Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “traveling

I Literally Make Life Decisions Because of Christmas’s Commercialism

I received a great suggestion a couple of weeks ago. The short version is, “you should start blogging again because you need an outlet for all that shit you keep bottled inside.” The medium version is that a lot of our career coaching at my school seems to be therapy in disguise, and the professor assigned to this particular group saw me, felt that I felt invisible, and was doing her very best to give me even one useful suggestion for how to cope. I will keep the long version to myself for now.

The last couple of months specifically and last year in generally have been a period of upheaval in my life. According to all my social media feeds, almost everyone feels this way. There’s a lot I could dig into there, but instead, I’m going to talk about something that I’ve been thinking about almost constantly in the last few days.

I live in Belgium y’all. I won’t live here permanently, I’m not about become anyone’s expat, especially not here. But I feel so good about my decision to come here and get my MBA. My class is very international. There are 42 students from 20 countries. Something that comes up a lot is the reason that each of us decided to come here.

My answer feels a bit silly sometimes, but I value honesty over appearing to be a very serious person. So here’s the reason I decided to uproot my life and move across a whole ocean:

 

A trip to Paris for New Year’s with my husband at the end of 2016 included a trip right after the new year to Brussels. Purely because of it’s proximity and affordability, we found ourselves in Brussels. And when you are in Brussels, you find yourself in Grand Place. When I walked into the area pictured above, I fell in love.

I’m not sure if this will make sense to everyone who reads it, but energy matters to me. It matter to me for people, places, and things. And the energy of Grand Place appealed to me. And it didn’t hurt that it was still gussied up from Christmas 2016. When I was 6 or so years old, I picked out a bedroom set based on the red & green decorative pillows they added because it was December. Yeah, I’m that chick, and have been my whole life. I was already considering trying to come to Europe for a 12, 15, or 18 month MBA program. But I came back from Brussels and googled “MBA programs in Brussels.”

Once I researched my school, I realized it would be a really good fit and it was the only school I applied to. I was happy to pack up my shit and move to another country, but made sure to leave roots behind in New York for when I’m done.

Christmas is here again, and I went to Grand Place, as you do when you’re in Belgium. They have the tree up again, and I was eager to get a look at it with all decorations in place. It was a bit underwhelming in the daylight, but when I went back the next night, it was better.

It was a really nice moment for me. Standing in Grand Place in early 2017, this new seed of a dream felt near impossible to make happen. And perhaps the huge upheaval of the last year made it more possible, but it didn’t change the fact that it felt huge every step of the way. So when I was standing there in late 2018, I felt really proud of myself.

I made one of my dreams come true. 2018 has been a year of doing a lot for just me, which is something I might be a bit rusty at. I’m still figuring out how to balance all of the things that matter to me. But it was really nice to take this moment and just feel pride and happiness. Christmas is my jam, and I’m excited for getting to spend this Christmas here, even if I have to deal with Zwarte Piet. I might have to do a whole other post about that shit… But for now, let’s just focus on the happy dreams-coming-true, actively-pursuing-my-goals thing for now, okay?


Fifty by Age 50: Bienvenue en Europe

If you follow me on Instagram, you know Chris and I had a great time in Europe!

I feel good about the pictures/videos I posted. I took over 1000 photos while I was there, but I only posted 29 smooshed into 12 different posts. I’m thinking of doing one more that shows all the different bands Chris ended up playing with while we were there. Don’t worry. he was just sitting in with the bands, we did NOT go and make money while on vacation because that would be a violation of their tourist visa laws.

In case you missed me talking about it in literally every blog post leading up to the trip, my husband Chris and I went to Paris and Brussels from Dec 27 – Jan 5. We flew into Paris, stayed there through New Year’s, then went to Brussels for a few days before heading back to the states.

It was a great trip for Chris and I; I feel like we really reconnected on this trip. I feel like I learned quite a bit about myself on this trip, as well as some cool stuff about Europe and travelling.

What I Learned About Myself

  • I have a hard time being around anyone for that many days in a row. I never got sick of Chris, but I got… weary. I need alone time in my life and there wasn’t much of it unless Chris was showering.
  • My body refuses to adjust to changes in time zone. I’ve noticed it when travelling to other time zones in the US, but I thought after a few days in Europe, I’d get to it. But nope, I was up until 6am, waking up at 3pm damn near every day we were there.
  • I freaking love staying in an airbnb. Being able to cook a couple of my own meals and having that “home” feeling while on vacation is great for me.
  • I’m not as out of the box with food as I’d like. I am more adventurous than a lot of people, and I will try almost anything twice (in case it wasn’t prepared properly the first time). But while in Paris, I literally had to drag myself past this one bar/restaurant that has this amazing Chanterelle mushroom penne. My thirst for trying new things was easily outweighed by my desire to keep eating what I knew I’d like. I wanted to eat it ever day, but in the spirit of exploring, we tried a new restaurant every day. I wish we had stopped there once more though before leaving Paris…

What I Learned About Europe/Travelling

  • Those Europeans are stingy with surprising things (because they’re not wasteful Americans): paper napkins, bottle of water, personal space
  • Every single person except one that we spoke to spoke English. Some not fluently, but with my leftover (never-conversational) French we were able to make it work.
  • I need to go thank my middle school and high school French teachers because I was all over those signs that were in French, and I was correctly conjugating words. They’d be proud.
  • Springing for the international data plan was sooooooo worth it. Being able to keep my pictures backed up just in case and having constant access to Google maps was essential to our spontaneous exploring.
  • Booking everything all at once up front is pointless, you book when you get that perfect combination of exchange rate and price.

I was thinking about writing some more posts, getting specific about some of the things that we did. But I may not feel like it. The story of that woman kissing me full on the mouth shortly after midnight on New Year’s is worth telling. Chris getting held up in customs at JFK airport is also a sitcommy tale. The adventures of our flask trough Paris is also nice (I wouldn’t let Chris take a swig at Notre Dame). Eh, it depends on if I’ve got good pictures to go with the stories I think.

I still have to sort through all our pictures. Finding a back door into using the Aura Frame when I have no iPad, iPod, or iPhone took some time, but soon I’ll share all my pics with my family. My parents got a frame for themselves, for my brother, and for me and Chris. I think it’ll be kinda cool to have three households worth of pictures shuffling through our frame.


