concerts in the park

Summer in Chicago is great. And though this whole “adult” thing means I’m still working full time, there’s still a whole lot to take advantage of here in the city.

One of the things I love about summertime is our summer concert series downtown at Millennium Park. Free outdoor concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion.

Monday night, as part of the Downtown Sound series, Chico Trujillo was playing and some Muccas just happened to be sitting in on a few songs.* So a small handful of those who weren’t performing and I went to go watch. And you know, because this is what you do at the summer concert series, we brought drinks and drink appropriate snacks (cheese, apples, crackers, meats, chocolates)… a little picnic in the park. Surrounded by a whole lot of people.

It was an absolutely fun, and just sort of relaxed, night. Just hanging out in the grass, listening to music, chatting, and just enjoying the summer night. I’m looking forward to doing it again for a few more concerts this summer.

My anxiety gets the best of me more often than I’ll admit–too often I just go home and crash–but I’m still working on it. I went to the zoo with a friend on Sunday. Then the concert on Monday. I’m hoping to enjoy the beach some this weekend with my brother & his family when they visit. And I’m determined to go see the Lichtenstein exhibit at the Art Institute sometime soon. I don’t care how many times I need to pause and take a deep breath, there’s no reason for me to waste another summer on my couch.

*Chico Trujillo is opening for Mucca Pazza on August 18th at the Bottom Lounge here in Chicago.
**Thanks to J for letting me snag that pic of the stage. 

cheers to the small things

cheers to the small things that bring us such great happiness

There has been a great deal of happiness in my life recently. I am so unbelievably grateful for these sources of joy. And all I want to do is just shout it to everyone I meet, all these things that have brought this happiness.

I can’t mention all of them, but here are a few things that have brought me joy lately…

  • Early morning quiet time
  • Going for walks, either alone or with a friend
  • Hugs & hi-fives from fans (who don’t care that I’m just the merch girl)
  • Kitty cuddles
  • Visiting with D.D.
  • Wedding updates from R.
  • Whiskey & Ginger Ale (thanks Jessica!)
  • “Home”-made green smoothies from that place in Detroit
  • Cheer skirts, tube socks, and blackout chuck taylors
  • Seeing my friends play some absolutely amazing venues/theaters
  • T. & V., for helping me get through some not-so-happy times
  • Late night giggles in hotel rooms, homestays, bars, and/or the bus
  • Bus For Life
  • Mucca. Mucca mucca mucca mucca mucca. Mucca.
  • Being called beautiful
  • THIS VIDEO:

*I got to see this a week or so ago, and couldn’t stop smiling and giggling. This video makes me unbelievably happy and I’m so excited I FINALLY get to share it with everyone! (You can read about it here, on NPR’s All Songs Considered Blog.) I think I’m sort of addicted to this video. Can’t stop watching it. (Even overtook a class just so I could see it on the big screen…)

There are definitely more, and some that aren’t quite so small… but I’m just happy. It’s the kind of happiness that makes you believe you can get through anything. It makes things like diseases or bad days just not matter as much. I know it won’t last forever, but I’m going to bask in this for as long as I can.

I wish I could share all of this happiness and what’s making me so happy with you, but some of it I’m going to just keep to myself. As someone who’s spent the last… 11 years? sharing almost every aspect of myself online… it’s nice to have something wonderful that’s all mine.

Anyway. Cheers to the small things, and the not so small ones.

Feel free to grab the image, share your own joys.

Happy: spelling letters, drunk DrawSomething, and psychosomatic bruises…

I was trying to think of things to write about… but all I can really think about is the fact that I’m just happy. Which is awesome, but not necessarily the most entertaining blog fodder.

However, these things might help with that…

Recently & Currently:

I learned the spellings for the letters H and Y. (aitch/ehch and why/wye respectively).

Had my first (of hopefully many more) drumssage. (Yes, I actually asked someone to hit my back repeatedly with drumsticks. And yes, I liked it.)

I had someone mistake me for Sarah Vowell yesterday. It was pretty awesome.

I played Draw Something drunk, against the person sitting next to me at the bar. This too was pretty awesome. (Trying to figure out one of the drawings the next morning, frustratingly entertaining. IT TOOK ME AN HOUR.)

