Category Archives: frustrations

Parking ticket fake out

If you live in Chicago, you’ve probably reached your threshold when it comes to hearing about the upcoming mayoral and city official elections.

I know I have. This, however, made me hit the breaking point:

This isn’t our car, but one of these orange slips of papers was on our windshield this morning. Our wounds still fresh from a parking ticket Joe got last weekend while ordering chicken wings, we burst into a fury upon first glance of our windshield.

Upon further inspection, we realized this was actually a flyer about voting Alderman Moreno out of office next Tuesday. It just happened to be designed too similarly to a parking ticket.

Insult to injury: February is spelled incorrectly.

Well, I suppose this advertisement worked—it got our attention, albeit in a negative way.

It seems karma is coming back to me for writing all of those “official” looking direct mail letters back in the day.



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Filed under Chicago, frustrations

The perks of owning a car

Owning a car in the city is a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, it’s easy to run errands, haul things from the grocery store, take road trips or venture to Ikea.

On the other, you have to deal with tickets, city stickers, fear of towing and the annoyance of continual stop-and-go traffic.

I had forgotten about the curse part, particularly because we had a garage spot for two years. We hadn’t gotten any of these:

Yep, a $50 violation for street cleaning. Street cleaning in November, you may ask? Apparently this is the last one of the year.

Here’s what makes me most upset about the parking ticket situation: The city doesn’t hide the fact that they make money off your parking misery. Notice the return address goes to the Department of Revenue? The ticket enforcers (meter maids?) wear yellow vests that read the same thing.

Well, all I have to say is I hope the holiday decorations on Michigan Avenue are extra sparkly and fabulous this year. You’re welcome. Happy holidays.


Filed under Chicago, city life, frustrations

Junk unwanted

Can you guess where I am?

Not a junkyard.

Not the porch of a frat house.

It’s the alley behind my apartment building.

That’s right, I can’t get a blue recycling bin there, but I can get a toilet and a couch. That’s practically a furnished apartment, if you round it.

It must be the height of plumbing season in my neighborhood. This is the second toilet spotted outside of a bathroom recently.

Barely twelve hours later, I spotted the remains of someone’s office rage on the sidewalk:

Someone, somewhere is still waiting on a fax.

Yeahhhh, I'm still gonna need those TPS reports.

Needless to say, reminiscent of:

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Filed under frustrations, neighborhoods, Ukrainian Village, Weird

Scenes from the CTA: The Ass Man

Date: April 7, 2010

Time: 5:46 pm

Location: 66 Chicago Bus

(Cold windy, Chicago day. The bus driver has just closed the door, and  high-powered executives, busy moms, hipsters and nerdy passengers struggle to hang on.)

Bus driver

Sir, could you please step back? I need to see my mirror.


There’s no where TO go.

Bus Driver

I can’t go anywhere until you move away from the mirror.


I can’t go anywhere unless it’s UP SOMEONE’S ASS!!

Bus Driver

Maybe that’s where you SHOULD go!


Maybe that’s where the CTA SHOULD GO!

(A juvenile, angry exchange between the Bus Driver and Dude about getting off the bus and needing to to make a radio show in 20 minutes proceeds as passengers look on quietly.)


(After a few minutes of welcomed silence)

Sorry if I grabbed someone’s ASS. It’s too crowded in here!!


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Filed under Chicago, city life, CTA, frustrations

To be Flat Stanley for a day

I never thought my love affair with Chicago might wane. But it has. The dirty snow, gray skies, CTA service cuts…they’re  getting to me. Even though it’s been warmer and sunnier than usual, I want to stuff myself in an envelope and be mailed to a new city.

Perhaps I’m not annoyed with Chicago. I’d like to think I’m inspired by two recent visitors—Ms. Flat Stanley and Mr. Flat Stanley.

I had never heard of the Flat Stanley project until she arrived at our door all the way from Lanesville, Indiana. I say she because Flat Stanley arrived sporting a stylish bob and pink tank top. As part of my littlest sister Alexa’s second-grade class project, Ms. Flat Stanley was mailed to me and several other family members to explore the places in which we live. We were asked to take photographs, send postcards and write about our city and the things we did together. Not into the touristy sites, Ms. Flat Stanley was privy to a day in the life.

We played in the snow.

We rode the bus downtown.

We saw the John Hancock building hiding in the snow.

We ate Thai food.

