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Jun 4, 2017 - Rants    No Comments

The rules of festival season

Who doesn’t love a good outdoor festival?  I’m a Chicagoan, and once the weather gets right, I and my fellow Second City residents love nothing more than to party outside like we’re getting paid.

But some of y’all get a little excited and forget your festival flow manners.  Don’t worry, though.  I’m here to help.

Festival Behavior Guidelines

  1. No serious conversation.  So, here’s the deal . . . everyone at an outdoor festival is happy that the weather is warm enough to actually be outside without the threat of double pneumonia.  Do NOT kill my sunshine-induced high by trying to embark on a conversation about business, meetings or quite frankly anything that doesn’t involve drinks or music.  Just don’t.
  2. The answer is “I’m fine.”  Generally, I love an honest answer to this question, but when you’re at a festival, the answer to “How have you been?” is something like “I’m doing great”  And keep it moving.  When we’re having lunch, I can hear all about your in-laws, your bad-ass kids, your bunion, the gory details about your coworkers who make you work life hell.  But festival day?  IS NOT THAT DAY.
  3. Don’t play the “guess how we know each other” game.  Nothing is more aggravating than someone who enjoys quizzing people they’ve met one time at a dark party on how they know each other.  While it’s great that you have amazing recall, ain’t nobody got time for that.  Just remind them, if you must.  And keep it moving.
  4. Manage your bodily fluid.  Granted, I’m not so much a hugger in general, but I do enjoy a hug from my friends — if you’re clean!  In short, if you’re sweaty, a bear hug is NOT necessary (or welcomed).  I have on my summer fashion, which can be ruined by your sweat.  So, if you rode your bike to the festival, or you’ve been walking around drinking all day, maybe a nice air kiss on the cheek would be appropriate.  But engulfing me in your sweaty armpits is a no.  A hell no.
  5. Pace yourself.  If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably well into adulthood, and if you’re not, you’re probably one of my younger relatives who could stand to benefit from this information (AT SOME POINT).  That said you know damned well that, when you start drinking at noon — in the sun — there’s a good chance that keeping up that pace will have you passed out behind a tent, in a pool of your own vomit, by 3:00.  This is NOT a good look.  To avoid embarrassing yourself (and ultimately me, if we’re friends),if you plan to be at a festival all day long, divide your drink tolerance by the number of hours you plan to be there.  For example, if you can only consume three cocktails before making out with a stranger, and you plan to be there for 8 hours, you are allowed to drink only .375 drinks per hour, and THAT’S IT.  If you want to increase your tolerance, drink lots of water and eat a meal.  For the record, funnel cake and churros are not meals, and in fact due to the high sugar content, will exacerbate your stupor and cause a ridic headache the next day.  Grab a nice grilled chicken sandwich or burger and keep it moving.
  6. Do not ask for a sip from my flask!  Yes, this is how I roll.  I had the foresight to manage my own cocktail situation.  I suggest you do the same.  And I also don’t want you wrapping your nasty lips around the mouth of my pristine whiskey-filled flask.  There are bars everywhere.  Find one of them.
  7. You are responsible for your drunk friend.  If you have a friend who is out there, falling all over herself, and one second away from doing her best Exorcist projectile vomit impression, puh-leeze take it upon yourself and get her drunk ass out of there.  I say ‘her’ because there’s always some woman, drunk out of her gourd, flashing her underwear in public due to the over-consumption of frozen margaritas.  It sucks that she’s curtailing your fun, but if you didn’t encourage her to follow rule #3, this is the price you pay.
  8. Have a supply of gum or breath mints.  This should be self-explanatory, but nobody wants to smell your gyro while you’re violating rules #1, 2 or 3.  Keep it minty.  And moving.

 

 

I’m going to reserve the right to add to this list at a later time, but in the meantime, enjoy your festival season!

 

XO, G.

Sep 29, 2015 - Rants    2 Comments

White People’s Guide to Hiding Your Racism At Work

Before we get started, I will say that there are plenty of my corporate colleagues who are not racists.  Some of them are perfectly lovely people whom I count among my close friends.  This post does not apply to them. My musing of the day applies to the quasi undercover racists who make offensive comments that many of us feel that we have to ignore and/or absorb angrily (because hitting someone in the head with a stapler is a quick route to arrest and firing.  Ain’t nobody got time for that)

Having been in corporate America for a while, I’ve encountered many of the archetypes of corporate racists.  Instead of just dealing with their remarks quietly, I enjoy finding ways to apply my inappropriate sense of humor to . . . well .  . . fuck with them in much the same passive aggressive manner that they employ (or aggressive aggressive, depending on my mood).

That said, if you’ve stumbled across this blog and you are an undercover (or overt) corporate racist, I’m here to keep you from being victimized by people like me.

