I play ball like a girl

Always recently came out with a “Like A Girl” ad combatting the common insult of “you throw/run/whatever like a girl.” The link to the video is here

I love this. As someone who occasionally gets told after a softball game, “nice job playing today” by men from other teams, it just makes me think about whether they really mean nice job, or if they mean that I did a nice job for a girl. ‘Cause if it’s the latter, I don’t even need to hear the”compliment.”

If I’m playing in the infield, I should be expected to stop every ball hit in my direction, and if I’m in the outfield, I should be expected to back up each infielder and catch every fly ball hit to my field, regardless of my gender. I know I am not the best softball player, nor have I ever been, but with this being my 12th (not consecutive, but total) year playing softball, I know the game. I hope people start expecting girls to be good at sports, and not surprised when they can stop a grounder or turn a double play. It frosts my cookies when it’s assumed I don’t know that in playing second base, I cover the bag when the ball is hit to the left side of the field, and shortstop covers when the ball is on the right. I’ve played softball for so long that covering a base or backing someone up is the instinctive thing to do.

Yes, in fact, I do know how to go halfway on a fly, and tag up if necessary. I know how to swing a bat, and I’m not afraid to sacrifice the skin on my legs to slide into home. I know what a cut-off is, and occasionally my 5’0, 110 lbs. body can hit the 16-inch softball strategically over shortstop’s head when they’re playing in because I’m a girl. I know what a full count is, and a large beefy guy with cut-off sleeves running toward me at second isn’t going to scare me or stop me from putting the tag down on him for an out. 

I play ball like a girl. I run like a girl, throw like a girl, bat like a girl, spit in the sand at the beginning of each inning like a girl. I chew my wad of Big League Chew like a girl, occasionally swear (in a quieter voice of course since I do also practice good sportsmanship) like a girl when a ball gets by me or the ump makes a terrible call. I play softball like a girl because that is the only way I know how. 

What Summer Means To Me

It is only the first day of spring, but I’ve got summer on my mind. I live for that season that in Chicago usually comes around in mid-June and can last all the way through mid-October. I spend the winter months bundled up and dreaming of that first day I can spend an entire Saturday at North Avenue beach with my friends. So as a very early celebration of all the warm weather I know is on its way, here is what summer means to me:

Summer means carefree weekends spent on the beach with volleyball nets, coolers and picnic lunches. It is not caring how many brats or how much ice cream you eat because you know you’ll bike or run it off immediately. Summer means spending hours at the park playing tag, lava monster and blisters on your hands from countless back-and-forths on the monkey bars. It dining al-fresco while watching women in dresses and kids on skateboards pass by. Summer means going on a long run and laying in the grass afterward while your sweat dries up and leaves a salty but accomplished residue on your warm skin. It’s lemonade stands, ultimate frisbee games, reading on a park bench and late night bike rides through downtown. It’s hard-fought softball games with the North Park Covenant Softball Team and post-game backyard hangouts with good teammates and cold brews. Summer is free yoga in Millennium Park on Saturdays and free concerts at Jay Pritzker Pavillion on Mondays. It’s grilling bratwurst, halloumi and asparagus on the Humboldt Park hill on Sunday evenings while gazing dreamily at the Chicago skyline. It’s biking to the perfect spot between North Avenue & Oak Street and jumping off a ledge into Lake Michigan’s crisp water, and taking the John Hancock and The Drake towering above. Summer is friends, freedom, the warmth of the sun on your skin and 711 Slurpees at least once a week. It’s when you know a jacket isn’t needed to go outside and when you can basically live in your swimsuit. Summer is classic rock blasting from a garage radio while you wash your car in the driveway and lining a sidewalk to watch a small-town parade on the 4th of July. It’s waking up to the sun and falling asleep to an approaching thunderstorm. Summer, it’s what I look forward to every November through May. 

Why Vote?

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” -FDR

I am tired of friends, neighbors, people I don’t even know being apathetic toward local elections and community groups. People who don’t do the research and cast a vote for any candidate get under my skin even more than those who passionately vote for the opponent of who I support. How do we think things change? The POTUS sure as hell isn’t going to save our city’s public schools, keep greedy investors from monopolizing all affordable housing in the neighborhood, or repair the potholes on our streets. It’s the aldermen, the states reps, state senators, mayors, governors who do that. I wish so hard that all of my friends were registered voters in their respective cities and wards. I wish people would not just listen to the sometimes empty words politicians say, but dig beneath the surface and research how these elected officials have voted on legislation and read about the politician’s history. Or that they would at least listen to me when I tell them about these things and cast their vote according to the information I give them. It would make such a big difference…or at least it could. If the same people keep voting for the same candidates, nothing will change. If new, younger, voters use the internet (because we all love the internet) for just 10 minutes a week to read about the elected officials who represent them, they will probably feel more connected to the neighborhood, and more compelled to vote. Voting is so important. You want to continually complain about potholes, street lights being out, crime, CTA prices, county tax, garbage collection, parking meters? Then you vote. Otherwise, stop your complaining. I found this piece of art on the internet today, and it speaks wonders to my life philosophy. Image

