STFU Fridays: Winter

Let’s just cut to the chase right here and now: if you are going to get all defensive and up in arms because I’m about to take all the people whining and griping about winter, and shit, to task – just stop. Stop right now. Go back to your fucking pity party, where you sit on your computer looking for deals to tropical places that you will never take a vacation to during the winter; go back to your bitch posts on Facebook and Twitter about the cold and the shoveling and all that bullshit too. Just stop and go back to all that shit and do not read ANY FURTHER.

Because I don’t have time for your bullshit defensiveness right now. Really, I don’t.

MjAxNC02MzBkYTI2MjEwZTE4N2Rk

I haven’t done an STFU Friday post in a long time, mainly because on Fridays I’ve been inundated with all of your fucking gripings about cold this, and polar vortex that, and OMG my weekend is ruined I have to shovel snow horse shit. Breaking the fucking STFU silence here, though, because – quite frankly – I’m sick and goddamned tired of all of you guys and your panty-waste whining.

There. I said it. Someone had to.

Well, it’s February 21st motherfuckers, and March is just around the corner. In like a lion and out like a lamb, so let’s just all agree to shut the fuck up and move on about this whole winter thing.

Before I moved to California, I lived in Chicago. I will never forget my last winter there. It was a doozy. Some nights the wind chill got all the way down to negative 30, and we had about 38 inches of snow in a period of roughly 48 hours. Now I’m not that old, and a lot of people I hear griping about the weather in the Midwest and East Coast right now have lived in cold areas like that for much longer than I have been away from it; which means that winter must be like child birth in the sense that everyone fucking forgets after a few years what a hard one really is like.

I am so tired of hearing about the polar vortex. Really. Really and fucking truly. First, and foremost – it’s over with! Fucking move on! Stop trying to analyze it, or deny the fact that the whether patterns are getting more extreme, and that the jet stream has changed, because of global warming, a.k.a. climate change. We’re not talking about why it happened – I have no interest in arguing with you ignorant fucking assholes about that. Let’s just all agree that shit is changing, and this is obvious proof of it. Now just shut up about it, because really it has been that cold before and it will be that cold again.

Shut the fuck up complaining about the way people drive in the winter weather, too. Or the way you have to shovel the driveway a lot. Every time I hear people bitching about shoveling I think to myself Jesus fucking a Christ, snow plows have been around and affordable for DECADES. Shut the fuck up about how you have icicles hanging from your roof, and about the fact that your heating bill has been so high the past few months. Probably 90% of the people I hear bitching and griping about all of these weather-related things work in the service industry: doctors, therapists, firefighters, policeman, nurses. In other words, there are plenty of jobs in places that are far warmer all year long where you could all relocate to and never have to deal with the snow driving-slash-driveway shoveling-slash-heating bill bullshit ever again. Until you make a concerted effort to do this, shut the shit up about all the rest already.

Can it with all your complaining about your kids being home from school. If you didn’t want to run the risk of your kids having snow days from school, you shouldn’t have had kids when you continue to live in a fucking place where you know this could be a possibility. Fuckin’ for real, people – someone had to fucking say it, and I know a lot of you that don’t bitch about your kids having to stay home on snow days were thinking it. That’s like saying you are upset because your child has a fever and can’t go to daycare. That’s pretty much been the lay of the land for – oh, I don’t know – since the advent of people having children in daycare. Therefore, you knew what you were getting into. Let your kids jump on the fucking bed after they play in the snow and have their hot cocoa; work from home, and shut the fuck up.

I saw an article the other day about how cities have a “new challenge” with all this cold and snow and ice and shit, in that they have to close down sections of sidewalk next to big buildings so that people don’t get murdered by falling icicle daggers. I’m sorry, new challenge? Huh? This has been going on FOR DECADES. Since the advent of skyscrapers. My mind is just utterly fucking boggled by this, because it is case-in-point proof that you people have never experienced winter before in your entire fucking lives.

But that isn’t really true, is it? The truth is that you guys had a couple easy ones, and – like I said – it was like all of your awful, 30+ hours of labor and delivery, when you tried to squeeze little Johnny out your v-hole. You forgot, quickly, how truly horrible it can be.

