March 2013 Archives

My bro and I never ever took a normal Easter Sunday photo growing up. Here is one from ye olden days.


Happy Easter!

Aw, how sweet...


Daily Inspiration


I am speechless. Actually, this moved me to tears. One of my favorite bands, and with an absolutely perfect video. Brilliance.



March 23rd is my Dad's birthday. Every year, this date freaks me out more than I ever plan for it to. Especially the days leading up for it, for some reason. I always want to honor the day for what it is, but that usually means I try to not plan anything for it, and the day of, all I do is pout and cry. But not this year.

Today I am going to Ohio to visit Rebecca Rine-Stone for the night. It's a 5 hour drive, and I am coming back in the morning on the 23rd. Here's why this is great:

1) I love Rebecca, and I rarely get to see her since she moved to Ohio. I am so excited to see her, I could cry--in a good way--and I probably will.

2) I love roadtrips, and we've been under so much stress and sadness in the Gerdes house lately, that I am looking forward to clearing my head on the road blasting my tunes.

3) This is an excellent way to honor the memory of my father.

Dad had to travel a lot for his work, so he was always on the road in MS in his big work van. He would get a bag of David Sunflower seeds--the man loved sunflower seeds and that brand specifically--and would spit the shells into the floorboards of his van. In the driveway of the house we grew up in, there were mounds of seed shells from where he kicked them out of the van. And he ate so many of them, he cashed in the UPC symbols for free frisbees. They were good frisbees, and he got a lot of them. My dad was a sucker for any kind of frisbee game or frisbee golf. He also used to puff on cigars to keep him awake. When we were older, in college and on after I moved to Chicago, Dad would call us from his cell phone while he was driving, because it kept him company, it kept him awake, and it was a nice way to talk to him without any distractions. I cherished those phone calls.

When I talked to Christopher this week, and told him that I was roadtripping on dad's bday, the first thing he said was "you should get some sunflower seeds and a cigar." I love that.

The other nice thing is that I am coming home to a staged reading for a musical I am choreographing. I promised my dad that I was going to keep doing weird and wacky comedy, so I am glad that I am coming home to an artistic project on his bday.

And for the first time in the 5 years since he's been gone, I am not scared about the day.

David Reid Senior Portrait 1972

David Reid Senior Portrait, 1972



...I have to get a normal day job again, I will appreciate the time I had working freelance, making art, sorting through boxes, and getting things together.

...our sweet little cat Latte passes away, I will appreciate all the times she annoyed me by walking across my laptop and by making our dining room constantly smell like cat pee. I will miss being with her.

...the cold snap breaks and the sun warms our skin again, I will love it more than if it had never been cold this winter.

...I finish cleaning and purging all the crap in the house, even if it just means I put things in a box on a shelf, I will feel a huge sense of accomplishment. No matter how long it takes.

...I am old, I will smile and cry as I read all the sweet and wonderful and funny cards and letters I have received from friends and family over the years.

...I cross the finish line at the Shamrock Shuffle in April and the Soldier Field 10 in May, I will release the times I beat myself up for not going for a run. I will marvel at myself for being active, no matter how hard it is.

...I see my brother in June, it will be a grander reunion than ever before, as it will have been a year and a half since we last were in the same place, by far the longest we've been apart in our lives.

...I see my husband after work today, all of my stress will melt away, and it will be as if he and I are the only people that exist in the world.

...things change in life, we have to mourn the loss of the old, accept the new, and keep moving forward. We will walk towards adventure, love, fun and new opportunities.

See Cutie Perform!

Cutie Bumblesnatch from Don't Spit the Water! will be opening for the lovely and talented Alisa Rosenthal's one-woman show, It's Been Swell, Plucky Rosenthal! this Sunday, March 24th at 6:30pm! I am excited--I've never done Cutie bits outside the context of DSTW--we'll see how the bits go over!

plucky poster.jpg

Come see it!

In Defense of Cat-Calls


(A few months ago, Chicago Tribune reviewer and Team Gerdes friend Nina Metz wrote a controversial article defending hecklers in the world of Stand-up Comedy. This is my version of it, but about sexual harassment.)

