Thursday Things

1. I went to a wedding this past weekend, and the couple picked quite the venue!

fieldmuseumwedding-2

The wedding was at the Field Museum, and o.m.g. It was AMAZING. Obviously the ceremony itself was stunning. If you’ve ever been to the Field Museum, you know how incredible the Stanley Field Hall (the main part of the museum when you enter) is. Soaring ceilings, sculptures, arches, columns, a titanosaur: it’s impressive regardless of whether or not it’s been decorated for a wedding.

fieldmuseumwedding-1

But what I especially loved (aside from seeing the couple, celebrating their union, and all the things you do at a wedding regardless of the venue) was that we had the ENTIRE museum, aside from special exhibits, to ourselves, and were free to roam through them as we pleased (as long as we didn’t bring food or drinks into them). Don’t want to socialize during cocktail hour? Go look at some gemstones! Tired of dancing? Go visit the dinosaurs! There were only about 150 people at the wedding, which, given the size of the museum, basically amounted to having the place to ourselves. Once again, if you’ve ever been to the Field Museum, you know that normally it’s quite crowded (not to mention $$ to get into). Seeing the exhibits without hordes of other visitors was insane! I mean, look at this picture I took of SUE:

SUE

There are no humans in it! At all! That is not how things ever go at the Field Museum! 10/10, would recommend making friends with a couple with a wedding booked at the Field Museum.

2. It took exactly two commutes in my car to come to the conclusion that driving to and from work is the absolute worst, and anyone who thinks otherwise can only possibly think so because they haven’t had access to reliable, thorough public transportation.

Last Thursday was the first time I ever drove to work for a “real” job (i.e.: not a summer job), and I would like to formally retract any complaint I ever lodged against the CTA over the past seven years. Sure, the CTA has its issues, and when you’re waiting in subzero temperatures for a train to show up, or open up Transit Stop to see that the next bus won’t arrive for another 25 minutes, or have to try to get around on a Sunday when the train line you normally use is closed for the weekend AGAIN, it’s easy to see the appeal of driving vs. relying on an underfunded transportation authority to get you where you need to go. But here’s the thing about public transportation: once you get on it, you can check out. I mean, yes, you should have a basic awareness of what’s going on around you from a safety standpoint, but if you want to play on your phone, read a book, or just watch the world go by outside your window for the duration of your trip, you’re free to do so.

Not so with driving! My normal habit on Friday afternoons was to pull up Facebook as soon as I left the office (I try to stay off Facebook and Twitter on weekdays) and scroll through it mindlessly my whole commute home, and it occurred to me last Friday that that would not be an option, as I had to drive my car. There would be no checking out, no daydreaming, no blankly watching the world pass me by. I’d have to stay mentally engaged for another 35-40 minutes while I navigated heavy machinery past other heavy machinery at high rates of speed–and of course, I had to do that on the way to work as well. Instead of having to be “on” for eight hours (plus a 30 minute lunch), I now had to be “on” for closer to 10 hours.

What a scam! Who’s bright idea was this?! As far as I’m concerned, the autonomy/independence you gain from driving your own vehicle does not even come CLOSE to outweighing the luxury of going immediately into weekend mode the second you walk out of the office on Friday. I, a definite introvert, would rather be on a train with a bunch of strangers I can ignore in favor of my phone/book/the scenery than alone in my car but constantly thinking about what I have to do next to get to my destination safely. I’m now convinced the only reason cars caught on (and stayed caught on) is because public transportation outside urban centers (and sometimes, in urban centers) in the United States is so poor that most people don’t realize what they’re missing.

3. I’m so bummed out about the weather 😦 I have to be in the city tonight, so I thought I was going to be able to sneak in one more run commute between work and my event this evening, but then it had to go and be 90 million degrees with a heat index of 1903823494239834, so no run commute for me 😦 I’ll be attempting to do yoga in my old apartment instead (“attempting” because my landlord has ripped up most of the carpet now that we’re 99% moved out, so most of the place is just wood floors, and not the nice kind – the “need to wear shoes at all times inside, staples sticking out of it,” kind. But there’s a little area that still has carpet, and I think I could do yoga there.

