Thursday Things

1. Holiday-filled Weekend #1 took place last week, with two quintessential, time-honored holiday traditions: ZooLights and my company’s Christmas party. I went to ZooLights on Friday, so let’s start there, shall we?

zoolightsflamingo

This was my fifth trip to ZooLights, and while a lot of things remain the same from year to year, it was fun to notice changes as well, like the addition of a candy cane lane! That was probably my favorite change. I also noticed a family theme among the animals, with most of the light up animal crews feature a dad, a mom, and a baby animal. I’ve never seen this before, though maybe I was always just unaware?

zoolightsgiraffes

It was warmer (and earlier in the year) than my past visits to ZooLights, so maybe that accounted for this change, but this was the first year that I’ve actually seen real, live animals during ZooLights! Two Sichuan Takins and three seals were out and about, while the brand new polar bear was snoozin’ in the new arctic habitat.

zoolightsseals

The seals may or may not have been mating…? They were definitely cuddling, at the very least. Well, two of them were. I don’t know what the third seal was doing, other than clearly not getting any action. Poor guy/girl.

2. Then on Saturday, I spent my evening at my company’s holiday party, which took place at Morgan MFG in the West Loop. Morgan MFG is a renovated, loft space-style event venue, and it was really pretty!

holidayparty

The company I work for now is 75 times bigger than my previous company (not an exaggeration: a statement of fact), so needless to say, this holiday party was SUBSTANTIALLY different from the usual let’s-all-go-get-lunch-and-you-can-go-home-after-that shindig I’m used to. Open bar, several food stations, passed dessert (*dies*), interactive displays, giveaways, a cover band – it was quite the experience! Although I must admit that I preferred not having to get dressed up or wear heels to my previous company’s holiday party😛

Speaking of my outfit: I was at a loss as to what to wear. I looked through pictures from previous years, and it seemed like anything fancier than sweatpants but less fancy than an evening gown would be appropriate. The official dress code was “smart casual,” which is also our work dress code, but I figured most people would be dressed nicer than they are for work and wanted to dress nicer myself. Naturally, I put decision making off until the very last second, and finally on Black Friday decided I’d look through H&M’s website to see if they had anything that struck my fancy. I found a decent black shirt, ordered it, and was told it would arrive between Nov. 30 and Dec. 2. Well, Nov. 30 came and went, as did Dec. 1, and still no shirt. When it hadn’t arrived by Friday afternoon, I gave up all hope and settled on a backup shirt I already owned. Then, on my way home from work that day, I got an email from H&M telling me that my order had just shipped that day, Dec. 2! The last day it was supposed to arrive! *shakes fist at sky*. So that will promptly be going back to H&M once it actually gets here, since I neither need nor want a too-dressy-for-work black shirt.

3. Another holiday tradition of mine includes my mom, her two sisters, and my grandma/their mom coming to Chicago on the first Tuesday of the December through a bus trip my high school sponsors to spend the day in the city shopping, and me taking the day off work to join them. That happened two days ago, fortunately before it became bitterly cold outside like it is now.

While we did do a little shopping, the highlight of the day (for me, at least, and I think at least one of the highlights for the rest of my family as well) was riding the Holiday Train!

holidaytrain2016

Oh, how I love the Holiday Train. It’s the same every year, and yet it never gets old. It’s just so pretty and festive!

holidaytraininterior2016

I’m really glad I got to ride the train with my family, too. I tell them about it every time I catch it, but it’s one thing to hear about the Holiday Train and a totally different thing to experience it for yourself. It was fun to show them what I’ve been talking about!

Have you done any holiday activities so far this season?

Thursday Things

1. The holiday season busyness has already caught up with me! Sorry for not getting a post up on Tuesday (see aforementioned busyness). I have a feeling that may be the story of the next month or so.

