Welcome To Texas, You’re Pregnant

I never thought I’d say this, but I miss California.

I miss the way you can go outside and not break into a sweat from the sheer heat and humidity, that is both oppressive and shocking – given that it’s only the beginning of April.

I miss our salads. Oh do I miss our salads with our hints of gorgonzola and our notes of fennel. I miss the ability to add beets or carrots to your salad, and I miss the endless options that are both fat free and gluten/soy/sugar tolerant. I miss our sprouts.

I actually miss our pizza. Yes, I said it. I miss our pizza. It may not be Chicago-style pizza, but it’s certainly pizza. I don’t even know what it is they’re serving out here in the heart of the Lone Star State.

I crave the way we all know that Los Angeles drivers suck. I crave our acceptance of this suck-age, as if we all understand and therefore abide by the hidden rules that come with such an acceptance. Like this one: drive like an asshole in your own lane.

Because let’s face it: Texas drivers don’t realize how horrible they are at it, and because of this it takes 3 hours to go 6 miles, and you almost get killed at least 15 times.

I am dying to walk outside and not be attacked by a bug I cannot identify. I want to go a day without a mosquito bite. I need to not find hundreds of bugs squashed in the parking lot. I’m over seeing cockroaches squished with their legs in the air.

I miss skinny jeans, even on men. I miss our attitude glasses, because as ridiculous and stupid as they look it is at least a sign that people are reading. I would kill to go outside and not break out in a sweat because any amount of clothing is too much in this humidity.

I need things to do. I crave them. I need museums that aren’t rip offs. Open spaces that I can walk in and enjoy nature through, and not be accompanied by 500 other douchebags talking on their cellphones and running into people. I need things besides watching television and sitting in traffic to get to the local mall-slash-eatery-slash gun store.


I’ve been in Texas for a full week now. And I hate it. This isn’t to say to other Texans that you are awful for choosing this place, I’m sure you find some redeeming qualities to this cesspool. But to me – well, it’s a dump. At least in the suburbs of Houston, where I’m holed up while my daughter visits her biological father down the highway. I have been in a lot of truly contemptible places in my life, and this is by far the worst.

In fact, I would go as far as to say that this is the most miserable place I’ve ever been. I would go as far as to say that. It’s like a total trash dump covered in some nice buildings and a lot of people.

Oh my God, so many people.

And while I know that in Texas a lot of locals pride themselves on their sense of hospitality and decency, the community I am in holds some of the rudest, most horrible people I have ever encountered. Yesterday I went to the nail salon for a manicure and pedicure, and while there saw women literally yell at the innocent nail technicians, for no reason at all. None. Today I went to get dinner only to find that the first two places I hit up had no one stationed to seat people. After a considerable wait at each of the two places (continuing to stand there to be seated), I went to a third – where I got out of the car to find a used pregnancy test on the ground in the parking lot.


Now I am not always the biggest fan of California. And I am homesick and ready to pack my shit and move back to Chicago pretty much every day of the year. But my God can I not wait to get back home. To my sunshine and my cooler temps. To my salads not covered in 20 pounds of beef. To my people that are either polite, or at the very least so wrapped up in their own lives that their rudeness doesn’t spill over into my space.

Welcome to Texas, you’re pregnant. Pregnant with a sense of horror, misery, and disbelief that no other state could produce quite the same. I miss California. Either this place really is that bad, or I don’t even know myself anymore.

How To Make It Into My Next Book – Vacation Edition

I’ve been somewhat quiet on the blog lately, mainly because I’ve been on vacation for three weeks now. I have one more left to go and I am certainly ready to get home. It isn’t that I just love the community in which I live in southern California SOOOOOOO much. You guys know that isn’t true. It’s just that I like my own kitchen. I enjoy having more than one bathroom for my whole family. And my bed at home doesn’t have springs sticking into my side every night when I go to bed.

But there is something I just can’t keep quiet on much further. Something so profound in its impact on this vacation that to say nothing would be a detriment to my own mental health:

How some on this trip will make it into my next book.

