Thursday Things

1. *sigh* I feel so out of sorts with marathon training this year, and it’s really wearing on me. Ninety percent (made up percentage – I haven’t done the actual math, but you get the idea) of my weekday runs feel fantastic. There were some tough ones in the first couple of weeks of June, and then two other real struggles since I moved to the suburbs. But other than that, my weekday runs have by and large been great, or if not great, at least satisfactory. I’ve been happy with how they go and how I feel, and they boost my confidence for the marathon.

But my long runs. Oh, my long runs. They’ve been the bane of my existence this training cycle, and I don’t know why. I can go bang out a seven mile run at a 10:20 pace on a Wednesday morning, but put me on the Lakefront Trail on a Saturday morning, and I’m struggling to run even one mile at an 11:30 pace, never mind multiple miles in a row. It’s been enormously frustrating, and zaps all the confidence I’ve built up during my weekday runs.

I don’t understand why I’m having so much trouble on my long runs, and it really frustrates me. Maybe it’s because of the move? Maybe spending so much time in the car prior to a run makes my legs incapable of running? Or getting up earlier in order to make it to the run in time? If that’s the case, there’s really nothing I can do about it, at least not at this point in training. I have a place to spend the night in the city the day before the marathon, so I won’t have a drive in (or train ride in) to deal with that morning. Hopefully that’ll make some sort of a difference.

I also just need to get over caring so much about this marathon that I swore up and down I wouldn’t care about. I’ve invested a ton of time and energy into training for this race, so it’s not surprising that I care–and I don’t think it’s bad that I care–but I need to remember that the whole point of running the race this year was to enjoy it. I don’t need to PR, or hit a certain time, or whatever. Things to work on during taper, I suppose.

2. Speaking of things I need to get over caring so much about, I’ve been taking this September step challenge at work way, way too seriously.

As of Wednesday afternoon, I had an 8,000-step hold on second place (though my rival in third hadn’t tracked her steps for Wednesday at all, so I could be living in blissful ignorance to the actual state of affairs. I’m like 40,000 steps behind the person in first, so I’ve given up my dreams of taking the gold.). I really, really thought the 20 miler on Sunday would get me ahead of her once and for all, but when I returned to the office on Monday, she still had a 3,500 step lead on me. This is what I get for only logging 4,000 steps on Saturday!

My company organizes day-long volunteering events throughout the year, and I participated in one on Tuesday with a handful of coworkers. While there, the step challenge came up. As it happens, three people in my volunteer group work in the same department as my step challenge rival and gave me the inside scoop! Turns out she walks the stairs at work (six flight) every hour, AND she runs at lunch! Ah ha! I suspected she ran regularly–I don’t know how anyone could possibly average over 20,000 steps per day when you work a desk job without running–but the stairs! That was a surprise. Genius!

I don’t know how much of a chance I have at maintaining my tenuous grip on second place, but I have been going out. of. my. way. to walk as much as possible to satisfy my ridiculous need for validation. Keep in mind, coming in second place won’t win me anything. Coming in first wouldn’t, either. Each person on my team needs to log 210,000 steps for us to even get wellness points (a useless currency), and as of yesterday, we were averaging 166,000 per person and were in close to last place (from a team perspective). I’m guessing there’s no chance we’ll even hit the minimum 210,000 threshold, never mind shoot into the top three teams (who get extra wellness points). So all of this walking I’m doing, my powerwalks at lunch, my gigantic laps around the office to get to the kitchen for water, my intentional inefficiencies so I have to make multiple trips from Point A to Point B in order to log more steps: none of it matters at all. I will get absolutely nothing, probably not even the smallest amount of recognition, for doing this. And yet this has become one of my top priorities for the month. Like I said, ridiculous.

3. SPEAKING of ridiculous. I had some time to kill on Tuesday and a $15 voucher to Fleet Feet burning a hole in my pocket. Since I won’t need shoes for awhile, I decided to stop into the Old Town store (the first time I’ve been there since they moved forever ago, incidentally) to check out the marathon gear. Having learned my lesson the hard way with last year’s marathon hats, I didn’t want to wait until the expo to try to get any.