That being said, I wish CARA would cancel our long run on Saturday. I really doubt it’ll happen–the fact that they sent out an email yesterday specifically saying they won’t cancel doesn’t do much to raise my hopes–but I’m still crossing all my fingers and toes just in case. I don’t understand how running through an Excessive Heat Warning is better than calling it off, especially on a cutback week, especially so early in marathon season, especially since as a group leader, I don’t have the option of not showing up if I feel like it’s not safe to run (spoiler alert: if it’s going to be as hot as they’re saying it’s going to be, I’m not going to feel like it’s safe to run). Of course, who knows what the temperature will actually be on Saturday, so maybe all my righteous indignation is for nothing. That would be a first 😛

Thursday Things

1. As you may have gathered if you read my training recap earlier this week, I’m officially a suburbanite.

I moved last Wednesday, and the move itself went well. I hired The Professionals, the same movers I’ve used for the past two moves, and they were just as fantastic this time around as they were in 2014 and 2017. I’ve always been impressed with their efficiency, but in the past, I was only moving a single bedroom a little down the road. This time, I was moving an entire two-bedroom apartment to the suburbs. The entire process, from the time they parked at my apartment in the city to the time they left my apartment in the suburbs, took two and a half hours. Two and a half hours! That’s it! I still can’t believe it. If you ever need movers in the city, I can’t recommend them enough. I don’t like spending money, but I’ve never regretted a single cent I’ve spent on movers.

The whole process was a lot less traumatic than I anticipated, which was nice. I was sure leaving the city would break my heart into a million pieces, but I didn’t cry at all. Of course, I’ve been itching to get out of my current apartment since last winter (like January 2018 last winter) and was so thoroughly over packing that I guess it’s maybe not all that surprising that moving felt more like a relief than a loss.

2. Life post-move, however, has just been one thing after the other.

It started Wednesday night/early Thursday morning, when I was startled awake by scratching and squeaking that seemed to be coming from the wall by my bed. Whatever it was sounded way too big to be a mouse, so I spent the rest of the night with visions of rats and/or opossums gnawing their way through my walls. The next day being July 4, the management office wasn’t open, and animals didn’t make the list of after-hours emergencies according to the after-hours maintenance phone number’s message, so there was nothing to be done until Friday. I did spend some time looking out the window Thursday evening, though, and discovered 1) that the creatures were not in the walls, but rather scratching against the walls from the outside and 2) that said creatures were not rats or opossums, but a family of skunks. Delightful.

The building contacted a pest control company that has now set catch-and-release traps for the skunks outside their burrow (which, upon further inspection, was pretty obvious from the mound of dirt they had dug up). I was really concerned the building would hire someone that would kill the skunks, so I was relieved to find out they only plan to catch them and move them somewhere more appropriate. I don’t have anything against them–the babies especially are super cute!–but it’s probably not best for the structure to have them scratching at it every night (and it’s definitely not best for my sleep quality). Plus, they are a bit on the stinky side, and I would prefer that my room doesn’t smell like Pepe Le Pew.

As I also mentioned in my training recap on Monday, I started to come down with a cold on Friday, and it has been brutal. Coughing, congestion, sinus pressure, sneezing, headaches, runny nose, low grade fever, malaise: the whole nine yards. Maybe I don’t get colds often enough to remember how long they normally last, but this one has felt particularly long-lived. Given my mucus-y cough (you’re welcome), I’m pretty sure it devolved into a case of bronchitis, similar to what I dealt with during week 11 of marathon season 2014. (My training recap next week, spoiler alert, will look pretty similar to that one, though with more rest and less yoga.)

I can’t say I’m surprised, given my through-the-roof stress level and non-existent sleep schedule over the past month (I normally average about 7:0x minutes of sleep per week; in the month before the move, I was averaging more like 6:2x or 6:3x, and hadn’t had eight hours since the night of May 31 into June 1. Yikes.). I do wish my immune system would take care of it, though.

And then, just to top EVERYTHING off, I worked from home on Monday and, when preparing my breakfast, was struck by how soft the English muffin I took out of the fridge felt. A few hours later, I went back for yogurt, and was struck by how creamy it felt, and not in a good way. I stuck a thermometer in the fridge and got a reading of 58 degrees, which is, you know, a bit higher than the at-or-below 40 degrees the FDA recommends.

So I, clearly the simplest tenant to manage of all time, submitted yet another request to maintenance, who came by in short order and, upon opening the frost-filled freezer, let out an audible, “Oof.” Turns out the vents from the freezer to the fridge were blocked, which kept the fan from working, which led to major ice buildup in the freezer and April-esque temperatures in the fridge. He got everything back in working order before lunch, which I very much appreciated, but sheesh. Can’t a girl just settle into her new apartment in peace?!

3. Despite my various woes, I do have to say that I really like my new apartment. I liked the character of my old place, but my new place is a lot more comfortable for several reasons. I have central air, a dishwasher, and in-unit laundry, none of which I had in my previous apartment. I have an en-suite bathroom, which I’ve never had in my life. But the biggest comfort-adder, by a long shot, is this:

electricstove

AN ELECTRIC STOVE!!!!!! *all the praise hand emojis*

I have loathed gas stoves since the moment I started having to live with them. You would think I’d adapt to them over the course of seven years, but nope. I hated them more and more as time went on, and it eventually got to the point where I flat out stopped using them. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in living situations since 2014 where I’ve rarely had to cook, and when I did need to cook, was able to finagle my way into meals using electric appliances and/or food that didn’t need to be cooked.