So let’s all just agree that you people amidst a shitty winter need to say “hey, look…it’s been a shitty winter, but just around the corner we’ll have spring and then a shitty summer to bitch and gripe about.” Because that’s what’s next, right guys? An extra hot, or extremely humid, summer that you all won’t shut your lily-livered mouths about?

Right. I thought so.

Sorry, guys. I know, this must be easy and all for me to say, being that I’m in California and haven’t worn anything but flip-flops in my 14 years here. But I’ve been back to the cold and the freezing in that time, and I just didn’t bitch about it. I actually enjoyed it. Truthfully, you guys should all consider yourselves lucky, for it isn’t until you live in the same, drab weather day after boring fucking day that you realize a harsh winter isn’t that bad in the end. It’s a change of pace. A beauty of nature. Something many people dream of and have never had the fortune to experience.

So shut the fuck up about winter, guys. Seriously. Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

winter-summer-hot-complain-seasonal-ecards-someecards

Advertisements

From California

1044165_681930020163_1975405431_n

I take it pretty offensively when people refer to me as “from California.” First and foremost, I don’t really like California. It’s nothing personal against anyone that does – I just don’t gel with it. Secondly, though, I’m just not from there. I’m from Chicago. Get over it. Just because I happen to live in California right now doesn’t mean anything.

I would get just as annoyed anywhere said besides where I’m actually from. It’s linguistically wrong.

But then there is the added insult that comes when someone says that you are from California, because they don’t just say that. That you are from California. In the last few days, I’ve witnessed quite a few embellishments on the statement.

“You talk like you’re from California…”

You don’t say. What exactly does that mean? For someone to talk like they’re from California?

Is it the accent? I don’t really have an accent, in fact if I do it’s still a Midwestern one. My ‘a’s are always hard, and on occasion I get that Northern ‘you know’ that you find in Minnesota.

People say all the time in Chicago that I talk like I’m from California, and I’m not entirely sure what they mean by that. I didn’t think that I said words such as ‘like’ or ‘oh my God’ or ‘rad waves dude,’ but perhaps I’ve become so much from California that I don’t even notice it anymore.

“You’re from California… you must want brown rice, tofu, and vegetables…”

It is true that in California we often eat very light food. Brown rice. Tofu. Salads. California style food is supposed to be fusion, but a lot of the time it’s just shit. Shit with shit piled on top. Add some asiago cheese to make it sound slightly more appealing, and that about sums it up.

We were at Panda Express today and I was talking with the guy behind us in line about how we were visiting from where we live – in California. When we got to our turn in line, the guy slopping the faux-Chinese food onto the plates said “oh you’re from California… you must want brown rice and vegetables.”

Kiss my hairy ballsack, you minimum wage employee. What a horrific stereotype.

“Coming from California, you must be spoiled from the weather…”

People’s response when I say that I want to move back to Chicago from California is always one of horror. How could you not love laying on the beaches in the sunny, 70 degree weather every day? Basking in the glow of the warmth that showers down on the Golden State literally every day of the blissfully perfect year?

How dare you insult us as we sit in the snow, or the muggy heat? How dare you insult us with such a suggestion that the perfect climate in California is not something you would give up everything for?

Coming from California, you must be spoiled from the weather… you must have forgotten what it’s like.

Actually, no. I haven’t forgotten what it’s like because it still gets cold and it still gets super hot, and we still have really muggy days and the times that it is legitimately 70, sunny, and perfect are so few and far between that we don’t really know how that California stereotype came about.

What’s worse about California weather too isn’t just that it isn’t what everyone thinks it is, but we’re not equipped for it. When it rains, we have massive flooding. And mudslides. When it’s hot we have disastrous fires. When it’s hot we have no air conditioning. When it’s humid, our houses get demolished by mold.

And even when it’s nice in California, the air is so filled with the pollutants and pollens that you can barely breath without choking and getting a migraine.

From California…

Being on vacation – this vacation in particular – is hard enough without having to deal with that kind of stereotypical bullshit. It just goes to show that everyone is judgmental, or has their opinions on what it means to be this or that.

If people are proud to be from California, kudos to them. For me, it’s just not who I am. Daily I struggle with the influence that the California culture has had over me. I feel guilty for eating anything beyond air. I can’t go out without making sure my hair, my makeup, my accessories, and my clothes are just right. When you’re from California, this is the kind of crap you do; you do more – I do more – but that is just the tip of the iceberg that is my daily struggle.

