It's official!

It's official!
David Stubbs Photography

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Uber: The must-have app for New Yorkers

Since moving to New York City, I've been afraid to leave. No, it's not that I'm worried about missing something super fun, it's the fact that for months I've been hearing horror stories about how hard it is to get to the airport.

You see, in New York, cab drivers rule the roost. They run the show. They tell you what they want to do, but more importantly, they tell you what they DON'T want to do. If they don't want to drive you five blocks in the rain? They won't. If they don't want to take your credit card? They won't. (Cash only blondie.) And if they don't want to drive you to the airport? Well, they just won't stop. Having a suitcase next to you while hailing a cab is nearly as bad as swaying from side to side while holding a bag of vomit in one hand and a bottle of rum in the other. In other words: they just don't want the mess.

Why? From what I hear, cab drivers either think they can make more money driving around Manhattan than they would driving to the airport or they don't want to deal with traffic. So, unless you catch one heading home at the end of his shift, you're pretty much SOL.

Here's me in a black car
Before Christmas, I booked a trip home to Wyoming. On the day of my flight, my heart was racing (and my 'pits were extra sweaty) trying to decide how I was going to get to LaGuardia. Then my husband told me I should use Uber. Uber is a way-cool app that allows you to book a cab, black car or SUV pretty much 24 hours a day. You just sign up and enter your credit card info. When you're ready for a car, you click the app, wait for the GPS to find you and then click "Request Pickup Here." Within 5 minutes, my driver "Wagih" was waiting outside my apartment with a clean, black car and a smile on his face. And his car didn't smell like vomit. And Wagih didn't feel the need to weave in and out of traffic at 90 miles per hour while the car teetered on two wheels. It was the best! I got the airport in one, sweat-free piece.

Best of all, the ride is charged to your credit card, so you can just hop out when you reach your destination. It was $60 for me to go from the Upper West Side to LaGuardia. The tip is included but I gave Wagih an extra $10 to show my appreciation for his cleanliness.

Now, if they could only invent an app that figures out a way to get a 50-pound bag down four flights of steep stairs...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Moving into a New York City apartment

And...we're in. After a curse-worthy move up four flights of stairs, four trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond and a mild electrocution (not even kidding), we are finally in our brand new New York City apartment. Is it being pessimistic to say that I'm already dreading moving out?

On Thursday, three movers showed up to our 1910 walk-up and after they surveyed the building that is sans elevator, they called for two more guys to help. It was impressive too...basically one guy brought boxes in, another took it up one flight of stairs and passed it off to another for the next flight, and so on and so on. I kept apologizing for the awfulness of it all, but the mover reassured me that in 10 years on the job in New York and New Jersey, he's dealt with plenty of staircase shenanigans. I can't even imagine how tough it must have been, considering I get winded even carrying a five-pound Chihuahua up to our apartment.

As they brought furniture and boxes in, we were quickly running out of space in our tiny one-bedroom. The mover said to me, "Didn't you downsize before you moved here? I replied, "Well, we also lived in a one-bedroom in Chicago, so I'm not really sure how to downsize from that." Seriously, what am I supposed to get rid of? My husband?

The movers continued unloading when suddenly they found out about our dirty little secret. We have a King bed.

Throughout the process of looking for an apartment and moving, whenever we told someone we have a King bed, they would say, "Oh" and look at us as if we just told them we are swingers. Apparently King-sized beds are as rare in New York City as empty space. The bed fits...barely...and for Mike to get in, he has to get a running start from Brooklyn.

So throughout the entire weekend we unpacked and unpacked and basically put everything we don't immediately need into a storage bin. Then on Saturday night, I rewarded myself with a nice, long hot shower. After I got out, I tried to plug my cell phone into the bathroom outlet because our bedroom was too crowded to find one. Since our apartment was recently gutted, we have all new electrical wiring so it's really tough to plug anything into the tight outlets. So as I was pushing and pushing...apparently I got electrocuted. Mike said I screamed...which I don't remember doing...I only remember dropping my phone and feeling a sharp pain in my feet. When I later shared the story with my worried mother-in-law, I told her since I didn't poop my pants or forget who I was, I'm presuming I'm okay.

So I guess now we're the couple in the building who has a King-sized bed and lets out blood-curdling screams at 10 p.m. I wonder what they must be thinking...

Correction: As one of my TV friends reminded me, electrocution is a "death caused by electrical shock." No I didn't die, but since being electrocuted sounds much more dramatic than being shocked, I'm keeping it in. As my southern friends say, "why should facts get in the way of a good story?"

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New York City Apartments- We found one!

My husband just texted me the most beautiful photo I've ever seen: the keys to our brand-new (actually really old) overpriced and tiny New York City apartment. Whoo-hoo! It's finally here. After a month of tears, laughter and pain, we finally got accepted into the elite club known as Manhattan living.

For those of you who've been keeping up with this blog, you know that looking for an apartment in the Bright Lights of NYC was giving me sweatier 'pits than usual. Even though we seem like a stable married couple in our 30's, landlords considered us high-risk for a few reasons including our dogs (Chihuahua's are like politicians--some are noisy and annoying and give the rest a bad rep), my job (I work from home), and a couple of credit "issues." Let me just tell you that if you opened a Gap credit card in 2009 but forgot that you opened it and then moved so you therefore paid the bill a month late--New York City landlords will find out about it. (Totally hypothetical situation, of course.) I'm so glad I opted to never hold- up a convenience store or beat an ex-boyfriend, because that would have made the application process much trickier.