Gas stoves were an enormous source of stress and anxiety for me in all three of my Chicago apartments. I never lived with one prior to moving to Chicago, and in fact never even knew anyone who had one prior to living in Chicago. The idea of piping highly combustible gas into my living space and then intentionally lighting it on fire seemed to defy all logic to me (still seems to defy all logic to me), especially when there was a perfectly viable alternative in electric stoves. Sure, gas stoves may provide finer temperature control, but I’m not aiming to win Iron Chef over here. I just want to be able to feed myself without constantly worrying about gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning, or something quickly and easily catching fire from an open flame. While none of those things were likely to happen, the knowledge that they could happen was enough to literally keep me up at night, and I have spent the past seven years longing to live in peace with my kitchen appliances. I’m so, so happy to be able to 1) cook at all and 2) cook without crushing anxiety for the first time since I moved to Chicago.

(For the record, I think induction stoves are the actual best stove option, because you get precise temperature control with next to no risk of anything catching fire and/or burning yourself. My dream home will have an induction stove, a geothermal heat pump for both heating and cooling, along with hot water add-ons to the heat pump, solar panels all over the roof, a backyard that’s about 85% native plants, 14% fruit/vegetable/herb garden with composting, and 1% grass (to get to the garden), a small front yard with a garden entirely of native plants (and as little grass as I can get away with, because the idea that a good lawn makes you a good person is one more social construct that’s contributing the death of the only known planet that supports human life), a garage with enough electric capacity to support a family of exclusively electric cars, and absolutely zero gas lines connected to the house. Oh, and a smug sense of superiority about the size of my carbon footprint, of course 😉 ).

Thursday Things

1. Well, folks, it’s happened. I’m officially Part of the Problem.

chevyvolt

Ugh.

I spent the most money I’ve ever spent at once on Friday when I purchased this used-by-a-smoker Chevy Volt. It smells gross and has definitely been run on gas more than a Volt should, but whatever. The Chevy Volt options that fit my year requirement, CarFax requirements, and mileage requirements were extremely limited (as in, there were two in the entire Chicago area), so I had to take what I could get.

As I expounded upon last week, I am vehemently anti-personal vehicle, so I loathe the fact that I am now a car owner. That being said, if I had to be a car owner, I figured the least I could do to minimize my impact on the planet’s impending doom was to get as environmentally friendly of a car as I could find. I would’ve preferred to go full electric, but since next to no one around here can be bothered to install charging stations in parking garages or lots, I didn’t trust that I’d have enough charging options to successfully use an electric car. Plus, if I barely had the budget for a Chevy Volt, I certainly don’t have the budget for a Tesla, which is the only electric car I’d feel totally comfortable with from a range perspective without consistent, guaranteed access to chargers.

So a Chevy Volt it is. Volts, in case you’re unaware, are plug-in hybrids. That means you plug them in just like you would any other electric car, and they run on electricity first. Once your battery runs out of juice, it switches over to gas. While plug-in hybrids create more emissions than a full electric vehicle, they also create fewer emissions than a full internal combustion engine (i.e.: normal) vehicle. So I’m not totally saving the planet, but I’m destroying it a little less than I could be.

The general process of driving the car is the same as any other car I’ve driven, though some things have taken some getting used to. This is my first car with a digital dashboard and center console (unsurprisingly, my 2001 Chevy Prizm, whose biggest technological advance was power locks, did not include those features. Ha.), so that’s a bit different than what I’ve had in the past. It is also super, SUPER weird to turn the car on in electric mode and hear absolutely nothing. I knew electric cars were quiet, but it wasn’t until I turned the Volt on to test drive it and wondered if it was actually on that I realized just how quiet they are. Another pro for electric vehicles! Less environmental pollution AND less noise pollution!

As an aside, when looking for this car, I couldn’t believe how many were listed on Carvana – not from a volume perspective, but more from a, “How are people comfortable using Carvana?!” perspective. I’m not comfortable buying pants online, because I don’t know that they’ll fit and don’t want to deal with the hassle of returning them. I cannot FATHOM buying a CAR online and hoping it works. Nooooo thank you.

2. After buying the car, I obviously deserved a treat.

stroopwafelmcflurry1

Stroopwafel McFlurry!!

