Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “Chicago

Climate Change, Panty Raids, and Toddlers (not all at once, that’d be gross)

So apparently there’s this ice shelf in Antarctica that’s about to break off and fuck us all up. It’s “hanging on by a thread” according to climate scientists. When this happens, sea levels will raise 4-ish inches. Goodbye Boston. Goodbye Venice. Good riddance most of Florida.

I don’t know about you, but that definitely reorients my travelling priorities. I’m really glad that after we go to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in October, we’re heading to Malaga, Spain after that for a week trip with my mother-in-law in her time share. I’m hoping to pop across the Strait of Gibraltar (technically the Alboran Sea) to visit Morocco as well.

Based on their coastal locations, I can assume these cities will be altered if a giant ice shelf raises water levels by inches all over the planet.

Thinking about all of that (and puppy mills, ugh, thanks Rolling Stone), I started to consider other places I want to visit. I have the plan to visit all 50 states at some point before age 50. But I also want to go to Italy and visit Venice and Naples. I want to visit Mubmai in India and Osaka in Japan. And I still haven’t been to Boston. I really love New Orleans, and I’m looking forward to visiting again. But these cities are fucked.

I’m glad that 21 people under the age of 21 filed a suit to stop this shit. And I’m really glad this district judge has this to say:

“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” –U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken

Things like this give me hope. Hope for these folks born after 1990 who I rarely time the time to acknowledge as useful. Hope for my future travel. Hope that though the immediate present ain’t great, the future is salvageable.

On another note, I was in Chicago this past weekend. I visited my family for my mother’s 60th birthday. Here’s what I learned.

  • My grandmother is refusing to do what she said she’d do when starting this experimental treatment, so she’s getting worse while she’s getting better.
  • My parents’ college friends are even better than I remember. They are hilarious. And panty raids in college are a real thing, not just in movies.
    • I’m thinking I really really want to name names for who participated in these panty raids, but all the guilty parties are not yet retired, so I’ll wait for now…
  • Living in New York turns you, and people you know from back in Chicago, into whiskey drinkers.
  • Bridesmaid dresses were not created to look good on anyone.
  • My mother has chosen a theme for her sixties. She turned “50 with a snap.” But her sixties are all about being cool. There’s a hand gesture that goes along with it. I made it up, my mother is now to cool to have done something like that.
  • My entire family need to start going for walks. We are NOT maintaining a basic standard of health, myself included.

And lastly, I’m considering what drastic measures to take in preparation of my friend LaToya’s wedding in May. Is vegan too far? It probably is. I mean, I had a terrible experience with some beef lasagna that I assume was delicious but couldn’t put in my mouth in Paris that made me think vegetarianism isn’t too far off in my future.

I just can’t help thinking of 2010 me. I was unemployed, which wasn’t great, but I went no carb, hardly-no-sugar and had just discovered hot yoga. Maaaaaaan, let me tell you, I was in the best shape of my life that year. But that level of time and diet commitment is just… hard. I probably could’ve maintained it had I kept one of the two going.

I dunno. But I tell you what I do know. I’m not about to go through what bridesmaids all over the world go through. I will make sure that I can fit into the dress I ordered. I decided to order a size that will fit me today instead of some aspirational size. Hopefully I’ll have the problem of needing to have it taken in…

Switching gears again. Do you play the Sims 4? I do, and I’m losing my mind that I won’t be able to play with the toddlers until Thursday night of this week! I’ve downloaded the update, but between visiting Chicago, my work-volunteer-yoga schedule, and going to see a taping of the Harry Connick, Jr. show, there just won’t be time before then.

Seriously, how freaking cute are these toddlers?

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My Nickname Should Be Breadcrumbs

Have you ever thought about giving yourself a nickname? If you could choose one, would it focus on your best qualities? Would it be funny? Clever? Revealing?

Yeah… the name I came up with for myself is none of those really. It’s blunt, if whimsical. Remember Hansel and Gretel? They tried to find their way home using a trail of breadcrumbs. Usually a trail of breadcrumbs can be followed.

My breadcrumbs are a little different. They are scattered all over, in no particular order. They simply leave a path of where I’ve been. You could literally track my physical location through history if you had some sort of way of tracking my possessions.

I’m not joking when I say I leave all my shit everywhere all the time.

It’s a bad habit I cannot break, no matter how hard I try. I’ve done a better job at keeping up with possessions over the years. For instance, no house keys have been lost in years and years. Misplaced, of course, but always eventually found.

Essential home items aside, lots of other things are left as an accidental reminder of my presence. I try not to think about to monetary value of things I’ve left that can’t be retrieved. Instead I focus on the things I’ve mislaid that can be retrieved, even if it takes a while.

Since I’m on the subject, here are five examples of things I’ve left behind.

  1. This past Thanksgiving, I spent the night at a my friend Sara’s house after eating soooo much pie. I worked Thanksgiving and the day after. It was not until I got back to work that I noticed I had left my watch (aka the Samsung Gear Fit 2) and three rings. I’d placed them on her bathroom floor when I showered in the morning so as to not lose them down a drain or mix them up with her stuff on her dresser. And of course, I walked right out the apartment without them. I had to head back there Friday night after work to pick them up.
  2. A couple of years after college, I was back visiting with my friend David. We were there for a huge part his fraternity used to throw every year, and it was a nice reunion. I had a ton of toiletries with me (as I usually do when I travel). After I got back from the weekend, I realized I’d left brand new bottle of an entire line of hair care and face care products. Seeing as how I only visited Tallahassee once a year, I knew there was no way to get them back. That was a particularly expensive fuckup.
  3. This is not a specific time, but a specific item: eye glasses. I swear I leave them anywhere not at home where I remove them. I wish I could say I was one of those people who look for glasses sitting atop their head. Nope, mine are found such interesting places as on top of the toilet tank in a jazz club bathroom, in a seat I’ve just left on the subway, in between the couch cushions at the house of a friend of a friend, and inside someone else’s jacket pocket.
  4. Another item: earrings. I lose and leave them everywhere. Most incriminatingly (is that word?), at every home I’ve visited of every guy I never should’ve dated. I also leave one earring behind at work, in the collar of shirts and jackets, hooked into sweaters of people who hug me, and some black hole where I assume they adorn the lost socks of the world. I have a medium sized box in my bedroom that holds all the single earrings I still own. I threw one out once last year. Before my parents moved, the other earring went missing one fateful afternoon in which I’d spent time in every fucking room in the house, which never happens in one afternoon. After my parents moved, I gave the earring up for lost, so I tossed the other one in the pair. Wouldn’t you know that I found the earring in a corner of a drawer in the bedroom set they’d moved from my old bedroom. The lost earring survived the move, and I threw out its match for no reason! Needless to say, the other earrings may stay in that box for eternity, in case their match resurfaces.
  5. This last one is a doozy. I got a free tablet with an old phone, I’m thinking it was my Note 5. I happily used this tablet to play all the games I used to play on my cell, but stopped when I realized how much battery they drained. One visit to Chicago, I got off the plane in Chicago, only to realize I’d left my tablet on the plane. Instead of having my parents drive back to the airport, I asked my husband, who felw in the next day, to check with lost and found to see about the table. Turns out Delta Airlines has a bullshit lost and found system. I filled out the appropriate online forms, got some terrible customer service and runaround, then accepted my tablet was lost forever. When I got my new Note 7 (I miss my beloved phone), I got a new tablet with it. I was able to play my games, so I had less overall ire towards Delta even though I just knew one of their staff members was living it up with my old tablet. Then my mother asked if either Chris or I had lost an iPad. Chris’s iPad was on our kitchen counter, where it always it. Luckily, I was headed back to Chicago for  a visit. When I got there, I saw the tablet. And, you guessed it, it was my old Samsung tablet. Not an iPad, not stolen by some wayward Delta employee. I felt so foolish. That whole situation was peak breadcrumbs.

Looking for a common thread in these scenarios, and the only one I can see is that I’m usually in a state of fight or flight when something is left behind. Not necessarily immediate fight or flight, but definitely that’s my overall feeling. Leaving the house of a guy I never intend to see again would help explain why I wouldn’t be in the right mind to itemize my belongings.

Although… if I really wanted to go and have no reason for return, you’d think I’d do a better job of collecting my stuff, right? It’s happened to me more than once that I dealt with guys assuming I wanted them to chase me with the old left-the-earring-routine. How I have pined for the lost costume jewelry as I ignored smug text messages offering to return my item. So many ransom notices, lol. Excuse my hyperbole, but you know by now I’m contractually obligated to speak in hyperbole every so often.

There is, of course, a silver lining. Because of my tendency to leave bits of myself behind everywhere I go, I have learned what I truly value and what I don’t. I lost a new cardigan I deeply loved at a restaurant, and as a result, I only take pashminas out with me in the summer to do the battle against unreasonable air conditioning. And some of my jewelry, particularly the gifts from my parents and husband, are really important to me. I don’t want to lose them, so I only wear them when I’m in a good mood and travelling to trusted establishments.

Other than my rings I left at Sara’s, pretty much the only jewelry I wear these days is the costume jewelry. Trump and all the heavy bigoted bullshit that comes with his election has me in a semi-permanent state of fight or flight, so yeah… leaving the diamonds and pearls at home for now. Lab created gemstones only!


Thoughts On Finishing Another Visit To Chicago

On my last day here in Chicago before heading back to Brooklyn, I’m thinking a few things:

  1. I don’t love the suburbs
  2. I really love my family
  3. There are not enough hours in the day
  4. 2017 can’t come soon enough

Let’s talk about the suburbs. That part of the world between the city and the farms/woods/country is the part I like the least. The only thing worse than a suburb is a small city, only a couple hundred thousand citizens (I’m looking at you Rockford).

Out here, where in a quarter mile there’s only three businesses, and everyone swears everything is 10 min from everything else. Spoiler alert, it’s not. You can’t drive 19 miles at 45 mph in 10 min. That’s not how math or suburban traffic lights work.

Luckily my best friend lives in the city. I escaped away for a couple of days to get out the suburbs, thanks to her. And being in her apartment is like a lovely dip into a world traveled, afrocentric haven, amplified with Prince on the record player.

But my family pretty much all live in the suburbs now…

So I spent most of my trip to Chicago in the south suburbs. There are so few people. I miss Brooklyn, but I’ll be back tonight.

I got to spend some time with my parents and my grandmother. Also, I got to spend time with mother- and sisters-in-law. Bonding while running errands is real people. My mother-in-law found the bowls she needed for her party. I finally found the Maybelline blue lipstick that’s been out of stock at so many stores I’ve searched in the last few months.

Back at their house, I helped them get ready for a family party they had last night in honor of my deceased father-in-law. Chopping vegetables is another way to bond with your in-laws. One of my sisters-in-law is always substituting one type of food for a healthier alternative.

The menu last night included chili and taco fixings, so sour cream was needed as a topping option. I decided to help and setup the toppings. After searching the fridge for sour cream, I finally had to interrupt her shower for help.

It turns out she had purchased plain greek yogurt as a substitute. My other sister-in-law and me had several doubts about the effectiveness of the replacement, but I decided to roll with it and hope it worked out.

When I’m serving sour cream, I usually don’t leave it plain. You’ve gotta jazz it up and add layers of flavor when you can. So I added some paprika, fresh cracked black pepper, and fresh minced cilantro. I thought it tasted great, and when it was cold, you couldn’t even tell that it wasn’t real sour cream.

The real test came with my nieces though. One of them is an adventurous, but will quickly tell you if the food is unsatisfactory. The other is a picky eater who is hesitant to try anything that “looks” or “smells” weird.

They both took a look at the “sour cream” and were excited to try it. They loved it and the picky eater dished out some extra on top of her nachos.

