He Loves Me Not…SO WHAT?

A post to my former self. And anyone else looking for unsolicited advice.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the post I wrote a few weeks ago on dating.

Mostly I’ve been remembering how boy crazy I was at a very early age and how that evolved over the years.

It’s made me really sad and annoyed to realize how much time I spent being Super Bummed Out that some guy didn’t like me back.

Why was it so important for my crush to think I was cute? Why did I stay up nights crying over an unrequited “love”? Why did I believe I needed someone to be my boyfriend in order to feel complete?

At the time, I thought something was wrong with me. I felt unattractive, unwanted and unloved. I thought the only way to undo all of these things was to find a man.

What I didn’t know or understand is that finding a man had way more to do with finding a friend than with getting someone to ask me out on a date and tell me I was beautiful.

Seriously, think about all of the people you’ve ever been interested in or hoped were into you. How well did you know them? Did you consider if you’d even be compatible? Would you describe them as a “really good person” or someone you felt could complement and expand your world?

We rely on so much superficial information. Ask yourself why you even like someone. Are you just obsessed with captivating their attention? Why is that important?

I wish I hadn’t needed someone to validate my existence by swiping right or liking my status or texting me back in 30 seconds.

I wish I hadn’t lived a life waiting for some dummy who I most likely would have been unhappy with to choose me.

I wish I had liked myself over needing someone to like me.

Because I wouldn’t have been so miserable, depressed, anxious and self loathing.

Because I wouldn’t have taken my friends and family for granted.

Because I would have understood that my worth wasn’t tied to Some Dude.

And I want you to know that yours isn’t either.

If you’re wondering why I have the nerve to say this when I’m with someone, I will tell you. I’m at a place where I Do Not Care What You Think. And by “You”, I mean Men. Perhaps it’s finally realizing my feminism or it’s being in a relationship where I’m not afraid of losing him just for saying what’s on my mind or when something is bothering me and wanting him to be in my life because of who he is and what he does and not as a compliment factory-movie trope-permanent wedding date or maybe still, having a greater understanding of mortality.

Whatever it is, I no longer want to link what I think of myself with whether or not a man likes me.

Before you decide to give someone your everything, make sure they’re worthy. If they’re not, move on.

You’re totally awesome and a catch and have so much to offer? Be that person to the people who deserve that. Bake an awesome birthday cake for your favorite co-worker. Buy your mom an unexpected gift. Cook your roommate a meal.

Stop waiting around to be someone’s amazing girlfriend or wife.  Stop thinking that’s what your purpose in life is.

Accept the love that is being offered to you already. If you find yourself having a meltdown over someone on Tinder who won’t make a plan, you’ve already wasted time and energy that could have been much better spent.

I’m not trying to convince you that being single is better than being with someone. I’m trying to say that while you are single, try to enjoy it.

No, nothing beats those first few months of falling for someone. But for most of us, only a very select few of those whirlwinds turn into something more (and Not A Spoiler Alert: the honeymoon period ends, sometimes sooner than later…like if you get knocked up after five months. WOMP.) For the sake of math, find balance between the time you’re sweating some guy who probably won’t be your boyfriend and the One Million Other Things that will make you happy.

Did you hear that as of October 6th McDonald’s will be serving breakfast 24 hours? See? That absolutely beats having drinks dutch with a know-it-all who starts your non-date by saying he’s not looking for anything serious.

If you find that the only thing you think will make you happy is getting a boyfriend, you might want to re-evaluate your life.

Which is what I wish I would have done over twenty years ago.


Swimsuit Season

Here’s a recording of our July 2015 show. The theme was Swimsuit Season. Readers included Megan Kirby, Eileen Tull, Hope Rehak, and Miden Wood.




Meet Our Readers

August’s theme is Sleepovers, and we’re ready. Ready for late-night whispering, makeovers, and those pillow fights I think only happen in the movies. Did you ever have a pillow fight? Really? Will you come to the show and tell me about it? I’m not gonna believe it’s a thing otherwise. While you’re there, hear stories from the ladies below. We trust they’d never freeze our bra.


