Certifiable

Every time Andrew and I go to a tropical destination we go snorkeling. Except for that time in Hawaii where we went to snorkel but the rain dumped on us so we didn’t get in the water and instead went to brunch and that is not technically a snorkel, it’s more of just a snorkel-brunch or a snunch.

Every time we go snorkeling I think, “I want to SCUBA (which is actually okay to just be scuba these days as we have adopted the acronym as a word, so I will no longer scream at you as I write the word – also, bonus Words With Friends trivia) dive”. But then the follow-up thoughts are along the lines of, “Andrew doesn’t dive and if we go to a dive place he wouldn’t dive with me and I like my boyfriend and want to keep him so no sense looking for a new one just based off of one water sport … probably … so I’ll just keep snorkeling”

The weirdest part of all of that is that Andrew loves the water. When planning trips they are usually water adjacent destinations. He loves hearing the water. He loves showering in it (there are sometimes 5 showers in his day). He even likes to drink it – in fact it’s the most common drinking fluid for him as a contrast to red wine for me. But, if you ask him to swim in it or put his face in it, or god forbid be completely immersed, his polite response would be, “FUCK NO BITCHES I AM OUTTA HERE”- with the exception of snorkeling, but even that takes a bit of warming up to the head-in-water bit, to include several measured tests of the life jacket’s actual flotation capabilities.

Then it dawned on me. Andrew is an introvert. I don’t need to plan on doing things that he can do too. I just do my thing and he’ll do his and we’ll meet up at the end of the day and talk about how fun it was to see an octopus in its natural habitat or how many life vests were gone through before the perfect floating dynamic was acheived.

So I signed up for open water scuba certification with Adventure Sports**** in Portland.

Leading up to last weekend, I spent the week doing an e-Learning module that went over the basics of scuba. Then last weekend was spent mixing class time reviewing the material, getting fitted with gear for the water and 8 hours of time in a high school gym pool. Mostly the practice was what to do in case of emergency so that you don’t die. In fact instead of calling it scuba certification they should call it “How not to die in the water when panic alarms go off in your head because you are not a fish and why are you swimming so deep anyway, can’t you leave aquatic life to itself? I mean you chose to evolve out of the water* a gajillion years ago, maybe just leave it”. I think that has a nice ring to it.

At the end of last week I called all my already certified scuba friends and told them we were going to start making diving dates. Then I called all my non-scuba friends that should do scuba and told them how much they would love scuba and that they should take it. Then I called Andrew and told him how much he would hate being under water and being scared to death by all the “don’t die” activities that we learned.

Then I spent the week looking at scuba gear porn**.

Mind you, I did not purchase any gear, which is terribly unlike me. Just ask all of my tennis gear and bouldering gear and roller derby gear stashed away in the downstairs “Hadas once tried this sport and liked it for a minute” room in our house. I did buy goggles though. But this was so that I could have corrective lenses and actually see the octopus I would be hunting.

This weekend I drove up to Hoodsport, Washington, home of highway 101. I checked into Sunrise Motel around 8 pm on Friday night and got myself settled in. I had some work to catch up on so I linked into the wifi and immediately found out that the wifi was sketchy. As was the T-Mobile reception. I hadn’t thought to bring a book with me – because, 2016 and wifi. After about an hour of being squirrely and getting some non-Internet work done, I settled onto the bed and tried to turn on the TV. The remote didn’t work. I got up and turned the TV on, at the TV, like an animal. I tested out the remote control – volume worked, nothing else did. Well, whatever, I don’t care what’s on, it’s just noise. And that’s when I watched The Big Bang Theory for the first time in my life.

My thoughts on this show are as follows:

  • It’s fairly funny – which was somewhat surprising actually
  • It’s super-misogynistic, to an uncomfortable level at times. I actually, out loud, said, “gross” multiple times, I guess I Grossed Out Loud – GOL.
  • I am not sure if it is autism empowering or cruel…
  • Five episodes in a row is about 3 episodes too many – I wish I didn’t have to turn the TV off like an animal.

