Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “night life

I’m Gonna Say Christmas Was A Quiet Success

I’m wrapping things up at work now, and my excitement is increasing. As is my tiredness. I’m tired y’all.

I ended up staying up late Sunday night to finish packing and then adding all my clothes into this new closet app thing I’m trying on my phone. It is time consuming to photograph all your clothes, but guess who doesn’t mind lack of sleep, and really doesn’t mind not leaving her clothes overseas accidentally? That would be me!

I was unable to do maintenance on my locs Saturday like I’d planned, so that fell to last night’s intinerary. Staying up to almost 3am two nights in a row when your alarm goes off at 5:10am is just plain silly.

But I did it. And as a result, I’m all packed for my trip, my hair looks neat and well kept, and Starbucks makes coffee to keep one awake. Well, the Starbucks isn’t a result of my poor time management, but my consumption of large amounts of Starbucks is.

I’m excited for the next week or so, but I’m also really pleased with how the Christmas holiday went.

After work on Friday, Chris and I headed to a friend’s birthday party then to Smalls, just like we’d planned. As a result of tiredness and terrible waitressing at the first bar, the only picture I have is the obligatory picture of Sara and me that I almost always take when we’re hanging.

sara-and-me

When we got to Smalls, it seemed that almost the entirety of the birthday party crew had gone over there. We definitely wouldn’t put the club over capacity. Smalls charges a cover to get in, but for musicians (and their wives, cough, cough), they usually let them in. Smalls works hard to foster that homey environment for the musicians and their people.

I say all of that to say that there was no way in hell Smalls was letting in all those people for free. I’m still not sure how they worked it out, but I was cold and there was room inside for me and Sara (and Chris). Everyone else came in a few minutes after that, so I figure they worked it out and the 12+ people on that bar crawl ish paid the cover to get in.

By the time they got in there, I had my customary I’ve-been-up-since-5am-and-will-be-up-until-damn-near-5am drink: Strong, fresh coffee with Bailey’s and Bulleit Rye Whiskey. My girl Marjie, the amazing manager (and aerial yoga buddy) who was working the bar, always hooks me up. She makes it just right so it needs no sugar, and she good-naturedly fights me on the tip. The only time I couldn’t make her take her money was when we were there on my birthday, but little does she know I just gave it to my friend JS to give to her instead, ha!

The band was amazing, as usual. I listen to my own friends and their bands so much that it’s always nice when I get to the club early and can hear whoever is playing the set in front of theirs. I ended up making nice with a sweet girl who lived up the street from the club. She kept requesting a blues with such gusto. It amused me and irritated Chris, but eventually someone called it for the jam session. I stepped outside with her while she smoked (ew, smoking), and took a pretty cool picture of the entrance to Smalls. I don’t think I’d ever noticed how many times the name of the club is written on/above the door.

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The night ended after 4am, as it always does. We got home and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up the next morning, finally checked my mail, and saw that Sara’s Christmas gift for me had indeed arrived like Etsy told her it had.

This tank is hilarious and will be put to good use as soon as we’re back from Europe in the New Year.

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The night of Christmas Eve, we went to a party for my friend Michael from college. He looks amazing, all slim and toned. He was always handsome, but damn if he’s not aging well. We did the math and realized we met over 13 years ago. We drank more egg nog shooters and stopped talking about that, lol.

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We stayed at this party All. Night. Long. We were laughing and drinking and talking and playing games. Chris and I had some friends nearby who checked in our activity for the night. Michael was down for the-more-the-merrier, so we invited them over and it went from a small gathering of family and friends to a ruckus house party situation. I hope he has more parties like that in the future.

I almost forgot to take a picture with Chris, but then I remembered. I’ve greatly improved my selfie game from back when I almost always cut half my face out of the picture. But the other party guests didn’t know that. So when I raised the camera back towards us, flash ready, someone offered to help take the picture.

Apparently, without breaking my smile, I brusquely said no, and because I’d already pressed the button before he spoke, the camera flashed immediately after. Everyone found this amusing if caustic. It took them awhile to explain to me why it came across that way. I guess they didn’t know I’d already pressed the camera button, so there was no rapid fire No-Smile-Click that they perceived.

Chris was cracking up the second the word no came out my mouth, as you can see below. I’m clearly drunk, as evidenced by my big ass smile. And my lipstick is also staining his lips, lol.

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Christmas was a very very lowkey day for us. So lowkey that at no point did we leave the house and no point did we put on pants. I happily watched The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3 while cooking dinner and lunch. The only thing I photographed all day was the shrimp wraps I made for lunch, go figure.

shrimp-wraps

I squeezed a lot into just a few days because I was on a time crunch. The only real fail was David taking forever to get home from the airport last night after spending Christmas with his family. Even with staying up to finish my hair, I couldn’t stay up as late as necessary to watch the Sense8 holiday special with him. He says he’ll wait for me and we can watch it when I get back. I hope he doesn’t leave me behind like he did when it came to watching Supergirl.

Seeing as how we have over a week in Europe, I’m hoping it can be as eventful, but also more restful. Wish me a safe flight y’all, my plane takes off in 6 hours!


2016 Still Isn’t Over Yet? Okay… Fine

If you’re an social media where the written word is included, you’ve seen statements both clever and blunt decrying 2016 as an entire year.

Most recently, the focus is Trump’s election or Obama’s nearing exit from the White House. According to lots of Chicagoans from the South Side, the Cubs winning the world series this year is evidence of 2016’s suckiness. Those with doomed relationships and lost job prospects say the same of this year.

My suckiest happenings of 2016: My father-in-law died. The everyday structure of my job stresses me out. The best phone I’ve ever had, the Note 7 catches fire and is banned on all aircraft. Trump won the most pledged electoral college votes last week.

2016 sucks

One common meme I see is a focus on all the deaths this year, and there have been a lot. Wikipedia has an entire section dedicated to all who have died this year, and the entertainment, journalistic, literary, etc. industries are worse off for the losses. Personally, I think of Alan Rickman, Natalie Cole and Prince.

Today, I’m not thinking about the whole world though. I’m thinking about my family. My husband’s father died in February of this year. He had some heart issues that led to his death and he ended up becoming an organ & tissue donor. We had a beautiful memorial service for him in March. There were hundreds of friends and family members there to celebrate his life.

2016 sucks.

His loss was and is hard for the family.

My dad sent this picture to us today. It really made me smile. It’s from my wedding day.

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After I typed that last sentence, I couldn’t think of what to say next. I usually write an entire post in one sitting, pausing only if I get interrupted by something else.

But today is different. Today I feel more thoughtful, less wordy. I’m concerned for my husband, even though I know he’s strong. He’s grown so much since we’ve known each other and he is doing amazing self-care, especially today.

He made plans for us and a friend to hang out tonight, surrounding himself with good company and sympathetic ears. I’m looking forward to being there for him.

2016 sucks.

This whole day is serving a microcosm of this year for me.

Were there good points to this year? Well, yes, there were… I think. I can think of some things that count, but it just feels like even the good things have an edge of crappiness to them.

That being said, there is a lot of good in life, in my life in particular. I am in good health, I have a lot of loving relationships. I have the freedom to express myself when and how I choose. Most of the ways I choose to spend my time bring me great joy. We’re in a new golden age of television.

I don’t have much of a sum up point today. Something like: 2016 sucks, there’s some good in it, now leave me be while I go make sure my husband is okay today and pray that the next 46 days fly past.


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.

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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?


Who Needs Sleep? I Do, But Whatever! Part 1

In the last week, I’ve gone out 4 times, and it should’ve been 6 if I hadn’t canceled at the last minute. For a person who’s kind of a homebody, it’s just so much!

I’ve been having a good time though, and if you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been to some cool spots.

Like I said, the world keeps turning, and against a backdrop of France trying to whoops ass at all the ISIS targets the apparently already knew about, bombings in Nigeria, and America fucking up by deciding not to let in refugees, I’ve still been living my life.

I don’t know how people who are so committed to these causes go through their days. Do they feel bad if they take time to go to a birthday party? Do they stop on Thursdays for TGIT? Do they every re-tweet a funny cat video?

I don’t know. Y’all know I’m struggling with feeling like I should be doing something more, saying something more. How do other personal bloggers just ignore this in their posts and only talk about their fun new recipe for peppermint pumpkin spice chai mocha martinis or whatever?

