Meet Our Readers

Our theme this month is Mean Girls. We’ve got Ines Bellina, Molly Harris, Julie Jurgens, and Mary Runkle talking popularity, power games, and pretty.

Recently at a party, I brought up the topic with a friend. I expected she wouldn’t have much to say about it – she’s tall, thin, beautiful and poised. Cool and elegant, like a glass of water or auburn-haired greyhound. No one would make fun of her. No one would dare, and where would they even go with it? I was so wrong. Her memories of targeted cruelty were vivid and intense, as much as a nerd goob like myself. My experience with her got me thinking about mean girls, assumptions, and appearance, and eventually formed the basis of my story.

What I’m saying is, it’s gonna be so fetch.

Ines Bellina 

tumblr_npzsneLRyJ1tekaq6o1_500Ines Bellina is a writer, translator and performer. She is the co-host of the monthly Live Lit show, Is This a Thing?, and has read at Loose Chicks, Serving the Sentence, Tales from the Office, the kates, The Marrow, and other events around town. Ines also writes YA fiction and her work-in-progress has received a Letter of Merit from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She recently launched a podcast called XX, Will Travel, which is geared towards independent women travelers. When she’s not overscheduling herself, she sings love songs to her bulldog, Charlie.

Mary Runkle

Mary-Runkle-headshot-6Mary Runkle ( is very pretty. She decided to try standup comedy after a fair-weather friend stood her up at The Comedy Bar in 2013 and the comics were all super nice to her. In the 2 1/2 years she’s been telling jokes, Mary’s had the privilege of performing on a bunch of fun showcases, was featured at the 2015 Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, and recently did a weekend at The WIP Comedy Theater. Mary co-produces Foot Fetish Open Mic, Wish You Were Beer Open Mic, and After Party Podcast (, where she and her co-host drunkenly attend and review the independent comedy showcases in Chicago. Mary loves compliments, especially when they’re complimentary drinks!

Julie Jurgens

11162464_10152736312812187_8300885484702922696_nJulie Jurgens gets bored easily, which is why she does everything from storytelling to stand up comedy to playing the pocket trumpet (not a euphemism). Her accomplishments in life include publishing one awful poem in college, being the owner of the worst cat in the world, and making really good banana bread. She has a master’s degree in library and information science and has the student loan debt to prove it. She’s always available to eat tater tots, nachos, or nacho tots. THESE ARE HER STORIES.


Molly Harris

headshot (1)Molly Harris is a riddle, inside an enigma, wrapped in feminine wiles, nestled in a soft, human skin suit with a blonde wig on top. She arrived in Chicago from the wild cornfields of Indiana and spends most of her time talking about science fiction and glitter and puns. She aspires to be a mean girl in all that she says and does.






Anger Issues

I’ve worked with a lot of babies over the years.

Some of them I connected with, others not so much.

I always assumed if I ever had a baby, we would be simpatico.

That has not really turned out to be true.

My baby is not a cuddler. While he expresses happiness when he sees me (over half or the time), he only wants to be picked up and moved, not picked up and held.

He is not a hugger or a kisser or a nuzzler (unless he’s basically asleep).

He likes getting his way. ALL OF THE TIME. He can’t communicate with words, so he growls, head bangs, slaps, hits, whines, cries and yells.

I am not cool with any of it. I can barely keep my cool when it’s happening.

And this makes me feel terrible.

All of my road rage, cynicism, defensiveness and controlling behavior come to a head when my kid is being what I perceive to be, a jerk.

When the truth is, he’s being a baby and I should have nothing but endless patience, tolerance and love for him.

I’m not going to blame it on lack of sleep or hormones. I will partially give myself a break and say I do feel a mild amount of general anxiety and stress that probably makes certain situations worse than others.

I think I always assumed I was going to be a no b.s. kind of parent. I also thought that having this attitude would come into play a lot later down the road.