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.

smalls

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.

namaste

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.

mike

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.

no-help-chris-laugh

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!


Still Got Time To Get The Holidays Right, Or At Least Better Than What I’ve Been Doing So Far

There’s a medium sized chance that I’m getting Christmas, and life, back on track.

We actually got a tree yesterday. And by we, I mean, my husband went and got one before he had to be at school while I was at work. That poor little tree is still undecorated.

We still have a couple of days to make it happen though.

The cats are once again welcoming of the tree. They play with each other around it, drink from the tree water (which leads to vomiting, but you try and stop them), and pose in very photogenic ways around it.

The plan is to somehow magically find time to go buy lights for the tree, and maybe a couple of ornaments. We have a few. I bought Starbucks cup ornaments on a whim a couple of years ago, and there’s something made of glass that I don’t remember getting, so Chris must be responsible for those.

I think that will be the full extent of the Christmas decorating. If we’re in New York for Christmas next year, maybe we’ll build on that.

The main reason not to do too much is that we’re going to Paris for New Year’s! I’m super excited. I finally finalized our travel arrangements and accommodations today. I know, I know, cutting it kinda close there. But it’s done.

I’m hoping to change up our travel style a bit. We have a habit of doing a whole bunch of nothing when we travel. To be clear, I say that with extreme prejudicial fondness. My favorite thing to do on a day off is nothing. Chilling out, making sure I don’t tire myself out, and making grand efforts only to eat.

But I’ve been inspired by the travels of those close to me. They leave their rooms each day, exploring everything they can walk or ride or boat to, taking amazing pictures every step of the way. I’ve decided I wanna be more like that.

With any luck, our days will be spent exploring the city on foot, stopping at museums, shops, galleries, pubs, and cafes. Our evenings will be filled with good food and live music. And then we’ll do it all again the next day.

The leisurely nature of exploring and being spontaneous appeals to me more than making an itinerary just to see all I want to see it. I’m gonna have this attitude: If I see it, great. If I don’t, then that’s just a reason to come back again one day.

Wish me luck that when it’s time to put on pants, I actually get off my ass and seize the day.

And wish me luck that the French speakers in Paris and the French and Dutch speakers in Brussels are kind to us. Did I mention we’re going to Brussels too? Only took me 32 years to take a trip to Europe, trying to squeeze as much out of it as I can.


Thoughts On Finishing Another Visit To Chicago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Putting in More… Everything

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

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

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

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

  • Chris graduate from grad school

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

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

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

 

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

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

But I did get to the San Diego Zoo!

2016-02-01 13.12.04

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

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

 

  • Make some healthy living changes that are sustainable

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, we’ll see,” she replied.

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

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

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

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

 

  • Strengthen the relationships that are truly important to me

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

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

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


Starting Off 2016, I’m Still Me!

Happy New Year!!!

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

For Christmas, we were in Chicago with our families.

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

tree

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

bullsnets3 bullsnets2 bullsnets1

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

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

moving

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

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

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

presents 2 presents

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

papa's grave

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

paint & drink momma tattoo martinis

…it was time for New Year’s Eve!

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

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

me and david

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

sparkly shoes

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

Belle Jan 2016 2 Belle Jan 2016

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

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

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


Tat-Tat-Tatted Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This Chicago-Style Girl is Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where is home for you?


On Hanging With My Family

My family is pretty great. I say this referring to both my parents, etc. and also my in-laws. I genuinely enjoy the company of most people I am related to by blood or marriage.

But since we’ve moved to New York City, I just don’t get to spend time with them. Obviously, I don’t see them as much, but also my work schedule makes speaking with them hard.

When everyone else is getting off of work, I’m just going in to work, and who would want to chat and catch up when I get off and get home at 1 o’clock in the morning?

Because we’re not having dinner and hanging out watching tv together in the evenings anymore, we spend our time planning visits. Easy and I are going to the Midwest for a wedding at the end of the month, so we’ll squeeze a lot of visits in there.

This weekend, my parents, grandfather, and I are all descending on North Carolina for my cousin’s college graduation. This particular combination of family includes my father, his sister, his father, his wife, his niece, and his daughter. So far, Easy and my brother aren’t usually there.

We get together every couple of years for graduations, weddings, and funerals. It’s because we’re spread all across the country, but I know it’s going to be so great once we get together.

There will be good food, an inevitable debate about the state of black America, and a nice amount of drinking. I’m looking forward to having a nice drink with my cousin because I haven’t hung out with her where she could legally drink yet. It’s kind of a rite of passage in my family.

My parents offered to get me my own hotel room for the purposes of freedom to wildly party with my college graduating cousin, but I kind of chuckled at the idea. I turn 30 this year, and while that’s nowhere near being old, it might be too old to hang with the coeds.

I love hanging out with my people, no matter their age. My mom was at my bachelorette party, and I would’ve been pissed had she been unable to make it. But I know that I am in the minority compared to others my age.

If my cousin wants me to go party with her, I’ll grab a cup of coffee and join in, which means I have to take some sort of club-y outfit I guess. But I didn’t think I needed an extra room for it.

I’ll just bunk with my parents like I did when we all went to South Carolina for this same cousin’s high school graduation.

I do wish Easy were coming with me. We’ve never been one of those couples who can’t go anywhere alone, but we’re usually there for the big family things. This is likely the last first cousin graduating from college for a while, so it sucks that he is unable to come.

That makes me think of another post that I’m going to call, “On Being A Musician’s Wife” where I will discuss how awesome it is to hang out with artsy types all the time now. But it will also talk about how Easy cancels our anniversary every year.

But back to my family. My cousin and I have something pretty cool planned for our moms since we’ll be together on Mother’s Day. I have no idea if my parents read this blog, so I’m not going to talk about what we’re doing. I’ll gladly talk about it after Sunday though.

When I get back from North Carolina. Where it is warmer that New York. Which is really what’s most important–the weather.

Eh, it is second most important. Most important is having a weekend-long slumber party with my parents.


I Live in a Sitcom, Not A Romantic Comedy

Did you ever feel like your life was a movie? Hopefully, it’s not a horror movie or even a suspense thriller, but some sort of drama or comedy or romcom?

