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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

I’ve got my adult mask on, but it’s slipping.


Last night, I had the opportunity to attend an Adler After Dark event courtesy of Izea. Part of the deal, of course, is that I would tweet and instagram and social media the shit out of the event using my ~~SMARTPHONE~~. Sadly, a smartphone is only as smart as the person holding the phone, and I managed to leave my phone at home.

Which, you know, was also really inconvenient because that’s how I talk to people and also how I tell time.

There I was, with my cute(ish) shoes and shirt and wearing make up like an adult, all purse having, towel over my shoulder (because it was a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy themed event and I am a hoopy frood) and no phone.

Noooooo phone.

That thing I carry with me all the time and rely on?

At home.

I could probably spin this into an inspiring “and that’s when I realized I spend too much time on the phone!!! time to be PRESENT in the MOMENT blah blah grateful cakes” thing but fuckkkkkkk thattttttttttt. There was so much cool shit, you guys. Adler’s got it going on.

I can’t wait to go back to the next one.

posted under Chicago | Comments Off on I’ve got my adult mask on, but it’s slipping.

I went to Adler After Dark


Hey, thanks to Izea, I had a super fun time at Adler After Dark. Click on through to read about my adventures!

posted under Chicago | Comments Off on I went to Adler After Dark

In which I relate my near death experience. Again.


There’s a lot I like, even love, about living in Chicago. One thing I hate, though, is how unutterably jackassy people get behind the wheel of their cars. I’m talking about stuff like using the sidewalk as a turn lane, passing on the left cars that are trying to turn left, routinely passing people in the intersection, routinely using the bike lane as a car lane, and treating stop signs like a really good suggestion for other people.

About a year ago, the state of Illinois passed a law saying that motorists must come to a complete stop to allow pedestrians in marked crosswalks to finish crossing, as opposed to just yielding to them, edging ever closer, honking angrily because some jerk pedestrian is FORCING them to stop at a stop sign. People largely disregard this law and sail gayly through crosswalks that pedestrians are trying to dash through. I’m currently temping on UIC’s campus, and the situation is so bad that there are signs literally in the middle of the road reminding motorists that they have to stop at the crosswalk if there’s pedestrians in it.

People ignore the signs. You know. The signs that are literally in the middle of the road, mounted on neon yellow traffic cones between the lanes.

I have to cross a four-lane divided boulevard to get to the train station after work. I made it to the median with no problem. People stopped, pedestrians, crossed, etc. I looked to my right and saw two cars coming, one in each lane, but they were far enough away I figured that I could safely cross. And even if they were going faster than I thought they were, they had ample time to stop. I’ve been crossing the street for a long time, and I’m very conservative in my estimates of whether or not it’s safe to go, just to put things into perspective. I don’t fuck around with street crossing. I go when I feel safe. I felt safe. I started crossing.

The guy in the lane farthest from me SPED UP to try and cross the crosswalk before I got there, which is neither “stopping fully” nor is it “yielding.” It’s “being a complete and total jackass who is willing to endanger the lives of others just to save a few seconds.” I kept walking. He slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting me.

It had rained recently and the street was both wet and slick.

There was a long, loud screech of brakes and tires-skidding-on-pavement and that motherfucker nearly hit me. I’m not exaggerating here, he came very close to hitting me with his car. His very large, very heavy, fast moving car.

At least this time I only had one brush with death, as opposed to a few years ago when two different cars came shooting out of two different alleys and nearly hit me. The first one, I jumped back and out of the way as another pedestrian jumped forward, and this HUGE dude came running up and started screaming at the driver. The second time, less than five minutes later and a block from my house, the car shot out his bumper was literally touching my coat. I heard the plink of my coat buttons and his bumper colliding. And then he honked at me, for walking along a sidewalk in front of him while having the right of way. 1

I don’t like walking around my neighborhood, or pretty much any part of Chicago, because it’s literally dangerous. There are a LOT of motorists who don’t obey the rules of the road and who act in aggressively unsafe ways. Those examples I cited earlier, about driving on sidewalks etc? Those are things that I, personally, have witnessed. I feel unsafe walking on sidewalks. I know several experienced cyclists who have been hit and dragged by cars that then drove off, leaving them bleeding and badly injured by the side of the road, their bikes totaled. This is a normal occurrence. I read blog posts and news articles about cities that are pedestrian and bicycle friendly and I am so incredibly jealous because that? Is not my city.