So because we were not ideal candidates for living in a basement apartment facing a brick wall (I mean, really?), we needed to find a co-signer. Can you imagine how awkward the conversation is when you have to call friends and relatives and ask if they make a quarter of a million dollars and have another 6-figures in liquid assets, and if so, if they're willing to turn over all their financial paperwork from the last year? It made me wish the process was this difficult for people before they procreated. We'd have a lot less stupid in this world. (But I would miss the Maury Povich show. That moment after the DNA test when Maury proclaims, "You are the father" gets me choked up every time.)

Now we just have to figure out how to stuff all of our furniture and clothes into an apartment that is half the size of our Chicago apartment. Any suggestions? We may have a repeat of the move-in disaster of 2009 when I exclaimed to Mike, "Yes, it all fits! We got everything into our 660 square foot apartment!" He then reminded me that we hadn't moved in any of his stuff yet.


Monday, November 19, 2012

New York City Apartments- Take Three

Enjoying NYC this weekend
Another New York City work day is coming to a close and people are busy scurrying home on the sidewalks, buses and subways. From our temporary apartment near Times Square, I can hear horns honking and people yelling. It's just another Monday.

But for us, it's another frustrating day of still not having a New York City apartment. We were supposed to have an answer on Friday on whether or not our application on a West Side apartment was accepted, but in New York landlord time, that apparently means you'll find out next Tuesday, if "yous is lucky."

From my previous two posts, you know how unbelievably challenging it is to find an apartment in the city. For the most recent application, we paid a $220 non-refundable deposit, turned in copies of our bank statements, tax records, letters of employment and more. Since then, we've also found a co-signer who's willing to show that he/she makes a healthy 6-figure sum and has another healthy 6-figures in liquid assets (beer doesn't count, unfortunately). We've also jumped every time they've asked for more paperwork, bank statements or a better explanation of our jobs (apparently just "being awesome" isn't enough).

And yet, nothing.

I know what you're thinking. You're wondering if it's because we're applying for apartments outside of our price range. Nope. In New York City, there is a strict equation you do where you add up your salaries and then divide by 40. That's how much you can pay. In fact, for two apartments we've put deposits down on, we went lower by about $500. (More money for shoes, of course.) I'm getting the sneaking suspicion that living in Manhattan is an exclusive club and we haven't yet been granted membership.

I have to say one enjoyable part of this experience is reading your comments to my apartment blog posts. Here are a few of my faves...with my reaction, of course...

"There's no crying in New York, so put your big-girl pants on."
Me: Um, have you seen The Real Housewives of New York? The fact that I've only cried once in three weeks is pretty darn good. And it wasn't because Ramona snubbed me.

"You can't afford the Upper West Side, you should try Brooklyn."
Me: We could afford the Upper West Side...until we paid $510 for deposits, $20 for a salad at Applebee's and $7 for Frosted Flakes.

"Do you write this blog to make your mother-in-law drink?
Me: Yes.

"You were overwhelmed by Chicago, so what makes you think you can handle New York?
Me: Well, luckily it's 5 p.m. an hour sooner here, so I can drink earlier. Plus, if I'm feeling overwhelmed, I can just give people the middle finger or tell them to F-off. Those are both accepted here.

"Hipster Chihuahuas blogging about their mom getting it together in Williamsburg [Brooklyn] might have potential."
Me: Love it! Can I charge them rent then?

Click here for New York City Apartments
Click here for New York City Apartments- Take Two

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New York City Apartments- Take Two

They say New York City is the concrete jungle where dreams are made. Well, apparently Jay-Z forgot to mention it's also the place that will make you cry on 57th and Broadway in front of your apartment broker.

As I mentioned in my last post, looking for an apartment in NYC is one of the most daunting experiences of my life. Sure, I knew beforehand the city was expensive, but I don't think it really hits a person until they're looking at an apartment that has views of a brick wall and vines growing through the window, and yet it's a cool $2,800 a month. (I know it's crass to talk about money, but a quick Google search will find you exactly what I'm talking about. Oh, and while you're at it, Google "worst jobs ever." It's pretty funny.)

Last week, we put a deposit down on an Upper West Side apartment that was small, but super cute. We kept waiting and waiting to see if the landlord was going to accept us, but we found out today that we got rejected. What we've quickly learned is that because the market is so competitive, and because landlords face tough laws which make evictions nearly impossible, they can reject you on anything. The way you look...the pets you have...your credit...the money you have in the bank...where you work...anything. Literally, if you had a late credit card payment six years ago, you are SOL.

So late today, our broker and I started looking again. We had much better luck than last week and we quickly found the most perfect NYC apartment in the cutest pre-war building with awesome views and lots of space. The only catch? (Again Jay-Z, did you rap about the catch?) It requires a co-signer who makes 80 times what our monthly rent is. That equals just under $250,000. A quarter of a million dollars! For a 1-bedroom apartment! You don't even want to know what you have to do for a 2-bedroom apartment.

So here we go again...the landlord is deciding whether or not he wants us and then we'll deal with the co-signer issue.

But wait a minute Alicia Keys, if there's "nothin' I can't do" in New York, then why can't I find an apartment? Perhaps you meant there's nothing I can't do if I have Grammy's and Manolo's Blahnik's, not Chihuahua's and Nine West flats.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

New York City apartments

If you ever feel like you need to be put in your know, the kind of experience that makes you realize you really have nothing to show for your 34 years of life, all you need to do is look for an apartment in New York City.

