I digress: germ-killing robots and my BFF, Jenny Lawson

I locked myself out of my blog. I want to say it was for weeks, which is why I am so bad at posting things at regular intervals like I used to do when I was young and carefree and involuntarily unemployed.

But it was actually just for a day. 16 hours or so, honestly. I made the major mistake of logging out to see if maybe, turning my blog off and then turning it back on again might fix some issues I’ve been having. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t — and as I wrote this sentence the “Updating failed. The response is not a valid JSON response.” error message popped up in a big red pop-up that likes to annoy me regularly — no idea what it means. I tried Googling and it felt like I was reading another language, and my blog still works, albeit badly at times, so I just kinda go with it).

I digress (I don’t actually know what that means, but I like to say it because it sounds fancy. This often results in me saying stupid stuff that doesn’t make sense. Like I really want to use the word swarthy to describe myself because in my head it means awkward [because that’s how Tula referred to herself as a child in My Big Fat Greek Wedding], but in reality, it means dark complexion or weathered by the sun. And I am none of those things).

So I logged out of my blog to fix a thing I didn’t fix, and then couldn’t remember the password to get back in. Never fear, I thought: I’ll just order a fresh password like I always do (and let me tell you, if you do this enough, you can eventually come back to the first password you forgot forever ago and never forget your bank password again). So I said, “hey WordPress, email me a link to a temporary password or something” — I just clicked a button, so most of that was implied. And the email never came.

And then I came across a different email and fell down a random rabbit hole of I don’t remember what, and then my laptop was running out of battery, so I had to go plug it back in. And my phone was running out of battery, and I had to go plug that in. And then my back was running out of battery, so I had to go lay down on it and recharge. And while I did that, I went back to read a few more chapters of Jenny Lawson’s latest book about being broken, and while I am not the same kind of broken, it really resonated because I am also broken in the best possible way and I feel a kinship to her (and also, we’re best friends, and she said I could say this on Twitter, so I will say it whenever I darn well feel) even though I am a devout extrovert and she is a fully practicing introvert and we are of two completely different minds in the religion of socialization. But I collect introverts, as you may already know, and we’re best friends on the internet, which [I think] is Jenny’s favorite type of best friend. And so I was laughing so hard that Brian came in later, looked at what I was reading, and was all, “Oh. Got it. That’s why you were laughing like a damn hyena.” He remembers the time I read Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (and he does not pretend it never happened, by the way).

My brain is running faster than I can type this morning, so bear (bare?) with me here.

[20 minutes of a Google rabbit hole later] Oh hey! The logging out DID fix one of my issues. I can use Elementor again (I realize that means very little to a majority of you. It means very little to me except that it allows me to put those cute little recommended post links at the bottom of this post and makes it easier to edit my blog posts and see what I’m doing and how terribly I’m rambling today). So, you know, there’s something to be said for that. 

I swear I have a point, but at this point, I’m not sure it’s even worth getting to, because it was all about the journey, and this morning’s [afternoon’s] rambles have been a motherfucking journey if I don’t say so myself. But I did, so you don’t have to worry about saying so yourself.  

Basically, I never received the email from WordPress to reset my password. I remember thinking to look in my spam folder, but then I promptly forgot about it and never wrote the blog post that was in my head yesterday. Maybe I can punch that one out next. 

So I requested another password reset email and this time, I was on the ball and went straight to my spam. But of course, I couldn’t just snag the email and go. I had to linger in the spam folder and peruse what Google thinks is garbage. And I found gold. 

I received an email from Mike with the subject: “germ killing robots” and obviously, I was intrigued and like, well that can’t be spam, because germ-killing robots sound awesome. 

Good Day,chrissy @ quirkychrissy . com (I added spaces, but I did not remove spaces or change capitalizations here. Do with that knowledge as you will).

germ killing robots
cleaning robot
UV Robots
Intelligent Sterilization Robot
ultraviolet machine
Disinfection robot

Please reply us email.
we will send you more information

Best and regards!
Mike

I have replied to Mike and am awaiting more information. Well played, Mike. Well played.

I also (clearly) was able to reset my password — even though WordPress was all, “Hey dummy, that is too easy of a password, click here to confirm that you know it’s an easy password.” And I clicked there because  a not-easy password was what got us here in the first place. 

TL;DR I think I should probably talk to a medical professional about my undiagnosed ADHD. Also, how can I get my hands on some germ-killing robots? Asking for a friend.

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!

Justice League, the Snyder Cut: A 4-hour epic

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a movie ramble around here, and I MISS going to the theater. So you get this home theater movie “review” until I head back to the theaters (SOON — Black Widow I’m coming for you)! 