 

So, my thoughts. If you’re a caramel person, you would LOVE a stroopwafel McFlurry. It was super, duper caramely. I liked having stroopwafels mixed in from a nostalgia perspective (or as nostalgic as one can be over something they experienced like two months ago), but having had fresh-off-the-griddle stroopwafels in the Netherlands, I have to say that warm stroopwafels are a billion times better than cold stroopwafels, and obviously stroopwafels in McFlurries are cold. That’s not to say that cold stroopwafels are bad – just that they’re better warm. Of course, you still get the ooey gooey caramel effect from all the caramel in the McFlurry, so it evens out.

3. While we’re on the topic of desserts, I must tell you about a place I visited two weekends ago: Relo’s Board Game and Dessert Cafe.

reloscoffeecup

I have a friend who’s really into board games, so a few of us got together and went to Relo’s to check it out. I was immediately furious at the injustice over a place like this opening in the city mere months before I move, because it was AWESOME. I’m not that into board games, but I had a total blast! Obviously I was primarily in it for the dessert (which was out of control), but their board game selection was bonkers. They have an entire library sorted by game type (high strategy, low strategy, card games, etc.), and I bet there were well over 100 games to pick from. On top of that, if you’re someone who HATES reading game directions and would much rather have someone explain how to play to you (*raises hand*), the staff will explain the directions of any game to you if you want! It was amazing!!

I’ve been to Guthrie’s Tavern in Wrigleyville a couple of times (a board game bar), but this was a million times better. Desserts instead of alcohol (Relo’s is BYOB if you do want to drink), bright lighting so you can actually see what you’re doing, a HUGE facility with plenty of space, organized game storage: if you want to play board games, I definitely recommend Relo’s over Guthrie’s. There is a $5 charge to play games, but it’s certainly worth it.

relosdessert

Thursday Things

1. I know it’s not exactly groundbreaking news for me to announce on the blog that I’m stressed out, but holy smokes. My upcoming move has me more stressed than any other move I can remember.

There are approximately forty seven gazillion things stressing me out about the move, ranging from “things it makes sense to stress about immediately” to “things I shouldn’t stress about until the move is done, but I’m stressed about anyway.” On my current list:

  • Packing progress and adherence with my established packing project plan, specifically, how I’m not making the progress I’d like to be making and how the project plan is not being adhered to.
  • Availability (or rather, lack thereof) of boxes of appropriate sizes for packing.
  • Coordinating renter’s insurance, which of course had to expire at my current place like a week before I move, making everything more complicated.
  • Setting up utilities, which is proving to be a thousand times more difficult than it should be. This is my first time moving into an unoccupied apartment (vs. moving in with other people who already lived there), and it has been a HEADACHE trying to get everything set up.
  • Buying a car, which deserves it’s own sub-bullets:
    • The fact that I’ve never purchased a car before, and only have a vague idea of what I’m doing, and worry that I will be taken advantage of due to only having a vague idea of what I’m doing.
    • The fact that I’m only considering used cars, and the whole can of worms that has the potential to open (CarFax is basically my #1 most visited website these days).
    • The fact that I’m only really interested in one very specific make and model of car, which is not widely available in my budget.
    • The fact that there is only one car of that very specific make and model in my budget with a clean CarFax available in the entire Chicagoland area right now.
    • The fact that I really need to buy this car this weekend or next weekend at the absolute latest.
    • The fact that I HATE spending money in general, but I especially hate spending it on things I need but don’t want, and of all the things in the whole world available for purchase, the #1 thing I don’t want is a car.
    • The fact that I spend most of my days living in existential angst about climate change and the rapid decline of the environment, and that I am now being forced to contribute to the problem by spending a gigantic sum of money on a hunk of metal I do not want (albeit contributing in a smaller way than I could, as the very specific make and model of car I’m interested in is a plug-in hybrid).
    • The fact that I think we, as a species, would’ve been much better off if personal cars had never been invented, and now I, a firmly, enthusiastically anti-car individual, am going to have the title to one of these planet-ruining, suburb-enabling, isolation-creating, road-rage-inducing things.
  • Getting everything done before the movers arrive.
  • If the theoretical new tenants of my current apartment (as far as I know, it hasn’t been rented yet) will have interest in purchasing some of the furnishings we’re selling, and if not, how to dispose of them in a budget and environmentally friendly way.
  • The entire unpacking process, and the crying it has the tendency to induce.
  • Figuring out and adjusting to the logistics of living in a new place (and owning a car), including:
    • Where will I run?
    • Are the most logical areas I’ve identified to run in safe?
    • Are the most logical areas I’ve identified to run in well populated (i.e.: is there regular, consistent foot and/or vehicle traffic in the area that will both discourage someone from attacking me and will provide ample opportunities for witnesses should I collapse mid-run [a constant, though likely irrational, fear of mine]?)?
    • How long will it take me to commute to our current suburban office?
    • How long will it take me to commute to our new suburban office?
    • How often will the Metra derail (hopefully only in the figurative sense) my intentions of working downtown?
    • How are my Tuesdays going to work, what with therapy and dance being in the city and my house not being in the city?
    • How is my budget going to need to be adjusted to reflect:
      • Higher rent
      • More utilities
      • The costs of car ownership (charging costs, gas, saving for inevitable repairs, insurance)
  • The fact that this new apartment is intended to be temporary, which means there’s a not-zero chance I’ll have to go through all of this again in a year.