Really it’s all of our daily struggles, though, when we find ourselves in a place that is not conducive to who we are. It doesn’t matter if you are from the Midwest, from the East Coast, from another country, or from California. The ongoing crisis identity is not reserved for the alleys of high school hallways, nor people that go somewhere new to reinvent themselves. Wherever you go, people will notice that you are not from there. Or maybe they just assume when they hear it that you are different.

Chicagoland Bloggie Friend Frolic

I’m super duper sorry that I’ve been so minimal on the blog these last few weeks, you guys. It’s just that life got crazy a few days before we left for vacation, and it’s only now calming down as we go into the second week of our month-long stay in the Chicagoland area.

So before blathering on in blog posts later this week about all this crazy shiz that’s gone down while here, I wanted to first let everyone know about the Chicagoland Bloggie Friend Frolic that is in the works of organization for Sunday, July 14th at 4 pm in the suburb of Glen Ellyn.

It’s nothing fancy. Just people meeting up in a bar-ish type of casual setting. There’s a Facebook event for it you can check out. And above all, please share with people you think might be interested!

Whether you are a mom blogger, a tech blogger, a something-else blogger, an “I don’t blog but I read blogs” person, or someone that just enjoys laughter, come on by!!

Click the photograph to get the Facebook event invite. And make sure to RSVP so we have an idea of who to look for!

BlogFriends

So I’m On Vacation…

TrainTravel

….which means I haven’t had much to say lately. Not because I’ve been on vacation, I just got here yesterday. No, I have had little to say on the ol’ bloggie lately simply because I was getting ready for the trip. Traveling is difficult even on your own.

So I’m on vacation. Those of you that have been around for a while know that I’m from Chicago. I live in California now, though (unfortunately), so typically vacations involve the Windy City. Last year we came out for a couple weeks, this year we’re spending a whole month here.

Let’s hope next time it’s permanent.

So far I have learned a few things.

946820_680443329503_2101317819_n

#1 A Lot of People Are Obnoxious

It doesn’t say “surviving on cynicism and misanthropy” in the banner of this website for nothing: I think a lot of people are obnoxious. I’m probably more obnoxious than any of them, but that’s another blog post altogether.

We took the train again with my dad across the country, and while I had learned some lessons the last time (in terms of making it a little more comfortable for us), what I hadn’t learned was how to avoid the obnoxious people. Even the car attendant was getting on my nerves at a certain point, and it was her job to be my BFF.

The worst was on the one night that we went up to the dining car to actually dine. Typically we just stay in the room and have it delivered, or eat our own food. Stupidly I suggested we go on the first night, though, and we were seated next to the most obnoxious woman EVER.

“Is there a tilapia on this menu? There’s supposed to be a fish. This isn’t right.”

“Are these mashed potatoes made with Idaho potatoes? Instant? This isn’t right.”

“It’s so cold in here, can you turn down the air? This isn’t right that it’s so cold in here.”

“You charge for wine? Oh that isn’t right. Are you sure there is not tilapia available?”

“Arnold, what was the problem in the baaaaaaathrooooooom? You couldn’t get it out? Oh that isn’t right.”

#2 Hotels Are A Reminder That Not Everyone Practices Effective Family Planning

StatusUpdate

Last night my cousin and I were talking about the natural, Catholic family planning course she and her fiance had to take (their wedding is one of the reasons we are in town). As if her description of the Catholic-approved “birth control” (if you can call it that) methods weren’t horrifying enough, I realized this morning that probably a lot more people practice it than you’d think.

How did I realize? If you know anything about the natural, Catholic-approved family planning “birth control,” you know that it doesn’t work. Everyone that uses it has a shit-ton of kids.

Each family I saw staying in our hotel has six or more children. One family had nine, and the mother was pregnant with the tenth. And while the children running around screaming is not noticeable while we are in our nice, relatively soundproof suite, the continental breakfast is a much different story.

It was like the state of nature with free Cheerios and waffles. Children were running around between tables, smacking the chairs and yelling “blah blah blah blah blah.”

Snot flowed everywhere.