Last night I was helping my cousin – getting married this Friday – put together place cards for the reception. It was pretty involved: cutting, sticking, hot gluing, printing … and, in fact, the job wasn’t even finished after five hours of work. As I burned off almost all of my finger prints with the hot glue gun (which will be to my advantage later, I’m sure), we were talking about my book and how people could get into it. Well, really we were talking about how my cousin (the one getting married) could get into it; or how she could secure herself a book all about her.

While I’m not sure that Bridezilla will get a book of her own (kidding about the Bridezilla thing … OK, not really kidding … see Lins, you’ve made it in my blog TWICE now!! … just don’t have a Bridezilla meltdown), I did come back to our hotel room and think about ways people on our vacation could make it into a future book.

Stay With Me In A Hotel Suite

You had better believe that you will get an entire book written about you if you stay with me in a hotel suite. A small hotel suite. A small hotel suite with a small kitchen that you move things around in all the time, in spite of the fact that the only one that actually ever goes in the kitchen to get anything for anyone is me. A small hotel suite where you get the comfortable bed (dad) and we get the shitty bed with the springs that stick into my back in the middle of the night, and the pillows that could really be called “instruments of neck destruction.” A small hotel suite with one bathroom. A small hotel suite that has a bathroom which we all have to share that seems to be occupado for thirty minutes or more, multiple times per day, whenever a man (dad or husband) goes in there. A small hotel suite where there is limited space for clothes and shoes, and my expensive shoes and clothes get repeatedly moved around, wrinkled, smashed, folded incorrectly, or damaged. Or lost. A small hotel suite where we have to do laundry once a week, and you offer to help with the laundry so you go up to the laundry room and promptly lose four of my irreplaceable and staple clothing items.

All of that. That will get you into my next book.

Don’t Ask About My Book

This is what really hurts. I can count on one hand how many people have asked about my book since we got here. And I’ve seen and talked to a lot of people. I’m starting to think I’m just more of a B(itch) than I thought.

I don’t want to sound like a spoiled and temperamental writer. But at the same time, I want to not let people continue to focus on their lives only when in conversation with me. I want to exist in their minds. Maybe not equally, but if we are to have some kind of a relationship it has to be a fair one where we both do things and are important.

Let me repeat that: I can count on one hand how many people have asked about my book. If I lost my thumb and pinky finger in an unfortunate accident involving a lawn mower, a gas can, and a lighter, I could still count on one hand how many people have asked about my book.

For those of you actually interested, I wrote a book. It’s actually my third. A member of my family even just learned Saturday night that I have done such gloriously rewarding things, and that my time is actually not always spent in total mediocrity. Just what in the fuck does that say?

Sales are going well, thanks for asking.

Oh you read it? Well I hope you enjoyed it. I don’t offer refunds if you didn’t.

Promotion is going great too! Thanks for taking such an active interest and being so supportive! Next time you run a marathon and need a donation, join a band and want to get people to your first show, run a Kickstarter for your creative project, have a baby or buy a house or get married or engage in any other major life moments, I will make sure to show you the same exact level of encouragement and support that you have showed me!

I’m starting to sound bitter, so I think I’ll stop there. I’m actually the furthest from bitter anyone could imagine. I know what you are all thinking – how could you suffer the disappointments of losing articles of clothing, sleeping in a bed with springs, and your major life achievements being disregarded simply because no one thought to look?

I’ll tell you why: because it’s all making it into the next book. You might call this blog post the teaser…

My Threesome With Pancho and Jesus; or, the Most Humiliating Day of My Life

I couldn’t decide what to title this blog post. I already wrote one early this morning, but then I experienced perhaps the most humiliating and simultaneously hilarious day of my entire life. Mostly humiliating.

Think about the most humiliating thing that has ever happened to you. Maybe on your wedding day a bird flew over and laid waste to the back of your dress. Or you were gossiping about a family member, only for your preschooler to repeat every word of it at the Christmas dinnertable. Think hard. We’re talking most humiliating here.

Now read on and you will no longer feel shame. For this morning, I had something of a threesome with my hotel’s maintenance men: Pancho and Jesus.