Listen, I’m not one to judge lengthy storytelling. You’re talking to the girl who spent hundreds, if not thousands of words talking about her epic and embarrassing first period. And let’s be honest here, longer movies CAN tell better stories. An interconnected series of 20+ movies can tell the most incredible stories.

As a die-hard MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe, for the uninitiated) fan, I don’t always catch the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) flicks on arrival. Sometimes I miss them entirely. Sometimes, I’m not even sure if they’re officially connected. So when Justice League hit the scene in 2017, it swept right past my radar. 

So I had the rare opportunity to be among superhero movie lovers who had not seen the less-than-beloved Whedon version of Justice League when Brian and I sat down and watched the Snyder Cut on HBO last week. 

I even dressed for the occasion! (When I took my Dad to see the live action Aladdin movie, I think I was Disneybounding as the Genie, and he looked at me and said, “Christine, you have an outfit for everything don’t you?” Yeah Dad, I sure do.)

Chrissy posing in a Superman hoodie

I’m always excited to add to my DC clothes, because Six Flags is a DC comics park…and uh…I’m a passholder there too.

My friends at TV Store Online sent me this Superman hoodie to celebrate the new release of Justice League and I was so stoked to play comfy dress-up with it (I even made a silly TikTok reminding people that I am still a Marvel girl always), as post surgery has been all about the comfort. As usual, TVSO was there for me with the exact right thing I needed when I needed it. We had a cozy movie night in and this hoodie brought extra joy  — and warmth because it is still brrrr in Chicago at night. 

When we got home from taking doggo for a walko, we opened a bag of cheesy popcorn and settled in for a lengthy flick. Considering we easily binge watch that many TV shows in a single night, the movie never felt daunting. So why then is it a big deal to have a 4-hour movie that tries to build character development and relationships?

Overall, I liked it Justice League. I’ve always loved Batman and have very much enjoyed Ben Affleck’s Old Man Bat performance. You know I love me some Wonder Woman, and I think Gal Gadot is royalty. I would have liked to see more Aquaman action and certainly look forward to exploring the relationship between the Atlantians and Amazons (is that a DC thing? It should be). 

I thought the storytelling was fab, the characters were fun, and some of the emotional depth (particularly Ray Fisher’s Cyborg and Amy Adams’ Lois Lane) was really beautiful. I only know what Brian told me about the original, but every scene I loved, Brian responded “think so” when I asked, “Was this one cut?”

I may never watch the Whedon version of Justice League because I like the way this one played out and I can’t imagine cutting it by more than half and then re-editing it. Not to mention the behind the scenes drama with Whedon that just keeps expanding. It sounds like hell. 

While the DCEU will likely never reach the MCU level of the playing field (primarily due to trying to play catch up and rush the big collab movie instead of slowly building their universe hero by hero the way Marvel did), there is hope for Justice here, and I hope they continue to keep pushing forward. And hey, maybe I’m wrong and they will surge ahead in the comic race. I’ve been wrong before*.

Let’s normalize the longer movie. Let’s normalize long-term storytelling. There is so much room for strong character building and emotional performances when we as the audiences truly know and understand and empathize with the characters. A comic book movie doesn’t need quippy one-liners and bright colors (I know it’s weird coming from me) to bring it to life. The key is in good storytelling, and I think that Snyder did a really wonderful job with what he had to work with from the start. 

Have you seen Justice League? Both versions or just one of them? Let me know your thoughts. I’m dying to talk about this with people. 

*once. I’ve been wrong once. And only once. And it’s that one time that I said I was wrong. And that’s it. 

O for Onward!

On Monday night, we went on a quest. Tom, Laura, Brian and I adventured to our favor AMC in Chicago to catch an early screening

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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!

Held together with glue and fishing line

Science is weird.

I snort as I type this because science is amazing. And incredible. And lifesaving. But it is also weird as fuck.

I have so many half-written blog posts from the past month. I really hope that I can finish and share them because I enjoyed writing them. I just never finished. I suppose that’s another post entirely. I digress. March was almost as weird as science. I suppose March will always be this weird universal anniversary for us humans. We’ll reflect on a lot of things and try to remember what’s important and hopefully learn from our mistakes. I suspect in a few years, we’ll have an international holiday in March to commemorate the lives lost in 2020 and 2021 (and however long until the pandemic is truly over — because, reminder, it’s not over yet).

As we progress slowly but surely toward a worldwide reopening, and the apocalyptic fears draped with toilet paper move to the subset of our minds, I hope that we can make a new normal that factors in so much more of the things we took for granted in the Before Times. I hope.

But back to science.

Science. The people that brought you pasteurization and genetic sequencing and cloned sheep. The people that made your watermelon seedless and gave you 3,000 varieties of tomatoes to choose from. The people that make vaccines so we can live longer, healthier lives in bigger, global communities. Science is fucking wild, man.

