Vacation Here I Come!

September 25, 2014 at 8:00 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

This time on Saturday I will be wandering around the streets of Vancouver, immersing myself in anything and everything the city has to offer.  And I cannot wait!  I’ve got my currency, passport and a bag packed and I’ve also come up with a few things to keep myself occupied.  The Museum of Anthropology is at the top of the list, as is the Granville Public Market and Stanley Park.  There are a few other things that look really interesting and the hostel I’m staying at offers some guided tours as well, so I may just take them up on that.  There are some funky restaurants and shops I want to investigate and I’ve been told that Vancouver’s Chinatown is simply the best.  I almost feel like I should’ve booked a longer stay but then I wouldn’t have had time for the second stop on my itinerary, sunny San Diego!

Bring It, World

I’m staying with a friend of mine whom I haven’t seen in years and we’re both super excited to hang out and catch up.  We’re going to check out the historic downtown Gaslamp District, La Jolla cove (which has lots of seals!), some delicious restaurants and a bar that’s kind of like a speakeasy, the Coronado Bridge and Island and various other things.  At least, we’ll try to do all of this.  I’m really only there for two full days so we’ll try to pack as much action into that time as humanely possible!

My last vacation was over a year ago when Scott and I went to Costa Rica and while that was beautiful and relaxing, I’m ready to get out and do some actual city exploration.  It should be an easy trip compared to many of my others, especially since English is the primary language everywhere I’m going.  I’m shoving all of my stuff into a backpack and I have a tendency to over pack so we’ll see how heavy that thing winds up being.  I don’t really need too much, but the weather in Vancouver is going to be chilly and rainy whereas San Diego will be warm and sunny, so I’ll be packing for both climates.  But having lived in the Midwest all of my life, I’m prepared for some erratic weather!

Scott and I are volunteering at an annual fundraiser for the food pantry I work with Friday night, which I kinda wish I had thought about when I booked my plane ticket.  We’ve been helping with this big event every year it’s been going on and it’s a whole lot of fun – we basically give out name tags while listening to live music and enjoying free food and drinks.  There’s a huge silent auction during the party and it’s in a really cool architectural space BUT my flight leaves at 8am Saturday morning (and since it’s technically international my butt will be there extra early) so I’m sure I’ll be dragging when I get on the plane.  Still – this is all extremely fun stuff and I’m not complaining so I’m sure with a coffee (or three) I’ll be bouncing up and down and enjoying myself no matter what!  How could I not?

Until we meet again!

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A Diamond in the Rough

September 23, 2014 at 7:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Ok so the neighborhoods in my area aren’t exactly rough but Scott and I wandered into a small, super awesome CD/record/book/movie store called Laurie’s Planet of Sound over the weekend and I started kicking myself for not having gone in there sooner.

"Someone blows their nose and you want to keep it? "

“Someone blows their nose and you want to keep it? “

All of the DVD and VHS movies were fairly obscure and cultish, which only added to the allure of the place.  I found this fantastic looking film starring my forever-crush Michael J. Fox alongside Joan Jett that not even Netflix carries, so you know it’s a rarity.

I did an image search for that jean jacket and didn’t find my poster, but I did find this. Oh, Alex P. Keaton.

Considering how I used to have a giant poster of Mr. Fox wearing a denim jacket on my bedroom wall, you’d have thought this movie would be coming home with me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my wallet (in an effort to curb frivolous spending…and damn if it didn’t work) and Scott only had a few bucks on him.  That wasn’t enough for the movie but it WAS enough for the sweet Peter Venkman patch you see above.  For those of you living in the dark ages, Venkman was Bill Murray’s character in Ghostbusters and he was a sweet, cynical bastard.  Just like many Chicagoans.  I had Scott get the patch because it will nicely adorn the backpack I’ll be using on my upcoming trip – the backpack was a welcome gift from my company and it’s very large and durable but has their name stitched across the front.  I’m not embarrassed or anything like that but would rather people not associate the girl camping out in a hostel and wandering around Vancouver on her own with a financial investment firm because hey, it’s not like I have that kind of money.  So the patch will cover that up perfectly AND differentiate my black backpack from the multitude of others out there.  Luckily, there’s only four women to my hostel room so the luggage can’t be that deceiving.