  1. Eliminate the belief that any black person in the office automatically works in the mail room.  You would be much better off asking “Are you the new SVP?” rather than saying “Are you the new girl who works the copy machine?”  
  2. We don’t always look the way you think we should based on how we speak, and there’s no need to call attention to that. For example, staring at me incredulously when we meet face-to-face, after having spoken on the phone, while continuing to say “Wow.  You look NOTHING like I thought you would,” only tips your hand that, had you seen me first, you would have assumed that I didn’t understand the proper conjugation of the verb to be.  Keep that shit to yourself.
  3. Per #2, many of us actually speak the Queen’s english.  That said, don’t even THINK about referring to any black person as “articulate.”
  4. Don’t ask too many questions about our hair.  In fact, ask no questions at all.  The workplace is not a forum for your curiosity about our hairstyle strategies.  If you’re so goddamned curious, use your downtime to watch Youtube videos dedicated to the topic and say nothing to us at all.  (Warning, touching our hair might make some of us forget that hitting you in the head with a three-hole-punch would get us in trouble.  I speak from experience)
  5. All brown people do not resemble one another. If you screw up and call me by the name of the only other black woman in the office, she and I had better be identical twins. You won’t like it when the retort is “I know . . . we all look alike.”  (Again, I speak from experience)
  6. It is not appropriate to volunteer to fix one of us up with your only other single black friend simply because we’re both unattached and of color. It doesn’t really work that way.
  7. While I think that Michelle Obama is a beautiful woman, I do not look “just like her.”
  8. Don’t assume that my predominantly black neighborhood is “the ghetto,” and ask if I “feel safe” there . . .  unless you would like for me to inquire about your experiences in the trailer park.
  9. Don’t violently express your disdain for rap music, and proclaim that it’s “noise.”  A) I don’t care, and B) well . . .there really doesn’t need to be a B.
  10. I’m probably not the right audience for your claims that diversity efforts are unfair for white people who might be “the best person for the job.”  In fact, sharing this opinion with me or anyone who looks like me (although not JUST like me, as we covered in #7) will only further our thoughts that you’re an idiot and probably not the right person for any job.
  11. The office is not the place for your paltry attempts at urban colloquialisms. You don’t get extra points with me by saying that something is “the bomb.” In fact, your use of slang is only an indication that any card-carrying black person should remove it from the vocab.
  12. Here’s a bonus tip:  I realize that holiday season is approaching.  It is completely inappropriate for you to have 3 glasses of wine and 7 healthy pours of scotch at the Christmas party and, at around midnight, wax endlessly about your secret physical attractions to black people. Guys, it isn’t as though any of the women are going to find your slurry words and excessive drooling to be sexy and complimentary, or reciprocate the sentiment. Ladies, your fate will likely result in providing gratuitous parking lot oral to the man whom you’ve previously mistaken for the janitor (per #10, you’re clearly the right person for this brand of job). In any case, those of us who look alike will get a great laugh out of it in the office the next day.

 

I hope I’ve been of assistance.  Now carry on, and remember . . .if you think it might be offensive, it probably is.

More Life Rules

Inspiration comes from everywhere — sometimes the most surprising places.  Today’s inspiration comes from having spent time with one of my 16 year old cousins whom I haven’t seen since he was a tiny child.  He has grown up to be a really nice kid and incredibly handsome young man, and I hope that I can be in his life a little bit more – as much as he will allow or tolerate — and teach him anything I have to offer.  Even though some of my lessons are a bit off-kilter (and many have to do with cocktails), here’s the second installment of the tidbits of information that I feel are worth sharing with young people.  I’m continuing this list not because so many people were interested, but just because it’s fun.

I hope some of these inspire thought, at very minimum.