I found out Sesame Street does not take unsolicited show ideas.

I’m working on 2 sites right now, both for friends. One we’ve been planning on building this for about a year now, so it’s good to get it going. The other I asked to build just so I could try my hand at some really sweet jQuery. (Yep. Nerd.)

Still no word from U of Chi. I’m starting to believe the stress from this is giving me weird dreams. (Seriously, who dreams about HDMI cables?!)

Speaking of dreams… I recently had one that was 1980s Jim Henson-esque (think Dark Crystal and Monster Maker). It involved a smaller dragon being chased by larger ones. I woke up with weird bruises on my legs–in places I’d know if I’d hit as they’re not the easiest to bump into things there. (So now a friend and I have discussed the possibilities of psychosomatic bruising.)

I’m going to re-tackle this whole healthy eating thing again. Cooking more, better lunch choices (aka Hello Protein Bar!), and no sodas for a while. (I’ve done really well on the Almond Milk thing. Even found out that Argo Tea has it, so now I can have my caffeine free Rooibus teappucino with vanilla and almond milk.)

Next week is mostly in the 60s with one day predicted to be in the 70s. I am looking forward to wearing nothing but dresses and skirts.

There is a cupcake sitting in front of me.*

So what’s going on with you all right now? Big or small.

*who am I kidding. There WAS a cupcake sitting in front of me. NOMS.

all of these things:

Remember how I said I was an awkward dinosaur? Yeah. That thing.

I guess you could call this “I’m an awkward dinosaur, part II.” There’s just so much going on right now in my mind, I just can’t get it to sit still long enough to properly focus. So here’s all the tiny things I’ve been wanting to tell you, but just can’t get them into one big coherent post:

The main staples of my wardrobe are now v-neck tshirts and knee-high socks. I imagine once it warms up a bit, that this will make up the majority of my at-home outfits (with underwear, of course)…

I am apparently addicted to soft pretzels/bretzels. Can’t get enough of them. Plus salt & vinegar chips. Trying not to think of what all that sodium is doing to me. Non-sodium related: Cream Soda. Just because I can’t have caffeine doesn’t mean that I should be limited to only lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverages.

My friends have had some of the best facial hair lately. I mean, the weekend before last the entire Hideout was just brimming with them (my friends and sweet facial hair)… and then with this last weekend and a friend rocking a tri-beard goatee.

I’m kind of in love with Supernatural. The plots might not always be the best, but the writers do get some really great quips in there. Enough so that I’ve made my way to season 6 pretty quickly.

I may have asked one of my male friends–who also happens to be a loving father of, like, 3–to dance for me for my birthday. With glow sticks. (Is it also weird that I have a poster of this friend up on my wall?)

I still have my christmas tree up. Yeah, I know. But it’s pink, sparkly, and has large fake diamond ornaments on it.

This song came on while I was at lunch today, and it completely made my day. Just the right song at the right time. And if that video, with the guitar player and the backup singers doesn’t make your day, I don’t know what will… (maybe some Waffles?)

I have decided that this year I really want to accomplish the following things: Go to see Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me. Ride a horse again. See the shark exhibit at the Shedd. Get rid of about 40% of my current wardrobe (aka all the old stuff I’ve just been holding on to for no good reason). Meet the Modify Watches team. Replace my stolen bicycle. Ride in the Tour de Fat Chicago slow ride again. Not to plan a birthday party, but just to spend it with friends. Spend more time with my niece.

I kind of applied for something pretty big, but I’m not sure I’m qualified. And no, I’m not talking the writing program. (Still applying, but I’m going to rock that one.) Anyway. Not sure how it’s going to go because I completely wrote my application essay while on pain killers for my endo. I just know I got in this crazy manic mood where my mind just kept shouting MUST APPLY NOW. We’ll see what happens.

And as long as we’re talking applications and writing, here’s where I am in regards to my U of Chi application: I’ll be done with revisions to my writing samples this week. Going to write a few new flash fiction pieces too. But it’ll be ready for a final read from a friend, then it and the personal statement I still need to write will be mailed off on Monday.

thing of beauty

I knew those ten days would go by too quickly. Not sure I could have asked for anything better. There’s a lot of beauty in our country, and not all of it are scenic wonders. (Though those aren’t too bad either.)

