Concert Tales or The Time I Almost Slapped a T-Shirt Vendor

Ray LaMontagne Poster

Click to enlarge

Despite the poster on the left, this is not another fawning all over Ray LaMontagne post. But he is coming to town on Friday and it reminded me of last time he came to town and I almost had to get ugly with a t-shirt vendor.

Let’s get into the Way-Back Machine….It was June 2011 and Ray was performing at Pritzker Pavilion on Chicago’s lakefront. Area residents are familiar with these words being at the end of every weather report, “cooler by the lake,” which it generally is every single day. But for these two days in June there was some weird weather pattern that actually made it hotter by the lakefront. In our suburban enclave it was approximately 734 degrees and by Lake Michigan it was slightly cooler then the surface of the sun. One thing people traveling to Millenium Park and Pritzker Pavilion should know, you are much more likely to find shade from a building then a tree. For a mulit-million dollar park, you would think they would have added some more shade trees. Anyway, it was freaky hot, sunny, and people were a little short tempered and on edge. After finding our seats (which were so close that I am sure Ray wondered why the amazon lady in the white tank top and green skirt kept alternately crying and making goo-goo eyes throughout the whole show), we decided to hit the merchandise tent.

Here’s where things started to go awry.

I walked up and said, “Hi!” to the man working the counter in my bright, sunny Beth kind of way. At this point, I had nothing against him and was my normal cheery self. He was about 50-55 years old and didn’t seem as excited for the concert as I was. I asked if I could please see a certain shirt in a ladies XL. He puts down a t-shirt that was so big that would do in a pinch if I ran out of queen sized bedsheets. Our conversation went like this:

Me: This is a ladies XL?

Him: No. This is men’s 2X.

Me: Um..okay. Can I please see this in a ladies XL?

Exhibit #1 I was going to include a shot of me wearing it and showing it fits perfectly fine. But it lead to an awkward conversation involving my husband asking why I was taking photos of my chest. I found out, “It’s for my blog” is not an acceptable answer.

Him: (looking me up and down, heavy sigh, wheels visibly turning as he slowly picks his words) We’re….out.

I found it a little hard to believe that the completely-empty-of-customers-merchandise tent had a chubby girl stampede minutes after gate opening and they had managed to clean out ALL the ladies XL tees.

Me: Okay….what about the yellow one?

Him: (heavy sigh #2 as he gives me another head to toe) They are very small. 

I swear it came out in slow motion and warped-sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher. It was one of those moments where you think, “No, they couldn’t have possibly said what I think I heard, because that would be the rudest thing ever and who is that much of a jerk?”

Me: Excuse me?

Him: They are very small.

Oh hell no.

Okay, I am a tall girl- 5’11” on a good day and back in the middle of 2011, I was 45ish pounds heavier. Granted, it’s physically impossible for me to be a petite little waif, but I’ve never been fat lady at the circus big either. Plus, we live in the midwest. Seeing an overweight person is not exactly like spotting Bigfoot in the wild. We’re everywhere. Trust me. The Illinois state bird is cheese fries for a reason.


Illinois state flag showing our state bird in action.

This is where the urge to slap rose. I wanted to yell in his face, “Whether this stupid thing fits or not in none of your concern! Your check is the same either way! So button your shirt cause you’re freaking everyone out!” (oh yeah, did I fail to mention he was wearing a short sleeve button down shirt wide open with no undershirt? It was hot, but come on! ) But I didn’t. Instead I decided that shirt could have been an infants XL and I was going to buy it.

Me: (through gritted teeth) Ladies XL, please.

Him: (heavy sigh #3 as he turns around to fish out what was, apparently, the last yellow ladies XL that The Great Chunky Ray LaMontagne Fan Stampede of ’11 didn’t claim)

He slapped it down on the table and spread it out.

Him: See? It’s really small.

What I wanted to say was, “Thank you, but  I already heard you say you were an ass the first time.” But, once again, I didn’t.

Me: (holding it up, smiling the biggest smile and using an incredibly happy tone) IT’S PERFECT!!! Thank you so much for your help!!