  1. There are reasons why you need to excel in school.  Elementary or grammar school prepares you for high school.  It’s important to do well in HS so that you can get admitted to the best Universities — not just for the programs they offer, but because of the network to which you’re exposed.  When you become an adult, you will want to have a good network of smart and successful people to leverage for connections to great jobs, business partnerships, or even just informed opinions.  Those relationships are developed in college and continue throughout your life. A reasonably smart person with a great network will go a lot further than a genius who operates in a vacuum.
  2. Take a genuine interest in getting to know the people in your life.  Make a concerted effort to know them — what makes them happy, their motivations, their goals and anything they’ve learned along the way.  Especially your parents, who are so focused on raising you that you might look up and realize that you don’t really know them at all.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  You will hate to have missed the opportunity.
  3. Get a good handle on the basics.  Know how to load a dishwasher, unload a dishwasher, do laundry, iron a shirt, remove a stain.  Life hacks will get you through.
  4. Understand that, by and large, people just want to be heard. It’s worthwhile to listen, even if you don’t take their advice. You might learn something that will change your course, or not. But you’ll never know if you don’t listen.
  5. Err on the side of formality until you’re invited to do otherwise.  This includes manners, the use of nicknames and business attire.
  6. If it’s introduced, it has to be addressed.  Your job is to keep things that you don’t want addressed from being introduced.  Sometimes it’s best to fly under the radar.
  7. Pick your mate for the right reasons.  It’s great that she has an incredible body, or that he has a nice car.  But look for personal traits — signs of integrity.  Watch how he/she treats the important people in his/her life.  Is this person determined and deliberate?  Goal-oriented?  Examine the family before making a true commitment.  And always remember that how you align is how you’re defined.
  8. Make a valiant effort.  Life is much more fun when you actively participate.  This rule is one that I learned the hard way.
  9. Have a signature dish that you  master and enjoy cooking.
  10. Find an older person in your life who cares about you, in whom you can confide.  This can be an aunt or uncle, a godparent, a cousin or an unrelated person who you connect with.
  11. Don’t be mad at your friends for being themselves.  They might not show their love for you in the way that you expect or hope.  Sometimes you have to adjust your expectations to accommodate what they have to offer.  If you try to change them, you will only frustrate yourself and alienate them.

 

That’s it for now!  I welcome all comments, questions are rebuttals!

bigsecret

Jul 2, 2015 - Rants    No Comments

Life Rules

I don’t really have a lot to teach — just random bits of info that I’ve picked up along the way.  This list wasn’t created for adults.  My peers understand these rules all too well. But because I have no children, at some point I thought it might be interesting to put together a set of life rules for my godchildren and younger relatives who might like a perspective that doesn’t belong to their parents, and since I’m reluctantly allowing some of them to follow me on social media, I feel a responsibility to impart good information every now and then (as opposed to my endless selfies with wine).

So, my little people, these aren’t absolute truths, but they’re things that I’ve found pertinent to my life.  Some of these might be a little crazy, but consider the source.  :-)  Here are the first 20 (it was going to be 10, but I got carried away):

  1. Your parents are meant to be frustrating, but they always mean well and they’re often trying to keep you from making their mistakes (or the mistakes they’ve witnessed during their lives).  Just listen to them with the understanding that your parents have the most honest intentions of anyone you’ll ever encounter.  You might decide to take another course of action, but realize that they only want to be heard and considered.
  2. You might not be excited about iambic pentameter, but there are a lot of life lessons buried in the words of Shakespeare.  My favorite is “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” from Hamlet.   Borrowing and loaning money — or anything really — will go wrong the majority of the time.  Decide if potentially losing your friendship is worth it before entering into such an agreement.
  3. Since we’re learning life lessons in poetry, check out The Ten Crack Commandments by the Notorious B.I.G.  I’m certainly not suggesting that you sell (or smoke) crack — or any drugs whatsoever — but he does make a few good points when it comes to business in general.  And as a bonus the song has a great beat.   Enjoy.
  4. While driving or biking, stay away from the following drivers:  a cabbie (especially one without a fare), a U-Haul truck driver (they are generally untrained and don’t know how to manage their blind spots), a Zip Car driver (they don’t tend to drive frequently enough to be good drivers).  There are others that we can discuss offline, but staying away from the big three will be a great start when it comes to road safety.
  5. Whether you’re a male or a female, know how to cook and clean.  There is not ONE good argument for filth and the inability to feed yourself.  Also, nobody is excited about dating a dirty dependent person.  And if they are, you don’t want to date them.
  6. Driving is 30% skill and 70% managing everyone else’s lack of skill. Similar ratios apply to life in general.
  7. Options are everything.  Try to have as many as possible, and then learn to properly choose among them.
  8. If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.  Look for opportunities to learn, and always make sure you’re in good company.
  9. Money doesn’t solve all problems, but it determines your level of problem.  Life is much better when you’re not worried about keeping the lights and heat on.  You would much prefer to have trouble choosing investment accounts than trying to figure out how to pay your rent.  This is realism rather than materialism.  Know the difference.
  10. Enter each relationship with the thought of what you are able to offer rather than receive — whether it’s work, friendship, or romance.  Don’t be influenced by takers, because nobody wants to be around those who seek to suck the life out of everyone they encounter.  Call to say hello without ulterior motives and do nice things just because.  Sure, you will encounter a taker along the way and you might learn hard lessons, but those people are only sent to show you who’s worthy of your gifts.  Ultimately, givers reap great rewards.
  11. Embody the qualities of the person you want to attract.
  12. Don’t get caught up in other peoples’ opinions of you.  If they’re not paying your bills — or enabling you to pay your bills — their opinions are generally biased and irrelevant.
  13. Life can be a game, but everyone has their own style of winning. You won’t win at someone else’s game, but you can be expert at your own.
  14. Don’t talk about yourself; allow others to ask.  That way you’re certain they’re interested.
  15. You’ll spend a good percentage of your life figuring yourself out.  Get started on that as early as possible. You’ll spend another percentage of your life trying to determine the motives of others.  This will be a waste of time.  Focus on yourself instead.
  16. In school, study for the CLASS rather than the TEST.
  17. Try to avoid being judgmental, but definitely be discerning about whom you choose to have in your life.
  18. Per #17, stupidity and laziness can be contagious.  Don’t get infected.
  19. If you don’t want to get in trouble, stay away from places where trouble resides.
  20. Be beyond reproach at all times.  If you’ve performed well and checked all of the boxes, nobody can criticize your style.

