Galena Getaway

January 12, 2016 at 12:34 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Scott and I spent last weekend in a little town about three hours from Chicago and it was awesome. We needed a weekend getaway since we haven’t traveled anywhere alone (without visiting family) in YEARS. Saving for a wedding and honeymoon will put a damper on big travel plans, let me tell you! Luckily, though, this town was close enough to be doable and far enough to feel like someplace entirely new. Which it was. And it actually felt farther away than it really was because we hit intense fog on our drive through these rural, curvy roads and had to take our time. But we eventually made it to and the fog lifted, both metaphorically and physically speaking!

 

Good, cold fun!

Galena is cool because it’s really historic and on Saturday Scott suggested a tour President Ulysses S. Grant’s former home. Clearly he gets me. We learned a lot while walking through the little mini-museum and shared mutual appreciation for indoor plumbing after seeing their chamber pots. We also spent a good deal of time wandering the downtown streets and doing some shopping while enjoying various foods and beverages (including at a local brewery!) along the way. Our resort was really nice too (thanks, Groupon!) and had a few different restaurants/lounges for us to choose from, as well as a pool that we did not use because the thought of putting on a swimsuit when it was 20 degrees outside wasn’t exactly appealing. Shocker.

We managed to do some walking of the grounds too but by Saturday evening the already chilly temperatures dropped and it was COLD. So we enjoyed some free cable in the room and binged on snacks and drinks while having a slumber party. Jumping on the beds may have happened too, because that’s just how good grown-ups roll!

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Beersgiving

December 8, 2014 at 9:20 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

The week before Thanksgiving, Scott’s sister and her boyfriend threw a little shin-dig at their place out in the suburbs.  His sister wanted to have a craft beer tasting especially since her bf was preparing to open a keg that he and his twin brother had brewed themselves. So the event was created and everyone was asked to bring a few of their favorite craft beers to share – when I received the invite,  I was expecting a general swapping atmosphere where we all just grabbed each other’s brews from the fridge but I was totally wrong about that. Scott’s sister had a legit tasting going on.  She’s an amazing hostess so I don’t know why I was surprised by her set-up but I was. Or maybe impressed. Or jealous because I don’t have any fancy serving platters or ice buckets. Whatever, she had a great spread set that we all totally enjoyed!

Beer me!

Beer me!

To be honest, I’m not much of a beer drinker in these colder months. I prefer red wine to just about anything else in the wintertime but I made an exception so I could imbibe in all of these fancy craft beers and it was worth it. That said, his sister did have wine and a cocktail of her own creation readily available (told you she was a good hostess) and of course there were tons of pub-worthy snacks all around. This includes popcorn and pretzels busting out of the cardboard six-pack holders in an artful yet tasty display, something which I doubt I could have come up with if I had all the beer in the world to get my creative juices flowing.

It was a lot of fun and we’ve already started brainstorming other holidays she can turn into beer related events (my suggestion: Beerster around Easter – clever, I know). Also, the keg that was tapped by her bf was surprisingly tasty and if I’m lucky I’ll get a bottle of that for Christmas. She had so many people at the party (and so many from out of town) that many of the guests crashed on her living room floor at the end of the night. Scott and I just went back to our place because we’re too old for that shit. Besides, how could I possibly end such a fancy grown-up beer tasting party in such a college-esque way? Of course, if they had had a beer bong out things may have ended differently but then again bonging craft beer doesn’t like the wisest decision either. I guess this is what growing up is all about!

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Fantastic Fourth

July 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Man, I love my mom.

She came up for a visit this past weekend and from Thursday evening until Monday afternoon, I got to enjoy her company.  We managed to do all kinds of things in that time, including but not limited to:

  • Drinking beer while shopping at the grocery store
  • Grocery store shopping a record of four times in four days (we didn’t drink each time, I promise)