I find when you really want to annoy people who are trying to upset you, being incredibly positive and refusing to give in to whatever their problem is, seems to do the trick. I paid and went back to our seats. My husband didn’t hear a word of it because the opening act had already started and he was watching them a few feet away.

Wednesday they announced that Ray has strep and has to reschedule a couple of shows, but should be better for Friday night in Chicago. Let’s hope he feelss better soon. And if he doesn’t, maybe he should take a walk down to the mech table and have a very close, very cough laden, conversation with a certain t-shirt vendor….


Taking a Compliment and Vitamins

A work-in-progress class assignment to create an environmental poster. I’m still not thrilled with the type and am going to work on it further.

We had an early Thanksgiving last Saturday and I got to spend some time with my twin six year old niece and nephew. My niece and I were playing with Legos. I always made a variety of cubes, so I thought the fact that she makes whatever is pictured on the box was impressive. “Hey, you’re really good at this!” I said. She replied, “I know!” like she was pretty impressed with herself, too.

It got me thinking of how we accept compliments as adults. Do we respond with an enthusiastic, “I know!”? Probably not. It seems like most of us do one of the following: 1-say genuine thank you (the normal healthy response, that we hardly ever use), 2- say thank you and find a way to compliment the other person right back, 3- diminish whatever the person is complimenting us on by saying it’s not as nice/complicated/whatever as the complimenter thinks, or 4- say thank you, wonder what their ulterior motive is and hide your wallet (just in case).

What happens between 6 years old and quasi-adulthood that makes it so hard to hear nice things about ourselves? Do we get a message that we have to dim our own light to fit in? I’m not saying we should all be walking around constantly impressed with ourselves like a bunch of megalomaniac sociopaths (why does that make lawyers spring to mind?), but so many of us downplay our accomplishments. Do we have our own bar set so high that we really don’t see our accomplishments as anything special? Or maybe we’re afraid the complimenter will see us as full of ourselves if we come across as too enthusiastic?

For whatever reason, I usually label friends and family who compliments me as, “just being nice.” That translates into, “sparing my feelings from the fact that this actually is awful.” There are occasions where I say thank you, but start to diminish whatever they are complimenting (“It wasn’t that complicated”). It’s something I need to work on.

As the holiday season gets rolling with Thanksgiving, maybe we should all practice tooting our own horn a little. When someone compliments our turkey making prowess or our jellied cranberry slicing skills, let’s give a hearty, “I KNOW!” like my niece- even if it’s just in our heads.

I got this great quote in my in-box yesterday and it fits here perfectly:

“I am convinced that one of the most helpful things we can do for people is to refuse to buy into their inappropriately restricted views of their limitations.”  – Nathaniel Branden

Now about the vitamins. Recently, I’ve had a few questions about the fistful of vitamins I take because of my celiac disease, so I thought I would share the list. Part of celiac disease is the damage to the small intestine makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients from food. I am no authority on celiac disease or vitamins or, anything really. This is the regimen that seems to work for me. Your milage may vary.

Nature’s Way Alive Multivitamin– Gigantic horse pills that taste like a lawn, but choke those bad boys down, because they work! They are made from actual food sources, not synthetic which means they are more readily absorbed into your system. Alive contains vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, amino acids, green foods, antioxidants, and a bunch of other big words that are good for you. I skipped the multi’s for a long time (stupid) and when I added them back in, my hair and eyelashes had this very noticeable growth spurt. So to me, that’s a great sign that I’m absorbing them and they are doing good things for my body.

B100’s– I’m probably getting everything I need from the Alive, but the B100’s really help with stress, so I take an extra every day.

Vitamin D (5,000 IUs)- I had my vitamin D levels checked a couple of years ago and they were super low. I take this one maybe 2-3 times each week.

Bio-Sil– Bio-Sil is a form of silica. I heard this was good for your hair, skin and nails and I started taking it. After a bottle, I didn’t think it was doing anything and didn’t buy it again. After about 10 days, my nails started breaking off and my hair started getting a ton of split ends. So, yeah, I trimmed my hair and bought another bottle.