I helped with prep for the party, but I wasn’t able to stay for the whole party because I had already scheduled time with my other Chicago people before I knew about it. The best parts of it are those little moments like helping undo the dog’s training for not jumping into people’s laps and watching my sister-in-law teach my niece to make lemon pound cake.

This last day, I wanted to help hang up curtains in my grandmother’s room. After doing her nails, helping my mom give her a bath, shopping for extra chairs for Thanksgiving, etc., there wasn’t enough time. There never seemed to be enough time this whole weekend.

I’d look at the clock, think about how I had three hours when I really wanted six. Then what felt like 20 minutes later, it’d be time to go again. Five days is a medium length visit for me, but it still felt too short. There are a lot of people I wanted to see that I didn’t.

And also, all the crap is spectacularly craptastic. One specific example, they are considering treatment options for my grandmother because what they were doing isn’t working. Both options have a 10-20% success rate for her. That fucking sucks.

I can’t wait for 2016 to be over. There will still be awfulness in 2017, but at least it will get filed under a different memory folder in my brain.


Putting in More… Everything

More of the same from me. My bad for not writing a new post in months, yada yada, will do better in the future… Wish I could figure out a better schedule to make time to post, etc. etc.

So I’m putting in more work. Trying to be more consistent

In my last post that wasn’t about Grey’s Anatomy, waaaay back in January I think, I discussed what my goals were for this year. I didn’t look to see if those goals were for 2016 or age 31, but at this point, it’s not important.

  • Chris graduate from grad school
  • More travel around the East Coast and to the West Coast
  • Make some healthy living changes that are sustainable
  • Strengthen the relationships that are truly important to me

  • Chris graduate from grad school

Chris is not going to graduate from grad school this Spring. In life, obstacles come in your way, and you handle them as best you can. Chris had a large obstacle this year. His father died. In less than a month after we found out he had health issues, he was gone.

I’m not going to go into too many details, but it was a devastating loss for the family. We are all still struggling to reach a new normal without him. Chris spent a lot of time in Chicago with his mother when it first happened, and we ultimately decided that withdrawing from classes this semester was wise. He will continue classes in the fall and will finish in December.

There is one more thing about this that I want to say. He became an organ, tissue, and eye donor. Because I work in organ & tissue donation, this was amazing news to hear. It’s not always an easy decision for a family to make, but I’m so happy it’s the decision my family made. Being a donor family adds a new layer to why I do what I do, and it would make it very difficult for me to change and do something else with my career.

 

  • More travel around the East Coast and to the West Coast

In terms of travel, I still have more I want to do. I went to San Diego at the end of January with my best friend David, which was a really great trip. My luck being what it is, it was the coldest it’s been there in years when we went. When I got back, my co-workers were concerned because there was a storm there that made national weather news. I was confused because it only rained one day. Apparently what seemed like a normal rainstorm was the worst they’d had in years.

But I did get to the San Diego Zoo!

2016-02-01 13.12.04

And travelling with David is always fun, I’m hoping we’ll get to do it again soon.

I also have taken quick trips around the East Coast, but unfortunately, nowhere new. Because of gigs that Chris has coming up, we’ll be back and forth to D.C. this summer, maybe we can expand that out… Maybe.

 

  • Make some healthy living changes that are sustainable

I definitely have gone a long way down the path of accomplishing this! One of my co-workers was fussing at us about always complaining about our sedentary lifestyle without doing anything about it. When I tell this story in person, I say she was fat-shaming us, but jokes like that don’t translate well on the internet.

Anyway, several of us were feeling bad for ourselves when she yelled at us to improve our situations and stop complaining. I told her that I would love to go to yoga more regularly. Yoga is my preferred exercise, but the studio closest to my house is 10 min drive plus parking, or a 30 minute walk. So a 1 hour class is practically a 3 hour time investment once you calculate showers and clothes changes.

She called bullshit and told me I hadn’t really looked for a studio and I should do better.

I just re-read that sentence. You should know that’s the nice version of what she said. But I respond very well to brutal honesty. So I searched far and wide to find yoga studios. My goal was to find a studio with multiple locations. One location would be on the way home from work with late night classes I could attend after my shift. The other would be less than a 15 minute walk from my house.

“And then you’ll see, I’ve really been trying!” I told her.

“Yeah, we’ll see,” she replied.

A couple hours later (I was also working, after all), I found out… she was right. There was a yoga studio around the corner from my house, literally. I felt so stupid. Then I got over myself and immediately signed up for a class the next morning.

That was over a month ago, and I’m still going strong. I also found an online on-demand yoga thing for $9.95/month. cancelled that though because I never use it. But I went from exercising hardly ever to exercising 3-4 times a week.

Chris and I went to Chicago for a wedding a couple of weeks ago. I took my mat, and did yoga there too. I haven’t felt this good or slept this well in a while. And in my defense, the studio is only about 9-10 months old. It really wasn’t there the last time I checked!

In addition to working out, I’ve started purchasing groceries more regularly, and cooking at home more. Aside from saving money, it’s healthier. I’m looking forward to seeing the added benefit of healthier food on top of increased exercise.

 

  • Strengthen the relationships that are truly important to me

After doing damage to a very important relationship at the beginning of the year, I think we’ve just about recovered. My other relationships are going pretty well, but I could be doing more.

I don’t call my parents or mother-in-law nearly enough. I communicate with most people via text or instant messaging. And I’m at the point where I really hate talking on the phone. Maybe it’s because I do it all day for work. I’m hoping that’s the reason, and not because I’m becoming anti-social.

I can’t help it if I prefer my own company and I like being left alone most of the time. But I could certainly work hard to find a better balance to makes sure the people who matter to me are getting what they need out of the relationship. Being a better friend, daughter, etc. is important, and I will work harder to make it a bigger priority.


Starting Off 2016, I’m Still Me!

Happy New Year!!!

I’ve got no resolutions, just more of continuing to be myself. As my husband Chris says during every conversation we’ve had for the last 48 hours, 2015 was a year of big changes. He’s all about reflection. And speeches. And other people listening to his reflective speeches.

For Christmas, we were in Chicago with our families.

planeMy mother and his mother combined the Savage and McBride Christmases and we filled up my parents’ new house. I didn’t think we could fill up their big ass house, but we did it. And because Chris is Chris, he had to give a speech prior to grace. It was heartfelt and wonderful and made everyone go awwwwwww.

tree

We were in Chicago forever, almost 2 weeks (is that hyperbole? Literary purists, help me out!). That meant lots of time for other activities. There were several dinner parties, a slumber party, a couple of date nights, Chris had a gig, and there was lots of sleeping late.

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I was, however, bamboozled! I was told we’d need to help move my grandmother into my parents’ house on moving day. but I spent hours at her house the first day. Then there were more hours at her house the next day. Then there were more hours at her house the next week.

What is family for if not to help you move, literally, piece by piece? She had 30 years of stuff to sort into keep, garbage, and giveaway piles. That took a lot of hands and a lot of time.

moving

I’m pretty sure my mother purposely undersold the time commitment. She knows that I would’ve had no problem saying no ahead of time, but that there was no way I’d say no when the rest of the family was headed over to do hard work. I just can’t not help people (sorry literary purists whose attention I’ve specifically requested), not when it’s so obvious my help would make things go better for everyone.

There is one caveat, I can’t feel like I’m being taken advantage of. And my parents never make me feel that way. So it was settled, I got easily pimped out for manual labor on the big move to get my grandmother to my parents’ house.

Then there was waiting for the delivery of Christmas presents. I just bought everything online and had it shipped there rather than bring all those gifts with us. See the start and ending pics. Shit got real. That chair got added to my room when I salvaged it from the give away pile at my grandmother’s house.

presents 2 presents

There was also a funeral. The last of my great-grandmother’s siblings died. She was #16 of 16. It’s crazy to think that entire generation is now gone. I went to the funeral with my parents, and as much as the circumstances weren’t great, I was really happy to see so many family members from that branch of the family tree. After we left her burial, my daddy and I visited my Papa’s grave, who’s funeral I went to the last time I was in Chicago.

papa's grave

So after all the holiday parties, a new tattoo (more on that later), and hanging with friends I only see when in Chicago (if that often)…

paint & drink momma tattoo martinis

…it was time for New Year’s Eve!

I spent the holiday in St. Louis with my best friend David. We went to a nice dinner then a party at Ballpark Village. That party was so much fun and that DJ was everything. He was mixing songs based on: tempo, key, genre, lyrics, and theme. That’s right, lyrics and theme! Who does that?

Our tickets got us in all the 327 bars inside the village (more hyperbole! (I think…)), free drinks until midnight, free champagne toast at midnight, and endless dancing. We shut that party down like we have shut down several parties over the years.

me and david

My fancy sparkly shoes made it through the night, but barely got me back to my hotel. What should’ve been a 5 minute walk took almost 15! I wish I could blame it on being drunk, but I was happy champagne drunk, not old-school falling down vodka-and-tequila drunk. Nope, it was just a lot of dancing on concrete floors.

sparkly shoes

I got back to New York last night, and I was of course greeted by the cats who were looking at me like I was the biggest traitor for leaving them for so long. Our friend who lives around the corner watered, fed, and cleaned for the cats. So they were fine, they just have so much personality, so they had to let me know everything they were feeling.

Belle Jan 2016 2 Belle Jan 2016

I ended 2015 exactly the way I wanted to. I’m looking forward to 2016 being a great year. I’ve got hopes for this year, but there are some specific things I’d like to see happen:

  • Chris graduate from grad school
  • More travel around the East Coast and to the West Coast
  • Make some healthy living changes that are sustainable
  • Strengthen the relationships that are truly important to me

Let me reiterate that those are not resolutions, but more of a way to focus my view of the year. It’s gonna be a great year! Did I say that already?


Tat-Tat-Tatted Up

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I got the tattoos. Let’s fill you in on the rest.

I still don’t have the armoire. I took the GMAT just in time to get my scores for the application deadline to an MBA program. And I still haven’t found time to paint those Adinkra symbols on the wall.

Back to the tattoos. I had plans to go with my mom to get it done when she picked me up from the airport. Then my flight was delayed. Then both parents came to get me.

My father was unaware I was planning on getting a tattoo that day. But they drove me to the shop and dropped me off. They had no interest in joining me inside. I was there for a little over an hour, having lost my spot due to the late plane. To get my tattoos took just upwards of 10 minutes total.

When I got back in the car, the first thing my parents did was draw my attention to a woman leaving the shop after me. She had lilac hair and was heavily tattooed. “Now she looks like someone that should be coming out of a tattoo shop. But my daughter?!

My father sounded as melodramatic yet judgy yet humorous as only a member of my immediate family could. I thanked them for taking me to the shop and we moved on with our day.

I really had a wonderful visit to Chicago. I spent time with my parents and almost all of my close friends in the city. I even got to see Chris’s parents, which was great.

My parents’ new house is fantastic. I can’t wait to go back next week. We’ll be there for just a few days. It’s Chris’s birthday and he’s doing a live recording at the Green Mill Jazz club for his second CD. I’m very excited because his music is so good!

He’s playing 2 nights there. Friday, July 10th & Saturday, July 11th, 9p-1a, three sets. Right now the plan is to play the songs he wants on the CD for the first and second sets of each night. That way he’ll end up with four recordings of each song.

While we’re there, the timing works out for me to celebrate my best friend’s birthday with her. And another good friend is moving away from Chicago, so I will be there for her going away party. And my parents are considering throwing a retirement/housewarming/birthday party. So there will be a lot happening.

Also, I’m planning on getting two more tattoos when I go, as long as my tattoo guy is available. One of them is going to be part of Chris’s birthday present. He recently told me that he wanted me to get his name tattooed somewhere. I had no idea that would be something I wanted, so I thought about it. After I explained there was no way I was ever going to do that, I told him that I could get a tattoo for him though.

