Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday in Chicago

Our story about one of the most fabulous girls' weekends ever ends on Sunday. Steph and I were awake and lounging about in our pjs by around 8am or so again. It seems that even though we all email back and forth constantly (as in several times a week, sometimes maybe even twice in one day) AND make the occasional phone calls AND follow up on each other's day-to-day musings on blogs and facebook, we still feel the need to make the most of our time we get to have together in one location. So awake we were trying to cram in some more girl talk between best friends before time to part once more.

We spent our afternoon having lunch and wandering around town a bit with Stephanie's Harvard friend Zach. He has just recently finished school and was in town to take the bar. I had met Zach at the New Year's Party in Boston this year, so it was nice to see him again. We spent a lot of time talking about the bar over lunch (where I had a terrifically delicious chicken BBQ flatbread pizza). My question of the day was how many people from Harvard actually fail the bar. The answer is 1%. My guess is that those are the people who don't show up on exam day. I'm sure Zach did just fine.

After lunch, we walked over to Michigan Avenue so that I could duck into the Borders and purchase the new Harry Potter book. Don't worry - I'm not saying a word about it (even though I finished reading it last night). I'll save my thoughts on that for a bit longer so that you all have time to read it. We had a lovely time enjoying our last bit of time together and seeing a bit of the city.

Next thing I knew, we were on the bus... and then the train... heading back to O'Hare. These weekends always go by way too quickly. However, they always send us each our separate ways with another collection of good memories about our sightseeing, our conversations, our laughs, and our wild and crazy nights out on the town. These women mean a lot to me and certainly shape me into the woman that I am today. I know that sounds all sappy, but I mean it. I especially know that part of why I am how I am these days is because of the friendship that Steph and I have maintained for 10 years. She has taught me so much about being a true friend, about having confidence, about not being shy... Well, regardless of who else realizes it, I am certainly more fully myself than when I was 14, and part of that is the maturity that comes with age and part of it is other things that life has brought to me... but another part of it is definitely Stephanie. And I'm also so very thankful that Amanda is now part of my life because of her, too!

I don't have to say that I hope we always stay close... I know we will. These girls' weekends will keep on happening. We'll keep tearing up the Internet with countless emails back and forth. We'll make the most of free long distance on cell phones. No matter where we live, what we do, or who we're with, our friendship will stay strong. And it's in knowing this truth that I can come home from a weekend such as this one with a big smile and look forward to the next one. I often say that my relationships are the most important thing to me in my life, and these girls continually remind me of all the reasons why relationships are more fulfilling than anything else I could possess.

Sunday in Chicago Pictures

Friday, July 27, 2007

Freeze in the Sun and Howl at the Moon

Saturday morning in Chicago, Steph and I were up bright and early around 8am. I'm really not quite sure why considering we'd only slept about 5 hours and could have squeezed in one more. A short time later we had Amanda up, and we headed out the door to go on the architectural boat tour. The below picture of the three of us is from that part of our day.

The boat tour was COLD. I know the use of the word "cold" might seem a little strong considering it was a sunny July morning. However, between being in the shade and being on the water, we were shivering pretty much the whole time. Other than that, it was an enjoyable boat ride. We saw buildings. We learned about architecture, including that most buildings in Chicago are either square, triangular, or circular in shape (I certainly needed a tour guide to point that out to me, ha!). It was neat hearing about all the different buildings and their history. I also got some terrific pictures of some of the classic buildings from the Chicago skyline, and a few that you never see but that certainly deserve some appreciation.

After some sandwiches for lunch, we headed back to Steph's place to watch her wedding DVD that she finally received. It was actually really well put together and enjoyable to watch. We cracked up over the best man's speech all over again. We contemplated how different our voices actually sound compared to how we hear them in our heads. We remembered dancing to good tunes at the reception. We laughed over the language Amanda used when I beat her to the bouquet. What a fun little piece of history to be part of! And I had forgotten how quick I was to lift my skirt up for Lars who caught the garter to put it on my leg, so we got a good laugh out of that, too! (A side note to my fellow southerners: Apparently it is quite common up north that whoever catches the garter at a wedding puts it on the girl who caught the bouquet and they take a picture. We do not do this in the south. And apparently I'm supposed to marry Lars now or something? Well, nonetheless... it was funny to watch on tape).

