A Love Note to The Men of The L

To The Beautiful Men Riding The L,

You probably don’t know me, but I watch you from afar most mornings and evenings. Creepy enough for you? I’m just getting started.

Every weekday I board the L, usually disgruntled and in a state of dread about the 8-hour workday ahead of me. But once I get on that train my mood is instantly lifted, and it’s all because of you. While most commuters are deeply invested in their cell phones – playing candy crush or whatever the kids are playing now – I’m over there in the corner gazing at you in your business casual attire and picturing our life together. Sometimes if I stare long enough you look back at me and our gazes meet. If my eyes could talk they’d say, “Hey baby, let’s ride this offensive-smelling L train into the sunset or to a stop where we can get Chipotle.”

Sometimes I’m lucky enough to get to stand really close to you, so close that when the train stops abruptly I can fall into your arms. I’m not a klutz I just want to be near you.

When the train pulls up to my station I get off and as I’m walking on the platform I pretend that you’re watching me, wondering what my name is or what color underwear I have on…

So thank you, men of the L, for gracing the otherwise unpleasant L train with your presence every morning and every night.

Love,

Me

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“The Thumbsucker”

Lately I’m all about the self-help books. Some people are just naturally good, while the rest of us have to use literature to remind and teach us what being a decent human looks like. Our habits play a big role in how we are perceived by others and our quality of life. Bad habits are just a part of life that we either continue doing or try to overcome. I recently read a book called “Making Habits, Breaking Habits,” and while it’s not the best beach read, I did learn a lot about the psychology of forming and breaking habits. The book made me want to develop new habits, like reading every night and drinking a glass of water between drinks. It also inspired me to break bad habits like overspending, overeating, forgetting to proofread my blog posts, and blowing homeless dudes. I’m not a psychologist, 97 percent sure I got a C+ in psychology, which is pretty disconcerting…but I do know that the key to making habits and breaking habits is repeating them (or gradually wading off of them). Once something is repeated a certain number of times it becomes habitual. It just takes a lot of persistence and willpower, and sometimes all it takes is time….

Most childhoods are characterized by one habit – it could have been nail-biting, lip smacking, being a pain in your parent’s ass, or thumb-sucking. Mine were the latter two. Even if you knew me in pre-k or kindergarten, we probably never talked because I was too consumed by the thumb in my mouth to even speak. For a while it wasn’t a concern, in fact it may have been irresistibly cute. I imagine a scene in my kitchen, my family in a half circle around my highchair, swooning over how Goddamn flawless I was. But while the average toddler looses interest in their thumb around the age of 5, I was still an active user beyond kindergarten. I could go all day without that thumb leaving my mouth. Upon exiting my mother’s vagina, the first decision I made as an infant was to suck my left thumb and not my right. Good call baby Tina. Even with my left thumb occupied, I could still use my right hand for every-day tasks such as writing, drawing and hailing cabs.

I continued to suck my thumb past kindergarten, but started to notice my parents scolding me whenever I tried to suck. I started to hide under blankets…but my parents – with their fancy college degrees – quickly realized what I was up to. Months turned to years and before you knew it I was learning fractions and still sucking my thumb. Seeing no sign of me stopping, my parents decided take matters into their own hands, or in this case, thumbs. Sorry I had to.

Anyway, they employed some pretty harsh methods to get me to stop. There was this gross nail polish that tasted like rubbing alcohol, but that wasn’t enough to stop me. I was also forced to wear heavily bandaged thumb brace, which really did wonders for my already slipping social standing, but much like Paris Hilton in a spelling bee, that thumb brace didn’t last long, and it didn’t stop me. I just took it off when I wanted to be intimate with my thumb and slyly slipped it back on whenever my parents or any of my parent’s spies were near. I must have thought my parents were the biggest morons. I eventually came to the much overdue realization that I was no longer a child, and if I ever wanted to be taken seriously as a violinist, I would have to quit. At the time I really wanted to start playing the violin…see it all came full circle: I broke a habit and started a new one. I played the violin for two years until I decided that my social life took precedence over everything.

Bottom line: if you put your mind to it, you can make and break habits. It may take a few tries, but as long as you keep trying, there’s a solid chance you’ll get there. I hope I’ve #inspired you guys today.

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Same Tina, Different Zip Code

September 1 marks a very important day in XTINAMISTAKES history. After over a year of living at home (gasp), my parents and I have decided to consciously uncouple. Yep, I’m finally moving out of the nest. I am the last of my friends to leave home…(where’s my trophy?) and I couldn’t be more ready to close this rather lowly period of my life and begin a new chapter, one I’d like to call “Independent Tina.” I imagine this being the opening chapter to Part II of my memoir. And isn’t Part II always the best? Part II is where I’ll mature and grow, make career advances, and hopefully upgrade my iPhone from a cracked iPhone 4 to a 6. Part II will also be chock-full of romance pizza anecdotes.