My three tattoos are all symbols that reflect very deeply who I feel I am as a person. I wanted the tattoo I get for Chris to be a symbol with the same depth of meaning, but it also has to represent him, and his blackness, and his love, and who he is (musician, husband, friend, son, brother, etc.).

I think I came up with the perfect thing, but I won’t mention it yet because I want it to be a surprise to him. I can’t wait to show his what it is though!

The second tattoo is going to be an ivy vine wrapping around my left arm. This is another symbol that means the almost the same thing in every culture, like the olive branch, the wisdom knot, and the Libra scales. It’s for interconnectedness & fidelity. The plant itself will grow and wrap around everything, but even as its leave ascend a tree, it only uses the tree for an anchor to get closer to the sun, not robbing it of resources.

My tolerance for pain hasn’t increased any, but dealing with the pain of getting three tattoos on my bony fingers lets me know I can handle it.

Cross your fingers for me that my tattoo guy is available next week!


Going to Grad School Instead of Buying an Armoire

I talked a few posts ago about painting, or rather not painting, my home. I realized I forgot to mention that I had some some painting. Not room painting, but wall painting.

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That’s one of the walls in our bedroom. I took one of my 30th birthday gifts from Chris (the butterfly wall hanging), and combined it with a long bit of sheer curtain. Then I painted this little curlicues design and another butterfly on the wall. It was just a little project for me to do one day to have something on the wall. I did something similar in the living room, but with shelves.

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I thought it was a nice way to accent the portion of our walls that juts out from the rest of the length. I also have put all over our walls a ton of art & street art that we’ve acquired over the years with our travels. Hopefully at some point, I’ll remember to take pictures of it to share.

Occasionally, the mood strikes me to decorate or add to the home in some way. In lieu of purchasing the fancy expensive armoire of my dreams (with all its multitasking home organizing goodness), I add crap to the walls. This time that crap comes in the form of Adinkra symbols.

Around the same time I got the desire to decorate my house, I got the idea to decorate my body.

In case you missed that, I’m considering getting another tattoo. My best friend told me when she went with me to get it that I would want another one. At the time, I thought she was likely speaking from experience, but that experience wouldn’t apply to me.

The tattoo felt exactly to me like dragging a piece of broken glass across the top of my foot. Except on purpose instead of accidentally. And I have just realized I never told this story.

So, the plan was to get the tattoo on a visit to Chicago for my best friend’s 30th birthday. We did a good job of crossing lots of items off the bucket list that weekend. I was so nervous about the pain, but I was determined to go through with it.

It just so happened that right before this trip, I was chatting on the phone with one of my girlfriends, and I stepped on what I thought was a cookie crumb (stupid Chips Ahoy). I dragged the bottom of my right foot across the top of my left foot to brush the crumb away.

It was not a crumb.

It was a tiny piece of broken glass from one of the many times Chris or I have broken something in the house (we’re both so damn clumsy). And it hurt so bad. And this tiny little shallow ass cut wouldn’t stop bleeding.

After explaining to my friend that my blood curdling scream did not, in fact, mean I was dead, I grabbed alcohol and alternated between bitching up and properly cleaning my wound.

I still have that stupid scar. And I sweep the house more frequently now. Kind of. Mostly. I also use my hands to brush away suspicious debris.

After that debacle, I arrived to the tattoo parlor fearing a similar pain. Just like I have to explain to doctors and nurses and phlebotomists, I told the tattoo man that I needed to watch him do the tattoo. Looking away would only make it worse for me. He relented and started, even though I was barely breathing and leaning as far away from him as the length of my arm would allow.

When he started my tattoo, it obviously hurt like hell. I chose my bony finger right on the bone. But it didn’t hurt like I thought it would. I thought it would be some vague level of unbearable.

But instead, it was a more dragging-glass-accidentally-across-your-foot-but-on-purpose level. I was so thrilled in that moment to have a permanent scar to accompany my new tattoo. When my best friend’s boyfriend joked that I should be crying by now based on my punkitude up to this point, I was happy to give him the middle finger, then turn back to watch the World Cup Finals. Yeah, I was handling it at this point. Feeling so used to the glass-dragging feeling that I could enjoy some sports on the huge TV in the tattoo spot.

Even after all of that, and being quite sure that day that I’d never want another tattoo, it turns out she was right.

But I’m sticking with what I know. I’m getting 2 more tattoos, both on fingers, both on fingers I always wear rings on, both of symbols of who I am that I don’t think will ever change.

So now we come full circle back to the Adinkra symbols. I’ve loved them ever since I saw them in an African-American History Museum in college. Back then, I thought that’s what my first tattoo would be of.

Each symbol stands for so much, and ultimately I decided that what if my devotion to one particular symbol changed over time. I know some people use tattoos to tell stories of their life, with each one representing a different stage, but I’m not interested in that (as of now). I just want something I can look at in 30 years and still feel happy about it representing me.

Plus, my hands already look old, so I know what the tattoos will look like all raisin-y. I rolled around the idea of a few symbols, starting with what I was considering 12 years ago.

But size limitations, plus disagreements with the meanings of some of the symbols cut the list way down. I ultimately decided on:

image via adinkra.org

This symbol is called nyansapo. It means wisdom, intelligence, and a bunch of other wonderful things. I’ve had a gift of brainpower and discernment since a young age and pending any brain injuries or disease, it will be a part of who I am. It’s such an integral part of who I am that I was floored when I first met Chris and he thought of me as “the pretty girl” rather than “the smart girl”.

 

This symbol is the olive branch. It is a religious symbol for many Western religions that gained strength in the Mediterranean. It was one of Athena’s symbols in Greek mythology. It is a symbol of peace and victory, brides and bounty, God connecting people of different backgrounds (tree grafting in the book of Romans, one of my favorite books of the Bible), and God’s covenant with his people (Noah after the whole 40 days 40 nights flood). All around it’s pretty awesome.

The picture above is the simplest image I could find. I’m thinking of getting it tattooed around my finger, but there may still be size concerns. I may have to go back to the drawing board.

When I go to Chicago in 11 days (yes, I’m counting), I plan to get these two additional tattoos. I’m very glad the ticket prices were on point. I’m also considering dyeing my hair. My best friend just got a new apartment, and it would feel so throwback to go there and do my hair. We spent many a Thursday night during college doing each other’s hair.

Personal changes aside, let’s get back to the paint I’m going to add to the walls of our home. So many of the symbols have such a wonderful meaning, that I would love to see them on our walls, hand painted as representations of the guiding principles of our marriage and adult life.

Symbols like odo nnyew fie kwan, which translates to love never loses its way home. Seeing as how we both travel so much (and travel separately), I love this one for right above our home’s entrance.

And there’s akoma ntoso, which mans understanding and agreement. That one should be in every room of the house so I can look at it and stay on task when we’re having one of our many heart-to-hearts.

I also like nsaa, which represent excellence, genuineness, and authenticity. I think that’s perfect for the music room. Having that energy when Chris is in there working sounds good to me.

There are so many others, but I’m going to run them by Chris before picking up the paint brush. I want to make sure they represent what we want, not just what I want.

I’m not sure what’s causing all of this “I simply must be me!!” that’s taking over me these days, but I’m gong with it. I’m having fun with this inching closer and closer to the person I’m supposed to be.

I was always just me, without a lot of expression of me. I spent a lot of time doing things, thinking about doing things, and thinking about what I thought about the things I did. I planned, I remembered, and I thought about those plans and memories. But putting real time into just answering “who am I?” is new.

I’m finally becoming a true millennial, I guess. I’m feeling moderately narcissistic, feeling the need to try to make the world pay attention to my self-expression. Maybe that’s not accurate, I don’t know. I just know that instead of thinking too much about it, I’m trying to focus on how good I feel.

Feeling good like this makes me want to plan for the future. I’m putting myself on a plan to get out from under my student loans in 10 years. This answers the question of whether I’m staying at this job. The answer is yes. And it answers the question of whether I’m going to grad school, and so now I’m hitting the ground running to try and get my crap together to make the application deadline.

That may adjust the timeline on us buying a place in the near-ish future. Hopefully it doesn’t, but we shall see.

Weird how I can all of this just from trying avoid spending $500 on an armoire, isn’t it?


I Won’t Paint My Home, But Can I Paint Yours?

I can’t even say why, but I really love talking about the weather y’all. It’s finally over 60 degrees in New York now. And that makes me very happy. And the forecast is holding. It’s not supposed to go any lower than 38 for the next 10 days.

You know it’s been a brutal winter when you’re happy for a low of 38 in April.

In celebration of Spring, there will be pastel nail polish, there will be spring cleaning, and there might be packing away winter clothes.

Now that I live in NYC, and there are pretty distinct seasons, I feel like I should put away the sweaters and heavy boots until November. But now that I live in NYC, I don’t have any freaking room for extra storage. I know, I know, first world problems.

But I really want to put away the clothes. I want to put some lavender potpourri in with the clothes so they smell good when unearthed in 6-7 months. And I would love being a size too small to fit some of the clothes at that time.

A girl can dream.

Pinterest isn’t helping. I dream of amazing storage solutions and a multi-tasking armoire, and basically just other ways to spend up all the money. Thank God I married a man who likes to save.

It’s nice to add things to my apartment to make it feel more at home. Brooklyn still doesn’t feel like home to me, but that apartment is feeling more like home.

We’ve been in the apartment since July 2013, which is quite a while for me. So. Much. Moving.

In all that time, it always felt like this super temporary place, and even unpacking the suitcases seems extra. But everything changed when my parents came to visit.

My mother and father came for New Year’s, and it was amazing. We didn’t really even do much of anything. But on New Year’s Eve, it was perfect. I came home from work, my dad made steaks, we popped some champagne.

We watched the New Year’s Eve programming on ABC, flipping back and forth between that and a Law & Order marathon. At one point my mother fell asleep, and then Belle took a nap of her head. My dad and I were the only ones awake in the house, just bantering back and forth about whatever was on the screen, and I’m pretty sure we went through almost 3 full bottles of champagne.

It was like someone picked out my favorite New Year’s Eve moments from the last 30 years and smushed them all into one evening. Having that time, just on the couch with my parents, finally made that apartment feel like home.

Since their visit, I’ve been doing more decorating and organizing. Knowing our 3-ish year plan, it just makes sense. Why feel temporary in a place for 3 years if you don’t have to?

But there are certain things I just can’t bring myself to do until I’m in my permanent home. I won’t paint the rooms any color. I won’t get any more custom shelves made. I won’t buy curtains that cost more than $25. And I’m not buying my dream couch.

Something like this is what I’d love. To be able to lay down in front of the TV also facing the TV… that’s the dream…

It would suck so bad to have this amazing couch and then have to get rid of it because it doesn’t fit in a new place. Ditto for those custom-made shelving solutions I’ve seen at the Container Store. And on Instagram. And Pinterest.

Pinterest really isn’t helping.

I take it as a sign of growing up that I’m having this desire to set up a more permanent home. That, and I watch a lot of HGTV. I would be falling over myself to get on one of those shows if they filmed in New York.

I would love to go on Property Brothers. If not them, then Fixer Upper. Worst case scenario, I’d buy a crap place with a lot of space, then go on Love It or List It. But none of these shows are in New York. Why?! It’s just not fair.

In the mean time, I’m living vicariously through my parents. They just bought a new house. I’m trying to work out my schedule so I can go visit and see it in person sooner rather than later. I am not painting my apartment, but I can certainly paint in their new place.

Yes, a bit of a nesting fix is exactly what I need.

I’m off to check ticket prices on expedia.com.


On Getting Ready For Birthdays

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it enough, but I’m turning 30 this year! I’m super excited about it. I honestly don’t know why exactly, but I just am!

I love my birthday more than most people I know. The fact that I have a handful of friends with birthdays around mine adds to it because we celebrate together every couple of years or so. I think for this 30th birthday, it’s going to be all about me though.