There were some other cool finds at this place, such as an old TV show called On the Air by David Lynch and a massive Pink Flamingos poster that almost rivaled the denim Michael J. Fox one of days gone by.  Almost.

By the way – Mom?  Could you look between the wall next to the closet in my old room and the big brown dresser?  I’m hoping against hope that the magical poster is still there.  I’m sure Scott would totally love having that in our bedroom!

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Cruises and Cubbies

September 22, 2014 at 7:41 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Not a bad view

Not a bad view

On Friday, my fellow administrative assistants and I were treated to an annual outing that was pretty dang awesome.  We all left work around noon, hopped in cabs and headed to Navy Pier, where we caught a huge yacht for a lunch cruise.  The ship was named The Odyssey and it’s the same one I took Scott out on for his birthday the year we started dating.  It’s super nice and we were given some adult beverages to enjoy while we shipped off from the dock.  The day was absolutely beautiful so obviously many photos were taken.  We then enjoyed a three-course lunch, complete with the best bread pudding I’ve ever had in my life for dessert.  There was a bit more drinking going on throughout but not enough to get me out on the dance floor (though there were people out there shaking and moving).  The cruise was about two hours long and then I got a free taxi ride back home, which was also very nice.  Between that cruise and working a conference for my office last week, I’ve been in a cab more often in the last seven days than I think I have in my entire time living in Chicago.  Not that I’m complaining – they sure are handy, especially when they’re free!

So close we could almost feel them sweat

So close we could almost feel them sweat

On Saturday, I used the absolutely phenomenal tickets I was given through work to attend a Cubs game with Scott and some friends.  They brought their baby and he sure got lucky for his first time being at Wrigley Field.  The tickets were literally in the third row behind home plate and we were all just plain giddy the whole time we sat there.  Unfortunately, it started raining in the 5th inning and didn’t really stop so that put a literal damper on things.  Still, it was amazing to sit close enough to the players to hear them talk and we are so lucky that one of the guys at my office couldn’t use those tickets.  We all felt like a VIP and it was nice to get a glimpse of a world that I will probably never, ever live in.  But it was fun to pretend!

And now – five days until I leave for my vacation!  You can bet your ass I’ll be blogging more about that!

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Busy Busy Me

September 15, 2014 at 7:43 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

So I’m working a conference for my company this week and it’s something I’ve never done before.  I’ll be on-site at a downtown hotel most of Wednesday and into the evening hours, then I’ll be staying in said hotel (thanks, job!) since I have to be up so bright and early for the next day of the conference.  It seems like it’s going to be a hectic few days but since it’s something new and different – and away from my cubicle – I’m excited nonetheless.  And I’m not going to lie, I’m also excited to order room service on the company’s dime!

The conference ends Thursday afternoon and I have Book Club Thursday night.  On Friday, the women I work with and I are all being treated to a luncheon on a cruise boat on the lake (thanks again, job!).  It’s a once a year type of thing and the weather looks like it’ll actually cooperate, which is great.  We’ll be served food and will each have four drink tickets, which will likely all be used on alcohol – this is also great.  After lunch I get to go on home, which is the greatest thing of all considering the busy week I’ll be having!  Then on Saturday, I’m going to a Cubs game with Scott and some friends, since my company had some extra tickets that weren’t being used.  Have I mentioned that my job has amazing perks?  And no, I don’t work for Google.  Anyway, the game should be a blast because we’ve got incredible seats and the weather looks halfway decent for the weekend, too.  On Sunday, a friend of mine is having an art show that I intend to check out so that’s going to be exciting.  After all that, it’s just one week until my Vancouver/San Diego vacation!