 

If there is interest in more, I’m happy to continue this list.  I welcome any questions.  Within reason.  :-)

Aug 17, 2014 - Rants    3 Comments

Natural Hair Rant, or “Why I Look a Hot Mess”

This won’t be a popular post, but I really don’t care.   There’s a big push toward natural hair among the Black female population.  Black women everywhere are discarding their previously coveted jars of relaxer in an effort to celebrate their natural hair textures and stop adapting to an anglo aesthetic.

I’ve been natural for many, many years now — at least 10 – and not because I was so excited to embrace my culture, per se.  It was more of a decision that I made because relaxer isn’t necessary to straighten my hair.  A little bit of heat from a flatiron and my hair is stick straight.

Now . . . before you go thinking that I’m “bragging” about this, please know that my wavy, easily straightened hair texture is more of a curse than a blessing.  In fact, I honestly find very little to celebrate about my hair.

I’m normally what is referred to as a “straight natural,”  which is a person who has natural hair that chooses to straighten it.  I honestly love my hair straightened.  It’s easy and doesn’t require a cocktail of 5 perfectly mixed products that combine to make me look human.  I’m often vilified for this decision by women who choose the textured natural look, and I occasionally get irritating snide comments: “Oh.  I didn’t realize you had natural hair.  It’s always so straight.  Why do you do that?”

Okay, beeyotch, I’ll tell you why . . . because my natural hair is a scorching hot ass mess!  I’m not appreciate of my quasi-curl pattern (which is more like a very unsexy wave pattern), and my hair isn’t big and voluminous like others who have the natural hair that I covet. Believe me when I say that I would love nothing more than to have gorgeous curly hair that I could wash and go and wear with pride.   And before you ask, yes, I’ve tried any product that you are about to suggest.  But unless you can guarantee that there’s some sort of solution that will transform mine into an entirely different head of hair, I will work with the large collection that I already have.  Because, honestly?  Beautiful hair will be beautiful hair, irrespective of the treatment.  And my hair will be my hair.  Unfortunately.

The other delicious byproduct of being a straight hair natural is that the flat iron used to straighten my hair actually contributes to the ugliness of it all by providing the gift of heat damage, which means that any curl I had is now reduced (if not eliminated) and reinforces my need to straighten my hair in order to avoid looking like a taller version of one of those early cave women depicted in the Museum of Natural History.  My hair was horribly heat damaged some years ago and I’ve never recovered from it.

The only good thing about my heat damage was that my quest to fortify my follicles resulted in the creation of Naturals by Gina B., my body products company.  The leading product, Kiss My Ash, was originally created as a solution for my hair in my effort to rejuvenate my hair with natural ingredients.  The good news is that it did amazing things for my skin and it’s also a magnificent hair moisturizer.  The trouble is that heat damaged hair can’t be revived, irrespective of the product.

Natural hair enthusiasts adamantly suggest that I never straighten my hair again if I ever want to regain my curl pattern, but that means that I would have to walk around looking completely unkempt until my hair does . . . what, exactly? Maybe I’m waiting for it to grow out so that it can be . . . what?  Longer?  So, twice the amount of messy hair?    I don’t see how I can win here.

That said, I’ve made the executive decision to abandon my closet full of products and continue my tendency toward being a straight natural.  I might one day make a return.  In the meantime, I hope that the natural hair purists will understand that it’s not personal.  I respect and appreciate the mission, but straightening my hair is the only way to keep me from ripping it out in frustration.

 

Jan 21, 2014 - Rants    1 Comment

Ode to the valet parker

I have an aversion to valet parking.  I’m not comfortable with the concept of other people driving my car, and I cringe at the thought of handing my vehicle over to someone whose driver’s license status is questionable at best.

I’ve tried it.  I don’t like it.

Some of my friends don’t quite understand my hesitation — especially Jen, who is an avid customer of the little men in red jackets.  I maintain that my experiences have forced my mistrust, and I’m convinced that if valet parkers would alter their business practices just a tad, I might reconsider my stance.