But I’m not the only one turning 30 this year. I’ve mentioned before that a group of us have this 30th birthday bucket list. I’m enjoying crossing items off of mine. I can’t wait to talk about what I’m doing to alter my physical appearance in ode to my 20s. And my friends have been doing some interesting things for their buckets lists as well.

Not everyone doing this bucket list is a close friend of mine, but a couple of them are. In fact, one of my best friends is the one who had the idea for the bucket list. And it just so happens her birthday is one of the first up for my people who are turning 30 this year.

The absolute first of my people who are turning 30 has a birthday next Thursday. He’s so excited about his birthday, and he should be. He has a lot to celebrate this year. He just graduated Harvard Medical School and he got the residency of his choice in Dermatology.

Up next is Easy. His birthday is July7th. Easy is my husband for those of you who missed the post where I said he wanted me to go back to using the nickname I gave him on my old blog when we first started dating.

Anyway, Easy turns 30 in a few weeks and he’s excited too. We don’t really have the funds for me to do something super extravagant for his birthday, but I didn’t let that stop me. I’ve been having so much fun getting ready for his birthday.

I’m doing something I’m going to call Gifting Mondays. It’s a crappy title, but it requires no explanation at least. Starting last Monday, and going for every Monday until his birthday (which falls on a Monday), I’m getting him an awesome you’re-a-grown-up-now gift. It’s been so much fun getting these gifts for him. I think I purchased the first one back in March and just hit it at work for a few months.

Last week, I got him and iPad mini. If you about the Apple products, you know this is a pretty cool gift. I got him a bluetooth keyboard to go with it. I think it could be a functional and fun gifor him because most everything he would do on the laptop, he can also do on the iPad Mini.

This week, I got him a flask. It’s a pretty nice flask, if I do say so myself. We have *cough* like four flasks already at our house. We usually use them as to go cups whenever someone leaves one of our parties early. And because our people are awesome, they return them. The flasks I bought are super girly, so they never get given out; we usually give away one of Chris’s. I really wanted to get him a flask that would be all his.

Things Remembered is a great store for personalized booze-y gifts if you didn’t already know. I would link you to the page with the one I bought him, but it doesn’t apear to be on sale on their website anymore. But I did find a picture online from QVC. I want to show you because it’s so cool looking to me.

image

I got it engraved with his initials to look like a nice monogram on the front. On the back I have a simple quote. It says: Best. Day. Ever.

I’m not going to discuss what’s coming next week because Easy reads this blog, so no spoiler alerts!

After Easy’s birthday is one of my best friend’s birthdays. Hers is actually one day apart from his. I love celebrating her birthday with her because we always have a good time. Also, it’s important to me to make her birthday special because occasionally her other friends drop the ball when it comes to her big day.

I think it’s because she’s nonchalant about things maybe they don’t get that her birthday is important to her. Nonchalant isn’t the right word. She’s just not the type of girl to get all giddy about every little thing. But lack of giddiness doesn’t equate to lack of interest, and I get that. So I try to always make sure she knows I care about her birthday.

Because this birthday is the big 3-0, I’m making a special trip to Chicago to visit her. Usually when I’m in town, my schedule is packed full with all the other family, wedding, friends’ birthdays crap, and we can’t always get together. So this time, I’m coming to Chicago just for her. Seeing other people will fit around our schedule.

I’m waiting until the weekend after her and Easy’s birthdays. I’m doing so because I want to be in town the weekend before Easy’s birthday, and secondly, she won’t even be in Chicago. She’s taking a trip to Europe for her 30th birthday. Quite a gift to give yourself, right?

Her job includes a lot of event planning, so she doesn’t want to plan a whole big thing for her birthday. I get that, so I told her I’d look up a couple of options, and when I got to town, we’d just pick something off of the list and see where the weekend takes us.

And also, I’ve been working on a playlist. We have been friends for over 20 years now, and music has been an integral part of our friendship. Back in college, we would get together Thursday nights and do each other’s hair. There was so much experimentation with color and cut, what we would have for dinner, and what we would talk about while we were hairstyling. But one thing that stayed consistent was the music.

We listen to a lot of the same songs over and over again. When a new album or single comes out that is really amazing, that gets put into rotation. I still remember when Amy Winehouse’s album Back to Black came out. That really got put into heavy rotation.

So now that it’s time to have an epic birthday celebration, it wouldn’t be right without a playlist. An epic playlist that includes almost every song we’ve loved in the last 20 years. I have most of the music we like on my phone and synced with my Google account, so I’ve been working on this playlist. I know I haven’t caught all the songs, but I’m trying. In Chicago, we’ll be driving pretty much everywhere we go, so I have enough music to fill an entire weekend with the soundtrack of our friendship.

I’m not going to say too much about the activities I’m looking into because she reads this blog too, so I’ll just have a list ready when I get to Chicago, no spoilers!

After that, there are a couple of birthdays for old friends. The most important of which is my friend who was one of my bridesmen in my wedding. He’s my favorite Libra (besides myself of course), and it sucks that I probably won’t get to do any celebrating with him this year. We have had some amazing birthday celebrations over the years together, and including another Libra friend of ours (who doesn’t turn 30 for a few more years).

Then there is my birthday! Hopefully, Easy will have something fun planned. Hopefully, my girls will make the trip here for Halloween and help me finish out my birthday month. And hopefully, I’ll have finished the bucket list by then.

Then last is another one of my bridesmen, who is a Scorpio. He’s making a trip to NYC at the end of the summer, so maybe we can do some early celebrating as I don’t expect to make it back to Chicago any time in November or December of this year.

Then next year, there’s a whole other slew of 30th birthdays. But we’ll get to that later. Because this year, it’s all about those of us born in 1984!


This Chicago-Style Girl is Home

I had a great time in Chicago. Dinner with my girls was so much fun. The Memorial Day barbecue with my family was also a blast. Hanging out with my best friend in my parents’ kitchen like we used to when we were 14 was so great. And hanging with all the jazz musician etc. folk in Chicago the night before we left was the cherry on top.

But the moment of the weekend was the wedding we went to. Most of you all are probably unaware of this, but Easy and I met at a wedding. Quick synopsis: we met at a wedding 4th of July weekend 2010. We got engaged Memorial Day weekend 2011. We got married Valentine’s Day weekend 2012. Since that time, we’ve been to a buttload of weddings.

There are a lot of things that happen at weddings, but the drinking and dancing part is what we excel at. It’s what led to us being married in the first place. So each wedding we’ve been to (except the cheap, dry, or uber-religious ones) have all been great experiences for us.

The other memorable thing that happens at weddings are the toasts. The most memorable toasts from weddings I’ve attended are:

1) The wedding Easy and I met at. The maid of honor cried through her entire toast, and the only thing I heard was, “you guys… have shoooooown me… the reeeeeeeal meaning of loooooove.” The best man said something like, “man, I never thought [groom] would be the first one to get married. NEVER…. [more random accidentally anti-marriage stuff]… and remember that time with Shelly in the basement?” The bride’s name was not Shelly.

2) The wedding from this past weekend. The maid of honor gave a nice speech. I don’t remember any of it because wine & beer. But the best man was more memorable. He spoke of how much the groom has matured and how he felt lucky to have witnessed watching him “really grow up in the time he’s been with Stephanie.” The bride’s name was not Stephanie.

3) My wedding where we had 4 people giving toasts. The wedding guests heard none of the amazing toasts because their cell phones were vibrating with breaking news updates confirming the untimely death of Whitney Houston.

4) The wedding of one of my best friend’s other best friend. He was their best man as well. Unlike my wedding, at this one, everyone heard his speech. It’s the one he and I had many a phone conference to work on in the months preceding the wedding. Anyway, this speech was so funny, heartfelt, and crowd-winning, that to this day the bride and groom don’t believe he was sober while giving the speech. He was totally sober, but they refuse to believe him.

Moving on from memorable toasts. Let’s talk about family portraits. For some reason, it didn’t occur to us to use the portrait as an opportunity to get head shots done for Easy. He is a musician after all and people are always requesting a shot of him for TV-type stuff. After we were all done with our pictures, it occurred to us.

Luckily, his horn is never far away. He ran across the street to my parents’ house and grabbed the horn. Because we want to reproduce the photos whenever we need, we purchased the photo CD that comes with it. As soon as it arrives, I’m adding the photos to my phone, Easy’s phone, my dropbox, and sending it to our e-mails. The Walgreens app is great for ordering pictures on the fly. I can order prints directly from my phone and they’ll be ready in a half hour at the Duane Reade store up the street from my office. New York is the best.

Speaking of New York being the best, I was so happy to arrive home yesterday. I don’t know why it took me so long to learn that I need a day off when I first get back from travelling. I can work right up until it’s time to leave for the airport before a trip, but after, I need some time to unwind. Our flight landed in the early afternoon, and I was so happy to just lay on the couch and watch the midseason finale of Mad Men and do nothing else.

There are some things better in New York, and others better in Chicago. Here is a short list based on my weekend travels.

Barbecue: Chicago wins this hands down! I shouldn’t have to travel to Williamsburg and wait in line for 2 hours to get good BBQ.

Navigating my way home: New York wins this. A taxi ride home from the airport was right around $30 and took less than 30 minutes. Chicago cabs can suck it.

Buying liquor: Chicago wins this. For Memorial Day, we spent about $200 on drinks for the BBQ. The same stuff would’ve cost $100 more in New York.

Getting great food close to home: New York kicks Chicago’s butt on this one. Chicago really has some amazing food, but it’s not accessible everywhere. But there is great food everywhere in New York. You may not get the cuisine you’d prefer right in that moment, but if you’re not too picky, you’ll never have to leave your neighborhood to get affordable, healthy, tasty food. AND most places deliver.

Crime: New York wins again. In New York, you can fall asleep on the subway at 2 am with earbuds in both ears and a laptop on your lap, and you’ll likely make it home safe. In Chicago, you don’t even want to leave the house after midnight, even if you’re carrying a knife in open view. This is because in Chicago, you’re just bringing a knife to the gunfight. Do better Chicago.

Lastly, is skylines, but I refuse to compare the skylines of the two cities. I love a good skyline, no matter where it is.

Previously, on flights to Chicago, I would feel this surge of love for my city as the skyline came into view out my window. I would suddenly feel this longing for the city, embracing everything it has to offer, and I would cringe at the thought of having to leave again, even if only for that moment.

This past Friday, I didn’t feel any of that. I felt happy to arrive for a visit, but no emotional swell happened. On the return trip to New York, I was too sleepy to notice anything on the landing. But on the ride home, I felt that same, “I live here, I LIVE HERE” moment when I saw the Manhattan skyline across the East River.

It’s not quite the same old-timey, returning-home feel I used to get with Chicago.

It’s newer. Less familiar. But more hopeful of treasures still uncovered and neighborhoods still undiscovered.

But still, when I saw the Empire State Building, I knew I was home.

Where is home for you?


A Chicago-Style Girl Goes Home

As soon as I wrote this post title, I started thinking, “what is home?” I thought that and other existentialist things that I won’t share because those thoughts make me sound even weirder than I normally do.

But seriously, When I think of home now, I think of three things:

1) Our apartment in a brownstone in Brooklyn

2) The soup kitchen I volunteer at in The West Village

3) The dining room table at my parents’ house

The fact that 2 of my 3 “homes” focuses around food may help explain why my weight is hovering around 15lb heavier than a healthy BMI.

But anyway…

Only a tiny bit of Chicago feels like home to me now. I’ve been talking about this trip a lot. A family portait (yuck, but also kind of cool), another wedding (blech, but also kind of cool), and Memorial Day with my family and Easy’s family (completely cool, only positive feelings towards that one–see Christmas 2013 in Gramercy Park) add up to a great weekend getaway. Throw in a thrice rescheduled dinner with one of my best friends and a double birthday dinner with my girls and you’ve got an action packed weekend.

