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!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Weird Habits I Can’t Break

I’m a little crazy, ya know? I mean, it’s not like I’m Glenn Close crazy (anymore) or Scarecrow crazy (yet)…just my own personal brand of crazy. And I have these habits, right? And if you noticed them or had to understand/deal with them, you might think I’m just a little on the crazy side. Or if you’re Brian, you think I’m adorable. One of those. These are just a few of my little OCD tendencies/habits.

- Top Ten Tuesday -

  • I have to bag my own groceries. In my own way. Because it makes sense to me. And baggers/clerks be damned if they won’t let me do their job for them.
  • I have to sit facing the direction that the train is heading AND facing the center vestibule.

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  • Quite frankly, I prefer to sit in the exact seat that I’m sitting in above (the outer side of the front-facing seat in the four-seater) in the 3rd car from the back inbound and first car outbound. I’m all about efficiency.
  • I count stairs. When I walk up or down (but especially down) a flight of stairs, I need to count them. In sets of 8 or 16, preferably. Partially because I’m afraid I’ll fall down (which I have) & partially because I’m afraid I’ll miss the last step (which I have).
  • Once I’ve learned how to do something, it has to be done exactly that way forever. Unless I come up with a more efficient system. Or someone else teaches me a new way that’s more efficient or fun. Efficiency, y’all.
  • I dry myself off in the exact same pattern after a shower or bath, and a bathtub without one of those sliding glass doors makes it so much easier. First I dry my face, then arms (right first), hair, front, back…then I put my left leg on the side of the tub, dry that off. Step out with left leg, right leg on the tub and dry that off, then step out. And I’ve been following this pattern as long as I can remember.

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  • I have a thing with presentation and displays. I stacked my fancy game shelf (the less-fancy games are on shelves in the basement) like a fucking game store. As all game shelves should be stacked.
Game shelf

A thing of beauty…

I had to crowd source the rest because I’m writing this on the train. LUCKILY, Brian was pretty quick on the draw… these are the crazies according to him:

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  • Replying to every blog comment. He sees me glued to my phone, or saying from my computer, “I’ll be there in ONE minute…I just need to reply to this comment.” What he doesn’t see is that I’m sometimes days late or I miss a comment completely.
  • I put all the game pieces back in the same spot according to my system. I don’t think he  understands that this doesn’t make me crazy…it’s the only way the boxes close properly.
Lords of Waterdeep organized box

There are no game boxes that make me happier than the ones that have a place for everything so everything goes in it’s place

  • Collecting all the shells…okay…maybe I do go a smidge overboard. I pack an empty suitcase to bring shells home from Florida…and I have boxes and boxes of shells. Organized by type…
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Some of the shells from this year’s Floridadventure.

What crazy/weird habits do you have? What crazy habits would your partner/best friend say you have?

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!

Get Where You’re Getting With Curb

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Curb. I received a promotional code to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I love it when an app makes my life easier. I love it even more when it involves me not having to walk a mile in my shoes or anyone else’s.

Curb_RGB

In case you were unaware, I live in suburbia and work in downtown Chicago. The Loop. Smack dab in the middle of everything awesome. And about a mile away from the train that brings me in and out of this beautiful city.

Curb, formerly known as Taxi Magic, is a super useful app that helps you get a cab when you need it. I’ve been using Curb, and their network of more than 4,000 taxis in Chicago, for several weeks and I’m never looking back. The drivers are licensed, commercially insured and have all completed thorough background checks. That’s a program I can stand behind.

In the past, I would hope and pray a taxi would show up where I needed it, when I needed it, and more often than not, cabs driving by were already full with people (the perks of working two blocks away from one of the biggest Chicago tourist traps – Millennium Park). When I’m in a hurry, I want to know that a cab is going to be there when I need it. Especially if I’m trying to make a train. Cue Curb, where I can order a cab to pick me up now or plan for later! The process is simple and made my life so. much. easier.

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Recent occurrences when Curb has been a lifesaver or just plain convenient:

  • When my train was 30 minutes late getting into the city. I was only 15 minutes late for work.
  • When I left work just a few minutes late. (I have my walk time scheduled to a TEE. Any later, and I’m usually out of luck.)
  • When I met Brian for drinks in River North after work.
  • When Brian and I left the aforementioned bar and went to an event hosted by my website host. I love them.