Every thirty seconds a child would fall or trip or run into something or bite their tongue or smash their head into their cereal bowl and loud crying would commence.

All-the-while mine just sat there in horror. After about ten minutes I got a “can we go back to our room now?”

So that’s where we are. A lot of observations, and at the same time a lot of really loving being home. It should come as no surprise to all of you that I really dislike California. Sorry, it’s just the truth. I’m allergic to everything there. I think a lot of the people I have encountered are narcissistic, self-centered, overly-career focused a-holes.

And honestly, I just prefer the Midwest.

If it makes me a bad person to have a personal preference other than palm trees and beaches, well than so be it. All I know is that as our train rolled its way towards the Chicagoland area, the water towers and the rolling lands and the humidity that everyone complains about were so wonderfully “home” to me that I could taste it. It tasted like pizza and hot dogs and the White Sox and my childhood; my family, my friends, and everything I’ve always loved.

Fall Makes Me Homesick

Therefore, it needs to end now.

I got really into fall at first. I do every year. I got the pumpkins. And the goards and shit. Halloween was a big fucking fiasco of costumes and events and more events and hayrides. I’ve baked tons of pumpkin-flavored things, and will bake more. We’re even hosting a Thanksgiving-themed open house the weekend before Thanksgiving.

But it makes me super homesick too.

I miss the falling leaves that give the time of year the title “fall.” We have some in California, but those aren’t brown and golden and red. They’re green and caused by 90 degree Santa Ana winds, and I’m allergic to them.

I miss the change of the weather. People say “oh … we have a change of weather here.” You don’t say? Because next week it’s projected to be in the mid-80s again and I’ll be sitting inside in the air conditioning as Thanksgiving closes in. Change of seasons?

I miss having my family close by. I have my dad here and my husband’s family, and of course my mom’s trailer trash family; but it isn’t my family. Most of them don’t want much to do with me either. And it isn’t my aunt and uncle that helped my dad raise me after my mom left. It’s not my cousins. It isn’t my vast group of friends that I have always considered to be closer than some of my closest blood relatives. There isn’t that same sense of community I had growing up.

So fall makes me homesick. But who am I kidding? Just about every time of year, and every thing I see, makes me homesick. It goes without saying I’m ready for this experiment of living on the West Coast to come to an end.

Until it does, and as fall continues on and I continue to feel homesick around every turn of every bend, I hold fast to the things that I have here that I call home.

Pizza, Deli Sandwiches, and Pumpkin Pie

Pizza is my most staple food item when I get homesick. I don’t want to hear anybody’s crap about how bad that is for me either. A pizza with nothing but cheese (which is how I like it), or even pizza dough with other ingredients (like in the picture above), has less saturated fat and cholesterol on it than some salads. Deli-style sandwiches with nothing but a slice of cheese and loads of lettuce come in at a close second.

Pumpkin pie is also a big homesickness-reliever, which is good because as compared to apple pie, cherry pie, cheesecake, cake, candy, and other desserts, pumpkin pie without the crust is fat free. I can eat bucketfuls of that shit (and believe you me, I do) without all the guilt.

Cheesy 80s and 90s Movies

How many cheesy 80s movies are not set in the Midwest, and particularly in Chicago? From Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun to Ferris Buehler’s Day Off; into the 90s with High Fidelity. I even watch Father of the Bride, parts I and II. The scenery, the weather, the culture I grew up with all makes me feel just a little bit better when I’m feeling homesick.

Chicago Team Gear

I have enough Chicago team gear to get me through any bout of homesickness. I have a sweatshirt from my high school, two hoodies from the Chicago Bulls, a third hoodie that just says ‘City of Chicago,’ two White Sox t-shirts, two Bears shirts, a Bulls shirt that doesn’t fit, I have a Bulls bumper sticker on my car, two Bulls lanyards I have yet to use, and my computer even has a sticker of Michael Jordan on the back of it.

And I have a story to go with all of it, which I’m sure the people in my immediate life are sick of hearing. But if they’re so sick of hearing it, or sick of hearing about how homesick I am, they can maybe stop being so stubborn and give the Midwest a shot (ahem …..).

My Fun Fall Swap

Lastly, I participated in this thing called a Fun Fall Swap. Some bloggers that were into the fall stuff (as I was initially) decided to get together, have one person send out “secret swapper” info, and then we all had one month to send out a fall-themed gift.