All I can say is I’ve got some pretty awesome friends.

the one where I kind of gush about a few things.

It’s May?  Wow, it’s May.  Hard to believe.  As I’ve already mentioned, school keeps me really busy.  On top of that, I’m trying to find a job and figure out tuition*.  And as you can probably guess, I’m loving every crazy minute of it.

If you want to see some of the things I’ve been working on, check it out on Adorkable Design.

I feel like I could ramble on and on about school things.  It’s pretty much my life right now.  (If I didn’t need a job right now, I wouldn’t get one — being able to dedicate myself and my time 100% to school would be amazing.  It’s just not feasible for me.)  But rather than go on and on with OMGILOVESCHOOL, here are a few smaller things that are going on….

  • You know that whole “how did it become May?” thing? Yeah, that means my birthday is coming up very soon.  And I have no plans.  Other than a 10am class, and maybe a 6pm class which might get rescheduled for that night.  But no official plans — although someone’s expressed interest in my need for a party/that partying will happen.
  • This month I’m going to be in a dance video.  Yep.  I’ve got my favorite nerds to thank for that.  (And yes, I am thanking them because I’m super excited abou this!)
  • Um, guys… I like someone.  And I’m pretty sure he knows given that I asked him out yesterday.  No actual date plans, as he’s pretty busy, but as he said, we’ll figure something out.  Over the past month we’ve gotten to talk and hang out a lot, and as I’ve gotten to know him I just don’t think I stood a chance.  He’s creative, smart, funny, nice, and well, yes, hot.  … And even if nothing comes of this, I’ve really enjoyed his friendship and would love for that to continue regardless.  But yeah, that’s all I’m going to say right now.
  • Okay.  More school gushing.  I love my classmates.  There’s maybe only one or two people in my quarter I don’t talk to or haven’t gotten to know.  And I know in groups not everyone is going to get a long… but these people are great.  Even though we spend so much time together in school, we still want to hang out afterward.  That says something.
  • I’m finally getting the last of my stuff next week!  This means my rain boots (which are a few weeks too late), my spices, and more excitingly, a very enthused package that got sent there instead of to Chicago.
  • I have some part time/freelance job stuff coming up that I am super excited about.
  • My last freelance job went live today.  Go check it out: 20sbsummit.com.  I did the graphics and built the body of the site — someone else finished it up from there (since I had the Seattle trip and school all happening at once).  But yeah.  It’s awesome having my work out there.
  • It looks like my exchange sister is going to spend a couple days with me next week.  It should be interesting.

So yeah.  That’s my life right now.  What’s going on in your life??  I feel so disconnected to everyone not at school.  So tell me!  What’s going on with you??

*I actually have some exciting plans for this… news coming hopefully next week!

that time Nintendo flew me out to Seattle

I’ve been talking about and mentioning this trip a lot.  A few days in Seattle all courtesy of Nintendo and Brand About Town.  Nintendo’s new 3DS handheld system has just launched this past week, and well, what better way to get to know the system than at the Nintendo of America headquarters?  So, thus, about 100 Brand Ambassadors (almost all of us in the program plus some extra bloggers/internet folk) all here for one big geeky party.

Day 1 – Thursday

I knew a good handful of bloggers would be coming from Chicago… maybe 6-ish… but there were definitely more than that when we landed and finally found everyone.  And that wasn’t even everyone.  When we finally got into the cocktail reception, well, the Chicago group looked small.  There were a lot of people.  Anyway, before that.

Despite this being a Nintendo trip, one of the things I’ve really been excited about was seeing some of my friends again.  I haven’t seen Rachel since possibly before she was pregnant with Dylan (who’s now 3 months and ADORABLE, and yes, came with us to Seattle).  Even longer since I’ve seen Jamie, Katelin, and Doni.  It’s been since the fall since I’ve seen Rebekah and Stacey.  I’ve never met Lacey.  And, well, the last time I saw Jenn we were very drunk and something about CHEESEBURGERS!!!!  So.  Yes.  Getting to spend time with some amazing women that I’ve missed a lot was something I’ve been very much looking forward to.