Another nap was on our afternoon agenda, and then we enjoyed a terrific meal at the TGIFridays. Except that the service was kind of bad. But the food was good. Thanks again Amanda for the fried macaroni and cheese you got for us!

We once again got dressed up in our finest jeans (and when I say finest I of course mean tightest) and cutest tops and headed out for a fun night out on the town. This time, we met up with one of Steph's Harvard friends and a bunch of his buddies at Howl at the Moon. We were immediately out on the dance floor laughing, dancing, and taking lots of pictures. Let me say this... this place was seriously one of the coolest places I have ever gone to, and we have some pretty cool places in Nashville. Apparently they have locations all over the US, so I just might send a friendly email to the owner and suggest he look into bringing one to Nashville.

The band was amazing. The idea seems to be that they play all sorts of music that people will actually know and sing along to... and sing along we did. It's the first time I've ever heard a band in a bar play Justin's "SexyBack" (yes, two pianos, drums, and some sort of electrical keyboard thing and it actually sounded a lot like the real version!) We all thoroughly enjoyed a round or two of "American Pie." That was when we discovered that bottles make excellent microphones. We heard Kenny Chesney, Neil Diamond, The Backstreet Boys, and so many others. I think the randomness of it all is part of what made it such a fun evening.

Granted, this band was so amazing that it didn't really matter what they played... you were having fun. One chick played the fiddle and totally rocked out on DMB's "Under the Table and Dreaming." For those of you who are as much of DMB fans as I am, I assure you that they more than did the song justice. What was really fun about them was the way they interacted with the audience.

"Guys, we just got $20 to play Backstreet Boys." ... and into the song they go.
"STOP!" - in the middle of the song - "We just got $23 to quit playing Backstreet Boys!"

Then there was your classic trashy girl hanging around the stage, dancing all up on the piano player. I don't think she even noticed when the other piano player started imitating her.. and not in the way that one finds flattering. We took her picture, mostly because we felt certain no one would ever believe us if we tried to describe the tiny piece of spandex she was wearing instead of clothes.

The night flew by... Steph's friend Kees and his friends were just an absolute blast to hang out with, and we were certainly sad they had to catch a train back home when they did. We did joke on the way home that the evening's planned bar crawl turned into more like a bar stay put, but it was certainly the kind of place you want to stay put. I mean, we had to wait like 20-25 minutes in line to get in! That doesn't happen often at the places around here.

We finished our evening off with some chips and dip and a little more girl talk. Now before you go picturing us sitting around in our little jammies and gushing over men, you should keep in mind the kind of successful, intelligent women that were sitting together. We covered a lot of topics ranging from law school, organizations, politics, our jobs, and so on and so forth. We certainly "know a lot about a lot of things." (That one was for you Steph, taking it back to Governer's School days.) But ok, before finally crashing into bed at 2:30am we talked a bit about men, too.

Saturday in Chicago Pictures

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Wrecking Crew Story

So as I continue this story, I ask that you keep in mind that we're still only on Friday night. Once we had our naps and did a little more shopping (where Amanda purchased this terrific dress she wore out that night), we stopped at the mall food court for some dinner. This is when Steph's mom called to see if we were - in her words, out clubbin' - yet. I found this terrifically comical.

We headed home and got all gussied up in our dress-to-kill dresses and heels (thanks again Steph for letting me borrow those adorable sandals!) and took a cab to Le Bar. Apparently, Le Bar is such a fine and classy establishment that they don't even need a sign to help you find the entrance. Fortunately for us, we're all very intelligent and found our way in.

We ordered some cocktails and began scanning the room to find somewhere to sit down when we spotted a gentleman sitting at a table for three all by his lonesome. Being bold, we strutted on over and Amanda kindly asked him if he'd mind letting us have the seats. Up he hopped, we took the chairs, and he (Daniel) knelt by the table to chat it up. A bit later he commented about his good fortune about three beautiful women coming up to sit with him, and it was then that Amanda pointed out how we kinda stole his seats from him. It seemed he didn't mind.

