Vacation Recap

December 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , )

Here’s what I’ve been up to since the last time I posted:

  • Was out of town for 7 nights.
  • Spent 2,328 miles in a car (roughly 38 hours).
  • Drove through 7 states (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana).
  • Slept in 4 different beds (two nights in a sorta dingy motel where my family was the only guests…it was like something out of a bad horror movie…then one night in a nice French Quarter hotel, one night at my grandparent’s house and one night with my momma).
  • Visited with 12 family members and only had to yell at my dad once or twice.
  • Sat in one strip club with my sister and cousins…talk about awkward.
  • Indulged in one couples reading at Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo – apparently Scott and I are good for each other and I should never bother with LASIK surgery, though it would be good for him.  Also my sister and I might both wind up with twins.  Holy crap.
  • Ate roughly my own weight in Thanksgiving deliciousness (and I have leftovers!  The one and only perk of driving).
  • Had a few too many New Orleans adult beverages.
  • Managed to see all four of my grandparents and both of my parents in the same day, despite them living on opposite sides of the country.
  • Cleaned the apartment, unpacked everything, put up the Christmas tree and had a friend over for dinner, all on my last night off before returning to work.
  • Spent two and a half hours upgrading my phone to an iPhone.  I guess there’s no going back from this.
Happy Holidays from Bourbon Street!

Happy Holidays from Bourbon Street!

As you can see, I’ve been fairly busy.  The trip was a really good time though that drive was LONG.  At least it was semi-entertaining, what with Kendra’s boyfriend almost letting us run out of gas in the Middle of Nowhere, Alabama at 4:30 in the morning and my own boyfriend leaving a gas station with the gas pump still hooked in the car.  My sister and I are proud that we didn’t have any driving mishaps and that we didn’t kill each other, which I think we were both worried about.  I’m also fairly comfortable behind the wheel once again, as I did more driving in the last week than I’ve done in years.

Other highlights: my tofurkey was surprisingly delicious, I didn’t have to go to a Wal-Mart while in Louisiana, my aunt is sending me a new(er) Nook and I’ve made a slight dent in my current book, The Count of Monte Cristo.  Now for this week: coming back to work, volunteering at the food pantry, attending a fancy Holiday party at the Art Institute with a friend and volunteering at the museum this weekend.  And that’s just between now and Saturday!

No rest for the wicked, but then again why would I want to rest when everything I’m doing is so damn awesome?  Hope your holiday was just as good as mine, if not slightly less chaotic.  And here’s hoping I can get back to Louisiana sometime before next Thanksgiving!

 

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Thanksgiving Vacation!

November 26, 2013 at 11:12 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Scott and I leave town this afternoon and begin a roughly 18 hour drive to my grandparents house in Louisiana.  We’re meeting my sister and her boyfriend in Louisville so we’ll all be splitting the driving and the gas but it’s still going to be long – just no way around that.  But I’ve got my ear plugs, my pillow, my book, some movies and my tofurkey so I should be able to handle it.  It will be cheaper than flying though so at least that’s something!  Plus, apparently my sister’s car has an actual outlet in it so we can use my laptop to watch movies for the duration of the trip.  What, you didn’t realize cars had outlets?  Yeah, me neither.  What a world we live in!

Away we go!

So, I’m more than ready for a vacation.  While it won’t be super warm down south this year, it’ll be warmer than it is in Chicago (where I spent my walk home last night sliding all over sidewalks and waddling to avoid busting my ass).  Plus, I get to see all kinds of family members I haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving.  There will be tons of good food and we’ll cap off the holiday with a cousins-oriented trip to New Orleans on Friday night.  Clearly, I have a lot to be thankful for.

In fact, here’s a brief list!

  • My family is pretty amazing…I miss them on a daily basis but am always grateful for the time we share.
  • My friends are rad too and I wouldn’t be who or where I am without them.  Even those I don’t talk to or see as much as we’d like – I love and miss them all.
  • My boyfriend is also great.  We may drive each other nuts sometimes but there’s no one else I’d rather be nuts with.
  • My job…it pays my bills…
  • My little cat, The Dude.  He makes me laugh and finally quit waking me up at the buttcrack of down with his incessant meowing.
  • My health.  Because it really is easy to take for granted.
  • The fact that I live in one of the coolest cities ever (my opinion of course, but my opinion is often right).
  • My comfy yoga pants.  Because they will come in handy on Thanksgiving.

Hope you and yours have a great holiday and that you have plenty to be grateful for!  And if you can manage to stay away from Black Friday shopping, you’ll have a lot to be thankful for indeed.

