Carol Bontekoe

This blog has been keeping track of my adventures since 2004. The stories and the adventures have come from my college dorm room to Uganda, Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan, learning Dutch in the Netherlands to living in the wilds of Homer, Alaska. I went back to school in Amsterdam to study Theaterwetenschap (Theatre Science) at University of Amsterdam. And now my adventures as a Fruit Fly, a Sexy Unicorn, and creating a movement with Team Sparkle in Chicago.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

My year in 16 pictures

My old Peace Corps buddy Lydia woke me up with a text in January saying to check my email. My excitement about what it could be was slammed back down when I saw she had signed us up for a half marathon, in April. A full two months before I wanted to run a half marathon. yeaaaah...Merry Christmas to me...
I saw it was on the year anniversary of my weight loss journey so I decided it was serendipitous. This past Saturday Lydia and I went up to Wisconsin and ran our half marathons. Lydia killed it, getting a great time. I ran it... I finished it. I powered through being incredibly sick and having an unbelievable temperature. 

Determination is something I got in spades. And when I struggle through things like a half marathon I have to remind myself I have come a long ways in a short amount of time. I have the marathon in 6 months and I look forward to seeing what lays ahead, but for now I reflect on this is past year in 16 photos.
From May 2012 with one of my favorite comedians. I just want to brag again that I creeped on Kevin McDonald while he tried to use the rest room.

THE BIKE! Again thanks to everyone who donated to it. You all are the best!
I had lost 10% of my body weight and in this photo could see the results of cutting out pop and meat and cycling everywhere.

The Bridesmaid dress. If you loss 42 pounds between taking your measurements and getting your dress there will be some alterations that are needed. Emergency, very expensive alterations were done and it looked fabulous. But I did have to endure some abuse from the seamstress about, "Why? Why? Why would I do this to the bride?!"
Waiting outside iO for my friend Patrick's SNL Showcase. This was the first time I was able to fold my legs up against my body like this, now probably the most common way you'll find me perched in a chair.  

With my first improv teacher Pat Reidy after his show at The Second City. This picture was the first wave of people noticing I looked a little different. I started getting comments about how I was "becoming pretty" and "Who knew Bontekoe had so much potential?" Comments that seemed like they desperately were meant to be complimentary but suck my very delicate and frail confidence about my appearance.

Since I was in middle school I had wanted to kayak the Chicago River (an Urban Canyon) . I was finally small enough to fit in a kayak (just barely) and had a wonderful evening kayaking the Chicago River with my girl Lydia. 

The SKINNY jeans weren't so skinny anymore. 

The GAP dress. I had never been able to fit into GAP clothes. When I a teenager the fact that I couldn't fit in anything from the GAP reflected to me my inability to blend in if I wanted to. 

The struggle will always be to find comfort in my own skin. 

Starting to feel like a grown woman. What are these hips?!

Stepping out of my siblings shadow. I have always been confused for my sister Karen or people have thought I was "Mark in a wig!" Now I feel I'm my own person and hope to be recognized as such. 

Oh I have the perfect picture to split screen this with. NYE with my friend Sam  I told him I had a picture of us from when I had visited him in Ann Arbor. We BOTH are getting better with age. 

Lost a 100 lbs by my 29th birthday. 

Doing yoga's Crow Pose. I assumed I couldn't do it and was terrified to even try. Once I stopped under estimating my own abilities and trusted my own strength I was able to do it. Have to live my life more that way. 
Right after my half marathon. Incredibly ill, running a fever, and looking a hot mess. But I finished. I just gotta keep moving. 

*If you would like to donate towards my bike ride across the Gulf Coast to get girls out and riding their bikes and hopefully changing their lives, you can donate here:

Thanks and so much love!!!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pick Your Head Up

