It’s the Most Busiest Time of the Year

(Yes, I realize “most busiest” is bad grammar. That was the point.)

I want to like the holiday season. I really do. Every year, I think, “THIS will somehow be the year where I do all of the things with none of the burnout! There will be nothing but cheer from now until New Year’s Day!” Yet here I am, a whole 12 days into the “official” (i.e.: post-Thanksgiving) holiday season, and I’m already finding work to be a nice reprieve from the insanity that will be every weekend from now until the beginning of January.

The season started off on the wrong foot, I suppose, with a totally packed Thanksgiving weekend. Instead of a relaxing couple of days off work, I had something going on from the moment I woke up until the moment I went to bed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend. It was a lot–too much, really–and I said that I couldn’t keep doing this to myself. If I was going to insist on doing ALL OF THE THINGS on weekends, I had to keep it to one day.

So, naturally, I did ALL OF THE THINGS every day this past weekend, too.

On Friday, I went to see Ralph Wrecks the Internet after work, which was just delightful. The story itself was great, but I was a particular fan of the seemingly endless Easter eggs throughout the movie. My hands-down favorite part, though, was whenever the Disney princesses were involved. There’s a scene towards the end of the movie that is accompanied by a song that combines big musical themes from each princess’s movie when she’s contributing to the action on screen (so when you see Pocahontas, for example, the soundtrack is Colors of the Wind) that I want to watch a million times in a row to catch all the references.

Ever since I started marathoning, I’ve had this intermittent knee soreness that usually flares up once or twice a year. It started bothering me last Sunday, but I really did a number on it at dance on Tuesday. Since I have a race that I care about coming up this weekend, I thought it’d be in my best interest to take it easy for a few days, so I bailed on my long run on Saturday. Couldn’t have picked a better day to do that! The weather was horrendous, and I was glad to not be outside. After the weather cleared up, I headed downtown to the Christkindlmarket, hoping the earlier rain (and continuing wind) had scared enough people away that it wouldn’t be a totally miserable experience.


I don’t know that I’d say it was totally miserable, but I don’t know that I’d say it was totally pleasant, either πŸ˜› I guess that’s the nature of the Christkindlmarket, though. It’s a cool thing you can only do for five weeks of the year, and obviously weekends are much easier for most people (including me!) to go visit than weekdays. I wanted to go only because I really like the mugs this year, so I at least it wasn’t a bust in that department.

On Saturday night, my company held its annual holiday party. My company throws two big parties per year: one in August just for employees, and one in December for employees and a guest. I’ve attended six of these parties thus far, and in my experience, one usually VASTLY outshines the other. One event (historically, the August event) is focused almost exclusively on eating and drinking, while the other (historically, the December event) is focused on eating, drinking, and cool things you can do while at the party. This year, however, the August event was one that I truly don’t think they’ll ever beat (I mean, we got to see the Cubs clubhouse, hang out in the 1914 Club at Wrigley Field, see the 2016 World Series trophy, and meet Ryan Dempster and Ryne Sandberg (and get their autographs on a baseball). I don’t think anything could possibly top that.). Because of that, the holiday party was a little more low-key than usual, similar to what I expect at the August party. The venue was pretty, though!


All of that running around left me pretty tired (and, consequently, pretty cranky) by Sunday. Fortunately, this upcoming weekend will likely be moderately more low key (I don’t think I have anything going on Saturday after my race!) – but don’t even get me started on the weekend of the 14th-16th πŸ˜›


Thursday Things

1. Oopsies.


So much for that whole, “2018 is my last Chicago Marathon and I will not be told otherwise!!” thing.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t sign up for the Chicago Marathon in 2018 intending for it to be my last. It occurred to me early in training that it likely would be my last and I should treat it as such. By mid-July or early August, I was already wavering on that. I distinctly remember being in the middle of a run commute one day during the summer and thinking, “You know, I really do enjoy training for marathons. I’d really miss this if I didn’t do it next summer.” So then I thought that maybe I’d train for a late summer/early fall half marathon, and if that went well I’d sign up for a later fall marathon–most likely Indianapolis. I also considered entering the NYC lottery and seeing what happened (I…may or may not still be considering that, despite having an entry to Chicago.). As this year’s Chicago Marathon got closer, I became more and more unsure of my insistence that this year would be my last Chicago Marathon, and when I found out that the 2019 race is on October 13–the same day as my first Chicago Marathon in 2013–it was all over.

