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!

Erratic Ramblings from More Strangers on the Train

It all started on the train with the two women sitting behind me, talking about their kids in baseball. The struggle was real. I was only half paying attention until one of them, let’s call her Lefty, said, “Oh jeepers.”

snort

I knew it was time to pull out my phone and document snippets of this conversation,because I know y’all love it when I eavesdrop.

Then Righty says, “Then, I watched The Nerds. You know, After the Thrones. They’re all SO nerdy! They think they’re so cool. But they’re such nerds.”

I don’t think Baseball Mom got the memo, that it’s hip to be a square these days…Even my mom (who was a cool girl) thinks the Big Bang gang is cool.

Lefty jumps back in with, “Did I ever tell you what Brett’s final grade was? He got an A. And she still wanted him to take it again. He told me, ‘She still says I don’t know the concepts.'”

Coming from a recovering teacher, I can attest to how hard it is not to pass students with Cs and Ds, but if they don’t understand the concepts, how the hell do they get As?

Righty, apparently checking her phone, “My email is full. It says delete some files and try again.  What Files!?”

Lefty was only half listening, because then she chimed in with, “I had 1,099 texts. From you from two years!”

A few minutes later, Righty was back on Game of Thrones, “I hope Danerys and whatsher face hook up. Yara? Maybe he’ll become an unsullied. What’s his face? He’s halfway there. Poor thing. He did betray his fam – his…Starks. When is Danerys going to find out all this stuff?”

Then they rambled some more about baseball and kids…

Righty was all, “What’s an Ethel Merman?”

And Lefty replied, “It’s German.”

Righty responded with “I have such a hard time visualizing things…”

snort

I couldn’t help it.

Then Righty starts singing, “Do you, do you want my love?” Followed by a whistle.

Lefty said something quiet enough for me to miss, and Righty quipped back, “It’s cuz I’m fancy. Fancy Nancy.”

I wish I was making all if this up. But it’s 100% real life.

Then Lefty says something like, “I’m sorry that you almost died but…I’m really glad I swim. It helps me!”

Righty dramatically reiterates, “I would have died.  I would literally have died.”

Ummm…okay, Righty. Glad you didn’t die or anything.

Conversations overheard on the train...and the Snapchats that shame them.

Conversations overheard on the train…and the Snapchats that shame them.

I  tried to turn them off, but then Righty said, “I’m like your lady’s maid.”

Lefty, realizing this was a brillz idea, responded, “I need a lady’s maid!”

“Doesn’t everybody.”

Well, actually…maybe?

And then they started talking about their appearances.

Lefty was all, “You don’t have football shoulders.”

Righty knows a good life when she sees it…”Thank GOD I don’t have football shoulders.”

“I do and it sucks.”

Poor Lefty with her football shoulders.

And then Righty starts singing again, “Do you do you want my love?”

And scene.

You know, commuting on the train is almost as entertaining as watching one of my favorite binge watches on Netflix. Everyone is a character in this world. Everyone. I get a glimpse into their lives, just like the tiny Carrie Bradshaw I’m currently obsessing over in The Carrie Diaries. Or the crazy awesome kids in the weird AF town on Stranger Things. Or my favorite office culture on 30 Rock.

What characters do you love to watch?

Netflix Stream Team

This post was brought to you by my friends at Netflix, who provided me, as a member of the Stream Team, with a year of Netflix, a device on which to watch it, and this month, a freaking awesome harmonica to play with. All opinions and words are mine.

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 to be a Responsible Irresponsible Adult on a Daily Train Commute

This morning,  as the conductor was collecting tickets on the train,  he stood impatiently beside our seat.

“Ticket!” I could almost hear him stomp his feet.

I cried out, “Oh!” because I was busy reading the Monday morning Facebook report.  I reached to dig through my sweet hot pink mini backpack and grab my ticket as Brian reached into his pocket. The conductor looked directly at me, his face and tone warmer, “No, you’re  fine.” And he waited for Brian to display  evidence that he belongs on this train.

Brian scoffed at me as I giggled. Actually, I’m pretty sure he also shook his head in utter disgust. He hates that this happens. Because it also means when I’m  careless and forget my Metra pass, or I forget to switch to the next month’s ticket…the conductors don’t make me buy a ticket.

How to be a responsible irresponsible adult on a daily train commuteHe says this is propagating my bad behavior. I call it  relationship building. On our old train line, I made friends in the morning. I had a group of train buddies who all hung out in the same vestibule of the front car. We all laughed and joked with the conductor, and he never even looked at our passes, save a couple times a month or so to ensure we had monthly passes.

When we lived in the apartment, we were on a different train line than we are now. Usually, Brian wasn’t on the morning train with me. He would drop me off so I could get on an earlier train, park the car, and take the next train into the city. Basically, Brian’s  a fucking saint. We still use that system sometimes for our new train line if we’re running late, but he often gets on the same morning train as me.

On the old line, we took the same train home every night as well, and our conductor was amazing.  We were even on a first name basis with him, and he would stop and chat with us for 10-15 minutes every day. When we went to Florida, I even bought him back some cool rocks I found on the beach because he collected them.