2. I went home for Thanksgiving, per usual, and we fulfilled all our standard Thanksgiving traditions, including the most important one of all: afternoon bowling. We usually divide our family up into two lanes, and after the first game, the bowlers with the highest scores all switch to one lane (this also happens at the halfway point of our annual cousins mini golf outing, except instead of lanes, we switch who’s on which scorecard). My extremely athletic cousin and his wife now live in Guatemala, my other cousin currently lives in Guinea, and my sister lives in Mississippi, which means I have substantially less competition, since none of them come home for Thanksgiving. For the second year in a row (also the second year all of them have been gone – probably not a coincidence), I made it to the winner’s lane for the second game this year! I actually had one fo the best bowling outings of my life, throwing a 97 for the first game and, in an extremely rare turn of events, doing better in game two than game one with a 110! I came in fourth overall (…out of seven. Haha), which I think is the best I’ve ever done. I’m happy to sign autographs at any time.

3. On the day after Thanksgiving, most of my family got together again to cut down Christmas trees in The Middle of Nowhere, West Michigan.

christmastreeshopping

I don’t remember the last time I actually went to a Christmas tree farm. Maybe middle school? It’s been a really, really long time, and even though I was woefully underprepared in my tennis shoes and pea coat (compared to the people who knew what they were doing and wore rain boots and heavy winter coats), it was a lot of fun!

I was quite surprised to learn just how much thought goes into Christmas tree purchasing. If I had been there to buy a tree for myself, I would’ve chopped down the first one I saw of appropriate height and called it a day. My family, apparently, does not operate that way. We thoughtfully considered several trees before finally settling on The Perfect One (which, as far as I can tell, looks identical to the other ones we considered, as they are all roughly six feet tall, green, and tree-shaped).

christmastree2016

Behold.

While the tree chopping was enjoyable, I’d have to say that my favorite parts of the excursion were the hot chocolate for sale in the barn where you paid for your tree (50 cents! What a steal!) and the horse-drawn wagon ride out to the trees. I may or may not have pretended like we were in Oregon Trail while in the wagon. I’m happy to report that not a single one of my family members came down with scurvy on the trip.

4. Speaking of Christmas and other holiday-related things, I’m having a very difficult time coming up with a Christmas list that meets my mother’s expectations in the quantity department. Is this a mark of adulthood? I’d like to think it’s a mark of adulthood. When I was a kid, I could go through catalogs and come up with 50 things I wanted, no problem. But now that I’m gainfully employed and live in an apartment with extremely limited storage space, I kind of don’t want…anything. I mean, I enjoy the act of opening up presents just as much as the next person, but I have everything I need, and even if I did need something else, I don’t know where on earth I’d put it. Besides, the things I really want–an electric stove/oven so I can stop having panic attacks every time I need to cook food because GAS AND FIRE ARE DANGEROUS, WHY IS THIS A NORMAL THING TO HAVE IN A HOUSE?!, a 30-hour workweek with full benefits and 40-hour workweek pay, to be a faster runner without having to train harder–aren’t exactly things you can put on a Christmas list.

Tuesday Things

1. Guess what I got on Friday?

returntorun

!!

I had my last podiatrist appointment Friday morning, and my doctor thought I was in good enough shape to start a return-to-run program. I couldn’t have been happier. While I suppose, realistically, I probably wouldn’t have done that much running over the past six weeks, I was SUPER over avoiding impact exercise. I’m not about to start doing 30 minutes of squat jumps or anything, but I at least feel like I’m on the road to doing something other than bicep curls, and that, friends, is a wonderful feeling. I’m still stuck in PT until mid-December, but at least I only have to go once a week.

I did my first run/walk on Saturday, and while it was kind of a joke (4:30 walking, :30 running, six times), I was still SO happy to be able to go outside and run a little, even if it was suddenly 30 degrees and insanely windy outside. Worth it. The program builds up a lot faster than I expected, so if all goes well, I’ll be back to doing 30 minutes of nonstop running by Dec. 10, which lines up conveniently with the 5K I have scheduled for Dec. 17. While I normally don’t walk so much during my runs, I think this will be a good way to not only help my muscles/joints acclimate to running, but my cardiovascular system as well. A brief glance at my resting heart rate as tracked by Fitbit shows that I’ve most certainly lost fitness since October, and I really doubt I’d be able to run for 30 minutes straight without stopping right now if I wanted to – or at the very least, even if I could, it would be FAR less comfortable than usual. While I may not have the stellar 5K I hoped for, at least I should be able to complete it. At this point, that’s plenty for me.