Iron– It’s very common for CD people to be iron deficient. Even though we all need iron to live, it’s difficult to absorb and it’s like you have to trick it into your system. Vitamin C and the amino acid, lysine, help with absorption, so I take my iron with Emergen-C (I recommend Super Orange flavor), Super Lysine Plus (it has lysine, garlic, echinacea and other immune system boosters). It seem to work because I no longer look ghostly pale and am not faint. Did I never mention that I faint super easy? I’ve got all kinds of stories of fainting and nearly fainting at inopportune moments- including the lobby at my former job and at a movie theater buying Harry Potter tickets (don’t judge). The stories are only amusing to me because I can’t see what I look like while fainting. Have you ever seen anyone faint? It looks like they died! But potential employers and insurers take note that I am not fainty when taking my iron and, much like me, it’s not serious.

Just a reminder that you can follow me on Tumblr (it’s like here, but with a lot more Mad Men gifs) and Twitter (it’s like here only with a lot more Boardwalk Empire talk). Oh, I have a Behance page that no one ever looks at, but I get super excited on the rare occasion I get an appreciation.

Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Completely Random Part II: The REVENGE!

It’s time for the latest installment of Completely Random! For the uninitiated, Completely Random are a bunch of tiny, unrelated things that won’t fit into a whole post, but that I find entertaining.

So who wants a quick Dog Man update? Well, too bad, you’re getting one anyway. Dog Man is our condo neighbor and hates me. A couple of weeks ago we had a pretty bad rainstorm and at 11 o’clock at night he was out in the middle of a heavy rain sweeping leaves off the sidewalk and glaring up at the tree. It’s great that he wants to keep our courtyard looking nice, but it seemed like making the bed while you’re still laying in it.

Speaking of neighbors, we got a couple of new ones and I’m pretty sure they’re either hookers, porn actresses or some combination of both. No, you cannot have my address or come over. But honestly, as long as they are quiet and don’t hog the washer, I don’t care what they do. Considering that is the same condo where the cops dragged out one of the last tenants for being a Craigslist prostitute, I’m curious where they are advertising that place for rent.

I get at least one hit each day on this post from someone searching “wombat” on Google.  It makes me  every time I see it in my stats, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little hurt that they weren’t searching for my photo, but what are you going to do. (You: “I’m not falling for that again!” Me: “No, it’s really me this time.” You: *heavy sigh* Okay, I’ll click it.” Me:  *runs away giggling*)

I run into a lot of ….eccentrics (that’s a nice word for weirdos, right?). Like the guy who would ride his bike around the neighborhood wearing a pith helmet like he was an old-timey archeologist. Or the guy who cornered me in the bookstore and would not stop talking about his theory that angels and aliens are one in the same. Or the customer who thought it would be a good idea to encourage Costco patrons by yelling, “Let’s do this thing!!! HUSTLE! HUSTLE! HUSTLE!!!” Or the lady wearing scrubs and angrily screaming at me in the school parking lot in a pitch so high only dogs could hear, “MY CAR!!! I CAN’T FIND MY CAR!! WHERE IS MY CAR????” I told her to go inside and ask for campus security. She looked at me like I was crazy and asked, “GO WHERE???? INSIDE WHAT???” Considering we were standing about 20 feet in front of the only building in the vicinity and the entrance could only be more clearly marked if it had big neon flashing arrows pointing to the revolving door, the missing car situation was suddenly not so shocking. After speaking calm and slowly and using a series of hand gestures, I got her to understand where to go and she went off still muttering, “The car…where….my caaaaar….” like a toy with a dying battery. I wanted to stay and see how it played out, but after about 20 minutes she still hadn’t come back out. So as far as I know, she’s still looking.

Coming up next month, it’s the blog’s one year anniversary! It is crazy how fast time flies. Have a great week!

Back to Routine

First, the good news. Miss Lucky is on her way to recovery. After getting propofol (AKA the Michael Jackson killing drug) to knock her out for an oral exam, she woke up and just started eating. I’m very grateful to all the doctors and techs who took care of her during her 4 days in the hospital, especially her primary doctor, who didn’t seem to notice that we were calling her by the wrong name for almost a week.