I awoke the next morning and got to our pre-designated meeting-hotel-room location at 8AM on the dot. I was the last one there. We went over rules and an overview of what we were going to do to not die in the water that day. Then we did a tour of the hotel and started prepping and donning our gear.

I want to tell about every dive, but mostly I think it’s a thing you have to experience to really get. The water visibility was shitty (at best 7ft at worst 3ft) and that made things pretty scary at times. I did two dives the first day and two dives the second day. I saw sea anemone and baby wolf eels and tires and a sea whip and crab and shrimp and starfish and some pipe looking equipment and sunfish – which look like too-many-armed starfish only lazier. Mostly, though, I learned that I could be under water for an extended amount of time, feeling somewhat panicky at times, and not die. I can remain calm enough in stressful situations to not die. And I can have very limited visibility, lose my instructor for a minute, do hand signals, share breathing apparatuses, take my mask off and put it back on and clear it all underwater, hunt for octopus with no luck, ascend and descend, and not die.

In the end, I passed all the certification stuff. I also learned that if you can dive in the Pacific Northwest, you can pretty much dive anywhere.

Now I am going to go eat all of the food and sleep all of the sleeps because diving is exhausting.

Then, on our next vacation near water, I will take a trip into it and Andrew will swim above me, and we will likely both not die***.

*probably not true

**what I mean by this is just looking at and ogling scuba gear. I don’t know if there is actual scuba gear porn. But, I would not Google it if I were you. Unless you were into that sort of thing… then Google away.

***past performance is no guarantee of future results.

****I highly recommend this company. They were really nice and patient and thorough. Go to them for all of your scuba diving needs. They will keep you alive (and entertained while they do so).

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A Running Joke

Oops.

I may have just accidentally applied to be a lotto entry in the New York City marathon in November of this year.

I have been wanting to run a marathon for a few years now. Never enough to actually sign up for one. Much less to train for one. To date the longest run I have done was 14 miles – when I paced the first half of the Portland Marathon in 2013. I didn’t train for that one either. And I bonked. Hard. But, not until after I completed my commitment.

So now I am sitting here half hoping to get selected, half hoping to not get selected and all wondering several things:

Marathon questions –

I keep hearing people who train talk about tapering. What is this about? When I trained for my half marathons I just got up to 13.1 and was able to do that all the time. Considering there are people who run ultras and such, shouldn’t I be able to, in theory, just get up to 26.2 and run it every weekend?

I run on New Balance Zeros. Since they are a minimalist shoe do I still need to worry about wear on them and replace them after a certain mileage?

I don’t really eat many carbs, do I need to change that? Are you sure? What kind of nutritional information/science are you basing that on? When am I supposed to eat what? Am I putting too much thought into my diet considering I haven’t even decided how to train for this?

What kind of crazy am I?

There are a kazillion run-training programs out there. Should I use one? Should I use three of them? Is there a training program that includes Crossfit in it, because I don’t want to have to give up one for the other?

How much procrastination is good? Like I know waiting until the last week to train is a bad idea, but somewhere between then and now, when should I start training?

Why do I keep typing marathong instead of marathon? It’s not like I type the word thong all the time. What’s wrong with my typings?

I had to guess my pace for the race. I used a pace calculator. I normally run a 10k at about a 10 minute pace (except when I was running regularly it was more like 9:15) I averaged my pace for the marathon at 12/mile. But that had me coming in at just over 5 hours which seems awfully fast to me. Did I underestimate?

I don’t find out if I got in until 3/3/15. Will I be able to keep my sanity (to the extent I have it) until then?

If I get in will I be able to train up for the marathon with all the above answered (i.e. shoes, food, taper) and be ready for the marathon without having injured myself to the extent of not being able to actually run the thing?

 

If you know any of the answers to these questions, please share them with me!

