Notes on Adulthood

I’ve been living in this big wonderful city for almost one calendar year. I have one year’s worth of Chicago things under my belt. I’m excited about all of those things, but recently I couldn’t figure out what wasn’t fitting. I adore my job, I adore my friends here, I adore my small apartment, nothing was glaringly annoying.

Until I realized there wasn’t a break in my year. There wasn’t a Christmas break or a spring break or a summer vacation to mark the turnover of a new year. That’s not to say I didn’t go on vacation this summer or last Christmas, I did. But there wasn’t something that was built into my year by another institution. Upon this realization, I had this conversation with Chelsie:

Me: “I realized that up until this point in my life, there has always been some built in reevaluation of my status, whether that was a move or a semester ending. And now any change that I want to make or any self-evaluation has to come completely from within. And I think that sort of scares me.”

CB: “Yes!! I think that’s why I got so excited about this conference. I thought about that they other day when I was wondering why I felt so dissatisfied with my job, because there’s NO NEXT STEP UNLESS I MAKE IT. That is frightening.”

Me: “I’m so glad you understand this. I think this is what it means to be a grown up. I think this was our first step in understanding that at 23 years old we have to be semi-adults…”

CB: “That and bills. Bills, bills, bills.”

And while bills are the true mark of growing up, realizing that you have to self-govern from here on out is slightly intimidating. It’s not by any means a bad thing, but it’s not exactly something I’ve had to do before. I’m not entirely sure what it entails. Do I need to start reading the Times? Do I need to get a tailor? What are the things I must do now? Get my eyes checked more frequently? I’ve been rocking 20/20 vision forever so I don’t know the new rules.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to do any of those things. I think I just have to be more aware of what the next year holds and actually make a list of life improvement things to do and stick to it. Cleaning out my closets and taking vitamins more regularly seems like a good place to start. Doing my dishes consistently and not waiting till every pair of underwear I own is in the dirty clothes to do laundry seems like the way to move in the right direction.

But if anyone knows how I can sign up for a free personal assistant that will regulate my life, feed me vitamins and tell me when to do my laundry, please let me know.

Sincerely,

Inventing semesters for grown ups.

PS: I say grown ups very, very loosely.

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I don’t like your dog.

And that doesn’t make me a bad person. I have to explain myself on countless, literally countless, occasions as to why I don’t like pets and I am finally just putting it all out there. Judge me if you must, I judge you for letting your dog lick your face.

First of all, I realize that animals can do amazing things. I realize that they can sense seizures before they happen. Guide the blind through bustling cities. Skateboard. Bring you the paper. Do tricks. And apparently love you unconditionally or something.

But here’s my issue. I don’t want to be friends with a dog. I want to be friends with a human. I want to be friends with someone  who didn’t fall for Pavlov’s dirty tricks and in turn messed with his test results like I did when volunteering at the OU Psychology department.

I don’t want to be friends with someone that can’t tell me what they did that day. I want to be friends with someone that challenges me and makes me laugh. And someone that I don’t have to feed twice a day and then pick their poop up.

On top of the fact that I don’t understand forming an emotional bond with something that can’t return it, I don’t want to smell like dog. I loathe the way your hands smell after you touch a dog. It’s just gross. They lick their butts for goodness sake…….and then they lick you. No where in society is this an acceptable situation, aside from dog and owner relationships. And damn it, I’m not buying into it.

I’m sorry I don’t like your dog. I’m sure you think I have no heart. Let’s call it even.

Sincerely,

Animal free since ’93

(1993 was chosen only because it rhymes…)

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Inhabitants of the Gym

I go to a gym. I am not telling you this so I can drop subtle hints about the amount of pounds I lift or the reps that I do. Pounds and reps are not in my vocabulary. My gym experience is filled with things like the elliptical machine, the treadmill, the TV in the women’s locker room that always seems to be playing Basketball Wives, Zumba class, the spa. I’m not a professional gym goer.