If you know a valet parking “technician,” please pass this along . . .

Dear Valet Man:

Please know that I love convenience.  I really do.  To the extent that I am able, I go out of my way to reduce or eliminate the complicated, unpleasant aspects of my life.

And, really?  What could possibly be more inconvenient than having to:

  1. Competitively hunt for a parking space
  2. Parallel park in an impossibly small spot (being mindful to leave enough space so that the raggedy hoopty behind me and the urban assault vehicle in front of me – complete with ominous tow hitch – don’t scrape my car upon departure)
  3. Navigate the often inclement weather of Chicago while trying to avoid killing Divvy rental bikers, who don’t obey the rules of the road
  4. Locate the parking meter (the closest of which always seems to be 1/4 mile away from my car.  Especially when it’s raining or snowing)
  5. Wait in line, in heels, in the cold to pay for parking, while praying that the suburbanite chick in line ahead of me (who has been toying with the meter for what seems like an eternity) realizes the correct orientation of credit card insertion and knows that one must hit the ‘print receipt’ button in order to complete the transaction
  6. Fork over $176 for a mere two hours of street parking (because our dear former Mayor Daley sold us up the river, likely for his personal gain.  [But I'm not bitter])
  7. Trek to my destination in cute shoes that are only meant to be worn inside while mingling, for no longer than two hours
  8. Nervously check my watch every 15 minutes while at social outing, to make sure that I don’t get a $50 ticket on top of having to take out a second mortgage to pay for street parking
  9. Limp back to the car on stiletto-clad bloody hooves in enough time to avoid getting a ticket issued by a soulless meter reader who is lurking around my car, waiting to issue a ticket the second the clock ticks 9:31

 

Doesn’t sound like a fun experience, does it?  In fact the whole thing rather sucks.  Yet I typically opt to deal with the irritating process of parking my own car rather than use your service.  It has nothing to do with the cost or the obligation to add gratuity.  The recent surge of street parking fees in Chicago has made valet pricing seem inexpensive by comparison.  

Although the parking situation is tantamount to Mission Impossible (more like Mission Ridiculous),  parking my own car gives me a greater peace of mind than entrusting you.  Because I’ve simply had too many bad experiences with your profession.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions that might make the transaction a little more pleasant:

Be nice to the customer.  When I pull up to your station, please don’t beat on my window or open my door before I’m ready to exit.  It’s annoying and not a great introduction.

SAFELY park the cars of your customers.  Many of us love our cars, and when we valet park we hope that you will treat our cars with care and that you know what you’re doing.  Slamming the door, peeling out and violently turning the corner — nearly steamrolling three pedestrians –doesn’t instill confidence.  I don’t think to myself: “This man is a professional; he obviously knows what he’s doing.”  Instead, it makes me want to run down the street behind you, screaming “Give me back my car, you bad driving freak!” (Fortunately my dignity has saved me many times.)

Realize that I have not LOANED you the car; you are merely PARKING the car.  While I understand that some adjustments need to be made for you to drive safely (although I think we’ve established that safety isn’t your concern), please try to return my settings when you return the car. And, let’s refrain from programming your favorite radio stations and altering my carefully chosen temperature settings.  In fact, you shouldn’t be in the car long enough to get quite so comfortable.   Also?  Know that many of us track our gas levels and odometers.  You should not have driven 22 miles in my car and burned 1/4 tank of gas while I’m having dinner.

Do not treat my car like a dining room.  Granted I’m a little quirky about this, but let me be clear . . . I don’t eat in my car.  I don’t allow my best friends to eat in my car.  If my boyfriend even thinks about pulling out a Tic Tac in my car, he gets the side-eye.  I wouldn’t dream of eating in anyone else’s car, especially when I haven’t been given permission.  That said, you can imagine my annoyance and anger when I find evidence that you’ve been eating Flaming Hot chips in my vehicle!  Especially when said evidence consists of an obnoxious empty bright red bag carelessly left on the passenger seat, and red sticky stuff on my steering wheel!

Don’t rifle through my things and think I’m not going to notice.  I know what’s in my ashtray and glove compartment and I know when things are missing.  I will check for those things before I leave for the evening, and I will shamelessly sit there and block the valet station until they are returned.  And while you’re at it, stay the hell out of my trunk!

Please don’t park my car in an area where it will get ticketed.  If I wanted a ticket I would have parked it my damn self.  But if you do happen to screw up and get a ticket, let me know.  So that I can make you pay for it before I’m surprised with a boot.