"Imma girl, Imma girl, Imma GIRL! And... nobody wants to fuck me."
The drunk girl adjacent to me at the Cheesie's bar folds over and places her head on the bar. Still dressed in her Caribou Coffee work shirt she is now post-shift and plastered with a man on either side of her. She gasps and pops back up from the bar, "I mean... you''d...ya'd think somebody, ANYBODY would want to sleep with me. BUT! no. no." She shakes her head as she places her face into her folded arms resting on the bar. She mumbles into the space between her forearms and body, "Nope, no one wants me."
I giggle and take a pull from my Vanilla Porter as I continue to transcribe her monologue into my notebook. I don't giggle out of judgement, I giggle out of recognition. I giggle because I am this same kind of drunk: The-insecurities-boil-over-so-I'll-tell-you-everything-that-is-wrong-with-me-and-how-aware-I-am-that-I-am-undesirable-before-you-can-point-out-how-unattractive-I-am-Drunk.This girl's insecurities speak to my heart. And I giggle because she seems completely unaware of her two male friends on either side of her that are diggin' on her something hard.
I try to send her a telepathic message-- pick your head up and look to either side of you. The one on your left is cute. Trust me you can get it if you want it. You just gotta believe you are desirable and this will be so easy for ya.
She didn't hear me. Hell, I rarely hear me when I try to send that message to myself. I tend to be very complacent in my own undesirability. Yeah, I get it. Totally on board. yep. Oh, are you still talking to me? Let me just make sure my insecurities seep through your pores and get under your skin. Now just leave the ugly girl be and walk away from me sir.
Except. Except sometimes I feel sexy, sometimes I feel desirable, sometimes...hell... I feel I might...maybe...could attractive.
Unfortunately it's not when I'm dressed up and out amongst men. Not when my hair is done or my eyeliner meticulously drawn onto my lower eye lid. It's not when I have my heels on making my calves look long and sleek. And it definitely isn't when a guy tells me I look good, because as we know he is just being an asshole... right?
The time I feel sexiest is when I first wake up. My hair is an absolute mess. No make up to cover up my red cheeks or the wrinkles on my forehead. I shuffle around in cow slippers, dressed in an old Detroit Tiger's shirt that no longer fits and underwear.
This is when I feel my most attractive. Those moments before I can start talking myself out of it. Before I start comparing myself to others. Before I pin point just exactly all the things that are wrong with me. It's here brewing morning coffee, splashing cold water on my face, brushing my teeth, sliding my fingers through my hair as I try to pull the snarls out that I don't just feel sexy-- I know I am desirable. Maybe not the mainstream kind of desirable, but a kind of desirable that if you give it a chance can be pretty awesome. Like when you find a band that no one has heard of and you just fuckin' love 'em. My sexiness may be that underground band just waiting to be discovered. But it's there being awesome and under appreciated. It turns out I have to discover it before anyone else can. I have to give my own desirability it's big break just by believing in it enough.
My drunk soulmate at Cheesie's was the first time I had heard that unlocked flow of insecurities come streaming out of someone that wasn't me. And it broke my heart. It also made me realize it's not helping and it's not true. So, as I tried to telepathically tell her I have to say to myself yet again.
Pick your head up and look around.  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Enjoy the View

"What happens when you plateau?"

On my 29th birthday I hit the hundred pound weight loss mark. Since April I have biked over 5,000 miles through the city of Chicago, become a vegetarian, fallen in love with Pilates, stopped drinking pop, and well lost 100 lbs. There is a lot of "Now what-ing?" from friends and acquaintances about what am I to do now that I have lost 100 lbs.
I don't really have a game plan, I have never had one. This weight loss has been the result of a lot of external and internal changes in my life. Lots of very small changes that when added up looks like, in retrospect, it was one huge life changing decision.
 I know I'm running in the Chicago Marathon in October. I know I'm going to bike a ton this summer. I know I'm stickin' with the no pop-vegetarian thing. I know I WANT to be a more open person and not be so guarded. That's about it.
Still no idea what I'm doing.
 If the weight comes off wonderful. I still have 60 more lbs that I  need to lose. However, this was never strictly a weight loss journey for me. It was a journey of taking control of my life, a life that had seemed to lose all direction or control. It is still rather directionless but I can at least see where a few of the turns are coming.
Plateauing is only a problem if you refuse to remember just how far you have come, you forget the journey that brought you to this plateau. I have come a long way in a relatively short time and I can't forget where I was a year ago.
 I have a history of getting down on myself and being my own harshest judge, aren't we all? Right now I have to tell Carol to shut up and let me be pumped about how great I'm doing. How excited I am to be running a half marathon in a month with my friend Lydia (we will eventually figure out how to make energy bars). How excited I am that I can buy clothes in non-specifically plus size shops. And I'm taking big risks outside of this whole weight loss thing that are fun. And I love the city I live in. I meet new and interesting people every day. I'm still quirky, awkward, showtunes lovin' Carol. And I'm fabulous. So, to the Carol that is saying it's all not enough just shhhhhhhhhh. Let me enjoy this for a minute.
I know I'm only about 2/3 of the way on specifically the weight loss part of this transformation journey and the last third might take a lot longer but I'm having a blast and I'm thinking long term. I want to be healthy- LONG TERM- not just looking for being "New Hot" right now. Long term health includes mental health and if you beat yourself up about the scale not moving when you are out living a life full of risks and adventures, then you are missing what life is about.
I refuse to miss out on life. I have this one life and it is going to be full of peaks and valleys. A plateau here and there can be a welcome change of pace sometimes. I'm gonna enjoy the view from where I'm at right now. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This is What Awkward Looks Like: Flirting