I got mine a week ago, and while I cannot figure out for the life of me who sent it (I’m betting it’s either “My Brain On Kids” or “Diapers Or Wine“…), it is nonetheless the best of the swap gifts I have seen so far.

UPDATE: It was Quirky Chrissy … I love her more than I love french toast. If you know me, you know that’s a big deal.

Knowing how in love I am with all-things-Midwest, my secret swapper sent me this awesome reprint of a World’s Fair Chicago poster. I know what you are saying: “how in the hell is that fall?” Well, duh … it says November. That’s more fucking fall than all the hay bail, pumpkin, and brown-colored shit out there.

My fun fall swap could not have come at a better time: when I’m homesick. Sitting on the couch in yoga pants and my Bulls sweatshirt that is beginning to smell a little bit like feet since I won’t stop wearing it; with half-eaten slices of pizza around me and pumpkin pie smeared on my face. As I continue to shovel more pumpkin pie and stare longingly at Michael Jordan on the back of my computer, with 80s movies on Netflix playing on repeat in the background. And every time Sarah Jessica Parker says in the opening scene of ‘Girls Just Wanna’ Have Fun’: “My daydream was always the same – that some day I was gonna’ get to Chicago, because that’s where they make Dance TV,” I mouth the words, bits of deli sandwich falling out of my mouth to mix with my homesick tears.

My fun fall swap arrived just in time to save me from this destitute.

Okay, it didn’t save me from shit. Framed, it now sits next to me on the couch and joins the ranks of things I stare longingly at. But it’s still a good thing. Big, big thanks to whomever my fall swapper was … your pick was perfect.

Now I would love for fall to be over. So then we’ll get through the holidays and holiday time depression can be over, then it will be a new year and who knows what the new year will bring?

Vacation Wrap Up: Back to Reality

Of course by “back to reality” I mean that I am a rampant bitch again. Like I said in my blogged vacation reports, I felt super nice again when I went to my sweet, home Chicago for a close-to-three-week vacation. It was wonderful. I saw friends. I visited with family. I ate and ate and ate some more (although I lost three pounds on the trip…). And more than anything, I felt good and happy – two things I do not often feel in my daily, misanthropic California life.

I realize now that I attach a lot of my unhappiness to my physical location, and this is mainly because my unhappiness in California stems from things about the area that I just don’t jive with. I’m not fake, high strung, and narcissistic – qualities that I find to be more than I can take at times in my southwestern coastal community. This isn’t to say there are no nice people here (because there are), it’s just a little overwhelming for this tried and true Midwest Girl to be confronted with such a different life perspective that can seem (at times) to be a little shallow and short-sighted.

It also has to do with a lot of other factors. Like the fact that I am a philosopher and there is little intellectualism going on in our community. Leaving graduate school was in that sense probably the worst thing I could have done, for I lost the only community of thinkers in the program that I left behind. And the fact that I am allergic to a lot of California pollens, so am miserable at least three days a week with a stuffy nose and sinus migraines. Lastly, there is that simple fact that my family is so far away from the west coast. I miss them every day and no matter how many things we try to fill my life with to replace them, it just doesn’t change a thing.

So my vacation home was really a vacation to my roots – my own roots, that is. It has been years since I have been able to look at my life and say what I really feel; years since I have been able to acknowledge what is really going on, rather than distracting myself to make peace with an unhealthy situation. Now that I have a little more clarity, I can move to make some positive changes in my own life. Don’t you worry, though, faithful blog followers – I will still be just as misanthropic and bitchy as always. I just won’t have high blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia to go along with it.

So here are a few of my changes that I am immediately implementing as I get back to reality:

I will no longer be Internet buddies with dysfunctional fuckfaces

That’s right – I dropped the f-faces word. What I’m saying is that I will no longer be Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or LinkedIN connections with people that are assholes. To begin, I’ve deleted all of the people that are in my husband’s circle that have been outright dicks to me. That doesn’t mean that if he wants to go to a family reunion (please, God … NO!) I won’t go – it just means I won’t be letting them into my own personal life when all they do is use that to hurt me. Too many of his friends and/or family have told me I’m “ugly” (yes, one of his friends told me that) or that there was an entire cadre of other things about me they did not like for me to feel OK with having extended relationships with them.

