Dear Chicago

“Broken skyline, moving through the airport. She’s an honest defector. Conscientious objector. Now her own protector.” ~Tom Petty, Time to Move On

Several months ago I made the decision to move to a new city. This was not a decision I made lightly. Tears were shed, beers were drank, conversations were had, lists were made… Chicago has been my home for 13 years. 13! This is like moving your kid away from all of their friends right before high school. I grew up here…in a sense. I “grew up” in St. Louis, but I became a full-blown adult here. I’ve had the highest of highs and the lowest lows I ever thought possible.

I successfully avoided jail. (That one is surprising given my first year living here.)

I’m leaving 13 years to the day I moved here. I don’t know if there is some hidden meaning in that or not. I don’t think numbers are lucky or unlucky. Just numbers. It’s the same day thing that is tripping me up. But I digress, the next several weeks are going to be physically and emotionally draining. I want to take in all I can before I go – friends, food, favorite places and spaces. I hope I can make it happen!

Snapped after an 11 mile run on the lake.
Snapped after an 11 mile run on the lake.

Chicago, man. We’ve had an interesting relationship. I love her. I hate her. I respect her. She made me strong. She scared me. She showed me what I’m made of. She beat me down. She was the source of great pain for so long. She gave me the best moments of my life. She breathed new life into me then turned around and sucked nearly all of it out. Right before I fell through the floor, she showed me she still had a good side. She almost made me second guess this decision, but we both know it’s time for me to leave while we’re back on good terms. No hard feelings.

The wave of emotions while putting my stuff in boxes can be overwhelming at times. Nearly every item was bought, received or collected here. I don’t have much here from my life in St. Louis except some pictures, old band t-shirts I don’t have it in me to throw out and some music. I know where every item came from, and I think of the story when I’m wrapping it in bubble wrap. Most memories are boring like…I think I got this at Target….this is from Target….this is also from Target. Holy shit, I spend a lot of time and money at flippin’ Target! Others have better(ish) memories attached. The tiny tea set my mom bought because it reminded her of me. The mason jars I bought for a friends’ baby shower that became my water glasses after my divorce because they were all I had to use. The extra set of dishes I bought on a whim to host my first Thanksgiving that are now my full-time dishes because I didn’t want to have to eat off the ones I got for my wedding. The cookbooks I used to bake my friends’ birthday cakes and potluck dishes. The boots I bought to keep my feet dry at Riot Fest after ruining my shoes the year before. The small, white entertainment center I bought for my bedroom when I owned my home that became the focal point of the living room in my apartment. The artwork I bought years ago but was never able to hang up until I had my own space. Most memories are ones only I know. But they’re mine and from a life I worked my ass off to build.

Chicago at night.
Captured during a date in downtown Chicago.

When I think of the current state of my life, I tend to feel like I haven’t accomplished much. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. I met my best friends. I fell in love. I fell out of love and recovered. I learned how to be selfless. I got my first “real” post-college job. I successfully avoided jail. (That one is surprising given my first year living here.) I learned how to love a being more than myself. (I’m referring to my dog, you guys.) I bought my first home. I sold my first home. I was my own divorce attorney. I have fallen down the stairs at every apartment I’ve lived in. Totally unrelated, I learned vodka is not my friend. I learned how to drywall but still suck at painting walls. I made out with the wrong people…and some good ones, too. I ran a half-marathon and countless other races. I was inducted into both my high school and college sports Hall of Fames. I’ve seen the sunrise and set over the lake. I learned how to respond to a creep feeling up my leg on a train. I expanded my food palette. I taught two kids how to read. I jumped out of a plane to get over my fear of heights. I rescued three animals. I saw some of the best live music I’ll ever see in my life. I made the most of my life here. I survived here.

I rode this bike trail often. A LOT of decisions were made on this trail...
I rode this bike trail often. Major life decisions were made on this trail…

I feel like I could write a love letter to the city of Chicago. I could tell her how beautiful she is, I’m sorry for the bad times but will always remember the good, how she’ll always be a part of me, how I’ll make time to come see her and I’ll never forget her. But…she knows.

When You Sweat the Small Stuff

“But maybe I’ll be the one to roll you over. I’ll call when I wanna, call you honey magnolia. And I’ll be the one to let you know when the sweet taste is gone. And it’s over, honey magnolia.” ~Brian Fallon, Honey Magnolia.

We’ve all been told not to do this. “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” “Only worry about those who matter.” Yet I’ve never been told how to not sweat the small stuff when it comes to human interaction. Material things? I don’t care. They mean nothing to me, but people do.