The reception was amazing.  The food?  Holy crap.  Amazing pulled pork, seafood, duck, this watermelon-cheese thing on an asian spoon… and then dessert… mini cupcakes, tarts, and CAKE BALLS.  It was all incredible.  I even had steak on a biscuit, which I later learned was actually a small piece of Kobe beef, in a port wine reduction.  I drank champagne (before switching to a rum and coke).  I dance.  I stuffed an entire mini cupcake in my mouth.  And at the end of the night I got to head to my private suite.  I was a little sad about missing some lady-bonding time, but really, I’m okay with it.  For one, it kinda makes me feel like even more of a rock star for having a swanky hotel suite all to myself.  And secondly, it’s nice to come back and relax, turn up Jon Drake & The Shakes as loud as I want on the in-room iPod dock/speakers, set the heat as high as I want, and be as naked as I want for as long as I want.  Sharky* and I enjoyed it.

Day 2 – Friday

Despite going to bed after midnight, I still woke up at 5am.  My body was still on central time.  I wasn’t the only one awake though.  So after getting ready, I spent the morning with Rachel & Dylan before heading down to the breakfast buffet.  Bacon and fruit and tiny condiments… We boarded buses at 9 — and despite our bus leaving last because I forgot my ID in my room, we still beat everyone to Nintendo HQ (aka The Mothership*).

The Nintendo building is just amazing*.  They moved in back in May of 2010.  It’s LEED Gold certified — which means not only is it awesome, it makes a minimal impact on the environment.  Everything from spinny vents on the floor so the heat rises naturally, to bamboo floors, and even a living roof.  And it’s done beautifully.  Even if this wasn’t the Nintendo building, I’d want to live there.  The building is divided into four color coded and themed sections: Mario (red), Yoshi (green), Wario (blue) and Donkey Kong (yellow).  You can find conference rooms with names like “Funky Kong”, “Toad”, and “Moo Moo Meadows”… or one of my favorites “Another Castle”.  The top floor is dedicated to the Zelda franchise and also has some amazing garden areas.  For lunch, we ate at Cafe Mario.  Nintendo didn’t just plop down in any old corporate office.  They thought about it, and made it not only beautiful but fun and responsible.  And from the employees we talked to, it seems like an amazing company to work for.

Back to the event… They divided us into various groups.  I was in the Daisy group.  We rotated through the areas, trying a lot of different games & features: Street Fighter IV, Mii Maker, Asphalt 3D, Pilot Wings, Steel Diver, Nintendogs + cats, Kid Icarus and AR Games.  Now, I actually want to dedicate an entire post to the system itself and the games, so I’ll talk more about those later.  In the middle of the day, my group went on its tour of the building and then to the Nintendo store located conveniently inside the offices.  Awesome bonus from Nintendo?  A gift card for the store and some discounts if you wanted to buy some systems.  Kid. In. Candy. Store.  OMG.  I am very thankful for self control.  I walked away with a water bottle, wallet, tshirt, and a game.  So tempted to buy two games and a little plush goomba… and everything else in the store.

lots of brand ambassadors! and if you look closely, you can see men!

We finished up the day with what everyone had been waiting for… The Oprah Moment.  Everyone walked away with a brand new Nintendo 3DS.  Yeah.  So I’m now in love with my shiny new Cosmo Black 3DS.

Hard to follow that, right?  Well, our massive group split up and we went out on the town for dinner.  I choose the Purple Cafe.  I was tired by this point, but it was awesome.  Private area in the loft.  Super nice server.  And a great menu (we got an abbreviated one for our group).  I went with the lobster baked mac and cheese and a malbec to drink.  The dish was amazing, though rich and heavy.  So I barely made a dint into my deceptively large bowl.  Dessert? A ruby port chocolate torte.  After dinner I crashed.

Rebekah and I are staying an extra night here (crashing with a friend of mine), so we can explore the city a bit more.  Then it’s back to the Chicago so I can start classes on Monday AND sign my lease.

It was an amazingly diverse group and I met a lot of really amazing people.  Too many to list.  But I hope to keep in contact with them via twitter as well as hopefully see them again soon either at another Nintendo event or just elsewhere!

