My week is thus far rather craptastic (with the exception of my Banana Nut Cheerios discovery, mind you).

1) I currently have HIVES on my NECK. They itch, and I have no allergy medicine with which to annihilate them. Boo to me.

2) I spent the majority of my morning with no internet. NO INTERNET, I tell you. Which left me staring into space and trying desperately to talk to busy passers-by without success. Sometimes it's cool being me; today is not one of those days. I've also had no coffee.

3) I am searching the world for a spring sweater that doesn't cost a small fortune. I need it for THIS SATURDAY for the wedding I'm attending in CAPE COD. I know I will probably be the least-rich person there, but I don't particularly want to LOOK LIKE IT. Wah.

4) I am BFF with the CAPS LOCK KEY.

And, worst of all:

5) My husband is LEAVING FOR 10 WEEKS. He's got himself a spiffy job in Minneapolis for the summer (whoo-hoo summer associateship!) but that means he'll be there and I'm staying here in Chicago. By myself. Without Zack. And I am very bummed. So bummed, in fact, that using the caps lock key doesn't even make me feel better.

6) As a result of #5 I am EATING MY BODY WEIGHT in terrible-for-me food and CRYING about EVERYTHING. I just can't seem to help myself. NOM NOM NOM.

Sometimes you've just gotta vent about the suckitude of your life. And then you feel better. RIGHT?

That's what she said!


Time: 3:00p.m.
Setting: living room, Sunday afternoon. Everyone has finally crawled out of bed to cure their hangovers with a Chinese food extravaganza.
Characters: Megan, Erin, the Irishman, and Jake.

The Irishman eats his dumpling, when all of the sudden, the perfect little greasy meatball jumps right out of its doughy cocoon and into a puddle of dumpling juice.

Me: Aww, baby! You lost your meat!

The Irishman and Jake remain completely oblivious.

Banana Nut Cheerios, y'all


I had an IM conversation with fellow blogger, Megan, today that went a little something (or exactly) like this:


Megan: of boredom?
me: What are you doing?
I am about to write a post about Banana Nut Cheerios
Unless you stop me
Megan: ...
what are banana nut cheerios???
me: OMG
Maybe I SHOULD post about them!
Megan: hahahahah
me: because everyone should have the opportunity to know Banana Nut Cheerios
Megan: hahaha
me: Okay, I have to meet the van now and go to lunch. But when I return, Banana Nut Cheerios 101.

So here we are. And I know you are just dying to know about the banana nutty goodness that is Banana Nut Cheerios, aka SUSTENANCE FOR LIIIIIIFE.

I saw this commercial on Sunday whilst lounging about my mother's house post-sister's-rockin'-bridal-shower (thrown by yours truly) for Banana Nut Cheerios. I should tell you now that I am a sucker for banana nut anything; I would eat banana nut poop and probably tell you how amazing it was. So naturally I came home and wouldn't shut up about the Banana Nut Cheerios until Zack agreed to buy some for me. Our conversation went something like this:

Austin: Did I tell you about the Banana Nut Cheerios I saw on TV?
Zack: [trying to study for upcoming finals] Only about four times.
Austin: So...how do you feel about a trip to the store?
Zack: You can go if you want.
Austin: Um. But I don't want to go by myself. I want you to go WITH me to the store to get my cereal.
Zack: If you want to wait...
Austin: But honeyyyyyy...I need it nowwww.

After this basic conversation is repeated about six more times:

Austin: So, about those Banana Nut Cheerios...
Austin: Thanks, baby! You're always looking out for me!

And that is how Banana Nut Cheerios came to be in my mouth. Where they will live a long and happy life. Forever. With me, in my mouth. Because they are delicious (and only 100 calories per serving!). And no, Cheerios is not paying me for this shameless endorsement of their newest product (though clearly they should).

Now go forth and try Banana Nut Cheerios because they will change your life. Or inspire your spouse to kill you.