I used to feel that way sometimes. Things that happened in my life seemed straight out of someone else’s imagination.

Since being with the husband, my life feels very much life a sitcom. It’s like someone presents a premise that appears normal, puts a twist on it, and then hilarity ensues with everyone learning (or not learning) a lesson at the end.

Some of the time, we’re normal. But in between the normal, we careen from one crazy situation to the next.

What has happened recently to further let me know I’m right about this? I’m glad you asked.

I mentioned before that the husband went to Haiti for a weekend for a jazz festival down there. He arrived back in town on a Sunday evening.

I headed to the airport to pick him up, along with a good friend of ours who was visiting NYC for a series of gigs, including the Haitian jazz festival.

I decided that I was going to surprise the husband. At a first glance, it looked like I was wearing jeans, a fleece, boots, and one of my winter coats. Peel down one layer and I was wearing something fun and frisky underneath.

Upon arriving to the airport, I’m immediately stuck in a traffic jam. If you’ve ever driven to pick someone up from an airport, you know that sometimes you have to circle around because airport security won’t let you just idle outside on the curb.

After my second time circling around, the gas light came on. How I managed to avoid noticing the gas was that low escapes me, but it fits into the sitcom, so of course I didn’t notice.

I ended up pulling to the end of a long line of cars standing in an awkward point of not-really-the-entrance-to-the-parking-lot and not-really-the-way-to-circle-back-around-to-arrivals. Just my luck, the tail end of the car was a bit in the way of cars trying to pass us.

Don’t worry, no one hit my car, but a few cars made a huge show of slowing down and creeping past to make sure they had room. One jerk in a while baby SUV did it six times. I mean, come on dude, you should’ve figured out in the first couple of passes that your tiny SUV could fit.

After over a half hour of waiting, the husband calls to say they just made it out of customs and currently en route to baggage claim. Oh, and he got a gig offer that he simply had to take because it was a group he hasn’t played with yet and he’s still new to New York, so he really can’t turn down gigs just yet even though he just landed from an international flight and he’s really sleepy and hungry and in need of a shower but, you know, he really should take this gig.

When he gets on a roll like that, I just smile into the phone, roll my eyes, and say, “sure, sounds good.” Or some other version of that to make it clear that I’m not adding my opinion to the mix.

They finally get out to the curb, and I pick them up. I regale them with stories of the sex museum and tofu roti from the previous day while we try to figure out the quickest way to get from JFK to the Village.

I’ve never driven through Queens before, but I must tell you now. It. Is Horrendous. You know how they say the rats in NYC subways will make your hometown rats look tiny and pitiful? The Queens potholes take after the rats.

I’m from Chicago, land of the poorly-filled pothole. But these were something else. And because my life is a sitcom, I immediately hit several potholes that my only chance of avoiding was smashing into the car beside me or driving into oncoming traffic.

After we kept driving past the horrific potholes, I worried that the car was driving funny. Then went we got on the expressway, I felt even stronger that something was wrong.

Then the tire-issue light came on, further letting me know something was wrong. I even asked the husband if he thought we should pull over to check the car out to make sure it was okay.

The husband told me that he knew much more about cars than I did and I should just keep on driving and get him to his gig. Feeling very much like I wanted to save the husband from digging his own grave, I chose silence and kept driving.

While on the Williamsburg Bridge, things started to feel really weird. Things finally felt weird enough that the husband agreed something was off. After going down a few more awful Chinatown streets, we finally pulled over on Canal not too far from Broadway.

At this point, the whole care is literally rattling every time I press the gas.

Literally, not figuratively.

I’m thinking it’s a broken axle or something, but the husband figured it was just a flat tire that needed changing. So he and our friend decide they’re going to change the tire right at that moment. On Canal. On a Sunday night. On a busy street. While it was dark. With the problem tire being on the driver’s side.

I let him get started on changing the tire. When it became apparent he was literally (not figuratively) standing in the path of oncoming traffic in his attempt to assess the tire and prepare to change it, I had to say something.

“So, what’s the best way to explain to your mother that this is not my fault when I call to tell her you’ve wandered into traffic and got hit?”

A little sarcasm and gallows humor goes a long way people.

He decided against changing the tire and called our insurance company. They said they could send a guy to change our tire in 20 minutes or a guy to tow our car to a desired location in one hour.

With those two options, of course we wanted the tire change guy. But if there was further damage beyond a flat, they weren’t going to send that guy. We didn’t want to wait an hour for the other guy if all we needed was a changed tire.

Classes sitcom dilemma. Ultimately, we decided to get the tow because the tire was rattling just a bit too much for comfort and we didn’t want to risk driving the car until the wheel literally came off.

Show of hands, who thinks the tow truck guy actually arrived in an hour?

No one? You’re all so smart.

After about 80 minutes, we see a tow truck go flying past us on the street where no one is driving under the speed limit. You know, the one where the husband thought it was a good idea to attempt a tire change.

We tried to honk and get his attention, but no luck. When we described our location to dispatch, we gave very specific cross streets. In this area, there were only four cars, two on each side of the street. There were no other cars for at least two blocks in any direction.

So of course the tow truck guy says he couldn’t figure out where we were. When he comes back our way, he’s on the wrong side of the street and performs a very artful 7 point turn to get to our side of the street.

It takes him forever to hitch our car to the truck, and an additional 20 minutes to convince us that he can fit all three of us in the front seat of his truck. None of us are tiny people, and we felt serious doubt, but we squeezed in there.

The driver and the husband spent the next half hour dissecting all the nuances in their difference of opinion of hip hop from the 1990s versus today. I recognized about six names they were mentioning. Must do better as a self-proclaimed lover of 90s music.

I lost the feeling in my legs, got a intercostal muscle cramp that didn’t go away for 2 hours, and get to know our friend really well, but we made it back to the Brooklyn brownstone.

I grabbed my keys out of my purse and let the men know I was heading inside. Their plan was to stay outside and change the tire so the husband could take the car to get fixed the next day.

Fast forward 45 minutes: they come back inside having decided to wait until the next morning to change the tire.

