung to the chair and languidly moved, enjoying the tasty sweet potatoes from his trainer. As he appeared a mere 15 feet un front of me, looking so adorable, tears started splashing down my cheek. It was really real. He was there. And I would get to pet him.

I got in line between several toddlers who had no idea how lucky they were.

Quirky Chrissy petting the adorable Steve the Sloth.

My red face? That’s because of the crying.



The woman in charge said we (all the toddlers and I) could give Steve two pets. But I gave him three, and I made them last. Slow and gentle, just like Steve. You can see where my eyes say, “I’m going for the third pet” in the video Brian was kind enough to capture for me.


We stayed until Steve left, watching him, soaking in all the amazingness of Steve and his slothy goodness. Afterward, Brian and I walked around Lincoln Park Zoo and saw ANOTHER sloth! And it was pretty much the best day ever.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!