There are definitely things I will miss about living at home, namely, the free rent, fully stocked fridge, internet, on-demand movies, Mom’s home cooking, Dad’s grilling and the occasional family dinners at TGI Fridays. But its not like all of that will go away. I’m only a short train ride away. I’ll be home every Sunday with a week’s worth of laundry in tow for family dinner and 60 minutes, as is tradition. My brother, Erik, has been eyeing my room ever since I left for college…and now that I’m finally moving, his dream of an attached bathroom with a walk-in closet will become a reality. 

Although not having to worry about rent or bills is nice, I desperately crave the independence of my college days like I desperately crave McDonald’s Chicken Selects…I can’t wait to be the sole instigator of my life, to have autonomy and to use words like autonomy whenever I want even if it doesn’t make sense.

My new home is in Lincoln Park on one of my favorite streets, Armitage Avenue…It’s also above an Italian restaurant, so basically I’m living in a dream I once had about Heaven. The apartment is in amazing condition and has all the necessities: central air, dishwasher, a bathroom and windows, too! I’m such a lucky girl. Unfortunately, my room is the size of a standard prison cell, so that’s not ideal, especially considering how much crap I have. Womp.

Since finding the place I’ve taken a new interest in interior design. And I have one thing to say about what I’ve learned so far: Damn, furniture is expensive. I’ve been advised to buy everything from IKEA, and I heard they serve food there, so I think I’ll make a trip out there soon. I also plan on having the comfiest bed because sleep = happiness.

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Palooza.

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The way I feel about music is like the way Kanye feels about Kanye. I listen to music whenever and wherever I can, because it’s just that great. Few things compare to the feeling you get when you hear a really good song for the first time or when you’re listening to your favorite band live. Music brings people together, and that’s a pretty cool thing. With Lollapalooza just days away, the regret of not buying a ticket is starting to hit me. Not only will I be breaking my running streak of  5 years of attending Lolla, even more tragic, I will likely never have the opportunity to see Outkast in concert. It looks like I’ll be watching the live-stream of the concert from my bed with a water bottle filled with wine like the ones they sell there. Having been to the past five years of Lolla, I have been able to see some amazingly talented artists in concert. Let’s do a countdown, shall we?

Tina’s Top Ten Lolla Performances (2009-2013)

10. Snoop Dogg (now known as Snoop Lion) I went to this show because my friends and I wanted to get a decent view of Eminem who was performing after. The crowd was fun, laid back, and many happened to enjoy smoking weed. Snoop Dogg’s music is like a hip-hop time machine. Many of his songs bring me back to the days of basement parties and late night trips to Steak and Shake. While I was not getting stoned every weekend, from the outside it must have seemed like it with all the Steak and Shake I was eating.

9. Vampire Weekend Their most recent album kicks a$$ and Ezra Koenig is a babe, IMO.

8. Two Door Cinema Club The lead singer is an Irish ginger…need I say more?

I only knew their most popular songs, but this concert was an absolute blast. I was with my friends from college, and we befriended some strangers in the crowd because like I said earlier, music brings people together. They’re an alternative band with poppy/electronic undertones, and their sound is somewhat reminiscent of Passion Pit. It’s upbeat and happy, making it hard not to have a good time. “Something Good Can Work” is probably one of my favorite songs of all time.

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7. Florence + The Machine This performance was electrifying. Lead singer, Florence Welch, had so much energy. Her voice is so powerful for such a petite gal, and her stage presence is unrivaled. Remember when she wore that green dress to the Grammy’s? If I ever get a cat I will name it Florence. Then maybe I’ll get a dog and name it The Machine. The best moment from this set was when she played “The Dog Days Are Over” and my friend Natalie and I were weaving through the masses of people to get closer to the stage. I love the buildup of that song.

Posing with some Aussies at Lolla '11

Posing with some Aussies at Lolla ’11. Disclaimer: That is a bathing suit top, not a bra.

6. Cage The Elephant Didn’t listen to them much before seeing them live. If it weren’t for my cool alternative friends dragging me to their show, I probably wouldn’t have given them a chance. Lots of pushing and shoving at this concert, but still overall one of the best performances of the weekend.

5. The Shins I started listening to The Shins after buying the Garden State soundtrack, which, by the way, is the best soundtrack ever. I love when James Mercer hits the high notes in songs like “Simple Song” and “So Says I.”