I’m also grateful for the hot bar at Whole Foods, because it’s was the only decent meal I was eating each day. We have no food, clean clothes are getting scarce, and you know the the dirty dish situation is out of control when your husband says, “Maybe we should buy some plastic forks.” It’s crazy how something like an illness can throw off your whole life. I don’t know about you, but I function much better on a set schedule. Not a rigid, “Up by 7, breakfast 7:15-7:22, shower 7:23-7:36” type of schedule, but a loose idea about my day. So starting to get back towards my normal routine feels really good.

While all this was going on, I was trying to learn Adobe Dreamweaver. For the unfamiliar, it’s basically website coding. Thinking about it now, I can’t decide which I would rather do, give Lucky her 4 pills twice a day or code a website in Dreamweaver. In both cases, you keep doing the same thing over and over and over again and it spits crap back out at you. Then you try one last time, it works, you have no idea what you did differently and couldn’t do it again if you tried. Dreamweaver feels like getting thrown into an episode of The Twilight Zone. Things look familiar and you know how they should operate, but everything is just slightly off. It would not surprise me at all if it was created by aliens so they could point and laugh at humans (like they need more reasons).

On the right, the creator of Adobe Dreamweaver

Maybe it’s my brains way of trying to decompress, but when I get really super stressed, random funny things pop into my head. So, Wednesday while I was busy repeatedly knocking my tea over on to the brand new Wacom tablets (I also get clumsy, well, clumsiER) during web design class, I was thinking how I had spent hours trying to get one simple thing to work and it was all wasted, because nothing was working, how this is so out of my comfort zone, how we need a new TV (oh, did I forget to mention that our TV decided it was retiring in the middle of all this?) and from there stressful thoughts started to snowball. Out of nowhere, a conversation I had nearly a year ago popped into my head. I was talking to one of my teachers and said I was nervous for web design, because I heard it was difficult. He scrunched up his face like he smelled something foul and said, “You need to talk to people who like things.” I just started laughing and said, “What does that even mean??” He said, “No one you talk to seems to like anything!” Honestly, I still have no idea what he means (we like things, just not Dreamweaver), but it made me laugh then and makes me laugh now.

Thinking I was missing the software operation gene, I was super excited when I stumbled on the site and it worked on the first try!! Let’s say there is a video of a song on You Tube that you love and want as an MP3 to put on your Ipod or whatever. You just put the link in and it converts it! I have no affiliation with the site  (Lord knows they wouldn’t want me to touch any of their code), but I was so excited that it worked for me, that I wanted to share.  Now I can listen to this song all the time:

Ray, seriously, you have a lot of songs named after girls and one named “Beth” would be awesome. At least for me.

I’m fairly certain that by the end of the weekend, we will have clean dishes and clothes once again. Of course, they may be plastic forks and clothes from the store, but they still count. Life is slowly returning to normal and that’s always a good thing.

The Non-Post Post

Sorry, guys, but I just don’t have it in me to try and be funny or uplifting this week. On the left is my little Lucky and she’s not doing that great. She’s been in the hospital for two nights and hasn’t eaten or drank anything since Sunday, but the doctors can’t figure out why. On paper, she is the picture of health. She’s still active and wanting to be with people (cats tend to hide when they aren’t feeling good). But she just won’t eat. I joked with one of the vet techs that we need a kitty Dr. House to figure this one out. So please keep some good thoughts for Miss Lucky. I don’t know why black cats have a bad reputation. She’s truly the sweetest cat I’ve ever had.

I do have to say that the people at Arboretum View Animal Hospital are awesome. Everyone is so helpful, so kind and trying so hard to figure out what is going on. One of the doctors even called us from his home on his day off to check on her (then he told me how his cat had similar symptoms, it turned out to be cancer and she died. Then he started getting choked up and I sobbed for 5 minutes after hanging up, but forget about that part!). If you are in the area and need a vet, I would definitely recommend them.

In addition to this, I’ve got an ungodly amount of homework. I’m a little grateful, though, because it gives me something else to focus on. By “focus on” I mean “punch Adobe Dreamweaver in the face”. Yes, it’s a computer program, but I’m sure it’s got a face somewhere and I am going to find it.

I updated the Design and Photography pages, so take a look and pay me to design your stuff, because I’ve got a massive vet bill to pay and could use the extra dough.

See you next week with hopefully some good news and I promise I will make with the yucks.