Soon after, his friends Paul and Rebecca turned up and joined us. The waitress also turned up with three little stools to add to the table out of nowhere. Quite the magic trick. A few jokes about us having a girls' night out on the town led to Daniel's famous comment of the evening that will forever stick as our favorite nickname for ourselves... "They should call you girls 'The Wrecking Crew!'" Now I'm not sure who the infamous "they" is in this situation, but the name is good. I can see a logo with a nice little wrecking ball...

The rest of the evening was good fun. We laughed, we took tons of pictures, we enjoyed cocktails, we made trips to the bathroom... I'm not kidding, this bathroom was huge! There were like separate rooms within the bathroom. You could get lost in there! In fact, I did. I couldn't find where Amanda was washing her hands at when I came out of the fancy stall with a glass door.

Our three friends knew each other from time spent in Arizona. One of our favorite stories the next day concerned their age. It's like a riddle: Daniel and Paul have been friends since the 2nd grade. Daniel tells Melanie he's 34. Paul tells Stephanie he's 31. But Daniel tells Amanda that he's been at his job for 10 years since he started at age 19. How old is Rebecca?

Then again, we probably weren't completely honest either. Amanda told them all about our fourth friend, who apparently is a red head. I should like to meet her. She sounds lovely. No matter what, we had a good time getting to know them, and I hope that Paul and Rebecca got together in the end and that they all had fun in Chicago. They're probably still wondering if we really happened to them, ha.

Good times were had. Phone calls were made. And we stopped in the W on the way home since it was close to Steph's place to finish off the night. Steph and I even stayed up for like another hour til 3am when we got home for a little more girl talk, which may or may not have involved chatting about various members of the male persuasion. Such details remain secret between best friends. :)

Check back next time for details about our fun adventures on Saturday, including a trip to probably the coolest bar/dance hall ever.

The Wrecking Crew Pictures

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Spot On in The Windy City

I'd been holding out on making any posts about my FANTASTIC weekend with my closest girls Steph and Amanda in Chicago. The reasons are three-fold (and for all you Friends fans, imagine Chandler in a box with 3 fingers sticking up out of the hole):

  1. Our weekend was wild, crazy and absolutely more fun than one can imagine. Thus, I have been pretty exhausted ever since.

  2. I wanted to be able to include pictures. I have all of them, but first I couldn't find the box containing the cord to download them to my computer. Then I was exhausted (or maybe it was the other way around? Who even knows anymore). Then a storm came and my Internet went out.
  3. I knew it would require more than one posting, so I thought I'd take a day or so to determine which part to share first.

So I'm going to start here... Stephanie and I have been best friends for about 10 years now. She has stuck closer to me than any friend ever has and my life is all the more fulfilled because of her. Somewhere along the way, we've learned what true friendship is and how to maintain it. It's because of Stephanie that I know Amanda, another really amazing gal that I find it very easy to be friends with even though she doesn't live near me either. (It's really a shame that so many of my closest friends live so far away, but that's another story for another day).

When the three of us get together.... well, stay tuned for my next posting about the nickname our little group received this weekend. It explains pretty well what we're like. One reason for our lack of sleep all weekend was definitely in part due to the constant girl talk that we were engaged in. Even walking down busy Michigan Avenue, we were yakking at 90mph about all sorts of things. I'm sure if anyone were to listen to us, they'd either be confused or incredibly amazed at how much ground we can cover in our conversations. It's really more like a fine art than anything. Seriously, you have no idea. People would have to study us to learn how it's done.
Amanda and I both arrived at the airport Thursday evening, where we quickly noticed while waiting on my bag that we were the ONLY people who appeared to be happy. Steph had to work on Friday so Amanda and I set out to explore the city and be typical tourists. Our first stop was Starbucks for breakfast. We thought we'd sit outside to enjoy the city, but we ended up freezing in the wind instead. Fortunately, after ducking into the H&M for some shopping (my favorite store ever that we sadly do not have in Nashville) it started to feel like a warm, summer day.

We headed up to the Hancock Building to enjoy the view of the city from way up high. This is where we determined we had good karma. Not only had we found a steal of a sale at H&M and together got 8 pieces of clothing for $42, we now had been given free audio tours by some nice lady who didn't use them. We learned all sorts of interesting things that I'm not likely to detail for you here... but did you know it's called The Windy City not because of the wind but rather because of long-winded politicians?