4. The Black Keys The night shows are awesome because the crowds are massive and the sets are more elaborate. The Black Keys brought their A-game to Lolla. Just an absolute blastoid of a time.

3. Ellie Goulding she is sensational. I try to reserve that word for things that are actually sensational, and Ellie fits the bill. Not only is she an amazing singer, but she also seems like the coolest girl on the block. She engages with the audience like we’re all her Besties. I like to pretend that we are sometimes…

2. Phoenix If you asked me to name my favorite band in college, Phoenix would be it. Can I name a single member of the band? Nope, but 1 in 5 Americans can’t locate America on a map, which is completely unrelated, but is still a shocking statistic. And  you know I’m a big advocate of geographic awareness. Seeing them live was a big moment for me, maybe even bigger than the time I got a boom box for my 10th birthday. “Wolfgang Amadeus”  helped me get through a lot of cr** freshman year.

1. The Killers I’ve been a loyal fan of theirs since their debut album, Hot Fuss. The day the Killers were performing was a long one for Festival Tina. I lost my sandals in a mosh pit at Passion Pit and I’m not sure how, but I also lost my shirt. So pretty much I looked (and probably smelled) like a dirty hippie wearing a fanny pack. Luckily nothing was going to get in the way of me enjoying my favorite band in the world perform live. I was so close to the stage, making the experience all the more memorable.

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Set Goals, Not Fires

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I made a list of goals the other day…The list includes both professional and personal goals. A few of my goals: learn a new skill (self defense? speed reading? calligraphy?), support a cause and volunteer, grow my scrunchy collection, and of course, a couple health-related goals. Mine are to drink more water and eat more pizza. A goal that I set that falls under both professional and personal is to write more and to post on this blog at least once a week. Considering my track record of posting, this is a highly ambitious undertaking. I think I’ve posted a total of 20 times since starting this blog a year ago. My plan is to replace the one hour I spend surfing the web/looking at pictures of cats, with writing. This way I can keep you guys updated on the progress or complete lack of progress toward my goals. Goals is such a weird word…it rhymes with moles…moles are gross. Sorry if you have moles.

In other unrelated news, I spent my Saturday night watching what could be the dummest movie I have ever seen. I spell dumbest incorrectly because that’s how truly jarringly dumb it was. The movie is called Bad Words and stars Jason Bateman and a little Indian boy dressed like Gepetto who’s voice makes me want to punch a baby seal. The plot is as compelling as a Paris Hilton song and the screenplay is worthy of 89 Razzies: one for every minute I spent watching it. I’d rather watch a varicose vein treatment commercial on repeat than sit through that movie again. So unless you’re a miserable person, save yourself from immense cinematically-induced pain and do not watch this movie.

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XTINA MISTAKES goes intercontinental

Last Sunday I returned from one of the most – if not the most – unforgettable trips of my life, to one of the most historic cities in the world. Of course I’m talking about Beijing, birthplace of celebrated basketball star, Yao Ming and home to 11.5 million people. Prior to the trip, my knowledge of the Chinese culture did not extend far beyond cuisine and the fact that there were magical places where designer goods could be acquired at a small fraction of the price. I know more now…Mostly more about Chinese cuisine if I’m being completely honest. Much like my life in the states, each day was planned around where and when we’d be eating our next meal. I ate a lot of traditional Chinese food, which included everything from peking duck, a famous duck dish that has been prepared since the imperial era, to bamboo shoots and dumplings. And of course, every meal was concluded with RICE! Did you know that the rice is usually served at the end for people who are still hungry (aka me)? One of the greatest challenges of the trip was using chopsticks. If American restaurants replaced silverware with chopsticks there would be an uprising. Americans are some of the most ambitious people on earth, but when it comes to food, we don’t want to waste any time.

This was my first time in Asia, so now I can say I’ve been to 4 of the 7 continents. Can you say “cultured betch?” No, wait, don’t. I just said that out loud and now I want to throw up. I went with my immediate family (Mom, Dad, Robbie, Erik) and we stayed with my aunt and uncle who have lived there with their two boys for almost three years now. It was cool to see how they’ve made a life in Beijing – new friends (all fellow expats), new language (my aunt can speak Mandarin!)

I took a lot of pictures (and an unhealthy amount of selfies). I’ll spare you the history lesson behind each sight, mostly because I will completely botch the stories. The history behind the construction of The Great Wall of China in Mutianyu is pretty spectacular….1 million people perished during the construction of this prodigious world wonder. Pictures don’t do it justice. Climbing the wall was definitely the highlight of the trip. We spent one day hiking on our own up to the “Wild Wall” which is the unrestored part of the wall. If you ever get the chance to visit, I would highly recommend it.