5:00 am I post a blog about how I can’t sleep and am ready to head back home from my mental health retreat to Solvang, CA – the faux Danish town nestled in the middle of California’s wine country. I’m awake because around 3 o’clock I woke up from a party going on in the room above mine, only to look outside and see a sea of Modello and Bud Light beer cans in the parking lot, with someone looking for his keys in the midst of them. While I had a great time the last few days eating, drinking, shopping, and relaxing, this marked the point when I was ready to leave.

5:30 am I debate for a few minutes with myself: get up and just get ready to go? Or go back to sleep? My eyes get droopy and I go back to sleep.

9:30 am I wake up. I stumble around to get all of my things together. My shopping bags, backpack, purse, and suitcase are by the door. All that’s left out are my makeup bag and clothes, sitting on the bed.

9:40 am I disrobe and throw my dirty pajamas into the suitcase too. I’m so groggy and ready to go home at this point I just want to leave so think about skipping a shower until I get back. I have a few hours of driving, though, so decide to shower to help wake me up. And, as I mentioned a few days ago, Aunt Flo’s in town (this will be important in a minute). I realize while heading to the bathroom that all I ever do is debate with myself about what to do.

9:42 am I set my clothes on the counter in the bathroom and pee. Very little pee, very little paper (this will also be important in a moment, only if you wish to assess blame).

9:42 and 30 seconds am I flush the toilet and hop in the shower. I start to wash my hair.

9:43 am I’m washing my hair. Washing, washing. Thinking about the things I want to add to my list of things to do before I am no longer kidless and fancy free on Monday. Washing a little more.

9:45 am I start to rinse my hair and think I hear a door slam open. ‘Must be someone upstairs’ I think to myself and then a guy in a maintenance uniform comes running into the bathroom. I scream.

9:46 am I’m still in the shower and the maintenance man takes the top off the toilet and shoves his hand in. He apologizes and explains that my toilet is flooding the hotel room, which was noticed by the maid outside the hotel room door. I peek out the curtain of the shower and see there is water now rising on the bathroom floor too.

9:47 am Pancho officially introduces himself and says to stay put while he gets the valve closed. The shower is still going. There is nothing but a thin, vinyl shower curtain between Pancho and me. I quickly debate with myself over what I should do and decide Pancho knows best. So I stay and decide while there I may as well finish my shower.

9:48 am I shave my arm pits. Pancho is calling for back up: the other maintenance guy, Jesus.

9:50 am I grab my loofa and body wash, and wash. Pancho is still on the other side of the vinyl shower curtain. Jesus is now standing just outside the bathroom door and I can hear him shouting as water continues to pour out of the walls, the toilet, and in from the hotel room.

9:52 am “Pancho? I’d really like to turn off the water and cover myself with a towel now.” Here’s where shit gets real. Pancho says “OK” and I turn off the water. He still has one hand in the toilet tank. His other hand grabs a towel and hands it through the open space between the vinyl shower curtain and the shower wall.

9:53 am Jesus yells to Pancho that he got the water shut off. Pancho stands up and says I should get out of the shower. I open the shower curtain. Pancho and Jesus look down and help me step out of the tub and into about four inches of water.

9:55 am Pancho and Jesus have taken all of my things out of the room, except for my clothes and my makeup bag. They say they will leave so I can get dressed in the only dry corner of the room. Jesus notices my things on the counter in bathroom, so slushes through the water to get them for me. Remember how I said Aunt Flo was in town? I hear Jesus in the bathroom say “oh boy” and then he shouts to me “Ma’am are you OK with me carrying your garments and lady products to you?”


9:55 and 30 seconds am “Sure, why not … there doesn’t seem to be anything between the three of us at this point” I say and we all laugh.

9:56 am Pancho and Jesus leave the room and I get dressed. Fortunately, in the dry area of the room there is a mirror, so after they come back in to begin cleaning up the mess and repairing the toilet, I use the mirror to put on my makeup and brush my hair.

10:05 am I ask Pancho and Jesus if they’d mind if I took a few photographs so people would believe me when I tell them the story. They nod, laugh some more, and keep working. I snap photos.

