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My busy Thursday – sorry no pics!

11 Jul

I have a lot of posting to catch up on, specifically my trips to Charlotte, New York, and my big fourth of July festivities, but first I have to talk about what happened yesterday.

My morning started off better than ever. My 10:00 on-site meeting got changed to a call/webex so I was able to sleep in until 8:00 and take the call from home before going into the office afterwards. That extra sleep and WFH (work from home) time allowed me to do three loads of laundry, some dishes, straighten up and pack for my post-work activities. It was so relaxing and glorious. Plus, I rode a Divvy to work at 11:00 when the sun was shining and everything was a little less hectic. Finally, the best part was arriving at work at 11:30 and realizing it was almost lunch time!

After work I did the unspeakable. Actually, if I would have known how bad this was there’s probably no way I would have gotten through the day anticipating what I had to do.

Since my Lake Zurich Triathlon is in three short days, I had to get some open water swimming in. Last Tuesday I tried to go to the Chicago Triathlon open water clinic, like I did last year, but they were out of wet suits when I arrive so I had to face the 68 degree (at its warmest) water in just a swimsuit. Needless to say I was cold and only got in a half mile swim. Yesterday I was determined to get a full mile in since I’ll be racing at 0.93 miles on Sunday.

I wore my Craigslist wetsuit (which some onlookers pointed out is a jet ski wet suit, but it was 100% warmer than no wetsuit) and spent over an hour in the water. It was cold, but not bad (Tuesday was bad), but the water was ROUGH. I can’t believe how difficult it was to swim in that wavy water.

Anyway, I made it. And for anyone who lives in Chicago you know there’s no easy way to get home from Ohio Street Beach. It’s a good third mile walk to Michigan Avenue (to get a bus and connect to another bus to get home) and well over a half mile to get the el. Also, I was carrying a wet wet suit. So, as soon as I climbed the steps to make my decision I saw a Divvy station and decided to Divvy home. (Triathlon training…amiright?)

I made it home and had less than five minutes to change out of my swimsuit and put on fresh clothes before my friends picked me up to meet for dinner before my ukulele class. We went to Bad Apple in Lincoln Square and I got a mushroom and goat cheese sandwich with truffle oil fries. YUM. Then, I showed up about 30 minutes late to uke class (food took a while) and was surprised with a fun jam session in the Old Town School of Folk lobby with guitarists, banjo-ists (?), harmonicans (?), etc. It was fun.

Why am I telling you all about my busy day? Mostly because I’m afraid I’m going to grow a third limb from exposing myself to Lake Michigan for so long without showering right away(I showered after I Divvy’ed home from uke at about 10:30 pm). So now you guys know, if I end up with extra body parts and stop showing up in your instagram feeds, that’s why. I’m ashamed of my new lake body.


Backstreet’s Back (again)

23 Jun

Remember last summer when Kristin and I went to the Backstreet Boys concert and it got shut down early because of the Chicago Park District’s curfew? Yeah. That sucked. But the Boys held true to their promise and ticket purchasers were offered a 25% discount on tickets for the 2014 show. Kristin and I jumped at the opportunity and I even bought a pair to sell for profit (which I did).

The concert was last Tuesday and was just as fun as the first round! It actually was the same exact show and the good news is we figured out that we hadn’t missed too much by them ending early last time.

I picked us up a few vintage (1998) concert t-shirts on eBay, but it was a little too cold to show them off, sadly.

Vintage BSB Shirts

The main difference between the two shows was the openers. Avril Lavigne (remember her?) opened for BSB this year compared to Pauly D and Jesse McCartney (which ultimately caused BSB to start late and get cut off). Avril was pretty good, surprisingly. She sang a few new hits and also reminisced with her singles from the early 2000s. She still had her dark eyeliner (I’m assuming) and a tutu on so it’s good to know some things never change.

Our seats were in the more expensive section (compared to the seats I flipped) so we went to check out the difference in views and found they actually had a more elevated view of the stage. We continues back to our original seats (but stayed in the bleachers/risers) and found some open seats as we waited for the show to start. The seats’ ticket holders came and we scooted down a few and much to our surprise the seats were ours for the rest of the night! They were excellent seats and we totally lucked out. Speaking of luck, it had completely down poured the night before and the event was rain or shine, so I was nervous we might get rained out. Similarly to last year the weather held out for us! It was cool and in the 60s but it didn’t start to rain until we were driving home.