 

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It’s That Time Again

October 29, 2013 at 12:52 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I went home over the weekend and came back to Chicago with yet another sinus/head cold thing that is making me miserable.  The same thing happened the last time I went to Indiana and I’m just not sure why.  Does it have something to do with the jam-packed schedule I plan for myself?  Why yes, most likely it does.  I left Friday after work and before I came back on Sunday evening, I’d accomplished the following:

  • 2 5 hour car rides
  • 2 brunches with 6 different people
  • 1 fish fry, 1 housewarming and 1 birthday party across 2 states, where I got to see 18 family members and a ton of people I don’t know
  • 5 loads of laundry (thanks, Mom!)
  • 2 separate visits with my grandparents that featured 2 milkshakes and 6 donuts
  • 1 visit with an uncle and 2 donuts
  • 2 bridesmaid dresses tried on for 1 wedding I’ll be in next summer
  • 2 bottles of wine drained

There was a lot more but my head hurts just thinking about it.  I did see gas for $3.15 a gallon and that was something new and different for me so I made note of it.  I also found graffiti I wrote on the underside of a pool table over a dozen years ago and was glad to see it hadn’t changed – not even my signature.  It’s nice to be able to count on some things.

Like getting sick after such a hectic weekend.  I should be used to it but given the poor-me tone of this post, I’m obviously not.  So I’ll keep downing vitamins and tea while hoping I can boost my immune system to make it through the upcoming holidays.  Because not even illness will slow me down – a sore throat and head full of mucus is worth it to see my family!  Although they might not feel the same way…

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College Reunion!

August 30, 2013 at 9:50 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

This is the day I’ve been waiting for!  I’ll be leaving work early and riding with Scott down to Bloomington, Indiana, my old college town.  I have some truly great friends who still live there and it’s been way too long since I’ve seen them (read: over a year).  They’ve never even met Scott and after years of hearing me talk up how great my friends and the town are in general, it’s beyond time for an introduction.  And what an introduction it will be!

I plan on giving Scott the grand tour: campus, my old dorms/houses/apartments, lakes, hiking trails and of course too many restaurants to count.  I think we’re even going to get in a visit to a farm!  All of my lovely friends have fancy gardens too and I’m pretty sure we’ll be coming home with lots of fresh produce.  Score!

To old and new memories!

Seriously, Bloomington is such a great community and the whole town played a hugely important role in who I am today.  My friends there are some of the smartest, most inspiring women I know and I am so excited to surround myself with them for a few days.  We’re staying until Sunday and then making the less-than-an-hour drive to my aunt’s house, where we’ll spending Sunday night visiting a bunch of family and enjoying a swim party.  This weekend could only really get better if ALL of my old college friends were going to be in town too, but then it would probably be too awesome for me to handle.

Hope your long weekend is a good one too!

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Home Sweet Home

July 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

I made a quick appearance in my hometown this weekend, mostly to visit with some family who have been having some health issues.  The trip didn’t get off to the start I had anticipated but I made it down safely and was able to spend lots of quality time with my mom, sister, grandparents, cousins, aunt and uncles.  I also managed to get a hair cut (but not too short…though I came close to chopping it all off), play Don’t Break the Ice and tag with three kids under 7 and stay up until almost 4am drinking beer with my mom, so I’d say the trip was a success.  It’s always hard to come home though and this is one of the reasons why:

The view from the porch

What you can’t see is the little pond on the ground in the midst of all of these flowers, nor can you hear what I heard – silence, other than some bugs and the gurgling of the water.  Can you blame me for not wanting to come back?  As much as I love the city and all it has to offer, the country girl in me needs the time at Mom’s to recharge.  My weekend home was much too short, as always, but it did a body good!

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Don’t Cry Over Squashed Squash

July 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Okay.  Today is better.

But my weekend was the best.  Besides the adorable calf from my previous post, the Saturday evening I spent at my friend’s old (as in over 100 years) farmhouse was full of pizza, more cows, kittens, barns and vegetable gardens.  My weekend also consisted of a tour through my old campus (complete with a drive-by of one of my favorite apartments); beer at one of my favorite sports bars; bagels from a well-known, local establishment; meeting and greeting other new feline companions; a walk through the state’s largest farmer’s market (where I was reminded just how much I love the hippies in that town); lunch and brews at the brewery of my dreams; a cook-out; tours of the new homes from two of my nearest and dearest and plenty of good, old-fashioned catching-up.  I got to see every person I hoped to and narrowly avoided some of those I didn’t.  I was given some news from one dear friend that wasn’t exactly happy but as she seems good with it, I’m good with it too.  I’m incredibly lucky that I know such strong, intelligent and resourceful women and I’m proud to have them all a part of my life.  I’m also very, very grateful that they took the time to hang out with me as much as they did in the short amount of time that I had.  I made a promise to myself to get back down there (with Scott in tow) sometime this fall so by putting it here in the blogosphere, I’ll be held a little more accountable.  Hear that, ladies?  Hold me to it!