2. I never really had the chance to talk about this earlier this month, but on the Saturday after the Cubs won the World Series, I completed the requisite pilgrimage to Wrigley Field to take pictures and bask in the glory of the championship.

worldserieschampsmarquee

Earlier this year, people started writing messages on the bricks of Wrigley, and throughout the playoffs, the walls became covered with chalk. It was truly a sight to behold, and I thought it was really awesome of the Cubs to let people do that to their stadium.

wrigleychalk

There was a big crowd on Waveland, and upon further investigation, it turned out that the crowd was there because players were coming out of the locker room and going to the player’s parking lot. Jake Arrieta (allegedly) came out right before I was there, but I did see Travis Wood!

traviswood

That was pretty exciting.

3. This is the first year that I’ve worked a full day the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (“full” day, really – the office closes two hours early), and I have to say, I am not looking forward to it at. all. The rest of my department took the whole day off, so I’ll be the only one around, and I imagine I’ll spend the majority of my day staring at the clock, willing it to turn to 3:00 so I can leave. I guess this is what I get for taking a long weekend to go to Vegas and six days to go out to Seattle earlier this year. I have to say, I miss working for a company where your “allocated” PTO was really just there for appearances. On the other hand, I do very much like having health insurance, so I suppose there are pros and cons both ways.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Las Vegas

I’m back from my first trip to Las Vegas, and man, what an adventure. After the way everything turned out with the election last week, I was more than happy to escape reality for a long weekend and spend some time with no responsibilities or concerns.

vegasstrip

Five people, including me, made up our party, and we all met up in Vegas on Friday. Our pilot announced that it was 72 and sunny when we touched down, and I welcomed the opportunity to walk around in shorts and flip flops with open arms. As it turned out, the flip flops may not have been my brightest idea (they were SuperFeet flip flops, but still didn’t provide the ankle support I need right now as I continue to recover from whatever I did to myself during the Chicago Marathon and left me pretty sore and booted for the next day or so), but regardless, it felt so nice to have the sun on my face and warm air against my skin.

Three out of the five of us ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon, which was the whole point for the trip in the first place. I had planned to run, but after getting injured dropped out of the race. When I registered, I chose to buy the refund insurance policy, and I’m so glad I did. I received all of my money back, including fees and all of that extra stuff (aside from the $10 or so I spent on the policy in the first place), and while I was still incredibly bummed to not run, getting my money back took a bit of the sting away.

After filling up on appetizers at YardHouse, we went to the Las Vegas Convention Center for packet pickup, where I cursed myself over and over again for getting hurt and not being able to run. We spent 45 minutes or so there before returning back to the Strip area. While three people from our group stayed at Excalibur, I stayed a block off the Strip (which sounds a bit closer than it actually was – a Las Vegas block is much longer than a Chicago block!), so after swinging by where I stayed to change out of flip flops and into jeans, since the temperature was quickly dropping, we headed over to Excalibur.

I expected to see all sorts of things I don’t normally see in my day-to-day life in Vegas–opulence, excess, public drunkenness, near-total nakedness, etc.–but what I did not expect was indoor smoking. I was absolutely shocked that you can smoke inside a casino, and somewhat hilariously, I think I found this more offensive than anything else that happened during the entire trip. I’m old enough to remember when restaurants had smoking and non-smoking sections, and to remember the days when bowling alleys smelled like ashtrays, but it’s become so normal for smoking to be an activity that only takes place 15 feet or more away from a door that to see people smoking indoors felt as archaic and bizarre as it would be to walk into an office and find only typewriters instead of computers.