Ali Kelley

alikelley_photoAli Kelley is a writer living in Chicago. She co-produces Story Club Chicago and performs her stories at series around the city. You can find her talking about ’90s pop culture and teen angst on her blog Sleepoverz and HelloGiggles.





Stefania Rudd

Stefania Rudd HeadshotStefania Rudd is a Chicago based stand-up comedian, who escaped the vast prairies of her home state of Oklahoma to tell jokes in the big city. A graduate of the iO Improv Training Program, the Second City Writing Program, and the Feminine Comique Stand-up Program, it’s apparent Stefania likes taking classes to help focus her wit. She has been performing in Chicago for over 2 years with The Kates, Zanies’ Female Funnies, and various local showcases and open mics. While traveling for work or fun, she takes time to drop in on open mics and sample the local pizza selection. When not on stage you can hear her co-hosting one of Chicago’s longest running podcasts, Your Chicago, where she interviews the people who make Chicago go.

Steph Fowler

FullSizeRender (1)Hailing from a small town in rural Iowa, Stephanie Fowler has been in Chicago for 12 years, making her an official transplant with full corruption privileges. When she’s not winning costume contests or enthusiastically singing karaoke poorly, Steph can be found kickboxing, eating tacos, or scribbling in a notebook at a local pub. During a recent life transition, she rediscovered her interest in creative expression and found writing to be instrumental to re-establishing her identity and rebuilding her life. She looks forward to helping others do the same in her work as a therapist and coach, and she’s thrilled to take the storytelling stage for the first time at Miss Spoken!


Lynne Roberts

L Roberts headshot1Lynne Roberts is a Chicago stand-up comic and storyteller. She was raised in the suburbs in the 1980s, so she’s pretty sure her life is actually a John Hughes movie. She got her degree in English and worked in children’s book publishing for years before deciding to go back to school to save the environment. Now she works as the most unscientific scientist on the planet, for the planet.


Here’s a recording of our June 2015 show. The theme was Orgasms. Readers included Kim Schultz, Lesley Pearl, Jess Krista Merighi, Kim Nelson, and Meg Grunewald.







Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless G-Chat

Timehop (a typically fun app that shows you Facebook posts, Tweets, texts and the like, from years passed) pulled up an old G-chat between me and an ex-boyfriend when we had just started dating. And will continue to do this until April of 2016 (the month we broke up.)

It would be like if you had transcripts of all of your phone calls and put them in a time capsule and then someone mailed them to you everyday seven years later.

It’s weird. And kind of uncomfortable. But also…fascinating?

At the time, we were obviously rebounding from serious relationships. It appears we ignored this huge red flag and plunged into things head first.

And it was really great and magical feeling. I was also hella insecure and still not at all over the guy who dumped me a mere six weeks before we met.

But there it all is: An entire word for word conversation that I totally forgot we even had. All of the “lol’s” and flirting and declarations of wanting and hoping and eventually, loving.

It’s a strange thing to have access to such intimate detail of an interaction with someone who is long gone from my life.

It’s so odd to watch you fall in love over the computer, to remember it after so many years having not really thought much about it.

All because of a phone app that didn’t exist back then.

Sure, Gmail saved all of these conversations. But I’ve never felt like going back and reading all of them.

Now they’re coming at me like hororscopes. A part of me wants to skim right past them. But it’s like watching a movie of yourself from another time.

I can’t look away.

Not to imply that I want to reminisce about these old times with him. Even if we were on any kind of speaking/friendly terms, it would be way too awkward to have a “remember when?” chat.

Still, there is something about this being between the two of us that makes me wish we could because he’s the only one that would understand. In a bubble that doesn’t exist in real time.

At least now in my current relationship we can go back and read old email exchanges and laugh or remind one another of “that one time” and it’s a shared experience.

Instead I have all of these detailed moments that I’m reliving alone.

I don’t want to erase them and I know eventually they’ll disappear from my consciousness like before. It’s just been a very unexpected thing to have them pop up on my phone, a text message from 2008.