We are all living, breathing examples of how science does wonderful, amazing, incredible things. From teeth that don’t fall out to treatments that can give us 3, 5, 20, 50, 80 more years of life. Beverly Cleary died last month at the age of 104. We should all be so lucky. As an aside, someone I know said to me, “Ugh who wants to live to be that old?” My immediate response without question or thought was me. I have a lot to do, and I’m not usually quick about any of it — I like to take my time and savor the moments…or I have undiagnosed ADHD and spend a lot of moments trying to remember what it was I started out doing in the first place…like this blog post about the wonders of science that took me three weeks to finish or the aforementioned unfinished blog posts, for example. I swear I have a point.

I had back surgery one month ago today. I’ll spare you the photos I’ve been taking of the progression (but I’m happy to share them with anyone who wants to see — so all you Curious Georges can feel free to message or email me and I’ll send you a picture of what I’ve been calling my second butt crack), but I will tell you about my incision.

*TW: BACK SURGERY, SCARS, AND STITCHES*

The surgeon cut into my back, moved my muscles and nerves out of the way and sliced off the herniated disc that has been causing me so much trouble for the past 6 years. The way I explained it to my niece and nephew makes the most sense to me: Imagine you have a bunch of little jelly donuts between your vertebrae. And one of your donuts popped and jelly was coming out the side. They went in, cleaned off the rogue jelly, and sewed the donut back up. They put my muscles and nerves back in place and then sewed up all the layers of my skin with something that can only be described as fishing line (these are allegedly dissolving stitches, but that has yet to be determined by my body — I’m just kidding guys. I trust science, and believe the doctors when they say these stitches will disappear in the void of my body), which was tied in two knots at the top and bottom of my scar. And just for good measure, they lathered the top of my skin in glue (I guess this is common practice), stuck an oversized bandaid on my back, and woke me up.

Large bandage on back after surgery
it really was a giant Bandaid

The entire procedure was less than 45 minutes. The waking me up part took a couple of hours. I think they were over-cautious with the anesthesia because of my past experience with surgery and anesthesia (I’m not mad about it). I woke up after some crazy-ass dreams I was having and I only wish I could remember the dreams.

*END SCAR AND STITCHES TALK TEMPORARILY*

I went into this procedure expecting to come out of it feeling an 11 on my stupid pain scale (the pain scale allegedly goes to 10, and is the stupidest thing ever. That’s another post, maybe). Since having surgery, I’m pretty sure the pain in my back and the radiating pain in my leg has been, at most, a 3 or 4, maybe and mostly, it’s at like a 1-2, again maybe. Again, the pain scale is bullshit. Suffice it to say, I’m in very little pain. I’ve been incredibly cautious for the last 4 weeks, sticking firmly to the rules of no bending, lifting, twisting, pushing, pulling, carrying anything more than a gallon of milk, etc. For the first two weeks, Brian even helped me get dressed every day. It’s been an adventure, for sure. /

*RESUME SCAR TALK (In case the squeamish are still here)*

At day 3, we were told to remove the bandage. I couldn’t wait. I had Brian take photos immediately. I impatiently motioned for my phone so I could see what it looked like. It was badass in all the ways scars are supposed to be, albeit a little fresher than I would have expected. There was a deep divot in the small of my back that I can only describe as a second ass crack, there were two bows of fishing line tied in knots coming out of each end of the line, and it was all covered in a glossy sheen of glue. It was awesome.

It also gave me the worst panic attack I think I’ve ever had. I didn’t realize it at first as a wave of crippling nausea washed over my entire body. Heat flooded every inch of my suddenly cold, clammy skin, sweat poured out of places I didn’t know could sweat. The room spun and I started hyperventilating. I also started crying, “oh god oh god, I’m going to throw up or die or both” in the most panicked sound, which sent Brian into panic mode trying to help me. This was his second experience that week with my intense waves of nausea (and come to think of it, maybe the first one was also a panic attack. Holy shit. Writing really is full of discovery. Will investigate these feelings and experiences further and report back at a later date). Anyways, eventually the panic attack subsided and I was able to look on my scar with awe and wonder, and am still baffled as to how that triggered such an intense reaction from someone who loves gross shit.

At my two week follow-up appointment, most of the glue had finally peeled off, and the nurse practitioner I saw cut the fishing line knots and bows down to below the nubs. The result of this can only be described in this way: Imagine, if you will, the plastic hang tag from a new shirt (or a thrifted shirt from Goodwill). You know how sometimes you clip it, but don’t get both sides, and there’s a little piece sticking into your back or neck or shoulder going poke poke poke? Yeah. That. Except the poke poke poke is happening inside the house. Or inside your body on the other side of your skin to be exact. It’s the weirdest damn thing. And it the past two weeks, the poke poke poke has definitely gotten less pokey, so I can only assume the fishing line stitches are finally dissipating.

