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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

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 need to take all the drugs.


I have a cold. Again. It hasn’t settled in my lungs YET but I can feel it moving south just like last night I could feel my temperature inch up towards fever levels, my throat start hurting, and my sinuses slowly fill with snot. I started making stock today. Nesko will have to strain it and put it away because, my darlings, I made mashed potatoes and then had to sit down and rest for ten minutes. It just wore me out. Halp! I am weak and diseased.

I’m also job hunting and am kind of between a rock and a hard place here. At the very least, I need to make more money than Nesko is making at HIS job so that it makes fiscal sense for him to quit and stay at home with Niko, which means I can’t just pick up temp work. That pays crap, and day care would eat all that income up so what is the point? I’ve looked on monster in the past, and gotten nothing but work at home scams, pyramid schemes, and telemarketing gigs (I am terrible at telemarketing). I’m looking at Craigslist, but there is almost nothing on there. I’m sending out 2-4 resumes a day, which feels like absolutely nothing. I’ve sent out about 50 or so and gotten… two responses.


Out of 50.

Both of them scams.

Apparently, there’s a popular scam going round craigslist where a job is posted, and when people reply, someone ostensibly from the company writes back that hey! wow! you’re so awesome! You’re in our top ten list of possible candidates! All we need you to do is visit THIS LINK RIGHT HERE and get your credit score for us and let us know what it is because of convoluted reasons. So just sign up for this TOTALLY FREE CREDIT REPORT OFFER and we’re good to go! Note that we haven’t said anything about our company name, location, or type of business. JUST FILL OUT THE OFFER OK.

The first ad I responded to that replied in such a manner almost sounded legit. The ad looked like the kind of ad a small company that expanded quickly and doesn’t quite have its act together would post, and the “oh halp we needs ur credit score” response almost sounded legit, to the point where I composed an email saying that gosh gee wow I’d never needed to provide my own credit check before, the potential company has always done that.

The reply bounced.

Because, you know. They just want people to sign up with the TOTALLY FREE CREDIT REPORT OFFER OH HEY WOW DID I MENTION IT IS FREE? IT TOTALLY IS.

Which is depressing. Because I need a job, and now I need to not only filter out jobs based on type, location, wage, etc but also whether or not they even exist or are just scams. And since I have, seriously, about half an hour a day to do stuff online since I am the full time caregiver of a toddler? Fuck you. Seriously. FUCK YOU. I just want a damn job. (PS this is why, if you have a blog which I have not commented on, why I have not commented. IN FACT, it took me two days to write this relatively short post, which is why up top I say there’s stock needing to be separated and strained and down below I say there’s stock in the fridge.)

Somebody bring me some awesome drugs, ok? I’ve got chicken stock chilling in the fridge. I’ll trade you. In fact, I will give you one quart of very dark and flavorful chicken stock in exchange for an un-expired albuterol inhaler. That’s totally a good deal, right? You’d exchange a prescription drug that costs about $100 for a quart of home made chicken stock, right? Urgh.

posted under health, life, work | 1 Comment »

…at 47th street.


I’m doing passenger counts this weekend, and today we were on the South Chicago train. It was pretty uneventful in all. Our final trip inbound, there was a wedding party (bridge, groom, bridesmaids, I didn’t see any groomsmen but they were probably there) on the platform at 47th street, taking photos. We pulled in, people got off, people got on, the wedding party stayed there (you can rent CTA trains to drive you around the city, possibly with a bartender, but I don’t think Metra offers a deal like that).

As we pulled away, the engineer came on over the intercom.

“Who does that,” he said.

Everyone in the train started laughing.

“They said they wanted to be original.

He paused, then spoke again.

“…at 47th street.”

It was a beautiful day for a wedding.

posted under Chicago, midwest, trains, work | Comments Off on …at 47th street.

But where are you FROM? I mean, originally.


Nesko gets asked that a lot.

“But where are you FROM,” people ask, when looking at his ID or debit card (so usually when he’s trying to buy something).

“Evanston,” he answers, which is true!

“Oh, no!” they persist. “I mean, originally.”

“Ahhh!” he answers, like everything is coming clear. “Well, I was born in Chicago.”

Obviously, he’s had lots of opportunities to work out a pat, humorous answer to nosy people. Because, you know, there are certain names that are “American” and certain names that are foreign.

I used to have an “American” name. Sullivan! It’s actually a really awesome name to have when you live in Chicago, because Chicago prides itself on being all “Irish-American” and shit (Irish people! Now they are considered White and not scum!) and has lots of “Irish-American” politicians and chiefs of police etc. I used to bust out my ID or debit card or whatever and people would nod knowingly at my name. It was a correct and proper name. I fit in. Nobody ever suggested I change my name to be more “American,” as Texas state rep Betty Brown (R) suggested that every Asian in the USA do, you know, to FIT IN. And people didn’t really grill me on my name and heritage! It was awesome!