And it could be my city. We have the bones of a great mass transit system in place. We have great weather for about half the year. In theory, it should be possible to make this city a haven for people who don’t drive. All of our buses are ADA compliant (although our sidewalks and curb cuts aren’t), many of our train stations are ADA compliant, which means that people using wheelchairs and scooters and assistive devices… and pushing strollers and shopping trolleys… can use them for $2.25 a pop. We are so close to having this great, walkable, bikeable city… and instead of improving the infrastructure to favor pedestrians and cyclists and mass transit users, we keep pouring money into repairing roads and adding more lanes and cutting funding for the CTA. It’s frustrating.

  1. That day, just as a note, I also had a concussion from the arm of a parking garage entrance/exit falling on my head as I passed it. It hit me hard enough to rattle my teeth together and my glasses went flying off my head. I was in down town Chicago during rush hour, and other pedestrians noticed what had happened and came over to check me out, THAT is how hard it hit me. That was pretty much a terrible day all around.
posted under Chicago, life, midwest | Comments Off on In which I relate my near death experience. Again.

Jobs, jobs, jobs.


A little over a week ago, I worked as a Parade Marshal for Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade. I’d never been to the Pride parade before, and the floats and groups in the parade were AMAZING. Some of them made me cry, but I am a huge softy. It was a really hard job, and not one I’m eager to do again. There were too many people, and too many of them were drunk and belligerent. There were fist fights (although I didn’t witness any); people in apartments flanking the parade route threw glass bottles down onto the pavement (which was PACKED with people); someone in the parade was handing out cans of beer to people, including a minor; and the parade ended early because for some reason (miscommunication? general inconsideratenes?) a flood of people jumped the barricades and started walking down the middle of the street. I mean, I was stationed 2-3 blocks from the starting line and there were floats still lined up ready to go, and the street was filled with people. I don’t know if the human flood happened before or after the police tried to re-route the parade due to too many people being present.

Part of my job involved preventing people from jumping over the barricade and wandering into/crossing the street. People in the street is dangerous because at best it can hold up the parade because there’s a bunch of people in the street. At worse, it’s dangerous because vehicles pulling heavy parade floats can’t stop very quickly and a slow moving car that crashes into a person hurts an awful lot. I spent a lot of time running up an down the street yelling at people to get off the barricade, to get behind the barricade, etc. One woman drunkenly slurred out the query of whether or not I was aware my job was to be “a complete buzz kill bitch.” I think she may have been trying to insult me, but seriously, that was my job in a nutshell. I mean, do you have ANY IDEA how hard it is to find a job where you’re paid to be a complete buzz kill bitch? Very hard! Yet I managed to find one. Go me! Anyway, it kind of boggles my mind that telling someone they can’t wander in front of a multi-ton float is enough to kill their buzz. You are at the fucking Pride parade! How are you not having fun?

I made poor decisions while leaving that morning, and those poor decisions resulted in an incredibly horrific sunburn on my face, arms, and scalp.  I haven’t had a burn this bad since… 1999?… when I was working landscaping and lost touch with reality and decided to work a full day in the beating sun with no sunscreen, no hat, and a tank top. I got blisters the size of quarters and should have gone to the hospital but didn’t. My back and shoulders are now covered with like reverse freckles, little spots of absolute white, with no pigment. It was foolish of me. I thought I’d learned my lesson, but apparently I didn’t! A week and a half later and I am still suffering. This too, however, shall pass. Assuming I don’t get melanoma cancer, a cancer that runs on both sides of my family.