Talking about this stuff starts to give me existential angst, so I’m going to move on.

My week of not-staying-in-the-house-ness has resulted in two things that I know must frustrate Chris.

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I think he’s taken the if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em approach. On top of the unpacked travel bags is his saxophone case. I bug him constantly about not leaving it right by the front door, but clearly I’m not saying anything about it this week.

He’s going to New Orleans this weekend for his friend’s birthday, and him travelling is usually my cue to get the house together. Something about returning home to a wonderful clean house, I don’t know, ask my mother for the details of why that’s a great way to treat your husband. She’s been married for over 35 years, so I’m listening to her advice on this one.

But what have I been up to if not staying home and organizing my house? And what about those two days I didn’t go out? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Last Thursday was a music showcase by the bae of one of my favorite co-workers. It was at Manhattan Brew & Vine, which I’ve been trying to make my way to since it opened. I’m so mad I didn’t go. Everyone says it was so much fun, and the music was great. They went to Corner Social after to hang, which is always a good late night spot if you don’t care about not hearing anything except the music. So basically… double fail on my part.

Friday is when I was supposed to meet my friends who were visiting NYC in Times Square. Y’all already know how that turned out. We were supposed to go to this bar in Times Square I love called Havana Central. Instead they went to this hookah bar one of their Cali people recommended. I wish I could remember the name of it because I would put it on blast for their weak drinks.

Saturday was great though. My girl Sara came out with me to take these girls to Liberty Theater, and my promoter friend Jay Jay hooked us up. I love the look of this place because it really used to be a theater, so it still has the stage, tiered floor, and box seats. I don’t really do clubs like this very often, but I had a blast. We danced and drank and had a really good time. There are a ton of videos and photos because millennials. I think I can find a couple to show you. I wish I had one of Sara getting proposed too. That was a fun laugh when some random man decided he was in love with her and literally tried to give her  a ring.

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Sunday  night I was at Smoke Jazz & Supper Club. Our friends Willerm, Henry, and like 2 other people, were celebrating their birthdays. Willerm’s band was playing (including Chris), and he wanted a soul train line in the club after the set. He requested my presence there, so I took a nap after brunch-turned dinner.

About this brunch-turned-dinner. My friends who I took to Liberty Theater were supposed to meet us for brunch by our house in Brooklyn. By the time they woke up, got ready, checked out of their hotel, decided against the subway, took a Lyft, got through traffic, it was 4 hours and one restaurant later. That’s all I’ll say on that topic.

The gig Sunday night at Smoke was amazing, and these guys always sound good together. Chris was the “DJ,” playing songs on his iPhone through the speaker. We had the soul train line, including some confused but thoroughly entertained tourists, and all was right in the world. Then I took my butt home and got exactly 1 hour of sleep before getting up for work.

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Groid Collective 8 out of 12

Monday night, I stayed my sleepy self at home after work. My best friend David and I watch a lot of TV together even though he lives in St. Louis. We are on the phone watching the same episode at the same time. It’s a great way to spend time together because we both watch so much TV.

I was also trying to help with suggestions of what his family could do when they visit New York the Saturday after Thanksgiving. They’ll all be nearby visiting one of his sisters who just moved, so they’re coming in to the city for a day. I’m mostly excited for his dad, who’s never been here. Should be a good time next week.

This post is getting long, So I’m gonna stop here. I’ll post Part 2 tomorrow.


The Whole Reason We Moved to New York

You wanna know what I did Tuesday? If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, then you already know what I did Tuesday. But for everyone else, I’ll tell you what I did.

I went to the Tribeca Film Festival. This is such an NYC event. Wikipedia tells me (and no one has corrected it) that this Festival was started after 9/11 with the goal of economically reviving downtown. In the years since, they have, of course grown.

This is the corner of the building where the event was held. I was so excited, I looked it up on Google Maps to make sure I had the right entrance. Image from Wikipedia.org

 

This year, they put together an amazing evening in honor of Frank Sinatra, who’s 100th birthday would’ve been this year. There was a movie, of course. Following the movie, there was a concert consisting of singing, tap dancing, and a big band. My husband Chris (along with our friends Corey and Noah) got called to play in the big band, so of course I wanted to go.

I was able to get a ticket, and I was very happy to be all, “I’m with the band.”

Since it was a Tuesday, I had to put in for PTO for a few hours at the end of my shift. I didn’t have time to go home and change, so I got ready at work. So of course, this particular Tuesday, everyone from the CEO to multiple department directors were still there past 5:30pm.

Luckily, no one thought too much of me switching to a floor length gown, pinning up my hair, and strapping on high heels. The people in my office even helped me decide between two pairs of shoes. I hopped in a cab and headed to the Festival.

The movie they showed was On the Town. It’s a musical, adapted from Broadway, and it’s adorable. Chris sat with me for the first half of the movie before he had to go backstage to get ready for the concert.

I switched into critic mode, which is what I call it when I’m half taking notes for possible future gigs of Chris’s and noting what worked and what didn’t work about the event.

During the  movie, I noticed the higher sounds (the treble) were a bit too bright. One of the characters in the movie, who simple has to be related to Heather Matarazzo, had a voice higher than the other women. She sounded so shrill during the film, and there’s no way she actually sounded like that. So I was suspicious of the sound man, and wondering why he didn’t notice and fix this issue.

It was still an issue when the band was playing. As a result, I couldn’t hear above middle C on the piano well, the bass sounded clearer than the guitar, and the trombone clearer than the saxophone.

Good thing the musicians were all so amazing that the band still sounded great.

There was also a cameraman who I believe was queuing up the multimedia videos and whatnot accompanying the concert. And he was loud, like super loud. Halfway through the second song, I was chuckling along as each queue was either mis-timed or drew the attention of everyone further back than row M.

But what was amazing was the other cameramen. They didn’t miss a beat There were two large screens on either side of the stage on which showed video of what was happening on the stage. It looked like clips from a documentary or made-for-TV concert.

It turns out they were recording to make some sort of movie/video out of the event. I heard someone say they expected to see a turnaround of only 3 weeks on the first draft. I hope whatever they make is available to the public because I’d love to see that.

As much as I was fussing about the sound mixing, I sort of understood why they did it when I watched my video back. I thought both Ne-Yo and Brandon Flowers sounded so good in my videos. But then Chris said he thought they sounded better live. I wish I knew what the difference was that our ears heard. Knowing that would help bridge the gap in what the sound man was aiming for.

That is Ne-Yo, who I was so pleasantly surprised sounded this good to my ear live. I’ve seen him on Dancing with the Stars, and that is live, but still. He was in the same room and sounded fantastic.

That is Brandon Flowers and Alice Smith (along with Ne-Yo and Lea Delaria). They’re singing New York, New York. It’s the perfect finale song for such an event as this.

There has to be a way to make it sound both amazing live and on video though. I know it’s possible because that’s what happened when we went to go see Stevie Wonder in concert. Maybe the size of the venue makes a difference?

I wish I had the key to make a uniform sound in person and video. Someone tell me I don’t have to go get an additional degree for this.

I’m taking notes and learning with each of these events. The one thing I’m pretty good at already is the schmoozing that comes after. They had a room for the performers and assorted guests. That room had a bar in it. That was a pleasant surprise because this was a “dry” event thanks to the Lincoln sponsorship and car on the premises.

After eating my tiny bag of dirt flavored popcorn– I mean my white truffle cheddar popcorn– wrapped in the loudest plastic bag available for purchase– I mean wrapped in plastic and tied with an adorable red bow, I was ready for something to wash it down with.

I had been looking forward to my flask that Chris brought for me, but now I didn’t need it. I was happy to drink whatever red wine they were serving. That meant the flask was free to pass out to people who were very interested in taking a swig of Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Chris and I were called “cute” and “adorable” and “fun” multiple times by people with varying levels of familiarity. That’s a sign of success. All of my upbringing as the daughter of the man in charge at work who’s also a deacon at church, the daughter of a judge who’s also Superintendent of Sunday School at church, the sister of a preacher who runs a school, the granddaughter of a Congressman who used to run a newspaper, the niece of a professor who was president of the national organization for education professors, has quite fully prepared me to the be the wife of an amazing musician.