So why am I not super excited for this trip?

Eh, a big part of me would just rather stay home. Which is New York City. I’m will always be a Chicago-style girl. Big city + Midwestern sensibilities – red state restrictions = me. But New York is home.

So this weekend, I’m not going home. I’m going to visit my friends and family. This make my blog’s name all the more appropriate. I’m not a Chicagoan anymore. I’m Chicago-style (Chicago-ish? Chicago-adjacent?).

Easy and I haven’t decided for certain if this NYC thing is permanent. Hell, four years ago, I couldn’t even imagine myself living here. Of course, I blame that on being only exposed to Midtown and Harlem. If I’d gone straight to Chelsea and the Village on my first trip here, I may have never left.

Back to this trip though. I’m packing in an awful lot. First up is a double birthday dinner for my girls. There will be 8 of us dining at Ruth’s Chris in Chicago. One of the birthday girls has never been and really really wants to go. So we’re making it happen. The birthday girls don’t know I’m coming in to town though, so I’m just showing up at dinner as a surprise, which is why this post is publishing almost 24 hours after being written.

Next up is a family portrait. My parents, my brother, Easy, some cousins, and my aunt and uncle are all cramming into one shot. I think it will be one of the few photos we have of members of both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family that’s not at a wedding or funeral. We’ve decided to wear combos of red, navy, and white. Should be fly.

Yup, I just said fly. I’m an 80s baby. Deal with it.

Then I have a dinner with one of my best friends. Seriously, like every time I go to Chicago, we’re unable to hook up. Between my short stays, he work schedule, family obligations, etc. we kept cancelling on each other. But not this time. We have reservations at Cantina Laredo, which is an amazing Latin restaurant in downtown Chicago. Check it out if you’re in the area, totally worth the valet/effort to find parking.

Then Easy and I hop in my mom’s car to drive to St. Louis for a wedding. These are friends from when he lived down there when we started dating. We were considering just staying in St. Louis, and the four of us were going to do this Honeymooners thing. That would’ve made a completely different life for us. The St. Louis version of Easy and myself were interesting people, different from who we are in New York.

Eh, no use wondering what if, right? The NYC versions of us rock, and we have better looking calves from all the walking anyway.

Then back to Chicago for Memorial Day where we will eat BBQ and left over birthday cake from our nieces/cousins. Two words. Atomic cake. Google it if you don’t know. Because you need to know.

I really cannot wait for the BBQ. Can someone explain to me why I have to travel to Williamsburg to get good BBQ? And for that matter, why do I have to travel to Harlem to get good soul food? And to Flatbush to get good jerk chicken? New York is such a melting pot, but they really fuck up food the entire rest of the country has mastered. Excuse my language, but I really feel pretty strongly about it.

And then after lots of good food, we get on a plane back to NYC. That will make 5 days, 4 nights in the Midwest. By Tuesday, I’m going to feel sooo ready to come home. So perhaps I’ll write another post called A Chicago-Style Girl Goes Home. But that one will talk about street food and easy taxi/subway options and volunteer opportunities and lack of allergy sufferers due to the lack of trees and wifi everywhere and people who don’t care if you accidentally step on their foot and a beautiful nighttime where outside of every window looks like Christmas will all the twinkling lights coming from every office window.

That run on sentence (so sorry!) just gave me clarity. NYC is like a new relationship right when you go from limerence to being fully in love. At that moment, their dirty drawers shouldn’t even bother you.

I think NYC’s dirty drawers count at the stinky homeless man who coughs up part of his lung on the subway and you just know he has tuberculosis. I am in love, but I’m not stupid. NYC’s dirty drawers bug the hell out of me. I don’t want TB. You can’t donate your organs and tissues if you’re contracting TB from a random stranger on a train.

That being said, hopefully my love is long-lasting. After all, it’s not blind-to-logic love. It’s just enamored, full-hearted love. A love that says Chicago can suck it. Because you’re #2 now.

Disclaimer: this only applies to the cities, not their sports teams. Bringing Phil Jackson to the Knicks is a step in the right direction, but really it just makes me think of the early 90s and his 3-peat with Jordan & Pippen. Da Bulls Da Bear Da Sox


Wine School?? Hell Yeah, Challenge Accepted

Did you ever have that moment where you’re reading something on Wikipedia and you look up 7 hours later wondering how you got from Batman comic books to a historical exploration of homosexuality in Greece to the population demographics of African countries in 1900s to Reese Witherspoon’s filmography?

I know it is not just me.

This type of thing happens to me more than I’d care to admit. And it is not just Wikipedia. It happens when I Google something and then jump from website to website reading randomly connected articles all linking to one another. Last night, I was berating myself for somehow missing that Fred Armisen and Elisabeth Moss have divorced and they met when Jon Hamm hosted SNL. How did I miss that?

Anyway, this type of internet browsing happens to me often enough where I’m officially frustrated that I don’t have a wonderfully pithy catchphrase to describe it.

Last night my browsing took me to the New York Times online. It started where it always does, at the Opinion pages. Then The Gun Report. By the way, ten people got shot in Chicago on Monday. The first day over 50 degrees. Really, Chicago?!

After hopping from article to article, somehow I ended up trying to decide if I would beg Easy to try a new recipe for polenta or quinoa. My gut says polenta because he’s weird about texture, but somehow that sent me to a string of articles about which wines to pair with which meals.

Then I had that moment, where I’m all like, “my people!”

Then I mentioned this concept to a co-worker and she called it pretentious.

Then I was sad. She didn’t mean it as an official insult, just as an observation, but still.

Then I remembered I don’t really care what people think, which is why I don’t mind that even writing this blog post is furthering me being labelled by my entire family of in-laws as bourgie (is that how you spell the hood way of saying bourgeois? I never knew for sure).

Anyway, back to my point.

The man recommended champagne as the perfect wine pairing to fried chicken. I think I just met my best friend y’all. Eric Asimov used to write in Chicago, now he writes in New York. I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss all the wonderful things he has to say.

I’ll forgive myself for not seeing the man before today. It’s like the nerdy guy in high school that no one noticed was hot the whole time until he returns for Thanksgiving break freshman year of college.

Yesterday was the perfect day to notice Mr. Asimov because today he started Wine School.

Here’s how it will work: Each month I will pick a type of wine we will explore together. I will suggest three representative examples of that wine, and if you want to join me, I hope you will be able to find at least one of those bottles. If they are not at your wine shop, which is always frustrating, consider asking your merchant to find them, searching for them in other wine stores or ordering them online. You have time to hunt them down.

I was in when he told me to get out my corkscrew. Just reading pas articles of his about wine pairings let me know I have so much to learn. Right now, I’m all Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In every single article of his I read, there were at least three wines mentioned I didn’t even know existed.

So, I’m getting out my corkscrew and signing up for wine school. I’m so excited!

The first wine type is Bordeax. It just so happens that I have a bottle of white Bordeax at home. My favorite wine shop in the West Village recommended it to me the last time I was in retail therapy mode. But I’m going to stick with his list of recommendations.

His best suggestion for wine school? This is not wine tasting, it’s wine drinking. Wine tasting is how professionals learn a lot about a variety of wines quickly. But he wants his pupils to learn about the wine and really dive in, get to know the wines, drink the entire bottle over more than one meal, if you can.

If all school were like this, I’d have 5 degrees.

Here are the three wines Eric Asimov wants me to try one or two of:

CHÂTEAU BERNADOTTE HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $32 (Sherry-Lehmann Selections/Le Reine Importing, New York)
CHÂTEAU CANTEMERLE HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $53 (Frederick Wildman & Sons, New York)
CHÂTEAU SOCIANDO-MALLET HAUT-MÉDOC 2009 $62 (Frederick Wildman & Sons)

I wish they cost less money, but advanced education is hardly ever cheap. Eric Asimov says there’s no need to buy all three wines. Just pick one, pair it with simply prepared lamb or beef, and don’t forget to take notes.

Like I said, challenge accepted.


Why Is It Not Warmer Outside Yet?

I’m feeling ranty and bitchy and several other things right now. I need Spring. I neeed it. I must have it.

And because it is something that is natural and all that, I have no control over it. So I continue to wear my should’ve-been-Haz-Mat-ed by now scarf to combat the cold air. And I continue to sweat it out in my radiator-heated apartment because I don’t want the landlord to do what he’s been doing all winter and come over and turn down the heat just in time for it to get really cold outside again.

When I was in Chicago the first weekend of March for a wedding, I got sick with what may have been the flu. But it was totally worth it because I wouldn’t have missed this wedding for anything. This woman has been like a little sister to me for 7 years, and I was so pleased to attend her wedding. She made such a beautiful bride.

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The bride and groom with her parent’s. I wish I had a picture of the whole sanctuary because of the hours of hard work we put into decorating for the wedding the night before!

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Totally random selfie wearing my mom’s hat in my old bedroom in Chicago. This is what I’d look like as a hipster, y’all.

And because I’m a crazy person obsessed with organ and tissue donation, I didn’t go to the doctor even though I might’ve had the flu.

Because what if I tested positive for the flu, then accidentally got hit by a bus two days later? I wouldn’t be able to be a donor because of the confirmed flu. But if I was just sick, and the sickness was resolved, but never confirmed flu, because of my age and overall health, they probably would let me be a donor. I would make a great donor, should I not live to the age of 75. And now you all have a glimpse of just how deep my crazy goes.

Do you know why I got so sick? Because Chicago is even colder than New York right now. Today it finally felt a bit like spring, but it’s going away again. It’s supposed to snow on Thursday, then again on Monday. I just can’t.

My cousin is in town visiting, but she was sick too. I felt so badly that we didn’t do more while she was here, especially after the year she’s had. In fact, the day we flew here was the one year anniversary of the day she got her diagnosis of lymphoma.

It’s not lucky to get cancer, but she was lucky. Lymphoma usually has no outwards symptoms until it’s too late. But the lymph nodes in her jaw swelled up something horrible and they caught her cancer super early. She got chemo and knocked cancer on it’s ass.

Since that time, we have both agreed that breast cancer gets so much play and the leukemia and lymphoma cancer society needs better PR. And we agreed to she needed to step outside of her comfort zone and live more. So she got on a plane for the first time and flew with me and Easy from Chicago to NYC.

Considering that exactly 365 days ago, I was holding her hand while her doctor drilled a hole in her hip to extract bone marrow, we could’ve been doing literally anything and it would have improved the memories associated with that date. She leaves back to Chicago today, and I’m crossing my fingers that she keeps trying new experiences and embracing life.

In completely unrelated news, I finally read another romantic comedy-type novel recently. I’d been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, but a boring-as-hell book about Rastafarianism (which is a religion with a nothing-boring-about-it history) curbed that urge for a bit. I read a book recommended by a blog I love, Single Infertile Female. The book is Party Girl: A Modern Fairy Tale.

As a new New Yorker, this book had it all for me. I found myself wishing for two things: 1) the book had a happily-ever-after ending and not a realistic-for-the-millenials-who-are-craving-this-type-of-relatability ending and 2) that I had the main character’s ability to make friends. I’m not saying any more than that because I want you to go read this book for a fun 20-something-in-NYC read. I promise you’ll enjoy yourself.

While we’re on the topic, I feel the need to say, yet again, how unsuccessful I am at making new friends. Out of all the people I’ve met since I’ve moved to New York, I’ve managed to schedule four outings total, only three of which actually went somewhat according to plan. These people are funny, sweet, clever, good-looking, and genuinely nice folks. That’s everything I want in a friend. Maybe they’re just ALL not that into me.

Two of the outings were for Restaurant Week. I went to Delmonico’s Kitchen and Nobu. My mouth still waters in memory. I forgot to record anything at Delmonico’s, but I did get some amazing pictures of my good at Nobu.