Well. Not only was Fleet Feet completely out of hats, they were almost completely out of everything. As far as women’s clothes went, they had three or four half zips, a handful of t-shirts, maybe 10 sweatshirts, one tank top, and two visors. That was it. Gear went on sale one week ago. The employee who showed me where their clothes were said people showed up when the store opened last Thursday to get things.

What is this?!? Since when did buying Nike marathon gear become such an arms race?! Are they going to have to make a lottery for marathon gear, too, like they did for registration? It’s insane! When I got to the expo at like 1 p.m. on FRIDAY last year, Nike was already SOLD OUT of hats. And they weren’t even that interesting! They were just plain black running hats that said Bank of America Chicago Marathon on them!

So I bought a visor at Fleet Feet (and a pair of socks that I didn’t need but said Chicago 26.2 on them, so *shrugging emoji*) and plan to try my luck at Nike downtown on Saturday after my long run to see what they have in stock. I have a coupon for Nike as well (thank you, birthday month) that I’d like to use on marathon gear if at all possible. I’d buy stuff online to save myself the trouble, but as I suspected from Fleet Feet’s pictures of the gear, and had confirmed to me in store by what Fleet Feet had available, nike.com only has like half of the actual gear (which is also ridiculous, but whatever. I only have so much marathon gear outrage available 😛 ), so in-store it is. I suppose if that doesn’t work out, I’ll hope for the best at the expo, or just stick with my visor and call it a a day. THE DRAMA. Haha.

Friday Things

1. Welp, I’m officially panicking about the 20 miler on Sunday.

Sunday’s forecast is abysmal, to put it gently. Apparently the remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda are scheduled to arrive in the Chicago area Saturday evening into Sunday morning, bringing with them heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Per usual, I’m particularly concerned about the potential for thunderstorms, given the whole “running exposed on the Lakefront for approximately four hours” thing. I know from experience that the obvious threat of thunderstorms almost guaranteed to arrive during a run isn’t enough for CARA to cancel–I have three 18 milers and their corresponding tales of waiting out storms in underpasses and bathrooms to prove that. Unless it’s storming at 6:30 a.m., I’m quite certain they won’t cancel.

However, the 20 miler won’t be done by, you know, 7 a.m. It’s going to take literal hours to run. So what are they going to do if it starts storming mid-run? CARA has never seemed to have a mid-run thunderstorm contingency plan, so I have no reason to believe they’ll have one for the 20 miler–though if they do, it would be awfully helpful if they’d at least inform us pace leaders about it ahead of time.

I suppose at this point, it would be more efficient to link back to my thunderstorm-related complaints I had for the Chicago Marathon last year, because it boils down to the same thing this year with CARA: just communicate with us. I can’t, for the life of me, understand what harm it would do to show people you’re prepared for bad weather and that you have a plan in place to keep your participants safe should electricity shoot down from the sky. I absolutely understand keeping your security protocols under wraps, because announcing to the world what you plan to do in case of a security breach is a security breach in and of itself. But it’s not the like weather is sitting in a dark room somewhere, waiting anxiously to see if CARA reveals its plans so it can find the holes in them and exploit them.

2. Even if it doesn’t thunderstorm, I’m still concerned about the “heavy rain” situation.

At the end of the day, if it rains, it rains. There’s nothing I can do about it. It will be unpleasant. I’ll wear a garbage bag until it’s time to start running, put my phone in a Ziploc bag, slather my skin in Aquaphor, and hope for the best.

My concern, however, are concerns that I had in the first place, which are only exacerbated by the predicted heavy rain. For whatever reason, I’ve really struggled with blisters this year. I got blisters running my half marathon in April, and marathon training hasn’t been much better, particularly in the past few weeks. I have an especially brutal blister on one of my toes that seems to reignite after any run in even vaguely humid conditions, which doesn’t bode well for Sunday.