Last week, during a day of nasty weather that turned from rain to sleet to snow in a New York minute, I joined our broker to look at apartments on the Upper West Side. It was, well, let's just say eye-opening. For a hefty price that is four times more than a mortgage I had in Indianapolis, we can easily afford a dark and dirty basement apartment with a view of a
fire escape. Or a brick wall. Or both!

Okay, full disclosure here. These are not photos I took. They are from Craigslist of other West Side apartments. But look!  For a cool $2,500 or more, you can easily get bars on your windows PLUS a large dose of Asbestos. Oh, and don't'll have a toilet, it just might be in the bathtub. (Keep scrolling down.)

Any of you regular blog followers know when I lived in Chicago, I complained about the high cost of living there. Ha! I hadn't see nothin' yet.
I told Mike that with what we paid there, we
could only afford a crack house in NYC. Actually, a 1-bedroom apartment in that crack house. Scratch that--we could pay for a "junior studio" in that crack house.

When we started, this was the criteria for an apartment:

* 1-bedroom, but preferably 2
* Outdoor space
* Lots of direct sunlight
* Washer/dryer
* Dishwasher

However, after talking with our broker who said, "Yeah, um, a washer/dryer is probably NOT going to happen," (It's a NYC anomaly) and after getting a healthy dose of reality, our list of must-haves changed to this:
* 1-bedroom apartment

Yep, that's it. All we ask for is a separate space with a door that seems like a must for any married couple.

Stay tuned to see where we end up....Connecticut, perhaps?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Presidential Election

Aww, yes. The day after the election, otherwise known as the day that you can slowly start to tolerate 50% of your Facebook friends again. What was with the political bashing going on? Clearly those people don't know my political beliefs are the only right ones. Wait, you feel the same way, don't you?

Last night, Mike and I decided to take advantage of our new New York status and we headed to Rockefeller Plaza to check out the political party. It was so cool! One of the first things we saw was the giant building with two  window washer scaffolds on the side-- one for Obama and one for Romney. Each time either candidate won a state, the men on the platforms would add the appropriate numbers to the front, and the platform would rise. When Obama's platform went up, people would cheer. When Romney's went up, not so much. It wasn't that there weren't any Romney supporters in the crowd, they just didn't want to show it. See, in New York, you're much safer coming out of the gay closet than the Republican one.

We could also see Brian Williams, Savannah Guthrie and the rest of the NBC crew broadcasting from the platforms above the crowd. I suddenly remembered how much I dreaded election day as a news reporter. Interviewing many politicians is kind of like interviewing used car salesmen. They tell you what you want to hear and you can't help but feel a little dirty afterwords.

Either way, I'm just glad it's all over. It's hard to believe two men are willing to fight so hard for the most thankless, awful job in the country.  Although, a quick Google search of "worst jobs ever" uncovered the profession of "Elephant Sperm Collector." Yep. And it's not just the collection that's needed, there's also a little, well, enticing involved. Don't believe me? Check out the YouTube video.                                                                                

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Midtown today
Well, talk about timing. Mike and I decided to move to New York City yesterday, the same day Hurricane Sandy decided to bear down on the East Coast. So now instead of exploring this cool city and eating at fun restaurants, we are stuck inside our tiny Midtown apartment drinking bottled water and eating cereal with not milk, but half and half, because the stores are out of basic supplies.

Stocking up on supplies
Ironically enough, this same scenario happened to me when I moved to Southwest Florida in 2003. Little did I know, I was about to experience one of the worst hurricane seasons on record, and as a news reporter, I would be forced to stand outside and report on Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan. What can I say? Hurricanes like me.

When we flew in yesterday morning to LaGuardia, we were on one of the last flights into the city. It was a bumpy, fun ride too (yeah, right). After we arrived at our temporary housing, we immediately went across the street to Rite Aid and stocked up on bottled water, soup and half and half. As I mentioned, the shelves were nearly empty and we got one of the last cases of water. It was a bit eerie. The lines were long and people seemed a bit frantic. Look at this photo...the woman next to us was totally eyeing our Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Funny enough...she bought about 20 candles and four packs of cigarettes. I guess it's important to have smokes when trying to "stay safe." (And she apparently didn't hear about the SW Florida man who died after Hurricane Charley because he got hit by a falling tree while smoking outside of his home.) See, smoking kills.

So now, it's just lightly raining, but we're doing what the emergency workers are asking us to do: we're staying inside and waiting to see what comes next. I can't wait until NYC gets back to what it should be-- a place where you can get Chinese food and 1% milk at 2 a.m.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chicago's best kept secret

After three years of living in Chicago, I just discovered this week one of the city's best kept secrets. Did you know you can call ahead and have a cab waiting for you at your apartment? I never knew!

I was telling a friend of mine that I had the early morning writing shift at WBBM-AM this week, and my usual ride (my husband) is out of town. I was not too keen on taking the red line train or the 22 Clark Street bus at 5:15 a.m. (you either get robbed or get MRSA), so I wasn't sure what to do. He suggested that I call ahead the night before, and get a cab. Wait, what? Oh yeah, he tells me, they will not only pick you up right outside your door, they will text you when they're on their way.

Hmm. This information would have been oh-so-handy a few months when I waited for 20 minutes in the rain while trying to get a cab to Midway Airport.

