Shine Bright Like a Diamond

Yesterday I was on the train for the first time in a while. Since I recently moved, this is a rare occasion since I no longer have to take it to/from work, Target, the grocery store, etc. since I live in the heart of Boystown and can walk everywhere that my little heart desires. My BFF and I were on our way back from dropping the keys off to my old apartment and housing burgers, onion rings, and a pitcher of 312. As we passed a cemetery (or graveyard as she likes to morbidly refer to it), we started discussing funeral plans.

Me: “I’m going to get you one of those little house things.”
Her: “Eh, those are too big.”
Me: “Fine. I’ll cremate you and have you turned into a diamond.”
Her: “If that’s what it takes to get a ring on your finger, okay!”

On that note, we decided we should probably schedule an appointment to meet with a funeral services coordinator. Why? Because that’s the type of friends we are. Continue reading

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Losing Blood, People, Wallets, and Skin: The Adventure Continues

I’d left off before as we were about to enter a guacamole-induced coma while waiting for the rest of the group to get to the house. Need a recap? Check out The Real World: Puerto Vallarta. Needless to say, the other six arrived and were just as impressed with our new crib as we were. After a quick switch of bedrooms, we were all settled in and ready to hit up the convenience store and stock up on the essentials: bread, coffee, and booze.

There was only one thing standing between us and the store: a hill followed by a rope bridge guarded by an alligator.

Pretty ominous, right? But come, on…it’s just a hill. It’s nothing our parents hadn’t probably walked uphill both ways in the snow to get to school when they were our age, right?

Wrong.

This hill would prove to be either the devil or the world’s best lower body workout. Perhaps both. This hill would go on to claim more breath, skin, and bitching than anything else any of us had probably ever – and will probably ever will – experienced in our young adult lives. I equate conquering this hill to giving birth.  Continue reading

The Real World: Puerto Vallarta

Once again, I’ve been pretty much MIA. Go figure, right? It’s for good reason though because I was on vacation, and for the two weeks since I’ve been back I’ve been attempting to play catch-up at the office. You never realize just how many emails you get each day until you take six days plus a weekend off with no access to company email/voicemail. But yes, I know you find it hard to believe, but even I need a well-deserved break sometimes. So on that note, I’m going to also take a break from writing about things that annoy me and weave you the tale (or more appropriately a poncho) of my recent friendcation to Mexico. I’m sure those of you who know me in person are like “Oh god, we have to hear about Mexico AGAIN?! Can’t you just shut up and move there already?” but I don’t care. This isn’t about you. Deal with it.

So here we are last summer when a friend asked me what I was doing in February. Funny, right? Half the time I don’t even know what I’m doing for dinner. So naturally, the minute he said “We’re looking at getting a group of friends together and booking a house in Puerto Vallarta for a week, you in?” Of course I was all in. I mean, you’d have to be crazy to say no to a week away from the frigid tundra otherwise known as Chicago in the winter.

Fast forward six months and the daily photo countdown kicks off on Facebook.

28 days…

23 days…

12 days. ..

10000…and and all the way on down until one day left. I’m sure every single one of our friends (of all eight of us going) were sufficiently annoyed by this point and probably relieved that we’d be finally ending the daily countdown of photos showcasing the sand, palm trees, ocean, and all the other things that go along with a vacation on the beach that we’d be experiencing and they wouldn’t. Did we care though? Not in the least. So long, suckers. My passport was ready in a feisty yellow leather case (with orange leather lining). My rainbow Lacoste beach towel was packed inside my brand new (white) suitcase that was filled to the brim with tank tops, flip flops, shorts, and the obligatory blow dryer just in case there wasn’t one where we were staying. My weave was freshly cut, and my brows and back waxed (just to be proactive/paranoid). The day had come, and it was time for this homo to blow this popsicle stand and make a beeline to paradise for a week. Hasta la vista. Continue reading

Planes, Trains, and Buses…They All Suck

I don’t know what it is about airports. It seems like they should all operate the same, but they never do.

I like to think of myself as a somewhat seasoned traveler. Am I one of those new-fangled “Trusted Traveler” things? Nope. Do I fly first class or frequently get bumped to an upgraded seat? Nope. Do I fly pretty often though and know my way around the airport bars? Why yes, yes I do.

When I moved to Nebraska, a bunch of people I met found it crazy that I’d traveled so much growing up and had been to a lot of places. Sorry that you don’t get out much, but traveling is something I grew up with and have come to appreciate. Between working jobs that require (and pay for – cha-ching!) traveling as well as having good friends who are scattered around the country like darts I attempt to throw at a dartboard, I take every opportunity to get out and see as many places as I can as often as possible.

This weekend was no different…until I got to O’Hare. Continue reading

Rough Rides All Around

Really buddy? What idiot picks a Thursday during afternoon rush hour to casually take a stroll on the CTA tracks? Apparently a wannabe suicidal one who thinks it would be fun to bring the Red Line to a grinding halt on a Thursday afternoon, that’s who.