Maybe how to not sweat the small stuff is obvious to most, but it’s not to me. Maybe it’s something that takes practice. I don’t even know how or what to practice. I sweat all the stuff. Big and small. I put energy and effort into people that don’t do the same for me. This is what it does to me:

  • It makes me feel terrible.
  • I lose sleep.
  • I sometimes just sit, worry and think of bullshit scenarios.
  • I waste my own time.
  • I temporarily lose focus on the things and people that DO matter. People that are present, in front of my face or calling/texting me because they care.
  • I waste their time because I’m talking about the things that bothered me and people that don’t care about me when we should be spending time talking about cool shit that matters.

This is dumb, but I don’t know how to stop. I have come to the conclusion giving advice about not sweating the small stuff is much, much easier said than done. So why do I do it? I have thought about this over and over again. I concluded that it’s for two reasons. The first being it bugs the absolute shit out of me when people are rude because they think you’ll just put up with it. I will fuss over someone’s lack of consideration for my time and feelings and how to react for way longer than I should. The second is because I worry about hurting the feelings of people who don’t think twice about hurting mine. No one likes getting their feelings hurt. I don’t like to be the cause of that for anyone, so I fuss over how to say things the right way, doing the “right” thing…for everyone, even when they are being unfair. I think it’s time I look I the mirror and have a long heart-to-heart with me.

I’ve gained a lot of internal strength in the last two years. My new priority is changing my view from thinking standing up for myself and not putting up with people’s shit is somehow hurtful to them. That standing up for myself equates not being nice. The “right” thing is taking care of me. This might be my toughest challenge yet…

Sometimes I Make Awkward Situations Worse

“I don’t know what to do with my hands….I kinda want it to stay this way. No wrong moves, no mistakes. Nothing lost, nothing broken. Like a boat on a windless ocean. I don’t know what to do.” ~Minor Alps, I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands.

When I came out of my divorce haze and decided to embrace this new single life, I decided my underwear situation needed a refresh. As us ladies do. New me, new undies. That coupled with the fact that I had dropped some weight from running, I needed new bras. I decided to do the adult woman thing and go for a bra fitting. You know…make a thing of it!

It dawned on me on the way to the store that this was going to be the first person to see my boobs post-divorce. After doing the boob math and realizing how sad that was…I got a little anxious. I went from “Oh boy! New bras!” to “Oh shit… I’m going to make this weird. Don’t be weird…don’t be weird. You got this.” I made it weird.

I walked into the store all cool and shit, but I was not all cool and shit on the inside. This nice young lady offered to help me. I said ok while thinking how sorry I was for her. When the question came, “Do you know what size you are?” I responded, “Um…I think I’m a…yeah I don’t really know anymore.” She was so upbeat about helping me. When we entered the dressing room, she measured me with my bra on. I thought, “Ok. Cool. No biggie! Wait…I’m a what?” Even with my weight loss, I still have large boobs apparently. (This explains why I can’t buy cheap shit at Target. They don’t carry my size.)

The rest of the conversation was just nervous laughter. I bought several things, including items I didn’t need, to make up for it.

I thought the hard part was over until she came in with a fistful of bras. “Take your bra off and turn around.” Umm…what? “Oh. Ok? Like this?” Like this? Really? There is one way to turn around, and we all learned how to do it when we were five. Then she helped me put it on. Every. Step. I didn’t know this was so complicated. When I turned around her hands were all up in, on and around my boobs adjusting the fit. I just stood there with my hands up trying to not make eye contact. She giggled and said, “Sorry. I’m not trying to cop a feel. Just getting the fit right.” What eloquent response did I have? Oh. This… “It’s cool. This is the most action I’ve had in months.” (I know. I closed my eyes and lowered my head.) Her response was just nervous laughter. She didn’t help me with the rest of my bras. She just checked in on me, verbally instructed me on how to cram my boobs in a cup (which…for the love I freaking know how to do by now) and adjusted the straps as needed.

You’d think after that first experience, I’d totally be cool with whipping my boobs out in front of another lady. Or, as I was corrected, Curvologist. I recently went for some freshies, and I couldn’t help myself from being awkward. These women see boobs all day. Why do I care?  I feel it coming. I can’t stop my actions or my mouth. So obviously, when she said take your bra off and turn around…I did as I was told. Except when I turned around I put my hands on the wall like I was being arrested. She said, “Um. No. You just need to stand straight up.” I naturally I responded, “Ha! Just kidding. Old habits.” I followed it up with an awkward laugh and pretended like I did it on purpose as a joke. She was so confused and so was I. I’ve NEVER been arrested. (knock on wood) I am pretty sure I’ve never even had my person searched. My car? Yes. Me? No. I don’t recall, anyway. The rest of the conversation was just nervous laughter. I bought several things, including items I didn’t need, to make up for it. I over-corrected, but it’s cool. She kindly pretended she thought my “joke” was funny.