“Dating” is Terrible and Always Was

I just read this stomach turning article on Vanity Fair about Tinder and “hookup-culture”.

I don’t know anything about dating in your 20’s in 2015 and have been out of the game for two years, but I have some thoughts on the matter that I still think are relevant.

The gist of this story is that dating apps have changed the way we interact with people when it comes to finding love, sex and relationships. And the people winning out from this “evolutionary” change are men. Men who now have access to what seems like an endless stream of wanting and willing women are not interested in anything serious, let alone buying you a meal. (Seriously, one guy bragged he only spent $80 total on three different girls. Way to go, bro?)

The problem I had with this whole thing (aside from how gross and obnoxious and probably very true it is for some people), was the idea that women just had to “go along” with this. That men are setting the pace and in order for us to keep up, we have to play the game.

No, ladies you do NOT HAVE TO AGREE TO ANY OF THIS. And the more you do, the worse it’s going to get.

Men (who) want to get laid and will do whatever they have to to make that happen. If the baseline for doing so is that they respect you (and maybe, like, try to get to know you), then they will. If the baseline is that they don’t have to do anything, then they probably won’t.

If someone is an asshole, why are you sleeping with them? If I surveyed women who were OK with casual relationships or not looking for anything serious, most of them probably wouldn’t put one night stands above sex with someone they actually liked/had a connection with/knew for longer than twenty four hours.

I’m not arguing against women having one night stands. I’m arguing that if women don’t want to have one night stands, stop having them. If you want something more meaningful, stop sleeping with someone the first night. If you are actually OK with someone coming over and having sex with you and before you even put your clothes back on he’s looking at Tinder (actual story from this article), I DON’T BELIEVE YOU.

All of the women who want to find someone who will give a shit tomorrow (or, god forbid a week or month from now), you absolutely should stop talking to these dudes who are sending unsolicited dick pics and pizza emojis.

Also, I know it goes against everything we’re taught about being validated as human beings, but just because a cute guy swiped right on you, that doesn’t mean he gets to treat you like a P.O.S. Why do you even care if a jerk who is trying to sleep with someone different every night of the week thinks you’re doable?

I know. I know. Easier said then done. I’ve fallen into this hell hole called “dating” in the not SO distant past. I’ve used online dating sites and apps. I get the temptation. I get the instant gratification. I understand wanting to go with the flow because you feel like the only way you’re going to meet someone is to play it cool. I’ve done this. But in the end, you’re only hurting yourself.

Being alone can suck. But it can’t be worse than sleeping with a douchebag WHO IS APPALLED AT THE IDEA OF CARING ABOUT YOU.

If Every Single Guy is acting like this, then stop interacting with them. Netflix and Grubhub may not help your self esteem, but neither does a “Sup” text at 2 a.m.

Are you jealous of your girl friends who aren’t having orgasms and who hook up with guys who can’t get it up? (Actual anecdotes from young women in the article.)

Yes, these men need to straighten up. These guys who’ve all become pick-up artists because they know how to operate a smartphone all need a lesson in human decency. BUT UNTIL THEN, STOP GIVING THEM THE TIME OF DAY.

If every guy suddenly decided they didn’t want to go down on you anymore, would you all just be like “OK, I guess this is how it is now”?


You don’t have to accept any of this. Please ask yourself why you do. Why do you want someone who is behaving this way to be your dude?


Please don’t misinterpret this message as me telling you to “act like a lady” or play hard to get/make them work or the whole “if he’s getting the milk for free…” crap. I know that’s what it sounds like. What I’m saying is that if this is the new age of dating (as in, this is your first exploration of the like in your late teens, early-mid 20’s) it’s up to you to set the rules. Women: You Are In Control. Stop putting up with this bullshit and they will stop acting this way.

Remind yourself that you are obviously not missing out on anything even remotely great by taking yourself out of the game completely or setting totally reasonable expectations for how someone should treat you.

Or wait it out.

Dating apps are like buffets. We have all of these choices and we want them all. But eventually we get full. Or we zero in on our favorite thing and enjoy that the most. Or we get sick of the buffet because if that’s all we did everyday it would be really gross.