I quickly learned that I have no interest in gambling (hardly a surprise, considering I have a hard time talking myself into spending more than $25 on just about anything even when I knowI’m getting something in return, like food, clothes, an experience, etc., so naturally I’m not particularly keen on spending money to play a game that might get me more money, but most likely will not), so the time we spent in casinos wasn’t the highlight of the trip for me. My highlights, rather, fell under the “Food” and “Sightseeing” categories.

Food
While in Vegas, we ate at:
YardHouse
FatBurger
The Paradise Buffet (located inside Flamingo)
Hugo’s Cellar
Pantry (located inside The Mirage)
Johnny Rocket’s (located inside Excalibur, though probably other places as well)
Amorino Gelato
Serendipity 3

Of these, I particularly liked Hugo’s, Pantry, and Serendipity 3 all for different reasons:

Hugo’s, because it was, hands down, the fanciest place I’ve ever eaten, and I was treated like a freaking princess. I got a rose as soon as I walked in the restaurant, the host pulled out my chair for me, the wait staff took my order before anyone else’s, and I absolutely loved it, because I’m the most hypocritical feminist of all time. But beyond that, the whole dining experience itself was top notch. They make your salads table side at Hugo’s – as in, the roll out a cart with all the ingredients you could want on a salad and ask you which specific ones you want while they build it for you right there. We got raspberry sorbet between the salad course and the main course for “palate cleansing” and hot towels at the end of the meal to clean up. It. Was. Awesome.

Pantry, because it was really cute, our waitress was the nicest human you’ve ever met, and the pancakes were delicious.

Serendipity 3, because it allowed me to live out all of my Gossip Girl dreams. I read most (all?) of the Gossip Girl series when I was in high school, and I can’t tell you how many times they mentioned the frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity in those books. I’ve dreamed for the better part of a decade of eating there, and while the Las Vegas location is obviously not the New York location, I’ll take what I can get. The frozen hot chocolate, in case you were wondering, was absolutely delicious.

Fortunately, our trip involved a lot of walking (my step counts were 22,370 [9.47 miles], 21,438 [9.11 miles], 27,230 [11.52 miles] and 16,917 [7.16 miles] on the days we were there), so I didn’t feel at all bad about my insane overindulgence for four straight days.

Sightseeing
While in Vegas, we saw:
– The Strip (obviously)
– The dancing fountains at Bellagio
– The High Roller at Linq
– Cirque de Soleil’s KA at the MGM Grand
– Fremont Street (“Old Vegas”)
– The Hershey Store
– The M&Ms store
– The flamingos at Flamingo
– And a billion hotels/casinos, including Excalibur, New York New York, MGM Grand, Aria, Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, The Mirage, the Flamingo, Harrah’s, Linq, Four Queens, The Venetian, Planet Hollywood and Paris.

Of these, I particularly liked…well, everything.

Seeing the Strip lit up at night was breathtaking. All of the lights are unlike anything I had ever seen, at least until we went up to Fremont Street, where those lights put the lights on the Strip to shame, in my opinion.

oldvegas

I saw three dancing fountain shows: This Kiss, Hey Big Spender, and Viva Las Vegas (which was, without question, the most appropriate final show to see of the trip). All of these truly were a sight to behold. The choreography of the fountains to the music alone was cool, but what really impressed me was the height of the water. I’ve never before seen fountains that shoot water so high into the air, and it was so, so cool.

highroller

The High Roller is the world’s tallest observation wheel (a Ferris wheel, basically), and reaches 550 feet at its top. We went on Sunday evening after Rock ‘n’ Roll ended (we got on at about 8:15), and there wasn’t even a little bit of a line to buy tickets or get on the wheel. I really don’t think you could pick a wrong time to go on the wheel, since you’ll either get to see the mountains during the daytime or the lights during the nighttime. I would love to go on again sometime during the day, but night certainly wasn’t half bad.

viewfromhighroller

It was breathtaking. The whole experience improved 100 times when we noticed that we could see the fountain area at Bellagio after we crested the top of the circle, and I checked my Fitbit to find out it was exactly 8:30. Bellagio fountain shows run every 15 minutes starting at 8:00 (it’s every 30 minutes before that), so within a few seconds we were treated to a Bellagio show from 50 stories up in the air. The only bummer with that, of course, was that you couldn’t hear the music, but it was still cool to watch, and really provided a unique perspective on how high the water gets during the shows.