*Yes, I brought my stuffed hammerhead shark — and yes, I do sleep with it.
*Totally said first by Jenn.
*Take my word on it, because other than in the main conference room, we couldn’t take pictures — which, well, I couldn’t find my camera anyway, so you’re stuck with cell pictures.
***If you were on the trip, say hi! Remind me if/when we met, your twitter handle, and yeah, let’s keep in touch!

The flight, hotel room, and Nintendo 3DS were all gifts from Nintendo & Brand About Town.  I was not asked to write about this trip.  The opinions here are my own. I cannot say thanks enough to the wonderful people at Nintendo and Brand About Town.

Hi. I'm a Quaker. (or: the one where I talk about my religion.)

So, I don’t talk about my faith much.  I’ll openly talk about the fact that I’m a Quaker but not so much as to what that means.

I’ve been a Quaker since I can remember — in fact, I’m considered a “birthright” Friend because both of my parents were members of the Meeting when I was born.  It doesn’t really mean much now, and not too many people used the term “convinced” for members who joined later.  However, when it comes to my family, I’m one of the last practicing Quaker left.  My Grandpa (dad’s side) still considers himself a Quaker, and I’d venture to call my mother a Friend as well.  Some of my extended cousins might still go to Meeting as well, but I’m not sure.  My family has a long history of Quakerism.  Many, many generations through my dad’s side.  It’s been the Quaker records that’s allowed my Grandpa and his nephews to go so far into our genealogy.

I went to a Quaker Meeting since I was a kid — until just before our Meeting collapsed and they sold the Meeting House*.   I went to Quaker retreats and even worked at the Quaker summer camp I’d attended for years.  I attended a Yearly Meeting** or two.  I even did an internship at a Quaker press for Friends United Meeting***.  Being a Quaker is just a part of who I am.

But defining “Quaker” is hard.  Especially now as things have gotten muddy.  It’s like Christianity, how it only takes a few extremists to muck it up for everyone.  It only takes a few odd Quakers to give everyone the wrong impression.  Quakers have no written doctrine — so it makes it super easy for people to say “this is what Quakers believe” and have a whole variety of definitions to follow.  We attract a lot of people with a social justice background, and pagans.  But what people have failed to remember is that Quakerism is rooted in Christianity and monotheism.  If you read George Fox’s**** writings it’s very clear.  In fact, the “true” name our of group is actually Religious Society of Friends.  Fox sought out other “Seekers” (people seeking The Truth), and they took the name from the John 15:15-16 passage about Jesus calling us “friends”.

One of the main tenets of our beliefs is that there is “That of God” in everyone. This gets interpreted into “The Christ Within” or “The Inner Light” or simply “The Light”.  When we pray for others, we “hold them in The Light”.  Think of it this way: churches and such are spiritual hot spots to connect with God.  The Light is like having Unlimited-G.  You’re always going to have that connect to God — and unlike AT&T, the service and connection is amazing.  And that connection is in and available to everyone.  No restrictions.  Some choose to listen, others don’t.  But we all have that connection, and thus, we’re all equal in the eyes of God at that basic nature.  (As my mom’s, non-Quaker, pastor***** said, there’s nothing we can do to make God love us any less, and there is nothing we can do to make God love us any more.  God’s love is infinite.)

We really are simple.  We just use a lexicon people aren’t familiar with.  We respond to queries rather than do devotions.  Some of us still use “thee” and “thou” and every other variation on it.  We go to Meetings, organized by Clerks.  We talk about “the seed” and “The Light”.  But it’s all about seeing That of God in others, and stripping back the excess to truly connect with God and listen to God.  An early Quaker, Isaac Penington, wrote: “Give over thine own willing, give over thine own running, give over thine own desiring to know or to be anything, and sink down to the seed which God sows in thy heart and let that be in thee, and grow in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee…”

Now, I could go on quite a bit more… but I think for now I’ll stop.  If you’ve never been to a Quaker Meeting for Worship, I invite you to go.  If you’re in Chicago, you can even join me, as I’ll be attending a Meeting on Clark St south north of Montrose when I move back.  If you have any questions, I’ll definitely be willing to answer as best I can.