Fast forward to the next morning: they wake up late and have to rush off to a rehearsal for an amazing MLK Day gig at Dizzy’s Coca Cola Club (Jazz at the Lincoln Center), and the tire changing will have to wait

Fast forward a few more days: the tire still isn’t changed and now there’s an awful snowstorm that is literally (this time, figuratively) burying cars under piles of snow.

Fast forward to yesterday: the husband finally, after ten days, schedules the car for maintenance. Thanks Geico for giving us low-priced insurance with a freaking $500 deductible.

Oh, one other thing I forgot to mention. The husband hates packing. So on the return trip from Haiti, he packed his box o’ jewelry in his checked bag instead of in his carry-on.

Upon unpacking in Chicago, he discovers his wedding ring is missing. Cuff links, chain, and collar stays were all still present. But his wedding ring and a very nice gold ring his father gave him were both gone. And our insurance at Jared says they don’t cover theft. Renter’s insurance also doesn’t cover something that happened in another country.

Thanks insurance.

But here’s the real kicker. How will our episode end? Was is just a flat tire or is there really something wrong with the axle? I promise I’ll let you all know as soon as I do.

Cause you’re on the edge of your seat, right?

Who doesn’t love a good melodramatic battle-of-the-sexes sitcom cliffhanger?

Anyone?


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


Emerging From The Concrete Jungle

Hello!

Did you miss me?

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

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

I have to admit, I love it here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Anatomy Of A Best Man Speech

After I left Chicago, I headed to Atlanta. I left my parents’ house at 4 in the morning, but I didn’t get to Atlanta until after 3pm. There’s a good story behind that one, but that’s a post for another time.

When I got to Atlanta, I called my best friend who was the best man at the wedding I’d gone to Atlanta to attend. He, of all the people I know, is the best at coming off completely unconcerned. So when I inquired about the best way to get to the hotel, all he said was, “I don’t know. I got a ride with his parents, so I’m not sure what to tell you.”

Clearly I was on my own.

So I figured it would be fine to get to the hotel from the airport because the Atlanta airport had all sorts of shuttles back and forth to the area hospitals.

And I was super wrong.

The hotel we were at is in Peachtree City, which is at least a half hour drive from the airport. At least.

So no shuttle.

I was on my own. And I ended up having to take a $55 taxi to get to the hotel.

Then the taxi only took cash, so I had to find an ATM and pay ATM fees to get the money.

But finally I was checked in and in my room, enjoying how plush the bed was. I knew the wedding party had the rehearsal at some point that day, as it was the day before the wedding, so I figured I’d just hang out by myself and do a whole bunch of nothing.

Then my phone rang and it was my best friend asking where I was. He really can turn the concern on and off quite easily. I let him I know I was at the hotel and he came down to my room to hang out for a bit. We went back over the last few days and how crazy they were for him as best man.

The bride of this wedding we were there for is very detail oriented. She didn’t need or want a lot of input about the wedding. As such, my friend ended up only stepping in with best man duties when it was time for the bachelor party. For the party, they took a weekend trip to Vegas. That’s all I’ll say about that.

But things picked up in terms of best man duties right before the wedding. They let him know they wanted him to hold the ring, the marriage license, pick up the tuxes from the groomsmen to return the next day, and come up with fun events for the wedding party and guests who wanted to party extra during the weekend.

They let him know all of this on Wednesday for a Saturday wedding, which wasn’t a lot of notice. But he called me to help iron out some details of his best man speech for the wedding reception. And he called one of the other groomsman who helped with the bachelor party planning.

He and I brainstormed several times over the months on what his speech should say. When it came down to just a few days before the wedding, we finally hammered out the specifics. It made me think back to when we were in college together and we took all our classes together.

We collaborate really well together and it was fun trying to come up with a speech that was true to his current relationship with the groom, funny, heartfelt, and befitting of a wedding for young professionals (half the wedding was doctors).

After the speech was finalized, other issues popped up. I’m not going to put people’s business out there who didn’t give permission first. But I will say that my friend had to deal with an errant groomsman and a guest who’s “invitation got lost in the mail.”

All of that was handled before we got to Atlanta though, thank God.

Back to the day before the wedding. My friend and I were hanging out in my room when the groom called him. When he heard I had arrived, he came down to my room as well. I hadn’t seen him since my wedding last year. And it hadn’t been just the three of us in over five years. So we all laughed and had a nice quick chat like old times for a moment.

Then it was time for hanging. The guys went to a sports bar to watch the game. The ladies went to a spa for mani/pedis. I had a good time getting to know the bride’s friends. I hadn’t met any of them before, but they were very welcoming of my friend-of-the-groom self.

On the day of the wedding, it was raining pretty hard all day. Luckily, it stopped raining about a half hour before the outdoor ceremony was supposed to start and didn’t rain again for the rest of the night. Every detail was gorgeous, showing off the bride’s eye for detail.

I think I’ll put up a couple of pictures, just to give you a taste. It really was that gorgeous.

After the wedding, it was time for the reception. The food was good, the company was good, the music was good. What more could you want?

Then it was time for the speeches. The maid of honor’s speech was first. She talked about when she and the bride first met and it was sweet and kind of funny and very heartfelt. I was so happy about the length and mix of heart and humor in her speech because my friend was worried his speech was too long and too all-over-the-place.

Then it was his turn to talk. The whole room seemed to ripple with anticipation. We laughed about it later because we were like, “um, do these people even know him well enough to be this anticipatory about this speech?”

Is anticipatory a word? I’m much better at math than other things like English and grammar.

Anyway, so he gets up to make his speech to the sounds of laughter as people are already so sure they’re going to laugh, they’re starting it off ahead of time.

And the speech is perfect. The whole room was laughing, including the people who didn’t know him or the groom well. The groom had tears in his eyes. The bride was smiling a very large smile. It was a hit. I was feeling so proud of my friend and also patting myself on the back.

It was hard work getting that speech that perfect. We spent a lot of man hours over the months getting it just right, and it paid off.

So how do you put together the perfect best man speech?

1)      Take account of your personality and don’t pretend to be different.

2)      Think about what both the bride and groom are expecting and keep that in mind.