I started wearing my Injinjis more regularly, hoping that having some fabric between my toes would keep them from rubbing against each other and blistering. No such luck. I put Body Glide on my toes before my run on Wednesday and finished blister-free, but I also only ran about 5.6 miles.

So if anyone has any blister avoidance tips, I’m accepting them. My toes would appreciate your guidance.

3. *heavy dramatic sigh* Guys, I’m so upset that I haven’t had any random encounters with the Jonas Brothers while they’ve gallivanted around Chicago this week 😦 I doesn’t help, of course, that I don’t live in the city anymore, and they’ve primarily been in the city…but still. They were in the area on my birthday! Why didn’t they come visit me?! 😦 *more heavy dramatic sighing*

I obviously didn’t take it too personally, since I’ve bought myself a ticket to their show in Rosemont in a few months. Nike’s the one who should take it personally, since I’m channeling the majority of my birthday money into Jonas-related things rather than marathon swag this year. It helps that, per usual, I’m not all that into this year’s design (which means I will inevitably be super into it on Oct. 14, also per usual). I like the look of the tank top, but I bought that same tank top (the Nike Miler) last year and honestly don’t like the fit of it at all. It’s too loose and bounces around too much for my liking. Plus I hate that the arm holes are so big. If I wanted to show off my sports bra to the world, I wouldn’t wear a shirt. I’d really like a half-zip, but right now Nike.com only has men’s half-zips available, so I don’t know if they’ll have any for women. I sure hope they do! I have more marathon swag than any one person could possibly need, but my only half-zip is from the 2013 marathon. It’d be cool to have one from my first Oct. 13 Chicago Marathon and one from my last (for now) Oct. 13 Chicago Marathon.

Happiness Begins Tour: Grand Rapids Recap

I considered writing my normal Thursday Things post this week, but since it was going to end up being entirely about seeing the Jonas Brothers in Grand Rapids anyway, I figured I might as well give this post an accurate title so you know what you’re getting into 😛

As I’ve mentioned previously, my love for the Jonas Brothers knows no bounds. I’ve have been 100 percent obsessed since the first time I saw the Hold On music video on the Disney Channel in the summer of 2007. As soon as I found out they were reuniting, I knew I had to see them on the tour they would inevitably announce to coincide with their new album.

I got tickets to the September 8 show at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids for several reasons. Van Andel’s capacity is significantly smaller than many of the other arenas on the tour (the United Center’s capacity is 20,000; Van Andel’s is 10,000), so I knew wherever I sat would be a good seat. Because Van Andel’s capacity is small and because the tour also stopped in Detroit, Milwaukee, Rosemont, and Chicago (twice), I thought I’d have a better chance at getting into the meet and greet in Grand Rapids than anywhere else. (Though I don’t think Rosemont was announced when the meet and greet went on sale, so that was irrelevant at the time.) On top of all of that, the first (and only) other time I had seen the Jonas Brothers was at Van Andel Arena in December 2007 when they were the opening act for the Best of Both Worlds tour–because yes, I, a senior in high school, proudly went to a Hannah Montana concert on a school night. NO. SHAME. (Though I was really there for the Jonas Brothers. The fact that Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus were also performing was an added bonus.)

I went to the concert with my sister and my best friend from high school, who was the one in charge of actually purchasing the tickets. She knocked it out of the park. We got the three seats next to the aisle in the fourth row on the floor. As someone who generally considers 200 level seats to be outstanding, this was clearly on a totally different level for me (both in terms of views and in terms of price point. Haha. These tickets were BY FAR the most expensive I’ve ever got.). I’ve never been that close to a stage before, and it was incredible. I’m officially ruined for all future concerts.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! Before the concert, I had my meet and greet! Technically before that, the three of us went to Founders, since it’s just a couple of blocks from Van Andel, for a super early dinner and beers. Wanting to keep my wits about me, I only had one, but I’m glad I finally made it to Founders.