After this, we really got into our tourist roles and attempted to cross Michigan Avenue even though the light was flashing to stop. The big joke became that first Amanda pulled me out in front of traffic, but then she pulled me back into the median and saved my life. I am forever in debt to her.

We also explored Navy Pier and glanced through the Stained Glass Museum. It's free, so if you're ever in Chicago check it out. Some of the windows are amazing. We enjoyed lunch at the Dock Side Cafe as well as a round of Blue Moons... always a good choice, yes? Our next stop took us for a stroll along the lakeside beach and then into some of the expensive stores back on the Magnificent Mile. We even went into Tiffany's where we decided all of the nicest customer service people work. Never before had we felt so welcome in a store. The diamonds were beautiful, but we of course left empty-handed.

Now I know what you're thinking... this is quite a bit of activity for one day. Well, you're right. We headed back to Steph's place so that we could take a bit of a power nap before she joined us for the evening's festivities. I'll leave you here. You may not realize it, but I'm actually leaving you hanging in suspense because Friday night is when we start getting a bit into the wild and crazy fun. Check back tomorrow for that chapter in the story...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday that's like a Friday

I love it when I have a 4-day work week. There's just something about it that makes it go by so much faster than a regular week. Maybe it's that working 32 hours really is in some ways a lot less than 40 hours. Or maybe it's because if I'm working only 4 days, it means I have something really fun going on over the 3-day weekend.

Such is this case this week. As soon as I leave work today (which is going by awfully slow), I'll be heading to good ole BNA to catch a jet plane to The Windy City. I've been to Chicago once before to visit my pal Rachel, hitting some popular tourist attactions, eating some good meals and catching The Lion King on stage. (Have I ever mentioned I loved Broadway musicals?) This time I'm heading up there to see my best girl ever Stephanie as well as another really good gal pal of mine Amanda. It will certainly be the ultimate girls' weekend.

Last night I spent close to two hours packing. I didn't really intend for it to take so long, but several things kept holding me up. First, Tucker decided to use me as a springboard to try to jump on this top shelf in my closet. I wouldn't have minded too terribly much except that somehow in the process he caught his back claws on my ear and scratched the fire out of it. It bled for an hour. Who knew your ear could bleed so much? I was not pleased.

Then Tucker was trying to climb through the blinds to look out the window. However, he quickly found that there is not a wide enough windowsill for him to sit on like there was in the apartment. He lost his footing, fell and tore up the bottom part of the new blinds. I was not pleased about this either. I'm cutting him some slack though. He is in a new home and is still having to check everything out. It's been kind of funny to watch because he's so nervous that he jumps at any little sound. He's quit slinking along the floor like he did the first day, but he refuses to leave whatever room I'm in unless I leave it, and then he promptly follows me to the next one.

The final reason for my long packing is that I find it's just really hard to pack for a weekend. Especially a super exciting girls' weekend like the one we have planned. There are always a variety of activities on the agenda that require different kinds of clothing options. On top of that, I'm the kind of gal who likes to have options, so I always have to take a few extra things to choose from. I am always insistent that I'm not a girly girl, but there are certainly occasions such as ones like this where I can quickly fall into that category as I deliberate over whether I should take the little black dress or little red dress (LBD and LRD, respectively) and finally decide to just take both and decide when it's actually time to get dressed on Saturday night.

Go on and laugh at me. You know you want to.

So I'll be missing again for a few days, but I certainly intend to share at least one interesting story from the weekend upon my return, and maybe a picture or two as well. Look out Chicago.. you have know idea what's about to hit.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What a Weekend!

I'm exhausted... but exhausted in a good way. It's that kind of exhausted where it really sucks to be so tired, but yet you know you have really good reasons for being so tired and that makes it not so bad.