A Looney Bin of Andrews

My boyfriend is batshit crazy.

In the winter times Andrew likes to travel because he is not fond of the cold and dark. But, also, because until recently he needed to plan escape-from-the-stifling-love-and-energy-from-all-of-her-joyousness-that-is-my-extrovert-Hadas time. He may still need a bit of that, but no longer is it several weeks and I am allowed to go vacationing with him now (especially since he realized that vacations are more fun with my joyousness and energy).

As Andrew and I were planning our vacation we couldn’t find anything that struck our fancy. We initially wanted to go to Thailand or Vietnam, but airfares were a bit high. We started looking into Central America because, monkeys. But, we had just been there and there was limited excitement for it from either of us.

Then, suddenly…

Remember this?

I was a pre-teen when this commercial came out and it has stuck with me all these years. Now watching it, and the people in the background, I realize that pre-teen me was not the demographic they were aiming for and that pre-40 me may still be a bit young. At the time however, I was ready to be on board. Everyone looked fit and fun and sparkly. Also there was singing. And energy. And joy. As I grew up the desire to cruise has waned, my love of Kathy Lee diminished (though I do hair-envy the 80’s over-layered, over-featherd bob she is sporting).

I had no idea how to book the right cruise, or what different cruises offered or even what cruise lines were available. I started Google searching and immediately felt overwhelmed. But, hey, if I am going to go on my 80’s dream vacation, I figured, I can book it in an 80’s fashion. Turns out my friend Andy is a travel agent.

I discretely found out that Andy gets most of his work from helping large groups coordinate their travel. “Umm, Andy, I hope I am not being rude, but, how do you still have a job as a travel agent in 2014?”

Andy was fantastic. He selected a few cruises for the date range we gave him and booked us on Norwegian Dawn for a West Caribbean (New Orleans, Cozumel, Belize, Honduras, Costa Maya, New Orleans) cruise. We were flying to New Orleans on Friday.

Thursday before travel was a busy day for me. Knowing how busy it would be I got most of my packing done before the day began. It started off with an informational interview with a man named Andrew who holds the job I want to have in about 10 years.

Aside: It seems like everyone I know is named Andrew. Either that, or I only know one person and he plays many roles in my life – like a doll. Or, I suppose it could be that this entire blog is fabricated and I am not clever enough to come up with another name.

The Oregon Employment Department has some wonderful resources available and one such resource is grant money available for education. I am applying for a grant to take a CISSP certification class. During the informational interview, Andrew (not the boyfriend one) invited me to happy hour with a bunch of IT Security nerds that evening. Later, I went to an informal chat about a potential job – like an interview, but unofficial. On my way to happy hour I called Andrew (the boyfriend one), and found out that a tree hit our power lines during a crazy windstorm, which caused a small fire and a large (at least in our house) power outage.

By the time I got home Andrew (hereon in this will be the boyfriend one) was moving around but also seemed mildly catatonic.

He was in full-on bat-shit crazy mode.

There he was, wandering around the house with a headlamp on his head trying to pack in the dark. When Andrew gets crazy he shuts down – which you’d think would be impossible to notice on an introvert. He basically starts obsessing about the thing that is wrong and nothing else in the world can be right because that thing is wrong.

Example:

Problem statement: we don’t have electricity

Andrew’s internal dialogue: the cats will die, I will forget to pack something because I couldn’t see it, the electricity will come on and the house will burn down because we weren’t here, our house sitter will come in to take care of the cats and not understand the lights don’t work and not know how to use a flashlight or stairs in the dark and will fall down our stairs…

This keeps going and going while he doubles up on contingency planning like “tell house sitter in email, text and on handwritten instructions that the lights are out”.

Meanwhile, I get home and start cooing at him (and maybe teasing a little). I pat myself on the back for making him buy a gas stove and make us some chili. I bring up Andrew’s packing list from our shared documents on my phone because Andrew’s phone is not cooperating (cough cough T-Mobile cough) and help him finish packing. Once he’s done packing I talk him into changing to the bag with roller wheels on it, which is a good thing because it gives him something to do while winding down from being worked up.