*(Meeting = gathering together.  We’ve got a Meeting for Worship, as well as Meeting for Business.  The Meeting House is the building.  Basically, it means church.)
**Yearly Meeting means two things.  One, it’s actually a yearly (annual) meeting of all the Meetings associated with it.  And two, it’s the larger organization that encompasses a lot of Meetings.  I was part of the Indiana Yearly Meeting (which actually had some member churches from Ohio and Michigan too).  Now, though I go to a Meeting in Indiana still, I’m a part of Illinois Yearly Meeting — and our Monthly Meeting is associated with the Chicago area.  (If you’ve read the TrueBlood series, you’ll sort of get the idea because it’s similar to their vampire politics in dividing up regions, except we don’t have “sheriffs” or “kings/queens”… but the strange dividing things up and hierarchy is similar.)
***Friends United Meeting is sort of like other churches’ main conference/parent group.  It sort of divides Friends up into three different groups.  Evangelical Friends International, Friends United Meeting, and Friends General Conference.  The former more conservative/evangelical than the latter.
****George Fox is the founder of the Quakers, just like Menno Simon started the Mennonites.
*****Quaker Meetings break down to two groups: programmed and unprogrammed.  Unprogrammed are the traditional Meetings (generally found in the less evangelical groups, though).  Unprogrammed means gathering in silence, focusing and listening to God; if someone feels lead by the Spirit to speak, then they will.  That message might be intended for everyone or just one person.  A Clerk facilitates the Meetings.  The Clerk is not a pastor, but just someone to keep record as well as leading us in starting worship and bringing it to a close.  Programmed would be similar to other denominations’ churches.  There’s a pastor who leads a sermon. There’s still silent worship, but it doesn’t account for the entire service.

making boredom my b*tch… or something like that.

(via)

So, it’s pretty obviously that living back at home — in the middle of no where Indiana — that I’m bored more often than not.  And honestly, Internets, I love you, but I guess I’m not abusing you enough.  So here’s a little bit of what I’m doing to keep myself from getting too deep into a case of the BOREDS.

  • sleep – it’s true, naps help pass the time quite well.  And it’s always a bonus if you can drift off into an entertaining dream.
  • chatting – for some reason, I never installed adium on this mac.  So now it’s installed and pretty much on all the time.  Seriously.  It’s been a nice way of keeping in touch with friends — whether from Chicago or not.  I’ve been able to keep up with a couple lovely ladies, as well as um, enjoy some evenings talking to a cute boy about preserved meats (and other things)…
  • 20sb – yep, this 16k+ community is keeping me active.  Especially now that I’m a Community Moderator Co-Leader.  So this means I spend a lot of time in the forums, cleaning and organizing… Trying to maintain some sanity as I try to do so.  And help out with membership approvals.  I’m enjoying it mostly, and am very excited about upcoming events with 20sb.
  • trashy vampire novels – I plan on doing a whole series review, but because my romantic life is nonexistent, I’ve taken to fantasy.  Yep.  Hasn’t necessarily helped much.  I can generally read a whole book in a day, but I’m starting to pace myself some.
  • create graphics – like this little thing.  yeah.  But at least I do have some freelance work lined up.  So that’ll help.
  • video games – though my sisters tend to hijack my sleeve of game discs, I’ve gotten some chances to steal back my games.  Seriously loving Mario Sports Mix… and there’s talks of a 20sb tournament.
  • netflix – I’m exploring the DEPTHS of netflix’s instant streaming.  I had to stop watching Rescue Me.  I liked the show, but I share the basement with my dad’s office, and well, there’s a bit too much sex at times for me to feel comfortable having the volume on.  Some of the movies I watched.. well, I’m embarrassed that I did watch them.  But I would have never paid to see it — YES, I realize that technically I am paying to see it on netflix, but the more shows I watch the cheaper the embarrassing stuff gets.  Anyway.  My netflix channel on my Wii is getting abused daily.

It doesn’t seem like much, but it does get my through the day-to-day.  Plus, making plans also helps.  I’m taking my Chinese exchange sister (my MeiMei) out to dinner tomorrow, with some mall walking sister bonding time in there too.  I’m going to head into the city this week and talk with a temp agency or too.  Try to get working on moving back.  And well, um, a date this week too.

So yeah.  How do you fight the BOREDS, and what would you recommend on Netflix instant streaming? (I’ve seen a number of series: Firefly, Dexter, Veronica Mars, Weeds… I just need more, shows & movies.)