All I can say for myself now is…brace yourself future boob lady. I’m coming for you, and I’m super sorry.

Lyrics or Music Person?

I have a different format this go-around. I am going to go ahead and quote each artist I am discussing below. Here goes…

I get asked this question a lot – Are you a lyrics or a music person? If you have clicked on this site before (thank you so much!), you probably could guess I am lyrics person. Lyrics can save a shitty song (musically) for me. It’s just how I feel. I don’t like debating this question, but I’ll answer honestly if you ask. I don’t think one matters more than the other in the grand scheme of things. Whatever drives you to turn the music on…who fucking cares? You turned it on. Now turn it up. That’s what matters.

This question got me thinking about my favorite songwriters. I guess I should really say lyricists. I could get super granular here and break down favorite vocalist, favorite bands, favorite performers…all of these lists would vary in one (or more) way than the other. This “top” list is solely focused on who writes my favorite lyrics and why. If you don’t know any of these artists, do the Google thing.

“…now all these tastes improve through the view that comes with you. Like they handed me my life for the first time it felt worth it. Like I deserved it.” ~Jets to Brazil, Sweet Avenue

Blake Schwarzenbach: For the love of everything, he is my favorite. Why? I almost can’t explain it, but I’ll try so perhaps you’ll go buy a Jawbreaker or Jets to Brazil record. He has a way of describing and writing about love gained, loved lost, awkward crushes (awkward feelings of any sort, really), frustration, happiness…everything you’re going to experience in life, in a way where you feel comforted and ok. His phrasing and form is both delicate and strong. When I compare his songs on paper to other lyricists I think…no one compares. His words crush me. I found his songs at the age of 17, and I have been a fan ever since. I chose his song Sweet Avenue to walk down the aisle to when I got married. Even my divorce can’t change the way I feel about that song. That says everything, right? If I had to give you a handful of “Blake” songs to check out what I’m putting down here, I’d say the following: Sweet Avenue (Jets to Brazil), Accident Prone (Jawbreaker), Chemistry (Jawbreaker), Jet Black (Jawbreaker), In the Summer’s When You Really Know (Jets to Brazil), Empty Picture Frame (Jets to Brazil).

Total side bar – I saw his band forgetters (that was not capitalized on purpose as Blake explained before the show there is no “the” and it’s not a capital “f’) play in 2010. I wasn’t lucky enough to see Jawbreaker or Jets to Brazil when they toured, so this was my only shot to see him perform live. I remember having to pee so bad but wouldn’t give up my prime spot at Subterranean to watch him sing. He’s a total weirdo, but the kind of weird I appreciate.

“You never dreamed you go down on one knee. but now. Who could’ve seen, you’d be so hard to please somehow. You feel like a poor boy, a long way from home. You’re just a poor boy, a long way from home.” ~Tom Petty, Wake Up Time

Tom Petty. He’s my favorite All-American rock lyricists. His songs are written in a way where you think…yes! I was just thinking that! He writes how we emote. He’s direct, he’s playful, he’s a little weird…he’s a badass. My parents had Dylan, I have Petty. Ok…they had him for a little bit before me, but I’m claiming him as mine. If you ask me to describe Americana, he’d be at the top of the list. American Girl? Listen to Her Heart? You Wreck Me? Runnin’ Down a Dream? Wildflowers? Time to Move On? Alright for Now? I mean…I don’t know what life is like without these songs. I don’t even know what a road trip is without his songs. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, chasing dreams, travel, moving on…he does it for me. All the feels, as the kids say these days. By the way, all of those questions were songs I would suggest. I could do a second list, but I feel like I’ve made my point. I love you Tom Petty songs.

“And oh my love remind me, what was it that I said? I can’t help but pull the earth around me, to make my bed.” ~Florence and the Machines, Ship to Wreck

Florence Welch. As a woman, this is my girl. In terms of looking at life and love from my own gender’s perspective, we speak the same language. She explains and questions in similar ways thoughts and words run through my own head. Except when they come out of her, they’re fluid and beautiful and make sense. I’m addicted to her songs and voice. Here are some songs that I can’t seem to stop putting on playlists: What Kind of Man, Delilah, Ship to Wreck, Shake It Out, Dog Days Are Over (this is the one that vocally sucked me in). Listen to her, dammit!