I have yet to plan my next Curb adventure in advance, but I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl. As if you didn’t already know. You can get started with Curb, and as an added bonus for you, my lovely readers, you can get $15 dollars off your first ride! Just use the code: CurbMom14 To use this code, download the Curb app on your Android or iOS phone. Then, follow these instructions:

  • Open the Curb app
  • Tap the gear symbol in the top right corner
  • Tap “Promos and Credits” on the dropdown menu
  • Enter your code and tap the “enter” key on your keyboard
  • After entering the code, $15 will appear on your “Promos and Credits” screen.
  • Full details on using the Curb coupon code can be found here:http://bit.ly/1CnLGVc 

Do you take cabs anywhere? When? How do you call for cabs? Have you used Curb or as its previous name, TaxiMagic? Will you? Tell me all your secrets.

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!

5 Reasons Childless Adults Love Back-to-School Season

I don’t have tiny humans of my own, yet, and I probably won’t have them for a while. What may surprise you parents out there, though, is that I get just as excited for back-to-school as they do. Obviously my enthusiasm for the end of summer comes with different reasons, but I’m eager for your kids to return to school, nonetheless. Even now that I’m no longer a server/bartender/retail associate with my afternoons free, I’ve found a few stellar reasons to rejoice when the kids are back in the classroom.

Back to school isn't just fun for parents and students. Childless adults are big fans of the season too. Here are a few reasons why (1)

 

The train is less crowded

In the summer, the commuter trains fill up with people who don’t know the drill. Families and teens flood the city to visit the beach, summer festivals, museums, shopping and more. Some of the time, this is no big deal, but there are always a few occurrences that really irritates the daily commuters.

I can relax in the park on my lunch hour

I work three blocks from Millennium Park in Chicago. In the summer, it’s swarmed with teens in high-waisted short shorts and crop tops. Sure, there may be the sporadic field trip to The Bean or a couple tourists, but the mass exodus of the parent-less hormonal teens at the end of summer sets my heart a flutter.

Tourism dwindles

Every year as summer begins and the hoards of local and exotic tourists descend upon Chicago, trolling up and down State Street, outside the building where I work. I look at these people and scream in my head, “Where were you when the temperature was well below zero?!” As soon as it’s nice out, they overrun the sidewalk, walking in large groups that take up the entire space so I have to push my way through them to make it to my train on time. When they go away, and there are fewer people in my way as I head to and from work, ecstatic doesn’t begin to cover it.

Vacations

While I’m all vacationed out for the year, this os the absolute best time for childless people to hit up the great vacation spots typically overrun with kids and families. My boyfriend and I visited Disney World the week after Labor Day a couple years ago and it was AMAZING. If I could plan all of my vacations during this time, I totally would!

Matinees

I don’t get to experience this nearly as much as I did when I wasn’t working a 9-5, but oh my GOD did I love going to matinees after the kids went back to school! Empty theaters all to myself at the lower price! Glorious.

What are you looking forward to when the kids go back to school?

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!

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?

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!

Five Things Friday: Things I’m Going to Miss About my Train Line

This is it, Blog Friends. The big move. Today is my last day commuting on the BNSF Metra train line for a while. If you recall, we’re currently moving into Brian’s dad’s house while we begin the hunt for our very own house. As our new residence is only a temporary one, we may return to this commute someday soon, but we won’t know until we find our house. (Which is the most exciting thing EVER. I’m going to have SO MUCH TO TELL YOU. After I’m done packing up all of the shit I’ve accumulated in the last 18 months….or 31 years. One of those.)

But I wanted to reflect on the things I’m going to miss about this particular train line, because it’s been my daily commute for almost a year now. (And I’ve been riding the train for over a year.)

In no particular order,

5 Things I’m Going to Miss About my Train Line

  1. Train buddies.  It’s funny, when I was younger, I dated a guy who had a daily commute to the city and he would talk about having drinks with his train buddies, and I was just like…that’s a thing? Weird. And then I started taking the train every day. And I was in the same spot every day. And in the mornings, I stand in the first car vestibule. Every day. I know the conductor. I know the people. Because we’re in the same spot for 25 minutes every. Single. Day. And you jump into a conversation here or there (which Brian HATES that I do) and the next thing you know, you’re on a first name basis, telling everyone your life story. And then you’re buddies. And you’ll miss them when you leave.
  2. The funny conductor. My morning conductor, whose name is always on the tip of my tongue, but I can never remember, is hysterical. He’s always grumbling and making fun of Metra like it’s his job. I like him because he remembers me and doesn’t make me pull my pass out every morning. He also makes fun of the mean conductor (who was in charge of the cars that I originally sat in). He’s quite a likable fellow. Even though he rarely smiles.
  3. 25 minute commute time. I’m super lucky to have been living in a hub of commuters. Downers Grove is an express train line, and it’s the last stop on the inbound express. Which means I get on the train, and it’s non-stop to Union Station.  I’m going to miss that when I have a 45 minute train commute…tacking on lots and lots of extra time to my day.
  4. The fancy pants grocery store. So on our way home, we get off the train and there’s this adorbs grocery store that has delicious cheese for me and pico de gallo for Brian. It’s pretty much everything we need in our kitchen. Right there. So convenient. So delicious. I asked Brian the other day, “OMG where I am I going to get my cheese!? There are no fancy grocery stores or even Trader Joe’s nearby! I’m going to have to drive an hour to get cheese.” But then I remembered the cheese shop 4 blocks from my office and I could breath again.
  5. The evening conductor. Brian hates that I strike up conversations with strangers and he randomly gets sucked into them. HATES it. But I do. And he does. And one of those people is the evening conductor on our train. While we have separate commutes in the morning, Brian and I often train home together. And we sit in the same seats in the same car every day. And our conductor always stops and chats with us. More recently, he discovered that we are not, in fact, married. And now he teases Brian about it. Which makes me laugh.