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The tiny bit of Spring weather I was given today has given me renewed interest. I think I’m gonna try one more time each with all the people I’ve met, then after that I’m moving on and trying to meet even more new people.

At least I still have my volunteer work. Oh, that reminds me! I do have one friend. We met at the soup kitchen I volunteer at. But his home life is super crazy and it’s been hard for us to be real friends outside of just grabbing a drink after the soup kitchen. But still, we actually talk on the phone and I even know the names of people is his life.

Because of my awful memory when it comes to names, I really consider someone a friend when I can start naming names of people who are important to them. Not the best measuring tool, but it’s accurate.

Today is the day I start volunteering with The Reciprocity Foundation. I’m very glad I’ll be able to get this started after having such a great experience the other week. They do such amazing things, and I cannot wait to be a part of it. I’m diving right in helping with resumes and college applications. It’ll be nice to keep those skills sharp for some point in the future when I apply for grad school and when I apply for a promotion at work.

Speaking of volunteering, the woman I work with at the home for new mothers is finally getting all the pieces into place. She has steady hours for her new job, she found a 24 hour day care that will work with her as her work schedule changes, and the baby is doing well. She’s finally ready to start looking for apartments. It’s heart-warming to see people whose lives have actually improved from help given by others.

Some of her help is from private citizens, like the program that allows her to stay at the home. But she also gets government assistance that helps her buy food for her daughter that she chose to give birth to rather than abort. I’m about as pro-choice as they come (meaning I have no issues with late-term abortions), but I know that choice means respecting someone’s choice even when they have no way to take care of the baby they have decided to bring into the world.

This woman sought out all the help she could and put in a lot of hard work to make a life for herself to support her child. In a few years, she’ll have a degree, years of work experience that she can springboard into a real career, and a stable home for her daughter. That’s something to be proud of, and it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, since the weather won’t cooperate to keep me that was on the outside.

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Accidental selfie taken while trying to use my phone to check my lipstick on the way to work. Beautiful sky, but will it stay that way? Will it?!


Celebrating A Cross-Country Anniversary

As I mentioned in my last post, the husband is in Chicago, so we weren’t together for our anniversary. But in honor of our anniversary, I’m giving him a request he probably doesn’t even know I paid attention to. The husband doesn’t want the name “the husband” anymore on this blog.

I previously called him Easy (which was a random ass reference to a book by the author of Gossip Girl), and he wants to go back to that. I apologize for the future confusion, but he is now Easy.

You’re welcome Easy.

We couldn’t do dinner or sex or a carriage ride or anything else celebratory for our anniversary, but we could exchange gifts. Seeing as how gift giving is my love language, I was all for this cross-country gift exchange.

Our anniversaries are Feb 8th and Feb 11th (married one day, wedding the other day). I wanted to do something for Easy for both, but I also wanted to get gifts that are the traditional 2nd anniversary gift category.

There just aren’t a lot of options for cotton anniversary gifts.

I settled on getting him a pair of jeans and something else that I can’t reveal yet because for some reason, it has yet to arrive in the mail. But the jeans were a good purchase if I do say so myself. I got the size wrong because I suck.

Easy was nice enough to tell me the jeans weren’t that far off and he even wore them out to his gigs last night. All we’ll have to do is get them shortened when he gets back. I have a pair of pants bought for me as a birthday gift by my mother last year that still need to go to the tailor.

This is a perfect opportunity to finally get a tailor!

Easy says my gift is in the mail. But he said that days ago, so I assume he meant it and I will just have to get a lovely delivery soon. I don’t think he meant, “the gift is in the mail” like an overdue bill. We’ll see.

Just kidding, if he says he sent me something, I know it’s coming.

But enough about yesterday. Let’s back up to Saturday, as that was our first second anniversary.

Originally I wasn’t going to get him anything because like I said, there aren’t a lot of great cotton gift options.

But we spoke on the phone Saturday afternoon and I felt a surge of gift-giving love towards Easy, and I wanted to make it happen.

Plus, when I was at the soup kitchen earlier, my friends told me I should send him something like flowers to one of his gigs for Valentine’s Day. I’m certainly not going to do that, but it did plant the seed for sending something for our anniversary.

After we got off the phone, I checked with Google (who knows my life and loves me) and found a couple of bakeries near where his gig was that were still open.

I picked the one with the best yelp reviews and called them up. They don’t take same day orders and it was past their delivery window, but the girl on the phone worked with me once I told her what I wanted.

They had cupcakes in-house already prepared fresh that day. She said if I could get someone to their location in the next 70 minutes, she would let me pay over the phone and they could pickup the cupcakes of my choice.

I made some calls to some of the hundreds of members of our wedding party. I finally found a friend who came the closest to what I needed (doing nothing, in the city, has a car, wearing pants), and asked if she would do me this huge favor.

She didn’t have on pants, but she quickly rectified that and hopped in her car to race against the clock and the snow to make it to the bakery before closing.

I called back to the bakery, placed my order, paid over the phone and crossed my fingers.

In the meantime, I called our friend who works at the place where the gig was, pleaded her help to get in the outside surprise anniversary food, and secured her assistance.

The whole thing felt like a covert op that could fall apart if you pulled on errant string.

My friend managed to make it to the bakery right on time, and got the cupcakes delivered before Easy arrived for his gig. If she wasn’t already (which I suspect she was), she is now Easy’s favorite of all my friends.

But it worked out!

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As Easy was making some sort of speech near the end of the night about how awesome the club was and how happy he was that he was back at a place that always felt like home, our friend brought out the cupcakes.

He got so excited thinking they bought him cupcakes. When she clarified they were from me, he got even more excited. That’s me he’s on the phone with while he’s eating one of the cupcakes.

All I could think when I saw those pictures was how much I wanted a cupcake.

But no cupcakes for me because I’m trying to get healthier. Which is what I’ll discuss in my next post.

Easy liked his anniversary presents, so I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. Now I just have to figure out Valentine’s Day. I’m sure Google has a good idea for me.


Emerging From The Concrete Jungle

Hello!

Did you miss me?

I’ve been gone quite a while. I didn’t take a break from blogging on purpose, but I did take a break. Settling into New York City living has been… interesting, to say the least.

But I’m pretty much all settled in now. A trip to Chicago last weekend where it was cold as hell (Polar Vortex, anyone?) convinced me that I really am A Chicago-Style Girl in NYC. The husband says I’m a New Yorker, and he feels very proud of himself for getting me home.

I have to admit, I love it here.

Manhattan is lovely, Brooklyn is lovely. And the other boroughs… well I don’t know too much about them. We have family in Staten Island, but we don’t get over there that often.

I have judged New Yorkers for years for never leaving their island(s), but now I totally get it. The idea of traveling anywhere else feels overwhelming. I have some traveling to do for my 30th birthday bucket list, which I’ll happily explain in a later post. But other than that, I won’t do any more travel outside of New York except to two (so far!) weddings I have to attend this year.

So what have I been up to in the four months since my last post? A bunch of the same ole same ole.

I still work in organ and tissue donation, pretty much doing the same thing in New York that I was doing in Chicago.

I’m still doing my volunteer work at the home for new mothers. I also volunteer at a soup kitchen in Greenwich Village on Saturdays.

I finally got my box cutter, and I carry it and my pepper spray everywhere I go. Makes me feel safe, you know?

I still have issues with laundry. I pray for the day that we’ll be able to afford an apartment with laundry in the building.

I still suck at making friends, but I have been hanging out with folks from the soup kitchen, so that’s a start. I’m also pretty friendly with some people from work, but I’m slow-playing that because it’s new for me make friends with co-workers.

As I mentioned before, my trip home was this past weekend. I went home because of one of my girl’s baby shower. Six of my bridesmaids plus myself have this little crew and we take care of each other.

They, along with my mother, threw my bridal shower. And this six of us who are not pregnant planned this baby shower.

I made the centerpieces, which was a fun craft project. Hand-painting zebra print is not for the faint of heart.

Taking 7 solid wood bases through airport security is also not for the faint of heart. But I got through it and now each of my girls has a memento from the baby shower.

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I’m glad I’m back blogging and I look forward to catching up on all the blogs I haven’t been reading for the last few months. Can’t wait to see what you people have been up to. Happy New Year! Happy Holidays! and all that.


Are You Feeling Jazzy? Are You?!

I fully intend to discuss my flights to Chicago, Atlanta, and New York from last weekend. You all are all groaning in advance at the detail provided in these posts, I know. But before I get to that, I want to discuss why I went to Chicago in the first place.

I was in Chicago for less than 24 hours, but I had to go. The husband was playing in the Chicago Jazz Fest. He was playing with his band, Quatuor de Force, on the Von Freeman Stage. It was a pretty big deal, and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

I don’t qualify for paid time off yet since I just started my new job, but I went in on Sunday and stayed late earlier in the week so I would be able to go to Chicago on Friday. I arrived super early in the morning and the husband picked me up at the airport.

He dropped me at my parents’ house where I had important business to attend to. I had to wait on the delivery of my new phone: the Samsung Galaxy S4. Also, I am still catching up on episodes of American Idol.

Yes, I’m still catching up on American Idol. I DVR’d all the episodes on my parent’s TV and I’ve been catching up very slowly for months now. They’ve already picked the judges for the next season, so I know I’m hopelessly behind, but I like watching the episodes. So if any of you even still watch that show, please don’t ruin it for me. I’ve managed to avoid finding out who won all this time. I’m trusting you people, don’t let me down.

The husband ran some errands and got his hair freshly cut (shaved? He’s bald), then came to pick me up. We headed downtown and parked in the Millenium Park Garage right near the festival.

At first, we couldn’t find the Von Freeman Pavillion, but eventually we found it. It looked pretty impressive for a music festival.

It was also so freaking hot out. So humid and so hot, and the fans in the tent weren’t doing anything.

But aside from the heat, it was wonderful. My friend, the husband’s friends, my family, and the husband’s family came out in large numbers. It was so amazing to see all the support from all these people who hadn’t gathered in such large numbers since his CD release party last year.

The music was amazing and the husband put together a really great set list. The crowd enjoyed every song and the whole tent filled up with people listening to his music. In moments like these, I’m still amazed that I’m married to such a talented man and that he’s able to share his gift with so many people.

After the show, he was selling CDs, signing autographs, and giving interviews.

Then I realized I was about to turn into a Snickers commercial, so we went to get food. We hung out with our friends some more and laughed and talked. Then we went back to the fest to check out some more music.

This big band was playing, and I love me some big band music. We were really enjoying ourselves when they made an announcement that a brief but badass storm was heading our way and they were going to temporarily evacuate the festival.

They asked everyone to head to the parking garage for dryness/safety and they would pickup again after the storm passed.

Yeah, that was my queue to leave. So we headed up north (through the storm) for some Mexican food before calling it a night. The husband and I went to my parents’ house to hang out for the night and go back over how great the whole day was.

Seeing as how the Chicago Jazz Fest is one of the last things the husband is doing in Chicago that he setup while he was still a resident there, I’m so glad it went well. He’s really going out on top. Already people were starting to talk about him as a “New York musician originally from Chicago.”

The designation doesn’t mean much except that you are good enough to survive in New York. It’s nice to hear because it feels like they respect his skills, but it’s also amusing because he’s hasn’t been in New York long enough yet. He’s only had one gig here because he keeps leaving town.

I’m sure once the husband sets up shop here for a few months, he’ll earn the designation they are already starting to give him. I’m just excited I’ll be here with him to see it happen.

Of all the posts I write and never have pictures, you all would probably be quite upset by this one having no pictures. So, just scroll down and there are pictures!

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And Now He’s Leaving Me

The husband just arrived to New York three Thursdays ago. So he’s only been here for two weeks. And he’s leaving already. He just freaking got here!

