Friday, August 3, 2012

The Windy City

A few weeks ago I felt like a city mouse in the country.  This past weekend, I felt just the opposite.  Robert and I had our first REAL trip to the wonderful city of Chicago.  The first couple of times we had been there were just trips to and from O’Hare airport, so it didn’t really count since all we really saw of the city was the skyline, my friends’ apartment and inside the airport.  This time, however, we had a great opportunity to really get to know the city.  And we loved it.

We decided it would be good for me to drive there, since Robert had driven there twice before, and I never had.  It wasn’t really any different from driving in say, Houston or Dallas, except that I had no clue where I was most of the time.  We took the long way to our friends’ apartment so that we could see more of the city.  It was a gorgeous day: sunny, 75 degrees and breezy.  We saw the magnificent architecture, shopping centers, the river walk, the lovely aqua blue water and beaches of Lake Michigan and the colorful mix of people from all over the world walking the streets.  Our first impression of the city was a good one.

Part of the Chicago skyline while driving into the city!
I have to show off what I wore that night because I made the skirt and I'm super proud of it! :)

Perhaps the best part of the weekend was getting to see my wonderful Baylor Theatre friends, Andrew and Danielle.  Both are native Texans who moved to Chicago after graduation to chase their dreams in the theatre industry.  They have an apartment in the northeast part of the city and were kind enough to let us stay with them over the weekend.  Robert, Danielle and I took the train to meet Andrew at a fantastic deep dish pizzeria, Lou Malnati’s. 

Unfortunately, when we had a stop at Wrigley Stadium, the train was descended upon by a legion of loud, drunk, rowdy, groping Cardinals fans – who had just lost to the CUBS! (The Cubs aren’t doing too well this year.)  Robert already has a dislike for the Cardinals considering they beat the Rangers in the World Series last year, but this train ride took it to a whole new level.  Not only were they yelling across the train to each other, but they started talking to the passengers who wanted nothing to do with them, including us!  It was… unpleasant.  And of course, that’s when the train started malfunctioning.  We were trapped in a hot metal box with a bunch of over-aged frat guys and sad, trashy women desperately clinging to their long lost youth.  It was like the seventh circle of hell.  When the train finally got to a station, the doors wouldn’t open.  All of the non-Cardinals fans pulled the emergency exit levers, pried the doors open and got the heck out of dodge.  We escaped smelling like beer but thankful to have gotten out alive, or at least, without a fight breaking out.  We got a cab to Lou Malnati’s and the night went great from there on out.  

Dinner and drinks with amazing friends!

As the entire world knows, the Olympics have been going on, and we were able to keep up with the events thanks to the TV’s in the restaurant and bars we visited.  Who doesn’t just love how unifying the Olympics are??  Not only does America come together as a nation, rooting for Gabby Douglas and the rest of the Fab Five, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin, Allison Schmidt, the beach volleyball teams, crew teams, and many, many more, but the entire world celebrates the excellence displayed from every nation.  For a while, we put aside our difference of politics, religion, social issues and ancient grudges, and we are just a world of competitors and spectators marveling at the power of the human spirit.  Now don’t get me wrong, I totally check my phone for the latest medal count update because I want to beat China, but when I watch our competition perform, my heart still bleeds for them when something goes wrong.  It still races with excitement when they accomplish something unbelievable.  I want the US to bring home as many medals as possible, no doubt, but I respect the strength and courage of every competitor who has made it this far (even Tyler Clary, who I think is kind of a tool). 

As a world dealing with so much controversy, let’s celebrate the fact that every competing country sent at least one woman to represent them in the games – even Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.  How inspiring!  AND Gabby Douglas, the girl with the million dollar smile known to the world now as “The Flying Squirrel,” is the first African American woman to win a gold medal in the women’s gymnastics all-around competition!  Yay earth!  I wish we could experience this level of mutual respect and cooperation year round.  I think instead of going to war when we disagree, how about we vault for it?  Or swim it out?  Or even engage in a rousing game of handball (I still don’t even GET that sport)?  Let’s spare millions of lives and settle it on the court/field/pool/track/etc.   Maybe in a perfect world, which this is far from...  If you can’t tell, this has been a very inspirational/emotional week for me.  I tear up at every stupid Nike “Find your Greatness” commercial and during every American victory ceremony.  GO USA!

USA's Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, AlyRaisman and Kyla Ross, also known as the "Fab Five," win the gold in the women's team gymnastics competition.

Mine and Robert’s new goal is to save up to go to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.  Chicago was one of the cities contending to host the next Olympic games, but sadly, it was voted out fairly early, despite a speech from President Obama asking the planning committee for their consideration.  Too bad, because Chicago is a great city.  From what I saw of it, it is very clean, most of the people are friendly, and it has a huge variety of food, art and culture.  One of the things I did not realize about the city was how beautiful the beach of Lake Michigan is!  At least, the beach we went to was lovely: clean, soft sand; clear, blue water; happy, family-friendly atmosphere.  There were even seagulls!  The only differences between there and the ocean was the lack of salty air and the presence of pebbles in the surf as opposed to seashells.

Before heading to the beach, Jim took us to the roof of his apartment building via fire escape.  It was an adventure!
Danielle, Andrew and their friend Jim filled me in on the theatre/film/arts scene in the city, and man, do I want to move there now!  There are tons of theaters from well known ones like Steppenwolf and Goodman, to lesser known little start up theaters.  There are TV shows and movies filmed and produced there, and lots of opportunities for someone like me to maybe get involved.  Robert and I will be keeping an eye out for summer internships with the hopes of maybe living there for a few months.  In the meantime, I got hired here in Champaign at Barnes and Noble as a cafĂ© barista, and while not very glamorous, I am looking forward to having something to do during the day and to bring in some extra income. 

In addition to having a job, I am also training for a 5K.  Andrew is a big fitness freak, has been since I’ve known him, and being roommates with Danielle has caused her to start running as well.  Guess who she conned into running the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure September 22nd.  Yep.  Me.  And by “conned,” I mean she said, “Do you wanna run a 5K with me in September?” and I said, “Sure!”  Robert and I have both been trying to exercise more often and consistently eat healthier, and now I have even more motivation.  Who knows, maybe I’ll love it and will work my way up to a half marathon?  We’ll see. 

So to wrap it all up, Chicago is a cool city, Cardinals fans are gross, I love the Olympics, I got a job, and I’m running a 5K.  That’ll do it for now.  I’ll try not to absent for so long again.  I know you all missed my long-winded reflections.  Just trying to get some living done over here.  One day at a time.


  1. it must be so amazing to be able to watch the olympics live, i would love to go to rio 2016 too. :D

    p.s. i'd also love to visit chicago someday soon. :)

    <3, Mimi
    Twisted Orchid Giveaway -- Win any bag of your choice! :)

  2. Half of Leo's family lives in the Chicago area and I've been dying to go for forever! Glad to hear it's as great and I imagined. I've been living on the Olympics too, perhaps a bit more than I should. I mean, who really watches trampolining me? Also, go you on the 5k! And the job!