It basically feels like I’m moving schools or leaving a job or something. It’s sad. Apparently wherever I go, I build my own little community. I love that about me.

What about you, Blog Friends? Do you have a routine that you would miss if you moved? Have you ever gone through this? Do you commute on a train? What’s the world like for you?

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!

Two Hours in the Life of Me. A Typical Atypical Day.

The other day my morning progressed in the following fashion:

7:00 AM: Woke up. Late.

Got dressed. In the dark.

Packed some snacks for work and yogurt for breakfast.

Waited on Brian. (This is unusual as he is typically waiting on me.)

Gave Brian my gigantic umbrella. Used a tiny substitute.

7:42 AM Missed my train. By a millisecond.

Thought to self, So this is how the day is going to go.

8:25 AM Got to the city.

Walking to work, I looked down at my shirt. Inside out.

Got to the elevator.

Thought to self, If the ‘vator is empty…

Then people jumped on. Got to the 16th floor.

Realized I didn’t push the 13.

Thought to self, So this is how the day is going to go.

Pushed 13. Flipped shirt outside in.

Elevator opened.

8:45 AM Got to desk.

9:00 AM Looked for yogurt. Left bag at home.

Thought to self, So this is how the day is going to go.

And the day pretty much continued like that.

Sometimes, I feel like this is the norm moreso than it is unusual for me. Inside out shirts, forgetting things at home, not paying attention to where I’m going, fixing the problem in the most inappropriate way ever…I mean, if anyone had gotten on the elevator between floors 15 and 14, they would have gotten a much better view. Also, I think there’s a camera in the elevator. Whatever.

If you don’t believe me, here are a few additional examples.

That one morning when all hell broke loose with the broken glasses and the freezing and the ugh right before vacation.

That other morning when I was a little late to work because I forgot my keys

That time I got a concussion because of a no parking sign and the Willy Wonka of meat candy.

That other time I almost died because of an invisible wire.

I mean, at least it’s spread out over the course of several months, right?

Me on a good commuter day (okay, fine...this was on my way home.)

Me on a good commuter day (okay, fine…this was on my way home.)

Why do we rush around so much? What’s your rushed morning look 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!

In Which Uncle Murphy Paid a Visit to the Girl Who Won’t Stop Bragging About Vacation…Which Starts Tomorrow.

And by Uncle Murphy, I mean the writer of Murphy’s Law. The bastard.

So yesterday, I started the morning with my usual dash to the train and had a few missteps. And once I passed those missteps, thought I was home free. So I Facebooked that shit. Because. You know…that’s what I do.

Crazy Commuter Morning


Note to self: Don’t post this shit on Facebook until the next day.

So I made it to the train; piece of cake. Stuff in tow. I sometimes get on the train on the back car and walk all the way to the front car. I like to be one of the first people off the train to avoid the Union Station cattle call. It’s a good thing. Usually.

As I made my way toward the front of the train, I started to unwrap the layers of warmth surrounding my body that were causing me to sweat. The train gets toasty when it’s full of people.

I sat down in the little vestibule like usual (So I don’t have to sit next to loud, annoying smelly people) and typed up my ordeal. As I started to re-layer up, I realized that my sweet Bears hat was missing. Somewhere between Car 137(this is a made up number FYI) and Car 1, I had dropped my warm and cozy hat. With a one-mile walk and a -20 degree windchill to look forward to. Awesome.

It’s okay, Christine (I call myself this, when I’m angry at self.) You’ve got the scarf and the face mask and the hood. It’s all going to be okay.

Winter 1: Chrissy 0

So I went on with my morning routine. Buttoned my coat, snapped my face mask, wrapped up my  sweet 12-foot scarf, slipped my glasses into my pocket and was on my way.

Doctor Who Scarf

Twelve glorious feet of scarf. More on that next week.