BUT! 2019 will be my last Chicago Marathon–last marathon, period, most likely–for awhile, pinky promise. And the 2019 Chicago Marathon is going to be a victory lap, not a PR attempt. The only goal I’ll allow myself to have is to run faster on October 13, 2019 than I did on October 13, 2013. Assuming all goes as planned next year, I’ll be moving to the suburbs in the middle of the summer (consequently, the middle of marathon training). That will mean a lot (a lot) about my running will have to change. Run commuting will be off the table (*genuinely sobs*), and I’ll no longer have easy access to the Lakefront Trail (*more genuine sobbing*). Since nearly all of my running life has consisted of out-and-backs on the Lakefront Trail and two-thirds of my past two marathon trainings have consisted of run commutes, that’s going to be a pretty significant change, especially during a time where I need to be logging eight, nine, 10 mile weekday runs on my own (I can run with any CARA group, including the suburban ones, so I’m not concerned about my long runs). I expect at least a little learning curve, and I expect that my race training will suffer anywhere from mildly to moderately while I’m on that curve. I don’t need the added pressure of a PR. Besides, I can genuinely say that after this year’s marathon, I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to with the distance. If I never run a faster or stronger marathon, I’ll be okay with that. I just want to get in as many marathons as I can while I still have the freedom and flexibility (and desire) to train with relative ease, and 2019 will likely be one of my last chances to do that. So, victory lap it is!

2. I have yet to meet a running sock I don’t like, so when Swiftwick reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in trying a pair from their newly rebuit PURSUIT line, I took them up on the offer.


Holy smokes you guys, these socks are SO cozy. Like, I legitimately said, “Wow!” out loud in the gym locker room when I put them on. They’re super comfy and soft, which I didn’t expect at all, and made with merino wool to help keep your toes dry. Highly recommend! (Opinion is my own, of course.)

3. I fear I may need to get over my hatred of the treadmill this winter. I plan to start training in the middle of January for my sub-2:00 half marathon attempt, and, unsurprisingly, that involves a fair amount of 1) running and 2) speedwork. It didn’t occur to me that accomplishing either of those things outside might be more difficult than I anticipated until Monday, when I was reminded just how many people view clearing their sidewalks as optional.

I planned to run when I got home on Monday but scrapped those plans almost immediately after getting off the CTA, when a seemingly infinite number of unshoveled blocks and/or lots greeted me on my walk to my house. Trudging through snow is a nuisance, but due to the nature of the storm we got Sunday night, the sidewalks weren’t covered in snow: they were covered in ice. I’ll run through snow (cautiously), but I certainly wasn’t going to attempt 5×400 on ice.

Obviously I wasn’t thrilled to skip my workout, but the sidewalk situation really upset me more than the fact that I couldn’t do my run (especially since I had plenty of time to make it up later this week). It had been nearly eight hours (eight daytime hours!) since the snow stopped falling by the time I got home. While technically any of the snow that fell after 7 a.m. didn’t have to be cleared until 10 p.m., per city municipal code, the vast majority of my walk home takes me past businesses. There is absolutely NO excuse for them not having their sidewalks cleared! You were there all day! It stopped snowing before noon! Get out a shovel and a bag of salt and do your job, darn it! It’s annoying to me that I couldn’t do my 400s, but it’s not just about me and my silly workout plans: it’s about public safety. What about the elderly or disabled who also need to travel on those sidewalks? Falling for me would be an embarrassment; falling for them could be a crisis. Clear your sidewalks or hire someone to do it for you. I’ve got to imagine that’s a whole lot cheaper than being sued because someone slipped and fell and broke a bone on your property due to your negligence.

Who else is running Chicago next year?
Tips for making the treadmill tolerable?

Las Vegas

This year’s trip to Vegas was a bit abbreviated compared to those of the past two years. I’m penny pinching my PTO to roll over the maximum I’m allowed into 2019 for a trip I have planned in the spring, which meant I couldn’t take more than a day off for Vegas. We packed more than enough into the little time we had there, though!