You’ve lived in Chicago for over a year and see yourself living here for at least another and thus feel the right to complain about city/state issues, but you’re registered to vote in your home state that you swear you’ll never go back to? Then do as this sticker says and “get off of your lazy ass” and change your voter registration information. If you go downtown, it takes no more than 10 minutes. Or, you can print off a form, fill it out, and mail or fax it in. Easy. That’s how you begin to fix the problems about which you choose to complain; you make a move. Otherwise, you don’t complain about it (ok yes, there are extreme cases and situations in which maybe people are not able to register to vote, but those aren’t the people I am talking about.)

This isn’t even where this blog post was supposed to go. It was supposed to be about how much it bothers me that incredibly dishonest and lying people can hold elected office for years on end, how they berate their opponents and their opponent’s supporters. How they present false truths to unknowing voters and paint their opponent as a bad person, when it is in fact themself who is the conniving, puppet of a person who lies to constituents. And all for their own, personal benefit. That’s what this was supposed to be about, but we’ll save that for tomorrow I guess.

Thoughts on the passing of 2014 Chicago Budget

As I am going on hour four at the lovely coffee shop, Ipsento, the Chicago City Council meeting is about to reach the two hour point. You would think that after two hours, some sort of business would get taken care of amongst our city’s elected officials. What has happened though, you ask? Over an hour of ass-kissing. Alderman after alderman stands up, thanks Rahm, and all but confesses their love for the mayor.

Mayor, you are perfectly transparent.

Mayor, you are so accessible.

Mayor, you really care about our kids and their future.

Mayor, thank you for helping us and the every-day citizens of Chicago understand every word in the budget.

Mayor, I am confident in your ability to create more jobs, bring more affordable housing to all Chicago neighborhoods, and keep gangsters off the streets and consequently keep crime down.

Mayor Rahm, I believe in everything you do and you are the best leader our debt-sticken city could possibly have. I will vote aye for your fair and balanced budget.

I don’t know about you, but this all just frosts my cookies. I am disappointed in my own alderman, who claims to be part of a “progressive caucus,” for not standing up against a budget that leaves the future generations of Chicago in a continuous debt circle.

Out of 50 aldermen, who are supposed to stand up for us, the people, their constituents, why did only FIVE vote no on passing the budget? Why didn’t more people question it? The aldermen can vote legislations and proposals down, but all they do is behave as puppets and act like nosers to all mighty Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.

How can we move forward from this? How can Chicago become a better city if we continue electing officials who vote to spend millions of dollars on hotels, stadiums and activities for our tourists when our own communities and neighborhoods are struggling? I know it’s not as easy as I am sure it sounds, but why can’t money spent on improving the aesthetics and cleanliness of our downtown and River North neighborhoods be re-directed toward kids who don’t have text books, art, P.E., or music because our city can’t afford to grace them with those luxuries? Spending money on frivolous endeavors seems irresponsible and childish.

I don’t even know what else to say. I want my alderman, state representative, state senator, mayor, governor to act in the best interests of my neighbors and me. I don’t think they are all doing that right now, and those who are standing up against the power are quickly dismissed by the mayor and his posse. I wish Bob Fioretti was my alderman. He is not afraid of opposing Rahm on anything. He stood up and spoke about why he is not voting a robotic “aye” for passing the budget. As other aldermen stand up and spew accolades for Rahm, Fioretti disagrees and calls for a budget that keeps middle class families in Chicago instead of pushing them out.

Enough is enough, all of you Chicago politicians who just  gallivant around the city and blindly agree to follow Rahm and submit to all his desires. Start standing up for yourselves and the people you are supposed to represent.

Why I am skeptical of people who don’t drink coffee

Ok. So my judgements aren’t exactly as brash as the title makes them sound, but I’ve had this blog title festering in my mind for a while. While I admittedly know a few good people who don’t drink coffee and still find a way to make the world a better place, I believe everyone would be more productive, motivated, and apt to take action if they drank coffee at least once a day at least five days of the week. 