Finally, after talking him through worst case scenarios and having him do 15 minutes of meditation I tuck him into bed and start reading. I have to give a shout out to meditation here. Time was, when Andrew would have a freakout he’d double down on it by also having three days of insomnia. Calm.com helped him relax enough to actually sleep. Having said that, we tried the Calm “anxiety relief” meditation and got about 1.5 minutes into it before bursting into giggles when the app-voice, after getting our breathing and body relaxed, said, “practice smiling”.

The next morning Andrew wakes up and I get up from the couch where I stayed up all night reading (hey, at least my addiction feeds my intellect instead of depleting it). We do our morning chores and eat breakfast and are ready to hit the road about an hour before we need to leave the house. This allows Andrew to do some compulsive walk throughs of the house and for both of us to have kitty snuggle time before leaving the girls to non-electricitied inevitable doom for a week.

Our flight to San Diego was uneventful. I slept most of the way because I’d had no sleep the night before.

The San Diego airport is THE WORST. We were imprisoned in the Southwest terminal and our flight to New Orleans was delayed 3 hours on top of our already scheduled 2 hour layover. The terminal is shaped like the end of a Q-Tip. The center of the terminal has two restaurants and within the terminal is the ubiquitous Hudson News. Around the edges of the terminal are the gates for Southwest. At the entrance to the terminal is security. If we were to leave the terminal to try and find more appealing food options we’d have to go through security to get back in – hence the imprisonment.

I think of all the airports I have flown through this one was the worst. Although, I can only complain so much because I did find us seats together with electrical outlets for charging.

Andrew spent the five hours of layover reviewing cruise excursion capabilities, while I zoned out to The Nerdist. At about hour 4 he looks at me and says, “I think I feel better now.”

Take away lesson: When faced with obsessive-compulsive introverted (OCI) freakout, give OCI something more mundane to obsess about to help calm frayed nerves.

In New Orleans we grabbed a cab to our AirBnB and I prayed, mostly silently, the entire trip. I know cab drivers are universally insane, but this guy was drifting in and out of lanes, playing chicken with cars when lanes were merging and taking illegal left turns. It was like we had our very own roller-coaster pre-cruise excursion.

Our BnB is lovely. It’s an old house (as so many houses in NO are) in the Garden District converted into a duplex. The house is longer than it is wide and from the front door you can see all the way to the back. The front room is the living room, then you walk through to the dining room which has a door to the next room which is the bedroom, that has a door to the hall leading to the kitchen and the hall has the bathroom in it. Yes, for those of you playing at home, you have to walk through the bedroom to access the kitchen. the setup is a little odd. But, we weren’t having company – or really going to be using the kitchen much.

We went out and grabbed a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant called The Rum House – Caribbean Taqueria. The tacos were really fantastic. I had a lamb vindaloo and a scallops, Andrew had a brisket and a jerk chicken. We shared a Rum House Salad which featured radicchio (that always sounds like a Harry Potter curse to me) and goat cheese. Then we went home and called it a night.

We slept 9.5 hours.

We tooled around the French Quarter and looked at the Mississippi. I wanted to experience some fine New Orleans dining but half the restaurants I was interested in were not serving lunch. Eventually we figured out that NOLA, Emeril’s casual restaurant, was two block away and open. I ordered the shrimp and grits and Andrew had the pan seared salmon. We each had a butter lettuce wedge. In truth, I was thoroughly disappointed. The wedge was so overdressed that it was like soup. I had two bites of it and when the waitstaff removed my plate they didn’t even ask if there was a problem. The shrimp and grits had great flavor but was super greasy. I suppose I could call it fine dining because if you ask me how it was I’d say, “It was fine. Just, fine.”

Then we went back to the house and slept for 2.5 hours.

It’s fair to say our travel travails were exhausting.