I have a friend I've never seen. He hides his head inside a dream.


There is something enormously cruel in having your sex-dream satisfaction stolen by an alarm clock on your day off. Without giving too much away here (and allowing my waking self to relive those brief subconscious moments - mmm, yeah, right there...), lets just say that foreplay had wrapped up on that seedy motel bedspread. Someone ordered an Erin Special with extra headboard banging and a side of screaming orgasm, and I was just about to serve it up, when the dulcet tones of my cell phone beep-booping melted it all. Never to be dreamt again.

I'm not getting enough in real life to let this pass lightly, y'all.

The reader may ask, "But why, Erin, was your alarm set to go off on your day off?" and I would reply, "Dear Reader, you must understand that I generally go to bed in an altered state when I do not have to work the next day, for I am human. Forgive my drunkenness this once, please." Yes, it was a mistake to have the phone even in my bedroom, I agree. But good judgment has managed to evade me for 24 years, let's not go thinking that something was miraculously going to change last night.

And the reader may also ponder why I didn't try to retrieve that dream by falling back asleep immediately. Oh I tried. I tried. I threw myself back onto my mattress and mashed up pillows and twisted around seeking that precise position that had rendered me senseless and blissfully deep in erotic dreams. But the Chicago sun was up and burning through my blinds. The weekday traffic of the city was screeching, honking, whistling, squeeling, sirening below. It should be noted, I live on a corner of acoustic miracles, where conversations across the street are broadcast directly through my windows; where pigeons cooing on the other side of the building seem to be perched on the nightstand beside me, heads confidentially twisted down to better lend me their noisy pigeon secrets. Chicago screams directly at me each morning. It was no good. It was irreversible. I was awake.

Then perhaps the reader pauses, consults a calendar. "But Erin, it's Thursday! Who on God's green earth gets Thursday off?" And I would point at myself and say, "Me, assholes. That's who." Subtracted from full to part time around Christmas, I have since been "enjoying" this midweek oasis. That's right; not only am I NOT getting thoroughly fucked on a regular basis, but I'm also not getting paid anymore than a circus elephant. The depressing truths of my life will be revealed all, by and by. Just hang around, you'll see. I have to cling to the whisps of comfort that I can get, like cottonwood dander floating in the air. All the more biting when they are stolen from me by a goddamn cell phone.

The reader may then ask, "But Erin, you do occasionaly convince the odd gentleman to accompany you home at the end of the night. How can a dream possibly compete with these living, breathing men?" And I would say, perhaps with a revealing sigh in spite of myself, that He was my counterpart inside this dream. You know, the one that exists sometimes as a voice on the phone or a typed word. The one that has lately been pushing the limits of how far west (away) he can go.

So there's that.

And so much like life, the dream has already diminished to just emotional residue. Little context, fewer images. A depressed kind of cloud that is breaking up on what is inarguably a beautiful day. But there is always another nighttime and another set of dreams and a hope that resurrects itself, however unbidden and painful it may be.

But I still look forward to a rerun.

Plz ban txtng!


Making headlines today is news that the Illinois Senate has approved a ban on text messaging and web surfing on your phone while driving. After reading a couple of different local papers’ stories on the subject, and the readers’ comments that followed them, I can’t help but be baffled and disturbed by people’s attitude toward this change. I don’t think I’m alone in my confusion, but I just cannot understand why this ban is only now being accepted, and why Illinois is one of only a few states to be considering it. Why should anyone be texting while driving?

After looking at some readers comments, and drawing from a few conversations with ignorant drivers I have known, I’ve concluded that some people believe they have the right to do whatever they want behind the wheel, and asking them to please keep their eyes on the road is too restricting of their so-called ‘rights’. When I used to drive on a daily basis, and even when I rode the train along miles and miles of highway every morning, I always noticed people in their cars doing things that were far too distracting to be acceptable driving behaviors. Examining boogers, reading the newspaper, curling their eyelashes, shaving their neck (that was a woman), and a million other things that if actually seen by a police officer, you would most definitely get ticketed for (okay, maybe not the booger thing).

