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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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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Whirlwind Weeks

October 25, 2016 at 2:58 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

It is now 11 days until I get married. IT IS NOW 11 DAYS UNTIL I GET MARRIED! Holy crap!

And really, I think most everything is finished and ready to go! Final payments have mostly been made, confirmations are set and the sorry little shell of a man who almost messed with my hotel bookings will burn in hell for eternity. All is good to go!

On top of this whole wedding-planning business, I’ve also been running a few weekend volunteer events for my office, hosting various friends and family members for entire

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My life.

weekends, training for the new Tattoo exhibit at The Field Museum, attending fancy parties also at The Field Museum, volunteering at the food pantry, watching actor Bryan Cranston give a talk about celebrity, acting and life in general, watching in disgust at the debates and current state of American politics, attending two book clubs, cheering for the Cubs as the go to the WORLD FREAKING SERIES and trying to get bits of sleep when I can. Oh and that list is just from the past few weeks. In fact, this coming weekend is the first one I don’t have booked completely solid since September 3rd. So I’m going to take it easy, wrap up some wedding stuff and hopefully catch up on some sleep because oh yeah, next weekend I’m getting married!

I’d like to write individual posts for many of the events I mentioned above and maybe one day I’ll get around to it. Suffice to say, most everything I’ve been doing is good and/or fun so I don’t have too many complaints, other than I do this to myself. What’s up with that? Oh well, as my momma always says, “I can sleep when I’m dead”

GO CUBS!!

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Work Perks

September 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

Last week was full of work-related perks and I’m not complaining!

I worked an annual conference we have on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning and since I had to be on the clock at 6am, my company put me up in the hotel where we held the conference for on Wednesday night. It just so happened to be in the Four Seasons and the room I was given just so happened to be an executive corner suite so it was quite swanky. We were allowed to have our significant others stay with us and so Scott made the trip downtown, where we were surprised with a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries as a pre-wedding gift from some coworkers. I may or may not have cried. Sweet indeed!

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Not bad for a Wednesday night!

Then on Friday we had a group outing to the Arlington Racetrack where we had lunch and watched horse races all afternoon. I only bet on one race and no, I did not win. It was fun though, despite the horrid service we had at the restaurant for lunch and the nightmare of an Uber ride we had through Friday rush hour traffic back to the city. But it was better than being in the office, that’s for sure! Well, maybe not…I would’ve sooner been tethered to my cubicle than sitting in traffic but we can’t win ’em all. And it was a beautiful afternoon, so we had that going for us. Plus – free lunch!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to enjoy these perks to the fullest of my ability because I’ve been fighting a cold (or multiple colds) for over a week. However I still enjoyed myself as much as I possibly could and I learned the hard way that champagne doesn’t cure a head cold – but the tequila I had at the racetrack helped!

I’m still not feeling great and I wish I could keep up the tequila diet at the office but I somehow think that my employer would frown upon that. And goddess knows I don’t want to lose these perks!

 

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Freadom

July 27, 2016 at 12:49 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

See what word play magic I did there? It’s because the volunteer events I’ve been running with my company have been a huge success and are providing freedom through literacy to kids all over Chicago!

We’ve officially held three days of giving out books to kids (12 books to each kid – entirely free and theirs to keep!) and we’ve given out over 15,000 books. Yes, 15,000. How incredible is that? Over one thousand kids have walked home happy with bags full of their new libraries and we’re not finished yet! We have two more dates to go next week and while I wish I could be at those like I’ve been at all the others, I’ll be on vacation so I’ll be cheering from afar.

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Can’t beat free!

This has been such a fun program to be a part of seeing the kids cheer as they hug their new books to their chest is pretty damn special. I grew up with my nose in a book and simply can’t imagine living in a world where I didn’t have the ability to escape to a different time or place through just the words on a page. And the fact that the company I work for is actually sponsoring and encouraging employee participation in these events is extra special!

Stay tuned to keep reading all about it!

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Read All About It!

July 14, 2016 at 2:07 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

The company I work for is probably the best company I’ve ever worked for and we do things every day that make me proud to be here. Case in point: we partner with two nonprofit organizations every two years and then dole out a significant amount of money during that time to help them achieve goals and visions that they would not be able to afford to do otherwise. One of the organization’s we’re working with right now collects and distributes books to at-risk kids in Chicago with the goal of giving every child 12 books to take home to keep and use to start their very own personal library. We’re supporting them not just monetarily but through many different service days and activities. I’m acting as the liaison between our company and the nonprofit and I have a big hand in putting the events together and pulling them off – it hasn’t been easy but it has been fun! If you know me, you know I’m quite fond of both kids and books so I feel lucky to be a part of this. We held a Book Drive during the month of June and collected over 2,000 books, which was awesome! Now I’m working on five different days where we’re taking volunteers from our office to different Chicago Public Libraries to literally hand out these books to the kids who come through. We had our first of five events this week and it was AWESOME!

