If you want a tour of Chicago, I’m not your (wo)man.

(apologies, Mr. Cohen)

Certainly I’m Chicago born and raised – born in Highland Park, lived in St. Charles for most of my life – hell, my apartment is straight off the dirty banks of the Mighty (Gross) Fox River, which I understand is not this gross everywhere. That was the beginning of the day.


A couple of days ago, my friend Dawn, who I call my boyfriend because, well, she is, said, “Hey bitch, you’re coming to Lollapalooza with me. I have an extra ticket and this can be your monthly “road trip.” It’ll be fucking awesome – Black Sabbath is playing.”

“Say no more,” I said, although my stomach was churning alarmingly with fear. “I’m in.”

Now, in my old life, I’d have said no.

Or given a wavering “maybe.”

Not because I didn’t want to do it, but because it was out of my comfort zone, which approximated about three feet in any direction around me. I’d made sure to start doing things that scared me – every teeny step I took was a minor victory. Yesterday, for example I braved the post office, which is one of those places – like the DMV – that makes me want to vomit because people always treat you as though you have an IQ of four because OMFG why did you stand in that line – IT’S THE WRONG LINE?

After signing my lease, I swung by the post office to pick up some of those “click and ship” boxes or whatever, so I can hunt down someone who is localish and send them shit to sell on eBay (which is scary as fuck). I’d planned to use the self-service kiosk and be in and out. The kiosk was down, which meant I had to talk to a real person and show what a post office moron I was. I sat with my anxiety as I waited in line and managed to do it.

One thing I’d been afraid of is no longer something that makes me weak in the knees.

Aunt Becky: 1

Post Office: 1 (The boxes I got to ship shit in were WAY too small for a “large” box)


For being a Chicago native (North SIIIIIIIIDDDDDEEE!), I’ve not spent much time doing the touristy shit around here. When I play tour guide, it’s all, “Here’s the dumpster I once threw something away in,” or “Sometimes I like cheese.” Not exactly the reception people are looking for.

I’ve never, for example, gone to the Taste Of Chicago – which we just call “The Taste” –  which is this gigantic thing that always goes on during the dog days of summer (I don’t know HOW they predict the dog days of summer, but whomever does should be a weatherman). It’s one of those events that illustrates JUST how serious Chicago is about their food (answer: as seriously as they take to voting in corrupt governors).

I’ve also, oddly enough, never been to Lollapalloza, despite being an avid music lover. It’s always been too much, the crowds too big, and frankly natives know better than to try and go to festivals unless they feel like complaining bitterly about the tourists.

This time, though, I don’t care. 

I’m not just going to see rad bands (although I will). It’s not about meeting a musician husband. It’s not even about being able photograph names of the port-a-potties (seriously, The Honey Bucket?).


It’s about taking a risk. Doing something different. Stepping outside the comfort zone I’d created for myself. And working on becoming free to be you and me.

Each time I do this, it gives me the confidence that I can do more. And I can.

Right now? That’s what I need.

Well, that and a cabana boy, but you can’t have it all.

(I’ll probably be tweeting a lot about Lollapalooza, so if you want to follow me, I’m shockingly @mommywantsvodka on the Twitter.)


Pranksters, how do you step outside your comfort zone? Do you try? What are some things you’re weirdly afraid of? Any advice for how to continue stepping outside this comfort zone?

Also: I love you.

PS. I love you MORE.

PPS. Don’t forget that tomorrow is another edition of “Shit I Found Saturdays,” a culmination of the awesomest shit on the web, ever. Best part? You can join in!

30 thoughts on “Lollapalloza: Dog Days Are NOT Over

  1. I’ve always been one to try just about anything thrown my way.

    Cliff jumping into river? Yep
    New band playing at a cool venue? I’m there.
    Cut all my hair off and dye it almost black? The color didn’t work as I’d hoped, but whatever.

    There’s fun to be had no matter where you go.

    I have five questions I ask myself before I say yes to something:
    1. Will I get arrested?
    2. If I’m arrested how much is bail?
    3. Is there a less than 25% chance I’ll get hurt?
    4. How much will it cost me?
    5. Will anyone I really don’t like be there?

    (Please note that any of the above questions can have a seemingly negative answer but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it.)

    The rest is just logistics.

    Give it a whirl.

  2. Lolla is super fun – I went last year with a bunch of friends (we are all raging Muse fans and they were headlining) and it was one of the best experiences of my life. Awesome food, amazing music… I hope you have a great time!