I’m currently working a 2-month full-time gig at an institution I’ve worked at before, but in a different department than I’ve worked out. I am, once again, a place holder until a real full time employee can be found. Which means I’m getting paid to sit around and not do much. I answer the phone here and there, I helped a student worker organize the supply cabinet, but other than that? I’m playing with Google+ and getting some writing done. The first few days, actually, were utterly terrible because I had no computer and spent 8 hour shifts reading books. Which, you know, if you said “Brigid, how’d you like to spend 8 hours a day getting paid to read books?” I’d jump at that. But oh my LANDS it was so stultifying. I kept checking the time, thinking half an hour had passed, to find only five minutes had. Maybe if I had a comfortable chair it would have been different, I don’t know.

I’m in some serious trouble, though, because there’s a cafe on the first floor and they sell fancy coffee drinks. DUN. DUN. DUNNNNNNNNN.

posted under Chicago, work | 1 Comment »

I took a step back, and wound up in 1996.


My headphones have been slowly dying, a wire lose from being bent too often. I was listening to my mp3 player today while walking to tutoring, and the sound quality was terrible. I could get the lead guitar and drums of “Me First and the Gimme Gimmes” really well, but everything else? Almost inaudible. The singer was distant, faint, sometimes sounding underwater.

And for a brief moment, I was back in high school, listening to bootleg cassette tapes, or listening to a live band with poorly mixed sound, the vocalist drowned out. Do you remember cassette tapes? How if you listened to them enough the tape would start wearing thin, and you’d sometimes hear a bit of music from the other side? The tinny chipmunk skirl as you fast forwarded? The heavy click and pop as you ejected the tape? Did you ever tape things from the radio, finger poised over the “play” and “record” buttons, trying to get the timing just right? Mix CDs just never felt the same as mix tapes.

Walking back home, I passed a clutch of kids skateboarding on their high school’s cement steps. I remember when nobody in the midwest skated, when skate shops were far and few between, skate magazines a window to some exotic wonderful culture… to freedom.

Sometimes I feel old; other times I feel caught in time. I don’t want to go back to my youth, but it’s nice to reach out sometimes and brush my fingers gently against it.

posted under Chicago, life, midwest, stuff | Comments Off on I took a step back, and wound up in 1996.

Is anyone attending Be-All 2011?


For my GQ/Trans* friends, are any of you attending Be-All 2011? A friend of mine mentioned it to me, and then I mentioned it to a few other people and none of them have heard of it, so here’s a heads up if you’re unfamiliar with it.

Here are the Seminars, Vendors, and Registration Info. Like most conventions it costs money. They have Scholarships which one can apply for. A lot of the seminars look REALLY fascinating and informative.

posted under body issues, Chicago, GQ/Trans*, health | Comments Off on Is anyone attending Be-All 2011?

More of the same (weather)


It’s snowing again. I guess 20 inches wasn’t quite enough. Weather reports predict 1-3 inches, with a few outlying 4-incher areas. We’ve already gotten maybe two inches of soft, fluffy stuff.

It’s a bit disappointing, because the 6 foot mountain of snow blocking one end of our alley, the result of an apartment complex bulldozing their parking lot’s snow into the alley/side street, was only just “dealt with.” And by “dealt with” I mean someone shoved it all into the alley so that our alley is essentially paved with snow and suddenly incredibly slippery and hazardous to drive down. But people can enter/exit that end of the alley again. Or they could. I’m sure the company will just shove snow into the alley again, like antisocial jerks.

It was supposed to have stopped snowing at noon, and now it’s just after 12:00 and really enormously fat flakes are drifting from the sky. We need to run to the grocery store, and to Target. Wish us weather-related luck.

posted under Chicago, midwest | Comments Off on More of the same (weather)

In my defense, I was running a fever.


I spent most of yesterday running a 100.4* fever, which is enough to make me really stupid and tired and out of it. Over the course of the day– which, let me remind you, was spent ENTIRELY ON MY OWN WITH A TODDLER because Nesko wound up spending over 30 hours at work, finally getting home after we were asleep– I managed to cut myself, burn myself, tear the knee of a nearly new pair of pyjama pants, drop a whole lot of food on the floor at different times, close my hand in a door, and hit my head on the fridge. I was in rare form.