So I decided to try it. I called Yellow Cab the night before my shift and scheduled the taxi. Sure enough, they texted when the driver was on his way and he called when he was outside. When I walked out of my apartment--there he was. Double parked on our street waiting for me. When I got in, he reset the meter. AND it gets better....he was also freshly showered and listening to WBBM-AM! AND he didn't try and drive 65 mph down Clark Street! It was a beautiful thing.

So there you have it...too bad I'm learning such great knowledge the week I'm moving out of this fabulous city. (Details on that, coming soon!)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Living in Chicago

After living in our current Chicago apartment for two years this month, I've made a startling revelation: I really know nothing about our neighbors.

I do know the name of one, it's Kai. But she's a two-pound Yorkie. I also know one of my neighbors is likely in medical device sales, but that's only because I started Googling the companies from which he receives daily packages from, because I was worried he might be making a bomb. I also know the man who lives next door to us is not paying his student loans, because debt collectors called us asking if we could help encourage him to pay. Yeah, right federal government.

Yep, that's it. Until this happened.

I took some of our recyclables to the 2nd floor recycling bin when I saw this. It's the packaging for a fantasy bondage swing! The box was big too, so these neighbors are not messing around (well, clearly they are). Here is what I immediately thought (in this order):

1) Wow, we have some very kinky neighbors
2) At least they recycle

The crazy thing is (other than trying to wear those shoes) is that they didn't even try to hide it! The box was right there on top of egg cartons and plastic bottles. I posted the photo on Facebook and got some great reactions. One said, "Now you need to mess with them by asking if you can come over and hang around." (Awesome Kevin) Another said, "Asking them to keep it down will never be the same." (Touche James).

Funny enough, I never hear our neighbors because it's a very quiet building. I used to hear the L train every 5-10 minutes, but like any Chicagoan, I hardly notice anymore. I occasionally hear a loud bang, which I convince myself is a car backfiring or fireworks, not a gun shot. But that's it. I definitely don't hear what I can only imagine comes from a device like this.

Of course, this discovery has given my some great punch lines. When Mike texted the other day to ask what I was doing, I said, "Oh, I'm just hanging out at the neighbors."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bruce Springsteen at Wrigley in Chicago

"I've realized as long as live, I'll never be as cool as The Boss," Michael Evanchan (my hubs).

I've found in my 30's, I do a lot of self-reflection. Am I a good person? Am I fun? Am I living up to my full potential? I don't have answers to many of these questions but I do know one thing: when I'm 62 years old, I hope I'm at least 1/2 as cool as Bruce Springsteen.

Mike and I went to the Springsteen concert last night in Wrigley, and it. was. awesome. The man went for 3 1/2 hours with only a couple of quick water breaks (and a fast chug of a concert-goer's beer), and apparently he went just as long and energetically on Friday night. That means over a two-day span, a man who's the same age as my mom sang, danced and bopped for 420 minutes. Isn't that crazy? I had to sit down twice because I was so exhausted.

The Boss not only belted it out, he danced the entire time. He played several guitars. He ran off the stage and into the crowd. He plucked a young girl from the crowd and carried her on his shoulders. He also jumped on the piano to perform and happily kept going when the rain started coming down. He simply tilted his head to the sky, closed his eyes and let the rain wash over him. You could tell he enjoyed every stinkin' wet minute.

 One of my favorite moments is when he belted out "Dancing in the Dark." I remember when this song came out in 1984. When I heard it on the radio or MTV, I tried to shake my 6-year old booty just like he shook his in his delightfully tight gray jeans. At the time, I just knew it was a catchy song. Now I can relate to the lyrics, which talk about aging and self-doubt. How great is this line? "I ain't nothing but tired. Man I'm just tired and bored with myself." And who can't relate to, "I check my look in the mirror...wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face!"

After the show, the rain continued and of course, there wasn't a cab to be found. So Mike and I walked from Wrigley to Lincoln Park and got soaking wet during the 1.6 mile jaunt. When Mike seemed shocked that I wasn't complaining (like usual), I said, "Bruce just went 3 1/2 hours for us. Walking home in the rain is the least we can do for him." Mike laughed.

Well done, Springsteen. Well done.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Facebook relationship status

You can wear your status! Courtesy:
I'm obsessed with Facebook relationship drama. Ob-sessed. You know the kind I'm talking about and so changes their status from "married" to "it's complicated" or so and so is in an "open relationship." It takes everything I have to not send them a message (whether I know them well or not) and ask, "What in the world happened?" Or "What do you mean by open relationship?" And just what are they open to...getting an STD?

It's very clear that people update their relationship status a) because they are super honest b) they just want to get it over with, knowing people with ask questions or c) they enjoy the drama. I've seen couples who are clearly taunting each other with their changed statuses and posts that are obvious jabs directed at their spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend. 

My favorite is when in just a matter of a few days, someone goes from "married" to "it's complicated" to "separated" to "married" again. Phew, who can keep up? What that essentially means is "I'm married to Mike." "Mike flirted with a girl and now I'm mad." "Mike and I fought all night and I think it's over." "Oops, found out the girl Mike was talking to is his co-worker." Every up and down of their marriage is put out there for the world to see.

To think--Mark Zuckerberg designed the relationship status just to find out if the hot women on campus were single or not. Now, not only do we get to find out if they're happy in their relationship, but we also find out how they look in a cell phone self-portrait with kissy-face duck lips.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kristen Stewart cheating scandal

Oh my goodness, can you believe this latest national scandal? No, not the Chick-fil-A hoop-la, I'm talking about Kristen Stewart cheating on her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson. What was she thinking??