I’ve had this discussion various times with people who I know text and drive and aren’t phased by it. “But I’m a good driver. It’s not that hard. And I don’t do it all the time,” they say. I don’t know where this driving ego comes from exactly, maybe from people who have never been in a car accident and don’t know how easy it is to lose control of a car or traffic situation. But the bottom line is that when you are driving, you should be focused on driving. It doesn’t matter if you think you are invincible. You are not. I promise. And being in a steel box with wheels doesn’t make you exempt from the laws of mortality either.

Furthermore, if you choose to be an idiot and distract yourself while driving, that decision doesn’t just put you in danger. It affects all the people around you, especially those not inside the little steel boxes. In a city like Chicago, pedestrians are everywhere. We, too, follow the rules of road and cross at designated spots and generally obey traffic lights so as not to get run over by cars.

Sometimes standing on the corner in the loop causes a bit of anxiety as taxis fly by and non-taxis (who seem to be even more aggressive around here than the cabs) try to maneuver in and out of the crowded streets. I can’t tell you how many people I see on their phones, and how often I worry that when I step out into the street for my turn to cross, the car speeding toward the red light isn’t going to stop. Sometimes I even wait to make sure the cars have to come to a complete stop before I start to cross, I mean, who knows what these drivers are paying attention to?

Look at the girl in Illinois a few weeks ago who was painting her nails while driving. She wasn’t paying attention, didn’t stop soon enough at a changing light and crashed into a stopped motorcyclist, killing her. I’m sure the girl thought she’d be able to give herself a manicure without any problems. Everyone does. If you thought to yourself, “Oh this is really dangerous what I’m doing and someone is probably going to get hurt because I’m not paying enough attention,” you wouldn’t do it. Instead, people think, “No big deal. I’m a good driver. I can multitask." And what seems to happen in these kinds of situations is a giant karmic twist, where the person killed is never the person who was foolish enough to take everyone’s life into their own manicured hands.

I consider driving a privilege. When getting your driver’s license, you have to prove that you are capable of operating a machine that has the power to kill in a matter of seconds, and you must demonstrate that you understand the rules that come with operating said vehicle on the road. What many people fail to realize, it seems, is that these rules are put in place to keep people safe. Not because there are a bunch of government officials secretly plotting ways to make driving less fun.

If something happened to you or someone you loved because some other driver had to answer an urgent text message, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t think, “That’s okay, it’s his right to not pay attention while driving.”

Things You Don't Consider Until It's Too Late


1) They call it the Windy City for a reason; plan your wardrobe choices accordingly and be careful when wearing a skirt.

2) Sandals, flip flops, Crocs, etc. will leave you with disgustingly dirty feet at the end of your trip, regardless of how short or long it was.

3) Bring your CTA pass everywhere, even when you think you won't need it.

4) Avoid carrying a purse/bag if possible (personal preference).

5) Taking photos makes you a tourist even if you're technically not one.

6) Carry an umbrella at all times, even if you have to shove it down the back of your pants to make it happen.

7) Never ever for any reason sit in the single isolated seat located at the back of each car on the El. It smells like pee because someone has peed there. I promise.

8) There will always be someone better dressed than you. The upside? There will always be someone more ridiculously dressed than you. Cart around a pair of heels & some dangly earrings if it makes you feel better to do so.

9) Sales tax is 10% and prices here make you feel like using your firstborn as a bartering tool might be appropriate.

10) Public transportation takes about twelve times longer to get you to your destination than a car would.

Please share your experiences in the comments section!

Body, Meet Mind. Mind is Actually Your Boss.


When I started college, I was skinny. Not skin and bones or anything; I've always been a healthy girl. But I was thin. And cute.

Now I am merely cute. Sometimes.