I care very much about standing alone with my own name, not the __________ of someone else. But I’m damn good at being the daughter-sister-wife of my people.

I am also getting very better at being not-Fan-Girl when I meet these people. Aside from a likely scarily-large smile when I met Ne-Yo, and a moment where I begged Lea Delaria to tell me where I knew her from (not Orange is the New Black), I feel like I did pretty good.

Brandon Flowers is cool as hell, and I felt like inviting him over for a dinner party after talking to him for only a few moments. He’s just one of those people with a really warm spirit, you know?

After finishing all the whiskey, checking out the gift they gave everyone, and schmoozing, we headed out to a favorite bar of mine called Nancy’s Whiskey Pub.

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I took our friends Corey and Dericko there on a whim one day, and we’ve loved it since. It’s the type of place where you walk in and everyone eyeballs you suspiciously, but then 3 minutes later everyone’s laughing and recommending food and drink options.

We weren’t the only ones there from the event. We met a publicist, a video guy, and a venue planner. It was very cool to have people come up to the table, tell the band how much they loved them, then exchange business cards.

It’s moments like this that we moved to New York. We toasted to that like 5 times Tuesday night.

I can’t wait for the next big event. But in the mean time, there are hundreds of smaller New-York-awesome things to do. I can’t wait for those either.

Tony Bennett, Ne-Yo, Lea Delaria, Savion Glover, Brandon Flowers, Alice Smith and the JC Hopkins Biggish Band are who all participated in the tribute.


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!

chris eat cupcakes chris with cupcakes

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.


Husbands and Birthdays

My daddy came into town this past weekend. My parents came to visit for Thanksgiving, along with some family friends from church. There were five of them total; the couple has a 10-year-old son.

Once we realized we could comfortable fit 6 adults and one kid into the apartment, a whole world of opportunity opened up. That’s why we keep doing musician’s dinners, and we’ll probably do a Super Bowl party this weekend.

But this post isn’t about Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl, it’s about my daddy’s trip. When they were here for Thanksgiving, my daddy and the husband of the family friend couple decided they loved New York City so much that they were coming back– with or without their wives.

The timing ended up working out so they could come at the end of January. The husband had a pretty big couple of gigs with Winard Harper at Smalls Jazz Club. Plus it was my daddy’s birthday.

Is it weird that my daddy took a birthday trip out-of-town for his birthday without my mom? Honestly, it’s not. My parents are cool like that. They do their own thing from time to time and I think it’s great. Plus, he came to see his daughter, so it’s not exactly like he was running off.

That didn’t stop me from making many wife-centered jokes for the weekend. The one I really ran into the ground was when I kept checking to make sure it was fine I was there seeing as how they uninvited all the wives for the weekend. But spending time with the husband, my daddy, and our good family friend was a lot of fun.

They came to the Brooklyn brownstone for dinner with some of the members of Winard’s band before the gig on Friday.

There is this scene in the Temptations movie that shows the guys sitting around the dinner table eating dinner after one of their gigs. They’re just bonding and eating home-made good food and becoming even more themselves because of the time spent.

At some point, one of these musicians is going to get a movie made about them, and I need a scene with me serving these guys dinner.

And I need the actress who plays me to look like Lela Rochon.

Lela Rochon with her husband from Wikipedia

But anyway. My daddy and our family friend are just so much fun. Cooking dinner for the guys as we’re all laughing, talking, drinking, and listening to music before the gig was so much fun. Socializing is so much easier in the comfort of my home.

After dinner, we headed out to the gig and the music was amazing. I’ve never heard Winard Harper play before, but I immediately understood why he’s famous. He’s Wikipedia-paging, Lincoln Center-gigging, Google update-requesting famous.

And he’s so nice and gregarious and funny. That man knows how to command a microphone in between songs.

The fact that we’re barely six months in to our lives here in New York and the husband is already doing these things is freaking amazing.

winard smalls 1 winard smalls 2

The first picture is from the last song they played Friday night. If you look on the right side of the picture, you’ll see a line of horns reflecting the soft lighting.

Winard Harper announced they were going to finish it out with a short song, and they would just take one chorus each. If you know anything about jazz, you know that means shorter solos and a (possibly) shorter song.

Then he invited all the horn guys he saw in the back to “come up and get some of this.” If you know anything about jazz, you know that means that even though they were only playing one solo each, he’d just invited an additional 3-6 guys to each take a solo, thus lengthening the song even further.

But man, if you could’ve been there, you would’ve been glad for it. They played the hell out of that song. Because there were so many playing, they kept building and building and by the time they got to the end, the whole crowd was screaming in approval.

Fast forward 20 or so minutes, and we were all sad for them to finally stop playing.

My daddy, who loves live music had an amazing time. I don’t think he could’ve had a better birthday in Chicago this year.

He ended up going to the 9/11 Memorial early Saturday with the family friend. They found it really interesting. I can totally see why as my daddy is a fan of history and America and tourism.

After they finished with that, the four of us went to dinner. I was so tired at this point, I went to their hotel room to take a nap while the three men went back to Smalls for another gig.

I of course cracked some more jokes about how they finally got rid of the last wife.

My daddy and our family friend headed back to Chicago on Sunday evening. They had a really great weekend hanging out in New York.

I feel like a need to get a testimonial posted somewhere that a quick celebratory trip to NYC is great. Especially if you get your hotel room. Please tell my friends and family that so more of them can come visit us.

So far, I’ve had 7 of the 10 people who stood up with me at my wedding come visit me, which is actually pretty amazing. I love my friends. I’m trying to get a perfect 10 before our one year anniversary here in NYC, but it probably won’t happen since one of my girls had a baby a few days ago.

Poor thing was in labor for two days.

Two days.

Think on that for a minute. I’m personally making a note to postpone having children for at least a few more months.

And I’m also making a note so that whenever I do have children, my daughter will know I’m making a birthday trip to come visit her without the husband in 30 years, and she better show me a good time.

Super random, I wasn’t the only one tuckered out this weekend.

sleepy jazz

That’s our cat Jazz giving me the eye for daring to photograph her while she’s trying to sleep


What’s Hot In New York City? Smalls Jazz Club

After my adventurous weekend, plus all the wonderful jazz clubs I’ve been to for the husband’s gigs, I’m going to write a few of these in the coming weeks.

Smalls Jazz Club is hot. Located in my favorite NYC neighborhood, Greenwich Village, it’s the perfect spot to grab a drink and hear live jazz all night long.

Smalls Jazz Club   183 W 10th St, New York, NY 10014  Open 4pm-4am daily.

I’ve been to this club several times now. Every time I go, I love it more. I love the staff, I love the atmosphere, and I love the music. Just be careful not to share anything super personal if you sit near the front because on big gig nights, they live stream the music from the stage and you can hear everything.

If you’re not used to navigating the Village around 7th Avenue & 10th Street, good luck finding this place. But once you’ve found it, head down the narrow staircase, following the amazing music, and cross your fingers that there’s no need for a fire drill while you’re downstairs. Once you’re inside, peruse the drink list, check out the night’s special on the chalkboard, or ask the bartender to whip up something random for you. The worst drink I had here could be described as “good, but too sweet.”

I’d Recommend: Hanging out by the bar. Bar stools aren’t as comfortable as the benches, but the company is great. There are wonderful bartenders, and at least a handful of local musicians to mix it up with. I always meet someone new and interesting when I sit at the bar. I’d also recommend eating before you go. There are great restaurants all around, and the only food at Smalls are delicious pretzel sticks that get snatched up as soon as they’re put out.

Stay Away From: The front. As I said, the live streaming will share your whole conversation if you’re not careful. The club is small enough to feel intimate no matter where you land. There’s a bartender and a roaming waitress who will get your drink order, even if you’re crammed in a corner by the bathroom.

This club gets the extra factor because every single person I’ve heard make a comment about it says this place is their ideal watering hole. Even people who don’t live in Greenwich Village seem to agree. I dare you to come here, wearing whatever you currently have on, and not feel warm and welcome. The atmosphere is great, but not perfect. Plenty of people show up wearing fancy clothes, and plenty of people show up wearing jeans. It’s difficult to pinpoint which one is more accurate to the club’s vibe.The price range is what you’d expect for a bar in the Village, which means it’s more than what’d you’d like to pay, but you understand. The average of reviews on Yelp is 4.5/5 or so, which is really great.