Dinner was at a dog and sausage place called Dat Dog. I had the Hot Brat and Andrew had Alligator. Each was great. Dat Dog is across the street from ComedySportz New Orleans where Andrew and I played a show. It was really fun and Yvonne, the owner, is super high energy and a fabulous host. If you are in New Orleans go see a show.

Today we are getting on a boat headed for the W. Caribbean, and so I leave you with this:

 

for Andrew (the boyfriend)’s version of these events, see www.AndrewBerkowitz.com/blog

Hole In One

Andrew and I both hate shopping. For me the idea of going to the grocery store is so anathema that I have to plan for it a full day in advance, take a few Motrin, be out of food so much that my only lunch option is a swig of olive oil and a five week old half-lemon, and have a boyfriend incapacitated with pneumonia on the couch begging to be put out of his misery. And even then the reason I “planned” a day in advance was to see if he’d get better before committing to the trip.

I hate the store (doesn’t matter which chain I hate each of them thoroughly), I hate the people shopping at the store, I hate the parking situation, I hate the layout, I hate feeling like I am on a scavenger hunt, I hate knowing that when I get home and unpack the groceries is the moment I am going to remember the crucial thing I have been meaning to purchase – and I didn’t remember it on this trip, I hate the cost, I hate that we have 20 reusable bags and either forget to bring them or are inevitably one short – no matter how many we bring.

The only thing that makes grocery shopping bearable at all is that Andrew does it. Second to that – in such cases as his imminent death – I do like the app AnyList. At least on that app I never forget my grocery list, throughout the week I ask Andrew to put things on it, or I put things on it and because we share our grocery list we can add to our single list from either phone. It’s quite convenient. But, mostly, I just send Andrew to the store.

He hates shopping too. But not grocery shopping so much. And not luggage shopping in fact, that’s a bit of a fetish for him. No, Andrew hates all other out-of-the-house-shoppings. Most of all, he hates clothing shopping. He hates trying things on, replacing clothing, spending money on clothing (with the caveat that if it is a jacket with so many pockets that it can double as luggage he is not only into it, but he’s INTO it).

Here’s where Andrew and my active support of each other in our relationship differ. Because, since I hate grocery shopping Andrew takes care of it, and even thanked me for going while he was laid up because he knows how much I hate it. Me, I am less supportive of Andrew’s shopping hatred.

So there we were last night on the couch, Andrew’s feet resting on my knees as I knit. I started playing a silly game of “this little piggy” on his foot when I suddenly realized his sock had a hole in it. I stuck my finger in it and said, “do you know your sock has a hole in it?” Andrew made eye contact with me and it was like a deer staring into headlights. He knew something bad was about to go down but also he knew that nothing he did was going to stop it. I wriggled my finger into that hole and pulled it open until the sock was a leg warmer.

We laughed as Andrew found a new pair of socks all the while muttering something that vaguely sounded like, “you crazy bitch” though it may have been “thank you for helping me not be a grown man that walks around with holes in my clothing.” They sound similar. And, I would ask him which one of those it was.

But he is currently out grocery shopping.

Klutz in My Paints

Job hunting is not what it used to be when I was a teenager or in my 20’s. No more getting up and putting on my best clothes, knocking on business doors and asking if they’re hiring, filling out applications. Now it’s all online and if your company’s online application system is convoluted I won’t apply because it’s just a sign of your business practices. As such, applying for five jobs that look good may only take 3 hours or so. Time, generally in my life a rare commodity, has now become an overwhelming fortune. By overwhelming I mean I don’t know what to do with myself and all of this time.

To keep busy I have been painting rooms in the house. I turned the red and yellow dining room into a nutty-white and purple room. The downstairs guest room is now a light blue with an effect on it called Candlelight – which is best described as an expensive overlay of Elmer’s glue. Next I am prepping to paint Andrew’s all red office into not-all-red (actual colors yet to be determined – but first the primer). To prep for that he moved all of his office stuff off the walls and transplanted into my office/craft-room/extended closet space.