Everyone always talks about girls that wear makeup to the gym. Everyone hates those girls. I didn’t really think they existed until this past week. They are a very very real thing. I go to the gym after work. And in the morning I use eyeshadow primer that makes my makeup miraculously stay on my eyelids for the entire day. So I walk into the gym at 6:30ish with whatever is still clinging to my face after a day of work and I feel weird about that amount of makeup. Apparently, not everyone shares my feelings. Let me walk you through a recent gym experience.

I walk into Zumba looking like a college student, because I don’t own t-shirts that don’t say Kappa on them. I haven’t figured out how to look like I graduated college. Anyway, into Zumba I go. I awkwardly stand. I don’t know how to stand naturally in a room of mirrors. I cross my arms and cross my right leg in front of my left. I pretend to stretch (harder than it sounds, by the way). I put my water and towel at the side of the room. I bring a towel, but I don’t really sweat enough to find it necessary, but I bring along to fit in.

So there I am, prepped to Zumba, and in walks the most curious of creatures. This seemingly normal girl has on bright fire engine red lipstick. Like recently applied, getting ready to go to an event of some grandeur, red lipstick. I was COMPLETELY distracted for the next hour. I could not figure out the lipstick’s purpose and in turn I could not figure out those pivot turns. I am not one to judge what makes you feel comfortable at the gym, I bring a security blanket towel, but full red lipstick? Really? Clearly I’m not a professional gym-er, but that seems like it should be against the rules. I watched lipstick girl for the majority of class. Her coordination was a curious as her lipstick. She seemed nice enough, but seriously, that lipstick. I’m still talking about it a week later.

Do you remember the episode of Friends with Phoebe’s artwork? The really creepy ones with the mannequins coming out of them? That’s sort of what that girl reminded me of. Is that mean? I’m sorry, but it’s the truth my friends.

I also discovered that Zumba is an excuse for women to dance really slutty in a very non-slutty environment. There is a lot of shaking, shimmying and and hip gyration. It’s encouraged in fact. As far as I can tell, Zumba is the only venue that slutty shaking and dancing is acceptable outside of a high school prom or a strip club. If you tried to Zumba on the streets someone would stick dollars in your yoga pants.

Inside the Locker Room.

Granted, I haven’t been into many men’s locker rooms so I don’t know what goes on in there. I assume a lot of sports chatter? Someone verify this please. But I have been in the women’s locker room and that s#%$ is cray. Let’s discuss.

Being naked is allowed in locker rooms. It’s a place to change clothes, I get it. Prancing around the place naked is a totally different story. There are women at my gym that are just naked walkers. I don’t know what their naked destination is. Walking to and from the shower doesn’t require you to be naked outside of the shower. And newsflash, I don’t want to see that. Ever. There’s a towel around half of you, just put it around all of you. This is not a nude beach or a nudist colony. Keep your nakedness to yourself.

I try to go to the gym and keep as low a profile as humanly possible, which is difficult when your arms flail while trying to pretend to be a Latin dancer in Zumba class, but I am baffled when my gym fundamentals are thwarted; naked and lipstick wearing is NOT low profile. (Is that complex-compound sentence? Can someone verify this? Is there a 4th grader reading this that is learning to diagram sentences or someone recently studying for the ACT?)

Men at the Gym

While a decent portion of my time is spent in the women’s locker room, watching Basketball Wives or on a girly machine (the elliptical), I do encounter dudes at the gym and dudes at the gym are the worst dudes of all. Here is a list.

1. You can’t support yourself on stair climber with your arms. That’s cheating.
2. I don’t care that you just purchased a killer protein shake.
3. I also don’t care that you are wearing your Chicago Marathon t-shirt.
4. Your calf tattoo is saying a lot about your personality. Although, probably not the things you want it to be saying.
5. I’ve seen you walking around more than I’ve seen you working out. Are you doing laps?
6. Two towels huh? You must be working out extra hard today.
7. Medicine balls are loud. Please stop slamming it on the ground.
8. Unless you are competing in the professional tennis circuit, please stop grunting.
9. You are at the gym. STOP holding hands with that girl. It’s germy enough in this place as it is.
10. Hey lady in my Zumba class! You aren’t Madonna and this isn’t the Super Bowl. Cool it. (Not man related, but worthy of the list nonetheless).

She was a Madonnabe. She had really poor space awareness. I hated her.