The only caveat is that if you have a tendency to feel claustrophobic in tight spaces and/or you are short on patience with strangers, maybe wait until a weeknight to try Smalls for the first time.

[Score has a max of 4 pts for each section] Food (0); Music (4); Drinks (4); Atmosphere (3); Price (3); Consumer Review (3); Extra Factor (1)

The Jazz Showcase gets a score of 18 out of 25. They could improve their score if they lowered their prices. I don’t expect they’ll ever add food, and you just can’t get over a 20 it seems without that. And now on to the pictures and links.

Smalls Jazz Club Website

Smalls Jazz Club Wikipedia

Smalls Jazz Club Yelp

Picture from Revive Music

Picture from Phernandez Fotos

Cellphone photo of some musicians visiting from the Midwest playing Smalls

Cellphone photo of some musicians visiting from the Midwest playing Smalls

Cellphone photo of the husband playing at Smalls

Cellphone photo of the husband playing at Smalls


Chicago-Style Girl’s Day Off

What would you do with a day off?

Maybe you’d go shopping and have lunch with the girls? Well, I have no money for shopping and my girls live in Chicago, so that wasn’t an option.

Maybe you’d finally see a movie you’ve been dying to see and maybe even make it a double feature? There are a ton of movies out I’d like to see, but the thought didn’t even occur to me to try to see a film.

Maybe you’d stay up late dancing in your pajamas, just happy to have some time to yourself? That was an appealing thought, but I was out of the house last night, so pajamas dancing will have to wait.

Wednesday was a true day off for me for the first time since I’ve moved to New York. I normally work Monday through Friday, but some schedule shuffling made it possible.

I should have slept in, making myself mimosas and frittatas whenever I finally woke up. I should have walked around with no pants on, letting the hours slip away.

I should have been glad that for once, I didn’t have to wake up to get ready for work, or get ready for the soup kitchen, or get ready for church.

But instead, I volunteered my one morning of free time to the home I volunteer at. I mentioned before how I do tutoring at this home for new mothers who don’t have anywhere else to go. Since I started, the tutoring volunteering has expanded to include much more.

On Wednesday, it extended to babysitting an adorable 2 month old while her mom had a job interview. Getting a job is one of the big steps towards independence at the home, and I was happy to help facilitate it. Plus, that baby is freaking adorable and despite being a bit fussy, she’s a cool baby to be around.

So when I should’ve been at home determining the best proportion of orange juice to champagne, I was instead trying to coax a con artist baby to stay asleep even after I put her down.

I guess it’s not a bad trade. As much as I’m nowhere near ready for my own children, I do enjoy the companies of babies who aren’t jerks. And this baby is definitely not a jerk, so it was fine.

I’m looking forward to helping her mom more in the future once she starts her job. That’s right, she got the job!

After babysitting, I did finally engage in some day-off behavior. I sat on the couch with the husband catching up on TV shows. We watched MARVEL’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Revenge, Castle, Almost Human, and a couple of other shows too. There really is some great writing on TV these days.

Then it was nap time. I highly encourage anyone with a day off to embrace nap time like you’re five years old. There is nothing quite as refreshing as a lovely nap. My heart goes out to kindergarteners who don’t have nap time these days. Poor guys. What are they going to take away next? That wonderfully goopy paste that they use to make crappy crafts projects?

After my nap, the husband and I went out because he had a gig. We went to Small’s Jazz Club, a place I love to go to. The staff is great, the venue is unique, and bonus– it’s in the Village.

I know what you’re thinking. I give any and everything in the Village extra weight of special-ness just because it’s in the Village. Well, maybe you’d be right. Or maybe they just make better versions of everything in the Village and that’s why I love it so much. No way to know.

So we’re out at the club, and as now is the trend, as soon as I sat at the bar, I attracted the attention of a random stranger who’s super friendly. Last week, the attention I attracted was awesome because I met a great couple who I can actually see the husband and myself becoming friends with. We’re hanging out with them next week I think and it will be great.

Now the random European guy who’s attention I attracted last night was a different story. This guy seemed to mean well, but this crazy European man was systematically irritating, annoying, and perplexing everyone in our general vicinity.

He made the sweet bartender ladies roll their eyes because of the way he ordered his drinks. Ten minutes to decide on Stella Artois on tap? Really?

He got pushed aside by the bass player/sound man/ general peacekeeper dude because he wouldn’t stop blocking the aisle even though he had a bar stool.

He got hushed by an already boisterous crowd because his voice carried and was interrupting other people’s ability to hear the solos. I don’t know how much time you all spend in jazz clubs, but you’re really doing too much when you get hushed by the crowd who is also talking and laughing.

And to top it all off, the crazy European man got really drunk and almost threw up, so he got kicked out of the club. I’ve never even seen someone get kicked out of a jazz club before. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen someone get throw-up drunk at a jazz club before.

Needless to say, I didn’t exchange contact information with this crazy European man (who tried to convince me my parents are hippies at heart as illustrated by the uniqueness of my name), nor did I make plans to hang out again.

I spent the rest of the night hanging out with the husband and his musician friends.

20140116_005712_5_bestshot 20140116_021419

Yeah, I have glasses now. Anyway.

Everyone was talking about how much fun our Sunday dinner was, and how they can’t wait until we do it again. I think we’ve started a new tradition, and when they make the movie about one of these musician’s lives one day, my Sunday dinners should make the script, at least it better.

Making new friends is hard, you know?

Especially when the options available are so damn weird.

But I have hope. The husband has another gig on Monday that promises a lot of fun. I ended up inviting 6 people to join me out. I didn’t even know I knew six people here in New York I’d like to hang out with socially outside of a work shift, a Sunday service, or a quick drink after the soup kitchen. The couple we met last week, a guy from work and a friend of his I haven’t met yet, and a guy we met at a bar back in September and his girlfriend.

The fact that I even had more than one person I could think of to invite made me happy. I’m perfectly comfortable hanging by myself at the husband’s gigs, but it would be nice to have some friends with me too.

On that note, I’m going to go make a list of cool ways to spend a day off. The only thing I know is that the next time it happens, I’m definitely not starting my day until after noon.

Any ideas?


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.


No Strep for the Strippers

I know you all have been on the edge of your seats, waiting to hear the tales of my ascent into infamy by way of infecting a stripper with strep. I’m sorry to tell you, my infamy will have to wait.

I didn’t make it onto the party bus with the stripper. And also, I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually have strep.

After the last post was published, another co-worker texted to let me know she wasn’t coming in to work that night. She was at urgent care, getting a diagnosis of the flu. Then I got concerned, wondering if I had strep or flu, convinced I had one or the other.

It is no fun trying to figure out whether you’ll be taken down by bacteria or virus. You’re just hoping and praying for a third option. Come on, harmless fungal infection!

Nevertheless, I went home determined to rally and go out with the husband. I had to wake him up and make him get dressed, but then we were off. We saw a performance by an amazing musician and his band. I honestly don’t even know what genre of music it was. It was the genre of awesome.

After the next band came on and was not our cup of tea, we headed over to catch the show we intended from the beginning. The party-bus-with-strippers friend was playing at one of the most popular jazz clubs in the city. I was looking forward to seeing what he would put together on his own gig, and I wasn’t disappointed. It wasn’t at all a traditional set, but it was very him. Spontaneous and fun, with just a dash of crazy.

I haven’t mentioned yet that at this point, I already knew we were not getting on the party bus. It was full. F-ing full. I wasn’t banned because I was sick. The husband didn’t decide a stripper party bus was no place for a married couple. None of the reasonable things happened. They just got full up and had no room for us. There were four of us by the way. We caught up with two friends at the first awesome show and rolled to the second fun show together.

After the husband’s friend’s gig was over, we headed to the car to go get some food, and the rest of them headed to the party bus. It was a sad moment for the four of us to watch the bus roll out without us.

We quickly realized how hungry we were and went out for breakfast. At this point, I had been awake for almost 24 hours, but I was still in rally mode. I ordered bacon, eggs, pancakes, and a large cup of coffee.  At one point, the guys realized I was tipping over in my seat, and took compassion on me.