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Not kids from our service day but you get the idea

Apparently, on an average day the nonprofit gives out about 2,000 books to the kids who come through. Well, our first day working with them was quite the initiation as it was the busiest day they expect all year – we passed out over 7,000 books to over 600 kids! It was a super hectic day full of organized chaos and it was really incredible. Our volunteers worked very hard and we had two shifts coming via shuttle to lend a hand. The children we spent time with were so thrilled to be receiving books and there were a few moments where some of us got teary-eyed as we saw just how excited these kids were and how meaningful these books were to them. So many couldn’t believe they got to keep them and that they were free – I was even given a large “Thank You” banner signed by one particular group of kids and I won’t lie, my eyes definitely didn’t stay dry for that!

We have four more distribution days we’re a part of and managing sign-ups, lunches, shuttles and everything else is definitely keeping me busy but it is absolutely worth it. And just one more reason why I love my job!

 

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A Bang of a Weekend

July 7, 2016 at 2:25 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

My mom and sister came to visit over the Fourth of July and we had an absolute blast, pun intended. We managed to visit some of the biggest tourist destinations in the city (i.e. The Field Museum and Navy Pier…hell, we even took a water taxi from one to the other), enjoyed third-row seats at Wrigley Field to watch as the Cubs beat the Reds, ooh’d and aah’d at a scary and death-defying fireworks show basically in my backyard, ate a ton of delicious food and drank lots of delicious beverages and watched a couple of movies (To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar and Independance Day, respectively…we have diverse tastes. And Patrick Swayze has great gams). We even got our nails done! As always, their visit was a great one and over much too short even though they were here almost five days.

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Perfect!

It’s always really hard to say goodbye to my family when we part ways but I’m so, so thankful for the fun times we had. I really value our quality time and the fact that sometimes we can give each other shit face-to-face versus via text or over the phone. Because sharing is caring, right? Plus, we couldn’t be too sad when we departed because I’ll be home again in about two months. For my bridal shower.

In other news – holy crap I’m getting married in less than four months! And since I didn’t burst into flames while typing that, I guess it’s meant to be. Look out married bliss, here I come!

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Street Art

June 10, 2016 at 10:43 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

This installation recently made an appearance in my neighborhood. I pass it once or twice a day and the first time I saw it was a very foggy morning (as evidenced by the photo) and I’m not going to lie, it kind of weirded me out. But he’s really not doing anything harmful – in fact, this figure swings when the wind is blowing right! And while that still looks slightly eerie, the fake flower arrangement someone recently placed in his hands makes it seem a little more fun and fancy free. There’s some carving in the bottom of the installation asking people not to stand or climb on it but other than that – nothing. No artist name or title of the piece or explanation or identifying feature of any kind.

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Swing low, sweet Snoop Fogg…

Not that I’m complaining! One of my favorite aspects of city living is the weird stuff I come across as I walk around. And while I’m not sure how long this guy will be around (will he disappear tonight? 10 years from now? Did he move in for eternity?), I will enjoy him while he’s here. I’m also open to suggestions on a name, if you’d like to contribute! Right now I’m thinking Snoop Fogg, since he initially creeped up on me on a foggy day and he looks like he’s made of Twizzlers, which makes me think of when Snoop Dogg used to go around saying things that rhyme with “shizzle”. What, you didn’t think of that?

I think Snoop Fogg and I will make many more memories together. Unless he melts in the ninety degree weather we’re having this weekend!

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Overheard on the ‘L’

April 6, 2016 at 12:39 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Scene: The Chicago Brown Line

Time: Way too damn early for this (~7:15am)

Woman to man sitting next to her: “Excuse me. You’re encroaching on my space.”

Man: “I’m just sitting here.”

Woman: “Your elbow is clearly in my personal space. It’s extended because you’re on your cell phone. You know how people move their arms out when they use their phone? That’s what you’re doing. To me. Right now.”

It should be noted at this time that the woman was on the outside seat and could have theoretically moved a bit towards the aisle, as there was plenty of room.

Man: “I’m as close to the wall as I can be.”

Woman: “Well, I think I deserve the personal space allotted to me on the train. And I would really appreciate it if you would move your arm back into YOUR personal space.”

Man (under his breath): “In three years of living in Chicago and riding the ‘l’, I’ve never had anyone complain about this before…”

Woman: “They probably all felt too uncomfortable to speak up since you could so easily elbow them in the neck.”

Man: “This is ridiculous. You’re on public transit. You can’t expect to have a ton of space. I’m not putting my phone away and I’m not moving.”

Woman: “Typical man. This just figures.”

Cue passive aggressive stares and sighs for the rest of the train ride. From every party involved plus a few onlookers.

FIN.

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