Don’t lose my car.  If I give you my claim ticket and you nervously ask me about the color of my car and whether or not it has four doors, it’s painfully evident that you have no clue as to where it might be.  And don’t try to appease me by saying that you’ll return in “a few minutes,” when you know damned well that it will be at least a half hour before you remember the location of my car.  Which probably has a ticket on it.  Because you were too busy eating dinner, checking the glove compartment, adjusting my seat and listening to my radio to make sure that you were safely parking my car in a memorable area.

Know that each and every new scratch will be noticed . . . and discussed.  Let’s not play the “it was there when you dropped it off” game.  Not only is that game absolutely no fun, it makes the customer feel like you think we’re stupid.  I know my car and all of its scratches.  Don’t make me hurt you.

I thank you for considering these mild behavior modifications, even though something tells me that I lost you at “Dear Valet Man.”    Which is fair, because you lost me at “Flaming Hot.”

 

Warm regards,

The owner of the dark silver four-door sedan that passes you by

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 24, 2013 - Holidaze, Rants    3 Comments

The most useless appliance of 2013!

Every year I peruse the hundreds of Christmas catalogs that overflow my mailbox — especially the Bed Bath & Beyond circular — to determine the most inane appliance that’s being marketed as an amazing holiday gift. This year, the winner is the Cake Pop Maker!

cakepopmaker

So, while I see cake pops in Starbucks and assume there’s a market for them, I didn’t realize they were sweeping the nation to the point where there’s a need for a dedicated appliance to make bite-sized cakes that then need to be pushed onto a stick and decorated.  I don’t really get it.  I guess it’s for people who want a little bit of cake, and are afraid to have entire layer cakes at their disposal.  But, really?  If you make 12 cake pops and decorate and eat them all, you might as well have enjoyed a fabulous slab of decadent devil’s food.

My prediction is that, as early as next year, yard sales and Goodwill stores will be full to bursting with rejected, unused cake pop makers — right next to the discarded quesadilla makers, panini presses, flavor injectors and salad shooters. Or anything else by Ronco.

And guys?  Just in case you’re desperately seeking a last minute gift for your girlfriend, and somehow think the cake pop maker is the answer to your question, say no.  There are better ways to spend $17.99.  Ways that won’t elicit a breakup.

Happy holidays!

 

Dec 20, 2013 - Rants    No Comments

Who ARE these people? WTF is a Duck Dynasty??

I used to be an avid reality television watcher, but this was before reality TV became absolutely ridiculous.  I watched early seasons of the Real World, Survivor, the occasional Bachelor/Bachelorette, Biggest Loser, etc.   I watched about as much as I could stand of Real Housewives of Atlanta.  I pulled back when I realized that I spent more time watching the lives of others than I spent living my own life.  (I lived my life SO much that I even made an appearance on a reality show of sorts with Six Brown Chicks.)

I’m still a junkie for competition shows, or any home buying or renovation show on HGTV.   But, I have deliberately refused to pay attention to the newish crop of reality TV (even though the BF tried to suck me into Storage Wars and later boycotted it himself when he realized it was staged).  I don’t choose to watch shows about pregnant teenagers, women who throw chairs at each other, little plump children who perform in pageants or hillbilly handfishing — whatever the hell THAT is.  I don’t kare about the Kardashians.

I don’t even think of it as reality TV, as much as I consider it to be “Lab Rat TV.”  Let’s put these odd, volatile people in a sticky situation and see what happens.

The trouble is that these reality stars have somehow become celebrities, and I find myself perusing the entertainment magazines while in line to buy groceries, and failing to recognize most of the people who are plastered all over the covers of Us and People.

Recently, I’ve chosen to remain completely ignorant about whatever’s going on with the “star” of Duck Dynasty.  I honestly don’t want to know what that show is about.  I  refuse to know the name of the man or learn about his family members who think it’s appropriate to have beards that could house wildlife, and his opinions don’t matter to me.  I see his face plastered all over Facebook with commentary about his socio-political views, and while I’ve been tempted to click and read, I feel as though that would be tantamount to actually watching the show.  Not gonna happen.

Here’s my question . . . why do we care what he thinks or how he feels?  As far as I can tell, that man is contributing very little to society (except to serve as a great example of a fashion don’t).  And why do we have expectations that his ideals will align with ours?  Because, of COURSE they won’t!  Truth be told, I would actually be more concerned if his opinions matched perfectly with mine.    But then again, I know not of what I speak.  He could be an upstanding citizen with a bad sense of style.

I don’t want to give this any more airplay than it deserves, and I’m honestly not trying to be elitist or judgmental, but I’m just curious as to why we, as a society, have taken to glamorize and elevate people to celebrity status who have no visible talents, other than their abilities to be interesting to watch on a reality show?    I’m writing this because I really don’t get it.

I encourage a healthy debate.  Please feel free to comment with your opinion.