Goodwill Price Tag $4.99

I’ll have to ask the surgeon how long before they’re fully gone at my next appointment.

Science, man. What a wild ride.

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!

Dog perspective: I’m afraid we killed the easter bunnies

Easter Bunny Out of Work

Hi there! This is Nia! Mom said I could tell you the epawic story of my run-in with the Easter bunnies this week. Mom says the story is sad, so if you’re not into that sort of thing, you might not want to read this. If you don’t mind a little sad, I had quite the pupventure right in my own backyard, and I’d love to tell you apawt it.

It all began on Thursday night. Mom and Dad were doing their regular nighttime things — looking at the little lights they hold in their hands all the time while the big moving picture window kept moving and moving and moving. I tried to get the things in the window, but my snoot kept hitting the glass. Mom says they were chess pieces. I don’t know what that means but I wanted it anyways.

So then I woofed some — you know to let them know I was bored with the little lights and the moving window. I wanted to play. So they let me go play outside. They even left the door open so I could come and go as I pawleased.

I went outside and found a whole bunch of furiends playing hide and seek, just waiting fur me to find them! They were super tiny, just like my sharks that I play hide and seek with in the ship. They were hiding real good, but I got them all out. Don’t worry, though. I was real gentle with them. I didn’t want to hurt them!

They looked real cold, so I brought the first one inside and pawt him right in front of the fireplace. That’s where it gets real warm sometimes, so I thought it might be a good pawlace fur him. Once I was inside, Mom closed the door, so I couldn’t go get the rest of my new furiends.

I was very sad, so I kept trying to tell them I wanted to go get my furiends. I don’t think they understood me, so I finally just laid down next to dad and fell asleep.

When I woke up, all the lights were out in the house. I think Mom and Dad went to bed and furgot to wake me up so I could snuggle them. It was okay because I remembered my new furiend. I went to check on him and he was still asleep by the fireplace. I decided that Mom and Dad would be okay fur a night without me, and I curled up on the couch near my furiend so he wouldn’t be lonely.

Sometime when it was still dark, I woke up again and, having furgotten about my furiend, I made my way upstairs to my cozy dog bed. Befur the morning sound went off, I heard my Uncle Thomases on Mom’s phone. She started moving around and I knew I was gonna get to go outside fur my morning security detail, so I started woofing a whole lot. Mom let me outside and I checked the pawrimeter.

I heard Mom scream inside, but who knows what THAT was about. Then Dad came outside to play! I saw him walk over by my furiends’ hiding spot, but he quickly realized that I already found them all and he didn’t have to worry about it. I always find them all!

Then Mom came out and started looking all over. I think she wanted to pawt my furiends back so I could find them again. That’s what she does with the sharks. She cried every time she saw one and then Dad came back and picked them all up. He didn’t pawt them back in the right place though. He took them away. I guess they didn’t want to play with me anymore.

I then remembered my inside furiend, but when I went back in, he was gone too. I hope my furiends come back. I miss them 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!

A day of lasts: At the beginning of the pandemic

Forgive me, as today begins the long list of memories that are about to flood my social media accounts.

One year ago today, I took my last in-person improv class. I stayed until midnight for the optional student jam to get one last class in. We played a game called elbows and wrists, in which we could only touch our peers using elbows and wrists, a way to “acclimate” to new touching procedures that may be implemented.

One year ago today, I hugged the last stranger I’d ever hug. She was a friend of my nephew, and I’m a hugger. We were at my aunt’s new house, celebrating her move home.

One year ago today, I ate inside a restaurant for the last time. I met my friend, Kristen for dinner before my class. We only talked briefly about the pandemic in hypothetical terms and not in a we’re living in the end times way. We both knew something was coming and a lockdown was inevitable, but we weren’t sure what, when, or how.

One year ago today, I got dressed in one of my favorite Disneybounds to date, a gorgeous belted dress/top ensemble with a baller accessory game.

Chrissy Disneybounding as EVie from The Descendents wearing a blue dress and belt with black leggings and an evil queen purse.

I didn’t wear a mask. I didn’t carry hand sanitizer or Clorox wipes in my purse. The phrase, “social distancing” was only just starting to rear its ugly head. Hand sanitizer was made available, and I knew that even if we had an in-person class the following week, I wouldn’t be there.

I was already nervous, worried more about my family than myself, and preparing for my own personal lockdown. Much of the last year has been an introspective journey for me, and I know that I’ve learned a lot about who I am, and who I want to be.