bellagiofountainshighroller

We went to KA on Saturday night, and I enjoyed the parts of it I actually manged to stay awake for😦 Even without drinking, Vegas was a crazily exhausting experience, and if you put me down in a chair and didn’t put food in front of me, I usually passed out pretty quickly. The show was stunning and inspiring, but I dozed off several times and missed almost the entirety of the last scene😦 The acrobatics that I saw, however, were simply incredible, and I’d really like to see the show again sometime…maybe with a bit of caffeine in me beforehand😉

We wrapped up Sunday night with trips to the Hershey store in New York, New York and the M&Ms store on the Strip. I’ve been to Hershey stores before, so while I never mind being surrounded by chocolate, my excitement there could not hold a candle to the excitement I felt in the M&Ms store, particularly when we got to the second floor and discovered AN ENTIRE WALL OF M&MS FOR SALE IN BULK. That, friends, is what my dreams are truly made of. M&Ms are probably my favorite candy (I like quantity when it comes to food, so if you presented me with a serving of one chocolate bar or one bag of M&Ms, I’m going to pick the M&Ms every time), so that was basically all I’ve ever wanted out of life. They had every color of the rainbow–not just traditional M&M colors, but cool ones like silver and dark blue and maroon and black and pastels–AND, on top of that, they have every variety of M&Ms known to man (in November), including your standard specials like pretzel M&Ms or peanut butter M&Ms, but also seasonal flavors like pecan pie and candy corn and double chocolate and THREE different kinds of mint M&Ms, including regular mint M&Ms, holiday mint M&Ms, and peppermint M&Ms. I was beside myself.

Given my love for birdies, I obviously loved seeing the flamingos at The Flamingo, and may or may not have come home with a stuffed animal flamingo to commemorate the trip.

flamingos

And walking through the hotels/casinos was quite the experience. I especially liked Bellagio with its Chihuly glass installation on the lobby ceiling:

chihuly

and its seasonal room, all dressed up like fall:

bellagioseasonalroom

But I also really liked Caesar’s Palace and how it looked (what I assume it looks) like in Rome:

caesars

Though perhaps nothing of the entire trip made me geek out more than visiting Planet Hollywood, former home to Vegas Week on So You Think You Can Dance. While I couldn’t poke around the entire hotel, you better I did my best to find places they showed on the show, including, of course, the driveway where they all pull up before Vegas week gets under way:

planethollywood

I had no particular expectations going into this trip, because I had never really imagined myself going to Vegas, ever. It did remind me a bit of when I went to New Orleans this year, what with the “adult playground” vibe both cities have in their respective entertainment districts, just without the historic architecture. I had a great time in Vegas, though, and really hope to go back next year — this time, without an injured foot/ankle and a half marathon on my schedule.

Have you ever been to Vegas?

Thursday Thing

1. Just one thing today.

I can’t bring myself to come up with three trivial things to talk about today. I don’t know what I would’ve put in this post–maybe something about visiting Wrigley Field on Saturday, or starting PT, or going to Vegas this weekend–but none of it seems to matter.

I’m still processing Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. I truly can’t remember the last time I cried as much as I cried on Wednesday. This feels like a horrible dream, but I won’t have the relief of waking up with a start and finding out it was all in my imagination. This is real.

My sister works for a nonprofit that assists those living in low-income housing. Her day-to-day work forces her to confront the reality–not the illusion, the reality–of the disenfranchisement that results from decades and decades and decades and centuries and centuries of discrimination and systematic racism. Last weekend, she attended the funeral of a four-year-old boy who died after he was hit by a car, and you know what they said at that funeral? That the attendees should be happy because he won’t have to go through life on earth that would be full of disappointment and despair and heartbreak. And on Wednesday, when she walked with the moms who live in the housing where she works, that they talked about how they are terrified they’ll lose all of their support, but at the same time have resigned themselves to the fact that they’ll have to “keep dealing with this as we always have.”