Courtesy: US Weekly
In the latest issue of US Weekly, there is not one, not two, but five pictures showing Stewart either kissing or cuddling with her Snow White and the Huntsman director, Rupert Sanders, who is 41 and married. The photos are in the daylight and oh-so obvious.

Okay Kristen--here's the deal. Have you never picked up a copy of US Weekly? Do you know millions of us eagerly buy them every week so we can see you and all the other Hollywood stars flocking on the beach or walking your dogs. Heck, we even want to know you're "Just Like Us" in photos showing you picking your teeth, pulling a wedgie out of your behind or licking your fingers after eating delicious Buffalo Wings. Somehow seeing photos of you walking out of the grocery store with toilet paper and no make-up on, takes my mind off the incredible pain I'm enduring on the gym treadmill or the pain I'm about to endure at the dentist.

Also, have you ever seen the great lengths the paparazzi go to to find y'all? You've probably noticed them every time you step out of your house, car or restaurant. And don't you find it strange that there are always black cars following you everywhere you go?

I'm pretty sure if photogs can capture images of Shiloh Pitt cruising down the Nile River with Angelina Jolie on their peace mission in Egypt or photograph Suri Cruise mid-breakdown after not getting the puppy she wanted in a pet store, they can probably find you in the outskirts of L.A. at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday.

Just sayin'.

And Rob-I'm so sorry you're heartbroken. But here's my number. Call me maybe?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chicago is one expensive city

We've given the city of Chicago a lot of our money. And I mean a lot. You may remember me telling you about the parking sticker debacle of 2011 that cost us $240. We had an expired parking sticker but didn't know it...we parked in a friend's neighborhood...we never got the ticket and blah, blah, blah, we ended up owing the city a ton of cash.

And of course there's always the tremendously large amount of rent we pay, which is partially so high because of Chicago taxes. I won't give you an exact figure, but let's just say in my 2 1/2 years here, we have paid a healthy five-figure number for a one-bedroom apartment. And you can't forget the food, drinks and just about everything else that costs more in a city.

But apparently it's not enough. Chicago always wants more.

Look at this fun letter I opened yesterday. Yep, the city caught us (and by us, I really mean my husband) running a red light last month which will now cost us a cool Benjamin Franklin. (Sadly, I'm pretty sure the last time I got a $100 bill was when I graduated from college.)

Oh, and there's no denying the infraction...there's photographic proof. They included three photos of my Murano cruising through that light like Katie Holmes is cruising her way out of being Mrs. Cruise. The city says I can fight it, but why even bother? I just hope the guy in the white car next to us got the same fun letter.

The funny thing is...I know exactly when this happened. It was my grad school graduation day and Mike was driving his parents and my dad home from Evanston. I can almost envision that car ride...lots of family members talking all at once about their ingrown toenails Christmas Vacation style and Mike knew he needed to lay on that gas and get home as quickly as possible.

The other funny thing is...this isn't our only ticket from that day. Yep, Chicago found us later parked on our street so my parents could have our parking garage spot and wouldn't ya know, we had an expired license plate. That cost us another $60. Yep, it seems we'll never learn. It's just so hard keeping up with car stuff when I only drive the car once every couple of weeks.

So there you go Chicago, you're getting another $160 from the Evanchans. The new score--Chicago 3, Evanchans 0.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Too much coffee?

Have you ever seen a woman get out of her car along the interstate, scream obscenities, wave her fist in anger and then drop her shorts and panties and start peeing along the side of the road for all to see? Yep, I didn't think so.

This past Saturday, my mom and I were driving back from Jackson, Tennessee after our week away in the country. As we were driving along I-40, traffic got really backed up and for more than an hour we puttered between 0-2 miles per hour. Admittedly, it was maddening. Finally we saw an exit and decided to drive down the emergency lane to get it to it. We got behind another car that was doing the same thing. Apparently a semi-truck driver thought we were trying to cut him off, so he pulled the truck over and blocked us. I could see the woman in front of us and she didn't handle this road block well. She grabbed the steering wheel and stared shaking her body violently. (Ironically enough, she had room to get past the truck, but women never have a sense of how big/small their car is, right?)

The woman, who is probably in her late 30's or early 40's, then turned around to our car and started yelling, "Stop following me!" Okay lady, we were not trying to get to the same fun party you were, we were just trying to get out of traffic too. My mom decided to get away from the crazy kitty and ducked back into traffic. As we passed the woman, I saw her grab her door handle and she flew the door open with fury. I immediately hit the locks on our car, thinking she was probably going to attack us. She then started waving her fist, yelled and then pulled down her shorts and granny panties and started peeing along the side of the road. I saw white. A lot of white butt. It was ewwie. Funny enough, the two men in her car just stared straight ahead and didn't say a word.

Here's my mom. She did not pee along the interstate.
The woman then got back in her car, pulled up a little bit and jumped back out and started yelling at the truck driver while waving her now peed-on fist. It was the dang weirdest thing. Apparently she really had to pee and was beyond upset at the truck driver for not letting her pass.

Rule number one: Never get in the way of a woman that has had too much coffee. Rule number two: Take a picture! Damn you Jeannie, you missed a great Facebook status update. Rule number three: If the woman in your car hops out and pulls down her undies so she can pee pee, just stare straight ahead and don't ask questions. It's best.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Miss USA 2002 reunion

Well, that sure was fun.

A couple of weekends ago I went to Las Vegas for a Miss USA 2002 10-year reunion. I was Miss Wyoming back in the day, so I got together with some of the other hotties from that year for a weekend of dinner, drinks, pool time, dressing up and well, a little red carpet time. It was so stinkin' fun!