But I wish I could bottle that last night in a jar, take it out and consume its essence. It was representative of everything my life was in the Before Times. Performance and play, dress-up, friendships, restaurant meet-ups, and family. Sure, all of those are still a part of my life, though some in a vastly different capacity. I knew it was going to be a long time before the world resumed as it had been, but I never realized the little things I would miss, or the memories, tiny bright sides, and glimmers of hope I would cling to in the darkest moments of the year.

The day I got in my car, drove to a parking lot nearby and sobbed for an hour. I finally called my mom, and she told me to come over. I played with my toddler niece and felt that rush of joy I had been missing.

Toddler niece surrounded by toys in a backyard patio

The Easter Brian and I spent alone, the first and hopefully only holiday we ever spend without family, brightened by the nicest bottle of bubbles we had in our wine rack and a feast for 10, for 2.

Easter dinner with lamb roast, vegetables, rolls, salad, sweet potato casserole, and champagne.

The two weeks we should have spent in Italy, spent instead trying out local Italian patios and take out orders and relaxing waterside in my blow-up kiddie pool.

Chrissy twirling in front of a mural in downtown Naperville with the caption "twirls in 'Italy' (Naperville)"

The Halloween without our annual party, made just a little more festive by the small single household of friends who came for an outdoor fire.

The Christmas not spent surrounded our extended and immediate families, made a bit lighter by getting drunk with my parents while watching White Christmas and eating mostly carbs.

Brian and Chrissy masked and drunk on Christmas

All the while planning, dreaming, and hoping. Learning what I’m not willing to give up and what it’s time I say goodbye to. It’s been the longest year, and it’s been shitty at the best times.

2.63 million people have died. We can’t change that. There’s no positives to that. Millions of families have lost loved ones to the virus. That doesn’t have a bright side.

But we have a vaccine. We have hope. And we have a future.

It’s okay to find a bright side, as long as you remember that your bright side might not be the same as someone else’s. And it’s okay to be depressed and negative. And it’s okay to mourn your past life. It’s okay to feel all the feels. But it’s not okay to negate the feelings of others.

So feel how you feel, and try to remember to have some compassion for people whose experiences are different than yours. Your empathy might save someone’s life.

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!

I hate it when nightmares become reality

Listen, I can’t help that I’m a bit of a psychic, I was just born that way. As a kid and well into college, I honed my skills for good. I lost a necklace or a bracelet once. It wasn’t terribly expensive, but it was a gift from my grandfather. I searched everywhere for it. Under my bed, in my closet, in all the piles of stuff laying around my bedroom…to no avail.

One night I dreamed about said jewelry, and I dreamed it was under my bed. I woke up, reached under my bed, and BOOM. That motherfucker was in my hands so fast. I was baffled.

In college, my boyfriend lost his fancy money clip. It was like gold and a family heirloom or something. Why he was carrying it around a college town, while he was likely quite in toxicated was beyond me, but it was a big deal that he had lost it. It was the onset of winter and a proper midwest snowstorm was in progress. He was never going to find that money clip. We searched the parking lots, our apartments, and the cars we had ridden in that night. Nothing.

That night I had a dream that it was on the sidewalk outside our apartment. Woke up, went down and out, and BOOM. There was a shiny piece of gold twinkling in the snow 30 feet from our door.

I’ve dreamed of break-ups and reunions. Finding lost items and other silly little things.

And at the start of this month, I had my typical anxiety nightmares about my upcoming lumbar surgery (I’m having a microdiscectomy — in which they remove the herniated part of my disc in an effort to relive some if not all of my chronic pain). In my dream, I was at the hospital for the surgery, and I realized that I hadn’t stopped taking medications I was supposed to stop taking. I hadn’t washedthe surgical site with the antiseptic soap for five days prior to the surgery. I hadn’t taken the acetaminophen I was supposed to take 4 hours prior to the surgery, and I hadn’t drunk the Gatorade I was supposed to drink. I was fucked in all senses.

The dream continued with a lot of other weirdness (waiting in the parking lot in a hospital gown with my brother, eating cheeseburgers and salads, a weird science art wing of the hospital devoted to science art research, and some other odd tidbits that made perfect sense in the dream, but none in real life).

So I thought I was just having anxiety dreams, because I was 2 weeks out from my surgery when I dreamed the dream. And we all know how well I heed warnings…I didn’t realize that my dream was saying, hey dummy, quit taking turmeric today. I didn’t realize that my dream was saying, hey dummy maybe you should check the email with all the details of your varying prescriptions to ensure you do the things right.

And then it was Monday. Almost a week before my procedure. When I got a migraine and thought to check whether I was allowed to take an anti-inflamatory. And realized that I had taken not one, but two of the prescriptions/herbal supplements that I was supposed to have quit days prior.