I thought this was somewhat appropriate.

The only downside to the entire weekend happened, appropriately, at the very end of my trip.  Before I go any further, let me just say that every person in Bloomington seems to have their own garden.  Seriously.  Everyone.  Of the four female friends I spent time with, all four have their own personal patches of vegetables growing in their backyard (or at least trying to…Indiana really needs some rain).  At the cook out I attended, gardens were a hot topic of discussion and it seemed everywhere I went, that’s what I heard.  I’m not complaining because I honestly think it’s awesome but I am more than just a little bit jealous.  If I had a garden here, it would consist of a pitiful few seeds in a plastic cup on my balcony and not the rows of awesomeness that I saw all weekend long.  So with lots of gardening comes lots of extra vegetables and I’m never one to turn down free food, although I did try to beg off in this case since I was traveling by bus.  One friend insisted I take a large zucchini though and after loading it up in my purse and making a few penis-related jokes, I forgot all about it before boarding my bus and going on my way.  Toward the end of the ride I put my hand in my bag to search for my wallet and realized there was an unfortunate stench wafting from folds of my favorite purse.  Then I realized I had zucchini mash under my nails and all over my hand.  This was not something I wanted to deal with on a hot, crowded bus while facing another hour train ride home.  Upon inspection, I saw that the zucchini had snapped in half and mush spread over my wallet, journal, book, keys and every other damn thing I had in there.  And it reeked.  I managed to find some unharmed tissues and after getting off the bus I cleaned up as well as I could.  There’s probably still a rotting, smashed zucchini sitting on the steps of the building near the bus stop but that’s not something I think they can link back to me.  Unless the security for that building reads my blog.  Anyway, it was gross and I’m not entirely sure that my favorite purse and wallet are washing machine friendly but I guess I’m going to find out.  I was also bummed at the loss of a giant, delicious zucchini but there was just no saving that bad boy.

If that’s the worst thing that happened, though, I still think I’m super lucky.  And next time I make a visit, I’ll be sure to bring a plastic bag for any produce that comes home with me!

 

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Road Trip!

February 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

It’s that time of the year again.  The time that I travel down to my hometown to celebrate my birthday (along with that of about a dozen family members) at the legendary Beef O’Brady’s.  This will be the third year in a row we’ve had this party and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty excited.  I haven’t been home since Christmas and while it hasn’t been that long ago, I’m ready for a visit.  I’ll be hanging with family and seeing some friends (while also checking out the new home one of them just purchased – god, I’m getting old) and I’ll also get to meet my sister’s boyfriend, which I’m REALLY looking forward to.  Given that she hasn’t had one since the sixth grade and has spent the last dozen or so years giving grief to every partner I’ve ever brought around, I figure it’s time for some payback.  Surely he needs to know about how she used to carry worms around in her purse and once brought a jar with a slug that had given birth in it to show off to the whole school for Show and Tell – right? Right.

I’m also more than ready for the Mental Health Day I have scheduled for Monday – a day that will be full of sleeping in, going out for brunch and hanging out with my awesome self while everyone else I know is at work.  Score!

In honor of my three-day weekend and the good mood I seem to find myself in, here’s a picture of a silly, cute looking dog:

Awww

Happy Weekend!

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Open Road

July 12, 2011 at 9:33 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

(First things first – Dad’s initial chemo treatment went better than expected so thank you all for the positive thoughts and energy – keep them coming!!)

Now.  I took a trip home this weekend on ye olde megabus, which significantly lacked proper air conditioning on both of my trips.  You can imagine how awesome that was – sitting on a jam-packed, double-decker bus in the steamy afternoon sun for three hours.  Each way.  While that was not the most pleasant of rides that I’ve had, I was able to drive a bit around my mom’s and I was reminded how much fun some (non bus) rides can be.

I usually drive mom’s little Saturn when I streak through the small streets of my hometown and this trip was no different.