10:10 am Pancho and Jesus have left the room to get their remaining equipment, or leave the mess for someone else, or something. I load my car and drive to the front of the hotel to check out, half expecting a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates, and a note that reads “had an early meeting, but thanks for the good times.” There are no flowers or chocolates, and I wonder if I am the one who should leave behind the “thank you.”

10:30 am I get some breakfast at the restaurant next to the hotel to try and recover my dignity before embarking on my drive. There is a maintenance man in the restaurant eating too and I wonder if Pablo and Jesus know him and have told him about our threesome. When I finish eating I pay the bill and hit the road.

Now I am home and have taken another shower. No maintenance men burst in this time.

So did that make you faithful blog followers feel a little better about your own humiliating experiences? Like one of my friends said this morning when I (of course) immediately posted it on my Facebook page, this could only happen to me.

And I bet right now you are all thinking one of two things: either you want to know more details about where I was staying so that you too can have such an experience. Or you want to share this, but are hemming and hawing about it in an effort to spare the last remaining shred of dignity I may or may not have. Well don’t you worry, there is no dignity left (that was left behind in Solvang). And quite frankly the more I tell people this story to, the less weird I feel about Pancho and Jesus. Should I call? Will they call? What will my husband think?

So share away. And tell me your most humiliating experience too in the comments. I may have come home still feeling in a funk and pretty depressed. But at least I can laugh again.

Did Somebody Say “Get Me Away From These Douchey Danes!”?

Let me start by refreshing everyone’s memory:

My husband freaked out a little bit because I was sitting around crying being so kidless and fancy free, the Pookies being gone for this 12 day trip away from me. For the record, I was not crying because I had free time, but rather I realized how much of a grave mistake it was to allow such a trip to happen. I wasn’t ready for it. Neither was anybody else it would seem, for when I finally was given the dignity of some contact yesterday, I learned that the cell phone has – in fact – been uncharged and off for the whole week, the allergy medicine has been ignored, and teeth have not even been brushed. I’m also pretty down in the funks because I have been wanting to move home to Chicago for about 7 years now to be closer to my family and it’s just not happening, although that is another story altogether. In any event, I was a little loose around the edges, so Poor Nick did what any husband would do: he sent me away.

I’m going home today, and you’ll all see that it’s about 5 o’clock in the morning, and I’m up: blogging and listening to Tom Jones. You’d think that is a sign that this little mental health retreat isn’t working, when really it’s that the people staying upstairs were having a party. Around 3 o’clock I woke up to the sound of people wading through beer cans outside in the parking lot: yes, you heard what I said. There were about 50 Modelo and Bud Light cans strewn in the parking lot and someone was wading through them, looking for his keys.

Classy establishment, hubs.

In any event, I think I’m ready to head home. I realized that, while Solvang is the place for a mental health retreat, it’s also the place for overindulgence, douchey yuppies, and losing all your money to tourism and more tourism.

Last night my wine walk got cut short

I decided yesterday to do the Wednesday Wine Walk that the local-yolcals host to try and inspire business. For $20 you get a glass, a map, and five tickets for wine tasting at the participating wineries. Each ticket gets you two tastes.

I got through two places that were on the list, plus one next door that I had to pay separate for. All of them had (for the most part) the shittiest wine I have ever tasted in my life, coupled with a crowd full of douche bags and dogs walking around sniffing people’s assholes. When I got to the fourth, the fifth, and the sixth, I learned that the wine tasting event was being hosted by wine tasting rooms that did not even intend on being open until said event was over.

That’s right. I bought tickets that said “good for tasting until 7” and the last three places participating closed at 6. The most egregious was that the one I bought my tickets at earlier in the day was one of them.

Just yesterday I was thinking to myself that these people drink a lot. I mean, a lot. I know that in Europe people drink a lot more, but I’m really a “glass a day is good for me” kind of gal. Possibly they keep the alcoholism under control by never fulfilling what they actually sell.

So I went to get some dinner instead, and was too tired to cruise all the way to Santa Ynez as my plan was, so I just decided on this local brewery/restaurant that seemed pretty popular since people were crowded all around and inside it.

And then I realized something else.

