Sunday, June 23, 2013

Purvi and Christie's Day of FUN!

Today just epitomized a typical summertime Chi kinda day. I'm sure you people are getting sick of how much I advertise this city (summertime or not), but I can't help it. Chicago (ESPECIALLY in the summertime) has got to be one of the most utopian places on Earth in the continental United States.

This weekend was no exception - it finally actually FELT like summertime for the first time in ages. I never thought I'd be so grateful for heat and humidity but MAN! If this is what it takes for it to actually feel like summer in the city... well, bring it ON.

I was actually expecting to be fairly useless today, given how unproductive my morning was shaping out to be. I mean, I'd arisen at my usual ungodly early hour (for a weekend) but... well, apparently, I can no longer expect to be a fully functional individual after a night filled with... well, wine. Lesson learned.

Oh well, after a couple of hours of napping, I was FINALLY ready to start my day anew... and it was only 11 AM! To be honest, I didn't have all too many monumental events lined up for the day, but I DID know I wanted to hit up my neighborhood Lululemon store for some goodies. Actually, let me back up for a second.

So let me be clear - before last weekend, I had never set foot in a Lululemon store despite being surrounded by Lululemon gear every which way I turned (hello, I live in Lincoln Park). Anyway, everyone I know who shops there has nothing but rave reviews... but it simply never peaked my interest. It's only been over recent weeks that my intrigue for this magical land we call Lululemon escalated, primarily based on the rave reviews my work teammates were giving it. I decided to finally bite the bullet last weekend and... well, at least enter the store to see what all the fuss was about.

Turns out. There's a reason for all the fuss. I ended up buying a pair of yoga pants from there last weekend and... well, I've pretty much lived in them all week long. They have got to be the most comfortable things I've ever experienced and... GOD! Not to be completely superficial, but they are just so... darn beautiful.

After texting my friend, Purvi, about my plans to go to Lululemon again this weekend to purchase a second pair of... yes, the exact same pants (this is how much the love developed over the course of one week)... she ended up calling back with her plans for the day and... well, one thing led to another which led to...

Purvi and Christie's Day of FUN! (See below video if you don't get the reference right off the bat.)

The day started off as any day can... and as any day SHOULD, really.

After that necessary pit stop, I headed south to meet Purvi at stop #1 of our Day of Fun: the Harold Washington Library. I consider Purvi to be one of those people who has seen and done pretty much anything. So when I recently learned that she had never set foot in the Harold Washington Library NOR did she own a Chicago Public Library card... well, to say I was shocked is an understatement. (I'm only saying this because I know how much reading this girl has done in the past.)

Most of you who know me know what a fan of libraries I am. The Harold Washington Library is absolutely no exception. And being able to see someone officially get their first Chicago Public Library card...?!

Happy, happy, happiness!

After touring this grandiose library's hallowed halls (seriously, it's like a museum), we continued our Day of Fun with a quick pit stop at Purvi's apartment to try on some dresses (her) and pick up a book (me).

Can I just share - I love visiting Purvi's apartment. Among other things:

1) She keeps me hydrated (a feat in and of itself, given that whole aversion to water thing)...

2) Her bookshelf keeps me occupied for hours (okay, slight exagg) on end. But honestly, isn't it one of the most beautiful things you've ever seen?

3) ... And she has no problems lending me books that I don't have on my own bookshelf in Chicago! (Not the first time I've borrowed a book from her, mind you...)

The little things in life, really. Anyway, after hanging out at her place for a bit, we moved from the literary component of our Sunday to... well, the more superficial component of the day.

Next stop: Lululemon. I had to get those pants!

Well... let's just say I got a bit carried away. I had a feeling this was going to happen because... well, how people are supposed to exercise any form of self-restraint when they see all kinds of beautiful colors right before their very eyes is a bit unclear to me.

And it's me! I'm not a shopper by any means. But... I simply do NOT know what happened inside those hallowed walls of Lululemon today. A girl possessed, if you will...

(I'm sure that lady in the back mirror really loved me causing a spectacle by taking this picture.)