Here, we’re still the newbies.

But I sit in the same seat every day. And I smile at the conductor.  I say “good morning.” Apparently,  that can go a long way.

So when I forget to bring my new monthly pass, or I switch purses, I don’t have to come up with $9.75. Or spend 20 minutes trying to prove I already pay $150/month to get to work. Because they know me.

And that makes me smile.

Even if it pisses Brian off when I’m  irresponsible and forgetful.

Do you have a daily routine in which you interact with the same people? Is there someone who knows your morning  coffee order? What’s your daily commute like?

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!

Please. Don’t Walk and Smoke at the Same Time

I grew up in the house of smoke. The fact that I came out of it without smoking is actually kind of bizarre. When I lived at home, I didn’t even realize how everything I owned smelled like smoke. It wasn’t until I went to college that I ever understood the stale smell of lingering cigarette smoke. My mom figured it out eventually too, and started making all the smokers smoke outside. Which totally makes sense.

I don’t have a vendetta against smokers. I was against the smoking ban in bars. I smoked my fair share of angry, drunk cigarettes after that ban was implemented (it’s hard when all your friends go out to smoke and you’re stuck inside watching purses. Fuck that). My best friend Lily loves to tell my chain-smoking story of that one time I had a lit cigarette in each hand and two unlit cigarettes behind my ears. To be fair, I was drunk, pissed, and Bill Clintoning that shit (I didn’t like the burning from inhaling).

Now, I walk almost a mile to and from work each day. I pass by more than 642 people every day (I tried to count once, but lost track after a couple blocks and several hundred people).
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Every east-west street near the train stations in The Loop looks like this during rush hour. A sea of people – hundreds people – just racing to their offices. Of those hundred of people, there are usually a few unobservant smokers blowing smoke backwards, not even considering what jerky behavior they’re exhibiting.
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Listen. I get it. You want your smoky treat before work. After work. At lunch. When you’re a tourist on vacation. I don’t blame you. As a general rule, work sucks and vacation can be stressful. But when you walk and smoke at the same time in that giant crowd of people…you’re blowing smoke in the faces of every person in a ten-foot ring behind you. I know you don’t want to be a jerk…and I’ve got some pointers to offer you so that you aren’t being a complete douchebag.
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  • Pull over. Step to the side of the sidewalk and enjoy your cigarette. Preferably on the street side of the sidewalk so you’re not blowing smoke in everyone’s faces. You may miss the earlier train, but you won’t be considered an asshole by everyone who catches your smoke in their lungs. And honestly, won’t you enjoy your cigarette just a little more without rushing from point A to point B? Help me help you.
  • When someone LITERALLY runs in front of you, don’t continually try to pass her so your smoke keeps blowing in her face. She ran to get away from you.

(Yeah, I do this. And it happened. Also, the third time the guy sped up to pass me, I looked at him and yelled, “DUDE. SERIOUSLY.” This was me exhibiting douchebag behavior. That guy didn’t know what he was doing to piss me off. I felt a little bad. And he probably thought I was crazy. But seriously don’t smoke and walk.)

That’s it. Two simple steps to making the world a better place. Your efforts are appreciated.

What pet peeves do you have on your daily commute? What are your thoughts on walking smokers?

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!

New Girl New Year – AKA How I Stopped Trying to Beat Them and Instead Joined Them

Good day to you my bloggy bloggy friends!

The new year is almost upon us, and soon we’ll start scratching out the 4 in 2014 before adding the 5. Of course, for the new year, I’ve decided to embrace the commuter life fully. Not like a resolution or anything. More like. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Netflix Stream TeamThis morning, while rolling into the city on my morning commute, I turned on Netflix to continue my New Girl marathon. I’m determined to finish season 3 in January so I can start on Gilmore Girls, and since Brian only SOMETIMES watches New Girl with me, I had to get creative with my watching schedule. Of course, being New Girl, I was laughing so hard that I felt bad for the other people on the train, much like that one time I was reading Jenny Lawson’s book on an airplane…and I realized…

I was becoming one of those people on the train. The people I sometimes can’t seem to stand.

The guy with the blasting headphones.

The chatty Cathy on the phone.

The lady with the sound turned on while playing Candy Crush.

The girl laughing hysterically while staring intently at Netflix on her phone.

Yes, that’s right. Me.

Luckily, I was NOT on the quiet car this morning. And it looks like if I plan to watch my favorite sitcom, I’ll have to steer clear of the second and second-to-last cars so that my laughter doesn’t warrant the most evil of dirty looks. Because even though I’m joining the noisemakers with my laughter, I’m not a jerk.

What shows make you laugh out loud? What’s your commute to work like? Are you streaming Netflix too? What should I add to my queue for next year?

While no one pays me to talk about Netflix, I am a Netflix ambassador. I received a one-year subscription and a device to stream movies and TV wherever I go to thank me for my participation on the Netflix Stream Team. Prior to this partnership, I was a paying member and personal advocate for this streaming service of joy.

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!