I also became obsessed with the snow caked on our window screens, and opened a window to try and knock the snow off the screen. Only the snow had gotten between the screen and the window, so when I opened the window, dirty snow fell all over the window sill and the wood floor. Did you know that squirrels sit on our window ledges and poop? They do. I got squirrel poop in our house. :C

I should be less of a hot mess today, although we are running out of food and food-like substances. None of the side streets or alleys have been cleared out yet so they are all choked with snow… 2-4 feet of snow, depending on where they are. Nesko got home to our general vicinity in good time last night, but then was driving around for about an hour looking for a place to put his car. He couldn’t get down or street OR down our alley (which had a 5 foot drift of snow along one end of it). He wound up parking 2-3 blocks away and walking home. I think he’s going to have to do the same tonight. Hopefully he can stop for groceries on the way home.

posted under Chicago, health, home, life, midwest | Comments Off on In my defense, I was running a fever.

Thunder Snow!


Well, I’ve spent half an hour dicking about with this blog entry, and apparently wordpress’s “insert image” functionality is fucked, so I can’t “easily” (y’know, one image uploaded and labeled at a time, slowly) add images to this post… like the photos I took of our snowbound neighborhood. And I don’t have time to FTP them to my web host or host them on photobucket because I have a toddler doing his best impression of a zombie, scratching and clawing at the office door while wailing for brains cookies.

So please just take my word for it, until I can properly post some pictures, that we have a lot of snow. Including some 4-5 foot drifts in the back of the building, which I didn’t take photos of anyway. We also had thunder and lightning last night. Yeah. Last night. When it was snowing so heavily that it was impossible to see outside, and there were 70 mile an hour winds. Folks down the street from us lost power, but we are OK.

Here’s hoping everyone’s riding out the weather safely.

posted under Chicago, home, life, midwest | Comments Off on Thunder Snow!

Tutoring update


For those of you who don’t know/don’t remember, I tutor through a local community center. I have one student, and we’re working on Adult Basic Education (ABE), Math. Sometimes we touch on Grammar and stuff, though, as my student is also an ESL student. Her goal of working with me is to be able to take a math placement test that will get her into a math credit course in college– a 101 or higher level class, not a remedial class. You know, something that will count toward a degree.

She brought in a booklet on placement tests, from the college, and if we crammed really hard for a few sessions she could probably take the PreAlgebra test and do well on it. However, the PreAlgebra test wouldn’t get her into a credit class. It gave us a good look at where she’s at, and where she needs to be. We went over some sample questions and she got the hang of some stuff pretty quickly.

Our current plan is to touch on a few more PreAlgebra things (mean, median, and mode; brush up on time zones; continue reviewing fractions; order of operations), move onto Geometry, and then hit Algebra. The current goal is to have her take the Algebra test (which includes Geometry) this summer. We might push it back to the fall, but I’m hoping we’ll get it this summer. We’ve been held up and not really progressing because we keep coming back to fractions… we start doing a quick review and it turns out she’s forgotten stuff, so we spend some time on it, she remembers it all, she does well, we do a bit more review, she seems to have it cold… and then next session she needs to be reminded again. So I’m going to put together some practice worksheets with reminder instructions/steps and a handful of problems for her to work on when we’re not together, and hope that consistent practice will help keep things fresh in her mind.

If anyone has any advice or resources, let me know.

I’m going to try and attend more tutoring workshops this year as well. So far, they all seem to be geared toward reading/writing and ESL and not math, but I won’t be working with my student forever, and my next one might be reading/writing. So I might as well gobble up all the knowledge I can, right?

IN OTHER NEWS, Nesko might have to spend the night at work because it is snowing LIEK WOAH and apparently there are no snowplows out near him and it’s massively dangerous to be on the road. He is a dispatcher for a towing company and they are getting a lot of work tonight. Be safe, everyone!

posted under Chicago, feminism, life, social responsibility | Comments Off on Tutoring update
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