But back to the point... yes, my friends. I did indeed try on every single beautiful item that is splayed out on that table. And God, was it glorious. I honestly don't know what came over me. Eh, oh well. No sense dwelling on that because... quite frankly, because today turned out to be one of the happiest (shopping) days of my life! Hahah! So I may be embellishing just a touch...

Okay, to be fair, I didn't walk out the STORE with all of those things I tried on - I mean, I'm not CRA-zy (others may beg to differ but I stand firm). Just... well, just a handful of... necessities, I guess you could call them. :)

I know, right?! I can't stop staring at my bag o' STUFF! Pure. Unadulterated. Beauty. If you will.

Hmm... come to think, I guess now may be a good time to actually start thinking about dabbling in this whole "exercise thing", huh? I mean, I have the whole "costuming" thing down, apparently. Eh, let's not get carried away here. ;)

In any event! After THAT oddly high on life experience, Purvi and I made a slight pit stop for some serious sugar (yes, this is how we do up fro yo)...

Before heading to our final stop of the day: Fleet Feet.

Another happy spot of mine (I love the staff here!!).

After Purvi finished her own little shopping spree of inserts (practicality can be glamorous, right? :)), we finally decided to part ways.

All in all, such a sweet (albeit somewhat superficial) success of a Day of Fun, if you will.

Til next time...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Chelsea Clinton Day!

Typically, when I get mass emails from various sources, I immediately delete, barely taking a glimpse at the subject line (I'm sorry, but how MANY 40% off sales can Banana Republic HAVE?). I have to say, as much as I love all things Clinton, mass emails from the Clinton Foundation typically fall prey to this activity as well.

That's why it took a couple of (friendly!) reminders from the Clinton Foundation before I finally actually opened an email talking about a Chicago Day of Action. You would think I would be drawn to the day itself - it is, after all, a day of giving back to the community.

But... well, please. What actually prompted me to open the email was the subject heading "Last Chance to join Chelsea for a Day of Action in Chicago".

I mean, an opportunity to hang out with a member of the Clinton family?!

Count. Me. In.

Hey, at least I'm honest right? Right. We'll go with that.

In any event, I was actually really impressed with how well-organized this whole day turned out to be... especially considering I had absolutely no idea what my "assignment" was actually going to be until about two days before the event itself. But let me start at the beginning.

So this day of service was actually being put on by this group called Chicago Cares. Because CGI America was taking place in Chicago during the latter half of this week, the Clinton Foundation decided to partner with Chicago Cares to sponsor and promote this Day of Action (an annual event that the Foundation has started doing in various cities around the country, I believe). There were quite a few activities going on with this day of action - I guess there have to be with 1,000+ volunteers milling about to support the cause! GOD!! I was just so proud to be a Chicagoan on this day.

I used to be really into volunteering back in high school and college when the opportunities arose. But I kind of let the whole volunteering thing fall to the wayside as I tried to figure out what the heck I was doing with my life throughout my 20s. I've been trying to get more into it over the past couple of years and I have to say, I do find my life to be a bit more enriched because of these kinds of experiences smattered amidst the daily grind. Deep, I know.

But I digress.

So I was told to arrive at Daley Plaza to check in, pick up my T-shirt (the essentials, of course ;)) and map by 8 AM. Chelsea Clinton (among others) would deliver opening remarks at 8:30 AM and we would all be on our way to our respective work sites by 9:15 AM.

8 AM on a Saturday would normally trigger all kinds of miserable thoughts but not this day. In fact, not gonna lie, I woke up (sans alarm) at 5:43 AM this fine Saturday morning. I honestly could not even TRY to fall back asleep for another hour or so! I was just so DARN excited... I mean, it was Chelsea Clinton Day the Day of Action!

There was no WAY I was just going to wait till 8 AM to make my appearance on Daley Plaza. Please - I'm far too seasoned a veteran in celebrity stalking to know that you need to allow PLENTY of time to organize yourself... and/or plant yourself RIGHT in front of the stage (or wherever you anticipate the celebrity to be).