Anyway, after Founders, the two of them dropped me off at Van Andel for meet and greet check-in at 5:15. While waiting in line, the girl behind me noticed my shirt (from the Best of Both Worlds Tour) and said, “Wow, you’re an OG fan!” As those of you who came of age in the mid to late 00s may recall, this was an era of music where it behooved you to be a fan “before they were cool.” I specifically remember seeing the Hold On music video on Disney and thinking that the Jonas Brothers could potentially be the band I was a fan of before they were cool (ignoring, of course, that the bands you were supposed to be a fan of before they were cool were mostly pop/punk and/or emo bands), so shoutout to you, 16 year old Bethany. We did it!

This girl and I chatted for a bit and I happened to coincidentally find her on Twitter later that evening, as @JonasConcerts, my primary resource for Jonas Brothers news on Twitter, had retweeted both of us. (Side note: thank goodness there are so many extremely active Jonas Brothers fans on Twitter. Back in the day–“the day” being the 00s–I relied on fan forums to connect with other fans and get the inside scoop on what was going on with celebrities I like, but those aren’t really a thing anymore. I worried that all of this would’ve moved over to Instagram, since that seems to be the coolest social media these days, but fortunately for Instagram-less me, there are plenty of Jonas Brothers fans who are more than happy to tweet about them all day long.) It was fun to make a new friend in the meet and greet line!

After about an hour or so, it was finally time to meet the Jonas Brothers. Based on my exhaustive Twitter research, I was under the impression that the meet and greet would last two to three minutes and not feel rushed at all. I suppose this was my first meet and greet, so maybe compared to others, it was relaxed. But it definitely felt rushed to me. I was a little disappointed that things felt that way, but only a little. The fact that I got to meet them at all was just beyond words.

Part of why I went way above and beyond for this concert was because I was celebrating an occasion. I wore something to indicate that, so the Jonas Brothers congratulated me (my heart!) and I thanked them for throwing me a party, ha. We chatted very briefly (like, a sentence or two) about if I had come with anyone else (I had, but they were just going to the concert, not doing the meet and greet), and then I told them I’d be in the fourth row on the floor “wearing this *gestures to self*, so look for me!” We took a picture, and I was on my way. Oh! But not before I got a bonus goodbye high five from Nick, which still makes me smile when I think about it.

I met up with my sister and my friend and got in the merch line to throw even more money at the Jonas Brothers, because clearly all rules are off when it comes to them. Nike wants $45 for a quality, Nike tank top at the marathon expo? WHAT A SCAM. The Jonas Brothers want $70 for a Gildan sweatshirt with their tour dates on it, you know, like the ones your high school volleyball team ordered? TAKE MY MONEY. Ha. The merch line went WAY faster than I expected (my fellow meet and greet attendees who had been in Detroit the night before said they waited about an hour and 20 minutes in line for merch. I waited maybe 20 minutes. Small venues ftw.), and then we went down to our seats!

Jordan McGraw and Bebe Rexha opened. I know exactly one Jordan McGraw song (“We Met at a Party,”), so I wasn’t all that interested in his set – though I did appreciate when he briefly covered Blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” I thought I knew exactly one Bebe Rexha song (“Meant to Be”), but it turns out I know a bunch of her music: I just didn’t know she was the artist. Oops. So that was a more enjoyable set. The highlight of her set for sure was when she brought a fan from the crowd up on stage with her for a whole song. Lucky him!

AND THEN. The main event.

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I kept my cool when I met the Jonas Brothers a lot better than I expected, so I kind of thought that would be the case when the came on stage, too. I mean, I had just met them. How could seeing them in concert be better than meeting them?! Apparently pretty easily, because the second they started descending from the ceiling to “Rollercoaster,” I lost ALL of my chill. I was screaming, crying, generally inconsolable: the epitome of a fangirl, with not one ounce of shame about it.