3)      Think of the main points you want to make (they belong together, I am his best friend deservedly so, and I’m happy to be here), and make sure you stick to the script

4)      Come up with a funny and a heartwarming story to illustrate each point

5)      Choose alternating story types

6)      Out of all your stories, take out the weaker ones and just make the point while only alluding to the stories, the groom will react to the inside joke and everyone else will feel even stronger how close you are

7)      Include wedding guests by name if you can, it just makes everyone feel closer

8)      Don’t forget to say, “to the bride and groom!” at the end of your speech

And probably, get some help from your other best friend to make sure it’s all coming together just right.

After the wedding, my friend needed help assisting the groom, so I went with him. We went to their bridal suite and grabbed up some important items. We took his tux, her dress, and other assorted wedding items that the groom’s parents were going to be responsible for getting safely home. I felt really special to be let in on that moment for them.

It really let me know i’d make a great bridesmaid of matron of honor for one of my friends, should they ever get married. The only two of my friends to get married are two guys, and neither is really the type to have a non-family girl stand up for them at their wedding. Plus, I’d rather have one of my girls get married so all the wedding-related stuff is girly. I guess I’m officially far enough removed from my own wedding to want to be involved in another wedding. So now I wait.

Also after the wedding, we put together a little hang in one of the hotel rooms for the people who wanted the party to continue. We ended up laughing, talking, and hanging out until pretty late. I only got a couple of hours of sleep before I needed to get up to go to the airport to head back to New York City.

And now for the pictures!

A beautiful wooden canopy in front of a stone altar overlooking mountains. You can't get much better than that!

A beautiful wooden canopy in front of a stone altar overlooking mountains. You can’t get much better than that!

The reception was so beautifully decorated, everyone oohed and aahed on sight.

The reception was so beautifully decorated, everyone oohed and aahed on sight.

They named their tables based on places they've traveled. I was at the Illinois table, where they visited for my wedding!

They named their tables based on places they’ve traveled. I was at the Illinois table, where they visited for my wedding!

This is my friend, our teacher/mentor/department head from college, and me.

This is my friend, our teacher/mentor/department head from college, and me.

The toast went off without a hitch!

The toast went off without a hitch!

Hanging out at the wedding after party.

Hanging out at the wedding after party.

 


Confession: I’m A Bit Of A Nesting Monster

When it comes to moving, I’m a bit of a monster.

Scratch that.

It’s become clear that I’m a full out bitch.

I don’t start off with that intention, but it always ends this way.

After moving my crap around this country eleven times in the last ten years, it’s become clear that I turn into a raving mad awful no good person on moving day.

Hello, my name is CeCe, and I’m a moveaholic.

I forgot this about myself because I hated our apartment in Hyde Park in Chicago, but I get a rush out of settling into a new place. Unpacking boxes and rearranging our items just so gets me going.

All of this sounds positive, right?

Wrong.

When it comes to my feelings about moving into a new place, it’s just not a group activity.

Not even a little bit.

Last night the husband and the future divorcé arrived to our cute little Brooklyn brownstone. They had a UHaul truck mostly full of stuff. We quickly decided that I’d watch the truck and move the items to the edge of the truck. The divorcé would take the items from the back of the truck into the building. The husband’s job was to get the items inside the apartment.

The whole thing took under two hours I think. I honestly wasn’t checking the time. We have a lot of crap, even with the downsize to prepare for New York living. Once we got everything into the apartment, all I wanted to do was setup the bed so I could sleep in my own bed.

I also needed to setup the shelves for the entertainment area and get the TV ready for the cable guy who’s supposed to come today.

When I walked into the apartment and saw how the husband had placed things, I got upset. I was fussing about why the clothes weren’t put into the bedroom and why the coast weren’t put into the closet and why the kitchen stuff wasn’t put into the kitchen and why everything was piled against the wall where I’d already told him the TV would be setup on.

The divorcé offered to help move some things around, but then abruptly changed his mind and rescinded his offer.

That’s when I realized I’d just given him a look of death.

I gave him a how-dare-you-offer-to-help-you’ll-probably-only-just-fuck-it-up-save-yourself-and-get-the-hell-out-of-my-face look.

It was a look the husband knew all too well. All he said was, “we’re going to go park the UHaul somewhere we won’t get a ticket, then we’re going to find food. We’ll see you later.”

I really married the right man y’all. Other guys I’ve dated would’ve reacted in less.. productive ways. But not the husband. He saw the signs of a woman on the rampage and cleared out. Also, he probably didn’t want to have to snap on me after all my fussing. He saved himself and he saved me.

While they were gone, I got to work. There’s just something so great about organizing. I don’t even know how to explain it.

All of the stress I feel when moving to a new place comes lashing out at the nearest person who tries to help. As a personal self-growth note, I really need to fix that shit. I shouldn’t have my loved ones running for the hills just because I’ve moved, especially because I move so damn often.

But all that stress just melts away with each new shelf I setup. And when the bed was fully put together, I really relaxed. By the time the basics were setup, it was after 1:00am and I was overdue to get some sleep so I could get up for work in the morning.

Except one thing.

I couldn’t find the cord to plug in the TV. the way our TV is setup, the power cord can detach. I didn’t remember where I packed it, and I was worried the cable guy wouldn’t be able to get our stuff setup today. But it worked out. The husband found the cord this morning and plugged it in.

Even though I didn’t have the cord when I went to bed last night, I didn’t stress because I knew the husband would handle it. That’s how I knew my release therapy via shelf-building worked.

So now I just have to go home after work and finish unpacking, hopefully while watching the new episode of Property Virgins on HGTV. But that’s not guaranteed. The cable company called while I was writing this post to tell me the guy was running late, and they didn’t know what time he’d get to me.

Lord, let this man arrive today, otherwise I’m going to revert right back to how I was last night. And I don’t think the husband will put up with that shit two days in a row.


Welcome Home Plus The Adventures of a Future Divorcé

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

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

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

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

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

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

This friend is getting divorced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A Chicago-Style Girl In New York, Weekend Edition

Because I was so busy getting ready for the move to NYC, I started a bunch of draft posts. As I’m settling into the city, I’ll post them. To keep up with my new adventures, don’t forget to follow my new Twitter account @ChicagoGirlinNY

So now here is the story of my weekend in New York with my girls that resulted in me having just a couple weeks to relocate.

My girls and I left on a Saturday evening to drive to New York.  We had a great time doing the tourist thing in the city.