Sadly, this means that Facebook fights with Hello Kitty Toaster will be coming to an end. There is still the possibility I will be running into her and my prick of a brother-in-law in public, but I just cannot allow her to impact me in my personal life anymore. On the day we were leaving Chicago to embark on our cross-country return, she sent me a bitchy Facebook comment and then posted some bullshit on her own Facebook a minute later about how much people like me piss her off. Well good, Hello Kitty Toaster – you piss me off too, so how’s about we stop being Friends?

I will be doing things I enjoy from now on…

…rather than doing things that others tell me I should be enjoying. I am who I am. I like to talk. I like to watch movies. I like to go to museums. I enjoy shopping. I feel empty when not in the city. I like going for drives for no reason other than to look around. And like most Chicagoans, I like to bitch about everything under the sun. This is who I am and anyone that doesn’t like it can go jump.

While I was on vacation, I was so happy to have the opportunity to do some of the things I really enjoy. On one of the last nights in the city in particular, we took a drive into the heart of Chicago to flash some photographs and soak in the place that is so important to who I am. The following day, I visited the Hemingway Museum and the home in which he was born (something that would bore most people I know, but fascinated me beyond belief). In these two things – my nighttime drive through the city and my visit to the museum of my favorite writer – I felt more happy and alive than in as long as I could remember.

I will no longer let others put me down when it comes to my personal character.

Obviously this California versus Chicago issue is a bone of major contention between my husband and myself. Without getting into all the uglier details of our marital discord, I can say without regret that my husband is adamantly opposed to living anywhere other than California, and doing anything other than cultivating his own career in film. Oftentimes, it feels as though I am demonized for wanting something other than the unhappiness we both have for the sake of some vague hope that one day his career will take off. Beyond that, and as is the case with most women, usually I am gaslighted for having feelings.

Because I am the way I am, I regularly feel subjected to a rejection of who I am simply because I am not like most people around me (at my home in California, that is). As an example, today I was driving home from the grocery store and there was a momma duck walking across the street with eight little baby ducks. The street was right outside of our apartment complex, and we live nowhere near any lakes so I have no idea where they came from. Sadly, California is so covered in concrete and developments, finding random wildlife struggling to find a home is common. There were three cars in front of me when I noticed the ducks crossing. The first driver honked, the second driver swerved, and the third driver started screaming at the ducks to get out of the road. This is typical behavior for the area.

Although I didn’t do any of those things. I pulled over when I saw that the baby ducks were having a problem getting onto the sidewalk. I got out of my car and I walked over to help lead them up the ramp portion of the sidewalk. Right as I got back in my car – which was legally parked, I might mention – a fourth car pulled up behind me and screamed out the window “you fucking asshole, you should have let those ducks get creamed.” Really, California? Yes, really.

I know that helping those ducks was the right thing to do. I know that a lot of things I do are the right things to do. I’m not trying to say I’m some moral standard by which others should judge their behavior, I’m just saying that I try to be a good person and I know that when I make choices in that vein I am doing the right thing.

Upon my return from vacation, though, it seems as though a concerted effort has been made by others to make me feel like I am bad or wrong for wanting to be who I am and live life in accordance with what I know is right. I’m not going to tolerate this anymore, though. I will no longer let others put me down when it comes to my personal character.

So I feel like something of an hypocrite. Around New Years I talked shit up and down people’s New Years Resolutions, and these three things feel like resolutions to me. Really they are changes, though – changes that I intend to keep that are matters of personal growth (rather than things I should have been doing all along anyway) and there will be more to come. I’m back to reality, and while that does mean that I am back to being a rampant bitch, it also means I am back to the reality of who I am.

Porking My Way To My Past

Okay, before you all get your panties in a bunch over the fact that I used the term “porking” in the title of this blog, consider first what I do not mean. For one, if you were thinking I meant I was going to “pork” all kinds of people from my past, that’s obviously not going to happen because I’m married and the husband doesn’t usually look kindly on infidelity. If you are thinking I’m going to be going all Lord of the Flies on some pigs in their natural habitat, you are wrong on that as well.

No, when I say “porking my way to my past,” I mean eating. And, unfortunately, I mean a lot.