He has a good reason for leaving. Summer is quite a busy time for a musician in Chicago. If you remember, from the time of the job offer to the day I was supposed to arrive in New York, I only had three weeks to make it happen.

With that lack of warning, he already had a lot lined up in the city for himself. When he looked at his schedule, it became clear that he needed to be in Chicago from the end of August until the end of September.

So now I have another month without the husband. I really do need to make some friends here because I have no one to hang out with. There are the musician friends of the husband and their wives, but we’ve all been here for weeks and I still haven’t met these women, so I’m not counting on that.

I’ve been making efforts to begin to fill my time, but so far it’s not much.

There is, of course, my never-ending effort to get on a consistent workout schedule. Since the husband has been here, I’ve done a lot more cooking. Eating home-cooked food is always better that restaurant or processed food.  Everything I’m used to frying (catfish, plantains, etc,) I’ve been making in the oven instead. I’m feeling pretty proud of the healthy versions of my favorite foods I’m coming up with.

Outside of the hours each week I’d like spend working out, there are volunteer opportunities. As soon as I learned that we lived so close to a homeless shelter, my first thought was that I really wanted to get involved and help out.

Turns out, it’s not so easy to reach out to these people to help. I sent an e-mail and got no response. I left a voicemail and got no response. That saddened me a bit, but I didn’t give up.

The need to volunteer increased even more once I started looking into what I have to do to apply for grad school. I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to getting an MBA with a focus on healthcare management. That type of degree will really take me places in my career path, and it might be useful for the husband as well.

All three schools I looked at (more on that later) have a few requirements in common: GMAT/GRE, work experience, and extra-curriculars. I haven’t thought of extra-curriculars as such since high school. I’m damn near thirty, but I need extra-curriculars?

All the stuff I used to do had to stop for one reason or another. No bowling league, no rock climbing, no tutoring at church, no nothing. So I needed some extra-curriculars and quick.

I figure I can count on the work I used to do in Chicago since I’ll only have been a New York resident for a few months when I apply. But I need something here as well.

With the desire to get into grad school compelling me, I pushed forward to find a way to get involved in volunteering. My two passions for volunteer work are the homeless population and unwed mothers. As I always do, I started with Google to search for opportunities.

Google led me to volunteermatch.org, idealist.org, and onebrick.org. Well, Google led me a ton of other places too, but these three websites in particular seemed to have what I was looking for.

About three hours after my first Google search, I was signed up to tutor an unwed mother in Math while she’s working on her online degree. I start next week. I also signed up to help feed the homeless on weekends at this church in New York. I start in two weeks. I reached out to a few other organizations as well, so we’ll see what all I end up doing before I’m done signing up.

Even with all the stuff I’m coming up with to fill my time (exercising, volunteering, friend finding), I’m still going to feel every minute I’m away from the husband.

I will see him a week after he leaves though, I’m going to Chicago for the Chicago Jazz Fest, at which the husband and his band are playing. It’s pretty exciting, and I’m so glad I was able to work it out with my new job so that I can go.

Any other ideas of how I can fill my time while the husband is gone? Maybe I’ll join a bowling league…


Welcome Home Plus The Adventures of a Future Divorcé

By the time I get home from work today, the husband should be here. I’m so excited!

I gathered my things to come to New York almost a whole month ago. The last time I saw him was three weeks and four days ago. It feels like forever.

Even though he’ll only be here for two weeks, I’m still really excited for the two weeks we have.

I wish that we could just spend all weekend cozying up in our new apartment, but that’s not even close to a reality.

A good friend of ours is coming with the husband in the UHaul truck. We’re so grateful that he’s coming to help. He’s helping drive the truck, and he’s helping up get everything up to the apartment. He has worked for UPS on and off for years, so he’s a pro at this type of thing.

I mentioned this friend in a post a while ago. He’s one of the millions of people who were a part of our wedding party. He stood up with me as one of my bridesmen. He’s also one of the people whose relationship status changed since my wedding.

This friend is getting divorced.

Before you feel sad for him, just know that every person in his life who loves him is ecstatic about his pending divorce.

You read that right. We’re ecstatic. Glad for her to go. Not even a little bit sad about it. In any way.

That being said, it kind of sucks in general that he’s getting divorced. His parents have been married for 30+ years, and so he wanted to follow that trend.

Now that we’ve established his relationship status, there is, of course, more to tell.

There’s a girl meeting him here in New York.

She’s coming for a weekend trip. Previously, the timing just happened to work out that she and a friend were taking a trip here. But the friend flaked on her, but she’s still coming.

And now she’s staying with us too. She doesn’t live in Chicago, so this will count as their third date I think.

He took a trip to the East Coast, and she’s been back home to Chicago for a visit. They came out to one of the husband’s gigs in Chicago, so we’ve spent time together, but not much time.

So this weekend, I’m going to have the husband, who I’ve been missing like crazy. But I’m not going to have my two cats because my friend is allergic.

Apparently, he’s deathly allergic, though I never knew that before as he’s spent time before in my home where I’ve had a cat.

My poor mother (who hates cats, and dogs, and birds, and pets of all kinds, and plants) will just have to deal with the cats for a few more weeks until we drive the car to New York. I’m not risking damaging the health of the person who’s helping us move all our crap across the country, you know?

I imagine that I will have some interesting or crazy stories to tell after this weekend is done. The husband and our friend will be here in less than six hours. The girl arrives tomorrow or Saturday, not sure which one.

All we have is our full sized bed and the queen sized air mattress. For many reasons, we’ll give them the air mattress. I just really need to sleep in my bed, first and foremost.

But also, these two haven’t shared a bed yet. I don’t think they’ve even napped on the same couch yet. I’m fine with doing the hospitality thing, but as his friend, I wish for him that their first time sharing a bed (even if it’s just to sleep, wink wink) wasn’t in someone’s living room.

I’ve got all sorts of things I want to do with the husband. There are so many great restaurants in our neighborhood and a nice church we could potentially join I want him to visit.

It’ll be interesting to see whether these plans will be like a weekend long double date or not. I don’t want to invite them along because they’re both so nice they may feel compelled to say yes even though they may want to hang out alone.

On the other hand, I don’t want to not invite them when neither of them are from here and they may feel left out and not know what to do on their own.

I’m not good with decisions. Especially decisions for other people I don’t know that well. Especially when those decisions directly affect my ability to hang out with the husband behind closed doors.

At the very least, by then end of this weekend, I’ll have cable, wifi, and my own bed to sleep in. The husband will have tried some great new restaurants and can finally be done moving. And our friend can spend some more time with his new girl.

If nothing interesting happens, I’ll make something up for you all after this buildup.


What’s Hot In Chicago? Enye

Enye is hot. If you’ve already ready my blog post about it, you don’t need to read this. I am just writing this for my What’s Hot series. It just happened that it also made a blog post as well.

Enye.  2977 N. Elston, Chicago, IL 60618, (773) 866-9898. Hours not listed online, but they’re pretty much open for lunch and dinner and after dinner.

This restaurant is nice. When it gets call-the-fire-marshal crowded as a dance club, it’s even better. The service is slow, likely because it’s so crowded. Don’t forget your ID or the bouncer won’t let you in. Get ready to sweat if you show up after 10pm.

 

I’d Recommend: Going on Tuesday night. The music is fantastic and the crowd is too. Everyone there just seems happy to be there and ready for a good time.If you prefer lounges over clubs, but occasionally want that club feel to go dancing, this is the place to get your Latin dancing on.

Stay Away From: Aggressive men trying to dance with you. I’m not trying to make any sweeping cultural statements here, but if you don’t want to dance with someone, make it super clear. Some of the men are pretty aggressive on the dance floor.

[Score has a max of 4 pts for each section] Food (3); Music (4); Drinks (4); Atmosphere (3); Price (3); Consumer Review (3); Extra Factor (1)

Enye gets 21 points, which is pretty damn good. They’re almost there. I didn’t give them a four for food because i haven’t tried enough of it to vouch for the whole menu. I didn’t even order a drink myself, but when I went, it was with such a large crowd that I got to try several cocktails and there were all amazing. Atmosphere is great, but not if you don’t like loud or crowded. Assuming you’re going to get your groove on, you shouldn’t mind too much. And price is good, but not perfect. Even though their online presence is lacking, they have over 25 reviews on Yelp and they’re pretty much all positive.

I highly recommend this place. Whether you live in Avondale and you’re looking for a local watering hole or you are looking for something new and different to try on a weekday date night.


Ele, Eme, Enye

If you speak Spanish, then you are properly reading the title of this post. Otherwise, it’s just me spelling out the pronunciation of the letters L, M, and N (with a tielde) in Spanish.

I know I just went through the long explanation of apartment hunting in Brooklyn and Manhattan for my big move to New York City. But now I’m going back to before I left. Go back in time with me.

There are a couple of great places in Chicago I never got around to talking about because I was neglecting this blog. What can I say? I was so busy being a new supervisor at work that I simply didn’t have the time.

After this post, I’ll update the What’s Hot page with the information about this place I’m going to tell you about.

It’s called Enye. That’s the name of this great restaurant/bar/club joint in Chicago. Google doesn’t easily link to their website, so you have to go through yelp. But then you can get there.

The husband and I ended up there totally on accident one Tuesday night. So here’s what happened.

With the supervisor job at my old job upended again (new director), I had a weird schedule. It was great though because that meant I was less likely to accidentally work a 60 hour week. And I got a lot more say in how my schedule turned out each week. You know how that goes, or maybe you don’t, but I’m gonna tell you.

Wednesday was meeting day usually, so I adjusted my schedule so I didn’t have to be at work on Wednesdays until after 10:00 most days. That meant Tuesday night was open for a little socializing.

This was perfect for the husband because he had a Tuesday night gig at Dolphin (formerly The Green Dolphin) most of these nights. I was feeling energetic enough to not go straight home, so I headed to the Dolphin after work one Tuesday.

He was playing with some people. I honestly can’t remember who we was playing with for the most part. Could’ve been a trio, could’ve been a quartet. All I know is there was a bass player I’d never seen before. And he was good. I mean really good. And it didn’t hurt that he was pretty good looking as well.

The main reason I noticed him is because there aren’t many really good upright bass players in Chicago. Not who play jazz really well. This is not coming from my vast knowledge; it’s just something the husband and his musician friends talked about. Whenever someone needed a bass player for a band or a gig, there were never a lot of options.

The second the gig was done, I inquired of the husband who this man was. He gave me this look that indicated he could totally tell I found the man attractive, but just chuckled at me and took me over to introduce us.

The guy was pretty nice and not all put off (that I could tell) by my effusive praise of his skills. During the course of our conversation, he mentions that he’s on his way to another gig right at that moment and invited us out. The husband and I are used to these impromptu invites and promptly accepted. I really am more fun when I’m with the husband. I never make new friends so easily when I’m by myself, but that’s a concern for another time.

The bass player’s gig was at Enye. We finished our drinks at Dolphin, then headed over. The husband had been there before and thought this place was great. I expressed my doubt about its greatness because he’d never mentioned it before.

When we pulled up, it looked authentic. By authentic I mean the patrons were majority Hispanic with only a few non-Hispanic looking people mixed in. The husband is half-Honduran so he counted. I’m 100% African-American, but people always think I’m something else. The bouncer gave us a look for only a second like we might not belong, but gave us the pass likely because the husband was carrying his saxophone.

Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t going to refuse us entry or anything. But you know how it is when you walk into a spot and people just give you the curious looks. They’re wondering how you even heard about the place let alone decided to come check it out.

So we walked in and we’re immediately immersed in Spanish. Spanish food, Spanish music, Spanish speaking. I really want to become fluent in Spanish to I can help my kids hold on to their heritage, but that’s again a concern for another time.

I was getting into the music and dancing my way through the crowd as I followed the husband to the back, pas the restaurant area. There a live band playing amazing music in the back, including the bass player. Except now he traded out the upright bass for an electric bass.