That. Is. Not. Okay.

That. Will. NEVER. Be. Okay.

I have led a very privileged life. I have never once feared for my safety while practicing my religion. I have never once feared for my safety while practicing public displays of affection. I have never once feared that I will be denied the right to marry the person I love. I have never once been tailed in a store, or looked at suspiciously on public transportation, because no one has ever, once, assumed that I would steal or rob or otherwise engage in unlawfulness exclusively because of the color of my skin, or the color of my skin combined with my sex. I am acutely aware of the fact that all of those things make me unspeakably lucky, because that is the day-to-day reality of so many people in this country. If I had died when I was four years old, no one would have even thought to say I was lucky to not have to go through life with the deck permanently, systematically, inherently stacked against me.

I cried for so many people and so many reason on Wednesday. I cried for the people who live in my sister’s housing complexes, who will now have to answer to a president endorsed by the KKK, which exists because of hatred against the people who live in my sister’s housing complexes. I cried for my Muslim coworkers, who will not only continue to face judgment and prejudice, but will likely face it to an even worse degree than they did before. I cried for my Jewish former coworkers, who for the millionth time in history have been conveniently scapegoated. I cried for my brother, and my cousin, and well over half the population of my church, who already fight every single day to be accepted for who they are and who they love. I cried for every single person who depends on the marketplace for health insurance. I cried for every woman in this country, who will likely not only face additional hurdles to even obtaining contraception in the first place, but should their birth control fail, could very easily have limited, if any, say in what happens to her own body, and, beyond that, now has to confront even more than usual the fact that we have all known since we had the ability to comprehend discrimination: that no amount of qualification or experience can overcome the prejudice we face simply for being born with two x chromosomes.

I cried because hatred won.

I don’t know how we move forward from here. I just hope that that is the direction in which we move: forward. There is no making America great “again.” That greatness is a myth. That greatness never existed for the underprivileged, for the marginalized, for many, many, many people who form the fabric of this nation. America will never be great, now or any time in the future, until racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, and all the other oozing masses of discrimination that permeate our entire culture are forced to sit down and shut up, are told there is no place for them at the table. Because greatness and hatred will not and cannot coexist. Ever.

In the mean time, if you want to do something tangible to work to increase greatness and decrease hatred, I recommend looking through this list to find dozens of organizations that are doing just that and now, perhaps more than ever, could use your support.

Kyrie eleison.

Fly The W

On June 26, 2013, I was in my apartment when Bryan Bickell scored a tying goal in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals with just over a minute left to play. I hadn’t watched a single game of the playoffs that year and worried that starting at that point would spell doom for the Blackhawks, but I also didn’t want to miss watching them win. I turned on the TV, and, seconds after doing so, saw Dave Bolland strike for the Hawks, putting them up by one and leading to their eventual win. Almost immediately after the final horn sounded, I heard fireworks, cars honking, people cheering in the streets. Never before in my life had I seen anything like it. I wasn’t in Wrigleyville that night, but the photos and videos said it all. Chaos, everywhere. Removed barricades, broken windows, thousands and thousands of fans, drunk on alcohol and bliss, partying in ground zero for Chicago sports fans.

I don’t remember if I texted it to my parents or wrote it in my diary or said it to a roommate, but I do, very clearly, remember saying after that occasion, “The Cubs can NEVER win the World Series. Wrigleyville will burn to the ground.”

Folks, I’m happy to report that I was there when it happened, and the neighborhood still stands.