Sincerely,

Just trying to get my flex on

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Currently Obsessed With

I have a new love. A printed true love.

I am currently in love with printed pants. I’m not sure where this new love stemmed from, but it’s going full force. I am yet to purchase a pair, but I am vigilant in my research. I am searching high and low and somewhere in between to find the perfect pair.

I saw two girls wearing these a few days ago and I almost depants’d them both, you think I’m joking.

I went to find these at H&M, and they were sold out. If someone wants to mail me a pair, I would gladly assist you in that effort. They are $14.95 and they really want to come live in my closet/on my legs. These pants really spurred on my desire, nay, need for a pair or two of printed pants.

Be still my floral patterned heart. These are from Zara and they aren’t $15. They are $59.90. Worth it though. Maybe.

Not entirely sure if I can wear these. Wide leg pants tend to make my wide legs look even wider, imagine that. But I think they are pretty and I want to wear them to the beach this summer.

These are Dolce and Gabbana. Clearly not in my budget, or anyone but Beyonce and Suri Cruise’s, but I love them.

I just needed you to know what goes on in my brain. This post is probably in no way useful to you, although who am I to say you don’t like printed pants as much as me? Maybe you do.

Sincerely,

Pants with patterns. Patterns with pants.

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Where the Wind Comes Sweeping

I have lived in Chicago for 8 months and 6 days. That means I have not lived in Oklahoma for the past 8 months and 6 days, and after spending my life from the ages of 3 to 22 living in Oklahoma, I have grown quite fond. Being so far removed from a place that I love so dearly has forced me to look at the perceptions of those less fortunate that I, meaning people that have never ventured where the corn grows as high as an elephant’s eye.

I have realized that people outside of Oklahoma (more like outside of a two-three state radius, Texas gets it) have a very poor working knowledge of what lies north of the Red River. They don’t know the history or the contribution, which by the way is fairly extensive. And this is the part of the blog where I mold minds and revolutionize your thoughts on Oklahoma.

We will start with a few facts straight out of the state where Labor Conquers All. Inventions from Oklahoma include the electric guitar, shopping carts, parking meters. Famous Oklahomans include Hanson, Mickey Mantle, Brad Pitt (born in OK. BOOM.), Ron Howard, Sam Walton, Chuck Norris, James Garner, Garth Brooks. We are pumping out some talent. Chuck Norris and Brad Pitt, an Oklahoma power couple. We have a Roger and Hammerstein musical about us for goodness sake! Have you heard of noodling? That’s us too! Ever heard of cows? We have ’em! Wind power? We are using it. Oil? US! Natural gas? ALSO US! Most National Merit Scholars per capita? That would be the University of Oklahoma. Doppler radar? Us again. Sequencing in the Human Genome Project happened in Oklahoma too, bet ya didn’t know that. This is the part of the blog where my friend Shane cries tears of joy at the outpouring of Oklahoma knowledge. No one loves Oklahoma more than Shane, not even me.

The level of twitching in my right eye gets to catastrophic limits when people are judgey about Oklahoma. If I was judgey about Illinois I would assume everyone was working for the mob and involved in some government cover up scheme. While that might be true for the last several elected officials in this state, I realize it is not the case for everyone. (Although I desperately want this to happen!!). I get it, Oklahoma is smaller and less densely populated than your super state and we have land that is just that, land. I’m not entirely sure when that became a bad thing.

My ultimate point here is that just because you haven’t been somewhere or just because you don’t know anything about that place doesn’t mean it doesn’t rule. It probably does rule. And while I have grown amazingly fond of the city of Chicago, it will never in one million years replace the state of Oklahoma. And while I’m learning to appreciate the Cubs and their angst with videos like this….

Nothing will ever be more exhilarating than this….

The best part is, I’ll be touching down at Tulsa International Airport in approximately 11 hours.

Sincerely,

O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Oklahoma OK!

PS: I pinky promise not to link you to Perez Hilton’s website again.

PPS: I get asked how many miles wide the Oklahoma panhandle is all the time. I looked it up. It’s just wide enough to keep Texas at bay. Yahtzee!