What's funny is how many of my friends and classmates saw pictures posted on Facebook and told me they had no idea I was Miss Wyoming. I guess that's good that I'm not trying too hard to live in my glory days. (Although I'm pretty sure I told everyone I met that weekend and it may or may not have gotten me free drinks).

I really can't believe it's been 10 years since I packed up my sequins gowns and headed to Gary, Indiana for three weeks of rehearsals and being wined and dined by Donald Trump at the Trump hotel. I also can't believe we got to go to Gary, Indiana in February when the pageant is now held in Las Vegas in June. Hmm.

Through Facebook and the reunion it's been so fun reconnecting and seeing what these incredible women have done. Some are on television or commercials, some are public speakers, some are moms, some have even gone on to become Mrs. titleholders, in fact one is now Mrs. United States. It was also great being able to catch up but knowing thankfully, I no longer have to compete next to these beauties in a swimsuit.

A big thank-you to Montana for setting it all up. Meredith--you worked hard to make sure we all felt like princesses. And a big shout-out to Nebraska, New Jersey, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas and the other Miss Wyoming's I met from other years. It's pretty cool knowing women only get more gorgeous and amazing in their 30's.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Time Magazine cover of breastfeeding mom-when should he be cut off?

I'm sure by now all of you have seen the Time magazine cover of a mom breastfeeding her surprisingly large 3-year old son with the headline "Are You Mom Enough?" The photo is about attachment parenting which is about how to keep your kid attached to you at all times, which sometimes requires a wooden chair. (Or something like that).

Of course, this photo has angered a lot of people and was a topic in my photojournalism class this week when our guest lecturer (a photo editor at the Tribune) asked if we thought this photo went too far.

Me being the smart aleck I am had two thoughts: One, this kid is HUGE for a 3-year old, which clearly shows milk does the body good. And two, I immediately thought this would make a great blog.

So here it top 5 list of "When it may be "Time" to cut off your child...

1) You realize you may have breastfed too long when your child becomes so good at getting your bra off, he can do it one-handed like Zac Efron in The Lucky One.

2) You realize you may have breastfed too long when your child says to you, "I got a fever, and the only prescription is a little more boob." (Sorry, too cheesy?)

3) You realize you may have breastfed too long when your son says, "Hey Ma. How many times do I gots to tell you, I prefer yours red bras over de white ones." (Is anyone else picturing a little Guido here?)

4) You realize you may have breastfed too long when you child can walk over to you, sit down, lift up your shirt and ask about day.

5) You realize you may have breastfed too long when your child's friends are over and one complains about being thirsty, so your kid offers up "mom's free milk."

Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting on the wrong L train. I've made it an art form.

I'm not sure how it happens so often, but I do know this: I've now gotten on the wrong train in Chicago at least four times. Yep, four times of having that sinking feeling that nothing outside of the L train windows looks familiar. (That should be a country song.)

The most recent offense was probably the worst one yet...considering I had ridden to nearly the end of the brown line track (Kedzie) before realizing my mistake. I got on at Sedgwick, so if you look at this picture closely, you'll see that I managed to stop at 14 locations without having a clue. Yep, 14 times of hearing the train conductor saying "This stop, Armitage. Next stop on the brown line is Fullerton." (I needed the purple line to Linden.) Or if that didn't work, you'd think the thoughts of "Hmm, I don't remember that baseball field" or "Wow, the train isn't as busy as it usually is in the morning" would have made me realize my mistake by, oh I don't know, at least Diversey.

Nope, instead I rode that train on down the line until I finally panicked, looked at the colored sign in the window (damn it's brown!), hopped off at the next stop and backtracked to Belmont before transferring to the right train. This little mistake cost me 45 minutes and a very embarrassing walk of shame into my Long-Form Narrative class. (At least I didn't have on a sparkly gold dress and smudged mascara like you sometimes see in the mornings.)

Each of the four times that I've made this mistake, I've always called my husband so he can tell me what I need to do to get back on track. Since he's lived here four years longer than me, I need his help. His simple advice this time I called? "You know, all you have to do is read the signs." Yes honey, there is always that...

My theory is this: when you hear a train pulling up and you've just run up three flights of stairs to catch it and you see everyone else getting are going to follow the crowd and get on the train, even if it isn't yours. It's almost like they surely know something you don't know.

I'm guessing there is probably some sort of psychological test that can be done about following the crowd, and I can be the main subject. Just don't expect me to get there on time...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to share something I did on vacation recently that was easy and rewarding: I went bagless.

During Spring Break, my mom and I visited Fort Myers, Florida. We knew we'd be doing some shopping (that's a given), but we also knew how quickly we would generate a ton of bags if we weren't careful. So we decided to bring our own cloth bags which easily stuff inside a suitcase. The results were amazing.

Each time we went grocery shopping, we had the bagger put everything in the cloth bags and also convinced them we didn't need our wine in little brown bags (only our 40's of beer.) Then at clothing stores we used our bags again, and also told the salespeople we didn't need our clothes wrapped in tissue paper. Such a waste! (During my funemployment when I worked at a clothing store and women insisted that I wrap their clothes in tissue, I once replied, "Why, so you can immediately throw it away when you get home?" And who says I'm not good at customer service?) I'm guessing we saved 30-40 bags that week. Can you imagine if everyone did the same thing?