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The Jonas Brothers kept performing, it kept being the best thing ever. Around the midpoint or so of their set, they started playing “Used to Be,” the first song where they come into the aisle and head to the B stage at the back of the arena. All of us with aisle seats immediately threw ourselves into the barricades when they started coming down the stairs. Kevin was playing the guitar, so he was unable to hand out high fives while walking down the aisle. Nick was singing with his mic in his left hand, and since I was on his left side, only people on the other side of the aisle got the privilege of high fiving him (but I already had, so *hair flip*). Joe had a mic in his left hand, but he wasn’t singing at the time. He had his right hand out on his right side, high fiving those geniuses who had the foresight to get tickets on that side of the arena.

AND THEN.

Joe looked in my direction.

Saw me.

Reached his free right hand across his body.

And grazed my fingers.

You guys. YOU. GUYS. I’m literally crying again just writing about this happening. I don’t care that I’m six days away from turning 29, and something like this shouldn’t turn me into an easily-excited thirteen year old. I had already shook his hand three hours earlier. I had literally talked to him. But this! Being recognized in the crowd by JOE JONAS. I have been a Joe girl from the moment I became a Jonas Brothers fan. I spent most of the show in 2007 screaming, “I LOVE YOU, JOE!!!!” from the 200 level of Van Andel. I would have appreciated being noticed in the crowd by any of the Jonas Brothers, but to be recognized by my favorite Jonas Brother…! It was, truly, indescribable. I thought maybe I imagined that he saw me and gave me a high five (which, like I said, was more of a finger graze than a high five), or that I was just telling myself that’s what happened because it’s what I want to believe, but I was taking video of it when it happened, and in the video, you can see him look directly at me, smile the tiniest bit, reach across, and then (off camera) high five me. And then you can hear me start sobbing, because obviously.

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I would say everything was downhill from there, and I suppose it was in the “I have now had the moment of my life to which all future moments of happiness will be compared” sense, but man, it was SUCH a good show. I have all of the Jonas Brothers music (duh) and had been listening to their entire discography all week leading up to the show to get ready. I’d daydream about what our fan request song would be, and when daydreaming about it, would think, “You know, it genuinely doesn’t matter what song they play. I’ll be happy to hear anything.” And it was true! When you can go to a concert where every song is exciting, it’s a pretty great night. By which I mean it’s the very best night ever.

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Thursday Things

1. My company decided to do a step challenge as part of our wellness program for the month of September, and boy, talk about the right time for that kind of challenge! September is always bonkers when it comes to marathon training, but this year it’s extra bonkers due to the marathon falling on the latest day it can. That pushed all of training back a calendar week compared to the past couple of years, so instead of having pre-peak week (the 18 miler week) at the end of August, it started–started!–on September 1, the same day the step challenge started. BRING. IT. ON.

Of course, I’m now extra paranoid about getting sick and/or injured, because I’m really counting on those 129 miles I have planned for September to shoot me to the top of the leaderboard. While I certainly don’t know everyone in the company, and especially don’t know what everyone in the company does in their free time, there’s only one other person I know for sure is running the marathon. Even though there’s no additional prize for being the employee with the most steps in September (there’s only a prize for being one of the top three teams, so everyone else in my department needs to step (heh puns) it up, too), I am only somewhat secretly hoping to individually win – or at least finish in the top three. As of Wednesday morning, I was about 3000 steps away from first place *flexing emoji*

(For the record, there are individual prizes for this challenge, but the way you win them isn’t even an option for me. The company is going to give one person a fitness tracker of their choice (up to $300, so no Apple Watch 4s, but Apple Watch 3s are available), but in order to be eligible to win, you have to post pictures of you getting your steps on Instagram. That seems pretty unfair to me, given that I don’t even HAVE Instagram, and certainly am not going to join so I can post about my step count every day just to get entered into the drawing–because that’s how you win the fitness tracker. It’s not based on who actually goes above and beyond in the challenge. It’s all based on luck, and if your name gets picked out of the hat.)

2. I spent most of Sunday afternoon with family (spoiler alert for next week’s training post), and we used that time to go visit the Morton Arboretum. I’ve been a couple of times before and really like it, so I was excited to go back!