Everyone has heard of the "freshman fifteen" and I was no exception in receiving that little gift. I discovered booze in college and nursed quite the love affair with it. I ate my share of late night pizzas and learned that nothing cures a hangover like Chinese food. Plus your sleep patterns are off, your lifestyle is weird, and when you are not stuffing your face with greasy takeout you are trying desperately to find anything edible in the cafeteria, which often leads to a high-carb intake.

So I wasn't totally shocked (or even dismayed) when I packed on an extra few pounds during college. What I didn't count on was that changing my lifestyle so dramatically in those years produced some really negative habits that have caused me to grow, and grow, and keep growing.

And that brings me to today, overweight and bearing little self-control to do anything to fix it. I should say that my husband (law student, remember?) and I are living on a very meager income; he's a full-time student and won't have a job during school until the fall. As a receptionist I don't exactly bring home the big bucks. So we eat a lot of pasta and things that are cheap and that we can stretch into multiple meals. Also I should mention that Zack and I have, well, different culinary leanings, so compromise is a must since we can't afford to diverge much on meals. Which means that I often sacrifice the healthier, more expensive, "rabbit food" for the less expensive, definitely less healthy "man food."


So, I have all these excuses for why I can't eat super healthy all the time. But then I realized that I just really like to eat, so I can't blame all my bad food choices on Zack (sorry honey!). I will pop open a snack at any time. Also I realized that it takes way too much food to make me feel uncomfortably full. A couple years ago I couldn't finish my food at restaurants. Now I am cleaning my plate and asking for a dessert menu (okay, maybe not really, but the difference between now and then is significant). I suspect that what's going on here is that I've become an emotional eater; or maybe I always was one and the stress of adulthood has just freed it in me.

And this last thing is something I can't stress enough:

I hate exercise.

Yes, it makes me feel good and powerful and strong. I like the endorphin rush as much as the next person. But for me, getting motivated to exercise is like trying to gear yourself up for that medical procedure you've been putting off; once it's over you can't exactly remember why you thought it would be so awful, but you continue to dread medical procedures regardless.

The gym is my own personal torture chamber, with all those cute perky distance runners and the buff guys lifting our combined bodyweight on the bench press. Sigh. I can't help but feel like that will never be me.

Alright so you've been patient with my little pity party here, and I appreciate that. I didn't write this to make people feel sorry for me, or to air the fact that I have no self control (well, maybe a little I did, on that last point). I am saying these things in public so that hopefully I will take control of myself and do something to start losing weight. I just need to be consistent and to remember that I am the boss of me; my hormones and my stomach and my emotions do not control my eating habits, my mind does.

So, Mind, just say no to Wendy's next time, okay? Thanks.

Get your dog off my dog


One of my big pet peeves, now that I don't have a yard, but a park out my front door, is when I have my dog outside, we are minding our own business (well, I am; Arlo is running frantic circles around me because there's another dog sharing his patch of grass) and some lady in designer pajamas brings her little shit dog over to say hello.

My dog will eat your dog, lady, I think.

But I say something along the lines of "My dog isn't always friendly with other dogs."

Now, we are all about the dog park and doggy socialization, but our dog isn't always on board. One of the deciding factors of living where we do was that there is a dog park just outside our building; Arlo can run around and we don't actually have to walk him around the city, which triggers some anxiety for him and almost-pulled-out-of-their-socket arms for Zack and I. But sometimes, and we haven't figured out what triggers it, he's mean to other dogs. He'll just snap, and not in a warning kind of way. He means it. Then we scoop him up and flee the dog park in shame.

So when Designer Pajamas looks at me with a sort of half-smile and bobs her head a little so I know she's heard me, then continues straight on toward us and lets her dog get all up in my dog's business, I get pretty irritated. I mean, does she think I'm kidding? I know it seems like Arlo is a big wriggling mass of friendly slobber, but he can bust out the nasty pretty quick.