The guys you want are the ones who’ve had their gorge fest (or try it and think “this is not how to meet someone in a real and genuine way”) and finally realize this isn’t actually what they want either. Maybe a guy in his 20’s isn’t there yet. I don’t know.

Look around you. People you know are still in longterm relationships/getting engaged/married/having babies, right? So there’s your proof.

Everything I remember from a lot personal experience is that dating is one of the worst things I’ve ever subjected myself to. It is the most draining thing, heart, body and soul, one can purposely endure. I absolutely acknowledge the disgustingly large amount of horrible behavior you will encounter. But there was no greater feeling than to finally tell myself I wasn’t going to accept any crap and to actually put that in practice. It was the only way to make dating enjoyable (and empowering.)

And when I was totally overwhelmed by all of the indifference and callousness, I deleted those dumb apps and online profiles and went about my business as a single, eligible person who would rather die alone than be treated like a barely human flesh light.

Maybe you could put the phone down (which is probably not what the cool kids do, especially if you’re 22 and living in Manhattan) and meet someone at a party or a bar. Which is what I did.

And if you know me and are thinking to yourself “Gee Carly, I guess I could get knocked up and trap a man”, AT LEAST I CAUGHT A GOOD ONE.


Meet Our Readers

Put on your two-piece and come join the ladies below for July’s edition of Miss Spoken, where we talk bikinis, maillots, and everything that goes in them. Wednesday 7/29, Gallery Cabaret, 7pm.

Megan Kirby

Photo on 5-22-15 at 12.31 PM #2Megan Kirby has written for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Bitch, Paste and xoJane. She has also self-published a few zines. One is about The NeverEnding Story.




Eileen Tull

Eileen Tull HeadshotEileen Tull is a storyteller, performance artist, poet, comedian, and one-woman-show person. Her work investigates feminism, body image, addiction (to technology, to substances, and to ourselves), and, above all, seeking joy. She has performed throughout the country, from San Francisco to New York City, in fringe festivals, theaters, and found spaces. In Chicago, her work has been seen with Beast Women, The Moth, Loose Chicks, Is This A Thing?, 20% Theatre, The Enthusiasts, Knife and Fork, The Nerdologues, The Stoop, That’s All She Wrote, and the Chicago Fringe Festival. Eileen co-curates Sappho’s Salon at Women and Children and First bookstore, a monthly performance series for female-identifying artists exploring gender, sexuality, and feminism.

Hope Rehak

hoperehakHope Rehak is a native of Chicago and a proud graduate of its public schools, as well as Oberlin College. Her work has been performed at The Garage at Steppenwolf, The Citizen’s Theatre Company in Glasgow, Scotland, and the student stages of Second City, iO, and Oberlin. In 2012, her comedy won the Newcomer of the Year Award in Copenhagen. She studied poetry under Billy Collins and at the Paris Writers Workshop. Though she has recently lived and worked in Los Angeles, Ohio, and Denmark, she is always happiest when performing in her hometown. Please give Lorne Michaels her number.

Miden Wood

1239483_10201799220693365_6524132634498212733_nMiden Wood is a writer and performer from Virginia-outside-DC. She has contributed to webzine Gapers Block, and has performed with The Home for Wayward Artists, live lit show Two Cookie Minimum and is excited to count herself among The Kates at the Book Cellar on August 29. She and her dog are both, generally speaking, happier than this photo suggests.

[GUEST POST] Swimsuit Season

Swimsuit season.

Or as I like to call it, nipple-slip camel-toe permanent wedgie season.

My large-bottomed sister and I joke that our asses like to eat, because no matter the swimsuit style, after three steps toward the beach all we have left is a Sisqo fold and an overdressed butthole.

I’ve never found a bikini top with triangles that didn’t shift around like Scrabble pieces. The knot at the top pushes so hard into the nape of my neck that it aches for a day afterwards. Because of this, I’ve resorted to buying bra-style suits that manage my boobs like a cartoon grasping at a slippery bar of soap.