So I merrily got myself ready and hopped on my 22 bus to Daley Plaza earlier than I'd originally anticipated... and ended up at Daley Plaza at like 7:15 AM. Oh well - I hate crowds so I loved being able to walk right up to the registration table to pick up all my schwaaaag

The eyes say: "It's 7:15 AM on a Saturday", the smile says: "It's CHELSEA CLINTON DAY!! HOLLAAAA!!"

Once I got myself organized, I actually ended up having some time to wander about the different stands set up at Daley Plaza (I'm not sure why this surprises me... I was pretty much one of the first registrants ON the Plaza to begin with! Haha) and, of course, grab myself a cup of coffee.

Well, after grabbing my cup of coffee, I started getting a bit nervous about how many people were starting to infiltrate the Plaza...

So you better BELIEVE I made a beeline for that stage and... well, to be honest, just stood there in front of it. (Not sure if you were expecting something more glamorous and exciting out of a celebrity stalker but you're not going to get it here.)

I think it was about 8 AM by this point, so I only had a half hour to wait. Seasoned veteran of celebrity stalking that I am, a half hour was a piece of cake.

And just like I thought, a half hour came and went. I honestly don't know what I do to occupy my time (I think people watching certainly helped things move along) sometimes but hey - at least time does end up flying. Before I knew it, look at who finally arrived!!

Oh, I couldn't stop beaming (creeper...). I was just so, so excited to see her!

After a few minutes of setup, the keynote addresses began.

You think I'm kidding when I say I was front and center but... well, I think the vantage point of this video I took will speak for itself.

And I just have to say, I absolutely loved her speech! She just came across as so down-to-earth and PERSONABLE!! Loved the personal anecdotes she had to share.

Anyway, come 9:15 AM, we were ready to leave Daley Plaza to head to our respective sites. I'm not kidding when I'm saying everything was so well-orchestrated... check out all these buses lined up to take us all to our respective sites!

I was so pleased with my assignment - painting hallways at a South Side school. I feel kind of lucky with this assignment since I'm a HUGE fan of everything related to this project - I love kids, I love education and... well, it's been a while since I've painted, but I do love painting as well!

After a few opening remarks by the school principal, we got right to work. My group headed to the school's third floor which looked like this:

Obviously, before beginning the whole painting thing, we had to "set up" - basically, we had to line the floors with drop cloths and tape the edges to avoid getting paint any/everywhere.

And then... well, then we GOT. TO. BUSINESS.

I have to say, I can't remember the last time I actually painted but this experience reminded me of just why I enjoy painting so much - it's so... cathartic, if you will. And well, this sounds kind of weird, but I also realized just how much I miss manual labor (in some regard). Again, I know, it sounds weird. But there's just something to be said about seeing something go from start to finish that you've created / done with your own two hands. Regardless, check out the final product!

Okay, so to be fair, as we were going through this whole painting experience, quite a few of us were wondering what the difference between the "top panel" and "bottom panel" colors were. To be honest, I would have chosen very different colors for repainting a school hallway (I mean, this looks kind of BLAND, no?!) but oh well - at least it looked a lot cleaner and less dingy than it had before.

I guess. (I mean... not even a colorful mural or two for the walls?! Really?)

Before I knew it, we were done! The day literally flew by but, not going to lie, I was definitely EXHAUSTED by the end of it (all that early morning excitement, I tell ya...).

All in all though, a delightful experience. I was talking to one of the Clinton Foundation folks and heavily emphasized my interest in making this an annual Day in Chicago... clearly, I hold a lot of clout with the Foundation so fingers crossed that they'll MAKE. THIS. HAPPEN!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ah, The Grand Home STATE!

Greetings from Cincinnati!

I was a bit reluctant to originally book my flight home to Cincinnati this weekend, since I've basically come to cherish each and every precious weekend I can have in Chicago (since I'm back to traveling during the week for work).

I just have to say that that reluctance pretty much disappeared as soon as I set foot in the good ol' Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport.

I don't know what it is... I'm in love with the Midwest in general (hence my move to Chicago to begin with) but there's something... just so darn special about the grand home state of Ohio. It's just so relaxing, so simple, so cozy, so SPACIOUS - let's just say... I'm a fan (understatement).

