Tourist Take on Chicago

March 30, 2017 at 3:23 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

My mom and sister spent last weekend here in the city in a four-day long celebration of my mom’s birthday and her 27th anniversary of being breast cancer free – my sister and I are pretty grateful for our great momma so we had to take her out on the town to prove it!

They arrived on Friday and we spend the evening gorging on Chinese food and hanging out in my living room. This was after my sister and I carried up my wedding present from her, in the form of a giant (and heavy) kitchen island that she oh-so-generously donated to me. If my mom ever had any doubts that she raised two strong and stubborn women, we put that to rest after carrying that thing up three flights of stairs! So our Chinese and rest was hard-earned. On Saturday we checked in at The Virgin Hotel, where we had a swanky room with separate dressing room “chamber” that came in handy when it was time to get ready for the concert we had tickets for. After a fancy dinner at The Walnut Room (told you we were going tourist), we went to the Chicago Theatre for the Experience Hendrix show. It featured a group of artists honoring Jimi by playing some of his hits and we got to see Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang, who happens to be one of my mom’s all-time favorite musicians. The show was good but we all agreed that we wished Jonny had performed a little longer…just gives us a reason to find another concert to see him in the future!

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Told you it was a trip!

We spend some time wandering around downtown and shopping but our grand plans of drinks at the top of the Hancock Tower were thwarted by bad weather. Such a shocker for Chicago. We finished the evening with snacks and drinks at the hotel then thoroughly enjoyed our room with crazy-black-out-from-the-future-blinds that made us feel like we were sleeping on the dark side of the moon. They even had a button to lower and raise them and not going to lie, it was pretty hard to get out of bed the next day. But we did! Eventually. Afterwards, we treated ourselves to a brunch complete with Bloody Mary’s before finding a huge Flower Carnival in Macy’s that was free, fragrant and pretty fantastic. Then we headed back to my place to nap it all off. But wait! There was more! We also had mani/pedi’s and drinks at the local bar  grocery store before watching a movie to cap off our weekend. What movie, you may ask? Finding Dory (because we’ve learned the hard way that watching family-friendly films with Mom are better than say, Black Swan).

I wish we could treat my mom to weekends like this more often but I think we managed to pack a good amount of fun stuff into the time we had.

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It’s Raining Babies!

March 20, 2017 at 3:01 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

And thankfully none of them are mine!

I feel like I make these posts every so often, where I talk about how every single person I know is pregnant. This is another one of those posts because once again I’m surrounded by pregnant people! Or pregnant women, more specifically.

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I haven’t planted any babies so that means I won’t get pregnant, right?

One of my closest coworker friends is pregnant with her third child right now, as are three of our other coworkers and one of my bosses. Two of these five pregnant co-workers sit directly next to me and all are due around the same time so I’m hearing lots and lots about this whole pregnancy thing . Also, over the weekend Scott’s little sister announced that she’s pregnant with her first child! This means we’ll have another little niece or nephew to spoil, since my brother-in-law and his wife have a two-year-old son too. On top of that, one of my closest friends in Chicago is trying for her second kid and one of my closest friends from high school is also trying to get knocked up – while our other high school BFF just had her first kid around Christmas. SO MANY BABIES!

You may think this is giving me baby fever but, even though we’re moving into a two-bedroom apartment on the first floor as compared to our one-bedroom pad on the third floor, I am in no way trying to get pregnant too. After all, I have enough kids around me to keep up without popping out one of my own!

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Girl Power

March 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

On this International Women’s Day…

I’m working today and I’m proudly wearing my red alongside my “Celebrate Diversity” and “Another Woman for Peace” buttons. I’m still writing my postcards and making my phone calls and I’m so glad Paul Ryan’s voicemail is finally working again. I’m volunteering at the food pantry tonight but that’s because it’s my regularly scheduled volunteer night and it’s what I would be doing regardless of the holiday.

I endure. I resist.

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To Move!

March 6, 2017 at 3:20 pm (Uncategorized) ()

Well, Saturday sure was productive. I worked at the Field Museum all night (literally) Friday then volunteered until about noon on Saturday. Then Scott and I had appointments to see some apartments but lo and behold, we signed the lease on the first one we looked at. So that’s done!

We’re moving from the third floor of our current building to the first floor of the building next door (same complex and everything). So basically we’re walking our stuff down the stairs and up one flight over. Actually, we’ll likely going to pay someone to do that for us because moving large furniture sucks and our friends are too old to do that shit for pizza and beer anymore. But we should get a price discount since there’s no actual truck loading or unloading going on, so that’s nice! And my commute will stay the same, which is also super nice and SUPER convenient!   88705