Oct 4, 2013 - Rants    2 Comments

Pedestrians Have Lost Their Damned Minds

Crosswalk

When I was little, I was taught to look both ways before crossing the street, and take safety into my own hands.  I’m not sure if people are teaching their kids the same thing these days, because they seem to have no concern if they’re in the middle of street and a car is coming straight at them.

In fact, I think pedestrians in general need a little bit of tutelage in Chicago.

The biggest mistake we could have made was putting crosswalks all over the city.  They confuse people, and have made dumb people think that if there are white lines on the street in any formation, they constitute a crosswalk and cars must yield.

There is a big difference between a crosswalk — where traffic must stop to accommodate pedestrians — and a crossing area — where one walks when no traffic is present, or when traffic is halted by a stoplight, because vehicles are not required to stop for pedestrians when the light is green.  There is a LEGAL difference, people.  Figure it out!

I do my part to avoid killing people, but really?  If I’m driving the speed limit (generally 35+.  Okay . . .or more) and a stupid person decides (against all logic) to cross the street right in front of my car because there is a single white line drawn perpendicular to the passageway, I can only predict the perilous outcome of that situation.

Pedestrians take for granted that cars will actually stop.  In some cases, this is a BIG mistake.  If a speeding car is coming directly toward the crosswalk it would be best to make sure that the driver actually SEES the crosswalk, before you can go sashaying your stupid ass out in the middle of the street.

I love the pedestrians who glare at the driver with much attitude, to indicate that they have the right of way and will occasionally scream in the direction of the car.  Usually something about a lawsuit.  Apparently so that their heirs can benefit from their idiotic relative that refused to move out of the way of a speeding vehicle.

Here’s the thing.  Yes, pedestrians have the right of way.  Of course they do.  However, common sense and the right of way are a better combination.  There are hierarchies on the road, like it or not.  And the hierarchies are based on the ability to harm.  The onus is on you to get out of harms way, because you can’t speak to the attentiveness of the person operating those vehicles, and you, the unprotected pedestrian have the most to lose.

The road food chain is as follows:

1.  Trucks.  Sure, trucks should use their mirrors at all times because they’re generally behemoth road hazards that can’t possibly have a handle on their surroundings, but when I’m driving near them, I make sure to stay out of their blind spots — and stay away from them in general.  Whether or not they should be looking out for me, it’s the smart thing to do.  If I don’t think a truck driver can see me, I make sure that I’m out of striking range.  Because I will be crushed like a tiny bug!

2.  Utility vehicles.  If you don’t know better than to stay away from people who rent U-Hauls and generally aren’t trained to drive them?  You’re in your own way.

3.  SUVs.  They’re bigger than me.  Case closed.

4.  Cars.  They weigh more than two tons.  On foot or on two wheels, I’m no match for one of them.  I guess the recourse is that you could sue one of them, but I’d much rather be able to walk and breathe.  I’m actually more wary of the Zip Cars or Go Cars, because their operators aren’t regular drivers, and in some cases have been some of the worst drivers I’ve ever seen in my life.  I avoid them like the plague.  Also?  If you see a Zip Car in Chinatown?  Go nowhere near that vehicle.

5.  Motorcycles.  The driver is unprotected, but they have weight and speed.  When out of control, they can access areas that cars can’t.  I’m always looking out for them.

6.  Bicycles.  Bike riders are some of the biggest road menaces, and so many bikers are downright hostile about their rights to bike — yet few of them follow the rules of the road.  I think that many of them have determined that emulating bike messengers is the way to go.  Not so much.  This city has spent millions of dollars creating bike lanes, and in some cases giving them their own stop lights.  Yet, there are they, some of them . . . floating around in drivers’ blind spots like little gnats . . . running lights . . . dodging in and out of traffic.   I’ve also seen bizarro accidents where bikers hit pedestrians.  Those accidents never end well.  Just be mindful.

7.  Anything else on wheels.  This includes scooters, skateboarders, rollerbladers, etc.  One bump in the road, and these people could hit anything in their path.  At a pretty good speed.  And most of them have no insurance, so a lawsuit is futile.

8.  And finally . . . the pedestrian.

See how that works?  Be careful out there.  You are the only person you can trust with your personal safety.

Jun 8, 2013 - Rants, Uncategorized    3 Comments

Why Being A Celebrity is Overrated

celebrityquote

 

I have a few famous friends. I don’t think of them that way for the most part, but I’m reminded of their fame from time to time, like when we’re in public and they’re recognized, or when I read news items about them.  It’s a little weird, to be honest.