I was under the very wrong assumption that my baby was not going to be one trying to roll off the changing table, throw food on the floor, have an actual tantrum in his high chair, insist on touching every single thing that he should not touch. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve watched plenty of babies who didn’t do any of these things. My new charge is basically an angel.

I’m not saying my kid is bad. My kid is willful, strong, determined, curious, active and he is a not totally formed human being with an undeveloped brain and an inability to use words.

I need to learn to appreciate his relentlessness instead of feeling the slow burn of rage when he continues to do something after I’ve said “No” in five different tones, tried to distract him and physically remove him from said thing.

I need to stop rolling my eyes when he’s upset over something trivial.

I need to keep it together more in front of him so he doesn’t perceive his mom as an angry, unhappy person.

I need to stop expecting him to be something he’s not and enjoy him for what he is.


Baby Sh*t

You don’t need half of it. And a third of it you can buy used.

If having a kid has taught me anything, it’s that consumerism is horrible and manipulative in ways I didn’t care to face until now.

Buy Buy Baby exists only to over charge moms who believe they need these things for their new babies. I mean, it’s called BUY BUY BABY. And it totally makes sense that we’re duped into buying tons of pointless, borderline useless items at inflated prices.

Having things for your baby is the sum total of pressure: social, psychological (one day I’ll talk about what happens to a person whose hormones are totally out of whack and is sleep deprived), maternal, financial, educational. You name it, every way in which you can feel inadequate is perfectly exploited when it comes to buying things for your baby.

And no matter how many times another mom who just had a baby tells you “You Do NOT Need These Things”, you will still buy and ask for so much pointless shit.

Or shit that will last MAYBE three months. Baby swings, Baby jumpers, Baby walkers, Baby activity mats, Baby chairs. Do you know A Baby? You know how they, like, gain weight and inches and learn how to move? Yeah, well those things render most baby things UNUSABLE after a very short period of time.

Not to mention the fact that they outgrow clothes sometimes in One Week. Seriously, my kid wore 3-6 month sized clothes for maybe eight days.


I had bags and bags of clothes that were worn a handful of times. And yes, some of those items were lovingly sent to a friend for her new baby. A lot of them were dropped off at Goodwill. And still more of them are sitting in a closet waiting to be sorted through and hypothetically being brought to a consignment shop for trade so I can get other gently used items. (HAHAHA, who am I kidding that I will actually do this?)

Lets talk about baby clothes for a minute. Look, I realize that there is a huge problem with the clothing industry. I should definitely shop more consciously and locally and recognize how much cheap, overseas labor is making it possible to buy a shirt for $3.80 that I’ll only wear once to a bar because I’m still sporting maternity clothes held up by belts and other layers and can’t be seen in that shit when I go into the city to a real place with actual people.


When you are buying a whole new wardrobe every season, every year, and you’re on a budget (and lets not forget that my kid doesn’t even know what he’s wearing yet), you are not willing to pay $10 or more for an item.

Fine, *I* am not OK with spending that much.

Instead, I wait for places like Carter’s or Kohl’s to have coupons and then will buy en masse to replace all of the things that don’t fit.

I do this mostly because these stupid coupons force you to spend X amount of money. And everything is priced in such a way to make it impossible to hit that number on the nose, so you’ll inevitably overspend.

I kid you not, yesterday I went to Carter’s with a 25% off $40 coupon all ready to purchase five pairs of pajamas that are usually $8 (after an inexplicable 50% off sale that basically never ends) and they were NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.

An item that has been at that dumb store every other time I’ve been in there is suddenly gone. Instead, they had $20 pajamas that were 50% off, meaning now I’d only be able to buy four.


Also, those assholes were trying to sell me six pairs of socks for $14.

In a fit of rage, I went to Walmart immediately afterwards and spent $10 on twelve pairs of socks.

And yeah, I felt like a jerk buying things at Walmart because I know their low prices come at the expense of a lot of hardworking people. But I know for certain they weren’t paying that Carter’s salesgirl more than minimum wage either.

Medela is one of the #1 brands selling breast pumps. They run about $200-$300 a pop. In theory, they should last at least a year.