I arrived in Vegas around 10 p.m. Friday night and originally planned on going straight to bed as soon as I arrived at Harrah’s, but ended up hanging out with the other people along on the trip in the casino for a couple of hours. I didn’t bring much money to gamble (only the $10 I had left in my wallet that never got spent at the farmer’s market this summer), so I watched while they played video craps for awhile, then realized it was nearly 3 a.m. in Chicago and WELL beyond my bed time. I went upstairs and called it a night.

It turned out that a mutual friend of the other people in my group was also in town that weekend for a conference, so we all met up with him and his girlfriend for lunch after the expo Saturday. That was a lot of fun! We wandered through a few hotels, including the Flamingo.


Visiting the birds at the Flamingo was easily one of the best parts of the trip, in my opinion (I know, I know. Very out of character for me πŸ˜› ). I liked seeing the birds, obviously, but I particularly liked learning about them during the 2 p.m. pelican feeding!


These are Bugsy and Virginia, two pelicans injured by fishing nets off the coast of California. Their wings were damaged to the point where they can no longer live in the wild, so now they live at the Flamingo. I learned a lot about pelicans and other waterfowl, and I was especially excited to see the Mandarin Ducks.


Aren’t they beautiful?! There’s been one floating around Central Park in New York recently, and even though seeing one that lives at the Flamingo isn’t exactly the same as seeing one in the wild in New York, I’ll take what I can get.

It is a hallowed Vegas tradition among this group to have dinner Saturday at Hugo’s in Four Queens. I have no problem with that, since it’s fun to get all dressed up and have a fancy meal where I’m treated like a princess. (Though I will admit that I don’t like getting my nice clothes all smokey. If Vegas ever outlaws smoking inside casinos–something I can’t imagine is coming any time soon, but one can dream–I think I’ll find the entire experience of being in Vegas a billion times more pleasant.) However, Hugo’s was a bit more of a challenge this year, because the restaurant doesn’t open until 5 p.m., and we had a 7 p.m. show to attend at MGM: way, way far away (like 15-20 minute drive away) from Four Queens. The person in our group who made the reservation told them during the reservation process that we had a 7 p.m. show and would be on a tight schedule, and the staff was more than accommodating. I was so impressed! They got us in and out in 75 minutes: bread, drinks, salads, intermezzo, entrees, bill, done. We were offered fruit and fresh cream for dessert, too, but declined in the interest of time. I’ve always been impressed by the service at Hugo’s, but my experience there this year was truly next level.

After dinner, we hopped in a Lyft and headed back to the Strip for our show: Jabbawockeez at MGM!



I’ve wanted to see the Jabbawockeez since the first time I walked through MGM and realized they had a permanent show there. Having taken hip hop for six (!) full years now, the opportunity to see a professional crew was obviously very appealing to me. They did not disappoint.


The show, JREAMZ, was awesome, both from a dance standpoint and from an overall show standpoint. It was a cohesive show that told a story rather than 90ish minute of strung together dance pieces, and I LOVED IT. They danced on the stage and in the audience, and even pulled a few audience members to participate during the show (tragically, I was not one of them).

I think anyone can appreciate the difficulty of spinning on your head for a literal minute (or longer?), like one of the Jabbawockeez did, but I feel like my background in breakdance gave me an even bigger appreciation for the tricks they did during the show. One of the marks of a talented dancer, in my opinion, is that you walk away thinking, “Well, that didn’t look so hard. I could probably do that,” because they perform the moves with such ease that you can’t begin to wrap your mind around how challenging they actually are. That is 100 percent how I would’ve felt leaving Jabbawockeez if I hadn’t taken break for two and a half ish years. I am very well aware of how hard some of those moves are, and to see them do them as if they were nothing: wow. So much respect. To say I left inspired would be an enormous understatement!