There’s been a Lego exhibit going on at the arboretum since May (it closes on September 15), so we checked that out. It was SO cool! There are huge Lego sculptures of various things–mostly animals–throughout the arboretum, and they were very impressive.

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There were signs by all the sculptures indicating how long it took to build them and how many bricks they used. The numbers were mind-boggling! We’re talking 250+ hours of work and tens of thousands of bricks per sculpture.

I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in the area before September 15. The arboretum in general is such a great place to connect with and appreciate nature, but the Lego sculptures are a cool added bonus. And if you happen to see the hummingbird sculpture, take a picture of it for me, because I didn’t see it 😦

3. Guys. I have tickets to see the Jonas Brothers on SUNDAY. Cue all of the freaking out.

I’ve been following various Twitter accounts and the Jonas Brothers subreddit (as one does) like a hawk since the tour kicked off a month ago, and it sounds like it’s AMAZING. Though admittedly, those reviewing it are probably a bit biased, ha. So I’m super duper excited for that. And by “super duper excited” I mean “cried listening to ‘Fly With Me’ on Wednesday because I love that song so so much and it’s on the set list so I’m going to see it live on Sunday and just the THOUGHT of seeing it live is enough to make me cry.” I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.

BUT. Not only do I have tickets to see the Jonas Brothers on Sunday – I have a ticket to MEET the Jonas Brothers. I. KNOW. Don’t ask me how much money I spent on this concert. Thank goodness Europe came in under-budget. Anyway, I’m so nervous about meeting them! Everyone says they’re really nice and easy to talk to, so hopefully that’s true. I’ve never really met anyone famous before! I mean, I’ve met Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi, but the times I’ve met them, I was there to interview them, not, you know, marvel at being in their presence. Ha. What am I supposed to say?! Others who’ve done the meet and greet on this tour say you get two to three minutes with them – that’s a lot of time!! I will admit that I’ve been practicing how I’m hoping the conversation will go, a la visualizing how I want the marathon to go. I just don’t want to cry. There’s a really good chance I’ll cry. Definitely wearing waterproof mascara on Sunday. Don’t mind me. I swear I’m days away from turning 29. (I almost wrote days away from turning 30. I keep having this problem where I think I’m turning 30 this year, but I’m not. That’s next year. I don’t know why this is happening. Probably because I’ve started considering people in their early 30s to be my age–because, you know, they basically are– so I keep thinking I’m almost 30, when in fact I’m almost 29. Hopefully this will make turning 30 next year a lot less traumatic, ha.)

Thursday Things

1. So the experiment begins!

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I’ve wanted to get a hummingbird feeder since I moved into my new apartment almost two months ago now, but it took me until this past weekend to actually pull the trigger. I had gone to a garden store a couple of weeks ago to look at their hummingbird feeders, but the employee I talked with told me he didn’t recommend any of the ones they currently had for sale for my situation and suggested I come back later to see if they had the feeder best suited for my apartment. They had it in stock over the weekend, so I got it and hung it up Sunday afternoon. I don’t know how much success I’ll have, nor do I know how I’ll know how much success I’ll have. The feeder isn’t very easy to watch from inside, and it’s not like I can ask my boss if I can work from home every day from now until mid-October for the sake of monitoring my hummingbird feeder, haha. (I wish!) But at least now I have the potential of getting hummingbird visitors, even if I might not be aware of them.

2. I’m in such a weird place with marathon training right now. On the one hand, I am over the grind of it all. I’m sick of considering 6:30 “sleeping in.” I’m sick of losing the majority of my Saturdays to long runs/napping to recover from my long run. I’m sick of my feet hurting all. the. time. I’m sick of my entire life having to revolve around my workout schedule, even when I’m not going for any real goals at the marathon this year, because the idea of “casually” training for the marathon (i.e.: running when it’s convenient, cross training never, taking more rest days than workout days) is way too far outside my comfort zone.