Obviously, I called the nurse in a panic.

“Hi um, I’m sure that I’m probably just a hypochondriac, and this is all fine, but I took these medications and my surgery is next week. Did I fuck everything up?”

Yes, I said fuck to the nurse. We’re both grown-ups. It’s fine. Nurses love me. I make them laugh.

Anyways, she was all, yeah, you’re fine. We’re not idiots. We plan for fools like you. Thanks for at least paying attention a week early. Just you know. Stop taking them now.

So I stopped. And then yesterday, I managed to score an appointment for a Covid vaccine (insert cheers and confetti here) for tomorrow. So I had to call them again.

“Hey so like I know I’m not supposed to take a whole bunch of stuff, but am I allowed to get the vaccine on Thursday?”

And she was all, “Look dude, we WANT you to be vaccinated, so if you got yourself an appointment, go forth and fight the spread of Covid-19. Kthxbye.”

And then I was like “Waaaait! Can I also take a gummy if I’m not allowed to have pain medicine? Because my back hurts like a mofo…”

“Yeah, sure. Just like. Don’t take it the day of your surgery, dummy.”

And I was like *phew*. (I’m probably still not going to take one, but I wanted to know whether the option was available to me.

Anyways, so to recap: Surgery is next week. I’m a hypochondriac. And also a bit of an idiot. And hopefully, 6 years of back pain is ending soonish. And also, I get a vaccine tomorrow. OH! And please go watch/like/comment/share my vaccine video in all the places you social media (YouTube is here, IGTV is here and Tiktok is here). Because I’m really proud of it.

Thanks for being the best people ever. Love you, friends!

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!

Pandemic-style Paczki Day adventures and me

Everything is an adventure around here, it seems. Including Paczki Day (Also known as Fat Tuesday).

The first thing you should know about me is that I’m not really a planner. In the writing world, they call me a pantser (because I fly by the seat of my pants — though I prefer to say skirt because I’m too precious for pants unless, of course, they’re yoga pants).

The second thing you should know about me is that I love being Polish (My mom would also like me to point out that I’m also Irish, English, and German, with a general American mutt quality that some might find endearing, and I love being all of those things too — most of the time).

So I prefer to get my paczki (pronounced poonch-ki) on the day of instead of pre-ordering. When I was fresh out of college, I would just hit up the local grocery store and get the imposter version of this sweet Polish donut, but as I got older, my tastes became more discerning. I would get paczki from a magnificent bakery near the bar I worked at or find another bakery close to home that was selling them on the day (pre-orders be damned) and pick up a few or ten. When I worked in the city, I would pick up boozy-filled paczki from a bakery that was on my way to the office and share them with the work fam.

In more recent years, I found a bakery that allowed walk-ups, where it was usually a breeze to snag whatever I wanted with minimal lines. I imagine Heaven is a place where there are no lines.

But we’re still living in a global pandemic, damn near 11 months after our first lockdown. And so things have changed with these here bakeries. Pre-orders, it seemed, were the way to go for some, while others navigated uncharted waters with weird systems and poorly updated websites. I had all but given up on eating paczki today.

Enter Michelle, one of my friends who spends every year perfecting her definitive guide to Chicagoland paczki. I haven’t seen Michelle since the Before Time, and standing outside in the open air while collecting paczki near my stomping grounds seemed like a winning idea all around. So I put on real pants, grabbed a meat stick snack, and left the warm comfort of my house around 11 am.

Michelle told me where she was and I made my way there through the sludge and snow of winter. I parked in one of those angled parking spots on the street directly across from the bakery and got out to look for her. She was nowhere to be found. Apparently, our wires had crossed and she was at a different bakery. No mind! I would meet her where she was because this bakery wasn’t ready to sell their paczki to the non-pre-orderers like me anyway.

I walked back to my car and was about to get in when a woman who was parked across the street called out to me, “Hey! Did you see the car that hit your car?”

“I’m sorry, what?”

“Oh I thought you saw it. The car next to you got your car. It shook the entire car. I tried to flag them down but they drove away. I got their license plate for you.”

Oh random stranger, you delightful gem. I looked at my car, and sure enough the bumper was solidly dented and the back panel had some scuffage as well. I took down the license plate (which had the word “rock” in it — I’m not usually one to judge a person based on their vanity plates, but this guy fucking hit my car and drove away so…)

So I called 911, gave them all the details, and lived that fun life of dealing with the after effects of an accident without the presence of the at-fault driver. (I also looked up the license plate in one of those websites that lets you look up people’s information, because I may not be a planner, but I’m thorough when it comes to vengeance (and by vengeance, I mean making their car insurance company manage the damage to my car, just in case you were worried I was going to go all vigilante in the suburbs — which sounds like a great band name btw).