All of the food here tastes like a fucking pancake

And I don’t mean a good pancake. I just mean some weird, fucked up pancake that is like the cross between powdered sugar and my Trailer Trash Mom’s asshole. Some of the food I had was good, like the ham and cheese croissant I had for breakfast yesterday, and the turkey sandwich I had the first night into town. But for the most part, everything tasted like that shitty pancake.

There are some things that should not have shitty pancake flavor. The chicken and mashed potatoes I had for dinner at that supposedly good brewery/restaurant is one thing that should not have tasted like shitty pancake, yet did. The salad I had for lunch yesterday too … probably shouldn’t have tasted like pancake. And that was like a spicy pancake, which just boggles my mind to even think about right now. At the time I was eating it I thought it was good, but then two hours later – as the taste of spicy pancake lingered in my mouth – I realized that something was wrong with that shit.

Everyone here thinks they are actually living in Denmark

I’m all for upholding your family heritage and everything, but for Christ’s fucking sakes people!

* Wearing those ridiculous Danish Maid costumes when it’s 100 fucking degrees outside just makes me hot.

* Slapping a Norwegian flag on everything from t-shirts to iPad cases does not justify marking up the price 190%.

* Speaking in Danish when you say you grew up in fucking Orange County is not authentic. Ever skede lederhosen your ass back to Anaheim!

So yeah, I’m about over this place. I’m ready to go home and return to my carefully crafted life of laundry, dishes, cleaning house, homeschooling, and wiping asses (literally, figuratively … you decide). Before the return of the Pookies on Monday, I have a few more things to catch up on anyway. As I sit here, with pancake taste in my mouth, shitty wine burning my gut, and every drunken wanna-be Dane outside wading through piles of aluminum beer can trash, I realize that depressed or not, in a funk or otherwise, it’s about time I ever skede lederhosen my own ass back to Camarillo.

Vacation Report 6: Chicago Food versus California Cuisine

So I’m pretty sure I have mentioned this before, but prior to our vacation to my sweet, home Chicago, I essentially starved myself for the months preceding so that I could eat whatever I wanted without worrying about returning to California in a hefty bag (for lack of any fitting clothing). While here, though, I realized that I actually eat better and weigh less when eating in the Midwest for a few reasons, though: (1) I don’t eat many sweets; and (2) I don’t indulge in emotional eating to make myself feel better about how unhappy I am in California.

While on this trip, I’ve made it a point to ask more about what makes food in the Midwest so much better. And unlike in California – where asking a question of your waiter or cook is a recipe for looks of annoyance and a pithy response like “it’s in the sauce,” many of the people I’ve asked have indulged me in my inquiry.

Chicago Food: Delis

In Chicagoland area, you have a lot more locally owned restaurants or local franchises that you won’t find in other areas. Sure, there are a lot of your run-of-the-mill Subways and Taco Bells, but right next door you almost always have a local and just-as-cheap alternative.

One thing that is amazing about the Chicagoland area is the deli meat. In California, I often notice that the deli meat is sliced thick and often “smothered” in something to make it a thick, meaty experience. In Chicago, though, it’s usually sliced very thin, which bodes for a lighter and more satisfying experience. Jason’s Deli is by far my favorite local spot for a sandwich or wrap.

Chicago Food: Flavorful

Another thing I have realized about Chicago food, is it is often about the flavor. I would argue that a lot of the food we eat in California is flavorful, but often the emphasis is not placed on the synthesis of flavors or enhancing the natural flavor of the food, itself. In particular, meat is not usually enhanced quite in the way that it is done in the Midwest, and I am sure this is in large part due to the fact that so much of the meat you eat in the Midwest is local.

The pizza is more flavorful as well, which is what makes it so popular. In California we use dry milk and bitter sauce. In the Midwest, though, emphasis is placed on the flavor of the crust and the sauce to eliminate those dry and bitter elements.

Now I rarely eat red meat, but when I am visiting home I do indulge in a little. Particularly noteworthy was the meatball sandwich I had a few days after arriving – it was (by far) one of the greatest sandwiches I have ever eaten.