On the other hand, I’ve realized we’re 12 weeks into this, which means we only have six more weeks to go, which means it’s all almost over and that makes be both sad and antsy. I don’t have any races on my calendar after the marathon this year, so what is my schedule supposed to look like?? How am I supposed to know what to do with my workout life when I’m not actively training for a race?! I’m sure I’ve said it before, but it’s the structure of marathon training I like more than anything. How am I supposed to have structure when I’m not working towards a goal?! *panics*

In the mean time, I’m getting antsy for the marathon to release what this year’s Nike gear  looks like. I think it usually comes out sometime in early September (before my birthday, at least) and I want to see it nowwwwwww. Knowing how much I like the marathon gear will help me know how much of a Jonas Brothers merch budget I have for the concert 😀 Give me ALL OF THE BRANDED SWAG!! Haha.

3. omg. Guys. Disney+. I’ve never felt much of a need to add any streaming services to my monthly budget, but Disney+ apparently is going to be the exception. Lizzie McGuire reboot?! ALL DISNEY CHANNEL SHOWS AND MOVIES?? A High School Musical-themed mockumentary? If you need me at any point during the winter, you can find me parked in front of my TV, reliving the 2000s. Between this and the Jonas Brothers reunion, this really has been a banner year for me aughts nostalgia.

Thursday Things

1. My driver’s license expires this year, and a couple of months ago the Secretary of State sent me a letter letting me know that thanks to my safe driver status, I’d be eligible to renew without going into a Secretary of State office. (Pretty easy to be a safe driver considering I had driven maybe a grand total of 20 miles since I got my Illinois driver’s license, ha.) That was great news! I had zero interest in going through the whole Secretary of State rigamarole, so renewing without having to take time out of my life to go there sounded fantastic.

And then I tried to renew without going into an office.

You have a couple options when renewing remotely, including renewing online or by mail. The by-mail form gave you space to write down a new address if yours had changed since you got your last license, which was super great considering my recent move. But the letter never specified who exactly to make the check out to, and I didn’t want to make it out to the wrong entity and have to go through everything again, so I decided to renew online instead. That was all well and good, until I got all the way through the form and realized they never once asked me if I needed to change my address. That made me especially nervous because the letter I got reminding me to renew my license in the first place specifically said that your new license wouldn’t be forwarded, so you had to put down your current address to receive it. I hoped that somehow the Secretary of State would know what they were doing and send my new license to my new apartment.

Unsurprisingly, that didn’t happen. Instead, I got a letter last week telling me that they had tried to deliver my license to my old apartment but it got returned, and they wouldn’t forward it onto me. The only way for me to get a new license now would be to go into a Secretary of State office.

*explodes*

I was so annoyed, particularly because this was all their fault in the first place. If they had just asked for my mailing address on the online form, all of this could’ve been avoided.

I had time to kill on Tuesday and had heard rumors that the Secretary of State Express Office in the Loop is about as good as Secretary of State offices come, so I decided to go there to see if I could get all of this nonsense cleared up.

Guys. It took 12 minutes, start to finish, to get my new license. I was STUNNED.  I expected to need to allot an hour, minimally, to deal with all of this, and it took TWELVE MINUTES. The Express office in the Loop truly IS as good as it gets!

2. I’ve been interested in Come From Away ever since I first learned about it during the 2017 Tony Awards, and last Sunday I finally got to go see it!

(In typical recent-show-seeing fashion, I went on its last day in Chicago, so once again it’s too late for you to go see it. BUT Broadway in Chicago just announced earlier this week that it’s coming back from August 25-September 6, 2020, so you could go see it then! You could also see Six during that time frame, because it’s also coming to Chicago from July 8-October 25, 2020. Plenty of advance warning for both shows!)