We stayed in a hotel in Chelsea. When we rolled up, it was hot, it was Sunday, and there was garbage everywhere because New York doesn’t have alleys. Garbage pick up day in New York has got be where the phrase “hot garbage on a Sunday” comes from.

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We hung out in Chelsea all morning, and did a little shopping. I had a high fashion moment with a collar accessory in H&M.

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We couldn’t check into the hotel until 3:00 PM, so we had time to kill. We decided to go to Central Park. I was so excited because out of all the times I’ve been to New York I’d never make my way to the park.

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Us citified-yet-Midwestern girls are not cut out for all that nature/walking. We entered the park at 59th & Columbus Circle. Next thing I know, we’re by the zoo and tired as hell without the energy to make it back to the subway.

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It was just so much fun walking and taking random paths and seeing the meadow, the carnival, the kids park, the rocks to climb, etc. So much stuff, and we didn’t even see half of it.

We really spent a lot of time figuring out places where they shot movies. We saw locations for scenes from Enchanted, Brown Sugar, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and others.

Riding the subway was fun. I’ve ridden it before, and it’s just slightly more complicated than the L in Chicago.

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It was nice to be the expert for my girls as we made our way around Manhattan.

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And we were entertained by the local performers. Sorry the picture is fuzzy, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share a local jazz flute player.

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After Central Park, we checked into the hotel. Then it was time for food. We headed towards Times Square to do a food crawl of all the New York-style foods one should get as a tourist. But before we got the food, we got stopped by quite the sight to see.

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That’s body paint, not a bod suit. She was really something, no? I sent this pic to my friend who just moved back to Chicago from New York, and she got nostalgic for all the crazy shit that happens there that’s just regular to everyone except the tourists. Apparently, in exactly six months, stuff like this won’t even phase me.

We did hot dogs, pizza, and were going for cheesecake at Lindy’s, but we got too tired and just stopped at this place called Havana and got tapas and Latin themed drinks and flan and cheesecake instead.

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By the time we left there, the sun was going down.

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We decided to go out dancing, but I still didn’t have anything to wear. So we popped into Forever 21, which is open until 2:00 AM in Times Square.

We were loving NYC when we realized we could shop at a four-story Forever 21 almost 24 hours a day. But then it was time to go out. I got the best picture ever while we were waiting for the subway train.

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When we made it to the club, it was closed. Whomp whomp. Sunday night, what can you do? So instead we went to a bar near the hotel and had a drink. Then it was time for bed because I had an interview the next day.

I honestly don’t even know what the girls did while I was at my interview. I just know it involves Macy’s. My interview lasted three hours, during which I did amazing things. I mean, it must’ve been amazing because they offered me the job less than 24 hours later. I’m just so grateful to be given the opportunity and soooo excited for the move!

We ended up going to the world’s fanciest sports bar for lunch. It’s right across the street from Madison Square Garden on like 32 St. I think.

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The good was great. After we finished, we got ready to get back on the road. This quick little turn around got me a job and got my girls to NYC for the first time. Even though the total driving time was only 6 or so hours less than the time we spent there, it was totally worth it.

Now I’m here in New York and experiencing times like this weekend every day. I can’t wait to share all the great places I’ve discovered in Brooklyn, a borough I never set foot in until I was apartment searching. Stay tuned!


Hello New York

This morning on my walk to work, I noticed there was a line outside of the DMV. The same line was there yesterday.

This is only my second day of work, so I’m not sure if this is a trend or not. What I do know is that in New York, there are people everywhere. All the time. All. The. Time. If there is anywhere more city than Chicago, it’s New York.

So I’ve been snapping away taking pictures on my camera phone (I really need to get another digital camera) and taking in as much of New York as I can in a short period of time. I’ve been here just over a week, and I’m so in love.

This city is just lovely. I started a new Twitter account to track all the lovely things I’m seeing and doing in NYC. It’s @ChicagoGirlinNY. Follow me and learn the city through my eyes.

My best friend (who was also my maid of honor in my wedding) used to live in NYC. She moved back to Chicago a few months ago to start new adventures. She was amazing enough to come to New York with me and help me get settled in.

I definitely have a few more blog posts in the wings about our apartment hunting, getting back and forth from Brooklyn to Staten Island, and exploring the neighborhoods.

I live in Bed-Stuy and I couldn’t be happier. I thought I wanted to live in Manhattan, but I’m glad I gave Brooklyn a chance. My introduction to New York has been amazing and I can’t wait for more.


Big Changes Coming

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

But now, drum roll please…

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Here’s what happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was last Tuesday.

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

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

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


Couples Therapy

When the husband and I got married, we each had a maid of honor and a best man. We do what we want like that. His people were one of his sisters and one of his oldest friends. My people were two friends who graduated from the same college I did. I met my best man the day I arrived to college, and my maid and honor has been one of best friends since age 9.

The fraternity my best man belongs to throws this amazing party every year. I learned this year it’s only been open to the public outside the frat since 2004, which happens to be the first year I started attending. I’ve only missed two since then.

Last year, the husband went with my best man, and without me, to the party. I couldn’t get off from work after taking off so much time for our wedding. This year, we were all determined to go.

The husband decided to invite some people to join us. The only people who took us up on our offer, and then actually made financial plans to go, were the couple whose wedding I attended when I met the husband. The four of us made plans to drive to Florida and back, meeting my best man and some other college friends there to attend this party.

You may be scratching your head at this point, wondering how old I am. I’m 28. This is just a really great party. The group we were hanging out with were all in college or college age back in 2005. So, yes, we’d be older than most of the people there.

We would be even close to the oldest there though. A lot of people (mostly those associated closely with the fraternity) came back for that party every year. I”m not the type of person to want to go back for Homecoming. Honestly, Homecoming was never fun for me during college. But I like visiting, and this seemed to be as good a reason as any to visit.

So the four of us are in the husband’s car, preparing for a 16-ish hour drive to Florida. We’re laughing, joking, and eating the food the two wives had put together in preparation for the road trip.

Then, as I mentioned in a previous post, the husband of the couple announced we were on a couples’ retreat.

The husband and I looked at each other and said, “we didn’t sign up for this shit. What do you mean a couples’ retreat?”