I think the husband and I got home about 30 minutes before I had been awake literally for 24 hours. I was so proud of myself. I got through the night and had a lot of fun. Even better, I didn’t get the husband sick. I also didn’t infect any of his friends or his friends’ strippers.

It was quite the successful day. I woke up the next morning feeling like complete crap, but that’s a whole new story. Spoiler alert, I ended up with neither strep nor the flu, just a badass common cold.


Strep Throat and Strippers

To swing fully away from my last few work-centric posts, I’d like to completely switch gears. Let’s talk about strippers. Stripper and strep throat.

Okay, one last thing about work. Strep is going around. Sore throats and fevers popping up here and there. I was lucky enough to escape the flu going around. But the strep got me. I blame changing weather and a 60+ hour work week. Stupid lack of overtime pay.

Moving on back to the strippers. One of the husband’s good friends has a show tonight. Two of them do actually. In fact, it’s likely that most of them do because it’s a Saturday night. But there are two shows we’re going to try to see tonight since the husband has no gig.

I’m looking forward to seeing both guys because I’ve never seen them playing their own gigs. I’ve only ever seen them on someone else’s gig. I’d love to see what type of set list and song choices they put together. The music is just totally different when you’re playing to your own preferences.

One of the friends is getting married this September, so the strippers aren’t related to him. Not that being married means strippers go out of your life. I wouldn’t suggest anyone pretend they don’t like strippers just because they said I do. But that’s a conversation for another time.

The friend who is nowhere near getting married is the one involving the strippers into tonight. After his gig, he has a party bus, and there are reports there will be a stripper or strippers there. The husband thought it would be fun for us to go to the shows and then join the party bus.

Of course I said yes, mostly because it’s one of those experiences to cross off a bucket list, should I ever get around to making one. I mean, think about it. A party bus just sounds fun, even more so under these circumstances.

This was all before the strep. Now I feel like crap. All the lights are too bright, the sounds are too loud. My throat hurts and I’m tired as hell. And truly, if I’m contagious with strep (unconfirmed strep), should I really hang  around strippers tonight?

What if I sneeze on one of them or something? I would never sneeze on a person if I could help it, but I’m trying to figure out why I would be that close to the stripper in the first place. On a party bus, they’d have my married heterosexual self in the back of the bus so I don’t get in the way of anything.

But in this sneezing scenario, I’ve infected the stripper. Let’s say she doesn’t get sick. What if she just becomes some highly contagious strep carrier? She’d start infecting people and there would be a small strep epidemic.

It wouldn’t take long before some sap visiting her strip club walks in with a weak or weakened immune system. Next thing you know, that guy’s dead. Then people will be tracing all the strep back to the stripper, who will point the finger at me.

Then I’ll have to explain how I could’ve possibly infected a stripper with strep, and only the 13 1/2 people who read this blog will know the truth.

And then the local news will want to talk to the source of the outbreak because it didn’t follow normal disease patterns. I’ll end up on Wikipedia after a few more people die. Let’s face it, if you’re going to find a grouping of people with weakened immune systems, a strip club is a great candidate.

I can’t have that. I can’t become famous or infamous.

I guess that means we’ll have to avoid the party bus with the stripper(s). Not that I wasn’t dying to go, mind you. I’m just trying to save lives here.

I guess we’ll have to figure out something  else to do. Maybe we can double date with the husband’s work wife, but without her non-boyfriend.

Did you follow all that? The husband has a friend we both consider his work wife. We’ve been trying to double date for a while, but she’s not really a fan of her current guy, so we’re thinking of double dating without him.

Is it even still a double date if it’s just three people? I need a name for it other than having a third wheel because it wouldn’t be like that at all.

The husband’s work wife is a waitress though, so there is epidemic potential there as well. Eh, I won’t worry about it because her job has signs everywhere telling the employees to constantly wash their hands. I doubt the party bus even has a sink.


Starting A Spousal Support Group

The husband and I had another double date with the couple whose wedding we met at. This time, we headed to their apartment to hang out. We brought board games, movies, and pizza. We were happy to prove to ourselves we could hang out on a small budget and still have a good time.

We decided to watch The Campaign with Will Ferrel and Zach Galifianakis. We were watching, and watching, and no one was really laughing. I think we got about a half hour in (though it felt like 4 hours has passed, so I’m not sure) before we agreed we had to stop watching it.

The husband went to get me a sandwich from Potbelly’s because I wasn’t feeling the pizza. While he was gone, the three of us still there setup the board game Loaded Questions. It’s setup for people to play individually. You take turns answering these random ass questions while one person out of the group guesses which answer belongs to whom. The better you do on figuring out the answers each person picked, the closer you get to the winners circle. You win once you’ve gotten at least 3 answers correct on your turn.

The game sounds simple enough, but they are not kidding when they say the questions come loaded. There was so much yelling and laughing and name calling going on. If I had recorded in and played it back, one wouldn’t think it was two married couples playing.

Ultimately, it panned out that the two couples had something in common. In order for me to explain, I’m going to have to give this couple a name. Let’s call them Mr. and Mrs. How Much. I chose that name because they often ask how much stuff costs. They are very cost conscious people. And also, I know it will crack the husband up when he reads the name I’ve chosen.

So, Mrs. How Much needs things repeated to her a lot. Mr. How Much said to her at least 38 times during the game, “stop pick the obvious answer.” And then the very next question she’d do it again. It was frustrating him, but amusing the husband and me. At the same time, I was constantly repeating to the husband the rules of the game. He was the only one who’d played before, and yet for some reason, he didn’t remember any of the rules. Not even after we were playing the game for a second time in one night.

Have you ever stood in front of a wall and repeated the same thing multiple times? If you have, you should probably seek psychiatric help. But if you are the crazy person who has done it, or the imaginative person who can guess what that would be like, then you know how Mr. How Much and I felt.

Our spouses let information go in one ear and out the other. It was like dealing with a glitchy computer. Or an alarm clock that has settings that won’t stick. Or something else equally malfunctioning.

That’s when Mr. How Much and I knew we needed a support group. We needed a support group for the Spouses Who Can Remember Things. In Mrs. How Much’s defense, she does remember some things. She takes care of making sure the bills get paid on time, so that’s huge for her. Outside of that, she’s just like the husband. He’s so sweet to me and can remember my Potbelly’s order without asking (mostly because he has it in his phone, but whatever). But when it comes to remembering just about anything else, he gets all glitchy computer on me.

Sometimes, I think he’s just fucking with me. I think he’s secretly chuckling to himself and what outrageous inanimate malfunctioning object I’ll compare him to. Or maybe he’s testing to see just how many things he can forget without making me officially mad. I don’t know what the end goal is, but I guess I just want him to have some logical reason for having the world’s worst memory. Except for Mrs. How Much of course.

I know I’m going over this a lot, but it was both enlightening and disheartening. When I realized Mr. How Much felt my pain, I was like, “Oh! Someone gets it! I’m not alone any more. Let us commence to commiserate.” But then I was like, “oh… he feels my pain. He knows the never-ending-only-mildly-amusing frustration I always feel. Poor guy.”

At one point, I was screaming because the husband thought the point of the game was to throw people far off your scent so they’d guess wrong. He was right, but oh so wrong.

If a question asks for your favorite museum, you pick your third favorite that could also be someone else’s favorite. You do not pick a museum you’ve never been to.

If a question asks for a disgusting beverage, you still have to pick a beverage, you can’t just say urine.

If a question asks for the ugliest dog, don’t pick one that you can’t even picture what it looks like. I was just frustrated that the husband was purposely messing up the rules. It’s not fun when the rule edits aren’t clever, and they are just random and haphazard.

My screaming was only the encore though to Mr. How Much. He felt frustrated because his wife’s answers weren’t thoughtful. A question asked which president in all of American history would we like to hold the office of Vice President to and she said Bill Clinton. Well, actually, she said Al Gore, but that’s because she didn’t hear the question correctly.

The same thing happened when she picked nachos as her favorite movie food. He couldn’t believe she picked that when it’s what we ordered when we went to the movies not even a week prior.

Needless to say, the ridiculous answers and over-reacting responses had all of us falling all over the floor laughing at each other. You simply had to laugh.

I don’t know if I’m a glutton for punishment or not, but I’m really looking forward to the next time we play that game. I wouldn’t suggest playing it with any old couple though. We would have to play with a couple who could withstand the ridicule that inevitably comes from sub-par answers.

