Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Long time, no see.

I've been really busy trying to strike a balance between work, school, and abusing my liver. In the last few months, I've started round two at Loyola, moved to the north side of Chicago, and planned a trip to Asia. I also started dating again...with about as much grace as a serial killer in medical school...and through it all, I've learned some valuable lessons!

First and foremost, people come and go through the revolving door of your life...and it's never a bad thing. I mean it, too...never. Sometimes things don't work out, you lose touch, any number of things...but I've come to see the universe as a trustworthy filtration system. Friends, lovers, roommates, etc. Doesn't matter. The ones worth keeping have a way of being kept, and when things don't work out, that's fine. It's not because they're bad people, and it's not because you are. Some folks just suck together, and they're each better off finding people with whom they suck less.

Was that not poetry, just now? No? Fine...moving on...

This one's pretty important, too...I've learned to relax a little bit. Not sure how to articulate the way that's impacted my life, but let's just say I wake up less often on a salt-encrusted pillow. I noticed, at one point, that things get done no quicker and no more efficiently when I'm biting my nails and pulling the hair out of my head. I still call my dad every now and then so he can tell me "Yes, Kirste, you can do this. You're the best, Kirste. Everything you do is wonderful, Kirste. Of course I love you more than your sister..."

Okay, maybe I made that last one up. I'm tired of writing, and my foot fell asleep.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Reppin' the Jez

It's weird going to a real school. Unlike community college, I'm quickly learning that the teachers in real schools actually have expectations of their students. It's both daunting and refreshing. I can recall, after an English class in Columbia, one of my teacher's pulling me aside and apologizing for the content of her course. She had to teach to the "lowest common denominator" after all.

...but I can't hate too much on the community college experience. As excited as I am to be back in the saddle and learning again, I never could have afforded Loyola if I started out as a freshman. The university will have me grabbing my ankles by graduation just the same, but thank you, Community College, for lessening the impact. You are the KY of academia...and I'm not talking about Kentucky.

With that said, it sucks to be the old lady in class. True, no one knows how old I am...because no one asks...but I feel like I'm wearing a big sign around my neck that says "Yes, I'm a former #$&@-up gone straight." Like I have a tear drop tattoo on my cheek and a skull for every person I've killed on my forearm. I'm absolutely sure it's THAT OBVIOUS.

Who cares, though? I *finally* got around to it, and I hope it lasts forever. Learning, I mean.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Poor People Math 101

Looking for an apartment in Chicago sucks. Not only is it an expensive place to live, it's not very pet friendly.  When searching for the right place to sleep, a whole lot of factors come into play, but the most important is (You guessed it!) price. Since I'm fast approaching my 25th year of being broke, I've noticed a lot of nasty poor person habits that I can't seem to let go of-- like prioritizing my bank account over my personal safety.

While scrolling through Craigslist, my mind does a series of rapid-fire calculations. I'll use Arizona Green Tea to illustrate my point. (If you've ever stopped to buy a drink at a gas station, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about...those 23.5 oz. cans going for a dollar at every convenience store in the nation.) If I see an apartment for $460 a month in a nice neighborhood, I will totally ignore it in favor of a $200/month apartment in gangland. The difference amounts to 260 green teas for God's sake! I could drink 8 more green teas a day in the hood, if I drank them at all. I just want that option! Two hundred and sixty teas translates to something like 40 sticks of deodorant, or 5,000 raspberry zingers, maybe even a ranch-style home in Thailand.

What I'll actually do with the money is totally irrelevant!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


How do I always end up on the wrong side of the party? These last few weeks have marked some really important milestones for both Goose Island and the Starlight Children's Foundation. At Goose, we celebrated the brewery's 25th year in operation, and it was followed up closely by Starlight's annual gala. Did I get to drink beer and bid on extravagant beauty and wellness packages? No, that's for people with money. I did, however, have the pleasure of manning the Bright Eyes and Smiles stations at both events.

I guess I'll start with the gala, since it's fresh in my memory (because it happened like two hours ago). I showed up in a pencil skirt and heels, ready to work. They had me on the Beauty and Wellness section of the silent auction, where my responsibilities included greeting people and talking them into bidding on the packages in my section. Because the items up for bid pretty much sold themselves, all I really had to do was act like a friendly person. Fortunately, this is a skill I've honed over many years in the food service industry, in spite of being a cranky, miserable wretch in my off-time. (Just kidding, I'm always a pleasure.)

As for the Goose Island Anniversary party, I was doing the same thing--minus talking people out of their money. I smiled, passed out glasses, and pushed our Willow Street Wit (the "welcome" beer) onto party-goers. After things slowed down, I got to watch what seemed like a never-ending line of people devour an entire animal. Everything went really well, and I was happy to be a part of such a historic occasion for the company. It's a really great place to work (as evidenced by the number of employees who have been there for multi+ years). The customers had a great time, and so did Mr. Hall--which is great because he damn sure earned it.

No pictures. I didn't take any.

When I got home from the gala tonight, I walked in the door and handed Phil a $20 bill. There wasn't a snowball's chance in hell I was making dinner, so I thought it would be best if he ordered pizza, or Chinese, or whatever the hell. My sole ambition was a huge glass of wine and a hot bath. I was not to be bothered.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Irrational Fears

Most of us have irrational fears...or maybe I just made that up. Whatever the case may be, this blog entry isn't about most of us. It's about me and my irrational fear of fish, so let's just cut to the chase...