While she allows her dog to jump all over mine, their leashes becoming a gnarled mess, I am glaring and muttering and trying to pull my always enthusiastic, sometimes snarling, 40-lb-beast off her little nitwit dog. Arlo doesn't do things halfway, so the leashes are good and tangled, and only as I finish pulling them apart and grab my handle do I realize that Designer Pajamas' dog has piddled all over it in fear. Nice.

Then, of course, Designer Pajamas yanks her dog and heads off in the opposite direction, glaring and muttering about how I shouldn't have let my dog get near her dog if he's not friendly. Or she slinks away and casts furtive glances over her shoulder as if we are wanted criminals and she's sneaking off to call the cops.

Dog owners, beware. And keep your dog off my dog.

**EDIT** I realized after posting this that I never clarified that Arlo is never mean or aggressive toward humans or even cats. Just the occasional dog whose ass smells bad or whatever. Didn't want to give the poor guy a bad rep!

Be Careful What You Wish For


I frequently walk home from work. I live just over a mile from my office and since I spend most of the day sitting I like to walk to and from to get a little blood flowing. I spent my walk today scanning the folks around me as usual, thinking that those who don't take advantage of people watching in the city are idiots. There is so much to see! So many kinds of people and I like to size up every one of them. Some judgment may or may not be involved.

I've never understood how people can walk down the street here as if they're in a bubble. I'm used to store line smalltalk, waves of thanks from drivers I've let into my lane, and eye contact with strangers on the street. People here bump into each other without saying anything, weave complicate patterns over-around-and-through one another at every corner crosswalk, and never for a second make eye contact with anyone. I'm still figuring out this phenomenon (and trying to avoid being caught gawking at everyone who passes me since meeting eyes is a big faux pas here).

So, back to today. I'm walking across the BP Bridge that connects Millennium and Grant Parks, covertly watching everyone around me. I may have been judging the girl walking around in navy blue leggings, high heels, big sunglasses and a screaming wedgie. Just a little. And for the billionth time I'm wondering why no one in this blasted city wants to look at anyone else when, all the sudden, the man candy coming up on my left registers.

Um, he is hot.

Holey jeans, just-ragged-enough-to-be-trendy t-shirt and lightly tanned with shoulder-blade-length dreds tied back in a pony tail. Mmmm. I'm sure he is a vegan smoker with a secret tattoo somewhere inappropriate.


And what does he see? A slightly overweight twentysomething huffing it over this bridge in dress pants and ugly tennis shoes, a light sheen of sweat covering her face and neck (nearing the end of the power walk here, okay?). And worst of all - most embarrassing of all - he passes just close enough that while I am feeling nauseous from near heatstroke, he's probably feeling nauseous because he can see my sweat mustache. Ugh. I put my head down and pass quickly.

Never again will I wish for people to look up at me while I'm out walking around the city, particularly not when it's any kind of warm or humid out. From now on, I'm an invisible bystander watching things silently. And invisibly.

I'll probably still judge a little, though.

The Scary List


When Austin suggested we make “life lists”, my reaction was, “Absolutely not”. Make a list of my life goals? Me? The most idle and directionless person currently in existence? Ha. Why on earth would I want a written documentation of my future failures? I try not to think of my goals, it’s easier to think myself successful that way. Pessimist? Perhaps.

But here I am now (thanks friends), making a list that hopefully will not haunt me for the rest of my days. Maybe it’ll be the motivation I need. You know, crossing stuff off to-do lists is always strangely satisfying. Perhaps I will print this out, so I can physically scratch these suckers off when I reach them.

As you can see, I’m a simple girl, and most of my goals center on food and on building a home for myself and future family.

Pay attention to my first goal, as it is the one that will allow me to achieve a lot of the things that make up the rest of the list.

Fall ass backwards in to large amounts of money

Go to culinary school just for fun

Own my own business/be my own boss

Figure out what that business will be...