Unfortunately, after Jabbawockeez I hit my stimulation wall for the day with a ferocity put all of my marathon walls to shame. I was DONE. Done with other humans, done with noise, done with lights, DONE. Like, swearing-at-strangers-in-their-face-at-the-Bellagio done (come on, Bethany. If you’re going to swear at strangers, at least don’t do it at the Bellagio. Have a sense of propriety!). While the rest of the group went out for the night, I went back to my room and introverted. I don’t normally actively need to be alone, but I’ve found that Vegas does that to me big time. The whole city is just too much, and I definitely can’t handle a full day of all the much-ness.


Sunday was a bit more low key, thanks to the race. We got breakfast and went to M&Ms World (my only demand on any Vegas trip. You can keep your gambling and alcohol, but I will not be denied my bulk M&Ms!! Haha πŸ˜› ) and then chilled until the race. We got pizza and gelato after the race, and then it was time to pack up for the trip home.

On Sunday, I was informed us that the plane that would take us back to Chicago had changed, and I’d need to update my boarding passes. I updated mine but was still assigned to the same seat, so I didn’t think anything of it until arriving at my gate Monday morning and looking at the seat map on the screen. Turns out, I was going to be flying on a big plane – one with a middle aisle! I haven’t been on one of those since a long-ago trip to Seattle (like, probably a 1999 or 1997 long ago trip to Seattle), so that was quite the surprise! I don’t understand why we had been put on that plane–our plane came to Las Vegas from Chicago (I checked) and then went right back to Chicago. I’m not sure why that round trip warranted a 767, but it was still really cool! (After arriving in Chicago, the plane continued on to Paris, which made more sense for an aircraft that size.) My usual middle seat turned into an aisle seat, which was a nice treat, and there were super fancy seatback screens! My flight to San Diego in June had seatback screens (of the non-super fancy variety), and that was the first time I had seen one of those since I went to Scotland in 2011. I certainly didn’t expect them twice in one year, especially all on domestic flights. The part that I thought was especially cool about the whole situation, though, was that there were a TON of Europeans on our flight from Vegas to Chicago, and the Europeans sitting around me (in front of me, in the middle aisle next to me, behind me) were all DUTCH!! *dies* My Dutch isn’t good enough for me to have the guts to talk to them (or to be able to understand a single thing they said, womp), but I was enamored nevertheless. I may or may not have set the language on my seatback screen to Dutch in an effort to fit in, HA. I kept my screen on the flight map the whole time, so I now know the word for “tailwind” in Dutch (I learned lots of other words, too, but have already forgotten all of them).

All in all, it was a nice little vacation before things get holiday crazy over the next few weeks πŸ™‚

Have you ever been to Vegas?

Thursday Things

1. I got my flu shot on Sunday after Hot Chocolate, and boy, what an ordeal!

Due to my history of fainting as a result of needle-based procedures, I have to lie down when I need a shot, blood draw, or anything else involving a needle. This makes things that should normally be simple (like getting a flu shot) a bit of a headache, because I can’t go just anywhere. I can’t get my flu shot when the office brings nurses on-site to administer them at work, and I can’t just pop into Jewel or whatever and get it from the pharmacist while sitting in a chair. I tend to utilize CVS MinuteClinics for my flu shot, then, because I know they’ll be able to accommodate my demands.

I went to a MinuteClinic on Sunday, where they had posted a sign that wait times were longer than normal due to computer issues. I figured this meant five minutes instead of the usual zero minutes. After inputting my information, it told me to expect a 90 minute wait. Yikes! This MinuteClinic was in a Target, so I went shopping. I swung by MinuteClinic after I finished and saw that my wait time had jumped to 115 minutes–after I had spent at least 30 minutes shopping! I had no desire to spend my entire afternoon in Target, so I left.

Quite some time later, I got a text from MinuteClinic letting me know they could see me in 30 minutes. I was running other errands that would require going past Target to get back home, so I returned to Target and finally got to see the nurse, nearly two and a half hours after I signed in.

The nurse was SUPER nice and more than respectful of my manifold requests (that I must be lying down, that she had to follow these specific instructions from my allergist regarding cleaning the injection site prior to vaccination). She gave me plenty of time to recover and made sure I got my $5 Target coupon when I left as a reward for getting my shot (though I did not get a sticker like the six year old who went before me. Such injustice! πŸ˜› )

I had already done my Target shopping for the day, but I wanted to use my coupon, darn it, so I went shopping again, this time walking away with a pair of adorable penguin socks.