I don't mind them on my plate. I don't mind them out of water. Hell, I don't even mind them in water, as long as there are six inches of plexi-glass between us. Being in the presence of fish isn't what bothers me, it's the mere prospect of skin-on-skin contact with one of the slimy bastards that I find terrifying. So terrifying, in fact, that I'd rather dunk my head in a bucket of snakes than go toe-to-toe with a goldfish. I'd take a bath in spiders before I petted a stingray at the zoo.

Okay, I got a little carried away with that last one...

The feeling is most acute when swimming in water I can't see through. As a teenager, I wore tennis shoes into the local rock quarry for fear of having my toes bitten off by some unknown creature. I had this vivid image in mind of some huge, razor-toothed behemoth weaving in and out of the submerged machinery, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. But my fear of fish goes deeper still. It follows me into the most unlikely of places!

As long as I can remember, I've had an irrational fear of being eaten by a shark in
the swimming pool. It's strongest when swimming alone, obviously! I've convinced myself that the likelihood is halved by the presence of one other swimmer. It makes sense, right? The chances of being eaten go from zero to 0/2.

Yeah, it's like that. Thank you, Google Image Search, for giving my nightmares substance.

Despite knowing full well how ridiculous this is, I still can't shake the uneasiness I feel in water. I tried doing some research on how to quell the anxiety, and I was surprised to find that there *are* other people who experience the same feelings. One guy said he got over his fear of being eaten by sharks by actually swimming with sharks, to which I said, "PFFT."

After a little more research, I learned that this particular phobia is supposedly akin to a fear of the dark. It's not the chlorine-resistant pool shark I'm afraid of, it's the fear of things beyond my awareness. The things I can't control. Well, that's the theory, anyway.

If only this psychological nugget did something to keep the imaginary monsters at bay. I've got some swimming to do this summer.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In All Fairness

It's getting hot out. I was just about to launch into a huge tirade about how damned cold it was when mother nature stopped me mid-sentence. In the blink of an eye, we went from frost to sunshine, and not even the tulips lining the Riverwalk could ease the pain. You see, sunshine is hard on people like me. The moment it touches my skin, I undergo a three-minute transition of frog belly white to whorehouse red. I'm reduced to a quivering mass of third-degree burns for a five-day period, at the end of which there is no golden tan waiting for me. I just shed my skin and begin the process anew.

...but don't ever call me pale! Pale is what happens when John Stamos takes a year off from never aging to hide alone in a cave somewhere. Pale people just haven't seen enough sunlight. Their $60 spray tans rubbed off on the bed sheets, or maybe they just ignored the special offers at the tanning salon. I, however, am not pale, and none of those things could have helped me. I, and others like me, are fair. We're born this way. There may be one or two of us who have such a massive, sun-induced explosion of freckles that we appear to be a more forgiving shade of human, but for the most part...we're just fair...

So when you see someone walking down the street with legs that are a blinding, subterranean white, don't jeer at them. Don't taunt them about their condition. We want to get in on the summer clothes action, and I'll be damned if we forego the sunscreen in doing so. There is no hope for us, you see, the Wednesday Addamses of the world. Much as we'd like to stalk around like Snooki on sunroids, it's just not in the cards.

Tulips don't care.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Tell-tale Signs of Aging

The signs have been cropping up everywhere lately, but they've been so subtle as to have a shocking impact once deciphered. It's like living in an M. Night Shyamalan movie. The clues were there all the time...I just didn't know what they meant until Bruce Willis' hand passed through the door knob. So how do I know I'm getting old, you ask? Just let me count the ways...

When flipping through the tabloids, I don't know who's being sacrificed for my amusement. There was one of those trashy magazines behind the counter at work, and I was disappointed to find I couldn't properly indulge in all the cruel things being said because I didn't know who the hell they were talking about. What's more, when I did recognize a name or a face, I actually felt bad for the person being humiliated. I mean...who cares if Kim Kardashian's armpits are fatter than usual? I guess time has eroded my inclination to fry ants with a magnifying glass.

Let's see. What else?

When I eat like a half-starved dinosaur, my clothes shrink. All those people clucking "enjoy it while you can" weren't lying when they said it would catch up with me one day. It seems like all I have to do anymore is think about a cupcake and my pants get tighter. It's a big problem for me because I take so much pleasure in eating that one might call it a perversion. I'd choose a slice of cheesecake over Johnny Depp every day of the week, and twice on Sunday!

More importantly...

Looking back, I feel sorry for the unabashed retard that is my younger self. It's a feeling that gets renewed on a daily basis. Maybe it's true that I wake up every day a little bit wiser than the day before, but The World didn't get that memo. In fact, I'm a little suspicious that The World takes some kind of sadistic pleasure in reminding me that I'm just one clueless idiot among billions. Don't get me wrong, though! There's peace in knowing I'm just a regular ol' Joe like everybody else. It takes the pressure off and allows me to be human, despite my parents' insistence that I'm like, literally, the best-est ever. 

...which brings me to my next point. I have a new found liking for patronizing people younger than me. Seriously, you could be 23 years old, and I would still act like the secrets of the universe aren't revealed until your twenty-fourth birthday. Just when I thought I was over the whole know-it-all thing, it scampered off into a dark corner of my brain and disguised itself as the condescending shepherd of all humans under 24. For some inexplicable reason, I have a deep, desperate need to spare them the lifelong burden of shame that comes with blowing all your grocery money on margaritas.

One day, I'll have children to unload all this nonsense onto. Won't that be nice? They'll be my personal receptacles for all the things I think I've learned. I bet they'll think I'm really smart, too. I'm sure they'll wake up every morning, give me a big fat hug and say, "Thanks, Mom."

 And so it goes, ad infinitum...