For those of you that don’t know me well enough, I grew up in Chicago. Well, the suburbs of Chicago to be precise. From my bedroom window every night, I could always see the glow of the city lights and faint outline of the buildings in the distance. Its lifestyle, its culture; everything about it made me who I am today.

This is probably why so many people hate me here in California. I am not, nor will I ever be, a California girl. We live in suburbia and I am most certainly not a suburban girl. For a few years, we lived in the LA sprawl, but this was absolutely nothing like what a real city is supposed to be. It’s just another suburb with bigger buildings, lots of smog, and more people. But more than that, no matter how often I wear flip flops and lose bits and pieces of my Chicagoan accent, I am just not a part of the Californian culture.

For one, Californians are very fast-paced people. They aren’t just fast-paced in the sense that they move quickly, but they actually cannot sit still. This is not always a good thing, though, for some of these people can’t even sit still long enough to enjoy life in the moment. I think my husband is one of these people – most of the time he has a hard time just being. He has to be doing and looking ahead, rather than looking around and seeing what we have now. Californians pride themselves on being forward-thinking people, but there are downfalls in this in the sense that they often move so fast to the future that they forget to appreciate the present. I am nothing like this at all. I think that living in the present and letting life slow down is one of the most important things a person can do for themselves.

For two, as a result of their fast-paced lifestyle, many Californians are very self-centered and judgmental people. I don’t mean this to be a negative comment, although it often comes across in a way that is a little off-putting. The majority of the Californians I have encountered act as though life in general is focused on them; and that their way of thinking is the way in which everyone should be thinking. The old stereotype of LA being comprised primarily of somewhat snobby people is true; and while there are definitely pockets of genuinely wonderful people (my friends among them), it’s sometimes hard to weed through all the narcissism.

For three, the food California has to offer is total and complete crap. I know I’m probably in the minority in thinking this, but it really is. On one side, you have an entire cadre of “authentic” ethnic foods, most of which is not really authentic in the least bit. Californians pride themselves on embracing these wonderfully exotic cultures – Brazilian for lunch (in a restaurant owned by a couple of guys from Nebraska); traditional Italian fare for dinner (again, somewhere owned by people that probably don’t even know where Italy is). All the while, California girls are embracing French couture, rambling on about how much a crepe is like a pancake, and updating their Facebook statuses with pithy cliche French phrases they saw on the side of a billboard; and California guys are shouting about drinking some cervezas. But not only is it all fake, it’s crap if you ask me. I mean it literally tastes like crap. Everything is over spiced, undercooked, and I sometimes have a hard time finding anything that doesn’t come crusted or layered with cheese. (Don’t get me wrong, a lot of food in Chicago is drowned in cheese … but it’s nothing like in California. In California it just makes no sense at all.)

Why my local Denny's ever thought putting mozzarella sticks inside a grilled cheese sandwich was a good idea, I will never understand

So in exactly two months from today, I’m going home to Chicago for my first trip in over eleven years. Don’t ask me for all the reasons why I haven’t yet been, because to be honest I’m not entirely sure myself. There were a few times I planned on going back but other things just got in the way. And recently, my ultimate misery in California has prevented me from going back because I know just how hard it will be to come back to this sprawl.

One of the things I have missed the most about Chicago (beyond the city, the friends, the family, the seasons, the Bulls, the baseball …) is the food. For all intents and purposes, I have not had a decent piece of pizza in the entire time I have been away. Same goes for hot dogs and the spaghetti; even the Mexican food in Chicago is better (irony? …I’d say so). Thus, it’s needless to say that when I do head home in two months, eating decent (and in many instances, healthier) food is on the top of the priority list. But while in some instances it is healthier – less covered in exotic cheese and spices that are currently eating a hole in my stomach – in most cases, it is a recipe for disaster – so much so that I’ve tripled my weekly trips to the gym, added a daily 15 minutes walk, and cut back another 500 calories in preparation. The last thing I want to do is turn into a blimp because my body has gotten used to not eating that much (since I really cannot stand California cuisine, yet cannot stand cooking even more). While I fully intend on porking my way to my past, I’d like to avoid that whole Simpsonian rag on stick scenario.

Next on the Homeward Bound docket: how hipsters in California have made me lose all faith in humanity.