It was almost noon, and I still hadn’t procured a single paczki, or really eaten anything but a meat stick. Michelle showed up, and we kind walked around the block a bit, waiting for this bakery to open up their online ordering form (which they would only put up after they finished giving out their pre-orders; no in-store ordering allowed).

I got to have a lovely conversation with Michelle (in person, though without hugging) even though we both kept checking the bakery website religiously. Unsure whether she would make it in time to her final stop (the first real bakery I ever got paczki from), she called to make sure they were still stocked. They let her place an advanced order and when she said, “key lime” I was all…well I wasn’t GOING to go all the way there…but there are few things I won’t do for key lime anything. So I placed my own order, and we decided to abandon ship in Glen Ellyn, IL.

I popped over to Starbucks on my way (I needed something more substantial than a meat stick and also something warm and liquidy). While I waited in the drive-thru, I noticed the website was finally taking orders. I placed mine (albeit without two of the three varieties I really wanted) and made my way to the Downers Grove bakery about 20 minutes away. I snagged my box and Michelle and I drove back to the first bakery for our orders.

By the time I got home, it was coming up on 2 PM. I had spent a total of $11.53 and nearly 3 hours driving through suburbia plus one minor car accident for 4 paczki. Was it worth it?

Key lime paczki from Busy Bee Bakery in Downers Grove

Absofuckinglutely.

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!

When books make you think a little bit harder

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would find reading about the 2008 financial crisis a “page-turner,” and yet, here I write before you. About to tell you what a damn page-turner it was. It took me several weeks to read President Obama’s latest tome, A Promised Land, a deep dive into his first presidential campaign and those tumultuous first few years in office. But it was worth every second.

Brian and I read simultaneously — him listening to the audiobook while he completed chores or lounged on the couch with the dog napping beside him, and me with my book light wrapped around my neck each night, hoping the weighty hardcover wouldn’t fall on my face as I began drifting.

I was able to both read and listen to the aforementioned chapter about the financial crisis, as we listened together on a car ride, shortly after I finished the chapter. I read each page as if it was all new to me. As if I didn’t know what was coming. As if I hadn’t lived the experience of the American people that Obama talks about. As if my family hadn’t lost our small business in 2008. As if I hadn’t claimed bankruptcy in 2009 to account for the debt of investing in the family business. As if I hadn’t learned very quickly that I was not the only one getting a teaching degree to weather the crisis only to realize that getting a teaching job would be damn near impossible — with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of applicants for a single position in a good school district. As if I hadn’t lived on unemployment for many months after losing my first office job (almost twice as many months of unemployment than I had been employed — if you were wondering).

I read each page, and hoped for a different outcome than the one I knew, from my lived experience, would come. I couldn’t sleep until I finished that chapter. The one that sucked me in with the deepest of breaths.

It could have been…

So much worse.

One of the overarching themes of this book really resonated with me. It could have been worse. Of course, it could have been better. All of it could have been better. Most things in this world can be better. But because the president was acting in what he believed was the best interest of the American people, it could have been worse. All of it. Wars, the economy, the environment, public health. Everything.

The juxtaposition of reading this book and the first month of Biden’s presidency is jarring. Not because of the differences, but because of the similarities, particularly anything involving Mitch McConnell, who cares, not about people but, about power and money. I find comfort in knowing that Biden was there every step of the way for Obama’s journey and that he can do what it takes to avoid history repeating itself in the ways that it could have been better.

The financial crisis was merely a single chapter in a book about almost every major crisis that hit this country between 2008 and 2011. A book that shows (not tells) how a man like Donald Trump was able to come to power, and how that movement continues today. How populist rhetoric continues gaining traction around the world. And how difficult it is to maintain and propel a free and fair democratic government on a world stage.

I learned a lot from reading this book. I learned about the issues and events I was too ignorant of, too young and naive to care about. I laughed. I cried. I thought. My favorite three reactions to any books in my queue. I highly recommend this book, but let yourself take time to really absorb it because there’s a lot of meat on those bones.

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 difference four years can make

Today, I woke up with a dog snuggled as close to my back as she could be without being on top of me and a husband scrolling on his phone for the morning news, memes, whatnot. As soon as it was remotely evident I might have been awake, the dog began army crawling on top of my chest and looked down at me with admiration and adoration.

Four years ago today, I woke up alone in a hotel room in Birmingham, Alabama. I packed my suitcase while I cried. I made plans with my colleagues to meet in the lobby. It was a very different time.

Today, I cried. I cried with relief, joy, hope, and deep sadness for all we’ve lost. I cried with pride as Kamala Harris was sworn in as the first woman vice president, the first Asian vice president, the first Black vice president of the United States of America. And I cried with relief as President Joe Biden was sworn in as President.