At least I don’t have children!

This is all super awesome stuff and I’m very lucky/excited to be experiencing it but I’m NOT excited to be feeling sickly today.  Why oh why does this have to happen when I’m super busy and have fun stuff to attend to?  Did I piss off some karmic gods or something?  I guess I’ll spend my lunch break today helping little old ladies cross the street so I can hopefully boost that karma and start feeling better.  Or perhaps I’ll take some medicine and let the old ladies fend for themselves.

Anyway, bring on the week, bring on the fun and bring on the cough medicine!

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Cut It Out

September 11, 2014 at 7:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Well, it’s gone.  My hair, that is.

Waaaay back in 2007, I had my hair shaped into a pixie cut before I went to study for a month in Africa.  I did this because I figured it would be hot and short hair would be much easier to deal with.  It certainly was easier to deal with but I didn’t take into account the whole ‘other hemisphere’ thing and it was actually winter in Africa when we got there.  As in, I saw snow – in Africa.  So I bought a hat and dealt with it.

My sister said this looks like a redneck's rat tail.  I can't say I disagree.

My sister said this looks like a redneck’s rat tail. I can’t say I disagree.

I kept it shortish for a while and then started to grow it out in earnest a few years ago.  I’d still get regular trims and what not but I really just let it go and the end result was me having the longest hair I’d ever had in my life.  It was halfway down my back and basically covered my boobs (disclaimer: they are fairly small and perky).  I liked having long hair and thought it looked nice most of the time, but it involved a LOT of work.  If I wanted to blow-dry and straighten it I could count on it tacking on an additional 15 to 20 minutes in my getting-ready process, which essentially doubled the time I spent putting myself together.  And so that wasn’t exactly fun.  There were plenty of other downsides, too – there was hair all over the apartment (like, everywhere), I would roll over on it accidentally in bed and it was just a pain in the ass.  Scott would also unintentionally yank my entire head back when he’d put his arm around me on the couch and that wasn’t comfortable for either one of us.  I wanted to cut it a while ago but decided that since I had come so far, I might as well grow it long enough to donate.  And that’s just what I did!

I chose Pantene Beautiful Lengths  to be the recipient of my chopped ponytail because they seem like a smaller, better-run organization than that other behemoth, Locks of Love.  I was going to link to an article in Forbes about the mismanagement of donations to Locks of Love but for some reason the linking feature on this blog isn’t working properly, so just Google it if you’re interested.  To be perfectly honest I haven’t mailed my hair off yet and it’s sitting in an envelope in a purse of mine – I should probably get on that.  Pantene only required 8 inches to donate but I went ahead and gave 10 for good measure and I really hope that it helps someone who needs it more than I do.  Either way, I’m glad to be rid of it!

I’ll probably get tired of shorter hair sooner or later and grow it out again but the good thing about hair is just that – it’ll grow back.  It’s already easier to maintain and it doesn’t look half bad, either.  I’ve been told I look more like my sister now but considering how I spent 20 minutes talking to an aunt at that family yard sale last weekend before she realized I wasn’t my sister (this was pre-haircut), I don’t think a different length will change that much.  And this aunt doesn’t even drink!  All of the women in our family bear a strong resemblance to one another though so I guess I understand.  I guess.  However, now that I don’t have to refrain from dying my hair for donation purposes, perhaps I’ll just color it purple so I can really stand out from the crowd!


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Yard Sale!

September 9, 2014 at 8:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I went home this past weekend to help out in our annual family yard sale.  It’s been going on for as long as I can remember and after asking some of my aunts, it seems that our family has been having a yard sale in one form or another for about 5o years.  Holy crap that’s a long time!  For as long as I’ve been alive it’s been held in my grandma’s driveway and this year was no different.  There were roughly 10 families that contributed and we had an incredible amount of stuff to sell.  And because this was in Southern Indiana, we even had a couple of toilets and a kitchen sink in the front yard.  To sell – those aren’t there year round.  We’re not that Southern. 