Chronicle the romance and childhood of my parents and their siblings

Produce a few mini me’s

Have a home with a yard, a workshop and a hammock

Create a vegetable garden I can live off of

Visit every continent/ Take a food tour of every continent

Have an enormous kitchen where my friends and family can all help prepare meals

Sail around the Pacific

Go to Guam where I was born (perhaps on a sailboat?)

Live greener

See more of the U.S

Publish something I’ve written

Learn to cook kelaguen and its accompaniments

Sell some of my own art

Be more disciplined in every area

Publish a cookbook

Make a record of my grandparents’ stories about their lives

Meet Bruce Springsteen

Take more trips on a whim

Lie in a field of cilantro on a sunny day

Go skydiving

Learn to sew from my Grandma

Visit New Jersey and Bruce’s hood

Learn to play the piano

Be at least trilingual

Have enough money

Coach a girls’ softball team

Meditate everyday

Find a working exercise program

Swim with dolphins

Return to Maryland and visit the town where I grew up

See a hockey game in Canada

Teach a class about something I really love

Make a documentary about a trip through Latin America

Go snowmobiling

Mentor someone

Make a grand gesture to repay Frank and Jacqueline for all the help they’ve given me

Send my parents on a honeymoon

Take a road trip with my brothers

Play with a monkey

Write a children's book

Life List, Bucket List, Whatever You Want to Call It


I've decided that I need to be more positive about my life.

Between working a job that one wouldn't call exciting and being (for all intents and purposes) broke, the downward spiral into a boredom-induced stupor has been swift. I whine. I fuss. I watch a lot of TV. And since I can't seem to get serious about doing any one thing, I decided to write down all the things I feel would make my life better. I included things I can do within the confines of my every day life as well as things that require a little more courage and financial planning. Stuff to learn, stuff to make, places to see, items to acquire, etc. etc.

Now, compiling my life list didn't do anything earth-shattering for me. I haven't found Jesus or made a medical discovery. But it makes me happy to look at it and think that someday I really will do this stuff. So, hooray!

Here's my list. I'd love to see what other people put on their life lists, so please do share.

My List:

Take a dance class

Go on an Irish pub crawl (in Ireland)

Send my mom on a long vacation

Have a tire swing

Visit every continent

Commit to some type of volunteer work long-term

Write every day

Take a road trip from one U.S. coast to the other

Donate a significant amount of money to a cause I am passionate about

Set up a scholarship for a person paying their own way through college

Work on my relationship with my brother

Get to know my mom's side of the family

Own a home on the Mississippi River

Be politically informed

Adopt senior dogs and cats and give them a loving home

Raise a newborn puppy or kitten that's been orphaned

Teach my kids to perform random acts of kindness

Perform random acts of kindness myself

Join a volleyball team

Be less judgmental

Keep my house clean for more than two days at a time

Throw away/Donate stuff I don't use (clear out the clutter)

Send hand-written letters to people

Maintain a consistent exercise regimen

Be able to sing on-key in front of an audience

Take guitar lessons

Take piano lessons

Live as a vegan for a month

See all 50 states legalize gay marriage

Be a patient and level-headed mother

Learn how to sew

Have a successful vegetable & herb garden

Learn my way around a new place within two weeks of moving there

Be excited about something in my life every day

Spend a month touring wineries in Napa Valley

Visit Charlottesville again one day

Be more involved in the lives of my half-siblings

Perform grand loving gestures

Be considered an expert at something

Spend an entire year traveling

Learn Spanish

Help solve a crime

Go kayaking

Tour as many Chicago Blues bars as possible

Go whitewater rafting

Visit the elephant sanctuary in Kenya

Run a marathon

Get a whole-body spa treatment

Go away on a girls-only vacation

Go on a long, romantic vacation with my husband

Create a book list and complete it

Live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle

Explore as many neighborhoods in Chicago as I [safely] can

Make someone a crafty and creative gift

Get published somewhere other than my own blog(s)