They laughed at us and explained that as newly married couples (us just over one year, them coming up on three), it was inevitable that we’d discuss some things.

The husband and I were doubtful as we usually handle all of our couple issues in house. Then they explained that they didn’t really have any other couple friends that were  married or even heavily committed, so this was happening.

I looked at the husband and he could tell all I was saying from that glance. I was thinking, “you set this up and invited these people and now we’re on a damn couples retreat!”

He started laughing because he perfectly understood my look. His humor was infectious and then I was laughing too.

And then we spent the next three hours having what felt like a couples’ therapy session. We compared and contrasted some common arguments we had. I’d never done anything like that, and I don’t know that I want to again.

It was certainly interesting to have an outside take on things we did and said. There were definitely a  lot of, “see I told you! I’m not crazy, they both agree with me!”s being said by all four of us, which was hilarious.

Craziness like the first half of that car ride are part of the reason we’d be friends for a very long time. We all grew up in he same circles, but being married drew us together in a different, unexpected way.

I guess that goes to show that relationships grow and change, even complicated ones like a pair of newly married couples.


Living For The City

Do you know that Stevie Wonder song? It’s a really great song. It came out around the same time as Higher Ground and Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing. My whole life would be better if I could just get someone to follow me around with a boombox playing every song Stevie Wonder ever did.

Not that I need my life get better; it’s pretty great the way it is now. So much has happened since my last post. The short version is that I’ve been super busy with work. I’m kind of workaholic. I’m that girl who’s on a weekend trip to New York City at a fabulous restaurant known for celebrity sightings and amazing Asian food who calls into work to check on things.

I play the Sims 3 and characters with the workaholic trait will just whip out their cellphone or laptop in the middle of another activity to check on work. For years now, I’ve been judging those Sims and the crazy tech guys who created them. I used to think, “how unrealistic. No one would stop in the middle of a pool party to check a work e-mail. What kind of asshole can’t unplug from work? And what kind of insanity must one possess to habitually stay late at work just for the hell of it?”

Apparently, I’m that type of asshole. Nice to meet you, my name is Insanity. Insanity B. Asshole. And I’m a workaholic.

I love my job and what I do, but is that really an excuse for all the working? Eh, I don’t know. Maybe it is. I’m just trying to learn everything I can learn so that I’m prepared for whatever comes next.

Usually in the midst of working hard, I’m not doing much else. I haven’t seen most of my friends in weeks. I spend a good amount of time with the husband when he’s not touring, and with our parents, but not much else. The husband misses me when I’m gone, which is so sweet. He’ll cal me while I’m at work just to say hi, only to hear me ask in an exasperated tone why he’s calling. A more recent conversation went like this:

Me: Yes?

Husband: Hey, I know you’re at work and you’re probably busy–

Me: Yes, I am busy. I’m always busy. I haven’t written a blog post in 137 months because I’m always busy since moving to days. And can I ask you something? Do you remember me doing this to you when you were teaching? I can guarantee you don’t because I never did this. I never called you in the middle of the day. I assumed you were busy with work, teaching, or lesson planning or something. But yet you call me all the time, just to say hi. I’m glad you love me, but you need to let me work time be my work time. Please tell me you have something important to say.

Husband: Yes, I do. I just got the call. They want me to do the Chicago Jazz Festival this summer. Is that a good enough reason to call?

Me: Hell yes it is! I know this is that moment where I should take back what I said, but the point still stands. You’re not calling me just to say hi, and that is amazing! After playing at the fest a couple of years in a row, this time it is your band! Yes!

Husband: I know right. I’m so excited. Okay, I’ll let you go. See you when you get home.

 

I wish all our conversations went like that when he calls me at work. Just amazing news and brief conversation.

But enough about work and the husband. Well, a little more about the husband. We just got back from Alabama. We went to visit a friend of his (who was a groomsman in our wedding) who teaches at a college in Tuscaloosa. We had a pretty good time, and crossed Alabama off our travel list.

There really isn’t much to the state, but you’d be surprised how fun any location is with good company. I love travelling with the husband, even if it meant running for flights and barely making them both coming and going. We really need to only every go on road trips because planes always have some calamity or near-disaster involved when we fly. I won’t get into the details because it just feels like too much to write in an already lengthy blog post.

So, in other news:

  1. My best friend just moved back home and I’m really looking forward to a fun summer with her before we will live in different states again.
  2. There are three weddings this fall, in a five-week period. All three couples were at our wedding and got engaged after our wedding. So exciting!
  3. Being supervisor is such a  mixed bag, but I’m totally cut out for administration, and possibly management too. It’s too soon to tell for certain.
  4. My younger cat, Jazz, is getting so big now. She’s almost as big as Belle. And she whoops her ass when the play fight. It’s not even a contest, poor Belle.
  5. I’m so heartbroken Smash got moved to Saturdays, which means it’s on its way out. And Leverage got cancelled. Gossip Girl ended this season and so did Private Practice. What the hell!? At least I have Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee, and White Collar.
  6. I’m still catching up on everyone’s blogs. I apologize for the lack of comments. Along with not having time to write my blog posts, I also didn’t have time to read any.

Get On With It

You ever have one of those moments where you feel like you should write a new blog post, but you don’t really feel like writing a blog post? I have recently found a cure for the blog writer’s block. It’s other people’s blogs.

If you are like me, you read a lot of blogs. My current ‘follow’ list has 63 blogs on it. This is a lot considering I purge my blog list every six weeks or so of blogs I find I no longer have an interest in reading. I’ve become quite attached to the blogs I read and people who write them. Most of them are personal blogs, with a few political, photography, and cooking blogs thrown in. Reading about the latest goings on in the lives of my fave blog writers has become a real part of my life.

There are times when I need more though. When that happens, I make my way over to the blog of one of you people who comment a lot on my blog. If you have responses for me, I know you respond to the other far more interesting things other people have to say. So I’ll go to a blog you read or recommend or comment on a lot. And every now and again, I strike gold.

Last night, my gold mine was a blog called Baby Kerf. I don’t read a ton of mommy/pregnancy blogs, but I love this one. And after reading a couple recent posts, I felt inspired. I felt like I should bring my butt back to my blog and write a post. I figured now was the time to just get on with what I’ve been avoiding talking about.