In case you didn’t feel like counting, that’s 31 things I’m actively stressed about. Even for me, that’s pretty high. And this is just what I’m stressed about, not any of the other emotional distress I feel about leaving the city, of which there is plenty.

I realize there are some things on that list, particularly the logistics of living in my new apartment, that I don’t need to worry about right now–but knowing I don’t need to worry about them and not worrying about them are two very different things. I know this is just a season, and in two months or so when this is all over I’ll have forgotten how terrible it all was, but boy, that sure doesn’t make things more fun in the mean time.

2. On an entirely different note, I pulled up a Jonas Brothers interview to watch on YouTube while I stretched post-run on Monday (as one does), and this particular video was preceded by an ad from McDonald’s, promoting its new “World Favorites” menu. When I was in Europe, I was curious about the menu at McDonald’s in the countries I visited, so this caught my attention. It particularly caught my attention, though, when I saw the Dutch flag on a McFlurry.

You guys. McDonald’s in the U.S. is now selling stroopwafel McFlurries. Be still my wishes-it-were-still-in-the-Netherlands heart!

This is both very exciting (because duh. Stroopwafels are delicious and McFlurries are also delicious.) and very surprising, because when I was in the Netherlands, I specifically looked for stroopwafel McFlurries and there were none. (And by “specifically looked for” I mean “looked at online menus.” I don’t think we actually went into a McDonald’s in the Netherlands, so I can’t remember if we looked at any physical in-store menus or not.) I wanted to check because London had Cadbury Creme Egg McFlurries in honor of Easter, which made me wonder what other international McDonald’s offered in the McFlurry department. I really hoped Dutch McDonald’s would have stroopwafel McFlurries and fully intended on trying one if they did. But all I saw were “rood fruit” McFlurries (“red fruit”), which did not interest me in the least. Now I can try a stroopwafel McFlurry here! I don’t even need to go to the McDonald’s HQ in the West Loop to do it, never mind the Netherlands! Though let’s be honest: I’ll take whatever excuse I can get to go back to the Netherlands, and I’m not about stroopwafel McFlurries being that excuse 😛

Fear not: I shall report back once I have so you will all know my opinions on it.

3. We’ll skip a third thing this week since this is already plenty long 🙂

Thursday Things

1. I assume you’ve all listened to the new Jonas Brothers album, Happiness Begins, by now so we can discuss it, yes? Excellent!

I, obviously, downloaded it the second I woke up Friday morning and made sure I brought headphones to work so I could listen to it on my phone all day (well, mostly all day. The Tootsie Original Broadway Cast album came out on Friday, too, so I had to divide my time.) As a side note, that is EASILY the biggest downside of Apple Music: that you can only use Apple Music on Apple devices, and can’t easily access it from a browser on any computer (like you can with Pandora or Spotify). Like most of corporate America, my company uses PCs, so if I want to listen to Apple Music at work, my only option is my phone, which I think is so annoying.

ANYWAY. This is not about Apple Music. This is about the Jonas Brothers!

As with most albums, it took me a couple listens to get into it. I feel like this is pretty common? I don’t know that I’ve ever listened to an album all the way through the first time and been like, “OMG THIS IS THE GREATEST COLLECTION OF MUSIC I’VE EVER HEARD.” Regardless, I certainly was into it by the end of Friday, but it’s not like there was ever a chance I wouldn’t be. I’m obviously extremely biased towards the Jonas Brothers, so as long as they didn’t make an entire album of, like, chewing noises, there was no chance I wasn’t going to like it.

I did, however, like two songs immediately on the first listen-through: Hesitate and Rollercoaster. I wasn’t surprised to like Rollercoaster, because it was part of the Chasing Happiness trailer and I already liked the little clip of it from that. Soon after my first listen-through, I found out that Joe Jonas wrote Hesitate with Sophie Turner in mind, which immediately explained why I liked it so much on my first listen, because I think we can all agree that the only reason Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner are together is because he never met me before he met her, and had he met me first, he would’ve written the same song, but with me in mind instead. (I’m joking. Kind of. 😛 ). It’s a really sweet song.