Our new place is like our current place 2.0. The bathroom is bigger and there are two (count ’em TWO) bedrooms – each with its own walk-in closet! THAT MEANS I GET TO HAVE MY OWN CLOSET AGAIN!!! The master bedroom is also so big that the current tenants have a queen sized bed and a futon along one wall, a desk along another and a ton of space for dance parties to spare. We’ll also have a small pantry off the kitchen and a back porch big enough for two chairs. We get to keep a dishwasher and central AC too! And we’ll just have to walk down the back stairs out back to get to our laundry, instead of the creepy trek through our long alley that we used to have. Basically, everything about this new place is an upgrade! Except the fact that it’s on the first floor, that is. As much as we bitched and moaned about walking up three flights all the time, living on top has its perks and we’re hoping our new upstairs neighbors don’t drive us bonkers with dance parties of their own. But all in all, we feel really good about this and are pretty pumped. In fact,we may or may not have already drawn out the floor plan and come up with similar ideas on how to arrange things. That also may or may not have been how we spent our Saturday night. Because we know how to rock and roll. And soon we’ll be rock and rolling into a new place!

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To Move or Not to Move

March 1, 2017 at 3:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

That is the question.

I’ve lived in two apartments in Chicago – one for two years and my current one, where I’ve resided for nearly six. Scott and I truly love where we’ve lived for so long but I’m not going to lie, we’re starting to outgrow it. We also love our neighborhood and want to stick close but that’s about all we’re certain of. Our lease is up soon and we’re debating on what to do so I’ll do what I do best – make a pro/con list.

Pros of Moving:

  • New place! New ways to decorate and new surroundings!
  • MORE SPACE! We only have one closet in our entire apartment and it would be SO NICE to have say, an extra closet. Or an extra bedroom. Or both, which is not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
  • Laundry in the building and not down the stairs, down the alley, around back, through a courtyard and down some more stairs. Also, in-unit laundry is a pipe dream for suckers.
  • Did I saw more space? Having an extra bedroom would help with Scott’s studying as we could have an actual study, plus we could have more space when we have house guests (which we do frequently).
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This would be me the last time I moved sans movers. Never again.

Cons of Moving:

  • More money. Any place we move will likely cost us a few hundred more a month. This is because I got a great deal when I moved into our current pad and it’s essentially a steal. We could afford it but we could also stand to save some more money (who couldn’t?). Also, moving costs need to be taken into account because we are for sure hiring movers.
  • Won’t find all of the perks of our current place such as: central AC, dishwasher, (tiny) back porch, top floor so no one above us, corner unit so sharing no walls, ceiling fans in all rooms, trees outside of living room and dining room windows, open kitchen space with lots of room
  • Moving is a pain in the ass. And Scott’s in school so a lot of it would fall to me. Gross.
  • Would likely be slightly further from my train/my gym/my grocery store

So what’s a couple to do? Yeah, I don’t know either. I saw a few places last night and the first one immediately ruled itself out for being kind of nasty but the second one was decent – there was a bigger back porch than ours but it’s shared with a neighbor and faces a brick wall, whereas ours is ours alone and faces the neighborhood. There were two bedrooms and tons of storage space but it had a super tiny kitchen and the dining room table would have to be in the living room/sunroom area. And no dishwasher, which I can live without but may ruin my marriage if Scott doesn’t learn how to wash dishes immediately versus letting them “soak” for three days at a time.

No matter. We have a few more viewings set for this weekend so we’ll see how it all shakes out. After all, the biggest pro of all is that we don’t have to move if we don’t want to!

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One Month Down

February 23, 2017 at 1:10 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

So, we’ve had a new President for just over a month. To show my dissatisfaction with the backward policies, discriminating executive orders and general douchebaggery that’s coming out of the White House, I marched in Chicago on the one month anniversary of the Inauguration.

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We need a leader, not a creepy tweeter!

I was not alone. Scott and I ran into a few friends at the beginning of the rally and we managed to lose them in the march. At one point, they were an entire three city blocks behind us as we all marched down State Street towards Federal Plaza, so that gives a small indication of crowd size. As we rallied before the march started, the entire crowd parted to let through a chanting line of Muslim men, women and children who were all embraced and supported by the group. We were proud to march with our immigrant neighbors and stand by their side and everything from fair and comprehensive immigration policy to upholding LGBT rights was stood up for.

We’re not stupid and we know that marching might not change the things we want to change. But we’re still showing up and voicing opinions and people are mobilizing to stand up for their beliefs like never before. Personally, I’m still writing postcards and making phone calls to Senators and other members of Congress and I’m still trying to financially support nonprofits where I can. I’m holding people accountable and I’m more politically aware than I have been in a long time. And I’m not sitting down or shutting up. Our current administration has made it clear that this will be a marathon and not a sprint and even though I truly hate running, I’m sticking with the race.

FULL DISCLAIMER: I was NOT paid or reimbursed in any way for my marching, chanting, protesting or blogging. Neither was anyone else at that march – we just really are that upset.

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February Freeze?

February 21, 2017 at 3:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

This is what the weather looked like on my walk home on Friday, February 17th:

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Just ducky.

The temperature was in the upper 60’s…and this is not normal for February in Chicago. Hell, this isn’t even normal for May in Chicago! We’ve had a warm streak all weekend and it looks like it’s going to last a little longer before we dip back down to the 40’s…which is still quite warm for this time of the year in this part of the country.