Just drive it off

It’s a fun car to drive and I consistently surprise myself with how fast I can get on the interstate without even realizing it.  No tickets were earned this time but I’ve had enough in my day to last for quite a while so I was okay with that.  Besides driving my mom’s car, I was also given the keys to my sister’s Jeep, which does not happen often.  Luckily my aunt was in town with her flashy red convertible and my sister wanted to ride in that, so I was left with the freedom of four-wheel drive.  I briefly considered going off-road but didn’t fancy washing a bunch of mud off the car later on so I kept my impulses in check.  Rather, I rolled down every window, opened the sunroof and blasted all kinds of random rap and rock music from the mid to late 90’s.  I sang, I danced, I accrued more than a few questioning glances during my ride home and it was awesome.  Spending most of my days walking around sidewalks (and if I’m lucky, a park) has caused me to forget how much fun it is to sing along to the radio with the wind in your hair.  I could try doing that on sidewalks too but I think I’d encounter even more looks if I took my boombox for a walk down the street.  Also, I still use the phrase boom box.

Sure, I save on gas, car insurance, maintenance and car payments but when I’m sweltering on a mega bus ‘o heat, it seems that there are some things that money can’t buy.  Like borrowing a car for a road trip.

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Strangers with Whiskey

February 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

I took a megabus trip home this weekend to spend some quality time with some old friends and fam, and true to megabus form, I had an interesting trip.  I’m not sure what it is about me that encourages strangers to open up and tell me random things about themselves but it seems to happen a lot.  My Friday afternoon bus trip was no exception and was made worse by the fact that the guy sitting next to me was rather drunk.

I did not realize his drunkenness while we stood in line and chatted about megabus in general.  Oh, no.  I was oblivious until

Road trips are a trip

we sat down next to each other and he brought out a bottle of Jack Daniels that was 2/3 empty…he told me offhandedly that he had purchased it that afternoon.  It was then that I knew I was in for a long bus ride.

Over the course of the next three hours I was regaled with stories of his kinky girlfriend, his buddies who were growing some sort of fancy type of marijuana that I couldn’t begin to understand if I tried, his new job and recent move from another large Midwestern City, how his little sister was throwing her life away and how crappy his truck runs in Chicago winters.  At one point, this big burly man had tears running down his face as he told me how one of his friends gave him clean urine so he could pass a drug test.  Apparently, that’s the mark of a true friendship.  It was also around this time that I finally acquiesced and helped myself to what was left in his whiskey bottle.

After disembarking the bus (and leaving my drunken friend behind to go on to the next stop), I stood outside waiting on my ride mom.  While waiting, I somehow managed to get into a conversation about birthing practices in different cultures with a middle-aged woman also waiting for her ride.  In the span of about 90 seconds, we went from discussing the weather to talking about the evolution of the bodies of women and how modern birthing practices don’t take that evolution into account.  The whiskey may or may not have had something to do with my enthusiasm but hey, at least I wasn’t driving.

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Beer Me

September 2, 2010 at 1:11 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I love beer.

So did our founding fathers.

I think it’s hereditary.  I come from a long line of beer drinkers, but it was my mom who turned me on to the good stuff.  My dad was always content with Coors or Busch Light and while I admit to drinking my fair share of crappy beer (especially in college, where it’s required), I like to think my tastes have evolved a bit.  I usually keep some of the cheaper stuff on stock in my fridge but when I go out I like to splurge.  Which brings me to last night.

I went to The Small Bar, which is in the Logan Square/Avondale area.  True to its name, it is small.  I had never been before but it’s been recommend to me more than once so I went with a friend to check the whole thing out.  Since I arrived first, I ordered the beer on special and sat down to peruse the beer list.

The list was massive.  It was almost like a homework assignment, but much more entertaining.  The descriptions were also funny enough to evoke a laugh or two, and they were all very thorough.  By the time my pal arrived I had picked out my next choice, something that sounded delicious and hunger-inducing all at once.  A Blueberry Wheat Beer.

It tasted like blueberry muffins soaked in yummy wheat beer.  I fell in love.

I’ve always been fond of a good wheat beer and I often miss Upland Brewery in Bloomington, as it served some of the

On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this beer an 11

best wheats around.  This blueberry stuff more than made up for my lack of Upland, and I could’ve happily kept drinking it all night long (if I was unemployed or looking to be unemployed…it was a Wednesday night, after all).  This beer is micro-brewed in Maine and I’m ready to plan a trip.  The menu at the restaurant/brewery is mostly seafood (shocker for being on the East Coast) but I wouldn’t be going for the food. I’d be going to imbibe responsibly (?) while pretending to be in a Steven King novel.  Who’s with me?

If a road trip isn’t in your future, I suggest trying to track this stuff down at your local liquor store.  My sister works in one and she might be able to help.

Told you it was hereditary.

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