Maybe I should go back to the tankini. I was so relieved the first time I found a full-length top to cover what my brother lovingly used to refer to as “the black hole.” (My bellybutton).

At age 11 I found a purple printed swimsuit at Old Navy, a sort of half-tank with a flattering cinch to highlight my brand-new breast buds. I showed my mom and said, “I like it, but I’m just self conscious about my stomach.” She replied, “Why don’t you go lay outside for a little bit so you don’t feel like a beached whale?”

Her intention: A tan may make you feel slimmer.

My teen understanding: I’m a beached whale.

At 13 I wore my first bikini, one of many hand-me-down swimsuits from my flat-abbed older sister. The swimsuit was orange, with a hazy painted sunset. The bottoms never quite fit right and would at times slip side-to-side, providing a locker-room visual if I didn’t quickly readjust. It had pilling all over the butt from sticking to the side of the pool, but I loved it.

The first time I put it on, I weighed 74 pounds. Orthopedic surgery to correct my uneven legs kept me out of the eighth grade and on heavy narcotics (an excellent weight loss plan). I remember limping into the bathroom to look at myself before going out into the yard, and sucking in my stomach. I could see every single rib, and quickly let out my breath to hide them again.

By 16, I had put on enough weight to go through puberty a second time. I went on a trip to Israel with a hundred other horny Jewish teenagers, and nearly sharted in astonishment when I heard that boys liked me. Up until that point, boys had primarily treated me as the unavoidable tumor on a group of pretty girls, providing me with creative elementary nicknames such as “pot-belly-socks” and “peg-leg.”

Suddenly, these hot underage Jews wanted to rest their heads on my stomach, and invite me for back stairwell “PCs” (private conversations). My weight was almost healthy, nearing the triple digits, but I was still reeling from the sudden weight gain. The constant attention made me feel safe enough to wear a bikini, whereas my best friend on the trip ate one-third of every shwarma and wore Soffe shorts three sizes too big. We were two peas in a pod.

At 19, twenty pounds and s-e-x brought on a horror of self-awareness I had never experienced before, even in a bikini. Fucking was like reading a graphic novel featuring a fatter, clumsier version of myself. Captions read SMACK, CLAP, and SQUISH, and every issue ended with the heroine crying in the shower.

Looking back, my entire life revolved around looking in the mirror and seeing my body for the first time, every time. My life was like a really shitty dubstep version of “Mirror Mirror On The Wall”. I lost all ability to see myself clearly, and began depending on compliments- my clues to what I really looked like.

I wish I could say it was the strength of girl-power that changed my feelings towards myself, but the truth is that it took falling in love to disrupt my body dysmorphia. My post-college boyfriend honored my body with zeal that bordered on worship, and over time I began to see parts of my body the way he saw them. He didn’t call my legs “long” or my body “thin”, but he treated my ass like the third member of our relationship. I trusted his opinion of my body when I couldn’t form my own.

Now single and in my mid-twenties, the funhouse mirror has mostly straightened out. I have a general understanding of what I look like, but sometimes I still study pictures of my body hungrily, searching for new clues. In those moments, I try to recall the confidence I felt with a man who praised my cellulite, and helped me stop fucking in the dark.

When it comes to swimsuit season – accepting my body and all that – I may not have the confidence to buy a thong bikini, but my hungry ass will always be looking for a snack.

Lena Kazer is a Chicago writer best known for her platform shoes and affinity for swearing. An avid over-sharer, you wouldn’t call her an open book so much as a never ending gag reel. Her composition is 75% whiskey and 25% gummy vitamins.

Check out her personal blog at SheLikesBourbon.wordpress.com.

Nanny Diary

I have been a nanny (part-tme, full-time and live-in) for what will be six years next month.

I never planned on this happening.

After my contract was not renewed for a 9-5 office job back in 2009, I found myself on unemployment.

A friend needed help with her twin boys once a week and the rest was history.

I found jobs on various care taking websites. As a provider, the service is free. You can enhance it by paying for background checks, which I did when I had the extra money. I slowly built up references and was able to land jobs when others were ending.