Awesome Seats

The show was fantastic. The boys were awesome and it was so fun to sing and dance along with them. I can’t say enough about how much fun Kristin and I had at both shows. I hope they keep touring so we can keep going. They are, strangely, coming out with a documentary so at least we have that. I also really like some of the songs from their new album which is a sign that they’re on the right track.


I’m looking forward to all the future BSB concerts with Kristin – easily a highlight of the summer!

My 27th Birthday

20 Jun

As an only child the thrill of my birthday will never cease to be the highlight of May. I love the attention but most of all, as I discovered, the feeling that all of my friends (there were about 15 people in total!) came out to celebrate with me/for me. It’s a humbling and exciting feeling. And it made me drink. A lot.

My weekend started out how it usually does – hitting the Mt. Prospect community garage sales during the day with my parents. After a few hours of scoring goodies (including a $0.50 JED lunch box from the 80’s that I sold on eBay within a week) I packed up and headed back to the city to get ready. My friends started arriving for pre-dinner drinks and at 7:00 the whole group headed to Renaldi’s, one of my favorite pizza places in Lincoln Park. My friend’s husband, Brad, ordered Fireball whiskey shots (followed by the manager buying a second round) and I think that was the beginning of the end.

After pizza and drinks we followed my very-strict schedule of dive bars along Lincoln Avenue near my apartment (so people could easily grab their cars and head home if they needed to).

We went to the following bars (I can’t tell you much about the experiences at most of them because it’s a little fuzzy):

Rose’s Lounge

Atlas Brewing Company

Patsy’s Place

JP Burke’s Patio & Tap

The night ended (for me) around 1:00 am and luckily my friend Kayla was staying over so we got each other home safely. I wasn’t feeling the best so I did what I always do when I don’t feel well and drew myself a bath. The bath felt great. So great, in fact, that I found myself still in there at 8:30 am (thanks Kayla and Marc for checking in on me!). Don’t worry – it’s not as dangerous as it sounds. I am a pro at taking baths and it’s almost physically impossible for me to drown. The way I position myself/the size of the tub does not allow for my head to get beneath the water level unless I’m in a funky, uncomfortable yoga position.

The next day (my actual birthday) Kayla and I had our second-to-last wood working class at the Rebuilding Exchange. That was pretty rough for us hungover party animals. I headed home to the suburbs after that and visited my neighbor’s soccer game, sorted through my treasures from the day before, and picked up an ice cream cake for myself. Around 5:00 my family and neighbors went out to Portillos for a birthday dinner celebration followed by ice cream cake at my parents’ house. It was the perfect weekend!

My parents bought me a paddle board as a present. More on that to come!

Romeo, Juliet, and a burger

7 Sep

With just over than 24 hours to recover from the float trip Blair and I were on to our next adventure. You see, she’s all smarty pants on me and listens to NPR and one of the NPR sub-sites (I really have no idea) posted something on Facebook about Shakespeare being performed at a pub in Edgewater (ish). A group got a grant to perform Romeo and Juliet at Moody’s Pub!

The play was fantastic! Luckily we had great seats in the middle of the action and Romeo even tried hitting on us when he was love-hunting (before he met Juliet). They used an entire section of the patio and it was very well-staged.

Romeo & Juliet at Moody's

Romeo & Juliet at Moody’s

The weather was perfect, the food was outstanding (get the burger!) and the actors were awesome. They did the play, word for word, but modernized their clothing a bit. It’s hard to explain. They went for the old English look, but then one of the guys wore a neon trucker hat. I’m not sure, but it was still awesome. Props to the actors and everyone that put it on. My recco’s: check out Moody’s, get a burger, and listen to Smarty Pants radio to find out about this cool group next year.

