You’re not supposed to talk about your vacations.

This article says you shouldn’t do it because, frankly, people don’t want to hear about it.

But I hope you’ll let me break the rules for a minute…

because I have to tell you that nowhere in my life besides a cruise ship have I seen such a massive crowd look so utterly miserable.

I took photos to prove it, but I didn’t want to post them on the internet without the subjects’ permission. And I didn’t ask for the subjects’ permission because, honestly, would you walk up to a miserable-looking person and ask if you could post their photo in a blog post about how miserable they look?

Didn’t think so.

Continue reading “You’re not supposed to talk about your vacations.”

I call it the ‘Fuck That’ Response, but I didn’t coin the term.

My friend Julie coined it. Julie and I met through World Relief Chicago. World Relief helps local refugees learn English, find housing, apply to jobs, put their kids in school, et cetera. After the November shootings in Paris, Illinois’ state governor Bruce Rauner announced that he would be banning all Syrian refugees from entering the state.

Don’t worry: Bruce has no mechanism to enforce a ban. But he wasn’t the only politician who mounted right up on the tragedy as an excuse to warmonger against muslim communities. The point was to capitalize on citizens’ shock, fear, and anger to drum up support from potential constituents. But Bruce’s incendiary statements incensed a large number of Chicagoans in another direction entirely. World Relief Chicago’s January volunteer orientation, the first since Bruce’s statement, had three times as many prospective volunteers as the coordinators had ever seen.

Continue reading “I call it the ‘Fuck That’ Response, but I didn’t coin the term.”

As a college sophomore, I never got around to decorating my living space. And for the next five years, I deliberately didn’t do it.

After all, I moved all the time. I lived in a new building every year in college and a new city every year thereafter, picking up new jobs at the drop of a hat. So I traded in comfort for mobility. I feared getting “stuck” somewhere. I met other adults who felt that a past job or relationship had left them stuck in a city for years, and I didn’t want that to happen to me.

When I was 24, I finally decided to fill out my furnishings in Chicago. But I felt trepidation about that trip to the thrift store. To me, this wasn’t just buying a dresser: it meant sacrificing the mobility that I had maintained for years as a coping mechanism against a tumultuous life.

Continue reading “As a college sophomore, I never got around to decorating my living space. And for the next five years, I deliberately didn’t do it.”

“If you like, I can call your mom and dad. There are therapies to retrain your…compulsion.”

The middle school principal folded her hands on her desk. The crepey skin crinkled around her eyes as she glowered at me. “Think about it, Chelsea. We only want to help you.”

I wiped salt residue from my right eye. I didn’t say what I was thinking:

“If you call my Dad, he’ll kill me. And if you call my mom, she’ll kill you.”

I got sent to the office over a nature club that consisted of me and my two other friends. I had excluded a girl in class from joining our club because I didn’t like her, and her mother had called the principal. (I was eleven, y’all. Cut me some slack). I don’t remember how the conversation turned to the fact that I had never liked a boy, but I already understood that something was terribly wrong with me.

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Catcalling, explained for people who have never been catcalled

Back in October of 2014, this video stirred up some discourse about harrassment and public comportment:

The video features a sampling of the 100+ catcalls that a woman received while walking around Manhattan for ten hours.

It’s probably not surprising to any of you that I support gender equality in business and pleasure, but I think this discussion is about something bigger than just “women’s lives suck and it should be obvious why.”

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“Marcin, I’m new to Polish. You’re going to have to say it again.”

One of the developers on my client’s team has gotten used to hearing this from me.

Each time I pair program with Marcin, he teaches me how to say something in Polish. It started the day I asked Marcin to help me learn to pronounce my friend’s last name. He panicked and shushed me after my first attempt to pronounce it because, evidently, it means a bad thing in Polish if you pronounce it wrong.

Two weeks later, we were learning to pronounce “paczki.” It’s a polish food that another client had brought in to share with the group. Paczkis (is that how you pluralize things in Polish?) are soft donuts filled with custard or fruit compote, and they are eaten especially on Fat Tuesday and Fat Thursday. They originated as a way to use up all the flour, eggs, and sugar in the house prior to the beginning of Lent.

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What do you say about an umbrella?

I don’t like the phrase ‘best friend’: it seems ridiculous to place friends on a hierarchy. That said, I have a friend with whom, over 13 years of friendship, it has become not only allowed but, at this point, kind of necessary that I become my absolute weirdest self when we’re together.

Unfortunately, he lives in Seattle, so we rarely see one another. For a while, we’d call each other about once a month and spend two hours reminiscing about various stunts that we got up to in high school. It seemed unfortunate, though, that our longtime friendship at that point remained rooted in the past.

So, while I was in Miami, we started something new: we Skyped one another and read books aloud together. One of us would read until our voice became hoarse, and then the other one would pick up. We mostly stuck to works of fiction. One book, though, was a book of his choosing: a nonfiction self-help book, complete with exercises. Supposedly you’re meant to do the exercises with your romantic partner, but we decided that we’d be just as capable as any two people of doing a few of them together.

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Third time’s…the charm?

“Ladies, ladies! If you could please stop effing up the sequence, I only have so much memory in the camera.”

I craned my neck to look up at the cameraman. It’s difficult to look at a standing person when you’re lying on the floor on your back with your legs in the air. Amanda unwrapped her arm from around my thigh and looked up at him, too.

Antonio set down his camera. “Look. You kick, you block and return, you grab her leg and put her on the ground. Very simple.”

The problem wasn’t that Amanda and I couldn’t remember our routine; the problem was that we couldn’t remember whose turn it was to do what. It had already been a long week, and neither of us had the mental capacity at that moment to be learning sports. But we had to try: due to the law of I-Always-Get-Myself-In-Way-Further-Than-I-Initially-Intended, I now find myself as part of the seed pair for Antonio’s new women’s muay thai team. Hence the video: the club uses videos on Facebook for recruitment purposes.

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“You’re still on your first one?”

I didn’t look up at Lou when he asked me; I concentrated on picking my dismembered blue crab’s meat with the tip of its claw. “I’m taking my time.”

Lou and I had escaped a work conference in D.C. with our three other coworkers. Mike, a laid-back thirtysomething who used to live in D.C., had recommended the live crab market on the riverbank.

Now we were standing on the back half of an old barge—the half that had lighting, if a string of Christmas lights with disco ball sconces might be called lighting. Mike had demonstrated the shucking and eating of a crab for us, but most people had made it by now to their second or even their third crab. Lou, the leader of the crab-eating pack besides Mike, had just picked up his fourth, and he seemed concerned about my paltry contribution to the diminishment of the crab pile.

Continue reading ““You’re still on your first one?””