The best part about nannying is hanging out with a baby all day. Not all babies, mind you. Some you just don’t connect with like others. Still, they have their moments and it’s rewarding and fun to be there for those.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to become friends with the parents, or the very least, keep in touch once the job is done.

There are a lot of downsides to it too. The worst being the absolute instability of it all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told my services won’t be needed for days or even weeks because of vacations or grandparents in town.

Every day I don’t work, I don’t get paid. And while I understand the cost savings this has for the family, it hurts mine.

Not to mention, there is no guarantee I won’t be let go for any reason on any day, without notice. There is also a set amount of time you can work with one family full-time since eventually those babies turn into toddlers old enough for preschool.

There are no sick days and no paid benefits.

I’ve seen ads that ask for additional housekeeping and cooking all for the low, low wage of often times less than $10 an hour. I can’t help but think these people are hoping to come across undocumented workers or college students who don’t know any better (something tells me they do.)

I get that it’s cash under the table, but that works both ways. If you employ someone and do it above board, you’re responsible for their social security and medicare taxes.

I know that some people probably think I’m just an old babysitter. I suppose that’s sort of true. There is a lot of downtime, especially when you have a baby that sleeps a lot. For the families that aren’t looking for additional help around the house, I’ll often find myself behind my laptop or watching t.v. Yes, I get paid to do that. But that’s part of the job. My wages are based on my time and ability to keep a child alive and content, and ultimately, for someone else to go and make a living.

I’ve struggled with finding my worth. I go back and forth about wanting to make this some kind of career where I manage a household, run errands and act as some sort of Mary Poppins Executive Assistant. At least then I could charge $20 an hour and feel OK about it.

In some ways, I feel stuck. I’ve been doing this for so long now and the jobs keep coming even when I think I’m going to be out of work for longer than I want. I don’t gain any applicable skills as the years pass and my resume looks terrible.

Stranger still is leaving my own baby at home to look after another.

I’m not sure how much longer I can do this, but it’s also the only thing I’ve known for the last six years.


No Second City

But really, I miss you.

(Especially the food.)

  • Gin gimlet at The Matchbox
  • Sunrise omelet at Over Easy Cafe
  • Lox and bagel plate at Tweet
  • Karaoke at Alice’s
  • Back patio at The Longroom
  • Mussels and frites from Hopleaf
  • Cheap items from the Urban Outfitters outlet
  • Everything at Sunshine Cafe
  • People sitting by themselves with headphones and laptops at local coffee shops
  • Cemitas
  • Wholesale shopping at Wilson and Clark
  • Filipino breakfast at Uncle Mike’s
  • The Clown Combo from Pick Me Up Cafe
  • Margie’s sundaes
  • Dim sum
  • Korean barbecue
  • Watching Chicago sports at a bar, after work or during the day on the weekend
  • The Lake
  • The Paper Machete
  • $10 manicures
  • Sonia’s eyebrow threading
  • $16 haircut from Aveda Institute
  • The movie selection at The Landmark
  • Musubi and bbq beef from Aloha Eats
  • Chicken schwarma plate from Sultan’s Market
  • Pie from First Slice
  • The Italian from Bari
  • The special slice from Dante’s
  • The pretzel at Bangers & Lace
  • Biscuits and gravy from Taste of Heaven
  • #88 (with egg rolls) and #V154 from Tank Noodle
  • Simon’s Tavern
  • A good find from Crossroads
  • Cheap Thai food from Luc Thang (dining in because they always had a table)
  • The rooftop bar at The Fountainhead
  • Tacos with onion and cilantro
  • Chicken wing specials
  • Ridiculously cheap drinks/beer at GO Tavern
  • But having one fancy cocktail at Scofflaw first
  • Inerja
  • Indian buffet
  • Waffle fries at The Beetle
  • Pistachio Meyer Lemon donut from Do-Rite
  • Figuring out what was still open after 2 a.m.
  • BYOB

And last but not least, all of the friends who I would enjoy these things with.



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