I went to a checkout aisle and put my socks down on the belt, along with my coupon. Someone in front of me was wrapping up his transaction, and in the process of doing that, the cashier picked up my coupon, scanned it, and took $5 off the bill of the guy in front of me.

None of us really realized what had happened until the guy in front of me had paid for everything, at which point the cashier began apologizing and trying to figure out how to undo it. While he was doing that, the guy in front of me opened his wallet, fished out five $1 bills, and handed them to me “to make everything simpler.” How nice of him!

So, after nearly three hours, I got my flu shot and a pair of socks that only cost me 51 cents (the tax). Like I said, what an ordeal!

2. I lost my half marathon ring 😦



I bought that ring after finishing my first half marathon six (!) years ago and had worn it just about every day since. Last Tuesday, I was emptying my backpack out after I got home from dance and realized my ring was missing. I figured I must’ve left it at work (I took off all my jewelry before leaving, because I changed into my dance clothes at the office and don’t wear jewelry during dance), but it wasn’t there when I arrived Wednesday morning. I have no idea what happened to it, but since it hasn’t turned up, I assume it’s gone forever. Sad day 😦 A replacement is on the way, but I’m bummed to not have the original anymore. I’m also shocked I managed to not lose it for so long, given how often I take my jewelry off in a setting where I could easily lose something (the gym, the office).

3. An unexpected side effect from the marathon is the strong (positive!) association I now have with songs I identify with the race.

A few weeks before the marathon, High Hopes by Panic! at the Disco came on at the gym, and I thought, “This would be the perfect theme song for the marathon.” I added it to my marathon morning playlist, and it was the last song I heard before leaving my house that morning. I ran the marathon, had the best day ever, and then didn’t hear the song in its entirety again until I went back to the gym last week to get back into my strength training routine. I was smiling like a fool doing lunges, because the song made me think of the marathon and how amazing that day was.

Then on Tuesday, I was at the gym strength training again, Despacito came on, and it was the same situation all over again (though this time with V-ups instead of lunges). Someone was set up on the course close to mile 19, in between Little Italy and Pilsen on Loomis, absolutely blasting Despacito when I went by. I think I will forever associate that song with that part of the marathon now, particularly with how happy and great I felt.

Do you have songs that remind you of specific events?Β I can’t tell you how many songs now remind me of my dance class, haha.

Thursday Things

1. Is it just me, or have the trees been way prettier this fall than they’ve been in awhile?


Maybe I forget how vibrant the fall colors are from year to year, but it seems like this fall has been better than ones in the past. I’ve been surprised by how many beautiful trees I’ve seen all around the city. I love it! If only the constant grey of winter didn’t have to follow 😦

I’m getting antsy (not in a good way) about winter and am really dreading falling back an hour on Sunday. The sun is already setting plenty early for me (5:44 today in Chicago), and the idea of that happening an hour earlier does not thrill me.

I know I’ll almost certainly be fine through the holidays, but I’m worried about what will come after that. My SAD last year was by far the worst it’s ever been, even when I was actively working to keep it at bay (using my happy light every morning, going to therapy, scheduling things to look forward to). I strongly associate SAD with the end of daylight savings time (mostly because it goes away the instant daylight savings time resumes again in March), so I’m not at all excited about Sunday 😦

I hope running through most of this winter will help. I know I won’t have many opportunities to run when it’s light outside (other than on weekend long runs), but I’m crossing my fingers that having a structured training plan and a serious focus on breaking 2:00 in the half marathon will keep me focused on brighter (literally) days ahead.

2. Speaking of sunlight, Fitbit had this wildly unhelpful suggestion for me on Monday:


I’d love to let the sunlight in as soon as I wake up. Too bad I don’t live in Magical Fantasy Land where I wake up every morning as a Disney princess to the twittering of birds and soft rays of sun spilling through my curtains. Instead, I live in The Real World, where my work schedule doesn’t change based on the time the sun comes up, which can be any time between 5:14 a.m. and 7:18 a.m. in Chicago. I suppose if I started my work day at 9:00, that’d be possible, but I don’t. And if I lived back home? Forget it! This time of year, the sun doesn’t come up until 8:15 a.m.! Even if I did start work at 9:00, that’d still be a ridiculous “tip.”