Then I got married to a dude with a silent “J” in his name, changed my name to match his because I am a baaaad feminist who buckles under the Patriarchy’s massive weight, and things changed.

FOR INSTANCE! I once had a temp job at a state agency, and had to call IT to get my email account working. Man, where they glad I could speak English! Because obviously with a name like mine I would be an old fat Russian lady with a hairy chin and a thick accent or maybe poor English skills! Well… I was 30 at the time (almost old), fat, have a hairy chin, and am obviously from the Midwest. I drop my G’s a lot lately. That’s kind of like having an accent! I guess! They were DREADING speaking to me, based SOLELY on my last name, and actually told me (in a relieved voice) all that they had assumed. Stay classy, state departments!

And then yesterday I was headed in to another temp job (more counting passengers on trains, which gave me the ideas for 2 different Secret Chicago pieces… or 1 piece and a longer short story, not sure which) when I stopped into a convenience store in Union Station to get some water as I was going to spend 8 hours locked in a moving metal box in Chicago Summer Heat (90F*+, tons of humidity; I actually started getting sick to my stomach from the heat at one point). I grabbed a magazine and a bottle of water and went to check out. There were two women behind registers. One was, I think, Vietnamese and she had a little accent but nothing unusual for the USA! Many people who live in this country, who work in this country, who study in this country, have accents! For instance: every single person who lives in Maine has an accent! Anyway, the white woman behind the counter said she’d take me (I assumed the other woman didn’t have an active cash register or was in training or something, nothing out of the ordinary). The white woman then started, every time the other woman said something, interrupting her to say “chin chin chonnnnng ching chon chon ching.”

I was… baffled.

If I’d had my wits about me, I would have abandoned water and magazine and gone someplace else. But no! I did not!

She scanned my things and I gave her my debit card. It did not go through! This always twists me into a moebius strip of uncertainty and anxiety. She asked for my card and ran it through again, and I was so upset that I didn’t hear her question at first. She repeated it.

“THAT’s an interesting last name!”

“Uh… thanks.”

“Where are you from?”

“Well, I mean, I’m American. My family’s all been over here forever, so…”

“No, I mean, Originally!”

“Jesus. My ancestors have all been here for over 200 years, ok? I really don’t feel any connection to my European antecedents.”

“I’m just askin’, hon! But what ethnicity is this name?”

“My husband and his family are from Montenegro.”


“The former Yugoslavia.”

“Wow! Your husband and his family, huh. So what was your maiden name?”

I should have just grabbed my stuff and walked off, but I was flustered and she hadn’t handed me back my card yet! I was trapped! She also, I kid you not, GOT OUT A SHEET OF PAPER AND A PEN.


“OH! So you’re IRISH.”

“Well, I mean, no. I’m American. I identify as American.” (I want to note that lots of people identify as Irish-American or Polish-American or Guatemalan-American or whatever and that’s great! That’s part of being a citizen (or resident) of the USA and it’s totally awesome! I’m not trying to present myself as being, like, the Ideal American Citizen because I am All American, I just think it’s ridiculous to lay claim to European Ancestry that has very little impact on my personal life other than, like, going to St. Patrick’s Day parades. But if you feel a strong connection to another country, that is totally entirely 100% awesome.)

She started getting offended at this, called me “hon” again, said she was JUST ASKING, and launched into some convoluted tale about how both her parents are immigrants (Polish, and German). Mine… are not. My grandparents… are not. My most recent immigrant ancestors, as far as I know, came over during the Famine. You know. During the 1850s. That… is not recent. I mean, in the grand scheme of history it’s an eyeblink away, but you know. (Also: they might have come over earlier than then, a lot of my family history has been romanticized in the telling. FOR INSTANCE: there is no actual royalty in my bloodline! ALSO: there is actually a lot of inbreeding! Surprisingly!)

She started pushing, like aggressively, to find out what I “am,” what I “identify” as. Like it’s impossible to not cling to the Immigrant experience. I snapped at her that I had an Irish last name, but genetically, I was more Belgian than anything else– which is true. I have very mixed European ancestry (to a degree) (I mean, Scottish/Irish/Welsh/English is more cultural differences than, like, genetic and then there’s some French and several sources of Belgian and a dollop of German and probably there is some Native American and African blood in me that nobody really talks about at all, and there’s some other stuff I think I’m forgetting, also a lot of my ancestors spent a hundred years or so in Canada before heading south to Wisconsin) and she started rabbiting on about how she knows someone from Belgium and it’s so beautiful and blah blah blah and she called me hon again and I realized I had my debit card and had signed the slip and I left while she was still talking.