Romeo & Juliet at Moody's

Romeo & Juliet at Moody’s

Romeo & Juliet at Moody's

Romeo & Juliet at Moody’s

The Bike that un-broke my heart and Movie in the Park

16 Aug

Well, it’s Friday, which means I got ice in my water cup even though I got in at 8:55 again. I came in at 7:45 yesterday, though, so I got my share of ice no problem. Our friend at work, Jessy, is practicing to become a yoga instructor so I’m one of her test subjects. It’s amazing to do yoga overlooking Michigan Avenue at 8:00 am.

Last night was a very exciting night! I bought the bike and am officially over the bike that broke my heart. I test rode it Wednesday, pretended like I was going to play the field all weekend (you know, searching for more bikes), but decided I wanted to have one and get this process over with. I was debating between buying used and buying one on clearance from a bike shop, but I don’t want to wait until the end of the season to get a new bike so I decided I’ll use a used one for a year, understand what I’m looking for in a new bike, understand how low the end-of-season prices go, and then purchase a brand new beauty. The plan works for me, so I’m sticking to it. I ended up getting a 2007 Trek Pilot 1.2 and was able to negotiate it for $400 because I still need to get it tuned up. Plus, it came with some aerobars, which I hear are good for triathletes. I’m excited to ride it around!

2007 Trek Pilot 1.2

My new Trek Pilot 1.2

After I brought the bike home I packed up some watermelon, blueberries, Twizzlers, and Baked Lays and headed over to Wrightwood Park for my second movie in the park! I thought it was at the park that’s right by my place but it turns out that’s Jonquil Park and Wrightwood Park is a few blocks west at Ashland. Oh well. Gracelyn and Blair came so it was the same ‘ol Movie in the Park gang and Gracelyn brought her dog, Jess Bob. The movie was The Amazing Spiderman (2012) which I loved the first time I saw and could live without seeing again. But I do love Emma Stone, girl crush. Did you know they’re coming out with the Amazing Spiderman 2? Just saw that when I pulled the link for Emma Stone.

Movies in the Park Wrightwood Park

Movies in the Park Wrightwood Park

Anyway, it actually got pretty chilly last night to the point where we had to cover ourselves in a blanket. Boo! It’s August, I want to be sweating.

Tonight we’re having a Chicago Canes football kickoff party and tomorrow I’m heading to Lake Geneva (I’m planning on testing the water temp for the tri while I’m there) and Sunday I hope to take my first ride with the Mt. Prospect Bike Club, so stay tuned for a weekend wrap up on Monday!

Backstreet’s Back (but not for long)!

9 Aug

One of my recent discoveries about work lately has been ‘how to tell if you’re arriving later than the majority of the office.’ There are two tell-tale signs that I know of. First, the front doors are open. Our receptionist, Jan, doesn’t come in until just before 9:00 so you know you’re running later than usual if she’s opened the public doors before you’ve stepped off the elevators. The second sign is if there’s no ice in the ice maker. We have an office of about 90 people so when everyone fills up their water cups first thing, we run out of ice. You know you’re late if you get no ice. But, here’s where the weird part comes in. On Fridays, there are never that many people in this office. For example, I strolled in today at 8:55 and I got a cup full of ice! The office is quiet, and people leave super early. I don’t get it. Do that many people really take off every single Friday in the summer? Do a lot of people work from home every Friday (Kristin B., I’m looking at you)? Where the heck is everyone!?

Anyway, enough of that. Last night, a bike broke my heart. You know that bike I went to see on Wednesday night (from Craigslist)? Well, I went and “test-drove” other bikes at Performance Bicycle by my apartment and now I’m a pro at riding road bikes. So pro, in fact, that I was ready to purchase said Craigslist bike. But guess what? The seller wasn’t bluffing when he said he had another interested party and they swooped it up probably around the same time I was cruising on the $600+ bikes. Darn. That one hurt. Anyway, I’m back on the hunt for a gently used, properly loved road bike. Let me know if you see one, k?