If you happen to have a spouse who doesn’t listen, or doesn’t remember, or is awful at board games, hit me up. Mr. How Much and I would love to have some more support in our group.

I’m sure if you’re on the other side, the husband and Mrs. How Much are likely plotting to start their own support group for Spouses of Hyper-Critical Know-It-Alls.


Shrinking Underpants

In honor of the holiday season, I haven’t even bothered to get back up on the exercise wagon. When my next Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis DVD arrived, I looked at it as it judged me. I felt bad. Then I added it to the stack of DVDs with the promise of returning to it. One of these days. One day real soon, I promise. I’d like to be an inspiration to myself. And I’d really like to wear this backless micro mini dress I own that I haven’t worn in over 2 years before I’m thirty.

With all of my not-exercising, I’ve been pleased to notice I don’t have to go up in a size of jeans. Those size 3 jeans I was so happy to wear last month (or was that September) are back in the closet on time out, but at least I’m not having to purchase new, even larger clothing. The only problem is my underwear. It seems to be shrinking.

I could’ve sworn my panties covered more of my ass. Obviously, I’m washing my mostly cotton underwear in water that’s too hot. Or possibly drying them too long. I mean, that has to be it, right? It can’t be that my ass, etc. is expanding, yet somehow still fitting into the same clothes, can it? Seriously, how can my pants fit, but my underwear suddenly feel skimpier?

I’m going to go completely irrational here and blame the lack of sleep. Today is the first day at work since I started that I actually feel well rested. It’s an amazing feeling and I want it again and again. Adjusting to being awake early in the morning has been no easy task, but I think I’ve found the perfect combination. Before I reveal my fool proof plan for falling asleep, I want to discuss the causes of my lack of sleep and my shrinking underwear.

Washing clothes has the potential to be the bane of my life. It would be an exxaggeration to say that now, but trust that there is potential. The husband and I own way too many clothes. And we wear them all. So they need to be washed. There’s never time to wash, so I get it in where I can. Like at the parents’ house while we rake leaves. The point is, they take up too much time and take away from more important things. Like TV. And sleep. I’ve only recently stopped skipping sleep to wash clothes because it just wasn’t worth it. So much for getting a couple loads done each week…

Also, my cats are jerks. Well, they were. Actually, they still are, but they are less jerky than they previously were. Are you following? Well, they used to run around the apartment at 1:00 am at high speeds, and the little one, Jazz, used to purr loud as hell sitting right on my chest while I was trying to sleep. They don’t do that anymore. Now they run around at 1:00 pm, and Jazz naps on the bags of not-yet-put-away laundry out in the hall. The running still sucks, but at least it doesn’t interrupt sleep. And I’m sure that Jazz’s naps are somehow related to the shrinking underpants.

Our property manager is taking their sweet ass time fixing things in our apartment. Like our dishwasher. The husband does all the dishes, but I think we both really miss having a functioning dishwasher. The manager used to call me with all these issues. After a few calls and e-mails, we finally got its sorted out earlier this month, and now they bug the husband with these calls, since he’s the one at home during the day. Our dishwasher is still not fixed, but at least my naps or work time aren’t getting interrupted by someone outside an apartment I’m not there to open the door of.

The last couple nights, the husband has been really busy. He’s had gigs, and he’s had plans with his friends. I like when he’s out and about, though part of me misses him when he’s not home with me. But since he’s been gone, all I’ve had to think about was how to amuse and feed myself the last couple nights. The husband and I are very compatible usually with preferred activities, but a couple changes and voila, I had no trouble falling asleep.

I accidentally stumbled across the perfect combination. I drank water with my dinner instead of wine or juice or milk. Usually the husband and I have a glass of wine, and no one should drink alone (unless it’s their birthday), so I had water. I’ve also been working on my nails. Instead of waiting until the polish chips or it’s time to file them down, I’ve been doing maintenance each day. A polish fix on one nail can be surprisingly relaxing. And lastly, I watch The First Wives Club each night. The husband can’t sleep if there’s a TV on. This only applies to the bed because he has no problem falling asleep on the couch or in a theater during a movie. But I love it. When I lived alone, I’d watch Hairspray or The Holiday or See Jane Date.

Perhaps when the husband finally runs out of steam and is with me at bedtime, I’ll switch to reading the books that half of these movies were based on. But I need either a light to read my paperback of The First Wives Club or my backlit phone/Kindle to read my ebook of See Jane Date. Or maybe since it’s a movie and not television, the husband will be able to fall asleep. Either way, I’ve got to get continue to get enough sleep because I’m quite sure, that is the only way to make my underpants un-shrink.


Waking Up And Seizing The Day

So here’s how my day started.

I opened my eyes, resigned to the fact that I was truly awake and wasn’t going to get even a tiny bit more sleep. I cursed silently, rather than my usual out loud expletives, so as to not wake the husband.

I realized he wasn’t in the bed with me, and also that it was still dark as hell outside. This time I cursed aloud. Starting my glorious string of days off in the super dark wasn’t the plan. But that’s what I get when I get off work and go straight home to watch the episodes of Dancing with the Stars that I missed while at work. I brought this on myself.

I find my cellphoneand see it’s 1:00 am. I did the husband on the couch, game controller for the PS3 nearby. I assess my options and realize I should just get my day started. So I head to the dry erase board and finally remove my wedding to do list. It felt good, and I really should’ve done it months ago.

I make the decision to leave the windows open and the lights on even though I’m naked. Who’s gonna see me this time of night? I turn on Pandora and get to work on my list. Then I hear a ruckus outside. I go to the open window and notice one of the cats has ripped an even larger hole in the screen. At this point there is more cursing.

Then I realize my younger cat, Jazz, is watching the ruckus outside. Literally, she’s outside. She has crawled through the hole in the screen and is on the tiny space of ledge outside the window of our third floor apartment.

This is the one time I don’t curse because I don’t want to frighten her and make her fall. Just this morning, I watched Jazz fall of a counter, a keyboard, and a couch. So I reach through the screen and grab her with very very firm hands. She jumps and tries to get out of my grip. I don’t let go until I’ve got her back in the room.

Of course I caused much more damage to the screen, but at least I don’t have a dead kitty. I knew the cat was adventurous because she’s always attempting a jailbreak whenever either door to our apartment is opened. But I never thought she’d try the window.

After I calmed down, I realized the cat was giving me the evil eye. She was angry at me. She glared at me as she sat forlornly by the closed window. That’s right, the thanks I get for saying a life is a sullen cat.

I decided to ignore her and go back to my to do list. If I can’t guarantee happy AND alive cats, at least I’ll have a well-organized apartment. I went to share with the husband what happened. He was still asleep. Neither music nor daredevil cat can wake him up, I guess. So it will just be a good story for the morning when he wakes up.

All I can think is thank God I couldn’t sleep anymore.

Sorry about switching back and forth from present and past tense, but that to do list is too damn long to edit this post.

How did your morning start?


Yesterday Things Changed

Everything didn’t change. I’m still sick. I’m still being carted off to a wedding in Virginia this weekend. I’m still going to kick butt at Fantasy Football this weekend.

But something else changed…

Trust me, it sound even better than it looks, and it looks amazing!

The husband’s CD arrived yesterday, which you know if you follow me on Twitter. For the rest of you, why don’t you follow me on Twitter?

Last summer, the husband got together with some amazing musicians and recorded this project. With all that we’ve had going on in the last 18 months or so– getting engaged, married, moving, job changes– there hasn’t been a lot of room to make the husband’s music a priority like we wanted to.

But all that has changed. And it’s culminated in his completed CD. Actually, for me, the culmination will be the CD release party next week in Chicago. It will be next Thursday at L26, the restaurant that I love so much I’ve mentioned it in a blog post before. We had our engagement party there last year in August.

The CD design, which looks amazing on the front, back, and inside, is the work of a friend of ours who is an amazing artist. She did our wedding invitations too. Please check out her blog and see how amazing she is.

The husband sold his first copy of his CD last night. He sold way more than one, and for that I’m excited. He’s had this dream for so long, and it means the world to me to witness it as it happens. Because of this wedding this weekend, I had to trade nights with someone and work the night of his first gig with his newly formed band, so I could be off tomorrow for the drive to VA. It sucks that I wasn’t there looking sexified to support the man I married. But I know he understands that I was there in spirit.