    I'm not super religious but God this is beautiful

    I’m not super religious but God this is beautiful

  • Enjoying home-cooked dinner and breakfast (gotta love pancakes!)
  • Pampering ourselves with professional manicures and pedicures
  • Imbibing in beer at Hopleaf, a very well-known Chicago tavern
  • Watching three hours of fireworks at the park down the street from my apartment (okay, we watched for about an hour and a half while we enjoyed a huge picnic.  The fireworks went on much longer than that but since those shooting them off were drunk and sloppy by that point, we packed up and headed home)
  • Walking through The Field Museum, ate Chicago hot dogs (veggie for me), took a water taxi across Lake Michigan and wandered through the Stained Glass Museum on Navy Pier
  • Eating a meal at Bad Apple, another awesome Chicago restaurant
  • Sunday brunching at a bar by my place while enjoying their unlimited Bloody Mary Bar
  • Visiting with a friend of mine who recently had a baby and agreed that, while he’s cute as hell, it’s probably good I don’t have one
  • Watching the following movies (not in a row): Hunger Games Mockingjay, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Major League (thanks, Netflix!)
  • Reviving the plants I had that were dying a slow and sad death
  • Walking all over my neighborhood and all those that surround me
  • Talking – lots and lots of talking (just ask Scott!)

Mom hasn’t been up here for a visit for at least a year so this was kind of a big deal.  I had an absolute blast with her and wish she could’ve stayed longer but alas, the real world doesn’t stop just because I want to spend some time with my momma.  We had the best time ever though and that’ll have to hold us over until I go home again later this summer.  It was seriously a perfect long weekend – great weather, great company and a great visit.  Thanks, Mom!

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Market Daze

August 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Market Days is the biggest street festival in the Midwest and it takes place here in Chicago – Boystown, to be exact.  For those two days, over 300,000 gay-friendly people crowed the streets for music, food, shopping and of course, people watching.  The whole thing spans six city blocks and features three stages and over 40 musical guests.  An old roommate from college came in town this weekend and stayed with a girl we used to live with back in the day, and I met the two of them plus a few others  Saturday night for the craziness that is Market Days.  We tried to see the Wilson Phillips show but there were SO MANY people everywhere we went that we didn’t even get close.  At one point I felt like those people who rush the doors of Wal-Mart on Black Friday morning, it was so sweaty and cramped.  We bailed from that scene pretty quickly and found some breathing room at a nearby house party before venturing back into the crowd.

I saw a big group of nearly naked men and women playing the largest game of Twister I’ve ever seen, and even though I never saw who was the last one standing, I think they all went home winners.  There were tons of drag queens walking around in various states of undress, with some of them looking better than others.  Countless couples and people just trying to hook up walked the streets and it was so crowded many of them wound up carrying the dogs they brought because there were simply too many feet around for the poor pooches (though why you would bring your dog to one of the biggest and wildest street fests in the city is beyond me).  I saw fighting and making up, plus plenty of making out.  And I saw a LOT of skin:

Dancing a go-go!

Dancing a go-go!

Some of the popular clubs had entire facades built into the street and featured bars on the lower level with dancing dudes in teeny tiny underwear on the upper levels.  This is the most work-safe photo I had but you can see how big the structure was.  The later the night got the more my friends and I thought we could dance better than the guys being paid to do so, but alas we never climbed to the top to find out.

Market Days is definitely a little different from the other street fests I’ve been too but it was cheaper and just as fun.  I know that kind of scene isn’t for everyone but it was absolutely entertaining to me.  I wasn’t as drunk (read: I had one beer) as every single other person out there seemed to be but I had a good time anyway and likely felt better than all those other people the next day.  I know I felt better than the gang I went with because I had brunch with them all the next morning and they were hurting.

The season of street fests is winding down and I think this one went out with a bang (no pun intended…well, not entirely intended).  Long live dancing and queens!

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Jailbreak!