And while we’re on the topic of Jonas Brothers releases: omg. Chasing Happiness. WHAT a movie. I was VERY upset that it came out on Amazon Prime while I was at a conference in California last week, meaning I had to wait TWO WHOLE DAYS to watch it. Not cool, conference schedulers. I didn’t get home until like 10 p.m. on Wednesday, so there was no time to watch it then, but it was my #1 priority post-run last Thursday evening, and ugh. I loved every single second of it. Even the seconds that made me really sad, like when they’d talk about how much hurt surrounded the 2013 breakup of the band, and when Joe cried *one million sobbing emojis*. It was really interesting to learn so much about the band’s background, rise, fall, and comeback, and it made me feel like I know the Jonas Brothers more personally now…which is obviously not true, but whatever. I’m happy to feel like I’m friends with them, even if I clearly am not.

2. Speaking of feeling like you’re friends with someone famous after learning more about them: I finished Andrew Rannells’s memoir yesterday (Andrew Rannells being arguably most famous for originating the role of Elder Price in Book of Mormon on Broadway.). It’s a great read if you have any interest in learning more about him/making it on Broadway in general, and I only happened to be reading it right now because my forever-long hold on it on Libby came in while I was traveling (I think I waited 14 weeks for the book? It was one of the longest holds I’ve ever had.), but the timing turned out to be perfect because the Tony Awards were on on Sunday! This was the first year I was actually able (and interested) in watching the entire broadcast, and it worked out great because Andrew Rannells and the rest of the cast of The Boys in the Band revival from last summer were up for Best Revival of a Play (and won!). That meant he was in the audience, so every time the camera panned to him, I was all, “omg! Andrew Rannells! I know him!” (I do not know him. But it’s fun to feel like I do.)

I know you’re all very interested in my take on the Tony Awards, which is: well, I’ve never watched a full broadcast before, so I had nothing to compare it to and can’t really say much about the show’s quality. I can say that I’m super annoyed with how much Hadestown dominated the musical categories, because I resent Hadestown for stealing what I believe should have been Tootsie’s well-earned thunder.

I also think next year’s Tony Awards would’ve been a lot more interesting if Hadestown could’ve waited like two more months to open on Broadway, because then both Hadestown AND Moulin Rouge would likely be eligible for the 2020 Tonys. Unless Moulin Rogue is a spectacular disaster (which I think next to no one expects it to be), I feel confident calling it right now, even without ever seeing the show, that Moulin Rouge will clean up at the Tonys next year. I mean, for goodness sake, they already had the people from the cast of Moulin Rogue presenting awards at this year’s Tonys. What kind show gets its cast on the Tonys before it’s even opened on Broadway?! The kind that’s going to dominate, obviously.

I know I’m 1) biased and 2) not really entitled to an opinion, since the only show up for Best Musical this year that I’ve seen was Tootsie, and I saw it in its pre-Broadway tryout previews, for goodness sake. There’s a reason they don’t give average schmucks like me a vote for the Tonys. But I was so impressed with Tootsie from start (almost) to finish (I thought parts of the end were a bit meh when I saw it in September) and feel like it didn’t get a fair shake.

3. I stayed up way too late watching the Tony Awards, but figured I’d be able to fall asleep pretty quickly after they wrapped up and I could go to bed. Not so. As I got into bed, I heard this repeating screeching outside my window. I thought it sounded like a bird, but birds are asleep at night, so I had no idea what it could be, other than that it must’ve been some sort of animal. It would not shut up, and it took me forever to fall asleep as a result.

As I was getting ready for bed Monday night, I heard the sound again! Obviously it wasn’t something dying in the alley or whatever – it must be some animal that had decided to live in the area. I recorded the sound and sent it to my parents to see if they had any insight. They didn’t, but my mom was sure it was a bird. A quick Google search about nocturnal birds in Illinois led me to the Common Nighthawk, whose call I looked up on Merlin, and lo and behold! That’s what it was!

They are, to put it kindly, not the prettiest birds you’ll ever see or hear. Apparently they feast on bugs, and I guess there must be a lot of bugs in my neighborhood, because when I came home from dance on Tuesday, I heard him again! Since I was outside this time, I looked for him, and there he was, soaring way up high, screeching his little heart out. I’ve quickly moved from being annoyed by his noises to appreciating them, now that I know what he is. I had never heard him before Sunday night, so he must be new to the area, but I hope he sticks around!

Thursday Things

1. Since I was abroad when Avengers: Endgame came out, it was obviously high on the priority list to see it after returning. I went to a Thursday late afternoon/early evening showing (and miraculously stayed awake for the whole thing: the only night I kept my eyes open past 8 p.m. all week).