Friday after work I made a trip down to the hospital to visit my grandpa who recently had surgery to remove throat cancer. Then it was off to the house to finish a few last minute things, and then I spent my last night in the apartment. On a bit of a tangent here, I was born on a Friday the 13th so whenever one rolls around it's kind of neat. I used to always feel like I had especially lucky days then. I can remember several in high school that went particularly well. Maybe I did well at a race. Or maybe a boy I liked flirted with me. Who knows really, but they were always good days. I can't say anything especially lucky happened on this one, but it was a good day nonetheless.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, my dad, Bob, and pals Erron, Tim and Trey all arrived to help me load everything in the trailer and get it in the house. I'm pretty sure we set a record... 2 hours and 20 minutes from the moment they arrived to the moment we all left to go grab breakfast at Cracker Barrell. Thanks guys for all your hard work! I am certainly thankful that I have good friends who are willing to help me out.

I spent the rest of the day arranging furniture, hooking things up, and getting my clothes in the closet. By the end of the day, I was worn out. I realized during a phone conversation that I was tripping all over my tongue so I promptly put myself to bed. Ok, ok... I know the person I was talking to is likely to read this... maybe I kept talking for 15 more minutes, but THEN - promptly to bed.

Sunday was spent sleeping in (although I had originally planned to go see an old friend but my sheer exhaustion kept me home) and then spending a little time at the parents' house because they got a new kitten! He is SO cute. I'll post a picture soon. I finally made it back to my place and put myself to work getting some things unpacked.

Then it was off to see the new Harry Potter movie with Sam. I certainly recommend you see it.. like the other HP movies, this one does not disappoint. Well, let me take that back... they have to leave a LOT of stuff out because the book was 896 pages long, and there are two things in the movie that differ from the book that I found rather irritating. But aside from that, truly a great film. I would watch it again... maybe at the IMAX because that'd be cool.

After such a busy and tiring weekend, it was certainly a great way to end it. I was probably out a bit too late because of it, but I certainly feel like it was a worthy reason to feel a bit sluggish today. Well, I guess there are several reasons for that, but you know what I mean.

There's still a lot to do and it's certainly going to take a few weeks, but at least I'm in the house now. And there are less than 80 hours now until I am reunited with Steph and Amanda in Chicago - I am certainly planning on being rested up for our girls' weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

If I Won the Lottery

Almost every day at 11am, I drive back over to my place to have a sandwich for lunch and enjoy about 20 minutes of the Ellen Degeneres show. I have to say, even though I rarely get to see an entire episode any more, this is definitely one of my favorite shows on tv. She's just so funny!

Today before she danced "to tha funk" (you know how it goes... "slide slide slippedy slide"), she was chatting about all the things she'd like to do if she won the lottery. I also decided to make a little list. Granted, I don't play the lottery... but should I ever get the whim to do so and somehow hit the jackpot, this is what I would do, in no particular order, with millions of dollars:

  1. Give a lot of it away. I know this is a pretty cliché answer, but what would I ever really do with millions of dollars? And I find great importance in being a giving person in numerous ways so I would fully intend to continue to give my time to others as well as my money. So, some of it would be given to some organizations I support while some would go to friends and family.
  2. Buy a house. What the heck, maybe buy a summer and a winter house.
  3. Travel to all the places I want to travel to and take someone with me to enjoy it.
  4. Invest a lot of it for my future. And for my family's future once I have one of my own.
  5. Get rid of any and all hair that I have to shave permanently with laser hair removal. I'm serious. Shaving is a pain.
  6. Run marathons in a ton of interesting places. Maybe just some half marathons in some places.
  7. Hire someone to be a personal chef and a personal maid, because I'm going to be busy writing away in my freelance career and it'd be helpful to have someone else to do those things.

I guess in the grand scheme of things I don't have to have millions of dollars to do these things. But, I certainly can't quit my job to travel the world right now so lottery winnings could facilitate that more easily.

The thing is that I'm really not one to be occupied with much thoughts about money. I mean, it's important to spend wisely and we all have to have money to an extent, but I can be pretty content no matter what. And I think that in the end, I'll do most of the things I want to do in life not because of money, but because they're important enough to me to be wise with my money so that I can make them happen. While winning the lottery could be pretty cool, I think I'll be just fine even if I never do.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Spinning Plates

So I see no need to continue to give Home Renovations updates, as we are done renovating. Can I just say how glad I am to be done with painting?? We still need to hang some blinds and install a ceiling fan, but my dad is graciously taking care of those projects leaving me plenty of time to pack.