Back when I moved to Chicago just about 13 years ago, I was a skinny young thing. Freshly 21 and new to adulthood, I was just a kid, but I looked good. Back then, too, it was way more common that people would randomly compliment you and whistle and say crude things about you on the street. I remember walking down Belmont and constantly get harassed, which is odd, cause I was living on the edge of the biggest homosexual male neighborhood in Chicago, but yet, there were always straight guys on the ready to make a public comment about your body and what they wanted to do with it.

At first when it would happen, it was shocking, and I'd want to fight back and tell the cat-caller where they could go (hint, it was to hell). But then, with the frequency of the comments, I just started to ignore them and grow a thicker skin. The comments would just bounce right off. It's sad to me, that women have to tolerate other people judging their bodies on a constant basis as if they are public domain, and that we have to just ignore the street harassment. It is no one's right to comment on what I look like or say anything sexual to us, no matter how good we look.  But yet, it happens constantly day in and day out.  Thankfully, I think that, at least in some areas, as time evolves, it's become less acceptable to do, and I hope that women are sometimes getting a respite from that type of abuse.

Over the years, I've matured and grown up and now I am rapidly approaching 34. My body has changed and evolved. In some ways I am stronger than I was before. I am definitely more of a woman than ever. And along with that, I've put on a great deal of weight. I am not overweight, but it's certainly the most I've ever weighed, and our society teaches us that we are practically worthless if we aren't a size 2. I've done a great job about staying confident--I try to stay active and am now training for a 10 mile run, and I eat fairly ok. But I am rounder in the thighs and stomach and my hips are larger than ever. My clothes don't fit the same, and I try to not beat myself up about it. I find ways to make it work and still love myself for who I am, what I have been through, and what my life is like now.

On Thursday, I had a person that I adore, admire and respect innocently tell me that I had gained a great deal of weight. I was told that I was "big." He compared my body to what it was in 2004.   In the moment, I maintained my composure and explained that I was a real woman, not a model, and that I was now well into my 30s. This was the body I had. I told him that I can't change who I am, and I love who I am. His comments did not come from any malicious intention, it was coming from the world he operates in,* and I knew that. At first, I laughed it off, but as the day wore on, it started to get to me.  I'd like to say that I let it roll off my thick skin and I went about my business, but instead it sort of added insult to injury to the already hard times I am trying to navagate right now. I did a great deal of crying that day, and I am still working on recovering from it. Now, when I get dressed, when the clothes don't fit, I hear in my head "you look really big." His comments took my off guard--I was not expecting it-- and got to me more than I ever thought something like that would. It's a crappy feeling.

On Saturday, I met up with some friends in the afternoon. It was the day before St. Patricks Day, so the younguns in Lakeview were drunk and street sloppy by 10am. It was quite the spectacle. At one point, I found out that there was free parking for the restaurant we were at in the nearby Walgreens parking lot. I walked through a group of men and women who were lingering by the parking lot. I don't know if they were homeless or street-dwellers or what, but they were not like the others drunk on the street; they were dirty and had lots of bags around them. After I re-parked my car, I headed back to the restaurant. I heard one of the men say "Wow, she's got a booty on her" or something like that. I instantly prickled at the comment--Yes, I have a very large butt, always have, always will--so I didn't even look at them and just kept walking. Then I realized that with all the half-naked girls on the street, there was a pretty good chance that they weren't talking about me in the first place. And a weird thing happened--I got sad about it. Like, here I am, old and fat, why would anyone want to cat-call to me anymore?  I felt ashamed that I would WANT someone's salacious comments to be directed at me.

I later thought more about it, and I made a decision--to believe that he WAS in fact talking about me, cause why not? I needed to feel like I was worthy of receive the attention. There isn't anything wrong with that.  I mean, my booty IS banging, man, especially for a white girl. Thank you for noticing!!

The truth of the matter is, the only person who can make that sort of comment towards me is my husband, and he's the only person who I care about what he thinks of me and my body. And guess what--he loves me and thinks I am sexy just the way I am. And that means the world to me. I am so lucky that I have a husband who thinks I am beautiful and attractive. But as much as I don't want to admit it, there is that part of me that wants to be hot and attractive to Joe Schmoe as well, and as much as it pushes feminism back a million years, sometimes that little bit of attention from a stranger on the street can give you the boost that you need to hold your head a little higher.

And if it keeps happening as I get older and my body keeps changing, I won't mind that either. I can handle it.  I might even enjoy it.


*I am not going to publicly blog this story, but if you run into me, I would be happy to tell you about it. It's pretty hilarious and surreal and a great story.