  3. “Do one brave thing a day….then run like hell.” WalMart gives me the hives. Seriously. Scientists are looking for the missing link. Any small town Walmart about 2:00 AM should yield proof of one. I’m claustrophobic (At 6’5″ tall, that seems kinda silly) and WalMart on a busy Saturday will trigger a panic attack like no other! I’m basically doing what you’re doing…just pushing myself a little farther every time. You can do it! Go to the concert! Have an awesome time and come back and tell us about it!

  4. I was always super ascared of two things. 1). Going to the movies alone and B) going out to eat alone. Always felt like people would be all “oh my gosh, look at her, she’s ALONE”. The first time my husband deployed to some awful country (he is a Marine) I put my big girl pants on and decided I was gonna DO THIS SHIT. And I did. Exactly one time each. Just so that I knew I could do it.

  5. Speaking of comfort zones….
    I was supposed to go to our “class reunion” tonight…which is being held unformally at a bar, my friend has backed out on me, so I would have to go by myself, and Im chicken shit to walk into a bar all by myself. So I wont be going.
    I dont step out of my comfort zone nearly as much as I should.
    But, whenever I have, I find it wasnt nearly as scary as I thought it would be.

  6. Getting out of my comfort zone is (almost) the sole purpose of my blog. It’s exhilarating. And scary. I like to say, “Acknowledge the fear, and embrace the excitement.” Then? Take a deep breath and just do it. It’s like ripping off a band aid. It might hurt a lot at first, but, more often than not, you’ll find that you enjoy whatever it is you’re doing. Perhaps so much that you’ll want to do it again. Just keep making an effort. It’ll become a lot easier.

    Trying new things is sort of addicting…like tattoos.

    Weird things I’m afraid of: making “small talk,” strangers sitting or standing too close to me, people who don’t drink coffee, clowns, extreme silence, kiwis, extremely hairy people, really tall people, and sleeping with my mouth open for fear that a bug might crawl in.

  7. In about 5 working days, I’m working my LAST day for I don’t know how long. The realization hit me like a freight train last night at about 130 in the morning. For the FIRST time in my ADULT life, I’m walking out of an office on Friday with NOWHERE to go on Monday. I actually woke myself up hyperventilating. My husband keeps telling me to use the time to cook, write and relax and do stuff around the house that I’ve been putting off; and while I know that I’ll acclimate just fine, I’ve had this weird, panicky feeling in the pit of my stomach all day, and I feel like the slightest wrong word is going to push me into an ocean of tears that I’ll find hard to climb out of.

    I’ve been following you for a long time – without saying anything. But I just wanted to tell you that you inspire me. If you can walk off into a brave new world one baby step at a time, well, then damnit, SO CAN I.

    Lots of love and hugs!

  8. About 10 years ago, on the day I was to have been married (but wasn’t because my fiance saw some crows flying in an arrow formation and decided that seeing that was God’s way of telling him not to marry him–no joke), I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. It was the scariest, most liberating thing I have ever done. Other than that, I am a pussy. LOL

  9. In 3 1/2 weeks I am flying to Washington to see people I have not seen in close to 15 years and I am freaking out. My boyfriend is staying home and I am doing this alone. On the way to work this morning I had a panic attack just thinking about this trip. I dont mind flying but what scares me the most is the thought of what if Bio Bitch aka(birth mother ) finds out that I am up there. I dont want to deal with her or see her. I am a better person not having her in my life. California is my comfort zone and I am leaving it to see family and to see my fake mom who i miss so much. I keep telling myself over and over I will be fine and I will have a lot of fun.

  10. I am so fucking proud of you AB! I too hate crowds (see wiki on agoraphobia). However, music festivals are the one place where you can predict general crowd behavior. And, at lolla they set up these rad screens the size of a small building next to each stage so you don’t even have to get close to see the band playing. This is a big step towards conquering your fears. SO PROUD OF YOU.

  11. I used to break out of my comfort zone all the time, which means I probably have a wider comfort zone than my introverted, insecure self deserves. Also, I discovered years ago (when I started post-divorce dating, coincidentally) that any embarrassing moment can be turned into a story that will entertain my friends.

    So I’m relatively adventurous, unless I have to drive on the highway. I used to road trip by myself, but I’ll do anything to avoid driving on the highways in the New York area now. Usually I bribe myself with a shopping trip and lunch with old friends at the end.