We sought fashion advice from Nia on Ms. Flat Stanley's new warm weather gear. Approved.

Ms. Flat Stanley and I had a great time during her visit, but like all good things, her visit had to come to an end.

A few weeks later, I received a call from my childhood babysitter Tracy, asking me if I’d help her daughter Ally with her Flat Stanley project. Tracy was in high school when I was in elementary school, and of course, I thought she was the coolest. She listened to Guns ‘N Roses and Mr. Big, took me to the mall and let me tag along with her high school friends. I said yes to my childhood mentor, and Mr. Flat Stanley arrived soon thereafter.

Mr. Flat Stanley wanted to see the sights. So we did.

He's totally into art, so we went to the Modern Wing at Art Institute.

We toured Millennium Park

We waved at ourselves at The Bean.

He challenged Cash to a wrestling match. Cash won.

Hosting both Flat Stanleys encouraged me to be a tourist in my own city for a few days. And the part of me that loved being a pen pal as a kid was giddy.

However, I still want to crawl in an envelope and be shipped somewhere else until summer. Luckily, Barcelona is around the corner.


Filed under Chicago, frustrations, travel, weather

Viva la summer!

Dear Chicago friends,

I’ve heard a lot of folks talking smack about summer lately.

As in, we really didn’t have one. I know…we’re all disoriented because we’re not sweltering in heat or suffocating in humidity. (In the famous words of that drugged-up kid from the dentist, “Is this real life?”)

However, you know, and I know, what is right around the corner. As a result, I am clinging on to summer for dear life. Here is how I know: A band was playing outside on the roofdeck right below my bedroom window last night. I wasn’t even mad. I was actually happy that summer made this possible.

Said band.

Said band. Though only a two person band, I believe.

Since summer doesn’t officially end until September 21, I propose that we squeeze in more of this:




Because we’re just around the corner from:

Megan Boley dressed like an Eskimo.

Megan Boley dressed like an Eskimo.

These snow boots become semi-permanent in my wardrobe

Snow boots becoming a semi-permanent part of the wardrobe

Our favorite things blanketed in snow. Or make that just everything blanketed in snow

Our favorite things blanketed in snow. Or make that just everything blanketed in snow...

Potholes that could render a missing person.

...that eventually create potholes large enough to render you a missing person.

(Apologies for all the blurry iPhone photos)

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Filed under Chicago, frustrations, weather

Trapped in the parking garage

Driving in a parking garage makes me feel how I’d feel if I were R. Kelly in the “hip hopera” Trapped in the Closet—confined in a small, dark space and slightly embarrassed about my performance.

The confinement part seems to be the worst. And also the feeling that you might spiral into the depths of hell if you miss the Exit sign.

Parking garages always seem to be disappointing ends to any adventure. For example, I love grocery shopping and our weekly pilgrammage to Trader Joe’s. However, this trip usually ends in one big clusterfuck of honking horns, brake lights and exhaust fumes. The euphoria of cost savings quickly evaporates the moment Joe starts yelling at the car in front of us. My mortification also ensues.

I also recently witnessed a coworker’s breakdown inside of a parking garage. Abby was calm and composed as she spent 10 hours walking participants through a usability test. If you’ve seen her poker face during these tests, you’d be convinced that her composure is an art form. She cracked the moment she tried to leave the parking garage. I took pictures.

Parking garage meltdown

"Please wait for assistance. Please wait for assistance. Please wait for assistance. Please wait for assistance."

The machine wouldn’t take Abby’s credit card. And neither would the next machine. After pressing the help button, the machine repeated, “Please wait for assistance. Please wait for assistance. Please wait for assistance. Please wait for assistance” for at least three solid minutes. Finally, a woman who clearly was working from another city, state or country comes on over the speaker and tries to soothe Abby’s frustrations. We finally were allowed to exit after trying two more machines and being coerced by the office manager to come inside and pay. Exasperated sighs all around.

Parking garages are another reason I don’t drive often. That, and the fact that I can’t park. My friend Jo/Johanna/joinseattle reminded me today of an angry napkin note that someone left on my car in college that said “Learn how to park!” We reminsced about this after she told me about the website and pondered whether the creator of the website is also the author of said note. See, parking does make people lose it.

Thanks to Abby for humoring me and letting me post the photo. I only wish I would have had a voice recorder..hehe.

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Filed under chicago parking, city life, drivers, frustrations