The past month has unlike anything I’ve ever experienced as a sports fan. I’ve ridden the emotional roller coaster of playoffs plenty of times in the past: the crushing pain and anger of losing when it counted, the soaring elation and ecstasy of winning when it mattered. But nothing was quite like this.

wedidnotsuck

Last Sunday, I was sure it was over. I watched the Tigers play the Cardinals in the World Series in 2006 and watched this scene play out identically a decade earlier: lose the first game, win the second, lose the following three and the series. Down 1-3, I was convinced the Cubs didn’t stand a chance, particularly given that they would need to win three straight games IN Cleveland to bring home the Commissioner’s Trophy. When they managed to pull off a win in Game 5, I felt better, but still not convinced. I didn’t watch one second of Game 6, arguing that I didn’t want to see them lose, and if they didn’t lose, I could watch Wednesday’s game instead. In truth, all of my sports superstitions had resurrected during the World Series. The Cubs had runaway victories when I didn’t watch, but when I did watch, they would only squeak by if they even won at all. I didn’t watch Game 6 because I worried the Cubs would lose if I did.

I had made dinner plans for last Wednesday the Saturday before, when the series still stood at 1-1. Dinner ended up taking place at Warehouse on Fullerton and Southport, a relatively small bar far enough from Wrigleyville to not charge a cover or have a line of people outside waiting to get in. Every customer wore Cubbie blue, every TV showed FOX. When Fowler hit his lead-off home run, the place exploded in excitement. What a way to start a game!

I couldn’t relax until we had a decent lead, at which point my group headed up to Wrigleyville. We had to be there when it happened. An event 108 years in the making: you don’t miss something like that, not if it means something to you. We took an Uber as far north and east as we could go, and then walked from Belmont and Racine to Seminary and Eddy, where the police let us pass through the barricades into Wrigleyville. We watched Chapman blow it through the windows of HVAC, and all of my optimism vanished. When the game went into a rain delay, we left, figuring we’d make it home before the game began. I found myself thinking, without a trace of sarcasm or irony, “Well, there’s always next year.” But it was supposed to this year. Cubs fans have been waiting for next year since 1908. I’d been waiting for next year since I arbitrarily decided I liked Sammy Sosa more than Mark McGwire and thus became a Cubs fan 90 years later. I went to the marathon Mother’s Day game because I wanted to say I had seen the World Series champs play this year. I didn’t want to wait another year, and neither did anyone else (except, perhaps, for Clevelanders.).

thisisouryear

When we got to Wellington and Racine, we saw the game had restarted through the windows of Northwoods, and stood outside to watch the top of the 10th. After gaining the lead, we hurried back to Wrigleyville, running the last half mile (don’t tell my podiatrist) to make it to the intersection of Seminary and Eddy once again before the game ended. Police wouldn’t let anyone through the barricades at that point, so we strained on our tip toes to see over the crowds into the windows of HVAC, but you certainly didn’t need a clear view to know what had happened, with fielding from Bryant and a catch from Rizzo to end the game, the series, and the drought.

I wasn’t in Wrigleyville when the Hawks won in 2013 or 2015, so I can’t compare Wednesday night to either of those occasions. But the excitement, the elation, the disbelief, the relief was unlike anything I had ever witnessed, ever. We got onto Clark Street through Cornelia, where the police had stopped preventing people from entering, and got caught up in a crowd of people that puts every Lollapalooza experience I’ve had to shame.

wrigleyvillecubswinworldseries

I came into work late on Thursday and barely put in any time on Friday, but I wouldn’t trade anything to take back those hours of PTO. Slightly east of the corner of Randolph and Michigan, I became part of the seventh largest gathering of people in human history on Friday, as I and five million–five million! That’s nearly two times the population of the entire city!–others cheered on the Cubs as they paraded through the North Side down to Grant Park.

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I know it’s easy to be cynical about sports: they don’t matter, there are more important things to worry about, it doesn’t mean anything, etc. But I think this World Series run shows why sports do matter. While I’m sure plenty of people in the city didn’t care about the games, and some diehard Sox fans likely actively cheered against the Cubs, the display of citywide unity for something positive was simply inspiring. For weeks on my commutes, not a day went by without seeing someone in Cubs gear. Buildings all around town, from homes to small businesses to Loop high rises, flew W flags. Every skyscraper in the city changed its lights to blue. In a season of negativity and anxiety and hatred and vitriol, Chicago had something to hope for. I don’t think that means nothing. Call it escapism if you want, but I think we were more than overdue for good news to come out of Chicago. For “It’s Gonna Happen” to feel less like a threat or blind optimism, but more like a confident, belief-filled cry. For something to bring people together rather than tear them apart. If it takes a baseball team to make that happen, I think that alone argues for why sports matter.