Most people are envious of celebrities, and I used to be.  What’s not to love, right?  There’s the money, the fame, the fact that your art is being shared with the world, the notoriety. The list goes on.  However, there are a lot of byproducts that I wouldn’t love about being a celebrity:

1.  The scrutiny.  People are mean, and now that there’s so many avenues for people to express their opinions publicly, it’s hard to avoid the negative comments.  No matter how good you try to be, there are always going to be people who don’t like you . . . just because.  When I was writing for RedEye, a few of my columns weren’t reacted to favorably, and the negative comments flew.  When the Six Brown Chicks were on “Iyanla Fix My Life,” the message boards were hot.  Some of the comments were complimentary, while others were mean assessments of how we looked and who had the worst personality (I’m most often vilified for being one who didn’t cry.  Whatevs)  I didn’t like those tiny tastes of it, and I can’t imagine being a celebrity and having that potential bad press every day.  No thanks.

2.  The lack of privacy.  Just because people are good actors, singers, athletes, it doesn’t give everyone the right to delve into their private lives.  Yet everyone does. Celebrity prying seems to be a multi-million dollar business.

3.  Having to be “on” whenever in public.  Whether a celebrity is at the gas station, in the drug store, or having a family dinner, there is the expectation that this person should cheerfully accept questions and intrusions from weird fans who would like to interrupt them to take pictures.   This is where a celebrity with a personality like mine would fail miserably.  I have nice moments, and I have bitchy moments.  I’m in my own head most of the time, and I don’t think I’d react kindly to someone approaching me for a snapshot while I’m buying tampons — even if their comments are complimentary.  And then we’re back at point #1, where the (interloping) fan (who feels shunned) then writes things on blogs about how their encounter wasn’t positive, and that said celebrity is a bitch.

4.  The inability to make anonymous mistakes.  When you’re a regular person, your mistakes are your mistakes.  Your drunken misconduct, bad haircuts or poor relationship choices are not a matter of public record or concern (unless that drunken misconduct turns into a DUI, in which case it IS a matter of public record).  Your friends might remember, but the incidents won’t be forever logged in blogs or on a search engine.  Celebrity mistakes are blasted all over the tabloids.  Although I’m not a fan, I feel badly for poor Taylor Swift, whose teenage relationships are ruthlessly dissected.  People .  . . do you know WHY she makes bad choices?  Because she’s a frickin’ teenager, for Chrissakes! She’s not supposed to have long-lasting relationships at 19 — or 20, 21, 22 or 23.  She’s supposed to have meaningless flings and quasi-relationships with men that she’ll look back on and regret when she’s 30 — like the rest of us do!  So, I’d say she’s right on track.  The difference is that she can write hit songs about them.  Which is actually the only part of being a celebrity that might be enviable.

5.  The body image issue.  Most people fluctuate in and out of shape.  Personally, there are moments when I’m really good, and stretches where I succumb to the pizza cravings and look like the before shot in a lipo ad.  But, really?  The person who cares the most is me.  And I like it that way.  But to take a vacation on a remote island and have the stalkerazzi take a secret bathing suit shot when I’m in pizza shape and blast it all over People as one of the World’s Worst Bikini  Bodies?  Would be a harrowing experience, and one that I might never recover from.  Granted, I’m known to say that it’s a celebrity’s job to look good, but really?  They’re human beings.  Cut them some slack.

6.  The expectation that the celebrity life is perfect and stress free.  To quote the Notorious B.I.G., “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”   I think the celebrity life is highly stressful.  Let’s examine . . .  say a woman — we’ll call her Bella La Diva — has a breakout hit movie.  She’s on the cover of Vogue, Elle, Vanity Fair — all of the reputable periodicals.  She can bask in the fame for a little while, but really?  The pressure is on.  She needs to be worrying about the next thing.  Can she sustain her fame or was she a one-hit-wonder?  Will the public continue to adore her?  Or will she be unable to get work for a while afterward?  Well  . . . if we run the numbers, she might in a bit of trouble.  The first contract is never the best, so she’s certain to have made WAY less money than everyone thinks she has.  With her first check, she probably made an ostentatious expenditure, like a Ferrari or a Cribs-worthy house.  She must pay her “people,” her taxes, and maintain a lifestyle commensurate with public expectation.  Her friends and family have outstretched hands, because she’s a celebrity who obviously has millions of dollars sitting around to fund her trifling cousin’s latest wacky scheme, or take her friends to over-the-top dinners and spas.  But what if she can’t afford that lifestyle?  What if her career flounders and she really needs a job — any job — but she can’t take just any job because people will then ask if she “used to be” Bella La Diva?  These are the things that pill addictions are born of.

7.  Being a child celebrity.  There are no good stories about child celebrities.  Period.

So there we go.  If anyone has anything to add or rebut, please do comment.  I’m not a celebrity, so I’m sure this blog will go without much scrutiny.  :-)

Rant over.  Thanks for reading!

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