Look at all of that junk!

Look at all of that junk!

The yard sale is, unsurprisingly, a lot of work.  I haven’t been to one in a few years so I had forgotten just how much work it can be.  It didn’t help that the temperature was around 90 both days and it was very sunny – we had a canopy set up so that helped create some shade for the checkout table but I still got a bit of a sunburn.  My sister and I had to fix a catastrophe when our large department-store style clothing rack fell apart and at one point we were using  a mallet and the arm power of some old guy who had stopped to shop to try to patch everything back together.  It did not work and in the end we set up a metal rod between to ladders to hold the clothes.  It was a solution Jeff Foxworthy would’ve been proud of and while it didn’t look too classy, it did the trick.  I’m just glad the rack didn’t fall on a shopper because all of those clothes + the heat index would’ve probably suffocated them before we could get them out.  We’ve made it this far without a yard-sale-related lawsuit and that’s a record we’d like to keep. 

Most everyone made decent money and even I left with more than I had been planning on, so that was nice.  I also got to spend some quality time with my family (even though we were sweaty and exhausted) and we had as much fun as can be had while, well, being sweaty and exhausted.  Really though I did get to spend more time with my mom, grandparents, sister, aunts, uncles and cousins than I have in a long while and that was pretty great.  I also enjoyed a dinner with two of my oldest and dearest friends and, even though I wish I could’ve spent more time with them, I was glad I got to see them for a bit. 

Every time I visit home I have thoughts about moving back.  I love Chicago – LOVE it.  It’s my home and I feel myself more here than anywhere I’ve ever lived.  It’s an amazing city and I get to do things here that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do anywhere else.  At the same time, I do miss my family and friends in Indiana and it’s hard to be so far away from them.  Why can’t they just hurry up and invent teleportation so I can live in Chicago but go back down south in the blink of an eye?  I’d like to see an Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for that!  I’d even donate all of my yard sale earnings, too.

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Ice Ice Baby

September 2, 2014 at 8:14 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Over the weekend, I was nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge.  I’m not going to do it.  It’s not that I think the Challenge is bad; in fact I really think it’s great that people are getting so involved.  I had a teacher in Jr. High who was diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) and it was horrible to watch her steadily decline – I’m no stranger to how awful this disease is and the recognition and money that have been raised over the last month or so is truly, majorly impressive.  I just don’t want to be guilt tripped over social media into giving money to something when I think there many other organizations out there that deserve my attention just as much.

Food for Thought

I don’t really talk about this on Facebook (and only sometimes on this blog) but I’ve been volunteering at a food pantry in my neighborhood for five years.  Hell, I’m even featured in a video on their website.  I’m typically there two Wednesday evenings a month for a couple of hours each time and I basically help pass out groceries to the low-income families and the homeless men and women who live in our backyard (well, not literally because I don’t have a backyard but you know what I mean).  I’ve donated time and money to this organization because I don’t believe anyone should go hungry and I think the fact that there are starving people in our own country (or any country) is downright wrong.  I enjoy volunteering with the pantry because I see tangible results on a day-to-day basis.  Again, this isn’t saying that being drenched in freezing cold water and posting videos to raise awareness is wrong, but it’s not my way of doing things.  Also, I really don’t want to be drenched in freezing cold water.

I would like to see these viral videos take off for other charities though and maybe if I’m creative enough I can help with that.  Perhaps I should dive into a swarm of bees to raise awareness about how they’re all dying out?  Or maybe I can douse myself with gasoline to protest big oil companies (I think the models in Zoolander would get behind me here).  Chances are, though, I’ll just stick with what I’ve been doing for years and make a difference in my own small way.  That’s what it’s all about, right?

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