March 18, 2013 at 11:05 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

My capacity for an entertaining and witty blog post isn’t what it normally is today because frankly, I’m exhausted.  My weekend was pretty great but it was also very busy.  I met up with my mom, sister and her friend’s on Friday evening after work and we spent some time at their hotel before getting them tickets to the IU game on Saturday, then we came back up to my neighborhood and had dinner and drinks at a bar until almost midnight.  I was up and out the door by 7:45 Saturday morning and battled trains full of drunken St. Patrick’s Day revelers before having to wade through hundreds of people doing some 7k (10k? 5k? Whatever, they were in my way) race on my walk to the Field Museum.  Once there, I attended a 5 hour lecture on the newest exhibit (I’ll get to that later this week), then I met Scott at Trader Joe’s on my way home so we could do our grocery shopping.  After a quick shower at home I turned around and went back downtown, where I ran around with the girls until we met up with Scott for dinner.  After finally finding a place that didn’t have a two-hour wait, we ate then headed to an Irish bar off Michigan Ave.  We stayed there for a while and it was almost 1am by the time we got home.  I was able to sleep in some yesterday then forced myself to go to the gym before meeting with everyone back downtown once more for more beer and food.  After eventually indulging in some Chicago deep-dish pizza, I made my way home and walked in the door around 10pm.  And now I’m at work, guzzling coffee and in need of a nap.  We all had a great time all weekend long but I’m sort of kicking myself for not using a personal day and sleeping until 2pm today.

Ballsy, that’s for sure!

So instead of writing about anything else, I’ll provide you with this link to an interesting story involving a jail break, a helicopter and Canadians.  Enjoy!

 

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Aging Like a Fine Wine

February 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

What’s another year?  Nothing to someone who has as great a family and set of friends as I do!

My birthday weekend was better than I could’ve hoped for.  I had a nice trip home to see my family, got to watch IU win over Michigan while enjoying delicious soup and playing with babies, enjoyed some quality time and brews with my mom, met a new friend of my sister’s and received some awesome presents.  And that was just the weekend leading up to my birthday!  I took the day itself off of work and was able to sleep it, then I met a friend for brunch and relaxed some more.  Scott treated me to a very nice birthday dinner at an Italian restaurant we’d never been and gave me a couple of nice gifts as well (including a clean apartment!).  If I can continue to have years as good as the ones I’ve had, I won’t have a damn thing to complain about.

Holy Birthday Cannoli!

Holy Birthday Cannoli!

Except the Megabus.  Remember when it was an hour late picking me up after Christmas?  It hit a new record on Sunday night and departed 2 full hours after it was scheduled to.  Then we took an unscheduled pit stop along the way and our driver (who mentioned that she’d “never done this before”) encountered problems at every toll we passed.  The bus was some knock-off version of the Megabus and didn’t have the power outlets the regular buses do, so my cell phone pretty much died.  The rather large man behind me snored the whole way and the bathroom had a window at crotch level that showed off your goods to anyone who happened to be passing by.  In short, it was NOT a good trip. I was glad I took Monday off work because it was 10pm when we rolled into Chicago (was supposed to be 7:45) and finding a cab was impossible, so I took an hour train ride back to the apartment.  It was about 11 when I got home, so at least I made it before my actual birthday?  Whatever, Megabus will be hearing from me.

I guess everything can’t always be perfect so out of all the things from my weekend, I’m glad that was the one that went awry.  Other than that it was all great and I feel totally ready to kick 29’s ass!

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Have Train, Mouth Will Travel

January 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

As any consistent reader of my blog knows, riding public transportation can be quite entertaining and/or frustrating.  I’m constantly privy to other people’s bad taste in music, conversations and body odors and all for the low, low price of $100/month.  I was riding home Wednesday evening when some guy sat down across the aisle from me and continued his overly loud cell phone call.  Here are just a few things I learned before I got off at my stop:

  • Train Guy was on his way to see his girl.  They were getting dinner.
  • He drank way too much Miller High Life last weekend and had the worst hangover of his life.  Even worse than the one he had at David’s house last year.
  • He was bringing beer “for the big boys” to the upcoming Friday night party.  Corona, to be exact.
  • He didn’t want to drink as much this week and if he was going to take shots, he’d be taking them early in the night.  Whiskey.  However, he knew that Phone Dude #1 would be getting “SHIZ-FACED!”.
  • He wanted to know if  Phone Dude #1 (the host, apparently) had thought about “Boooo-duuuuh” (Buddha?  Boodah?  insert other spellings for marijuana here).  Because if not, Train Guy would gladly bring a blunt instead of the man-beer, Corona.  They could smoke it in the backyard.  So think about it.
  • He also loved Django Unchained and thinks “it’s the best Tarantino movie, like ever.  Gory as f*ck and SO GOOD.”

Close enough.