  12. I have always been afraid of bridges. Like growing up we always crossed this one bridge to get to my grandma’s house (you know, over the river? but we didn’t go through any woods). I had reoccurring nightmares where that bridge was just a few beams and we’d fall into darkness….and I’d wake up sweaty. Anyhoo, I realized as I got older that it’s not just bridges, but also kinda heights, but it was always mild.
    This summer – I did a ropes course. As in I was in a harness, 30′ in the air, walking along ropes. You know how I did it? My kids. They didn’t think I would – mom is not athletic at ALL, and crossing rope bridges up in the air, yeah right. I outlasted my MIL and SIL (age 22) and felt like I could do ANYTHING after I did it. I was scared shitless to take that first step, but just chanted “I can do anything for my kids” over and over. After the first one, I only had to chant getting on/off the next bridge thingies – each “bridge” was something different – tightrope, 2 tightropes w/”handles” hanging down sporadically, etc. Know what? I never fell once. And now I’m all BOO YAH. No, I didn’t do the hardest one. No, my kids were not like Way to go Mom – but they were “huh? you stayed up here??” yeah, your wimpy mom did it! See the challenge, believe in yourself, and take that step.
    And I get it – I lived 3 hrs south of Chicago for 24 years and had been actually IN town ONCE. I’d love to see the dumpster you threw up in. sounds like a great tour! bwa ha ha!
    You keep it up, one step at a time, one rope bridge at a time, you’ll make it to a better side mah friend. hugs and high-5s all around! Woo!

  13. Thanks, I needed that post. I’m recently seperated and I get so overwhelmed and my anxieties are at an all time high. But deep down I know I will be alright as a single mom. WE CAN DO THIS!

  14. Comfort zone? Anywhere I don’t have to socialize… I don’t mind going on stage, singing, dancing and saying stuff, or giving a talk, and there may be 500 people watching – Great stuff!

    But going to a party of more than seven people? and I don’t know them reasonably well? Hoh, noh, not likely… Maybe if there is at least someone I can hide in a corner and chat to, looking out at the rest of the world, but again… not likely.

    One exception – I hang out and volunteer on http://www.h2g2.com and that gang is awesome! I think 97% are like me, pretty shy in company, but we spend so much online time together, so when there is a real get together, we go. Although plenty of us admitted to being “peopled out’ and needing serious alone time now and then.

  15. Whenever something unplanned comes up I always immeditaly have like 1million reasons why its horrible. Even if it’s something cool. I always come up with all the possible consequences before I can realise the positives. It really annoys me. I am also always plagued by inner fears of horrible things happening to my family and I’ve just learned to hide it on the outside but inside it is paralyzing.

  16. I suggest a crazy awesome new ‘do to go with your newfound abilities of expending your comfort zone. I would go PINK. Like, cotton candy on speed pink. Trust me, it rocks. And most people just exclaim how much they love it, instead of being assholes and all loudly judgy. (Can you tell I have the pink hair, and am rocking in MY efforts to accept myself, no matter what people think of me?)

    Love you, AB! We’re all behind you!

    1. I wanna do this! Is it acceptable for a vanilla mom of a 2 and 6 year old to color her hair pink? Im 38….I feel like I would look like I was mid-life crisis-y and desperate and lame. But MAN, I would love to …. maybe just some streaks. My kids (both girls) would be so jealous!

  17. i need to start stepping out of my comfort zone more. i mean, i’m doing the college thing, which is a big thing for me. and i’m trying to get a more normal, monday through friday job so i have the weekends off. awesome husband and i have always said things like ‘wouldn’t it be nice to go to boston for a weekend?’ or “hey, let’s drive to montauk!’. but we can’t do those things because my days off are monday and wednesday. which match up NOT AT ALL with his sat/sun off schedule.

    once i have the schedule down, i see me getting out of my comfort zone a bit more.

  18. Glad you keep pushing those boundaries. It will get easier the more you do it. And SO happy your son might be able to adjust to your apartment. I know how hard this is on everyone and you’re doing such a great job of trying to make it as easy as possible for your kids. Even if it’s killing you. You ROCK, AB! Keep telling yourself that. We love you!

  19. I don’t know if you’ve read it or not by “My Year With Eleanor” by Noelle Hancock is a great book about doing things that scare you. Sounds hokey and cheesy but I swear to God, it changed my life! Have fun at Lolla!

  20. AB, with all this fear-conquering you’re up to, and stepping out of your comfort zone, you’re making me feel inadequate for not wanting to go wild-boar hunting with my Sunshine. I guess Imma have to at least take up archery with him. Cheesus, the shit you guys talk me into. #thisiswhyiloveyou

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