Today I will be packing the kitchen. I've saved it for last, not really because I have that much in there. I don't. However, I have more than I had when I moved in. Unlike many of my friends who moved into their own place after college, I wasn't getting married so I didn't have a wedding registry for people to select all sorts of kitchen gadgets from to buy me as presents. On one hand, who doesn't love presents? But on the other hand, having this time to live by myself has certainly been a positive experience and one that I don't mind (though eventually the introduction of a good man in my home is desired, ha). However, living on your own does inspire many of your family and friends to clean out their kitchens and bring you all sorts of pots and pans and casserole dishes. I don't mind the hand-me-downs, but now I have to pack them all up.

The thing about packing the kitchen is that almost everything is somewhat fragile. By the end of the evening my hands will certainly be black again from all the newspaper. Last night I was tackling everything else breakable in my apartment. I have to say that packing that kind of stuff up is the least amount of fun in the whole moving process.

For it being Wednesday, I'm pretty worn out. I have been going full speed ahead since I got back from vacation, both with the packing and trying to catch up at work. I'm almost done with both. Today I shipped out 46 packages at the office. I'm pretty sure this is a record. Every night I have been leaving work and coming straight home to get to business. My friend Rachel and I were talking the other night about how exciting it is to move and have such a change, but how exhausting it is to do it all. And here's the thing... I really don't mind. In fact, it kind of reminds me of college. I had such a full schedule of activities in addition to school that I was forever running around getting things done and going places and honestly loving every minute of it. Free time is great, but if I have too much of it then I tend to get bored and need to go looking for something else to do. So, despite the fact that this is the busiest week ever and despite the move on Saturday, I'm probably going to drive to Knoxville on Sunday to see said friend Rachel for lunch because I haven't seen her in TWO years and I'm just crazy enough to do that... and it makes life all the more enjoyable.

So... if I seem a bit frazzled when you talk to me this week, please know it's because I kind of am and that there's a lot going on. However, please also know that deep down, I'm loving every minute of it. Well, maybe not every single minute of wrapping up every single dish I own... but you know what I mean.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Back from Holiday...

So I spent the last week just outside of Tampa, FL on Indian Shores Beach with my family. We had a terrific time relaxing on the beach, going out to dinner, and taking a trip over to Universal Studios in Orlando. This picture is of me and the sis waiting to watch fireworks in St. Petersburg. As most trips tend to do, we came away from the week with some memorable quotes. Granted, you kind of had to be there for some of these to be funny, but here are some anyways:
  1. "Pooh.. as in Winnie." ~ me
  2. "Dad, I peed in my pants a little." ~ Meredith
  3. "You know how some people introduce themselves with nicknames like, 'hey, my name is Alex but you can call me Spider.'? I think I'll start saying, 'hi, I'm Ben, but you can call me Beain.'" ~ Ben, poking fun at Meredith's talent of turning Ben into a 2 and sometimes 3 syllable name
  4. Ben: "Meredith, are you a horse?" Meredith: "Nay."
  5. Dad: "m&m?" Meredith: "M&M?!"
  6. Me: "Is there going to be music with the fireworks?" Ben: "This isn't Disney World, Mel."

We had some good times. It was fantastic to not have anything to do all week. I even reread the last two Harry Potter books since book 7 is about to come out. I know, I'm a nerd. Whatever.

Now I'm back home and back to my job, where it seems that although I only missed 4 days it is as if I missed a whole two weeks. How does that happen, especially when I was totally caught up before I left?

Not to mention I move on Saturday... and have just started packing today. If anyone wants to put things in boxes, do come on over. Or if you'd like to volunteer some strength on Saturday, I could always use a few hands with getting everything in the trailer and then back out of the trailer at the new place.

Look for more interesting posts soon, promise. I'm sure I'm going to be running around 24/7.. seriously, I'm sure I'll be spending a few late nights packing and making a few trips to the house to finish some cleaning before the move.

Although I'm already a little bit tired from another manic Monday, I'm feeling good. I just feel like good things are going to be happening over the coming months. Stay tuned...