I realize I probably shouldn’t get so worked up about a silly sentence from Fitbit, but here we are.

3. I would like to introduce you to my new friends!


All, meet (left to right) Edgar Allan Ravencrow, Jack O’Lan Tern, Holden Cawfield, and Myles Birdish.

Kim got these for me after I lost my mind over their cuteness when she blogged about them. Aren’t they just painfully adorable?!?! I can’t stand it *heart-eyed emoji*

They obviously all needed names, and while I didn’t originally plan on giving them all bird pun names…well…you see what happened. It’s all Edgar Allan Ravencrow’s fault. He appears to be all black, like a crow, so clearly he had to be named Edgar Allan Crow, but Edgar Allan Poe wrote a poem about a raven, so we needed to Harry Potter-ify his last name. Then things just spiraled from there. Holden Cawfield’s hat looks like Holden Caulfield’s hat from Catcher in the Rye, so that one was pretty simple. Myles Birdish looks like a pilgrim, so he got a name inspired by Myles Standish. Jack O’Lan Tern was the hardest one to name. I kept trying to come up with pumpkin/bird puns, and it finally occurred to me that terns are birds, so I could just break up “lantern” into two words.

Anyway, I’m a big fan of my new friends and the fall cheer they bring to my house πŸ™‚

Do you decorate for fall? These birds are my first real fall decorations! I usually buy those ugly little gourds and put them on a table, but those don’t last from year to year, unsurprisingly.

Wedding Weekend

Two of my good friends married each other on Saturday, and the whole weekend was filled with lovely wedding events! As I mentioned last Thursday, the bride is Indian, so the wedding was a combination of Indian and American traditions. First up: the mehndi party.


The mehndi party is when the bride (and other guests) receive their henna, though in this particular case, the bride had had her henna done the day before (it took four hours!). An artist was there to draw henna on other guests who were interested, though. I would’ve loved to have some done, but given my skin’s recent penchant for having an allergic reaction to nearly anything under the sun (bath bombs, certain laundry detergents, antiseptics), I didn’t think it’d be in my best interest to experiment with dye that’s supposed to stay on your skin for several days. The party also included a buffet of Indian food, which was the first time I’ve ever had ~real~ Indian food (my previous experience was limited to the frozen, single-serve meals you get at Trader Joe’s, which only kind of counts). I enjoyed the dinner options (though some of them certainly challenged my spice tolerance!), but dessert…! omg.


The bride has been talking up gulab jamun every time wedding food came up when we were hanging out, and boy, she did not oversell it. They were so good, and to my immense surprise, reminded me very much of oliebollen, a Dutch donut that my family often has around the holidays.

The elephant cookies also became a bit of a joke at the party. The bride likes elephants and wanted them to be a theme throughout the wedding, which is why they had them at the party. However, it turned out that the room across from ours in the banquet hall was hosting a Republican fundraiser at the same time, headlined by none other than Bruce Rauner, governor of Illinois, himself. That was quite the surprise to everyone, including the bride’s family who had booked the space months ago, not to mention quite the contrast. I don’t think anyone arriving at the hall that night accidentally attended the wrong event! At least the cookies could’ve fit in equally well at either party πŸ˜›

I went to the rehearsal dinner on Friday, so that’s how I spent that evening, and then we had the main event on Saturday night!

The wedding was at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park, and was originally supposed to be outside. I had been concerned about the weather ever since I found out they wanted to get married outside (and wanted to get married in October), but, per usual, it turns out all my fretting was for naught. It started to sprinkle about an hour and a half before the wedding, so they moved the ceremony inside (the reception was always going to be inside).


This was my first Indian wedding, and I thought it was one of the loveliest ceremonies I’ve ever attended. The Hindu priest performed the ceremony in Sanskrit, but explained everything he said and why it was important in English. I learned so much about Hinduism and its beliefs, traditions, and customs, which I loved! It was all really interesting and made everything more meaningful to understand the religious and symbolic significance behind everything happening during the ceremony.

