A Little Bit O’ Everything

(The following entry is from a previous trip – not the present day.)

Sunday, August 5.

I love big Sunday breakfasts.

Especially those involving pancakes and sausages or bacon.

Which is why this morning’s meal is making my mouth water in anticipation.

On a recommendation from the front-desk staff at our hotel, Lori and I make our way over to a place with an enormous range of dishes on its menu – eggs, pancakes, sandwiches, you name it.

Our server is fantastic, as are his recommendations. Lori digs into peach cobbler crepes, while I savour my beloved pancakes – topped with peaches – and just the right amount of bacon. (I’m not sure if there is such a thing as “the right amount” of bacon, but it was for me.)

After our Sunday Breakfast of Sugary Triumph, we hop on the bus, make our way down to Millennium Park, and get on a trolley headed for Chicago’s South Side.

Our tour guide isn’t as gregarious as the one we had yesterday, but he’s equally as friendly, informative, and open to any questions we have.

We catch a glimpse of some of the cities’ museums during one of our stops. But because of time constraints, we don’t get off.

265Our tour trolley passes by numerous neighbourhoods, including the leafy, tree-covered Hyde Park neighbourhood (which, if I remember correctly, is close to one of the universities). We even pass by the street the Obamas live (lived?) on – which is noticeable because of the metal barricades blocking off the street.

After the tour, we walk down to the river front, winding our way towards the offices where we buy our tickets for one of the city’s famed architectural tours.

After a bit of a wait for the arrival of the boat, our group and our guide – a volunteer from the architectural society – set off.

Despite being out on the water, the sun is HOT. I have to take cover in a seat under the boat’s awning, to be able to enjoy the tour.

But the view – while not exactly camera-friendly – is still stunning.

328Glass-paned windows sparkle; concrete structures stand out. Even the functional criss-crossing of the steel-beamed bridges seem to be somewhat stylized. The guide who describes each major building of interest is a wealth of information – firing off names of architectural firms, styles, and eras with precision.

It is, arguably, the best money – and 90 minutes – spent, if you’ve got any interest in architecture, or even in seeing Chicago from another point of view.

After the tour, we head back down the riverfront, and stop by the lakefront restaurant for two heaping bowls of salad, to tide us over until we can grab dinner.

For our last evening meal in town, we head to a restaurant recommended by friends, called SUSHISAMBA – a Brazilian/Japanese/Peruvian fusion eatery (with six U.S. locations and a fifth in London).

Despite my initial reservations about the sushi portion of the menu (because of two previous unsuccessful outings involving sushi), I did order something I ended up liking very much. Lori orders some sashimi rolls and loves every bite.

Another thing we enjoy? Our waiter. Apart from being super helpful, he is easy on the eyes.

We top off our excellent meals with dessert, then decide to head out in search of some live music.

Relatively close to our hotel, is a little blues bar. We arrive and order drinks just before the band starts. They’re a lively group – they’re funny, friendly, and interact with small folks from the small crowd in attendance. And the music is pretty catchy.

But we only end up staying for an hour; Lori has to board a plane the following morning.

Despite the limited time, our taste of Chicago is brief, but it’s enough to consider a return trip. Probably just not during Lollapalooza.

So, What Happened Was …

Heyyy …

So I realize that, with the advent of February, it was a new month … which was supposed to mean a backlog of posts from travels, etc., were supposed to be up here, for all of you to read.

And then – nothing.

There are a couple of explanations for that:

(1) Lack of motivation/laziness. Right after the alcohol-induced exhilaration that comes with ringing in the New Year – and all those lists one starts to make in one’s mind of all the things one plans to accomplish – comes cold, harsh, winter. Which, naturally, wipes out any sort of (actual) sunlight or stimulus for about eight to ten weeks.

Usually, Vitamin D helps the former. But I’ve yet to find anything that helps with boosting the will to sit on my couch and write or type, even if I don’t feel like it. I have, however, mastered the art of staring at my journal. (Because as we all know, if you stare at something long enough, it will merely levitate and go in the direction that you will it to.)

(2) Trying to do things worth writing about. I know I usually write a huge list of goals (under the guise of NOT calling them resolutions) at the start of each year. Within a few days before writing the posts, I normally have a rough idea in my mind what goals I’d like to strive for. And believe me, I had every intention of doing another one. But somehow, I just couldn’t fully formulate what I wanted to write about. And then I started telling myself it was going to be a lame list, and not worth writing. And then I just got lazy.

While that was all happening, I just started vocalizing to other people what I’d like to do. Like trying my hand at the ukelele, since I had been absolutely obsessed with it for about ten minutes. Or perhaps joining a choir, because spending my days around my apartment singing along with iTunes while cleaning wasn’t quite cutting it anymore. Or perhaps hoisting myself back up onto the exercise wagon, after so ungracefully letting myself fall off it several months before.

So, I vocalized my obsession with the ukelele on Facebook. A friend offered to lend hers to me to try it out,  since she had her hands full with her newborn son. And I DID tune it using an online Web site, and tried to find a beginner’s YouTube video. But time is a tricky bastard, so I haven’t had a chance to try it again since.

Over Christmas/Hanukkah holidays, while at a friend’s party, she mentioned I should try joining a community choir, of which she was a member. I finally attended a couple sessions, at the beginning of February. But it’s been six weeks, and work has played a major role as to why I haven’t yet returned. I even managed to attend a couple of Sunday evening sessions of my friend’s new start-up choir, when my work schedule temporarily changed. But it’s now changed back, so no more of that.

And back in February, I finally made the decision to resume exercising. I felt like I was really neglecting my health – not really being active, and eating quite terribly. Plus, I’m now 36 years old. Sure, I’m still relatively young. And my body is retaining its shape – but barely. Age is starting to take its toll.

So, with the exception of a few days here and there (due to exercise-related soreness, or schedule changes), I have been trying to exercise in some form at least two to three times per week. Which is all right.  With the opening of a new barre workout place within walking distance of my home, I’ve been attempting to do that as well, to bump up my physical activity. (As you can tell, that’s the only thing I’ve managed to stick with.)

(3) Work happened – in a good way. In January, I returned to my old job, after some discussion with my boss. It’s okay, for now. But I know I can’t allow this to become a permanent situation. So before Christmas, I started doing a bit of networking – talking to folks here and there. I continued my networking into January. And unexpectedly, it bore a bit of fruit! I just finished three weeks working in another area of the building.

Boy, was it ever different. It was challenging, a bit frustrating, a little intimidating, occasionally overwhelming, very humbling, and absolutely inspiring. Oh, and my brain hurts. I actually questioned whether I actually liked what I was doing. I had a bit of a feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if I wasn’t really measuring up to the others I was working with. But when I had a feedback session with the woman who kindly took me on, she said I did really well. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard that from someone. And that’s the kind of thing I need, to make me want to work even harder.

Will they take me on again, during the summer? Who knows? Maybe not. But maybe I’ll get another chance to work there later in the spring. That would be very nice. But if I could finagle a work situation that would allow me to try something new each month between now and, say, September – a week here, two weeks there – that would make this year much more enjoyable and would provide more incentive, rather than frustration.

So, there you have it. I’m FINALLY trying to change things for myself, instead of writing and complaining about them as I usually do.

But some other business on this blog remains unfinished. Namely, writing out those travel posts from last summer. Considering how much time has elapsed, they probably won’t be as fresh as they should be. But please forgive me for that. Hopefully I’ll be better about that this year.