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!

Hide and Go Netflix

At one of my old jobs, many years ago, I had a lot of down time. Once I was pretty confident I could knock out my work in a certain amount of time,  I’d take a little break. And catch up on Netflix. I wasn’t the only one. My entire row of coworkers was watching one movie or tv show at any given time. Where do you think I got the idea?

It started small, with secret windows open just emough for me to watch a few minutes here and there while I worked…eventually, though, it was entire episodes. Full movies. I was a rebel, and I loved it.

And that was before smart phones were as fancy as they are now. These days, I’ve got way too much work going on to play on the clock, but now that I can Netflix on my fancy phone (where I’m granfathered in an unlimited data plan), I can avoid people and places everywhere else by staring at my phone. I’m not an introvert, but I’m an introverted extrovert, and when I’m uncomfortable somewhere, it’s nice to have an escape.

Need to avoid the loud old ladies on the train screaming chaw-co-lot-ay at little girls? Escape in a magical world with Charmed.

Irritated by the gossipy soccer moms behind you? Watch Mean Girls (starting tomorrow!).

Ladies talking too much on the train.

If you follow me on Snapchat, you get to see things like this.

Bored with family drama? Turn on your favorite episode of Gilmore Girls.
Tired of day to day office nonsense? Catch an episode of 30 Rock. 

Where do you  Netflix?

I don’t have kids (yet), but Netflix posed the question, “Where do you sneak in a few minutes of your favorite show?” This post is part of my Netflix StreamTeam partnership. I received a year of Netflix and a device on which to watch all my favorite shows.

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!

Adventures in Babybel Eating

Just like my hero, Chris, in Adventures in Babysitting,  I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and occasionally, I have little hometown adventures. Whenever Brian and I get lost, or take the long way around, we call it an adventure.

I have yet to meet Thor or get stabbed on the El, but not for a lack of trying. I have, on the other hand, been beaten up by a no-parking sign, tripped by an invisible wire, and almost killed by falling ice daggers.

My life here in Chicago is full of adventure. And you know I’m like a gremlin and have all these rules of care…like how I need to be fed at regular intervals.

My daily adventure starts with a commuter train ride.

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A snack pack can be a lifesaver this early in the morning.

I venture from suburbia into the city every day for the job. When you’re hundgry, it’s a long 45-mimite ride. But little snack packs like my favorite on-the-go cheese, Babybel, make the trip tolerable.

Sometimes, if I have time, I’ll even slice it and melt it on some bread in the toaster oven before I head out of the house.

On occasion, after work, Brian and I (or just I) will journey on an adventure after work. We might go out for dinner, do some touristy nonsense, or we may head to a movie.

As we roam through the city, we’ll take a cab or the El (cabs are faster and easier most of the time). I’m a big fan of cab selfies, and they’re even better when I have a snack.

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Once we get to our theater destination,  I’m ready to put out my buffet of treats to enjoy delicious snacking. This is why large bags are important. So you can bring enough snack packs to share with your people before you kick your feet up.

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The best movie theater snack packs include a beverage,  something sweet,  savory, and crunchy.

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When I went to see Captain America, I brought bottled water, a candy bar from Dylan’s, a selection of Babybel, and pretzel thins to give me a little crunch. And I was happy.

As I made my way home, I napped on the train, dreaming of more cheese.

What are your favorite movie theater snacks? Do you bring your own snack packs into the theater?

Babybel sent me free samples and some things to make my adventures more fun, but as always, these opinions and thoughts are mine, and mine alone. I eat a lot of Babybel, because I’m always running around town.

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 I Think About Lighting my Hair on Fire

I picture a lot of crazy thoughts during the course of my day. These thought cause some serious anxiety. But I figure,  maybe if I put them out into the world, they definitely won’t come true.

I’d like to point out, though, that this isn’t my hypochondria thinking. Instead, it’s the S part of my Myer’s-Briggs results. The part that pictures every possible outcome of a day’s events or even just a fleeting moment.