Chicago Food: Fluffy

As I mentioned above about the deli meat, Chicago food is often sliced thin and fluffy-like. It goes beyond just the deli meat, though. The pizza almost never has gobs of cheese on it, which I find is a big problem with food in California – too much cheese. And while I would never recommend actually eating the food at White Castle, the shakes are another great example of the fluffiness of the cuisine in the Midwest. Whereas at In N’ Out on the west coast we have very thick, heavy shakes, the milkshakes at White Castle are so fluffy you can taste the bits of whipped air.

Chicago Food: More Interactive

Something else we don’t realize on the west coast is that our food is not terribly interactive. Oftentimes, you have little input in what goes in your food. You can request something to be “minus this” or “add that,” but then you get a lot of attitude and it is usually done wrong anyway.

In Chicago, though, your food is more interactive. You get to know who is cooking it – whether it be a restaurant owner, a waiter, or a friend or family member. You have more input and more options as well. Just the other day, we went to an Asian fusion place in the city and were able to head to their stir fry bar to select every piece of our meal. There are not many places in California that such an option exists, except (of course) your own home.

As a result of this, I have come to one conclusion – something I knew all along, but that was reiterated on this great trip home:

Chicago Food: Amazing

California Cuisine: Crap

Need I say more?

Vacation Reports 2, 3, 4, 5: I Feel Nice Again

Apparently I am becoming nice again. In fact, as I write this there is a large group of about thirty people in the lobby of our hotel, all making noise and being the biggest pigs humanity has to offer – and I’m not even going to blog about them. Half of them are not fully clothed, with large guts hanging out the bottom of their shirts. They’re eating loads for fried chicken and all of their kids are screaming. A separate group brought down buckets of beer and have begun what appears to be a drunken Magic the Gathering. And some lady just came down having gotten locked out of her room with nothing but a towel to cover her. Well maybe I am blogging about these slovenly members of society by virtue of mentioning them, but the point is it isn’t even annoying me as much as it normally would. I feel nice again.

But I digress.

So I’m a little behind on my vacation reports, mostly because I’ve been so freaking busy that I barely have had enough time to sleep. We still have roughly seven days left of our trip and while it is winding down, there is still a lot coming up. So excuse my lateness of posting, but here are vacation reports 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Vacation Report 2: Heather has changed a lot in the 10 years away

All of you faithful blog followers may not believe it, but I wasn’t always the snarky, misanthropic bitch I am now. I mean, I’ve always been blunt and no-nonsense, but I also didn’t have such a virulent hatred of humanity. I wasn’t such a diva either, which I clearly am now after living in California for over a decade.

On the first night I got into town, my closest friends gathered at the local bowling alley for bowling and drinks, and immediately it was reported how much of a California girl I have become. I talk like a Californian, I have mannerisms like a Californian, and as my cousin Clayton informed me today, I’ve become a little posh.

I don’t like this.

After a few days of being back in my city, I felt like myself a little more. I could hear more of my accent returning, I felt calmer and less high-strung (like I do in California), and more than anything, I felt comfortable being myself. In California, we are very concerned about what everyone around us thinks. We gossip. We  judge. And we are fake. In the Midwest, I am sure there is still a lot of that, but people seem to care a lot less about what others think.

What hasn’t changed much, though, was the house I grew up in. It looks the same, which I documented with about a hundred photographs from different angles.

Vacation Report 3: My family reads my blog

So I just assumed that no one read my blog. Seriously, I know that I have a pretty good following of faithful blog followers – many of whom I have never met; but I never actually thought my family read it.

The first weekend we were in town, though, at least four of my family members said the words “… yeah, I read about that on your blog.” Then today, my cousin Scott told me that every time he read my blog I seemed pretty “liberal.” Whether or not I am liberal put to the side (to be honest, I don’t know if I am or not), I now feel this new pressure put on me when I blog. I even, for a moment, entertained the thought of cleaning up my content. Of course, that would mean no more donkey dicks, f-bombs, use of the term cunt, or talk of hooking and blow jobs. Clearly this is not an option, but you get the point – from now on the thoughts “what will my family think?” will be stuck in the back of my mind as I write.

