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?

Thursday Things

1. I had quite the visitor on Friday.

virginiarail-4

This is a Virginia Rail. Typically a shy bird that hangs out in freshwater marshes, this one decided to defy all expectations and “hide” in plain sight on my concrete patio.

virginiarail-2

I have no idea how he ended up in my courtyard, given that I rarely see birds of any variety in it, never mind birds that should be on the shores of Lake Michigan. He was able to run around the courtyard just fine, and I saw him fly from a sunken staircase up to ground level, so he didn’t seem to have any broken wings. My theory is that he might’ve hit a window somewhere and was recovering from being stunned or he, being a pretty small creature, was having a hard time with the high winds we had Friday and decided to shelter in the courtyard until conditions were a little friendlier.

virginiarail-3

Regardless, it was cool to add a new bird to my life list and get to see a Virginia Rail so clearly.

Then on Monday, I had another good bird encounter!

yellowbelliedsapsucker2019

Check out that fluffy Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! I have a special place in my heart for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers after my traumatic encounter with one two years ago, so I look forward to mid-April when they migrate through the city and I have a chance of seeing them (preferably on trees, not my personal belongings). I saw one in an evergreen last April, and actually saw another one in an evergreen in the same area this past Saturday. Both of those times, they were pretty high up in the tree and fairly easily spooked. But then on my walk at lunch on Monday, I encountered this fellow! I could not believe how brave he was! Granted, my walk wasn’t down the busiest street in Chicago, but this tree was only a couple feet away from the sidewalk. There he was, drilling away without a care in the world other than getting some sap out of that tree. I ❤ migration season.

2. I do not ❤ snow-in-April season.

aprilsnow

Sunday was ridiculous. I know that it sometimes snows in April–sometimes even later than April 14!–but this was next level. It snowed all. day. The city got 5.3 inches, only .1 inches off the all-time single-day record for April in Chicago! I knew it was going to snow on Sunday, but I don’t think anyone expected it to snow so much. There was even thundersnow! It was nuts!

All I could think about on my way to church that morning was how unspeakably glad I was that the Lakefront 10 Miler was on Saturday, not Sunday. I know there were races in the area on Sunday, and I cannot IMAGINE running through that nonsense. It was miserable enough walking the three blocks from my CTA stop to my church, never mind running any sort of substantial distance. I had briefly toyed with the idea of trying to find a 5K to do on Sunday to see if I could take advantage of my current fitness level/PR streak, but never acted on that impulse to see if I could find any races and boy am I glad I didn’t. I almost certainly would’ve DNS-ed.

3. I leave tomorrow for a 12-day trip to Europe. On the one hand, I’m really excited! I’ve wanted to take this trip since…like 2013, I think? I originally planned to take it in 2016, then spent all my money set aside for the trip on physical therapy instead. I wanted to go in 2017, but a family wedding conflicted with when I planned to travel, so then I pushed the trip back to 2018, but another wedding was scheduled for when I wanted to travel. So, 2019 it is! I’ve dreamed about this trip for a really long time, and I’m looking forward to making it a reality.

On the other, more immediate hand, I am SO. STRESSED. about this trip. Or, more specifically, all the things I have to do prior to the trip. I’m not too stressed about being abroad. I’m not traveling alone, which takes some of the pressure off. My stress about being abroad is related to language barriers and general unfamiliarity with my surroundings, but I’m not super stressed about those things – like, a 3/10 on the Bethany Stress Scale. My understanding is that most people speak English in the places I’ll be (particularly in, you know, England. Ha.), between the two of us on the trip we have somewhere between a rudimentary and semi-proficient grasp on the native languages of the other countries we’ll be visiting in case we run into someone who doesn’t speak English, and in my experience visiting new places for the first time, I usually get familiar with my surroundings fairly quickly, so I think that will be okay. I’m a little stressed about the flights, too, but that’s mostly from a duration/anticipated lack of sleep standpoint, and there’s nothing I can really do about either of those things.

However, I’m at approximately a 9.8/10 on the Bethany Stress Scale when it comes to all of the things I need to do between now and tomorrow. I ended up taking this afternoon off work to buy myself some more time, which feels like one of the most ridiculous reasons I’ve ever taken PTO: taking PTO in order to prepare for upcoming PTO. But there was absolutely no way I was going to get through all the packing and chores I need to finish before heading to the airport without an extra four hours (especially since I would really like to go to church tonight, as I won’t be able to go on Good Friday). And then, of course, there were all the things I needed to do before today: itinerary creation, booking transportation, buying tickets for places we want to visit, coordinating with people we’ll meet up with while abroad, getting outlet adapters, getting foreign currency: it has been a lot of work. First world problem work, I suppose, but a gigantic source of stress over the past few weeks nevertheless.