The one main downfall of China is the pollution. A good day for China’s air is four times worse than what the air is like in L.A on a bad day. That’s why the people wear the masks. You can literally feel it in your lungs. Breathing in the air in China is equivalent to smoking a cigarette. So while I’m glad I went to China, I think it may have shaved a few days off my life. The smogginess of the pollution really took a toll on my pictures – even my instagrams suffered.

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My relationship with Marijuana

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I was in the seventh grade when I won the highly coveted and prestigious D.A.R.E essay award. Depending on who you ask, D.A.R.E stands for either “Drugs Are Recreational Enjoyment” OR the less probable “Drugs Abuse Resistance Education.” When my name (“Christina Lundon”) was announced my heart dropped. The first thing I thought was “Why on this day did I choose to wear this disgusting camo tank top?” Unfortunately I didn’t have time for a wardrobe change, so I strutted down the aisle, accepting some congratulatory high-fives from some of my adoring classmates before making my way up to the podium. As if the glory of winning wasn’t enough, they also presented me with a basket of goodies, which included D.A.R.E swag like bumper stickers, key chains and a t-shirt. Then I proceeded to read my essay out loud. It was one of my proudest moments. At that moment I was sure that nothing would ever compare to the natural high I was feeling as I explained the long term side-effects of hallucinogens and carcinogens (they’re not good if you were wondering). Everything was going great until I remembered the cringe-worthy statement I put in the closing paragraph: “Thank you Officer W for teaching us about drugs and alcohol and the negative impact it can have on our lives. I think I speak for all of my classmates when I say that the D.A.R.E unit is incredibly informative, and your dedication to your job and service to the community is admirable. You are an inspiration to us all.” Two words come to mind when I reread this: social. suicide. So as I neared the final paragraph of my essay I considered the severe consequences that reading this final statement could reap. For one, my reputation as a “chill seventh grader” would be tarnished, and I would forever be known as the brown-noser who idolized our anti-drug D.A.R.E instructor. I imagined that the most ruthless bunch of my classmates would take the ridicule a step further by printing several hundred pictures of Officer Williams and covering every inch of my locker with them. Thankfully, I stopped reading right before the final paragraph. Officer Williams was probably like: “WHY DIDN’T SHE READ HER DEDICATION TO ME? THAT WAS THE SOLE REASON WE PICKED HER ESSAY.” Sorry Officer Williams…

In 1996 my high school was the subject of an article in Time Magazine which discussed the spike in casual drug use among our nation’s youth population. The story was titled “High Times at New Trier High.” New Trier became widely known as a school where the grades are high, and the students are higher. This reputation continued to flourish like a beautiful weed plant into the new millennium. Weed could  be found everywhere – parties, sporting events, even on school grounds (gasp). The G stairwell was the designated weed-smoking/other unmentionable activities stairwell. It was rumored that you could get high by simply inhaling deeply in that stairwell. There were two breeds of smokers at NT: smart stoners and not-so-smart stoners. The smart ones knew how to hide it, while the stereotypical stoners would slump into class five to ten minutes late with bloodshot eyes, a bag of lays, and a sheepish grin. One time a kid came to class with a pint of Homer’s ice cream. He was subsequently asked to leave. I didn’t smoke much weed in high school, but I will never forget the first time I ever got high. Cue dream sequence…

The first time I ever truly got high (I’m talking higher than outserspace) was sometime in the warmer months of Junior year, so sometime in either May, June, July, August or September. The place was my friend’s outdoor room, which we called “The Hut.” It was basically an adult tree house. The Hut was a stoner’s oasis – it had music, lights, a ceiling fan and comfy furniture. I have so many great memories in that hut, but none quite as memorable as the first time I got super duper high. I took maybe five hits. Everyone else was enjoying themselves and giggling like a bunch of idiots; however, my brain decided that now would be the perfect time for a full-blown anxiety attack. I started hyperventilating and begged my friend Em to get me to a f***ing hospital. At first she laughed at me, but then once she realized I was serious she sat down next to me and started rubbing my back. This helped a little, but my heart was still beating out of my chest and my lungs still burned. I started picking at the burn on my thumb to distract myself. I ended up peeling a lot of dead skin off my thumb. It took weeks to heal. After 20 minutes of thinking I was going to die of a marijuana overdose, I calmed myself down and experienced what it is to be “stoned out of your mind.” The Christmas lights on the ceiling dazzled me in ways I never thought possible. Everything anyone said was the funniest thing I’d ever heard. Time seemed to slow down. I went home that night and ate three ice cream sandwiches before going to bed, as I usually do. But on this night the ice cream tasted so unbelievable I wept real tears of happiness.

In conclusion, I support the legalization of marijuana.

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