Another big problem on vacation is how many plastic water bottles people use. So instead of doing that, we'd fill up a reusable plastic cup (from my in-laws kitchen) and take it on the road with us.

Here are some other simple steps you can take for the environment..
--Wash your clothes on cold
--Turn off lights when you aren't in a room and don't leave water running when you're brushing your teeth, shaving, etc.
-- Always carry a cloth bag with you. Mine is small and wads up in my purse, so then I'm always prepared if I need to run a quick errand. Also, keep 5-6 in your car so you can use them at the grocery store. (Put them next to you so you don't forget.)
--Use rechargeable batteries. These are so easy and last a very long time! I've used the same four AA batteries for about five years.
--Recycle. I'm amazed by how many people don't do this. Once you get in the habit, it will feel like you're throwing away a baby or puppy when you don't recycle.
--Use cloth napkins at home instead of paper ones.

It's so easy to do a little which turns out to be a lot. Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What to expect with hot yoga

I'm not the kind of girl who likes to sweat. In the few times in my life I've ventured into a sauna, my mind always goes to the same dark scenario: I'm sitting inside with my eyes closed. Suddenly, my evil nemesis locks me inside. But wait, it gets worse! She turns up the heat...again...and again until I can no longer breathe. I take my towel, wrap it around my hand, and try to break out the glass. But I can't! It's too thick....and I'm trapped inside. I just know some cute firefighter is going to find my naked body.

Let's just say I've never lasted too long in the sauna.

I've been thinking about trying hot yoga since I moved to Chicago 2 1/2 years ago, but I always worried about the same kind of scenario. Only instead of getting locked inside the room, it's more a fear of vomiting projectile Chipolte all over the people in front of me, or passing out and wetting myself simultaneously.

Two years ago I bought a Groupon for a month of unlimited yoga, hoping since I spent $59 on a unemployed budget, I would force myself to go. A year came and went, and still I didn't use the Groupon. I told friends, "I'm just so scared!" Even though they assured me I'd be fine, I still didn't have the guts.

Fast forward to January 2012. I decided to make a New Year's resolution of trying things that scare me. You know the usuals: commuting in Chicago traffic, eating Thai food and parallel parking (still working on that one). But in the back of my mind I knew I was missing one thing: trying hot yoga.

So I found a yoga studio near my apartment in the Gold Coast and started doing their basic yoga classes. Then I moved up the ladder to harder and harder classes until I was finally ready for a Hot Power Fusion class. (Or was I?)

When I walked in, the heat hit me like Ike Turner. I looked around the room, and saw several men in shorts with no shirts on. Only they weren't Tim Tebow look-a-likes, they were guys with flabby chests and snow white skin. Ew. The girls were all pretty buff and in cute yoga gear, and I found myself being glad for a candlelight class so they couldn't see my look of fear and cheap Kohl's workout outfit.  As I sat down on my already sweaty mat, I thought, 'I don't know if I can do this.'

Class started with the flabby guy in front of me dripping sweat immediately. Really? We'd only gotten into child's pose. Gross. We then moved into one pose after another, and I tried to take deep breaths, but there was nothing to breathe. Just the smell of sweat, body odor, and wait, is that garlic? 

When we started doing the yoga equivalent of crunches, I got the giggles because of the men making moaning/sex sounds. Are they enjoying this that much? Later as I bent over, I had to admire myself because I'd never actually seen my ankles sweat before. Cool.

We continued sweating and moaning for the next sixty minutes until was over. I rewarded myself with a 3 Musketeers, 7-up and Mega Millions lottery ticket. (I must have been high from the post-workout buzz, because I'm pretty sure I promised the cashier at the Food Mart that I'd give him money if I won.)

All-in-all, hot yoga was gross, but man did I feel good about myself. I'd feel even better if I win $540 million.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to waste time

In the game of procrastination, I am a winner. All you Facebook-using, Pinterest-enjoying, Words With Friends-relishing people have nothin' on me. Because I bet there isn't a one of ya that can say one minute ago, you were watching this...

Yep, that's the body high-five known as Milli Vanilli's "Girl you know it's true" video. (Which you really should watch. The "acting" at the beginning is enough to make even the least talented feel special).

Why did I watch this blast from the past, you ask? Well, because it's finals week in grad school and I have a ton to do, so what makes more sense than watching two men lip sync really terrible music? (Oh, and I also watched "Blame it on the Rain).

In the past few days, if I'm not watching 80's music videos, you can be sure I'm looking at Facebook for hours. Yep, I think I've looked through about a dozen people's photo albums in the past few days. No one I really know either, just randoms. I've also searched online for dog beds to order, picked out a new face cream and watched a former co-worker's video of his puppies playing in packing material.

It's a sickness.

What is it about being totally overwhelmed that makes us do everything else instead of the task at hand? I could have finished this project days ago, but instead I'm making myself suffer. It's almost like I enjoy the stress and have to stay up all night in order to feel like a real college student.

Okay, I'm serious now. With everything I have in my soul, I'm refusing to login to Facebook ever again (for the next hour anyway). No one post pictures of your wedding/new baby/puppy/delicious food you're eating, okay? I can't handle the temptation!!

I guess I should just blame it on the rain....

Monday, February 27, 2012

What grad school is like these days

For awhile now, I've been joking about how different my grad school experience in 2012 is versus my undergrad years from 1996-2001. (Yes, I went to undergrad for 5 years. Don't judge, it was fun).

But until this morning I didn't realize just how different college is now until I was watching this....