I don’t really know anything about Belgium (they make beer? Belgians tend to be blond? They have a mild climate?) other than what I’ve seen on, say, “Rick Steve’s Europe.” In fact, my dad thought we were mostly Dutch until he talked to a cousin who said that no, although there’s a “van” in my maternal grandmother’s maiden name, it’s actually a Belgian name, and he gave some more genealogical info. I really have no interest in Belgium, or at least no more than I have in other countries that sound like vaguely cool places to visit if I can ever go on a Grand Tour Of Europe. Sorry, Belgium, it’s not personal.

I have to go pretty far back to be able to point to an ancestor and say that that ancestor is 100% anything; that that ancestor is 100% Belgian or Irish or German. (And even then, all my gallo-celtic ancestors were born from a series of viking raids and rapes that turned them from a short, dark people to a tall, fair people who fear the sun.) And I like that. As far as I can tell, my ancestors came over here against their will or out of dire necessity for the most part. They were convicts and indentured servants, they were fleeing starvation and oppression. They came to a totally new country and did well for themselves. They trapped animals for fur, farmed, dug ditches, constructed rail roads, founded towns. Some of them became very rich (then lost everything in the Great Depression). Others didn’t. But they helped build this country and make it what it is today, just like my mother- and father-in-law, immigrants, are building and shaping this country. Just like every person who lives here who doesn’t have an “American” name is building and shaping this country. Just like every brown-skinned resident of Arizona is building and shaping this country.

I spent 29 years awash in the privilege of having people assume that I was a citizen of the USA– a “real” citizen; that I belonged here. That I was an integral part of the warp and weft of “American” culture. I didn’t have to explain myself or where I was from. It was super awesome! And now, sometimes, I do have to explain myself and am pressed to answer detailed questions about where I’m from, to prove my… I don’t know what I’m expected to prove, actually. But it’s harassing and unsettling and puts me on edge.

And for a country of immigrants, a country founded on immigration, that’s total bullshit.

This Zombie Walk has been delayed due to belligerant assholes…


I’m working weekends, as a temp, counting passengers who ride the Metra. It’s a pretty awesome job, and apparently I’m a magnet for exciting things on the train. Last time it was drunken jerky group of pub/train crawling bros who were actively trying to get temps fired, befouling the bathrooms, harassing other riders, and talking loudly about how they’d pissed themselves earlier but it was totally cool because the pee was dry by now dude cool huh?

This time it was zombies.

There was a Zombie Walk and several participants took Metra in. Their (obviously, to me, fake) blood and make up alarmed a few passengers who were quick to scurry their kids out of the car and report them to me (I can do nothing!) and then the conductor. OH MY GOD there are PEOPLE and they are COVERED in BLOOD! It is obviously real and not a costume in any way! The fact that someone was holding a blood daubed mannequin leg apparently did not help in calming them down.

It’s actually ironic that zombies were in my car because as we were sitting at the end of the line in Joliet waiting for half a damn hour for the train to go, I imagined us sitting in the car as zombies surged toward us and slapped bloody hands on the glass of the windows. It’s not that I’m obsessed with zombies, it’s just that I was trying to figure out what the half hour delay was, and figured zombies were as likely as anything else, especially in the deserted ghost town that Joliet apparently has become.

Apparently the real delay was asshole passengers who were picking fights and jumping on and off the train and all around being dbags. So, zombie passengers, I hope you weren’t too late for your zombie promenade. Since the delay caused me to miss my train out to Roselle and the painting party my friends were having, I could have gone and watched you shamble about, but I didn’t know where you were meeting (although millennium park, in retrospect, is blindingly obvious). If only I had an iPhone. I could have turned to the internets for knowledge.

posted under Chicago, life, work | Comments Off on This Zombie Walk has been delayed due to belligerant assholes…

Chicago: the city that works and then goes to bed early


I’m picking up temp work on the weekend, Saturday nights to be exact. It’s interesting work. I’m riding Metra trains and counting passengers as they get on and off. I have some stories about this work and the people I’ve encountered (passengers) but hesitate to post them because duh, I’m at work and that might not be professional. Let us just say that my disgust for grown ass men who get slobberingly drunk and piss themselves and just barely refrain from crossing the line to actual sexual assault is as great as ever. WHO KNEW.

I got off work at Union Station at 10:00 PM. I was essentially right down town, and I was hungry since I hadn’t eaten anything since a late lunch (I’d thought there’d be a shop open at the end of the train line; there was not and I had no cash for the numerous vending machines). Nothing was open. When I say nothing, I mean I passed 2 McDonald’s and they were both closed. Giordano’s, my back up choice (oh NO forced to eat good tasty pizza OH THE HUMANITY) was closed. The Chinese take out place was closed. Jimmy John’s was closed. The Italian Beef place was closed. Panera Bread and The Corner Bakery (which was, I need to point out, NOT ON A CORNER) were closed. Walgreen’s was closed. CVS was closed.