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Going to Bars Alone

First of all let’s clear this up. Just because I occasionally venture to a bar alone does not mean that I am sad and lonely in Chicago. In fact, I am the opposite. I’m 30, flirty and thriving. I just feel that this is a commonly misconstrued activity. It also does not under any circumstances mean that I am looking to meet strangers and end up on the cover of Law and Order: SVU the magazine. I am not. Although, I would be SUCH a good SVU extra on the show.

Going to bars alone. It can be done. I have done it, more than once and with much success. However, I’m not saying there aren’t rules. There are. Neglect them and you might find yourself on the cover of that magazine.

1. No one knows you are alone but you.

Do you know how crowded bars are? Have you seen the weeping Fire Marshals? Exactly, you haven’t seen them, because there are so many people in there blocking your view. No one really knows who you are with and what’s even better, they don’t really care.

You are free to come and go as you please. You can weave through the weeping Fire Marshals without keeping track of your posse. That isn’t to say that having a posse isn’t welcome at times. Posses are great. But the last time I checked this blog was titled ‘Going to Bars Alone’ not ‘Kicking it at a Bar With a Posse’. Newsflash, any two bit yahoo can kick it a bar with a posse and you my friend are not a two bit yahoo.

Number 1 is much less a rule and much more a state of mind that you must maintain in order to succeed on your solo flight around the world. You must realize this isn’t insane. If you replaced the word bar with the word Starbucks, you would be there in a second. Get over yourself and just go.

2. Choose wisely

Choose wisely in multiple areas. You are going alone. That doesn’t mean you are going unprepared.

Decision #1: Choosing the bar.

I would suggest choosing a bar that you have been to before. A bar with great tunes and good drinks. A place that it will be acceptable for you to sit at the bar and look pensive or not pensive depending on how you plan to play this. A place that you can blend or kill it on the dance floor. It’s your choice. If the people outside the bar painted their clothes on, don’t choose that place. If the people outside the bar wear Abercrombie, Hollister, Ed Hardy, men’s bedazzled jeans or multiple chain necklaces, don’t choose that place either. More than likely these are the same place.

Your best choice is a place with live music or loud music for dancing. These things help you make friends and help you pretend you can’t hear someone you don’t want to talk to due to the volume.

Decision #2: Choosing your spot

Upon your arrival, go to the bar, get a drink. Befriend the bartender, if someone is bothering you (which they might be, you probably look kind of awesome) the bartender could be a lifesaver. They can deflect or initiate conversation. They are and want to be your friend. Kind of, they just want you to tip them well. Which you should do, even if you aren’t alone.

Now, scan the premises. Are there bar stools? Is there a dance floor? Is this a restaurant? Is this a Chilis? If you answered yes to the last question, eat some chips and salsa and then bounce.

You need to find a place that you can get your lean on. Places not to choose: by the bathroom, by the front door, by stairs, next to a speaker. I don’t know why you can’t stand by stairs, it just seemed weird. The most choice of spots to pick would be end of the bar. If you can sit or lean there, claim it.

Everyone in that entire place is going to come to the bar, which means you will meet more friends, it’s just science. And this is really all about science.

Decision #3: What is your story/out?

Ideally, you will meet a really great dude/lady/new posse to kick it at bars with and become BFFs with. But you might not. You might just meet people to hang out with for the night and that’s okay! But you might meet Mr. “I graduated 2nd in my class and I have a HUGE chip on my shoulder about it” and that guy is the worst. So you need to have a prepared story to get you out of talking to him/her. Cinco de Mayo 2011, or more appropriately called Cinco de Kate, I actually told someone I was leaving to go home because I had to go to a baby shower early in the morning. I didn’t say it had to be a good story.

You need to have a story or you can just tell them you have diarrhea. No one is going to argue with diarrhea.

3. Get Chatty

While I’m quite certain you look so cute, you didn’t really think you could rely on your new earrings to get you through the evening, did you? You have to make friends. Get your smile on and make some conversation. If you are rocking some new earrings you might even get a drink purchased for you. Sitting/leaning near the bar has its advantages. During the getting chatty stage of the evening The Drink Purchase is the Uno Wild Card of the Going to Bars Alone deck of cards. Bottom line, it rules. In case you are new to this world, or my father fearing for my safety, take the drink directly from the bartender. Nothing gets you kidnapped faster than your drink getting tampered with. Play it smart.