Ok, ok, enough whining already.  I know you’re all here for the BSB recap! So there we were. My friend Kristin H. and I boarded the Metra train from Mt. Prospect with a Bud Light Lime and a Mike’s Hard Lite in our hands. That’s the great thing about Metra – they embrace the drink. We poured them into red Solo generic plastic cups to be on the safe side, but I don’t even think you have to. Nope, it says right here, DRINK AWAY! We were sipping and gabbing when we realized we were in a “quiet car.” Oops. What the heck? Didn’t they know it’s BSB night? Plus, it was Lollapalooza so let’s be real, there was no quiet going on. Anyway, turns out the quiet cars are only for during rush hour and we talked to a conductor and he assured us that 6:00 pm on Friday was definitely not rush hour (what!?). Whatever, we’ll take it. So we gab gab gabbed away and finally got to Ogilvie in time to smell the last remaining Garrett’s popcorn cornels being sold. The rest of the popcorn remains looked sketch so we walked down Madison and got some freshy mcfresh Garrett’s Popcorn Chicago mix. YUM. In retrospect, it’s probably good that I told Kristin it was only a one mile walk to the Charter One Pavilion when it ended up being three miles because that popcorn is so good it must be four times the fat of regular cheesy carmely corn. Plus, we were aiming to miss the first opening act, DJ Pauly D. Yes, the one from Jersey Shore. How desperate were the Backstreet Boys to get opening acts? That’s what I want to know. Me, Kayla, and Blair would have opened for FREE with our ukulele trio. If anyone’s looking for an opening act, let me know.

So three miles and lots of drunk Lolla people watching later we finally made it to the Charter One Pavillion. People were complaining on Facebook that they got their umbrellas taken away and stuff but we and our Garrett’s made it through just fine. Again, in retrospect, I wish we would have smuggled in some more drinks in our Garrett’s bag because it was the perfect decoy and then we would avoid paying $13 for a 20 oz. Straw-ber-ita. Yep, you read it, $13. I know, I’m surprised in myself, too, but I bought it. Plus, we needed something to get through the unbearable DJ Pauly D set.



I don’t really know what people are “looking” at when they go to “see” a DJ, but someone should enlighten me. I just watched this reality TV star play a playlist from 8-tracks, I think. Anyway, weren’t we supposed to miss opening act #1 by taking the scenic route to the pavilion? What the heck? As it turns out the whole show was running late (foreshadowing). No worries, though, because we got to see Baylee Littrell, BSBrian’s son, sing two really cute songs in a Cubs shirt.

After DJ No Talent wrapped up the live version of my running playlist Jesse McCartney came on stage and played a few songs. It didn’t seem to be that long, so I was cool with it. Plus he played a few songs I recognized from the radio. He’s going for the whole suit-and-tie look ala Justin Timberlake, and I’d date him.

Me & Kristin @ BSB

Me & Kristin @ BSB

He wrapped it up in a timely fashion and around 9:45 (this is important, remember it) our boys took the stage. While our ‘obstructed view’ tickets were pretty decent, Kristin and I stood on the side of the stage by the entrance to the very expensive section the entire concert. We had room to sing, dance, and cheer for the boys the whole time and it was great! They started out with The Call, a medium-oldie but a goodie, and I was instantly taken back to my pre-country loving pop days. They played a bunch of other songs we knew and some songs from their newest album, which seemed pretty good, and even did an “a capella” set. Their words, not mine. It was actually an acoustic set and everyone played guitar but Kevin played keyboard and AJ banged on some bongos. That was probably the lowest point of the concert for me (thus far). C’mon guys, we’re here for your dancin’!! While I’m singling out members of the group for being different, let’s also take a moment to realize that Nick Carter was the only BSBoy without a wedding ring on. That’s very convenient, you see, because I also would say he’s my heartthrob. Still super hot. So, what I’m saying is, Nick, if you need a ring to feel included, I’ve got a pretty open left hand over here.





Ok, so fast forward a couple songs. There we are boppin’ along, anxiously waiting for “Larger than Life” and “I want it That Way” – some of the classic BSB songs, when all of a sudden the boys’ mics go out and all the lights go on on the stage. As it turns out, the Chicago Park District has a strict 11:00 pm curfew which caused the show to end abruptly. The boys spent about five minutes trying to explain to us that they’re trying to work it out (meanwhile Kristin insisted “stop talking, just sing!”) but that ended up not working. So we watched them in aww on the stage not performing or finishing the concert. They got a lot of bad press about it (I was boo-ing them, but that’s not the bad press I’m talking about) and the audience also broke out into a round of “I want it that way” (except when the chorus was over everyone was lost). In the end, there was nothing they could do about it. Kristin and I tried to stage a sit in (get all those puns?) but alas, we left with the rest of the crowd and tried to get a cab back to Ogilvie (I was staying in the suburbs because of our family garage sale).