It’s disquieting. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t nice to open windows and walk around in a t-shirt but it’s pretty strange and I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t miss winter. We’ve had maybe two snowfalls all year and they didn’t even last – where’s this record-breaking snow we were supposed to get? Thanks, Farmer’s Almanac. I’m sure if we were in the midst of a blizzard I’d be complaining about that but it was seriously eerie to see so many people in shorts over Presidents’ Day weekend.

But I still managed to overlook my guilt for our busted-ass planet long enough to enjoy the weather. I had a nice walk by the lake Friday as I went to work an overnight at the Museum, then on Saturday Scott and I walked the beach for a few hours before dinner with a friend. Sunday was spent protesting the current administration and their bat-shit crazy policies (more on that later this week) and then at a BBQ with my girlfriend from the Women’s March on Washington. Monday was also spent enjoying the weather, which I plan on doing as much as possible. Before the world turns into nothing but tsunamis and forest fires, that is.

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Things I Love

February 14, 2017 at 4:15 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

  • My husband (we’re lovingly spending our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple apart – he’ll be in class all night so I’ll be cuddling with the cat – welcome to marriage!)
  • My family – even the crazy ones (and even my sister who is on a cruise to Bermuda right freaking now)
  • My wonderful, freaky, nerdy friends
  • My sickly, silly cat
  • My job (most days)
  • The country I live in (most days)
  • Chocolate
  • Cheese
  • Pizza
  • Wine
  • Museums, volunteering at museums and staying the night at museums with tons of kids and their families
  • Books and reading
  • Journals and writing
  • Also – Netflix
  • That feeling when you have freshly shaved legs and put clean sheets on your bed and jump in
  • Traveling and experiencing new places, people, ideas and things
  • Panko – this is a new discovery and I’m obsessed
  • Sunshine
  • My purple hoodie
  • My couch
  • The view of Chicago from the Field Museum (and the view of the city from just about anywhere else)
  • The fact that I’m getting better at yoga and can now kick my foot up over my head without falling and busting my ass
  • Being vegetarian
  • The fact that I can feel strongly about things, find like-minded people and then take action to do what we feel is right – without getting beaten up or jailed
  • Did I mention wine?

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Hot Hot Hot

February 9, 2017 at 3:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

The temperature dropped here this week and it coincided with a promise I made with a friend to attempt hot yoga for the very first time. I’ve branched out to yoga and Pilates this year but hot yoga seemed…well, like a gross pain in the ass. But I went and while it was gross, it wasn’t as much of a pain as I thought it would be!

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Truth.

The place we went charges $25 a class (though yours truly was there on a free week pass) so the entire facility, down to the locker rooms, was much swankier than where I go to the gym for $25 a month. The room where we had class was lit by candles and had soothing music playing while the instructor softly called out our poses. It was also like 104 degrees. But honestly, the heat didn’t bother me so much as all my damn sweating did. I put a towel down on my mat because my feet kept sticking to it and I was dripping wet before we got through the warm-up. It wasn’t a super intense class though so I managed alright and was pretty proud of myself at the end of the hour. Mostly for not puking or passing out. And I can tell you that the 17 degree Chicago air felt pretty amazing when I walked out of the building.

So how did my friend and I celebrate? Tacos and margaritas, of course. Gotta stay hydrated somehow!

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Find the Helpers

February 7, 2017 at 3:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

The things coming out of Washington frighten and dishearten me so I choose to post something today that made me feel good instead of bad.

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Ahh! Paper Monsters! 

About two weeks ago, 70 coworkers and I went to one of the most economically-challenged elementary schools in one of the most notoriously gang-ridden parts of the city. I don’t think any of us had ever been to this neighborhood before and it was eye opening, to say the least. We spent the day doing a Day of Service for the school and we did everything from build bookshelves to run a Science Fair to paint murals on their walls. The school itself was a vibrant, happy place full of excited and eager children who were glad to see us. I worked on some paintings myself and then read Where the Wild Things Are to classrooms full of first and second grade children. And it was awesome! I forget how much I miss working with children (luckily this year’s museum overnight programs are starting up once again!) and I managed to turn our storytelling into a game. We read the book first and then everyone made monster hand puppets with brown paper bags, then we read the story again but the kids got to show off their monsters while yelling monster yells every time I said “Wild Things”. They. Ate. It. Up. And we gave their teachers a well-deserved break !

The day gave us an opportunity to engage with coworkers outside of the office setting but also immersed us in a part of our community that we might not otherwise see. These kids walk to and from school every day in a part of the city that I would feel worried about walking around by myself but they live with the danger there on a daily basis. Luckily, the staff of the school we worked with is clearly invested in the success and happiness of the children there and we felt lucky ourselves for being a part of it for just a day. I also feel lucky that I work in a place that gives a damn about things like these, because I’m not entirely sure our new President or his administration care at all.

Look for the helpers. We’re here and we’re not going anywhere.

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