Daily Inspiration

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This Beach House video is amazing, directed by Eric Wareheim of Tim and Eric.

Dumb Little Cat Skeleton


Remember this post?

And this photo?

extra cat.jpg

A few months ago, I had to take Parker in for some x-rays. She had recently lost a bunch of weight and the doc was trying to figure out why. Thankfully, no tumors were found. The BEST part about it, though, was seeing this:

Parker Chicken.jpg


What a dumb little cat skeleton! But it also brought home the first picture here. Look at that "extra cat" that is happening there:

extra cat2.jpeg

SO MUCH FATNESS! What a dream come true!

Slimey to the Moon

I'm struggling a lot this week. I don't like it. Trying to get through it, but not doing my best at it. Trying to stay strong. Ups and downs, right? All part of life?

Remember when Slimey went to the moon? I was in college. It was a big deal. Slimey is and always will be my favorite Muppet.

Training Update

My dear beloved husband made me a training schedule for both the Shamrock Shuffle (5 miles April 7th) and the Soldier Field 10 (10 miles May 25th), and it has been incredibly helpful in knowing how much I am supposed to run when. I am feeling good about my training these days. We joined the Park District gym half a block from our house, so I have been able to run on a treadmill indoors. The only problem is that there is a 30 minute limit (and the treadmills are in demand a lot), so I can't run over 2.5 miles there. The good news is that with the treadmill, I am able to track how fast I am running and the miles I am putting in, and I am happy to say that my speed is increasing. This weekend, however, I am going to have to put in some time outside in the cold. I am learning, though, the best times for me to go when the gym is a little less crowded (9:15am and noon on weekdays are the best times.) Also, the gym has some great weight machines, so I've been able to work my arms, too. It's totally affordable, so I might consider keeping up the membership, when when it is sunny and awesome outside. Oh man, won't sunny and warm be incredible?

We also have some fun races coming up, like the Rave Run, Foam Fest and Ragnar!

The Book of Mormon


WARNING: This post contains spoilers about the musical The Book of Mormon. Spoilers are after the jump.

Everyone and everyone is talking about the musical The Book of Mormon, which has single-handedly taken the musical theatre world by storm. Penned by the creators of South Park, it is seen as a brilliant satirical take on religion and issues in Africa. It won 9 Tony awards in 2011, including "Best Musical" and was called "The best musical of this century." by the New York Times, "The perfect Broadway musical." by Entertainment Weekly, and "The new gold standard for Broadway." by Rolling Stone Magazine (clip link here.)

The show recently arrived for a residency in Chicago, for which tickets went onsale over a year and a half before the show even opened.

The show follows 2 young Mormon missionaries to Uganda, where they are sent for a 2-year mission. Their excitement and naivety is tested when they are face to face with the hardships and brutal realities of Africa.

I've been hearing about the show for a long time. Friends flocked to NYC to see it on Broadway, and copies of the soundtrack were given to us as gifts. I tried to listen to the music, but with my brother and sister-in-law's impending move to Africa to do mission work at the time, I found myself getting choked up and unable to get very far into it. So when it was finally time for my group to go see the show, we were excited, and I was a little bit nervous.

Then a really interesting thing happened: almost none of us in the group loved it. We liked it fine and it was a fun night out at the theatre, but everyone I've talked to about it felt like it was just sort of "Eh". Disappointing. That it didn't go far enough. That it handled the issues really poorly. And as literally everyone around our row and a half of people rose to their feet for a grand standing ovation, our row remained staunchly seated.

At first, I was thinking that my non-love for it was because I was a little too close to the subject matter. But then, as I talked to Fuzzy and some other friends about it, I realized that my biggest issue wasn't content, it was that the writers didn't live in their own world they created, and that was a huge disservice to the show.

(more after the jump)



Today, Jezebel has a great essay by Tracy Moore about what it is like being in your 30s in this day and age. It really rings true to me. I can't tell you how many conversations I am having with friends these days where we talk about trying to figure out life, career, and choices in general. The resounding thing we all agree with is that THIS is going to be our year. This year is going to be epic. We all feel this wind of change, which I feel is really good, but it's interesting to me the urgency of it all. Like, if we don't do it this year, it is never going to happen. And then what? But the "then what" is still going to be our life. And as long as we do the best to live it to the best of our ability, we'll still be ok. But it doesn't feel that way, for some reason.