Speaking of which, I don’t expect to have a whole lot of content on the blog while I’m gone. There might be one post if I can get my act together before leaving, but getting my act together for the blog is at the very bottom of my priority list right now. Otherwise, I’ll talk to you all in May!

Any tips on keeping boredom at bay during a trans-Atlantic flight? I can only spend so much time working on my coloring book (my normal way of passing time on flights)

 

Thursday Things

1. In an effort to try to set myself up for success with my half marathon on Saturday, I intended to do two things for the duration of my training cycle: no dessert except on special occasions, and no alcohol, period.

I made it a whopping three days into training before I decided stressful days at work counted as “special occasions,” (as did, as time went on, weekends, days where I ran a lot of miles, days where I just wanted dessert. A lot of occasions became special over the last 12 weeks, ha 😛 ), which I suppose isn’t that surprising. It’s no secret that I have a sweet tooth, nor is it a secret that I have little interest in denying that sweet tooth.

I didn’t, however, have a drop of alcohol from the moment I started training until–well, I still haven’t had any. I had hoped to go out for brunch after the race and get a mimosa, but 1) the place where I had brunch that morning doesn’t have alcohol and 2) I was so exhausted, dehydrated, and underfed after the race that alcohol seemed like a really bad idea, so I probably wouldn’t have had one regardless.

Admittedly, it’s not like I accomplished anything particularly notable here, at least for me. Me giving up alcohol for three months is basically the equivalent of a pescatarian who only kind of likes fish going full vegetarian for three months. My drinking on a normal basis is already limited to special occasions, so it’s not like I was making a huge sacrifice here. There were only like two times when it was a real bummer to not be drinking: when I went to Bar Siena during Restaurant Week, and when I went to Girl & the Goat in early March, and wasn’t able to get a fancy cocktail at either of them.

Nevertheless, I thought it was useful to see just how much of a non-issue it was for me to not drink for 12 weeks. I still went to bar trivia with my friends, I still went out to dinner, I still went to get-togethers. I just drank a lot of water (which, considering my training status, probably wasn’t a bad idea anyway!).

2. It weirded me out how…nothing, I guess, I felt after breaking 2:00 in my half marathon Saturday. After the Chicago Marathon in 2018 (and in 2017, even though the only (“only.” It’s hardly an “only” in my opinion) thing I accomplished was not bonking), I basically floated through the next week. I was perpetually on cloud nine, and I 100 percent expected to feel that way if I broke 2:00 in the half. I wanted this as badly as I wanted to break 4:45 in the marathon, and considered it to be as “unattainable” as breaking 4:45 in the marathon (unattainable without concentrated, focused training, that is).

And yes, I’m glad I broke 2:00, but when I reviewed my race photos, I was genuinely surprised to see myself smiling in my finish line photos–like, happy smiling, not smile-for-the-race-camera smiling. My actual thought was, “Oh, I guess I was happier than I remembered.” Like, what?

I think my lack of emotion–which, upon reflection, I don’t think is actual so much a lack of emotion as it as a lack of the emotion I expected–is because honestly, I’m not happy with how the race went. I mean, I’m happy with the outcome, but I’m not happy with the process. I’m not unhappy with the process enough to wish I could do it again, but I guess I am a little bummed I didn’t have the picture-perfect race I hoped for, even if I still got the result I hoped for.

3. I have another race on Saturday! I’m on a mission to do all the Chicago races I like prior to moving (again, not because I’ll be prohibited from doing them after I move, but because I don’t think I’m going to want to do them after I move.), and the Lakefront 10 is one I’ve really enjoyed in the past. I haven’t done it since the Wilson track was added, though, so I’m curious to see what it’ll be like to finish with a lap around the track. I’m also curious to see what it’ll be like to tackle Cricket Hill at the end of the race rather than at, like, mile three, but I’m more curious about that in a dreading it sort of way rather than an interested in seeing what it’ll be like sort of way, ha. I don’t have any real goals/hopes/dreams for it, though the last time I PRed it was right after the Chi Town Half five years ago, so who knows.