But before that, I want to talk about the husband. He was totally right about the long ass road trip to Virginia. It was an amazing weekend and we all had so much fun. I love his family so much, and spending time with them is just as high on my list of fun things to do as spending time with my family. I really feel blessed to have married into such a fun, warm, and caring clan. When I write my Fifty by 50 post about Virginia, I’ll explain exactly why I know I belong in this family. Two words: wine tasting.

Okay, I’m getting on with it. I’ve stopped working out. It wasn’t on purpose. First I was busy, then I was sleepy, then I felt stressed, then I was sick, then I was out-of-town. And before I knew it, two weeks had passed. I did so good from July 31st to September 14th, but it just went awry. It became easier to sleep and drink water and sleep and sulk and sleep and blow my nose than to hop around and do ridiculously angled leg exercises for an hour each day.

Even though I feel like a complete failure, I’m not out of it. I have learned a big ass lesson about balancing life’s priorities. Having this big wedding in Virginia to go along with the husband’s CD release party was just too much. I knew things would get this way before this part of September arrived, and I didn’t plan accordingly. The weather changed and I got sick. Things got busy, and I didn’t focus on getting enough sleep. Time got short, and I stopped making home-cooked meals.

One thing piled on the next and I let it happen. It was like a slow-moving car accident, which is never fun to witness or be a part of. So, I definitely won’t let this happen again. There will be many times in life that we will be busy and stressed and sick and sleepy. That doesn’t mean I can let my short-term goals fall apart because then my long-term goals won’t get reached.

There will be a two-week gap on my calendar. Luckily, the Tracy Anderson Method allows you to pick up where you left off without skipping anything. So I’m still on day 31-40, but I will finish it out and keep moving and keep on track. I don’t know if I’ve gained any weight back or not. Based on how my clothes fit, I haven’t gained any size back so far. I attribute that to my vigilance about my diet. I’ve been avoiding processed foods like the plague and not too many processed sugars or fried food.

Now that I’ve outed myself, and I can breathe a little easier. Yes, I faltered, but I’m picking myself back up again. I’ve learned a lot about how much my health means to me. I’ve learned about the best ways for the husband and I to handle stress. And I’ve learned that no matter what happens in the short-term, I can re-focus if I stay committed to my long-term goals.

Every day is a choice.

Every single day I have to remember to smile and exercise and drink water and sleep.

Every day.


On The Edge Of A Cold

You know that feeling when you know you are about to be sick, but you’re not quite sick? Your throat is itchy, but not quite sore? You have the sniffles, but not really? You’re a bit more tired than usual, but only slightly?

That’s how I feel right now and it sucks. The changing weather in Chicago is to blame. I need tights and scarf, but no jacket because I’ll be burning hot. And since I don’t need a jacket, I somehow can’t manage to grab a scarf or tights, and so now I’m sick. Or pre-sick. Or whatever. I will be sick in about 24 hrs.

I woke up around 2 AM on Wednesday and could tell the sick was coming. I took a Nyquil and got back in the bed. Wednesday night at work, I could feel it working. If I were smart, I’d go run two miles and sweat the cold out. But I feel so sleepy, I just want to get in bed.

Does that ever happen to you? The one thing I can look forward to is the husband taking care of me. He was awful, awful, at taking care of me when we first got together. But he’s better now. But I wonder how he will manage now that I’ve sworn off bottled orange juice and canned goods.

I’ve mentioned here already that I’m not going canned good anymore. But the orange juice thing is new. I learned last week I could make amazing lemonade so I will only drink home-made lemonade. On Wednesday, I pulled out my juicer and made orange juice with fresh oranges. The color, taste, and consistency were so very different from the juice in the bottle, I immediately swore off the bottled stuff. Next on my to do list is buying tons of oranges because I really like orange juice.

Don’t let me go to a farm or I’ll be swearing off bottled milk too. There’s just something so much better about eating and drinking things that are fresh and home-made.

I’ve been saying the husband probably has a natural knack for soup. Since I’m soon-to-be-sick, I guess we’ll test that theory. There is no canned soup for me this weekend. Oh crap! This weekend we are driving to Virginia for that wedding. I don’t want to be sick at the wedding. I want to be fresh faced, impossibly young looking, and not sneezing all over the place.

What’s that stuff they have on commercials that supposedly cuts your cold shorter? I need that stuff, I just don’t know what it’s called because I’ve assumed it was a hoax and never paid attention. But I’m willing to risk a hoax if it means not being sick on this trip.

Maybe I’m just having my weird once-every-4.5-years allergies and I’m not really sick. Wishful thinking probably.

And when I’m pre-sick I also have trouble staying on topic. Don’t judge me.


Fifty by Age 50: Heading To The East Coast

At the end of this month, the husband and I are going to Virginia for one of his cousin’s wedding. With all the money we’ve been watching closely and planning we’ve been doing for his CD release party, there really haven’t been funds or time for travel. We went to Wisconsin in May or June, but that was months ago. At this rate, we’ll be living in London before we start checking more countries off our list. But at least we’ll hit up Virginia.

I wish we had time for a longer trip so we could do DC and Maryland too, but we just don’t have the time. We will be in Williamsburg, I think. It’s a city with a rich culture, most of which seem to include the word plantation, but I think it should be fun nonetheless.

It’s only a 42 minute drive from the campus of Hampton University. One of the girls I mentor just started school there. Perhaps I should go visit her. I’ve never seen Hampton’s campus, and I’ve heard it’s beautiful. Plus, I can see more of Virginia if I do so. We’ll see though. I don’t want to impose on her, and I’m sure there will be plenty of wedding weekend activities to do.

The husband and I like to take in the local food that an area is known for, and I hope Virginia will be no exception. Based on a quick internet search, in Virginia I should be trying to have seafood (especially crabs), peanuts (thank God no allergies), award-winning wine, and locally grown produce.

Another quick internet search tells me the best Farmer’s Market in Williamsburg is on Saturdays. We won’t be there early enough on Saturday to partake. Hopefully the family we’re staying with went to the grocery store…

The plan is to do another post after we get back with amazing pictures of the wedding and Virginia.

Anything I should know about Williamsburg before I get there?