This part resonated with me:

The carefree feeling of going out every night is replaced with a nagging voice that now reminds you of the repercussions, of what you should really be doing instead, and of the choices that may be slipping away, whether they are career, family, or fun. You are suddenly, irrevocably unable to waste time in the same way without chastising yourself.

Boy oh boy, is that ever true! I've always been a worrier and someone who never feels like they have the right to relax, and it is just heightened more as I get older. I want to be seeing more shows, but yet all I ever want to do is be home. And when I stay home, I feel like I should be doing more out at night. I need a LOT of sleep, but yet always try to push my limits by forcing myself out of my comfort zone and staying up.  And when I do anything at all that isn't clearing the clutter out of my house, cleaning, and doing laundry, I feel guilty for shirking my responsibilities. Why do we have to beat ourselves up so badly? For Lent this year, I gave up* beating myself up, and it is a constant challenge. I apologize for everything. I second guess conversations. And I hate it. The experiment has been somewhat successful, but still not 100%. Especially in the performance and entertainment world, there are mega ups and downs all the time--and I am finding myself being more affected by them. The good news is that, every now and then, I'll be hit with a moment of clarity where I just don't give a crap what anyone thinks of me and I realize that I can't be everything for everybody and constantly on all the time. That I need downtime and solitude in order to be successful at anything. And that feeling is great. I just wish it was my normal. And the cycle continues...

Anyways, I am all over the place with these thoughts. But you know, ultimately, I love being in my 30s. My 20s WERE fun and fearless and carefree (well, my early 20s were. Then we were faced with cancer and other illnesses, and that makes you grow up really quickly), but my 30s are a lot calmer, richer, happier. I am having MORE fun, as long as I can keep the self-doubt, guilt, and other negative thoughts at bay.

* My denomination doesn't require giving anything up for Lent, I just do it for self-discipline.

Sexism in Running


What's the biggest problem that women face when running a race these days? You guessed it! Not enough time for shopping! And how do you fit in yoga class, girltalk, and cocktails while you are training? Who has the time, amiright Ladies? Well, move over stuffy co-ed marathons--there's a new girl in town!

Actual text for the Zooma Women's Half-Marathon email I received this morning:

Run the newest women's fitness event in Chicago! Join us for a full weekend of serious racing and serious celebration-including sponsored cocktail hours, yoga, and fun times with running friends.

A half marathon and 10K start and finish in scenic Montrose Harbor, with views of the Chicago skyline. A scenic and flat course will give you a tour of the lakefront. After the finish line, there's serious celebration with wine, massage, live music, shopping and fun.

Seriously, you guys! That event MUST be some serious fun, since they seriously used the word serious 3 times to describe it. OMG!!!


Ok, so I have to admit that I've been thinking about running a half-marathon later this summer, since I will have run 10 miles in May, and I have been considering doing a women's event and triathlon instead of the Chicago triathlon this year. I am the target market for this event--but for some reason, this ad really got under my skin this morning. The things that appeal to me about a women-only event are not stereotypes like shopping, cocktails, yoga and girlfriends. It is because, in my experience, women are more supportive of each other in a competition environment. I've now done 4 triathlons, and in all of them, I've been knocked in the head and swum over by men and been passed by in the bike and run without so much as a glance from the male competitors. Whereas, with the women, we check in with each other, especially in the swim to make sure everyone is ok and to offer encouragement, and in the bike or the run, we talk to each other, make jokes, and tell each other to keep going. It is an amazing communal experience.

But here's the deal. That doesn't make us any less of an athlete than our male counterparts. Women are badass athletes.  I love the feeling of doing something really freaking hard and out of my comfort zone. I mean, I used to box, for goodness sake. And while, yes, I love my girlfriends and frequently meet them out for cocktails, I don't like being reduced to a stereotype to get me to sign up for a race. So instead of perpetuating a cliche, I wish that this event had been promoting the amazing power of women. Because that will always make me sign up more than the promise of a finishers necklace and a glass of cheap wine.

Party in New Orleans


Marathon write-up, continued.

In the marathon info booklet, we had learned that there was going to be letter markers at the post-race party to meet up with your family and friends. I said early on that we would meet at Q. So all weekend we talked about meeting at Q. When Fuzzy finished, it wasn't hard to find him, cause I was right there, and so was he. So when we were walking around to get our free beer, etc etc, Fuzzy suddenly said "Oh! There is Q!"