After a stressful day of meetings, conference calls, and 482058 emails from crazy people who I’d love nothing more than to punch in the throat some days, I was excited to get the hell outta dodge and get my weave tended to by a new stylist at a new salon. I’d scheduled my appointment earlier in the week after telling the receptionist I wanted a male stylist who was talkative, fun, and most importantly good at what he does. If I’m sitting in a chair with you for 45 minutes and shelling out a dollar per minute, I expect to be entertained. Drinks are an added bonus.

So here I am, running to the train. Almost falling in my treadless shoes. Real practical for January, but they’re super cute double monkstrap wingtips…they look good. That’s the most important part. Hop the train, start going, and….”Your attention please. We are standing momentarily waiting for signal clearance. We expect to be moving shortly.” Continue reading

Lessons in Being (im)Polite: The CTA Edition

Since I’m sure you have a deep-seated passion to become as impolite and rude as a lot of people on the CTA who drive me (and most likely secretly you too) up a wall on a daily basis, I’ve put together some tips on how to achieve such role-model-public-transit-relient-citizen status. Follow these quick and simple tips and you’ll be on your way to contributing to the annoyed state of the Often-Annoyed Designer.

To make it simple, I’ve listed out the following annoyances as they typically occur on my commute. From stepping foot into a CTA station to finally escaping the veritable hell that can be my morning/afternoon commute to any given ride to Target, Michigan Avenue, or any destination really…behavior like this consistently drives me nuts.

  • Form a bottleneck at the turnstiles. If a train has just arrived and a ton of people are coming through, by all means, feel free to form a football line or play Red Rover and not let anyone through. Clearly you’re the most important person in the station and everyone should step aside to let you through. If they refuse to let you play Moses, grunt like a caveman in disgust. See how many people care.
  • Crowd the doors to the train as they open. Everyone knows this is how you’ll get on quicker. Don’t worry about the people trying to get off either. They can shove past you just as you’re trying to do to them. Continue reading

An Open Letter to the CTA

Dearest Chicago Transit Authority,

I have never been more annoyed in my life than I am right now with you. And that’s saying a lot being as I’m the Often Annoyed Designer. Here. Let me explain.

This new Ventra system? Yeah…about that. If you’re going to transition someone over to it from the existing Chicago Card that they currently use, you should probably wait to deactivate their card until you send them their new card. But wait, that would make too much sense, now wouldn’t it?

Here. I’ll give the backstory, although I’m sure you’re aware from my tweets, emails, phone calls, and three separate trips to your customer service offices today. Yes, I had to come in three times…and you still haven’t been able to help me. Hence my open letter to you. Continue reading

Obesity is Not an Excuse for Being Rude

Don’t get me wrong. I’m fully aware that sometimes medical conditions lead to obesity, and I’m not about to knock that. What I am about to knock, however, is the fact that being obese – for any reason – is never an excuse for being rude.

Perhaps I wouldn’t be as annoyed right now if I’d been warned that my morning commute would be be more like the Stanley Cup final than your run of the mill commute. Had I known I’d be checked and practically body-slammed into a wall this morning I’d at least have been able to mentally prepare or take a different route to the office.

Here I am, on my way to the office when here comes the Michelin Man in all his sweaty, obese glory huffing and puffing his way through the Clinton green/pink line station. Closing in on the home stretch of my half-block walk from the train to the safety of my office, I could nearly see the finish line when the Michelin Man, barreling through the turnstiles, proceeds to slam into me and push me aside in his quest to get to the train that had already left minutes before. Continue reading

The CTA: Home to Some of the Best People Watching in America

Growing up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania then spending two years in the football-obsessed capital city of Nebraska, you quickly become dependent on having a vehicle. For most people, driving to and from work and everywhere in between is something you get used to and take for granted. For 25 years, I never could have imagined a day and time when I’d gladly ditch my car in exchange for public transportation.

Living in Chicago, you quickly realize that cars are a waste of time, money, gas, effort, stress, high-blood pressure…you name it. It’s not worth having one in this city. When my family visited recently, I gladly sent my car home with them, essentially swapping out the headache of having to move my car twice a month for street cleaning (welcome to driving in circles for 30+ minutes each time hunting for a free parking space that you’ll actually fit in without having a dented/scratched bumper) for lower insurance rates thanks to a population a fraction of the size of Chicago while I finish out my lease that’s thankfully up in May.

Not having a car is, by far, one of the most liberating feelings ever. I now understand how feminists felt when they burned their bras during the Women’s Rights Movement (or whenever they burned them – perhaps while camping for fire-starters last weekend? – I don’t know how you ladies operate these days). Without a car here, public transportation becomes your best friend and worst nightmare, all at the same time.  Continue reading