“I never wondered. I never bothered. I never cared what I wanted to be about. I have more truth than lies to me.” ~Hot Water Music, 220 Years

Chuck Ragan + Chris Wollard. While separate humans with their own solo projects and bands, I am grouping them together because they are the writers for my favorite band Hot Water Music. They’re my punk peas and carrots. Their songs go together, and they make me feel full inside. Too much? I know. Gross. But seriously you guys…this is a time when it’s hard for me not to fuss over music and performance to solely focus on the fact that this is a lyrics list. While Blake fueled my sentimental side, Chris and Chuck fueled everything else with their words of being an independent thinker, staying true to yourself, being honest about struggles, and despite whatever life throws at you…be a good person. Don’t give up. While I don’t know what life is like without Tom Petty…I don’t know who I would have become without Chris and Chuck. Here are some songs to look up and see what I mean: It’s Hard to Know, 220 Years, Drag My Body, Manual, Remedy. It’s really hard to not just list their entire catalog.

“I feel far away from you. So what else is new? The moon is closer to the sun than I am to anyone.” ~Nada Surf, 80 Windows

Matthew Caws. Mr. Caws sings, plays guitar and writes songs for Nada Surf. I think I’ve quoted Nada Surf songs a few times in my stories. He just freakin’ nails it every time for me. Sadness, loneliness, love, insecurity…all of it. The lyrics are poems. They’re love letters. They’re notes to the future. When you couple the lyrics and meaning with his angel voice…you get sweet indie rock bliss. Here are some songs to rope you into my decade-long love affair with Nada Surf songs: Blizzard of ’77, 80 Windows, Killian’s Red, Treading Water, Always Love, In the Mirror.

“My finger waves be dazed, they fall like Humpty. Chumpy, I break up with him before he dump me. To have me yes you lucky.” ~Missy Elliott, The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)

Missy Elliott. Does this require an explanation, really? I love hip hop. It’s one of the genres of music that, when I put it on, I feel free. For me growing up, there wasn’t a lot to be desired by the male hip hop perspective of women, and, on the flip side, even less to be desired by women’s responses to their sexist lyrics and portrayal of themselves. Until Missy. I like people who tell it like it is, and she does that…but in rhymes I still can’t get over. She commanded respect for herself and all women, she talked about womanhood very matter of fact while at the same time embraced love. She was aggressive but loving. She was materialistic but grounded. I love her. Here are my top picks: The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly), Work It, Gossip Folks, Sock It 2 Me, Get Ur Freak On. Good luck not dancing…

Long, long story longer, these are the short list of artists who have touched me the most, lyrically. There are so many more I could list! You should really check these guys out if you’re not already familiar. Even if you don’t like the music, read the words. Something will stick with you.

My First Apartment

“Do you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire?” ~Against Me!, I Was a Teenage Anarchist

I graduated college when I was 22. When I graduated, I knew I wanted a change of scenery. I lived in St. Louis my entire life and was ready to find out what it was like to live somewhere else. After I graduated, I took a crappy office job to pay the bills. I needed money and a job I could easily leave once I found my ticket out of town. I graduated in May, and my ticket arrived that August. I received a call from one of my best buds living in Chicago. It was a simple question and an easy answer. “Hey. One of my roommates is moving out at the end of September. Do you still want to move up here?” The answer was yes. An immediate yes. I was going to be living in a three bedroom apartment with two male roommates – both already good friends of mine.

The following October 1st, I printed some resumes, packed whatever I could fit in my car and drove 300 miles to Chicago alone. I had $600. I can’t fully explain the wave of emotions and empowerment I felt leaving a stable life behind to see what else was out there. It was absolutely liberating.