Those were the highlights from his first conversation.  Then he called whom I can only assume was his drug dealer:

  • Train Guy wanted to be picked up from work on Friday by Phone Dude #2 (aka the dealer).  He has Phone Dude #2’s money.  Also, Train Guy “wants to pick up….uhhh….ahhhh….” Then silence.  Then, “Did you get that, man?”  Yes, Train Dude.  We all got it.  You want more drugs.

That conversation didn’t go the way he wanted and he sounded let down/depressed/in withdrawal when he hung up the phone.  Then he made the last phone call that I heard before I hopped off the train (mind you, this all happened in about 20 minutes).  This was to his girlfriend (Phone Dudette #1).  I must note that I had to laugh when I heard his voice drop in pitch so he sounded older and more mysterious:

  • Poor Train Guy is tired.  He’s worked all day and taking the train alllll the way out to see his girlfriend for dinner is such a hassle.  He hopes she appreciates this.
  • He also wants to know the chances of her coming back to his place later that night.  Because if she’s not going to be around, he’s not going to sit at home alone and wants to know so he can make other plans.

Train Guy seems like a real catch.  I feel privileged that I got such a glimpse into his fascinating life, and I’m sure everyone else on the train that night felt exactly the same way.

 

 

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December Book Club

December 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

As I think I mentioned, our book club skipped last month due to the holiday and the fact that the book we were reading was a little longer than others.  Nine of us were supposed to meet up last week but four actually called in sick and one bowed out of book club completely (which is no shocker…she wasn’t much of a reader to begin with) so there were four of us who made it out.  Ironically, these three other than myself were among the core of the group back when I started three or so years ago and one of them recently returned after a stint of living in Indiana.  It was great to see some old (but young looking!) familiar faces to catch up over good food, good drinks and of course, a good book.

So good, and not good for you...but worth it!

So good, and not good for you…but worth it!

Okay who am I kidding – I enjoy almost every book I read.  I’m easy like that.  This month we read The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, author of The Virgin Suicides and one of my all-time favorites, Middlesex.  This book follows a young woman who recently graduated from college and a male friend of hers who both begin to navigate the real world in their own different ways.  She ends up married to a man with mental illness even after her well-to-do family begs her to reconsider and a lot of her story tells of what she endured as she tried to have the perfect marriage.  Her friend goes on a spiritual journey of his own and winds up backpacking through India while trying to determine if he’s as good a person as everyone else seems to think he is.  Obviously there was a lot more to it than that and while some of the storytelling could have perhaps been shortened, I enjoyed it myself.  Half of the book club in attendance (a whopping 2 women) didn’t get through much of the book and didn’t really care while myself and one other seemed to enjoy it.  Some of the characters were a little annoying and one in particular reminded me of someone I knew a long time ago, but that didn’t really make me like the book any less.  Though I think Middlesex was better.

As for the restaurant, we went to The Southern, which is in a neighborhood a bus ride south from my own.  This is the restaurant I went to with a group of friends for my birthday last year and the dish I had – mac and cheese – is the one I had then.  This is because 1) they are known for their mac and cheese, 2) it’s extremely delicious and 3) there isn’t too much there other than a veggie burger for a vegetarian to enjoy.  I wasn’t disappointed though and ate every bite while downing two beers, to the horror of that teeny tiny part of me that enjoys going to the gym.  Speaking of beer, one member of our party had me try hers, which was something aged in Kentucky bourbon barrels, and it was amazing.  I need to get the name of it from her again because it was tasty, strong, just plain awesome and the second of the beers I imbibed.

As usual, it was a good time on our night out and for next month we’re changing it up a little bit and meeting for Sunday brunch.  I have the next book in my bag and will start it today, so we’ll see if it’s another winner!

 

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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

August 14, 2012 at 11:15 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

What a weekend!  I actually took Monday off to recuperate.  My little sister and mom came in town (late) Thursday night and we spent the next few days enjoying all that Chicago has to offer.  On Friday we met up after work and went to Millennium Park, where we met with Scott and another friend of mine and enjoyed food and beer while listening to classical music.  We had amazing weather all weekend, starting with that night, and it was a great way to end a crappy work week.

Might not have been behind the dugout but these seats were fine with us!