But then I hearken back to Vacation Report 2 about being myself, and I realize that if they are reading my blog and able to tolerate such ridiculous, foul-mouthed verbal debauchery as has been my writing up to this point, then I say fair game.

The real Vacation Report 3 is that I love my family so much, which this trip has reiterated for me ten-fold. I don’t know how I will go back to daily life without them after these last few weeks.

Vacation Report 4: the Korean Hooker situation is a California thing

Holy mother of God, I went to a nail salon in the suburbs of Chicago with one of my long time friends last week after a great lunch and did I ever realize just how much the Korean Hooker situation is an isolated incident. I know, I know – it probably goes on in other nail salons around the country, but my nail salon in California is a total crack house compared to the place we went to this past week.

The real dilemma I have now, as well, is that I have a new standard by which I judge my nail salon experience. The place we went to had amazing chairs, more foot treatments for the same price, and they even gave me a bottle of water. Not only is my nail salon with all the slut-bag behavior and questionable customers a crack house, but the experience (by comparison) seems trashier than the lady that deep-throated the banana that one time after doing my nails.

 Vacation Report 5: I don’t want to go home

I know, I know – the grass is always greener on the other side, right? I’m not an idiot, though. I lived in Chicago for 18 years: I know that it’s fucking freezing in the winter, much harder to find work, and tornado alley in the summer. I know that what I’m seeing of friends and family now are the happy times, not the “everyone is mad at each other” times.

But there is something to be said for the fact that I know just how miserable I am in California, more so now that I am out of the situation than ever before. I always said I would not stay there longer than five years. Five turned into ten, though, and now I am about to turn 30 and wondering just why in God’s name I’m still on the west coast. Maybe it’s because there is nothing for me in California – after graduate school, I seem to have lost all semblance of order or purpose. Or maybe it’s because my family is all in the Midwest. After my mom left us when I was only 8, my family (aunts, uncles, cousins) became the most important thing in my life. Possibly it’s because my friends are more down to earth and available in Chicago – we have shared experiences and a history.

Or really it’s probably just that I’m a Midwestern girl. I was born and raised here. Since we got here over a week ago, I have been happier than in the entire time I have been in California. Whether that be just because vacation is fun, or something else, I am sure I will never know.

Planes, Trains, and B(itch)Mobiles

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles was such a great movie. Goddamn it was. It might be my secret love of Steve Martin – ever since Saturday Night Live and LA Story, I have always had an affinity for him. More likely, it’s the fact that seeing that movie over and over again has made me realize that no matter how awful my travel experiences have been, they could always be worse.

Today we had a major pre-vacation debacle, so I’m settling in for the night to watch the film yet another time in hopes it will make me feel better. For those that didn’t read my post a few days ago about our trip to FedEx, we had to ship the majority of our clothing because the train portion of our trip has no checked bag service. Since we’ll be gone for three weeks, this obviously made shipping our clothing a necessity. Well today, we received a call from FedEx informing us that the one box with all of my clothes was damaged and won’t be returned until well after our trip is over. Add in the fact that I just gave a huge portion of my clothing away to the rescue mission and it’s looking like I’ll be wearing potato sacks and hotel bathrobes for the majority of the trip.

So what else am I doing to make myself feel a little better this evening you ask? I’m scheduling our transportation to downtown Los Angeles where we will embark on this epic adventure of complexity,  cross-country sightseeing, and our own series of planes, trains, and automobiles. This brings up another set of my idiosyncratic biases, though, for I find something wrong with shuttle-type transportation in almost every way possible.

Heather’s Bias #1: Roadrunner-style shuttles are driven by people with issues

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but when I was in college I worked at a pharmacy as a Pharmacy Technician to pay the tuition bills and keep me on some form of health insurance. While there, I can remember helping a great number of people that drove Roadrunner and Roadrunner-type airport transportation shuttles. They all had issues. I don’t mean that they were all getting psych meds or anything (well, some were), but they all just were weird. One woman told me all about her boyfriend problems every single time she came in. On one occasion she asked if we could get coffee after my shift and talk more. Another time there was a couple that both drove those shuttles and there was some problem with their insurance that I handled, so they brought me a “Thank You” card. But after they signed it, they asked if I could ring it up for them on the cash register because they had found it in the store and hadn’t bought it yet. Then, after buying it, they asked if they could have it back with some White Out because they wanted to reuse it.