So we looked for each other at Q.

Fuzzy Looks for Erica in Q

Fuzzy Looks for Erica in Q

Fuzzy waits for Erica in Q

But couldn't find the other.

Erica Looks for Fuzzy in Q

Erica waits for Fuzzy in Q

Turns out, we were on opposite sides. We eventually found each other.

Marathon Super Hero!

Fuzzy, Marathon Super Hero

After a shower, we met up with Chad and Elizabeth, who met us down there for the day! Happy fun times! They are the ultimate foodies and drinkies, so they introduced us to some amazing new restaurants and bars.

Oh! But first, I saw this cat IN a table at a cafe!

New Orleans Feb 2013

Floating kitty!

New Orleans Feb 2013

Elizabeth models the classy "I'm what happened on Bourbon Street in New Orleans" baby onesie.

New Orleans Feb 2013

C&E at the Wine Institute of New Orleans.

New Orleans Feb 2013

New Orleans Feb 2013

True Love!

New Orleans Feb 2013

We had an amazing dinner at Domenica, then hopped over to the amazing Sazerac Bar  for a nightcap.

New Orleans Feb 2013

New Orleans Feb 2013

New Orleans Feb 2013
The next day, we packed and checked out of our hotel and ventured on our last day in the great Crescent City.

"Yes, I DID run the marathon. How did you guess?"

New Orleans Feb 2013


Kissy Chad


Erica snakes Elizabeth



Fuzzy had a drink with Chris Owens!

New Orleans Feb 2013

Watch for "ARRRRS"

Watch for Ars

Good food! Great Friends!

New Orleans Feb 2013

New Orleans Feb 2013

We ate outside in the rain!

Dedicated Eaters, Cochon Butcher

Pretty Signs

New Orleans Feb 2013

New Orleans Feb 2013

Then we said goodbye to C&E, and did a bit more exploring.


And had more beignets!

New Orleans Feb 2013

Oh, New Orleans, I love you so. I can't wait til the next time!

Marathon Man!


YIPPEE! Fuzzy Ran a Marathon! I am soooo proud of him. He is amazing, and my hero. He did a nice write-up of the event on his blog, and so I am going to do a photo tour of our weekend in New Orleans.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, and decided to get some food at Mother's, a restaurant that we used to go to when we would go to New Orleans as a kid. I got the seafood sampler--always a winner.

New Orleans Feb 2013



We went to the expo Friday night to get Fuzzy's race packet!

New Orleans Marathon - February 2013

Photo Op!

New Orleans Marathon - February 2013

New Orleans is one of my all time favorite places in the whole world. I hadn't been since 2006, so it felt good to be back. We spent Saturday trying to not walk around TOO much, nor get too toasty drunk.

New Orleans Feb 2013

This was one of those guys who just stands there. (below)

New Orleans Feb 2013

We heard so much good music and saw so many neat things, like the Violin Monster and a guy in a horse costume with nails on his back. We also ate some super yummy food.

Sunday morning, we got up bright and early and had some pre-marathon beignets from Cafe Du Monde.

New Orleans Feb 2013

Then it was time to start the marathon!

Go Fuzzy Go!

I wandered around some and saw him at aout mile 7.5! Oh yeah, and I was sick with a cold, so I spent a lot of time out in the cold air.

Here he comes! We did a shirt-swap here.

New Orleans Marathon - February 2013

Then I got some breakfast, and a mimosa to go. Drinking on the street!

New Orleans Feb 2013

New Orleans Feb 2013

Then I saw this dog. I regret not petting it. I mean, LOOK AT THIS DOG!!!


A Dog Erica Liked

I then took the shuttle to City Park where I hung out til I saw Fuzzy again. It was at about mile 25.5, so I saw a lot of people about to finish. Look at this vision of perfection!

New Orleans Marathon - February 2013

I told him he only had one loop left to go, and I would meet him at the finish! (Fun fact, I also saw my friend from high school Ashley Mason running! Neat!)

Here he comes!

New Orleans Marathon - February 2013

DONE! 26.2 miles!

New Orleans Marathon - February 2013

New Orleans Marathon - February 2013

We celebrated with free Michelob Ultra! Yum?

New Orleans Feb 2013

The medal was awsome. Beads!

Yes, I wore my medal out to dinner

Part 2 coming soon!