I didn’t like the movie as much as I think I was supposed to. I will admit that one of the things I like most about Marvel movies is the humor, and, as with Infinity War, there wasn’t nearly as much humor in this movie as in, say, Thor: Ragnarok. But beyond the minimal joke-making (which is a personal preference), I had a couple fundamental problems with the plot of the movie (presented below in white text that you’ll need to highlight to see to protect you from spoilers).

I need to get this out of the way to start: I’m on Thanos’s side, and I think he’s the real good guy here, not the Avengers. Maybe he’s not a good guy in the traditional, wholly-pure-with-no-bad-qualities sense, but–and I said this when I left Infinity War–I really believe his heart was in the right place with the snap. He saw a problem with overpopulation and found a way to solve that problem in the most humane way possible. As we learn from what Spider-Man says towards the end of Endgame, being dusted wasn’t a painful or excruciating experience. It was just a thing that happened, and then half of life was gone. Sure, that’s not so great for the people left behind, but as far as wiping out populations goes, that’s about as good of a way as it could happen. No pain, no suffering, no starvation, no horrible illness, no gruesome murders: they were just gone, like that *snaps* (pun moderately intended).

Of course, this belief that Thanos was in the right is based on the assumption that his fundamental argument–the universe is overpopulated–is objectively true. If the universe’s overpopulation is his subjective opinion–if people are not actually running out of resources necessary for survival–that changes things. But since no one ever seemed to argue against his belief (at least not that I remember), I’m operating as if that’s true.

Ok, now that we’ve established that Thanos was in the right, I would like to voice three other complaints (two connected and one not-connected).

Complaint #1: There is no way–NO. WAY.–that all of humanity would still be in shambles FIVE WHOLE YEARS after the snap. I absolutely reject that premise. We as a species are far more resilient than that. Would people still mourn the loss of those they loved? Absolutely. But to the point of being completely unable to function? To the point where wreckage caused by the snap would still be sitting in the parking lot of Citi Field five yeras later?! Absolutely not. I realize that complaining about unrealistic scenarios in superhero movies might be a little ridiculous, but I stand by my complaint. Unrealistic scenarios in superhero movies are usually due to superpowers and/or being in space, not how humans function as a species.

Complaint #2: I also COMPLETELY reject the premise that the Avengers did good by bringing back all those who had been dusted. In fact, I think that was more harmful than dusting all of them in the first place. CAN YOU IMAGINE if the world’s population doubled in an INSTANT?! That would be so destructive. Sure, it’s nice to see your loved ones again. But, in theory–see complaint #1–the world should have adjusted to the new normal by the time everyone came back. If Thanos thought overpopulation was a problem initially, I’m sure it was NOTHING compared to what would happen if the entire population instantly doubled! They should have left well alone and used their superpowers to get people back on their feet after the dusting, not look for a way to go back in time to undo something that probably was for the greater good in the first place.

Complaint #3: I think it is LUDICROUS that the entire end of the movie was a sobfest over Iron Man (who, for the record, is one of my favorite Avengers! I was definitely crying in the theater during his funeral!) while Black Widow got NOTHING but a couple of minutes of Avenger angst. If she hadn’t sacrificed herself so Hawkeye could get the Soul Stone, Iron Man wouldn’t have been able to snap (thus sacrificing himself) in the first place!!!!!! If we’re going to celebrate all the dusted being brought back to life–which I think we shouldn’t, but since the movie thinks we should, let’s just go with that–she absolutely deserved the same level of pomp and circumstance that Iron Man got. She’s the real hero here, and I will not hear otherwise. JUSTICE FOR BLACK WIDOW.

/endspoilers

2. I’m getting a little ahead of myself in the Europe timeline, but I saw this article in the New York Times Morning Briefing on Monday and HAD to comment on it now, since I planned on commenting on the topic later on anyway.

The article is about Duolingo and its extremely limited usefulness as a tool for learning language, and I could not agree more. While the article author has a 500-day streak on Duolingo, I am the proud owner of a 970-day streak – a 970-day streak that should be a 1,223-day streak in my opinion, because I lost my streak in August 2016 over a streak freeze fail. The point is, I started using Duolingo to learn Dutch on January 1, 2016, and have done at least one Dutch lesson every day (except one or two) since then. Even if I only spent five minutes per day on these lessons, that would add up to 6,115 minutes, or 101.92 hours, at this point. If you use my college language classes as a metric for “time spent learning a language” (an imperfect metric, admittedly, but the best one I can come up with easily), a student with perfect attendance would get 2,400 minutes (40 hours) of language instruction in one semester. If that’s the case, I’ve then taken approximately two and a half full semesters of Dutch by now.