And I won’t even get into the last airport shuttle I actually rode in, where the driver had a sign displayed by his dashboard that read “accident-free for 8 days.” Just what happened 9 days ago? There will be no vanpool-style airport shuttles in this lady’s future.

Heather’s Bias #2: Taxis are loaded with STDs

Have any of you faithful blog followers ever watched Taxicab Confessions? Holy mother of God that show is awful. I remember one episode, actually many episodes, where people did it right in the back seat. That’s right, they had sexy times right there – with the camera on them and everything! And then at the end, the cab driver always asked if it’d be cool that they sign a form to be on the show and the people could never wait to sign the shit! Who knows what people with such low levels of inhibition have got going on down there!

This is why I don’t drink too much (when I’m out of the house, that is). Having to call a cab makes me feel like spraying Lysol all over my ass and praying to God I don’t catch a venereal disease just from sitting on the seats.

Heather’s Bias #3: People that ask for rides to the airport annoy me

Why would I want to be annoying in return? I used to not mind when people asked me for a ride to or from the airport. We used to live about three miles away from LAX and it was very convenient – until someone asked me to drive 45 miles to pick him up to drive him to that airport that was just three miles away from my apartment. Yeah sure, I have a never-ending gas budget to waste on driving you around. Shall I wear my chauffeur hat as well?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind doing favors for my friends. But as with all things, there is a line where things go too far. I know that if I asked someone for a ride I would have to ask someone to go out of their way for me in such a way that some (often me) might consider annoying. I don’t want to be that person.

So what’s left? Airport-type parking for three weeks would be absurd in cost. After hemming and hawing for some time, now, I have come to the one conclusion that seems both affordable and the logical consequence to my terribly narrow-minded biases: a B(itch)mobile. That’s right, we’re taking a limousine. The most high maintenance, pretentious thing a person could ride in on their way to a lavish three week vacation. But a three week vacation can be considered by some to be a pretty pretentious thing too.

And let’s be realistic here: I’m the most high maintenance thing next to that expensive Jaguar parked down the street. I’m a diva too. A misanthropic diva with a foul mouth. It almost seems wrong not to ride in a limo. So it’ll be all champagne and rims in the back of a stretch b(itch)mobile for the automobile portion of our trip. Just a few days to go and I can already taste the champagne bubbling in the back of my high maintenance throat.

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.

Arch Nemesis #57: the Pacific Ocean

That’s right, here I go again being nutty Heather – adding things to the Arch Nemesis List that make absolutely no sense at all.  Ultimately, I’m almost certain that my hatred of the Pacific Ocean is nothing more than my ridiculous fear of it.  The ocean is a beast.  A beast filled with things that continue to baffle scientists.  A beast that is unpredictable and somewhat temperamental.  A beast that I love to look at, love to sit near, love to talk about; yet, hate to go in.  I can’t really put my finger on it beyond my fear of it, though.  And there are a lot of things I’m afraid of that are not on my arch nemesis list; some of which I enjoy regularly in spite of that fear (examples:  sushi, sky-scrapers).  I can think of a few possible alternatives, all of which plausible for the true alternative reason for the Pacific Ocean and me being at such odds.

I also still don’t get the I’m on a Boat joke… I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

Now, I say the Pacific Ocean because to be completely honest, I’ve never been within arm’s reach of the Atlantic.  You faithful blog followers know I don’t get out much, and while I have traveled it has been relatively confined to the spaces between Illinois and California.  So hey there Atlantic Ocean, there is hope for you yet to stay off my Arch Nemesis List.  In the mean time, watch out Pacific Ocean – I’ve got my eye on you.

If you are in the majority, and thus like the ocean and the surf and all things Pacific, though, it’s time for you faithful blog followers to pony up and show how faithful you are.  Head over to this guy’s site (click HERE) and rate his video 10 STARS.  Cory Arrambide is a local, professional surfer with much distinction in the surfing community.  Vote for his movie today and help a local all-star on his courageous adventure!