"Carol were you trying to flirt with that guy?" Asked a staff member at my favorite bar this past Saturday.

"Ugh... yes? I'm actually not entirely sure what that was."
"Yeah... Something... was happening there."
"Did he seem into it at least?"
"Whatcha drinkin' honey?"

What goes through my brain when I'm talking to a man I find very attractive, especially if he is also smart and funny? Nothing. NOTHING!! It's like being black out drunk without the excessive alcohol or any justification for what I just subjected this man to.

"Wait? I said what to him? Why would I say THAT?!" 
"There was dancing? Was anyone else dancing?"
"That isn't even the right context for the term Bossy Bottom.... Oh, God!"

Maybe it's the jock in me but I really feel a game tape of ...of... what ever you can describe me as doing would really help. So, here I review this past Saturday; because in all honesty I had no idea how painful it was to watch from a distance until it was reviewed.

I would like to say first off I don't think I was flirting, I might have been, I hope not, poor man... 

I've seen this man around for a long time and always thought he was very handsome but called it a day at that. Then we started interacting a bit and... Damn it! He's funny. And smart. Shit. Here comes a lot of hand movements and fidgeting. 

So, each conversation since the first one has become that much worse and more awkward than the last one. I came over at first to chat with his two friends who I have worked with in the past and enjoy so I wanted to say, "hey." Then, as it was pointed out to me afterwards, while they were all sitting I stood (all 6'1" of me) towering over them. Only pulling up a chair when one of his friends said, "pull up a chair so I can tell you a tale about my youth in Nazi Germany. " I did as told and waited for his story- then realized he is 30, not 70. That's what we call a bit. 

Fine, do your little bit. I'm about to charm the pants off your attractive friend. 

This might be the place to mention I was in work out clothes, hair in a bun, and no make up. I continuously zipped and unzipped my Chicago Marathon jacket. Repeatedly covering and uncovering my face. Just a lot of zippering happened. 

I felt a good conversation topic was how Dick Cheney is over compensating for a small penis, then proceeded to act out what I imagine Dick Cheney masturbating looks like. Topped it off with, "hope you dream about that and think of me." Oh, Carol...

I was told asking people about themselves is good, it's like a nice thing to do. It shows you are interested in them. I kept asking the same question over and over again about his work and don't know why I would think there would be any kind of different answer than what he had just said. What was Einstein's definition of insanity?

Then looking for a conversation change to me asking the same question over and over again I came out with, "You seem like the kind of guy who didn't peak in high school. No... ya know. Like you weren't cool. I mean. Your. ya know. Your best days weren't in high school. Right? I hope."

Accusing a guy of being uncool in high school never helps. Shockingly when he and his friends (again people I know and can chat with) were leaving to get food I was not invited. I did mention I was very hungry and eventually one of the guys (not the one I just awkward all over) said, "uh.. you can come, er, if you. ah, want to."

I stayed, got tater tots from next door. Ran around like a crazy woman because my sister had just called me to tell me she had gone into labor. And then was told how awkward my interaction looked like from a  distance. 

I keep reminding people: it might be painful to watch me interact with men, but I have to live with being this. All of this. 

So... I think we can all say it together, "Nailed it."

Guess which one of these women plays awkward and which one is actually awkward. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


 I want this!