My dad was picking me up from the airport so after locating him in the arrivals area, we began our sojourn home... with a slight detour.

I love all (well, okay, most) libraries - I've even kept each library card I've owned from each city I've lived in! (It's all very exciting, I know.) My neighborhood public library is absolutely no exception. Going to the public library was part of my dad's and my Saturday afternoon routine when I was growing up, so needless to say, requesting this quick detour on the way home from the airport was more than welcomed by good ol' Papa A (Nicole, that one's for you ;)). To be fair, I did want to get through (a wide variety of) reading materials for this weekend!

With that glorious pit stop, I knew that the weekend could only get better and better. After getting through my day of work on Friday, I had just enough time to run a few errands, take a (quick!) nap, and then... head to Reunion #1 of the weekend.

Let's try that again...

My family's been friends with this family for over 20 years (before these kids were even born!) and to say that I adore them is an understatement. They're like a second family to me and, honestly, the happiness and excitement of each reunion never fades. This reunion was no exception... complete with a live reading of "Oh, The Places You'll Go" by the lovely new graduate on the very right of this picture (so proud! :)).

Needless to say, Reunion #1 was easily a sweet success.

Come Sunday, I was off to Reunion #2 in... COLUMBUS, OHIO!!! Hollaaaa!!!

This reunion was actually the main reason for my visit to the grand home state for the weekend, since one of my dearest friends from college, Nicole, was back in the country for a fleeting period of time (she's based in South Korea with the Air Force).

Add two other good friends from college (Meg and Lindsay) to the mix and you've got yourself one. sweet. REUNION!!!

(Please disregard that nonsense of a peace / V for victory sign.)

After meeting in the Short North of Columbus for brunch (and hugs galore, let me tell you), we began just meandering around... and, look at that, somehow ended up... well, back on Ohio State's campus.

Talk about a walk down memory lane - I haven't been back to campus since I graduated and I honestly could not stop BEAMING as we walked through campus (no matter how much it's changed!). Now, while most people would likely walk down their college memory lanes with trips to their favorite bars, the football stadium, etc... MY idea of walk down memory lane consisted of... well...

My Chemistry / Organic Chemistry building!!!

I'm not sure WHY I was so excited to see this building...  I mean, some of the memories I have from my days of Chemistry / Organic Chemistry are... less than pleasant to say the least. Maybe it's simply the fact that my love and devotion for the one and only Dr. Casey still reigns supreme... but I digress.

And of course... of COURSE, no trip on campus would be complete without a visit to my beloved... my sacred... my one and only...

Science and Engineering Library (SEL).

Sigh, we need to have a moment. Just one.

Unless you went to college with me, you will not understand the love and devotion I had for this library... hell, even people who DID go to college with me did not understand. I mean, I was definitely NOT of the Science and Engineering variety BUT this library was just my home away from home... my happy place, if you will.

(It really is amazing that I actually had friends in college, considering how much time I devoted to this sacred place.)

Unfortunately, they've since changed the name of the library from the SEL to something like the "18th Avenue Library" so I couldn't take a picture with the sign itself (it just wouldn't be the SAME!). Oh well, no matter. Might as well just head inside to get a few "action shots", right?

Good thing we didn't disturb the entire 4th floor with our ridiculous picture-taking extravaganza (well, we TRIED to suppress our exclamations... and giggles... as we walked down memory lane here).

Ah, how far we've come from circa 2003...

Okay, so maybe not ALL our time in the library was spent hard-core studying. But we needed some lighthearted moments to get us through finals week! (On a completely side note, check out that CELL PHONE! Wowza.)

Okay, enough about the SEL. Moving on to...

No trip would be complete without a big ol' hug for Brutus, right?

Ah, good times through and through.

Okay, I'm cutting off this post since it's (much) longer than I'd previously anticipated. Get ready for my next post about the grand home state... let's just say that you'll be 110% familiar with the terms Skyline, Graeters, UDF, and LaRosa's by the time you're done reading THAT one.