Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Good-Bye to Another Chicago Summer

Summer Sped Up (A Chicago Timelapse) from Josh Kalven on Vimeo.

Since summer is officially over tonight, and because my co-worker, Kristen, is even more sad about it than I am (I've already accepted fall, and I'm kind of excited about it, to be perfectly honest), this gem was brought to my attention. Pretty cool! Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Time Flies...

Pardon the time lapse since my last post. My life has been very full (in a good way!) lately, and the hours for blogging become slimmer and slimmer. But I've definitely been writing! Have been prepping for two exciting interviews in October for two stories I'm writing for the Winter Issue of Clef Notes. I've also had some fun opportunities through Two weeks ago, I went on a tour of The Chicago Theatre that was really interesting. We couldn't secure a photographer for the event, so I got to take the pictures, too (it's times like these I wish I had something a little fancier in the camera department). Click on the story below to read the entire thing at!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Celebrating a Chicago Anniversary

Two years ago today, I moved to this beautiful, cold, stinky, lovely, angular, popular, laid-back, intense city that I call home. Hopping into my car that day, and hitting the highway for my westward drive to Chicago, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that I belonged here. And as the city unfolded before me as I crossed the Skyway, I felt the thrill of Chicago up my spine. She's not a perfect city--certainly not as flawless as she seemed that very first day--but she's home to me now. And I still get the thrill.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chicago, Kim and Ems Style: Part IV

Sunday was jam-packed despite the miserable heat. We woke up around nine, and I decided to make pancakes for breakfast before catching the bus downtown to the Chicago River. I had, unwisely, booked a noon riverboat tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation on a 90+ degree day. Granted, we still missed the hottest part of the day, but I'm not sure why noon had seemed like a good time to me when I’d picked up the tickets.

Anyway, Kim’s even more of an architecture fan than I am, and he’s a huge urban-planning buff, so I figured we definitely needed to take my favorite Chicago tour. We enjoyed the heck out of ourselves, despite dripping with sweat, and Kim was shooting with his DSLR (and me with my point-and-shoot) the whole ride.

By the time it was over, we were (surprise!) ready to eat again. I took us to the most lackluster place of the whole weekend—the grill at Millennium Park. I’ve had good food here in the past, but they really disappointed on Sunday. Of course, maybe it’s just because they pale in comparison to the fabulous eats on which we gorged ourselves the rest of the weekend… But the drinks were good. So, even though we were still outside, we had shade, and a couple of tasty drinks, and we just sat and talked for a couple of hours. We kind of melted into our chairs and were nearly too lethargic to move at all, but the prospect of More cupcakes motivated us.

But once we got to More, and picked out our gourmet cupcakes, we were ready to throw in the towel, go home, and enjoy our treats in the A/C. So we did.

It was already dinner time when we arrived home, but we decided to eat the cupcakes first. I had opted for my absolute favorite—red velvet—and Kim went for something a little less usual—mango cilantro. I was pretty psyched watching Kim bit into his, and when he said it might just be the best thing he’s ever tasted, well, I was pretty proud of myself. I’d been talking up More since I’d visited D.C., and I had to prove that these cupcakes were better than the rest. I succeeded.

The rest of the night consisted of watching “Mad Men” with takeout from Joy’s Noodles & Rice. I went to bed fat and happy than night, and didn’t feel sad until morning. Kim joined me on my morning commute, continuing to express admiration for my fabulous city (ah, Kim, how you stroke my ego by telling me what an amazing city I live in), and then I saw him off on Lake Street at the Blueline stop. I felt rather sad on the walk to work, as you always do when one of your best and oldest friends heads out of the city. In fact, I sulked the whole way to work and then some. But then I reminded myself that it won’t be long before we indulge in Chicago or D.C. together again. And besides, it’s about time for a diet after all that food!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chicago, Kim and Ems Style: Part III

Saturday afternoon was short, as we had only a brief time between Hot Doug’s and heading out to Ravinia to see Rodrigo y Gabriela. We took a ride down Lake Shore Drive, and over to my old neighborhood, but then headed back home to grab a few things, and then grab the Redline to Argyle. Here, we stopped to pick up some awesome Bahn Mi sandwiches and desserts from Ba Le Bakery (Kim, check out their awesome website!) to take with us.