This is a live stream of my "How 21st Century Media Works" class that I was able to watch from the comfort of my home. More specifically, the comfort of my bed. On the left side is the guest speaker, and on the right is his power point presentation. And I watched it live just like I was in class...isn't that cool? After I e-mailed my professor and told him I wasn't feeling well, he e-mailed me this link so I wouldn't have to miss the lecture. Technology. Rocks.

The first time I got on the Internet was my freshman year of college in September 1996. (Most of my current classmates were only 8 at the time. No, that doesn't make me feel old). I remember thinking it seemed cool, but I had no idea what it was. I knew I could surf the net, but wasn't sure what I was surfing for. And even with this new technology, most of my classes weren't equipped with computers, so we still took notes pen and paper style and did research in the library. Even by the time I graduated, I don't remember the Internet being a big part of my life. (Mark Zuckerberg was only 16 at the time, so we had a few more years until he created the biggest time suck ever).

Fast forward to 2012. I now carry my 15" MacBook Pro to class with me everyday. (Backpacks are much heavier these days and you do run the increased risk of getting robbed). In between lectures, I check my e-mail, do a little freelance PR work and even occasionally order groceries online to later be delivered. I e-mail or instant message my professors, classmates and mom. I set up Google docs with classmates so we can easily work on group projects without having to meet in person. And if we do need to meet, we can just Skype. We set up group accounts on Facebook, so we can commiserate on what our homework is and what we really think of our professors. I research everything online, and sadly, I've never even stepped foot inside Northwestern's library. If you handed me a card catalog, I'd probably have to look online to figure out how it works.

I can't even imagine my life now without technology. (Although, I probably got a lot more done before Facebook). Now I've got to go--I'm dying to watch the latest cat playing piano video on YouTube. Don't worry...I'll tweet it to you.

A big thank you

I can't thank everyone enough for all the kind words following my post about miscarriage. I received so many nice comments and messages, I even received e-mails from people I don't know with words of support.

I am forever grateful for the people in my life.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My miscarriage story

It's amazing how an ordinary Wednesday can start off as just a normal day and quickly change to one that will likely alter your life forever. Four weeks ago today, my Wednesday started as a day I was looking forward to. I was meeting my new ob-gyn for my 12-week follow-up appointment for my first pregnancy. I was expecting to get some tips and advice as I headed into the 2nd trimester, and hopefully a cute ultrasound picture showing my baby's sweet little toes and fingers. I never expected to hear the words, "I am so sorry Jeannie, we can't find a heartbeat."

As I laid on the doctor's table on that cold January day, I felt a little piece of me dying, both literally and figuratively. I was told the baby had likely passed away a few weeks earlier, but my body, seemingly unable to let go, was going to have to have surgery the next day to remove my son or daughter.

The next day, I had a D&C procedure, which is when doctors put a woman under anesthesia, widen the cervix and scrape out the contents of the uterine lining. After speaking with my doctor, I felt like this was the best treatment for both my physical and emotional health.

It's still hard to believe that within 24 hours, I went from thinking I was going to be a mom by the end of July, to then having surgery and coming home to sleep, cry and bleed for the next few days. I felt sad, angry, depressed, and most of all, worried that I did something wrong.

Almost immediately, I decided I have to write about this. Even though I've discovered just how common miscarriages are, it seems to be a topic women aren't talking about. We seem to be afraid or ashamed, and I want to change that. I can't tell you how healing it is when I've shared my story with a handful of other women--colleagues, classmates or family members--who confided in me that they too have had a miscarriage.

If you'd like to share your miscarriage story, even privately, I'd love to hear from you. How did you cope? What helped you get through it? Did you do anything differently in the future? My e-mail is jeanniecrofts at yahoo dot com. Thank you.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Driving in Chicago: Don't do it in a Porsche Cayenne

Pop Quiz:
Q: When I see a Chicago driver in a really nice car like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo which retails for $107,000...
A) I think, wow! He or she must have a good investment portfolio! or
B) They must be really dumb

If you guessed B, you are correct. The reason being: Chicago is the nuttiest, most dangerous place to drive a car and there's no way that car isn't getting at least a few dings. Period.

North/Damen/Milwaukee Courtesy: Google Maps
Driving in Chicago is not simply driving, it's defensive driving at its finest. Perhaps it's the FedEx truck parked in your lane which forces you to drive against oncoming traffic. Or the cabbie next to you who's paying more attention to his sub sandwich than driving, therefore he's weaving in and out of the lanes. Or how about the driver who needs to exit right but is four lanes over on the left? No problem...they'll just pop across all lanes of traffic Fast and Furious style. Or how about the person who will just stop in the middle of the road because they have no idea which way they're going at a 6-way intersection? (I agree, North/Damen/Milwaukee is tricky, but when in doubt, just go where everyone else is).

All of these examples make up the two basic rules of Chicago driving: there will ALWAYS be obstacles during your drive (think illegal parkers) and Chicago drivers will do whatever is best for them, never worrying about you or anyone else (again think illegal parkers or the Vin Diesel wannabe on the Kennedy Expressway).

In my two+ years of living in the Windy City, I've had more than $1,000 worth of work done on my car to fix the alignment (think giant child-sized potholes), the brakes (think traffic and lots of stops and go's), scrapes on the car (how could I know that parking garage was so small?) and a giant scrape in the side of my tire (ask Mike, although he'll deny it).

So my point is, why would you spend $107,000 on a car when you know it will almost immediately get hit/scraped/swiped, etc?