This was also my first wedding at the Nature Museum, and wow! What a venue! We basically had our run of the place the whole evening (though I was too busy hanging out with friends and dancing the night away to spend much time exploring). Cocktail hour was among the second floor exhibits, and while I would’ve loved to check all of them out, I couldn’t drag myself away from the Birds of Chicago wall.


I literally spent the entire hour at the Birds of Chicago. It was so interesting! I tried counting how many of them I’ve seen in real life in Chicago (seeing them other places didn’t count, since it was a Birds of Chicago display)–I think it was 31?–and was fascinated by the whole thing, particularly the birds that were/were not included. Like why were some warblers in the display, but not all the warblers that pass through Chicago? I was also fascinated by the number of birds displayed in their non-breeding plumage, since some birds look very different during breeding and non-breeding season! Unsurprisingly, it was much easier to get a good look at birds when they’re stuffed, labeled, and all right next to each other compared to when they’re alive, flying, and usually only hanging out with their own kind (I found this extremely helpful for the sparrows in particular), so it was a good opportunity to familiarize myself with the differences between various birds in the same family.

The reception followed, and it was a blast. I got to try new foods, had even more gulab jamun, and danced so much I woke up sore on Sunday. If that’s not a sign of a great wedding, I don’t know what is πŸ™‚

Thursday Things

1. I had THEE WORST Saturday afternoon. And by, “thee worst,” I mean, “things could’ve been much worse and I’m being dramatic, but it was still frustrating.”

As I’ve mentioned before, there is next to nothing I loathe more than clothes shopping. I enjoy nothing about the process and avoid it unless absolutely necessary. Of course, that’s probably part of why I hate it so much (it’s a lot more stressful to go shopping for something when you NEED IT RIGHT NOW versus going because you feel like it), but regardless, it’s not how I choose to spend my free time.

On Thursday, I found out I was going to La Boheme at the Lyric on Saturday–more on that later–and for some reason, that was the occasion that pushed me over the, “I need a winter-friendly nice dress” ledge. I have three upcoming occasions that will require winter-friendly nice dresses (more on one of them later, too), so adding this fourth one felt like enough justification to buy a nice dress.

Prior to Saturday, I had exactly three nice dresses in my closet: a sleeveless, lacy one I wear to summer weddings; a silky, mostly sleeveless one I bought for a gala (I think?) in 2013 with a ripped seam; and a black spaghetti strap dress I wore to the Christmas dance in HIGH SCHOOL, which I should 100 percent get rid of, given that I’m not 17 anymore and haven’t worn it once since I was 17.

As that was my selection, I decided I needed something new. Since the opera was on Saturday night, I didn’t have time to shop online and instead went to Macy’s Saturday afternoon, expecting it to be an in-and-out sort of situation. After all, in the past year, I’ve gone to Macy’s twice and tried on pretty dresses just for the fun of it! I had some other reason to be there, got distracted by the shiny things, and the next thing I knew, I was in a beautiful floor-length gown in a dressing room, wishing I had a black tie event to attend so I could buy the dress. How hard could getting a dress be on Saturday?

As it turns out, REALLY. FREAKING. HARD.

There were three things that made this so freaking hard:

Thing #1: the pressure to find a dress immediately, due to wanting to wear itΒ that night, versus trying on whatever struck my fancy because I wanted to.

Thing #2: the fact that all the dresses I try on for fun are almost always insane, floor-length numbers, and I wanted something 1) classic and 2) knee length

Thing #3: the fact that one of the occasions for which I needed this dress is an Indian-American wedding (the “more on that later” event). While a sari is an option (and the bride, who’s the Indian half of this Indian-American wedding, assured me that it would not be cultural appropriation for me, a person of exclusively northern European heritage, to wear a sari, despite my concerns), I don’t like to buy one-use-only outfits. I could rent a sari, but that cost nearly as much as I was willing to spend on a dress I’d actually get to keep and wear multiple times…and, honestly, I just wasn’t comfortable with the idea of wearing a sari. This wedding is going to be an Indian ceremony followed by an American reception, and the bride/bridesmaids will all be changing from traditional Indian clothing into traditional American clothing for the reception, so it wasn’t going to be offensive for me to wear a dress rather than a sari (another thing that the bride assured me–“Wear what makes you comfortable!”–because clearly my outfit should be her main concern in the days leading up to the event. Get it together, Bethany.)