Four years ago, I cried. I cried with fear, loathing, concern, and deep sadness for what could happen. Some of my worst fears were realized over those four years, but some, thankfully, did not come to fruition.

Today, I sat in pajamas in my home — my fortress — the place I’ve spent the majority of the last 10 months and watched Joe Biden swear in as the president of the United States of America.

“If you can’t fly then run; if you can’t run then walk; if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Four years ago, I stood in front of a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I walked past the 16th Street Baptist Church. And I walked into the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum.

Today, I will not go anywhere or see anything outside the four sides of my house. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and there are no museums or points of interest drawing me in. The inauguration is populated by more National Guard and security personnel than guests of the Capitol.

Four years ago, I dressed in business casual and walked a few blocks to the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum with my co-workers as Donald Trump was sworn in as the president. I spent hours poring over the exhibits, reading and watching speeches of people fighting for equal rights in the 50s and 60s.

Today, I changed my Facebook profile photo to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the first Black and Asian woman vice president. I changed my cover photo to the incoming first family.

Four years ago, I changed my Facebook profile photo to Barack Obama, the first Black president, and Joe Biden.

Today, I am relieved. We have a lot of work to do. We must continue to hold our elected officials responsible and ensure that they work for us. But today, we celebrate.

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 New Year’s resolution joke’s on me

If you’ve been here for a while, you probably already know that I typically don’t subscribe to this whole New Year’s resolution, “new year, new me” bullshit. Hell, I get mad when people talk about what a shit year the previous year was.

Somehow, we’re expected to start every New Year with resolutions. Resolutions to get thinner. To get stronger. To be more organized. To be “better.” Instead, I used to make New Year’s plans. But they still had the same ring to them. They had that “er” at the end as if the me that I was in the previous year wasn’t enough for the coming year.

So I made jokes instead. But really, the year I wrote a teasing month-by-month play-by-play of how to live your life, I was focused on being present in the moment. Sometimes, reflection helps me see that what I was writing was more than just pithy banter. My subconscious knows what I want to say years before I can find the words to say it. When I said to do nothing in January, I meant it. But really, I wanted to bask in the afterglow of the holidays. I wanted to relax. I wanted to enjoy time with Brian without social obligation or other outside forces interfering. I wanted to be present.

I continued to make jokes when I set board game goals as my New Year’s plans/resolutions/whatever in 2018. I played 100 different board games, 25 of which were on my shelf of shame (games that we owned and had never played). That shelf of shame continues to grow. It’s almost embarrassing except that it’s not at all. But still I was focused on being present, playing games, being with the people I love, enjoying my life and time.

These days, it’s all about picking a word, as if you could know in January that a single world will be able to define your whole year before you even know what that year is going to throw at you. I wonder what assholes picked pandemic, quarantine, or reclusive to throw us all under the bus in 2020.

I usually like to do a post mortem in which I label my year with a theme. But last year was weird as fuck. I can’t deny that there were some good things that came out of 2020 for me. But there were also a lot of shit things. So I don’t think I need to do a review of any of it.

We watched the Netflix mockumentary, Death to 2020, and about halfway through, I looked at Brian and was like, “Dude, this is WAY too long. I literally just lived this. I don’t need a recap.”

And here’s the kicker. People changed this year. Majorly. I changed. I know that. And we can learn and grow and change in ways that are both good and bad. And just like my little feminist Grinch heart grew three sizes in 2016 — growth in character and belief which I now realize I never really wrote about — 2020 proved to build so much more of what I believe and who I am.

So this year, I’ve decided that it’s okay to join the rest of you New Year Junkies with my very own word of the year. And I’m actually super excited about it. Sure, I don’t know what 2021 is going to throw at us, crazy continuing pandemic aside, but I think this word is really encompassing enough to manage it (unless we end up in a post-apocalyptic world in which my most useful skill will likely be turning canned food into gourmet delicacies). So here it is.

*Drumroll*

My word of the year is:

gorilla hands on a macbook with a banana

Unsubscribe

At first, it was a joke in my head. As I slowly began the ardurous process of unsubscribing to political emails at the end of November and marketing emails at the end of December. I’d had enough and was ready to simplify my inbox. Clear the clutter so to speak.

I want to expand my focus on being present, and in order to do that, I know that I need to unsubscribe to more than just emails. I need to unsubscribe to my issues. And other people’s issues (as an empath, I suspect this is going to be the hardest). And every unnecessary thing that brings me down. I want to focus on living a life well lived and not a life well-Instagrammed.

So here I am, ready to take on the world, just like my girl Riley. I hope you’ll stick around for the journey.

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!