The point is, I’ve spent a lot of time learning Dutch on Duolingo: enough time that you’d think I’d be at least moderately capable of handling myself in the Netherlands, right? Or basically capable?

WRONG. I was BLOWN AWAY by how utterly incapable I was of using Dutch in the Netherlands. I could do next to nothing other than say, “Twee” (pronounced tway) when asking for a table at a restaurant (“twee” is “two” in Dutch) and offer up feeble “Dank u wel”s (“thank you”s) when given something – food, silverware, an entrance ticket, my passport back at the airport, etc.

Duolingo did help me understand some basics of Dutch pronunciation, and while it was moderately helpful to know how to pronounce words, it didn’t really do much for me when I didn’t know what the word meant in in the first place, how to use it in a sentence, or how to put together a sentence at all. Sure, I knew more Dutch than I would’ve known if I never did Duolingo. But I didn’t know enough to even come close to getting by after three full years–three full calendar years, plus a quarter!–of using the app daily. That’s a pretty poor review on the usefulness of the system, if you ask me.

3. You will all be happy to know, based on my post last Friday, that I did indeed get tickets to see the Jonas Brothers when they go on tour later this year. Based on the schedules of my concert-attending buddies, I actually opted for tickets to the Grand Rapids show rather than the Chicago show, but I think that’ll be better anyway. Van Andel has literally half the capacity of the United Center, so I’m thinking that’ll make for a more intimate concert experience than I’d have at the UC. Plus, Van Andel was where I saw the Jonas Brothers (and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus) for the Best of Both Worlds Tour in 2007, so it feels appropriate to see them there again. This time, though, I’m paying for my own ticket (rather than my parents paying), so I could get as good of seats as I wanted 😀 Aisle seats on the floor, here we come! If they use the center aisle at any point during the show and I get a high five from Joe, I will sob like a baby. #noshame

Friday Things

1. Greetings! I’ve returned from my trip to Europe and am slowly getting back into the swing of U.S. life. I’ve learned that I should take trips to Europe far more often, because it makes getting up at 5:30 WAY easier. If only I had the energy/motivation to go to the gym to capitalize on the fact that I’m ready to go before the sun’s up 😛

The trip was great, and I’ve officially decided that I’m moving to Europe. (Not really. I mean, if it were in any way feasible, I would in a heartbeat. There’s the whole job thing, and the whole “money is necessary to live” thing, and the whole citizenship thing. But boy, if those minor inconveniences weren’t standing in the way, I’d be packing my bags right now!) Point is, I loved it there. All the history, all the languages, all the culture, all of the investment in public transportation (*heart-eyed emoji*). Yes to all of the above. I was not happy to come home, to put things mildly.

2. I have so much to write about the trip – way too much for one post (even by my novella-length blog post standards). This is going to turn into a bit of a travel blog for awhile. I know some people find reading about other people’s trips boring, so feel free to skip my exhaustive posts if they’re not your thing (or, you know, feel free to skip any of my posts, any time, for any reason. It’s not like I forced anyone to sign a contract agreeing to read my blabbering.).

3. In other news, when we landed in Chicago Wednesday afternoon, I nearly fangirled to death moments after touchdown. Upon checking my email, I discovered that the Jonas Brothers had (FINALLY) announced the tour that coincides with their recent reunion and upcoming album (*all the sobbing emojis*). I am a gigantic Jonas Brothers fan and have been since the Disney Channel introduced me to them in 2007, a fact I will neither hide nor apologize for, and I have literally never been more excited about anything celebrity-related in my life. This is more exciting for me than seeing Hamilton for the first time, which is really saying something.

The tour is coming to Chicago the day after my birthday (I. KNOW. *more fangirling*). I assume Joe Jonas personally insured that this would happen, knowing that, whose non-Broadway celebrity crush loyalties have firmly been in his court for 12 years now, would like nothing more than to (belatedly) celebrate my birthday with him. (My Broadway celebrity crush being Jeremy Jordan, who I was literally willing to cancel my Europe trip to see in Waitress on Broadway right now, had that been at all possible. What can I say? I have a type, that type, obviously, being dark haired, dark eyed, strong eyebrowed, singing men with alliterative, two-first-name names that start with J.)

I am both determined to get tickets and extremely concerned that I won’t get tickets, because something tells me I’m not the only person excited about the Jonas Brothers reunion. I signed up for pre-sale access, but Ticketmaster very much made it sound like everyone who signed up for pre-sale access won’t necessarily get pre-sale access, so all my fingers and toes are crossed. Feel free to cross yours on my behalf as well. I MUST GO TO THIS SHOW.

What have you been up to for the past two weeks?