Now, I know I’ve lived in Chicago for a while, but I’d never ridden the Metra before. Being a bit of a public transportation lover, I was pretty psyched by sitting “upstairs” on the train, and the fact that the conductor actually walks through the train and checks your tickets (really, it’s kind of quaint and adorable). As the train filled up on the way to Ravinia, I started to realize that this whole Ravinia thing is actually kind of a big deal. Of course, when we arrived and saw the massive line waiting to get inside, this really began to sink in. After bucking an angry-mom-sounding park official, we joined the crowd of people cutting to the front of the line, only to wait another 20 minutes to get inside. Once past the gate, I had to admit it: okay, this suburban music festival, and, in particular, this band of which I had not previously heard, was a huge deal. There were only slivers of grass apparent between all of the blankets, chairs, and elaborate dining set-ups strewn across the sprawling lawn. I was completely caught off guard by the tables, tablecloths, five-course meals, and candelabra displayed at so many of the temporary sites created by concert-goers. I had never seen anything like this before in my life. Luckily, Liz and Matt had arrived when the gates had opened, a couple of hours before we’d arrived, and had staked out and set up a nice spot, with two huge picnic blankets, large enough to hold all four of us. We had brought a decent spread of food to add to their collection of munchies, and with several bottles of wine between us, we were set!

Rodrigo y Gabriela were tremendously good to the ears and the spirit. I couldn’t help but wish I could remember the flamenco I’d taken during a summer master class at Toledo Ballet in high school. The music was beautiful, the sky was full of stars, and the night air was perfectly comfortable. Everyone seemed content.

The evening was destined to expose me to new experiences, and so, settling in for the Metra ride home, I couldn’t hide my shock that everyone—and I mean everyone—on the train seemed happy. It was like a jovial community, where everyone smiled and joked and laughed with strangers as though they were old pals. Granted, most everyone had been drinking for hours ahead of time. But it wasn’t akin to the El at 2 a.m. People weren’t sloppy, or obnoxious, or rude. They were just having a good time, and I was sincerely impressed. I had completely underestimated the potential of Ravinia!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Chicago, Kim and Ems Style: Part II

If Xoco weren’t enough, we headed to the famous Hot Doug’s on Saturday around noon. Now, Hot Doug’s opens at 10:30 a.m., but the idea of eating hot dogs for breakfast somehow seemed ludicrous to me, and, well, we didn’t even haul ourselves out of our beds until about that time. But when you arrive at the restaurant, you understand why you’d want to get there at about 10:30 a.m.—because by the time you make it through the line it will be at least noon, if not later. So, we made our way around the building and to the back of the 90-minute-long queue baking under the mid-day sun. An opportunistic ice cream truck sat at the curb, selling water and ice cream to grumbling bellies along the way. Admittedly, I was turning into a bit of a crab, what with the lack of food and the sun heating beads of sweat down my back. As we inched closer and closer to toward the entrance, it became a greater and greater tease, and my impatience started to take hold. Once we could see the food, though, the excitement became fully re-ignited, and everyone around us grew lively. In fact, by the time we were close enough to view the menu on the wall, I started to panic that I wasn’t going to be finished deciding by the time we got up to the counter! Could we just order one of everything?

Soon, however, we were met with a jovial cashier who acted as though there weren’t sixty people crowded at the door, waiting to get in. Once you’re inside, time slows down and everyone just seems so relaxed. Despite the long lines, there were open tables, with diners slowly savoring their meals. There wasn’t a thing frantic or stressed about it. After expertly ordering a Chicago dog, a blue cheese pork sausage with almonds, a jalapeno and cheddar beef sausage, French fries fried in duck fat (with cheese on the side), and a couple of drinks, we took our seats to await the artery-clogging goodness. And boy was it goodness. We split the Chicago dog, and it was amazing. It was perfectly tangy, and I am convinced that I will never, ever, eat a hot dog with ketchup again in my life. Then I dug into my blue cheese sausage, which was good, but didn’t even compare to the $6-cheaper Chicago dog. Kim asked me if I could taste any difference in the duck fat fries, and I honestly could. But maybe it’s because I routinely eat my fries with nothing on them but salt.

After leisurely eating our lunch, shooting the shit (we do a lot of this), and enjoying the mix of tunes that took us back to middle and high school, we headed out, our full stomachs in tow.