7-11 was not closed.

I popped in there, surrounded by tourists and teen agers with time to kill*, and debated my choices. I could get a roller hot dog. Or I could get a bag of pizza-flavored combos. Which offered the best combo of taste and nutrition? Which was most likely to not leave me doubled over in pain? Which was most likely to sate my hunger?

Bag of pizza-flavored combos it was.

I just want to say that I am 31 and no longer able to really subsist on a dinner consisting of a bag of pizza flavored combos. I had the worst stomach problems this morning, and gut pain for about half the night.

Next Saturday I’m packing a sandwich and some snacks. That is for certain.

*I was reminded of my own teen aged times. Apparently hangin’ out “late” at night is pretty much the same in the Suburbs of Chicago and the city itself. There is nothing open, so you wander around the streets in an ill formed pack talking about where to go and what to do, only there’s no place to go and nothing to do, so you sit on some steps someplace and talk some more and then wander into a 7-11 and walk around and then go back out to wander the streets.

posted under Chicago, life, work | Comments Off on Chicago: the city that works and then goes to bed early


this is short, I will write more later, I promise. But.

I got a new work computer because my old one launched itself into space.

I worked hard all day today and got up at 5:00pm to go home, gathered up my stuff, looked down at my cellphone, and saw it was only 4:00 pm. My computer’s time was off! I STILL HAD AN HOUR OF WORK LEFT TO DO. This is a terribly unfair thing to happen and I feel like someone handed me a piece of candy, then stole it from me again. BOOOOOO.

How was your weekend? We went down to the Kankakee River and cooked meat over open flame, and I played not-fetch with my parents’ dog. Not-fetch is where you pretend to throw a ball or whatever but don’t actually and the dog goes tearing off after nothing and then comes back looking at you like you’re the most hilarious jerk ever, and could you please just throw the damn ball already so her life can be complete? And then you throw it for reals and she runs after it and you alternate real throwing with fake throwing to keep her on her toes and it’s pretty awesome. I miss having a dog.

posted under work | 1 Comment »

Business Trip


I’m going to St. Louis MO this evening and will be there until Saturday morning, when I fly back. The only thing I’ve packed so far is some toiletry items. I haven’t flown in some 15 years and am a little nervous about TSA problems. Also, I think I won’t have fun internet access until I return, which is a sad, sad thing. :(

Tell me about business trips you’ve been on, and/or adventures while flying.

Also, tell me if you live in/near St. Louis MO; maybe we can do something?

posted under life, work | Comments Off on Business Trip

The livin’ sitch


For those of you who don’t know, Gerry is moving to L.A. for a fantastic job. On the one hand, yay! Fantastic new job! On the other hand, boo! I will miss him so much! And I will also miss his rent money, crass as that sounds.

This puts Nesko and me in a potentially tricky situation.
We love our current apartment. It’s big and nice and sunny, but it has its flaws:
a: Washer and Dryer in the basement is expensive and frequently in use or broken
b: Very far from where I work
c: ~$300 more than we can comfortably afford to spend on rent without someone else chipping in
Also, our lease isn’t up until December. It should end in October, but our landlord(s) was late getting our lease back to us so the second one is dated until Dec which is a shitty damn time to move.

So, do we…
1) Stay where we are, paying more rent than we can afford
2) Try to find a room mate, possibly a stranger who will be creepy/unreliable/steal/etc
3) Try to get out of our lease early and find a new place
4) Try to sublet our place and live someplace else

We really like our apartment, and finding a new place is stressful and moving is stressful and changing addresses is stressful and I just got a new State ID do I really want to go get another updated one and why can’t we just have a million billion dollars fall from the sky so we don’t have to worry about this kind of stuff?

We haven’t spoken to our landlord(s) yet, but Gerry’s packing his stuff up and I’m poking around on Craigslist looking for both new apartments and potential room mates. The potential room mates I’ve contacted haven’t contacted me back yet, which is disapointing but pretty par for the course for Craigslist; in the past when looking for apartments, I’d contact 10-15 places and hear back from maybe 5.

I work in Lakeview, so am looking for a new pad in Albany Park, Ravenswood, or Rogers Park. Basically, anyplace on the red or brown line would work, as would anything on the Belmont, Addison, or Lincoln busline. Except a lot of those places are both small and expensive. My current commute is anywhere from an hour to two hours long each way and I’m really looking to reduce that, or else I’d be looking at Hyde Park and Bridgeport… places that Craigslist keeps offering up as totes cool and applicable apartments for me.

posted under Chicago, life, work | 1 Comment »

Free wine tasting, you guys (chicago only)


Sup, guys? The Lakeview Whole Foods Store is having a free wine tasting. We’re all getting out of work a little early (4:30) to head over there and get our wine on.

posted under life, work | Comments Off on Free wine tasting, you guys (chicago only)
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