The husband immediately pulled out his saxophone and started playing along. I love that he knows so much music that he can walk into a club and just join in no matter what the song is. I joined in dancing with everyone around me.

The people were packed in tight and no one seemed to mind. If someone bumped into you while they turned, people just absorbed it and kept dancing. Next thing I know, I’ve taken off my jacket and put up my hair, and I’m sweating along to the music with everyone else.

The husband is playing and having a good time. I’m dancing and having a good time. Out of nowhere, this totally random woman comes up to me and throws her arms around me, hugging me tight.

This is why I don’t make friends easily y’all. I gave her this look that indicated she had about five seconds to explain herself or I was starting in with my patented karate chop on that ass. In spite of my unfriendly face, she continued to smile brightly, but she did quickly explain herself.

It turns out she was the wife of the bass player.

So my from-the-hood-who-is-this-bitch look immediately turned to from-the-hood-we-have-connections-so-hey-girl look. Once he got a break in his playing, the husband came over and hugged her too, The fact that he already knew her helped further explain her extra familiarity with me.

People who I meet through the husband tend to act as if they know me. Apparently, he regales them with stories (or forces stories upon them) about me and us and so they feel like they already know me by the time we meet. This woman was no exception.

So we were dancing and talking and enjoying the music. I decided I liked her. Even though she was extra familiar, but not familiar enough to know I’m not a hugger, I liked her. At this point, I knew we were headed to New York sooner rather than later, and I was genuinely sad that I might not be able to hang with her again.

After a while, the husband put down his horn. He came over and danced with us. We were having a really good time, but unfortunately, we had to leave not too long after that. I did have to be at work in the morning, even if it was later in the morning.

Oh, I forgot, I danced with this other man before I met the bass player’s wife. It was the totally random man who came up to me and started dancing with me. I was trying to follow his steps and only doing an okay job. Mostly, he just spun me around a lot. Even though I don’t really consider myself a friendly person, I really do appreciate it when other people, especially strangers, are friendly to me.

We had so much fun at Enye, we went back again the next time I went to the Dolphin for the Tuesday gig. This time, we had a ton of friends with us. There were three or four other couples that joined us, as well as a bunch of the musicians who were playing at Dolphin.

This time, I got to try the food, and it was pretty good. They make chorizo at the restaurant and it was delicious!

I didn’t try any of the drinks because I had quite enough to drink at Dolphin. But I’m looking forward to trying some drinks there whenever we’re back in Chicago with the time to head up there.

So if you’re in Chicago and you can make your way up to the north side, go to Enye. Dancing, great live music, and amazing food awaits.


Big Changes Coming

There will be a change coming soon to the look of my blog. I’m going to have to do it because now the look is Chicago-centric. I’m a born and raised Chicago girl after all, so it made sense to have it that way.

But now, drum roll please…

 

I am about to become A Chicago-Style Girl in New York City!

 

That’s right, I’m moving to the Big Apple on July 15th. It all happened so fast. I’ve been alluding here and there on this blog for months that a change might come, but I never really got too much into it. There was just so much up in the air, I didn’t eve know where to start.

The uncertainty of my future coupled with my shame over not staying on a consistent exercise schedule made it difficult to find the motivation to blog. Add to it how busy my life is, and you have a perfect storm of neglect.

I should start vlogging. That way I can just chat about what I want to say and don’t have to go back over it for spellcheck.

But back to the point at hand. I’m moving to NYC!!

Here’s what happened.

The husband has always intended to move to New York. He’s a jazz musician and New York is the place to see where his career can really go. We’ve planned on heading there the entire time we’ve been together.

The plan was for me to look for work in the donation/transplant field that I currently work in and for the husband to apply for grad school.

But then he didn’t apply for grad school, and our plans got pushed back a year.

This year, he applied, but extra late. Lucky for him, he got into Queens College, which is where he really wanted to go. Apparently there’s some amazing saxophone person there he really wants to learn from/study with.

Once it was clear the husband actually turned in an application for grad school, I started applying for jobs in New York. There weren’t a lot of them available that fit what I wanted to do with what I’m qualified to do, but I still applied.

I got a couple of bites here and there, but nothing that resulted in a job offer.

After a series of unfortunate events, the husband decides he isn’t going to start grad school until January 2014. Pretty much immediately after that, I got a call for an interview in New York. My girls and I had a weekend trip up there, and the timing worked out for the interview.

When I went, I fell even more in love with the city. Walking around Central Park, hanging out in Chelsea, and riding the subway  just felt so right. The interview went really well (they had me there for three hours!), and they called to offer me the job the very next day.

This was last Tuesday.

Things have been on such a whirlwind since then. Since our lease was up at the end of June, I was more than happy to move out, but now had to plan for an almost immediate move to NYC. We don’t have all the details worked out yet, but this is happening.

The husband and I are at my parents for a few weeks until it’s time for me to head to New York and try to find an apartment. My last day of work is July 12th. There are a million things to do between now and then.

But for blogging purposes, I will soon be A Chicago-Style Girl in NYC. Wish me luck!


Yet Another Reason Why I Hated Our Old Apartment

I contemplated whether to write more about my lovely new city, or maybe about my goodbye to my old city. But instead, I’m going to finally publish a post I started over a month ago. It was going to be a part of my why-I-hate-my-apartment-and-can’t-wait-to-move-out series. Can you remember back that far? That’s when I hadn’t even gone to NYC to interview for my new job.

On this blog, I hasn’t mentioned the possibility of a move so soon. I didn’t want to jinx it. Back when we first made the decision to move out of Hyde Park and in with my parents, the reasoning was that Chris would be headed to New York City in January (possibly by himself). So we didn’t want to get a new lease and put ourselves in the position of possibly having to pay two rents each month.

Then boom! I had an interview and the chance came up that maybe we could move to New York together. Then the interview went really well and they wanted me right away. Then boom! We had to figure out how to move to New York less than a month after leaving our old apartment. I thought we’d have six months. Silly me.

Sorry to give you this whole story in bits and pieces, but I do what I want so get on board.

Now, moving on to the point of this post, which is another reason I hated our old apartment.

So I arrived home from work one day, glad to be home early. As the supervisor at my old job, I worked crazy hours. We’re talking 50+ hours/week even though I only got paid for 38.5 (stupid salary job).

I walked up to my building, stuck my key in the door and turned. Nothing happened. I tried again. Again, nothing happened. I immediately flashed back to our semi-ruined anniversary where we couldn’t go out to dinner because they changed the locks on our building. The husband didn’t go get the new keys while I was at work and so we couldn’t leave our building to go to dinner to celebrate our anniversary because we’d have no way to get back in.

After assessing the key in the lock situation, I realized the key fit just fine, but that it just wouldn’t turn. I called the leasing office, but they were all gone for the day. At this point, I realized I had to pee really badly.

I called the husband who confirmed the key wouldn’t turn easily in the door. He told me the previous day, he had to force the key to turn because the lock was twisted to the side. I don’t even know if you can properly picture that. But imagine a normal lock on a normal door. Now rotate the barrel 24 degrees clockwise and you can picture what I dealt with.

I was so upset that the husband knew of this problem the previous day and did nothing about it. He didn’t call the leasing office, he didn’t do anything. He just forced the key to work for him and went on the house. I do not have close to the same strength as he does, so I was just standing there outside the building, upset and trying not to pee on myself.

I got off the phone with the husband and called the locksmith listed on the wall by the building door. The locksmith told me it’s $100 to let me in because I lost my keys. I told him I didn’t lose my freaking keys, I had them in my hand, they just didn’t work. He told me that even though I have a key, if there’s an issue with the lock, it’s $100.

I was furious and inquired why the charge wouldn’t go to the management company for the building if the problem was with the building, not my keys or apartment door lock. He told me I could wait until the morning and have the management people call him. When I confirmed he was suggesting I sleep outside my building until I could reach the leasing office in the morning, I hung up.

I called the husband back ready to fuss some more. He immediately asked if I tried to go through the back door.

All the wind went out of my sails. I felt like such an idiot for not thinking of that. So I walked to the back of the building and my key worked fine. I apologized to the husband for turning extra crazy, and took my butt upstairs and straight to the bathroom.

Why my leasing office didn’t have a 24/7 number to reach, I don’t know. It was just so frustrating. Just to compare, my new landlord is awesome. Anything I need he handles that day or the next morning. I’ve only been in my apartment for a week, so I’m not getting too excited yet. But let’s just say I couldn’t be happier to be so far away from the previous situation.

I think this will be the last your hear about how much I hated my old apartment. Hyde Park as a neighborhood wasn’t so awful, I just didn’t like living there. With all the building and expansion going on there I imagine it will be an amazing place to visit. Just don’t move there!


I Forgot To Give This Post A Title…

This month has been such a flurry of activity, I don’t even know where to start. Things at work are always in flux. We’re transitioning to a new schedule, and increased training. Not to mention, one of our regulators just showed up for a visit/observation. They don’t schedule those, they just show up.

Outside of work, things are also crazy. I can tell you that I’m having as much trouble packing as I did unpacking. I haven’t put a single thing into a box. For that matter, I haven’t even purchased packing supplies. And our lease is up in 12 days. What the hell is wrong with me?

Trying to stay healthy and work out is an ongoing struggle. It’s hard to make the time and find the motivation, but I’m still trying.

My parents just got back from Paris and Amsterdam. I want to be like them when I grow up. How nice it would be to take trips like that. I can barely afford this weekend road trip to New York City with my girls this weekend.

Yup, I’m going to NYC less than a week before I have to move out of an apartment I haven’t even started packing up yet.

Oh, and I’m sick. I’m sick in a the-weather-is-so-crazy-that-we’ve-been-fluctuating-between-air-conditioning-and-heat-in-the-house-and-I-have-no-idea-how-to-dress-so-I-always-end-up-wearing-the-wrong-clothes-for-the-current-weather-and-now-I’m-sick kind of way.

You don’t need air conditioning when it’s 56 degrees out. You do need air conditioning when it’s 86 degrees out. When both happen in less than 12 hours, you can’t plan for that. Sleeping under needless air conditioning literally makes me sick.

Sore throat, headache, sinus pressure, and lethargy. Isn’t the start of summer grand?

There is some good news in all this. In just over a week from now, I’ll be out of Hyde Park for good! It’s a great place to visit and hang out, but I intend to never live there again.

After I’m done being sick, I look forward to a summer without paying rent (yay parents for letting us move in with you while we work out the next step), neighborhood/food festivals, watching the husband play all these great gigs (Chicago Jazz Fest anyone?), and letting things finally even out at work.


How To Leave An Apartment You Hate, Step One

You ever live in a place you thought you’d love but you end up hating? You ask yourself, “how do I escape this hell hole?” Well, I’m not sure I can help you, but I can sure as hell chronicle how I’m getting the hell out.

  1. Make the shit as livable as possible until you can get out.
  2. Give away a bunch of stuff to the salvation army.
  3. Wash all your clothes and throw out the rest.
  4. Be nice to your neighbors so they don’t rob you on moving day.
  5. Don’t forget to turn off the utilities.
  6. Pack your shit over a period of time, really make leaving a celebration.

So, that’s just the basics I think. But really, the first step to leaving an apartment you hate is to not renew your lease. At the end of this month, we’ll be free of the high rent.

We’ll be free of the weed smoking neighbors.

We’ll be free of the loiterers with no better business.

We’ll be free of the lack of parking.

We’ll be free of the cops who were nowhere to be found while our car was stolen but showed up when the husband was changing the plates on the recovered car.

We’ll be free of three flights of steps.

We’ll be free.

Free at last.

Well, we’ll be moving in with our parents until we find somewhere new to live. But I swear we have a really good reason for not finding a new apartment yet. I’m just not ready to share.

But I will be soon.

I suspect it will come as good news too.

Just wait and see.