When I pulled up to my apartment, my bud was there waiting. I immediately knew I made the right decision. We unloaded my car and had some beers…pretty much setting the tone for the next year of what life would be like in my new home. That year was fueled with booze, jokes, laughing, late night food, wheel barrel bonfires and rooftop fireworks. I think when you’re 22, this is the best time to do all of these things. It turns out you can get away with a lot of bad behavior when your neighbor is a drug dealer who doesn’t give a shit, and your landlord doesn’t renew the lease of the people in the apartments above you. Here are some things you would have witnessed on any given weekend in my first apartment:

  • You would have seen my friends chop up old furniture found in the storage units left by old tenants with a samurai sword in the middle of the living room. Not on the floor. No, no. That’s boring. Someone would have been holding up a chair in the air while another person swung the sword. I have no idea how we have all of our limbs.
  • You would have seen my friends and I take that chopped up furniture, put it in a wheel barrel we found from somewhere and set it all on fire. You might have also seen my bud push it around the yard while the flames were in full force.
  • It’s possible you would have walked in the backyard and witnessed two dudes naked in a kiddie pool attempting to start a whirl pool…at 8am after drinking champagne all night.
  • At the time, I was the only one in the house with a 9-5 job. So you would have seen my bud come home hammered from his bar job, kick open my bedroom door and yell, “Wake up, bitch! Lets do some shots!” This was usually around 3am. I woke up for work at 6am. A handful of times, you would have seen me actually get up and do shots with him. Ok, more than a handful.
  • After a minor bike accident (where my bud was trying to race me home on his bike. I was in a cab….), you would have seen our drunk selves laughing while trying to turn paper towels and duct tape into Band-Aids.
  • When we had nothing better to do, we would sneak to the rooftop of our building, which we were specifically told was off limits, and shoot off bottle rockets into the condos being built across the street.
  • While I was out of town you would have seen my bud rub his butt on the handle of the doorknob to my bedroom door and leave a note on my dresser telling me what I just touched when I got home. You also would have seen the sign he left on my pillow…”I farted on one of your pillows. Guess which one?”

What else? Who knows? It was all documented on film that was later stolen from my second apartment. We keep waiting for these videos to show up on YouTube. Between the videos and pictures, I could never run for office. I’m glad. It means I lived. I think all 22 year olds should get a year to act a fool before the pains of true adulthood kick in. I credit that apartment and experience for so many things. It opened my eyes to a new world, new people, new friends, gave me a new perspective on life, and, despite the stories to the contrary, it helped me grow up. It’s one of those years I will reflect on and appreciate for the rest of my life.

Brazilian, Bikini or Bush?

“Do you know what it’s like to not know a single thing about yourself, and it’s all your fault?” ~Lifetime, What She Said

When you have the same partner for years upon years, you get used to the way each other look naked. You cater to what their likes and dislikes are to keep the attraction alive. At least that’s how I rolled. When that relationship spans a decade, you completely stop paying attention to what the single kids are doing and focus on each other. As you should. Then when that relationship ends, the thought of a new person seeing you naked for the first time hits you. It can be jarring along with exciting and terrifying…depending on how you feel about yourself.

For me, I thought…oh shit…I have to do this first time thing all over again? Naturally, I began to express these concerns to my sister while picking myself apart. She immediately squashed that hate talk as a good sister does. Seriously though, I felt so out of the loop on what was happening in the single world in terms of nakedness. What were guys and gals into these days? I took it to the streets to ask folks and find out. By streets I mean brunch. And by folks I mean my best girlfriends.

They informed me the trend with young, single ladies was full on bald vaginas. My response? “Bald? Like having sex with a prepubescent child? Guys are into that? I don’t think I want to have sex with someone who finds kid vaginas attractive.” Naturally the conversation snowballed into who does what waxing and how often. Then came the stories of pain and horror. Here are some of those stories:

  • One friend left halfway through a Brazilian because it hurts so bad. The woman said, “What about your husband?” My friend’s response, “Fuck him!” What did the lady do? She patted her vagina and said, “You remind me of my daughter.” I mean…
  • One of my friends had a new esthetician performing her Brazilian. She noticed the woman make a face and then add more wax to a layer she already applied. When she tried removing, something wasn’t right. More wax was applied. When she tried removing it again, pain. Full on pain, and the wax wouldn’t come off. The esthetician left and brought someone else in the room. Apparently she left the wax on too long and kept adding more thinking it would warm up the wax below. That’s not a thing, and my poor friend was the victim of her terrible troubleshooting. She was left to endure some severe pain getting it off.
  • One girlfriend’s feedback was short and to the point. “Oh. It’s fucking awful.”
  • My last bit of advice was, “Yeah. It sucks, but you get used to it.” I could deal with that.