All of the acrylic (and glue) sniffing has apparently made me high because I now want to paint. Like, pictures.

I used to do that in high school. In my memory I was relatively good, but had a problem of not knowing when to stop. But, that was high school – back when I used to print my résumé on a tastefully light blue thick paper (to stand out from other résumés) for my busing job at Macri’s Fish House (I was a go-getter) – so who knows if I was really any good, or just high from the paint fumes of the guest room.

But, even after enough time that the probability of drug stupor dissipated, I still craved painting. It’s potentially brain damage, but I had to follow through. So, Saturday, after a lovely brunch with friends, I headed out to The Loaded Brush to paint poppies.

It's no Monet, but it's not bad.

It’s no Monet, but it’s not bad.

I texted Andrew a picture of it:

IMG_2042

And then I went to Blick’s and bought some art supplies – it’s how I do.

Yesterday I sat down at a painting desktop by myself and started playing. Without a guide giving me confidence and assistance I realized I have a lot to learn (like how to mix colors, how to mix enough color so that I don’t have to try to get the same color on the second mixing – I am guessing that’s impossible unless you are my cousin Louis – how to not use too much paint, how to not use too little paint, how to have lots of light in the room because colors look different in 60watt than in the sun). But, I also realized that this is going to be a fun hobby.

Either that or I am really susceptible to acrylic paint fumes.

Killing Me With Kindness

I should have probably been more cautious when my friend, upon hearing of my job loss, offered to pull me out of my misery with a visit to Chicago. But, timing was right and, after all, she is a “friend”.

Don’t get me wrong, Chicago was fantastic. I saw some good improv and got to perform as well. I really enjoy big cities and as soon as I got there I longed to stay for good. There is something comforting to me about the pace of the city and the coziness of the skyscrapers.

Next time I go, I will just have to be more cautious in my lodgings so as to prevent choosing accommodations where the host is actively trying to kill me.

It started relatively innocuously, an offer of bagels in the morning with a cheery, “Oh, I totally forgot that you are gluten intolerant! What does that do to you again? Oh, anaphylaxis! Mmmm, sorry.” But, after the 5th day of being offered wheat products (at almost every meal – followed by giggling), I had to reconsider whether this was a mistake or a mission. There was also the morning cup of coffee retrieved from the building lobby. Sure, at first blush, this seems a lovely gesture until I open it and see the cream inside – though, to be fair, me having milk is as bad to those around me, as it is on me.

Then there was the consistent feeling of pending asthma attacks as I slept. It wasn’t until the 4th day there it was divulged I was wrapping myself in, and resting my head upon, down. How could I possibly complain about going gently into that good night – it was a cozy burrito of death.

Finally, I came down with some massive cold on Sunday. I am certain my drinks were laced with rhinovirus and that this cold had nothing to do with the man sneezing on me on my flight in.

Alas, her dastardly plan to do me in was thwarted by an impenetrable shield of ladybug luck. On my walk to the grocery store to get fixin’s for reparative soup on Monday, I came under attack – the cutest attack ever – by swarms of ladybugs. It was like the Pixar version of a Hitchcock movie. And, thank goodness! With all those ladybug luck-juices (that sounds dirty when I say it) all over me, I made it through the rest of my trip without any further incidents.

Although, I do still have that cold. And, if I am being truthful, a little schadenfreude at being the one on the plane ride home spreading the germs instead of receiving them.

Hadas GOES to Chicago

This is the face of depression:

IMG_1953You may think the smile belies the statement, but it doesn’t. I have depression. Usually it hits pretty severely in August but this year I was too busy for it – it takes a lot of time and energy to hate one’s job.