As I crossed the street just outside of Union Station, I slipped on a patch of ice. LUCKILY, I am a master of correcting myself so as not to fall. I know. I know. You’ve seen how many sweet spills I’ve taken. From spraining my ankle on a mountain to tripping over invisible wires to walking into No Parking signs…You can’t exactly call me Grace.

So I didn’t fall. Which is good, because if I had, I would have either A. face-planted into Adams street or B. gone backwards into the metal bridge dealie. But I screamed the obnoxious scream that usually scares the crap out of Brian.

Good work, Christine. You really sealed it with that one. It’s okay though. Let’s go find some breakfast.

I walked the cold walk to Pret, where I picked up a tasty little breakfast thingy with bacon (because all that matters is the bacon. Obvi.)

After Pret, it was only 3 blocks to the office, so I was almost there. I checked the time; things looked good.

We’re ready for the day. It won’t be that bad. You’ve got bacon. You can get a hat on your lunch break. Work’s going to fly by. And vacation is in 2 days. You can do it.

I stepped into my office building and started deconstructing my walk-wear. Because I was pretty blind when I walked (the face mask fogs up my glasses), one of the first things I did was pull out my glasses from my sweatpants pocket.

Well.

Part of my glasses anyways.

As I reached in to grab my specks, the motherfuckers cracked. Something about them being frozen and crackable made that the perfect moment to die.

“MOTHERFUCK!”

I’d like to tell you that I just thought that in my head. I really would.

But no. It came out in all it’s obnoxious glory. And the lovely security lady came to check on me, because I was visibly on the verge of a breakdown. She wanted to help. But she couldn’t. There was nothing anyone could do.

Glasses broke in half because of cold

FML. That’s about the end of that.

So I thanked her. And probably apologized, because I do that when I’m upset. And got into the elevator. Alone.

And then…I cried the ugly cry.

It started with a few Claire Danes sniffles and snorts, but then it went full-out bawling. I could NOT win this morning if I tried.

I crawled into my office, trying to hide my eyes, hoping that they were masked by the cold look everyone seemed to be wearing. I found the only secluded place I knew of in the open office and I just let it all out.

Eventually, I had one of my co-workers come rescue me and she even brought my SWEET work slippers. There’s something about sequined camo that makes the world seem just a little bit brighter.

Sequin Camo Slippers

I’m Polish, OK. So stop judging my holiday Minnie Mouse socks and camo slippers.

I was blind for the first half of my day, but picked up a set of contacts (after getting an unnecessary eye exam in order to get the free trial) and ordered some adorably sassy new specks. And then I remembered that vacation was only HOURS away now.

So here we are. 27 hours away from my flight outta this Frozen Tundra and after a week of vacation joy, I’m coming home to a new pair of specks, the Superbowl (Go Peyton! My LOVE!), the Olympics, house-hunting and so much more joy.

See, things can turn around for the better!

Have you ever had one of those days? Where you just can’t seem to catch a break? Tell me about it. No seriously, tell me about it.

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!

Going to the Gym is Like an Atheist Stepping into Church

And guys…I didn’t spontaneously combust. We went to the gym last night. After paying for a membership for several months and going less than once a month. We went back.

And I took a chance on zumba.

And despite the fact that I am in TERRIBLE shape.

Despite the fact that I have 2 bad ankles, 2 bad knees and 2 bad hip flexors.

Despite the fact that I was the chubbiest girl in the room.

Despite the fact that I could BARELY keep up with the skinny bitches.

I lasted the entire 60 minute class. And lived to consider going back.

Once I stopped staring at my stomach in the mirror and watching myself bounce around like a bowl of jello going on a joyride…I kind of caught on. And caught myself…Smiling. Exhausted. But smiling. It felt good!

(BTW, I hate it when I use my best line in the title. But I’m too lazy to change it and put something else up there. I feel like I let you guys down. Wait. I can make it up to you. Keep reading).

I did all of this crazy zumba-ing while injured! So on Wednesday when we were getting off the train, I slipped on the metal stair. The doors were still closed, the train was still moving, and if I hadn’t been holding on to the pole/railing/bar thingy for dear life, I would have fallen into the door, which would have opened, and I would have fallen out of a moving train to my klutzy death. But I WAS holding on, so none of that nonsense happened. Except that in holding on, I pulled every muscle from my wrist to my neck trying to rescue myself from a very embarrassing death.

Brian’s reaction?

Or should I call it, Brian’s lack of reaction?

“Did you hurt your ankle?”

“No”

“OK, good.”

He’s immune to my klutzy. I suppose that’s only natural when the word “ow!” comes out of my mouth more than any other single word.

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!