Ugh, it was amazing. Come From Away is about the town of Gander, Newfoundland in the wake of September 11. The U.S. airspace closed after the attacks, but hundreds of planes were already en route to the U.S., and many of them were too far into their flights to turn around to their origin. That meant all those planes needed to land somewhere outside the United States, and many of them went to Canada. Gander, though a rather small town, has an unusually large airport due to the fact that it’s so far east and, prior to modern airplanes, was the last available place to stop to refuel (or the first available place to stop to refuel, depending the flight’s direction) before/after crossing the Atlantic (back when planes couldn’t get across the ocean without refueling). Because of the airport’s size, it took 38 diverted flights on September 11, effectively doubling the town’s population over the course of a few hours. Because the U.S. airspace didn’t open again for a few days, all of these people were stuck in Canada until their planes could leave. The musical tells the story of how the town of Gander dropped everything to host thousands of people at a moment’s notice, and for being a musical that only exists because September 11 happened, it’s about as heartwarming of a story as I’ve ever seen.

I’m not unique in feeling this way about Come From Away, but I was overwhelmed to the point of tears at seeing this story of people taking care of other people play out in front of me. I feel like so much of what we’re exposed to is people being awful towards other people, so to see a musical about people caring for others, no strings attached, because it’s the right thing to do was really moving. I definitely, definitely recommend checking it out when it comes back next summer.

Thursday Things

1. Our new suburban office opened on Monday, and snap, you guys. It is SO nice. I guess that’s kind of the assumption when a brand new space opens (well, brand new-ish. The building isn’t new, but our office space within the building is), but it blew my mind when I got there Monday morning. Everything feels so gigantic and open and airy compared to the old space, which boasted a firmly early ’00s aesthetic. The kitchen is hilariously bougie (there’s sparkling water on tap, for goodness’s sake), the conference rooms look like they came straight out of a design magazine, and just all in all the entire space puts our Chicago office to shame–which is really saying something, because our Chicago office is quite nice.

I loved how first-day-of-school it felt on Monday, too (appropriate, considering how many suburban schools started up again this week). The executives were hanging out in the reception area in the morning to greet and direct everyone, a la the principal on the first day, and impromptu tour groups went past my cube all morning as everyone explored the new space. Speaking of which: the new office is SO big that all of a sudden, trying to get 250 steps per hour to appease my Fitbit is no longer a challenge. In the Chicago office, I have to take a circuitous route (desk -> kitchen -> water cooler -> desk -> bathroom -> desk) to get 250 steps. Now, I basically need to go to kitchen and back–and my desk is one of the closer ones to the kitchen! I honestly think if I did a lap around the floor I’m on, I’d get close to 1000 steps. It’s amazing!! Monday was the first day I’ve worked in the suburbs where I got 10,000 steps.

My only “dilemma” at the moment is how bare my cube feels. Nearly everything I had in Chicago was a relic from the decorating my boss three bosses ago (the one who hired me) did before I started, and since I don’t even do that job anymore, I got rid of everything when I packed up my desk. But now my desk is a bit…sparse.

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I think I’m going to go to my favorite gift shop in Chicago, Foursided, when I’m in the city on Sunday and see if I can find some nice decorations – or at least a coaster or something, ha.

2. I’ve had a bunch of time to kill before dance the past two weeks (like, two and a half hours of time to kill), and since I don’t have an apartment in Chicago to use for time-killing purposes anymore, I instead opted for gigantic walks in Lincoln Park.

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Ugh. I will never get over how amazing the boardwalk around the south pond is. It’s easily one of my favorite places in the whole city. Especially when you’re facing south and can see downtown, I feel like it just totally embodies Urbs in Horto (the official motto of Chicago, meaning “City in a Garden.”). And I’m OBSESSED with all the native plants.

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*a million heart-eyed emojis*

It was literally buzzing two weeks ago, with bumblebees floating between flowers, butterflies everywhere (I saw four different kinds!), and barn swallows all over the place. Yes. Please.

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(It might have been buzzing two days ago, too, but I was on a mission to get to the zoo to see if the penguins were out (three were!), so I wasn’t paying as much attention to the local fauna along the boardwalk.)

3. And if I may brag for a moment:

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We had our annual Employee Appreciation Day last week, and since the venue included bowling, two of my coworkers and I bowled a game. I crushed it. I honestly think that was the best game of bowling I’ve ever had. Four strikes and a spare?! That is not how my bowling usually goes!