Well, once my body sensed some spare time, depression found me – and hit me hard. For the past week it has been really hard to motivate myself out of bed. I have been forcing myself to brush my teeth. Getting out of the house is a constant negotiation. But I want to be clear, I am not sad. I am just utterly demotivated to participate in my life. It’s like a heavy weight is depressing me (hence the term “depression”). I have upped my dosage (and consistency) of vitamin D and have allowed myself forgiveness for canceling out on plans with people.

Tuesday felt a bit better – spending some time with friends helped. Wednesday even better – partly that is due to adventure.

I arrived at the airport at 7:40AM for my GOES interview. The interviewer arrived at his office about 10 minutes after I did. Obviously I was the first one scheduled. I dropped my luggage in the waiting area and sat across from him. He had floppy hair that I would have guessed to be a toupee had it been more well groomed, and was wearing a police-ish uniform that shouldn’t come in that size. I was apparently the first adult female he’d ever spoken to as he immediately started sing-song talking to me like I was four and dressed in my favorite princess outfit. “Do you understand what having global entry means?” I batted my eyelashes and in a warbly soprano, surrounded by woodland creatures, “Oh heavens, no. Do tell!”

For fifteen minutes he spoke down to me of all the fancy benefits and took my fingerprints. Finally he set me free and offered his hand to shake. The douche-chills ran down my spine but were slightly calmed by the sound of the next person to be interviewed shuffling around behind me. I mentally took a Silkwood shower and wandered over to the Alaskan Airlines counter to get my boarding pass and cajole them into adding my newly minted pre-check status.

Unfortunately, it takes about 24 hours for “the system” to process global entry so I had to line up with the proletariat, take off my boots and remove my laptop – like an animal.

I got to my gate with about 2 hours to spare. Chris Hardwick and I snuggled up and napped lightly. On the plane I pulled out my knitting and was extremely grateful for my noise canceling headphones as the man next to me was obviously trying to chat me up. I looked over to the man in the aisle across from me. He took an amazing amount of time to get settled and finally did with some sort of blanket shawl/scarf thing. He took two throat hits of Cēpacol, sneezed twice into the crook of his arm and fell right to sleep. I am pretty sure I now have Ebola (is it just me or is everyone using this :& as the Ebola emoticon?).

Several inches of knitting, a snack of salami and two Nerdists later we landed in O’Hare. I am in Chicago to visit my friend, who offered for me to come visit when she found out I was unemployed, and to participate in ComedySportz Midwest Invitational Tournament (Portland plays tonight!). My friend lives in Printers Row and told me to get on the Blue Line and off at LaSalle which is two blocks from her apartment. I went into the tunnels under O’Hare to find the El. I am not certain how far down those tunnels are – I was still getting cell reception – but by the temperature, I would guess we were only about fifty miles from hell – it was either sweltering or my :& fever had sunk in already.

I found the ticketing machine and took almost ten minutes and two failed attempts before I finally got my week long El and bus Ventra pass. I blame the :&, it’s melting my brain (also, now when I say Ebola in my head it sounds like the guy in the Ricola commercial). I then continued on the people movers to follow the blue signs to Terminal 1. It wasn’t until I actually got to Terminal 1 before I realized I was not heading to the Blue Line of the El but to a terminal in the airport. At some point I am going to have to stop blaming :& but I believe that point is in 21 days. I u-turned back to the ticket machine and found the actual Blue Line.

One stop in a man got up from his seat and offered it to me. “No thanks, I have been sitting all day.” Which started us into a lovely conversation. Shelly is an auditor for a marketing something or other. We talked projects, start-ups, Chicago, travel. He offered me his contact information, and told me I have another friend in Chicago. I took it (because, networking) and gave him my relationship status information. He took it well and mentioned something about us just being strangers on a train (I hope I don’t have to kill someone for him now). It was all very pleasant, even with my douche-meter needing recalibration from having been set off that morning, and the time zone change.

I found my way to my friend’s apartment with only going in the wrong direction once. I am now snuggled with a dog named Miley. Like the original she has short hair, drools all over the place and can’t really twerk despite all the tail wagging.