I am quite honest when I say coffee is my main reason for waking up in the morning. Of course I am not only excited for having the option to use a french press, pour-over, or drip coffee maker to brew my coffee, but I also look forward to the experience that comes along with it. Upon drinking that first cup, my brain and reflexes catch up with the rest of my body’s physical awake-ness. Ideas start brewing, words start assembling themselves into coherent sentences, and lists of the day’s tasks nearly write themselves in my notebook. 

I know that no matter how late I stay awake the night before, coffee will always have my back in the morning. Coffee means I can read another 30 pages of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me, I can watch at least three more episodes of Cheers” on Netflix, or as a more responsible option I can crank out the last half of the LoganSquarist article I’m working on. Coffee means I have time to do more of the things I love to do and be an approachable human regardless how much sleep I get. 

When people say they don’t drink coffee (or caffeine), I immediately assume they sleep too much. Again, I know this assumption isn’t always true, but somewhere deep down in my heart of hearts, I believe those who do not need (or strongly strongly desire) coffee in the morning spend too much time sleeping and not enough time moving, taking action, and contributing to a greater good. My response to people when they complain about being tired, or not having enough time to do things, is telling them to drink [more] coffee. Not drinking coffee, to me, is just a cover-up for people who are too soft to sacrifice their sleep time in order to press on and help some cause greater than themselves. 

Maybe this all relates back to my over-achieving, hardworking, anti-complaining attitude (no, I don’t think it’s pompous to flaunt those traits…they have gotten me through some rough, sometimes seemingly never-ending, nights of editing the North Park Press after writing a paper on how I view photography from a philosophical stand point, while simultaneously trying to conference with freshmen about the paper they half-assedly wrote on why they think nothing in Augustine’s Confessions even remotely relates to their own life (hint: a puddle of mud could find a way to relate itself to one of Augustine’s stories if it tried hard enough)).

If you want to do something, or think it is worth your time, then do it. Don’t make excuses or obstacles for yourself to climb over, just get it done. The world does not want to hear whiney excuse or how you can’t find enough time to do the things you want or need to do. If that is the case, then some component of your life needs to be changed. 

Maybe coffee isn’t the only answer, but it’s a start. It’s symbolic. Knowing you can wake up to coffee in the morning means you can get less than eight hours of sleep. It means you have no excuse to complain about how tired you are (because there’s always more coffee.) You can wake up an hour before you really need to and go on a run because guess what, as soon as you arrive home, that steaming mug of coffee awaits you and wants to help you start your day off motivated and ready to tackle just about anything. 

So stop complaining about being tired or un-motivated, start drinking coffee, and get shit done. 

 

Two-Alarm Fire Leaves Several Homeless in Humboldt Park

Two people were taken to the hospital Tuesday after a fire broke out around 12:45 a.m. in a residential building on the 3200 block of West Wabansia Ave.

A two-alarm fire that broke out early Tuesday morning on the 3200 block of West Wabansia Ave. drew many neighbors' attention left several homeless. Photo: Erin Hegarty

A two-alarm fire that broke out early Tuesday morning on the 3200 block of West Wabansia Ave. drew many neighbors’ attention left several homeless. Photo: Erin Hegarty

The fire charred the apartment building where several people lived at 3216 W. Wabansia Ave. and abandoned building at 3214 W. Wabansia Ave.

One man who lived in the apartment building was taken to Norwegian-American Hospital in fair-to-serious condition and a firefighter experiencing chest pains was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in fair-to-serious condition.

Firefighters were on the scene well past 3 a.m. and Human Services was called for two children and eight adults who were left unable to return to their home.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the Chicago Fire Department.

My woe of the day

Today I am trying to confirm information on the Chicago Parking Meter Deal (which I am sure you have heard is not really that good of a deal for the city of Chicago or its tax-paying residents). In under 3 minutes my phone call to the Mayor’s Office was shuffled between four people, ultimately resulting in reaching someone’s voicemail. This happens to me all the time. The city website is often difficult to navigate (in my humble opinion, at least), and whenever I call someone to ask a seemingly simple question, I get transferred to even more people who can’t or don’t want to answer my question. This is frustrating. And it’s Friday. I can hear kids having fun outside, my bike is calling my name, Tastee Freez is innocently sitting 2 blocks north of me just waiting for me to spend $3 on grape/nerds ice cream, and I have plans to eat at least two bratwursts tonight. Not being able to get my questions answered is not positively contributing to my current motivation level.