I’ll definitely be there Thursday night next week. The original group he gathered to record the CD are the ones playing the release party, and I love them so much. I will show that I can support and schmooze (and swipe credit cards for CD purchases) with the best of them, and I can’t wait. If you want to check out some of the husband’s music (yes, you’re still “the husband” even though your whole name is now plastered on my blog), go to his website www.crmcbride.com.

We’ve invited family, friends, co-workers, random folks who’ve come to music events the husband has played at throughout the summer, and now you. If you read my blog and you live in Chicago, you should come to the release party. Let me know ahead of time and I’ll have one of L26’s famous “L” line martinis waiting for you when you arrive.

The party starts at 8:00 PM. The DJ, who’s from St. Louis, is kicking off the night. He’s so amazing, he did us a favor by doing our wedding reception, even though he doesn’t really do weddings. Notice a theme here? The husband and I are big supporters of hard workers who produce a good product. If we like your work, and we like you, we keep coming back, bringing lots of business along with us.

I never thought I’d be married to a musician. I mean never. But being the wife of a musician is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything, and I’m so grateful he’s letting me be such a big part of this process. Hey husband, yeah you, I’m so freaking proud of you and I love you. You did good.


Free Time, Schmee Time

I don’t really remember what free time is anymore. Technically, free time is time spent doing nothing when I am avoiding other responsibilities. There’s always something waiting for my free hands. I wonder if I will ever reach the end of my to do list. I likely never will, but I have decided I will be okay with that and just make the most of the time I do have.

The husband and I had quite the busy weekend with only stolen moments of free time. He had four gigs, our niece spent the entire weekend with us, one of my friends threw a birthday party for her twins, and we had our fantasy football draft. I have to tell you, I am not a person who can wake up at 8 am, stay out all day visiting places that are 30-50 miles apart, and then finally get home around 2 am. And then you want me to do it again the next day? Shit, I was so wore out this weekend.

I finally lost steam late Saturday night and had to beg off the husband’s gig that night. I stayed at home with our niece and played a bit of the Sims 3 on the PS3 before going to bed. The weekend did have some pretty good highlights. The niece and I made home-made pancakes using a recipe from my favorite cookbook. If I end up doing that cooking blog, this recipe will be the first one I blog about.

Another highlight is that I finally washed clothes. How damn domestic can I be that a highlight of my weekend is that I washed clothes? Turns out I actually kind of like washing clothes. Put it on the shit-I-shouldn’t-like-but-do list along with making spreadsheets, feeding everyone asparagus, and weighing myself daily.

The pinnacle of the weekend was the fantasy football draft. This league is pretty serious for me. The team includes lots of the husband’s friends. Friends like groomsmen and wedding guests. Friends who have been around and will be around for years. So the bragging rights and shit talking that come with this draft is a huge deal. The husband isn’t really a football person, but I am. So when this draft went down, I felt like I had to represent for our whole household. The husband couldn’t even do the draft because he had a gig, so his whole team was on autopick.

Am I taking this fantasy football team too serious? Definitely. But when I am whooping ass and taking names, the husband will be keeping count so he can bring it up with his friends for the next 50 years. This fantasy league is really more of a long-term investment in my marriage, you see. And in the far-fetched chance that I don’t come out on top, I can just claim I’m a girl and out-matched, drop my handkerchief on the ground, and pout or faint or something.

After the weekend passed successfully, I was proud to report that the house was still clean and the pets were still alive. Unfortunately, we were grocery-less, baked goods-less, out of washing detergent, the cats were in a fight, and I had only worked out twice. I did learn a lesson about being busy and staying productive. They are not even close to the same thing. don’t get so busy that you don’t handle your business. Next time a weekend like this rolls around, which is just next weekend (Labor Day), I will be more prepared. It’s hard being both busy and productive. Okay, I’ll stop whining now.

How was your weekend?


A Grown Up House Party, I Think

So, I’ve gone all the way out of my comfort zone and agreed to hang out with a co-worker this weekend. This is the girl I mentioned in two previous posts. She is the one dating a man who doesn’t play games. She had a refreshing story and a follow-up to that story that I simply had to share.

When she’s not enjoying the affections of a man who is coming correct, she spends a lot of time with her friends. A good number of her friends have married; she’s one of the last single girls. I wonder if she’s invited me along to hang with her friends this weekend because I’m married so I won’t throw off the balance of the group.

Every time I hang out with a new friend, I feel like I’m on a date. Most of my dates recently have been double dates. The husband and I are like each other’s wingman as we see if the couple across the table is compatible with us. But I’ll be doing this one on my own without my wingman.

The plan is to go out for drinks and possibly appetizers. Next stop is a house party at one of her friend’s house. Apparently they just moved in, but this is not a housewarming, it’s a house party. Occasionally, I like meeting new people, so I’m looking forward to it.

I figure best case scenario, I’ll find some new couples for the husband and I to date. Worst case scenario, they’ll make me feel completely out-of-place because I’m about five years younger than most of them and haven’t been part of this group of friends for years.

I doubt she would’ve invited to me to this party if the worst case scenario was possible. What’s most likely is that in order to have a real house party, you need random fun new blood there. I”m totally random being a friend from work in a different age box. I’m sometimes fun (can’t say I was much fun at those two weddings I went to last weekend). And I’m definitely new blood.

Even though these people will probably know some people I know, I doubt I’ll see anyone I actually know. I’m just sort of used to meeting random people at a party who have either 1) seen the husband play or know him somehow, 2) knew my brother from hanging out with him before or after he became a minister, or 3) been in my mother’s courtroom. Yup, musician, minister, and judge for family members reduces degrees of separation like you wouldn’t believe.

I can’t figure out why I’m looking forward to this party so much that I had to write an ahead-of-time blog post about it. Perhaps because it’s the first uniquely new activity I’ve done in such a long time. I can’t remember the last time I went to a random ass house party. Likely it was back in 2007, right before I graduated college.  No wait, it was in 2008 for Halloween in med school.

I’m interested to see how grown ass people do a house party. As in, people who are over 30, done with being full-time students and have a full-time job, married with children, but still (reportedly) know how to have a good time.

And then when I’m done, I’ll gladly take my butt back home and climb into bed with the husband. I have to admit that this being an adult this is really working for me so far.

Go optimism.


Wish There Were More Hours In The Day

I wish there were more hours in the day. I wish I had time to workout, hang out with the husband, work, keep up the house, and still get 9+ hours of sleep every day. Why can’t days be 30 hrs long?

Okay, okay, I know why. It’s because the Earth would have to be further away from the sun, and then it’d be cold as hell on this planet. So, I suppose 24 hrs will do.

On a happier note, I got through even more of the workout. I spent only about 10 minutes doing my gospel two step and the rest of the time actually doing the cardio routine Tracy Anderson has put together. I’ve officially tried all her nutrient boost week recipes, and they’re good. I officially take back what I said about the diet being crazy. If you take the red meat out of my current diet, change the potatoes to sweet potatoes and make everything un-fried, it’s not that different from what I”m already eating. I think I’ll be keeping the blueberry applesauce, home-made chocolate pudding, and chicken vegetable soup recipes for myself even after I’ve completed the diet plan.

I can get down with a plan that won’t send me into a tailspin the day I finish it. The idea is to stop eating processed foods and to focus on nutrient rich natural foods. Fruits, vegetables, chicken breasts, turkey meat, beans, etc. Nothing from a can. I really can’t wait to try cooking black bean from scratch instead of a can when I start next week’s menu.

On a non-health note, I finally got to spend some time with my friends this past weekend. Although I wasn’t looking forward to going to the wedding with so many details photocopied from my wedding, it was nice to hang out with my friends. I haven’t spent any real time with them since the husband’s birthday party. We hung out at the wedding, the reception, and they came to the husband’s gig at Andy’s later that night.

When you’ve been friends with someone since you were a child, it’s nice to feel the difference in your friendship as an adult. Now when we hang out, we’re going to weddings and then jazz clubs. And we were all tired as hell and in bed by 3:00 am. For people between ages 25-28, I’d say that’s not bad for a Friday night when we all have jobs/husbands/kids.