Despite these horror stories, the newly single me wanted a new look. It became clear I had some vagina decisions to make. I have a high pain tolerance, but how much could I handle in my swimsuit area? What kind of esthetician would I have and would she cross some weird territory into comparing my business to someone else’s? Will she be ok walking me through my options? Turns out yes, and I hit the jackpot. She’s the best! I checked around for some recommendations, and I received the same one from a couple people. I made my appointment…

I should note I was in the height of my sad turning to anger stage of healing from my divorce, so I wasn’t really a terribly happy person at the time of my first appointment. I was confused in all aspects of my life, so I naturally overthought this experience. She couldn’t have been lovelier. She talked me through my awkward questioning and settled on a plan. It was emotionally painless. It was not hair removal painless. Breathing techniques were involved. Some relationship venting was involved. All was good, and I felt pretty damn great once it was all over. Actually, I sort of felt like a badass. It’s hard to believe I look forward to having a spotlight on my vagina while hair is being ripped off every few weeks, but I do! That’s the point of self care, I guess. If you consider ripping hair from your most sensitive area self care. Which I now do. (It’s also the result of my kickass esthetician.)

It’s worth a try if you’ve never done it. Us women are tough cookies so don’t think for a second you couldn’t handle it. Also, I read somewhere that the bald trend is going away. Good. I have no interest in sleeping with you if you’re into that.

Stripper Poem

“Shawty had them apple bottom jeans, boots with the fur. The whole club was looking at her…” ~Flo Rida, Low

I went to Catholic school. From kindergarten until my senior year of high school, I was an angst-filled, plaid skirt wearing student with a dream of one day not being forced to attend church and prayer assemblies. Was it really that bad? Well, yes and no. I was in a pretty safe environment, but it was also a very controlled environment. I have a natural inclination to immediately find a way to bend the rules without going too far in these scenarios. Some may call that an issue with authority. I call it trying to keep a sense of individualism. Tomato, tomata.

It was hard to find ways to step out of line and not get detention or in trouble in my schools. Our teachers had rulers to measure lengths of our skirts and wearing the wrong shirt color was obvious. All of those things gave you “demerits” in my school. Five of those got you into detention. We all had to carry a demerit card on us. If you didn’t have it on you when a teacher wanted to issue one, you immediately got sent to the principal’s office. Ditching class, bad language, showing up high or drug dealing were pretty much guaranteed detention or worse. I had to find a way to pay for college. These shenanigans weren’t an option for me to get me to where I needed to go. So how does one skirt the rules? For me, it was English class. Let me explain…

I had an English teacher my sophomore year who was a nun. Sister Barbara. I think it’s safe to say she did not like me. I could almost feel her cringe every time I turned in my papers. I always met the assignment requirements and turned everything in on time or early. She had to grade accordingly. What she wasn’t happy about was my subject matter. This is where I opted to not pretend I fully agreed with the books, the teachings of the church or her social views…anything in which I had a difference of opinion…to get a good grade. This was creative writing. I was going to get creative. My favorite moment? The time we had an in-class poetry assignment. I paired up with one of my best friends who was a bit of a wild child. As we sat there trying to think of what to write about, our brainstorming went in the direction of “wouldn’t it be funny if we wrote about (insert inappropriate topics here), and she read it out loud in class?” Yes! Yes, that would be funny. Knowing the likelihood she wouldn’t pick my paper to read out loud on purpose, we went for it. Giggling, we wrote our poem and turned it in.

Typically, Sister Barbara chose this chick Mary’s stuff to read in class. Mary wanted to become a nun. It made sense. Today, for reasons unknown but so grateful for, Sister Barbara decided to get a little crazy, mix up the papers and randomly pick one with her eyes closed. You know where I’m going with this. Our poem was the first one she picked. I thought I might pee my pants as she read the first line of our poem “The Dancer” clearly about a stripper, in perfect iambic pentameter might I add…from both laughter and fear.

It took Sister Barbara until about line three or so before she realized what she was reading. It was written vague enough that we could talk ourselves out of trouble, but there was no mistaking it. The changing look on her face from smile to disgust was perfectly timed with the slowing of her voice. She turned in our direction looking at us while she finished reading it. I couldn’t look at her because I would have started laughing and maybe never stopped therefore revealing and admitting, yes…our dancer was not a ballerina.

I’ll tell you this though. That Catholic guilt is a motherfucker. Say what you want, but even if you’re not religious, if you went to Catholic school it creeps in. I envisioned the phone call to my mom. I mentally cancelled my weekend plans. But nothing happened. I have no idea why she never said anything. Perhaps instead of sending us to the office she thought we needed prayers. Maybe she was just too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. I have no idea. All I know is I wish I still had my handwritten copy so I could share it with you. I’m pretty sure that sucker was in the bottom of the trash as soon as the bell rang.