Needless to say, the rest of Chicago (BSB fans + Lollapalooza goers) were also trying to get a cab and we had to walk back to the train station until we found a pedicab along the way that gave us a lift. We arrived at the train station at 12:25 for a 12:30 FINAL outbound train. Talk about luck!

Pedi Cab Driver

Pedi Cab Driver

The early-ending concert made local news and the boys issued a statement saying they would “make it right,” and since then we’ve heard that they’re going to open early discounted tickets to those of us with tickets from the 8/2 show. Seems like a crappy alternative, since we already paid to see the show and we want our Larger than Life! After all, that song is about the fans making them…well…larger than life!

I don’t know if my relationship with Nick Carter will ever take off. I’ve tweeted at him twice with no response. He seems to respond to every other fan tweet, though, so WTH!? I’m not going to deny that despite an early ending (which saved us from being stuck in the city like Elizabeth Shue from Adventures in Babysitting) this was an awesome concert and I’m so glad I went. And, truth be told, I’ll probably shell out the money for those “discounted” tix they’re promising us. I hope the discount is 95%.

Is anyone still reading this? If you are, you may like to know that my race is on Sunday (ahh!) and I’m going to my FOURTH concert tonight in two months. John Mayer!

Mac & cheese pizza, Navy Pier & Thanksgiving in July

30 Jul

After Saturday’s Tomato Blast adventure we rode the long, wet, tomato-y way back to my apartment, showered, met up with Blair and headed to Cheesie’s for dinner. I love Cheesies specifically for their mac & cheese grilled cheese, but we decided to get a bit adventurous and try the mac and cheese pizza. Honestly, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and pizza are all of my favorite things, so I would probably be happy with anything on the menu.


After devouring our pizza and playing hangman on the chalkboard tables we headed South to Navy Pier for two reasons. One, it was 8:00 and we knew if we took a break before going “out-out” we would never get up (we were SO sore from the biking & tomato-throwing!) and two, Joe’s never been to Navy Pier. What’s that you say? Is he from out of town? Nope, Joe’s a Chicagoland native and just never made the trip down to the happenin’ tourist destination.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier

Joe being at tourist at Navy Pier

Joe being at tourist at Navy Pier

We did all the fun things like go on the Ferris Wheel and the giant swings, watch the fireworks, and eat ice cream. After that it was about 11:00 and we were all wiped from the busy day.

Fireworks at Navy Pier

Fireworks at Navy Pier

Blair on the Navy Pier swings

Blair on the Navy Pier swings

Steven, Blair, me and Joe at Navy Pier

Steven, Blair, me and Joe at Navy Pier

On Sunday morning I went for another run/jog but it went much better than it has been going for me. This time I allowed myself an entire one mile warm up (basically the distance from my apartment to the lake shore path) which prevented cramping and I was able to run 3+ miles straight after that. It also helped that it was 56 degrees outside, but beautifully sunny.

After my run I showered and headed back to the suburbs to run errands, spend time with my parents and Lucy, and especially my neighbors. We had a (first annual) Thanksgiving in July celebration with our other neighbor and it was a blast. We had turkey, stuffing, potatoes, corn, and cranberry sauce! I can’t believe I didn’t get any photos!

Another exciting thing happened after “Thanksgiving” dinner… my friends Seth and Becca got engaged! Seth is one of my best friends from Miami and his girlfriend fiance Becca is the sweetest thing. They make the perfect couple and I can’t wait to celebrate with them! Congratulations, love bugs!

Seth & Becca are Engaged!

Seth & Becca are Engaged!

I’ve noticed that my weekends rarely consist of relaxing/laying around and I kind of love that. I love being busy and making the most of my time but it makes for very sleepy Monday mornings. I’ve got another busy week ahead of me this week but highlights include the Backstreet  Boys concert on Friday and peach picking on Sunday. Stay tuned!

Do you like spending your weekends being busy or relaxing?