On Saturday we had brunch at one of my favorite spots in the city and then headed to Wrigleyville to watch the Reds beat the Cubs.  I’m not a huge fan either way but I do enjoy watching live sports and I’d only been to Wrigley Field once before so it was a lot of fun.  There were three of us wearing Cubs shirts and my mom stuck out with her Reds one but we were all pretty much just rooting for everyone.  We had a hat full of nachos that was so humongous that the guy in front of us asked for a photo and then we were pretty much kicked out of the park at the end because we were having such a ball that we didn’t want to leave.  But leave we did, and wandered to a bar for some more brews and of course, more snacks.  Saturday evening ended with a nice walk through my neighborhood, getting locked out of my apartment twice (more on that later this week) and watching a movie before bedtime.

Since Mom and Sis left on Monday, we had all of Sunday to enjoy as well.  We had yet another delicious brunch and then went to the beach so we could all have our food comas while enjoying the cloudy but still decent weather.  My sister hadn’t been to the beaches up here before so I’m glad we got to go and I’m also glad it wasn’t 100 degrees and extremely sunny.  After the beach we went to Retro on Roscoe, a street fest in nearby Roscoe Village.  My sister and I bought a couple of items and were finally able to exchange birthday presents (mine is in February and hers in May) so now we don’t owe each other a damn thing.  I gave her a nice drawing of Chicago to frame and hang in her living room and she bought me this super awesome, classy looking pocket-watch/necklace.  I’ve kind of always wanted a pocket watch so when I saw this one (yes, it works!), things all came together.  And now neither of us owes the other a gift until Christmas!  After the street fest we met with a girlfriend of mine for one last beer out on the town and then ended the night with a chick flick.

They left yesterday around noon and after picking up my apartment for a bit, I spent the rest of my day off on the couch.  It was much needed.  Actually, I also spent a little bit of time at the gym because after all the food and beer, that was much needed too.  It’s not easy coming back to work after a long weekend and a long weekend full of my favorite people and favorite places makes it even harder.  I’m just thankful it was all as fun as we hoped it would be and I’m already looking forward to their next visit!  That and of course the fact that I’ll be in Ecuador in three weeks!!

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Olympic Mania

August 1, 2012 at 11:43 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

First off, I’d like to say again how thankful I am that the Olympics didn’t come to Chicago.  I know it would’ve been a once in a lifetime experience and all but the chaos, crowds and just sheer madness is something I’m really glad I don’t have to deal with on a daily basis.

That said, it sure is fun to watch.  I managed to catch a little last weekend while I was home and found myself amazed at the swimmers and ogling impressed by the volleyball players.  It’s been a semi-busy week so last night was the first time I had the chance to bond with my couch and catch up on the games, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.  I  got to see the USA girls win their medal in gymnastics while Michael Phelps broke all sorts of records with his swimming.  It’s hard for me not to feel like a giant lump of lard while watching 15-year-old girls vault themselves through the air using muscles I will simply never have but it is entertaining, so that helps.  I just honestly can’t fathom the type of lifestyle that one must lead in order to become an Olympic contender.  Not to mention their parents!  How much of their lives have been devoted to shuttling back and forth to practices and meets while obsessing over all of the various aspects that go into making someone the best of the best in their specific field?  And what must the brothers and sisters of such athletes think?  Talk about sibling rivalry!

I found myself holding my breath during the gymnastics routines because I remember a few instances in years pass when someone fell off a beam or completely screwed up their set.  It’s heartbreaking to watch and I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have that moment captured on international television for everyone to analyze and discuss for days/weeks/years to come.  Of course, any athlete competing faces that risk and knows what they’re getting into, but still.  Also, I’m not exactly rooting for the USA or anyone, really.  I want them all to win – can’t everyone get a participation medal or something?

The only Olympics I’ve ever participated in was the Beer Olympics in college and I couldn’t even win that, even though I love me some beer.  Maybe I should’ve started drinking at 9 or so?  Yeah, nevermind.  And while I’m still proud of myself for going to the gym fairly regularly, I’ve accepted that my body will never, ever look like what I’ve been seeing from these athletes, even if I quit eating any of the things I enjoy and start living at the gym.  But that’s okay, because of my said love of beer .  And pizza.  Anyway, I’m going to try to catch as much of the last 8 or so days of the Olympics that I can, all while sitting in my not-so-densely packed city while drinking beer on my couch.

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