You might find yourself falling into the pit of despair with “I graduated 2nd in my class and I have a HUGE chip on my shoulder about it”. This has happened to me. Mr. IG2IMCAIHAHCOMSAI was just talking my ear off about how this bar was his jam spot and he went there all the time, at which point I made eye contact with the bartender, whom I know, and laughed. I FINALLY got out of that conversation and the bartender laughed at how he tried to claim the bar for his own. Fun fact, I go there all the time sir and I have never seen you before in my life. Nice try. The bartender agreed.

Even if you do have to talk to the most curious of humans, with the least curious of lives, it should make for a fun story to tell your blog readers about.

4. Leave as You Came

You didn’t come to this bar with a stranger, so don’t leave with one. If CSI, Law and Order, Criminal Minds and every other crime drama have taught me one thing, it’s that strangers want to murder you. I’m certain that you did not go to this bar to end up murdered. Don’t leave with a potential murderer. Who is a potential murderer? Everyone.

5. Moral of the Story

I’m not saying this is your game plan every night. It certainly is not mine. What I am telling you is that you can have fun by yourself. You can infiltrate a group of strangers and hang out with them. These things are attainable. 90% of your hesitancy to venture out on your own is perceived fear. I calculated it. That’s accurate. So I implore you to give this at least one try.

You won’t regret it. Well you might, but I’m here to broaden your horizons.

Sincerely,

I have to go, I have a baby shower in the morning.

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The Princess and the Pea

That is what my week was like. The story of the Princess and the Pea. I had one pea in my week. Let me explain.

I had the greatest week of all time. That isn’t an exaggeration, which I know I am prone to. Here’s the calendar:

Monday: No work. President’s Day.
Tuesday: Started tutoring at a school in Chicago with people from work.
Wednesday: Lunch at Sable Kitchen. Dinner at Girl and the Goat. Bulls Game.
Thursday: South Pacific.
Friday: Dinner at Japonais. Shopping at West Elm.

This past week was Restaurant Week in Chicago. Tons of restaurants have prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner. Lunch for $22 and dinner for $33. It’s a great steal. Most of these restaurants are much more expensive on a regular night. Sable Kitchen and Japonais were both Restaurant Week outings. I ate like a champion. They were fantastic eating experiences.

Girl and the Goat is a restaurant I have been dying to go to since I set foot in the city. I finally got a chance on Wednesday and it did not disappoint. I had pig face and oysters and goat belly and scallops and a Left Hand milk stout dessert. My little heart could not have been happier.

The Bulls game was so great. My lack of attendance at NBA games this year has been hurting my soul. I miss my Thunder so very much. The Bulls were a great Eastern alternative. I even purchased a Bulls shirt. They will never replace the Thunder, but I do look pretty good in red.

Clearly my favorite Rogers and Hammerstein musical is Oklahoma, but South Pacific was so good! I forgot that I knew a lot of the songs. I also forgot how raunchy it is. Wash that man right out of my hair is always a good tune. Girl Power. I went to a restaurant before the musical that had $5 martinis. If that’s not a win I don’t know what is.

Japonais was so so so good. Wagyu beef carpaccio. Teriyaki lobster. Pumpkin cheesecake. Post that fantastic dinner and post thinking I left my keys at work. I went to West Elm, where I realized I could use my Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma gift cards. I bought the prettiest floor lamp. I am thrilled!

But this is the part of the story where the Pea comes into play. I lost one of my most favorite earrings. Dangley silver guys. The one in my right ear fell out. I retraced my steps through the stores I had been to, but most of them were closed. And now after one of the greatest weeks, the thing I remember most is losing my earring. It’s the pea to my princess of a week.

It’s just a lame thing to be mad about, but they were the earrings that you put on and feel like you could take on the world. They were my favorites. They are gone. Or at least one half of them are gone. And I am sad. I am sad after that most fantastic of weeks, to have lost an earring that cost all of $6.

Sincerely,

At least I’m the Princess in this story.

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