The measurement markings on a few of my bottles have almost completely rubbed off and one of the collars to the nipples broke. You can’t buy individual bottles. Also, if you buy new nipples, they don’t come with collars.

You get one set of tubing, which after awhile, gets gross. Medela does not provide a cleaning kit, nor do they sell their tubing at stores. I had to buy mine on Amazon.

When I went to email them to see if I could get new bottles to replace the ones with faded measurements, I was armed and ready with photos. But there’s no direct email address. Instead, you have to send a message through their website, which not only doesn’t allow attachments, but also has a character limit. They replied saying I needed to call customer service and if it was deemed worthy of replacement, would have to send in the used ones (and also provide proof of purchase, which, like, isn’t having the product proof??)


So Medela can also FUCK OFF.

Now, on to diapers.

This is the one thing I decided not to bargain on. Don’t ask me why, but after finding Pampers superior to all other diapers while nannying, I chose to use them for my kid. They are basically the most expensive ones (alongside Huggies.)

And mostly, they live up to their cost.

However. I decided to try their “cruiser” variety after the baby started to crawl. I figured it might stay on a little better, blah, blah, blah. I bought a small pack and liked them.

I need to now interject with Target’s coupon. $10 off $50 on ANY COMBINATION of diapers and wipes.

A box of diapers costs $24.99.


So when I bought two boxes and a small package of wipes (for $1.79), the coupon came up invalid. Thankfully the cashiers (because this happened on two different occasions), still let me have the discount. But you KNOW the intention is for someone to go way beyond $50.

Anyway, I had this annoying coupon and decided to buy a box of the cruisers. Cool, right?


You get 16 less diapers for the same price of Cruisers as their Baby Dry line.


Even though I’ve made the (probably dumb) choice of going with Pampers, they were not going to railroad me into buying them just because they fit a little bit more securely on my baby’s ass.

FUCK NO, Pampers.

So yeah.

Baby products are evil and I probably should just stick my kid in the lowest priced diapers, wrapped in a sack and give him Kleenex boxes (the non-brand name ones) and toilet paper rolls to play with. Because he would be fine.

And so should I.


The Long Goodbye

My closest friend moved out of state a week and a half ago.

My partner asked who my next closest friend was and I couldn’t think of anyone.

That was depressing.

Lately, being in the suburbs with a baby has made me feel really out of it.

I can’t say for certain that I resent any of it. It’s just facing the reality of the situation and not knowing how to reconcile it.

I miss being invited to things yet know my answer will be “No” about 90% of the time. Not because I don’t want to, but because it’s hard to say “Yes” the way I used to. Even then, I was fairly particular about what would get me out of the house. But now I’m absent from things like going away parties and birthdays, events I would have made more of an effort to attend.

I think what I really long for are the days I could grab coffee or a meal with a friend. It’s those friends that seem so far away now. I suppose I could try to strike up email relationships with them, but it’s not the same. I’m not even able to do that with friends who’ve moved away that I was once close to.

Unemployment is not what it used to be. I won’t say that being a parent is a “full-time job”, but it isn’t fun and games and Netflix binges and eating in bed and sleeping in until eleven and impromptu diner food with a friend. Perhaps Stay At Home Motherhood is not for me, though I know time is flying and I don’t want to miss out on these months.

The loss of my friend has brought new light to the isolation of suburbia and parenthood that I have often managed to ignore, covered up by being in the company of my partner and parents and a few friends out here who make things survivable.

This in combination with walking around the house, following my son who insists on moving everywhere, touching everything and trying to injure himself at all costs, has made everything seem smaller and more confining.

I wish there was some padded room where he could climb and not commit suicide where I could also be social.

Maybe this is just my veiled way of asking you to invite me over to your somewhat childproofed home. Especially if you live in Northwest Illinois.



Here’s a recording of our August 2015 show. The theme was Sleepovers. Featured readers included Ali Kelley, Stefania Rudd, and Lynne Roberts.



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.