Go Cubs Go.

#FlyTheW

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Thursday Things

1. While I can’t say that I particularly enjoy biking to keep my cardio up while I’m still forbidden from engaging in impact exercise, I will say that it has helped me get SO much reading done! I used to be great about reading during my commute, but that habit has fallen more and more by the wayside as time goes on, since I usually opt to either play on my phone (in my defense, it is easier to scroll through my phone one-handed while using my other hand to hold onto something while standing on a moving train than it is to try to read a book–and even more so, turn pages–one-handed under the same circumstances) or do nothing at all. Because I find working out on cardio machines (including, but not limited to, stationary bikes, treadmills, and ellipticals) unspeakably boring, I’ve brought reading material with me on all of my bike rides, and suddenly I’m blowing through books like never before! Turns out 30-45 minutes of dedicated reading time three times a week does wonders for making progress on your library materials. On Monday, I made it all the way through Act One of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in one bike ride.

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(Technically, this isn’t “library material,” because I borrowed it from a person, not an institution, but same concept.)

I’ve enjoyed Cursed Child, but reading a play is a vastly different experience from reading a novel. Short lines of dialogue broken up into quick scenes makes it easy to get through quickly, but the lack of narration obviously means you miss out on a lot of the details you’d get in a novel. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to finish the book, though😉

2. On my way home from that bike ride/reading session, I took a walk through my neighborhood to make sure I hit 10,000 steps for the day (a much bigger challenge, now that I’m not running!). It was Halloween and early evening, so I wasn’t at all surprised to see trick-or-treaters out and about, but I was quite surprised to discover that apparently, at least in my neighborhood, it is more or less standard practice to fill a bowl with candy and leave it unattended on your porch. This is my third Halloween in my neighborhood (though admittedly the first one when I was outside during the trick-or-treating witching hour), and I had never seen this before! Is this standard practice in Chicago neighborhoods? Back in my day, you had to ring a stranger’s doorbell and endure the awful social discomfort that comes from begging an adult you’ve never met for candy (or maybe that was just me who got nervous about that sort of thing.). You didn’t get candy without putting in at least a tiny bit of work! I’m sure it’s a lot easier for the homeowners to not have to constantly get up from their seat to hand out candy–or maybe they ALL have babies and/or dogs they didn’t want disturbed by ringing doorbells?–but it was still a huge surprise to see this. In an admirable display of self-control and acting my age, I did not raid a single one of those free-for-all candy bowls, even though I wanted to. I so wish trick-or-treating were acceptable behavior for 26 year olds.

3. Last Wednesday evening, Erin hosted an event at Shoe Drop’s first brick-and-mortar location in River North. Despite the fact that my footwear at the time was distinctly un-polish-able (“my footwear” consisting of one running shoe and my boot), I really enjoyed myself! For those unfamiliar, Shoe Drop is a Chicago startup that allows you to drop off shoes that need repairing at locations around the city, including stores or Pressbox locations. Shoe Drop will pick up your shoes, take them to their repair facility in the West Loop, do whatever needs to be done to bring your shoes up to your standards, and bring them back to wherever you left them in the first place. How’s that for convenience?

I don’t invest much in my non-running footwear (or, you know, wardrobe in general. There’s a reason I’m not a fashion blogger.), so shoe repair has honestly never crossed my mind. However, if I did put down a good amount of money for shoes, I certainly understand why repairing broken heels or weatherproofing your footwear would be a high priority, not to mention significantly more cost effective and less wasteful than throwing away your original pair and getting a brand new one. Shoe drop also repairs leather bags and belts and offers sneaker cleaning, so if you choose to invest your money in those sorts of items instead, they can still help you out. Big thanks to Erin for hosting!

Have you read Cursed Child yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts, but I definitely don’t want to hear your spoilers!
Have you ever had shoes repaired?