If I could squeeze one more thing into my day, it would be to make time to watch the Olympics. I haven’t seen a single event. I keep intending to watch it, but I never have time. I wish they would put highlights on Hulu or something. For now, I’ll just keep getting updates on medals won via text from CNN.


Bringing Back Date Night

The last six weeks or so have been difficult on the husband and me. We haven’t had a lot of mutual free time. We used to make Tuesdays special and that was great. But then we never were free on Tuesday, so we did date night when we were free. Then we looked up and weeks had passed without any time spent just the two of us.

Instead of trying to come up with some big solution that required him cancelling a gig or something. So we’re trying spontaneity. I decided to make a pie Thursday night while the husband was at a gig. He got home right when I was putting the pie in the oven. Instead of cooking a late dinner, we decided to go out to Bijon.

Bijon is this great restaurant we love. It’s our late night spot, though we did have a couple meals there during the Chicago leg of our honeymoon.

On the way to Bijon, we stumbled onto a movie set. As in, a guy was explaining that we were in the way and at the same time a motorcycle flew past while and SUV with a mounted camera chased it. It was awesome and also disconcerting. As we drove away, I had so many questions. 1) Why didn’t they block off the street? 2) Will the director mention us being in the way on the commentary? 3) What movie is this for? 4) Are they using Chicago as Chicago, or will they pretend it’s another city?

We finally got Bijon after driving several blocks out of our way. That place was jumping. There was only one available table and it was all ours. After 10 minutes, we both agreed it felt like it did when we were first dating. I don’t know that we had officially lost that feeling, but it had definitely gotten muddled in everything else we had to do.

With work, music, family, friends, vacations, making budgets, there are just so many things to juggle. It was nice to get back to the reason we chose to spend our lives together. We just have a good ass time together. Laughing, sharing dreams, flirting, enjoying good food. That’s our bread and butter, pun intended.

The husband and I were reminded to keep our “us time” a priority. It keeps things light and fun and makes sure we can handle everything else. Trying to make the most of the time we do have can only help us.

For instance, the next day, we only had about 90 from me waking to up to leaving for work. So I made us a quick lunch with burgers and a salad. And then we watched an episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix. Doing stuff together is great; we don’t have to sit there staring into each other’s eyes by candlelight to feel connected.

Now I’m back to being filled with hope for feeling like a newlywed forever. Or at least until we have kids.

How do you keep the flame going in your relationship?


Getting My [insert noun here] In Shape

Summer, my body, parties, my apartment, hobbies. Fill in the blank with almost anything I wish I were doing more of.

I should be getting my ass in shape. I’m working on it. But just not as wholeheartedly as I’d like. I love bike riding, and I love yoga. Finding the time and motivation is a losing battle. At least I’m eating better. More grains and fruit, less over-processed and fried foods.

Summer is shaping up. I’ve been trying to spend more time outside, and more time with my friends. I’ve been quite unsuccessful at both. It took so long to get warm, and now that it is, I’ve got to get it together. I have a whole week off starting the 4th of July. I’m planning some great things for the husband’s birthday, and I should be able to squeeze a lot in that week.

We’re throwing a party for the husband’s birthday. We had one in June which was amazing. And we’ll have another in July. That should keep me feeling party-ful for the summer. I’m still in my 20s, so I shouldn’t be over clubs yet, should I? I am though, so I won’t be doing much partying-in-a-loud-ass-room-surrounded-by-strangers-I-have-no-interest-in.

My apartment is still terrible. It’s getting better, but I haven’t made any progress since we got those amazing shelves from The Container Store. My next plan is to buy another set of shelves and connect it to the first set. The expansion will make room for the TV and our books. That way we can get rid of the bookcases and really have some effective downsizing done ahead of the move to NYC.

And lastly hobbies. I thought I’d be doing more at church, more volunteering, more rock climbing. And I’ve done nothing. I don’t even draw in my sketchbook anymore.

You know what? I’m done complaining. If I spend all my free time doing nothing, I can’t feel bad that I’ve got nothing done. I’m going to focus on what I can get done.

I can stay on top of my TV shows.

I’m not kidding. I really do love television. And coming up this month and next are the summer premiers of some of my favorite shows. I love White Collar, Leverage, Franklin & Bash. I can watch those shows and feel a sense of accomplishment.

And then after that, I’ll get my butt up off the couch and go bike riding along the lake. And I’ll invite along one of my friends. And bring a snack of fresh fruit and water.

Boom, problem solved.


What’s Hot? L26

L26 is hot.

L26   11 West 26th Street Chicago, IL  Open 5pm-11pm or later everyday

This restaurant is located inside the South Loop Hotel in Chicago. You can miss it if you drive past it too quickly. This place is great for amazing soul food, sometimes great live music, and terrible service.

The only time I had amazing service there is when we threw my engagement party there. They were great that day for our private party, and they’ve sucked at service every visit since. They could stand to hire another waiter or three.

The atmosphere is splendid. It’s by far the best I’ve ever seen in a black-owned restaurant. I always spend more there than I think I should. Some items that should be together are a la carte. If you order a steak, there is nothing but a steak on your plate unless you order sides.

I’d Recommend: The macaroni and cheese. It’s divine. There’s more than enough to share, but you’ll likely eat the entire bowl by yourself. Also, try the drinks named after the train lines in Chicago. The drinks are super strong, so make sure you let them know if you want your drink a little less likely to put hair on your chest.

Stay Away From: All of the desserts. They’re not that great. And if slow service makes you reduce the tip, just eat at the bar. The bartender will make you forget you’ve been waiting 30 minutes for someone to take your order.

This restaurant would get the extra factor if not for the terribly slow service.  The food would be perfect if not for the dinner menu. The music would be perfect if there was live music more consistently. The drinks would be perfect if the wine list were just a bit longer. They consistently got four stars out of five out of hundreds of reviews.

Food (3); Music (3); Drinks (3); Atmosphere (4); Price (2); Consumer Review (3); Extra Factor (0)

L26 gets a score of 18 out of 25. And now on to the pictures.

When you first walk in the restaurant, this is what you’ll see. Looks like class and comfort all at once.

There’s a great private room in the back. It’s where I had my engagement party. For $500, it can be yours too. I made this size a little larger so you can see the great wine mural on the back wall.

There are all these little touches that add that extra something special. Here is a shot of a portion of the ceiling. Isn’t it wonderful?

And when the night falls and they set up their live music, the whole atmosphere changes. Green becomes a golden orange. Magenta becomes a plum red. The mood is officially set.


The Little Party That Could

Aren’t you a cute little party! Yes you are. Just a small hang with the people from the wedding party. You can make it happen, right? I think you can.

Sure the wedding party had damn near 25 adults in it and only 2 live out of town. Well, that’s still a little party. I’ll cook dinner since so many of the husband’s friends have never had my cooking, but have heard good things. You’re such a good little party, so I will make a nice summer meal that’s easy for that many people. Lasagna, chicken strips, corn, and rice. You can make that happen right? I think you can.

Wait, what? The husband invited more people? Well, then I guess I should invite more people. There’s our friends we spent so much time with on the cruise. There’s my friend from downstate who will be in town for the weekend. Then there are other friends who simply have to come but they don’t know anyone else, so they should bring a friend, right? Okay, so more food, and what about drinks? You can still make this work. I think you can.

The husband had a great idea. He’s been telling everyone to just bring something to drink with them. I even asked a few people to bring something dessert-y. So we’ll have enough drinks and food and dessert. Oh wait, what wast he head count again? You can still make this work, little party. I think you can.

Okay little party, you’re not so little anymore. But still. My biggest worry is that there’s nowhere for people to sit. But that’s okay, right?

That was my crazy line of thinking as the days after Memorial Day went by. The husband and I ended up inviting a ridiculously large number of people to our house that Friday. So how did this Little Party That Could end up?

It ended up with good food and good friends. Lots of people who had never hung out before or hadn’t seen each other since our wedding all spent time.

The food was delicious. There was a snafu where all the vegetarian food was gone by the time one vegetarian arrived, but with promises of his own special pan of lasagna in the future, all feelings were healed.

There may or may not have been a drinking game that surely separated the thinkers from those less able.

We don’t usually make a habit of staying up super late these days, so we were quite proud of ourselves for not getting to bed until after 3 am.

We are definitely looking forward to doing it again next month.