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So yes, sometimes I do picture lighting my hair on fire. Not like…on purpose or anything. Just in a freak accident involving cooking, candles, bonfires, or lighters. No big deal.

I’ve also imagined a hundred ways I’ll die in a possibly firey car crash. Usually it’s when I’m driving, but sometimes when Brian is driving and I’m eating snacks. I’ve envisioned cars slamming into my car from the front, back, and sides. Falling into a body of water off a bridge (this is why my car has a life hammer).

Some mornings, I see myself tripping and falling onto the train tracks. I try to stand far enough away that the worst injury to ever come from the train platform is a drunken sprained ankle (remind me to tell you THAT story).

When I shower, I just know I’m going to slip and fall one of these days. I’m actually surprised it hasn’t happened yet. I always think about what would happen afterwards. And then I think to myself, maybe I should only shower when Brian’s home. Which, honestly, isn’t a big deal because Brian’s home like 95% of the time I’m home. And I’m sure the loud thud of my body going down in the tub wouldn’t be mistaken as anything normal.

Now that I think about it, guys…maybe those thoughts are kind of morbid. Maybe I should tell you about other disasters I think about. Like the chance of my phone flying into the toilet after…well…pooping. I’m terrified of losing my Internet limb down there and never wanting it back. Years ago, when flip phones were a thing, I dropped a couple in the bathroom, but the toilets were clean.

Or the flooding basement.  I mean, my car has already been flooded. Our basement has kind of flooded. But I picture a giant pool of water rising up from the sump pump well and pouring in through the windows. This does not help me sleep at night.

And really,  sometimes, I just picture myself grabbing a pair of scissors and chopping off my hair. It’s getting so fucking long, but I’m trying to keep it that way for the wedding. We’ll see how that goes.

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What crazy things do you picture happening to you? What are you most afraid of?

PSA: If you’re in Illinois, go vote already.

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!

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!

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!

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!

The 4 People on the Train That I Didn’t Miss While Working From Home

The Friday before Christmas was my last day in the office. I worked from home for 5 days (Christmas and New Year’s Day were holidays and I took Christmas Eve off). I resumed the daily commute yesterday morning in blizzard conditions.

Figures.

As I was riding the train though, I realized that there are people that I vehemently despise. People that, whatever they do, irk the shit out of me.

In no particular order, here’s to them:

Chatty Kathys

This woman is nice enough…but damn can she talk. Whether she’s on the phone from 7:42 am until 8:09 am or chatting it up with someone who is trying to walk away, she does. not. shut. up. I don’t know where she gets the energy, but even I can’t handle it that early in the morning. I just want to read my Nook or troll through Facebook. Quietly.

Suburban Tourists

When I say suburban tourists, I mean tourists who live in suburbia and only take the train for special occasions. Whether they’re riding in on my morning commute or following me home, they never cease to piss me the fuck off. They talk on the quiet car. They’re loud. They’re rude. They never have their tickets ready. They don’t even understand why they’re being charged an extra $2 for not buying their ticket at the station. Jerks.

Headphone Abusers

These people are also found in the elevator and other close-quarter locations where you can hear their music, audiobook or phone conversation perfectly clear. So perfectly clear that you may as well be a part of the damn conversation. I don’t care that Cheryl’s boyfriend is in jail. I don’t want to listen to the latest romance novel. I don’t want to jam out to your country or rap…and I don’t expect you to enjoy my 90’s party pop or to want to hear about my most recent run in with the ground. Let’s turn the volume down, eh?

Smelly People

This can go either way. Sometimes these are the people who don’t shower or they sit next to you with bad breath…and start talking. OR they’ve DOUSED themselves in some type of perfume that they think smells wonderful…and really they’re giving me a headache. Here’s a tip: Don’t spritz on the scents right before you get on the train. Wait until you’re not surrounded by people in a tiny space.  And shower. Please. Please. Please. Shower.

I am well aware of the fact that I have my own set of pitfalls that do not fall on this list. I’m sure I piss people off too. What are some of your pet peeves when it comes to your daily commute? If you don’t commute, what are some pet peeves in your daily existence?

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!