HOWEVER. Even if I didn’t wear a sari, I knew that I wasn’t supposed to wear white, black, or red. That’s all well and good–I probably wouldn’t have wanted a white or red dress anyway–but do you have ANY IDEA how hard it is to go shopping for winter-friendly dresses when your off-limits colors include black and red?! They exist, but the VAST majority of what was available at Macy’s was either black or some version of red, and they were either floor length (too formal) or just-grazing-your-upper-thigh length (too skimpy).

It was a disaster.

This “in-and-out” sort of situation turned into a “four hours of trying on dresses and hating all of them and crying a bit about it, too” sort of situation. I went to Macy’s (the dresses floor and the regular-clothes-with-some-dresses-mixed-in floor). I went to Nordstrom Rack (where I didn’t see any dresses at all??). I went to H&M. I went to Express. I went back to Macy’s. I went to Francesca’s. I went to Akira. I went to Zara. I went to Saks Off 5th. NOTHING. Not one single store had a dress that checked all my boxes (not white/black/red, not trendy, not skimpy, not overly formal, not over $100). I was ready to punch someone by the time I gave up–specifically, whoever decided that all long sleeve dresses this year need to be bell sleeves as opposed to normal sleeves I can wear five years from now without someone looking at me and saying, “She definitely bought that dress in 2018!”

2. I needed to be in the suburbs on Sunday, so I went to the outlet mall in Aurora to continue my quest (despite no longer needing the dress for the opera). I expected similar results to Saturday’s debacle, and was well on track for a repeat after finding nothing at their Saks Off 5th, J. Crew, or Express, when I decided to wander into Akira just in case.

I’ve shopped at Akira twice before and been pleasantly surprised by the experience both times. When I went on Saturday, I didn’t spend enough time there to catch the attention of a salesperson, but the store in Aurora was fairly empty on Sunday. Someone approached me soon after I started browsing, and I recounted my woes to her, particularly in the color department. She set off to start a dressing room for me, and I’ll be honest: I had very low expectations. Looking through the lineup, I didn’t see anything I liked, but I started trying things on anyway.

Wouldn’t you know it, they did it again.


I was super impressed with this dress as soon as I put it on. No, it doesn’t have sleeves like I really wanted, but I found a wrap later that day that will get the job done (did I mention that this wedding is outside? At sunset? This Saturday? In Chicago? That’s why I was so concerned about sleeves.). Seriously, if you’re in the area and need a dress: go to Akira. They will solve all your problems. I know a lot of their clothes are…out there, to put it mildly, but they do have hidden gems!

I also got this necklace while I was there, because *heart-eyed emoji*



3. So! La Boheme! Seven years ago, I did an internship in Chicago that literally changed my life. I would not have moved to Chicago, I would not have started running, I would not have started blogging had it not been for that internship–and, subsequently, all the things that have happened as a result of me moving to Chicago/running/blogging never would’ve happened either. The program through which I did my internship takes students to art events in the city every week during the semester, either for class credit or just because. If you’re doing it for class credit, you have to go, but if you’re doing it just because, you can skip whenever you want (if I remember correctly).

This past Saturday, the program’s weekly art event was closing night of La Boheme at the Lyric. Apparently, a fair number of the students doing art events just because figured there were better ways they could spend their Saturday night in Chicago other than at the opera, because the program had a bunch of extra tickets for the show. One of the staff members posted about it in the alumni group on Facebook, and since I had nothing going on Saturday evening, I reached out to see how much they cost. The program had already paid for them, so they were free. WHAT! I looked it up later, and seats in my row were going for $139. That was a pretty good deal, so off I went to the opera!


I had never seen a fully staged opera before, so this was a really special occasion! I got all dressed up (in my sleeveless lacy dress, due to the above drama, with a scarf over my shoulders to keep me warm) and had a delightful time. The performers were all so talented, and I’m glad I got to see the show!

Have you ever been to the opera?