Dom and I rang in my year number 24 eating gorgonzola gnocchi. Yes, we ordered the same dish. *Gasp* Not to waste any time in checking off new states, we headed to New Mexico for Memorial Day, where I ate too many beans in between clambering up ladders exploring ancient cave dwellings. June 2nd marked One Million Degrees’ (my then-work place’s) big gala, where I worked with an incredible team to help raise over $775,000 for the organization. I learned so much and am grateful to have been a tiny part of it.
As always, summer was full of travel: near, far, and unexpected. Our first stop was Philadelphia, a city whose tiny brick-lined streets and historic greens won my heart. (Seriously, I would move to Philadelphia in a heartbeat.) Mike trekked down from New York to join us in Philly for the best soft serve ice cream on the riverbank, and then I hopped on the megabus with him to go to New York for a couple days. This was the first time I left New York thinking, ‘I don’t actually want to live in New York after all.’
For Fourth of July we went back home to California for possibly the sole purpose of swimming every day. And for my dad almost getting in a fight with a terribly rude man waiting in line at Angel Stadium. After some rather strong homemade sangria at my parent’s Fourth of July party, we were back in Chicago to enjoy countless game nights and my belated birthday celebration with Amanda at Paint Nite. This then kicked off a series of sets of one very bad painting and one slightly better identical painting piling up in our apartment’s laundry room.
Other fun Chicago summer activities included night kayaking down the Chicago river (highly recommend), travelling to Indiana for a futile attempt to go to Whoa Zone, and getting locked outside of our rented car in Indiana after a wine festival (but eating delicious ice cream while waiting for a local mechanic to come break into the car). We did have one completely successful trip to Indiana when we took the Metra to the dunes and then went for a swim in Lake Michigan. For one tiny second it almost felt like we were back in California and it was great.
I unexpectedly joined Dom in London after his grandfather passed. While the impetus for the London trip wasn’t great, it was wonderful as always to spend time with his family, hearing amazing stories about his grandfather and London’s past.
We came back to Chicago just in time to *finally* do a glass-blowing groupon (after rescheduling three times) and made our favorite wine glasses. To round off summer, we saw our first Chicago Bears (pre-season) football game, feasted on the best coconut shrimp at Carnivale for our anniversary, and then went to the Museum of Science and Industry After Hours with Amanda, Joe, and Julie.
With the changing of the seasons came my unexpected decision to leave OMD and begin work at Uncharted. I still miss OMD, but am grateful for the work I did there and the people with whom I worked who still mean so much to me.
To round off fall:
Dom indulged me and bought us MisterWives tickets after hearing me complain for the second time about the astronomical service fee (without realizing I had complained a month before about the exact same thing). Cat then came to visit (again!) and Catherine, AJ, and I indoctrinated her and Dom into another favorite American past-time: apple picking. We capped off her visit with a trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden for their Night of 1,000 Jack-o-lanterns!
After some dog-sitting and chili-eating (Ellen’s Master of the Peppers should not be missed), we were back to California for my first Thanksgiving home since 2010. We wasted no time in decorating for the holidays upon return and picked up a Christmas tree straight from the airport (luggage in tow!) and a week later made pretty fantastic latkes at Catherine and AJ’s (but held off on the manishewitz, this year).
We left our festive home for Vienna and did not delay in upping the festiveness–we strolled through the Christkindlmarket outside City Hall (one of *many* amazing christmas markets) our first night there and I found my new love: langos. Vienna is a beautiful city whose subway system is fantastic and whose government allows tourists to sit in the Speaker of Parliament’s chair (but could do with a bit more vegetarian food).
We stepped away from Vienna for 24 hours and trained to Bratislava just an hour (and 12 euros) away. Although I was shivering through our 3.5 hour walking tour, I enjoyed it immensely and appreciated our guide’s perspective: “Slovakia is its own nation for now, and we like that, but we know it won’t last forever.” Bratislava also had a wonderful christmas market where we were in Laksa heaven (and I gorged on delicious veggie dumplings!). Oh! And how could I forget discovering my family’s famous coppershnik recipe?! Or, should I say, kapushnika!
Just in time for my first Self family Christmas, we said goodbye to Vienna and Bratislava and headed to London. The christmas experience lived up to the hype: Dom hosted the quiz, I ate *way* too much food, and then we began the long task of walking it off at Hampstead Heath on Boxing Day. We continued our walks in the Peak District, where hail pelted us along the Ridge to Mam Tour but also where we warmed ourselves up in the pub/B&B by eating a cheese and onion pie and lying my shoes and socks in front of the fireplace.
We rang in the New Year at Josh and Anna’s in London and then were back in Chicago less than 24 hours later. Thanks to Katie introducing me to Strava before my first (and so far only) Gladstone Park Run in London, I kicked off the new year on a running high and to this date have run 204 miles in 2018.
After some sub-zero temperatures in January winter went along as expected: not horrible, but boy was I in need of some sunshine. To combat my winter frustrations I chopped off (nearly) all of my hair and feel great about that decision. “Are you *sure* you want me to cut off this much?” – terrified hair stylist. “Yes! I don’t care if it doesn’t look good…I just want it gone! I won’t blame you, I promise.”
We did trudge through the snow for a lovely Super Bowl party hosted by Ashely and Erik and then fully escaped the snow for Dom’s mystery weekend to Atlanta (thank you, tax return). Atlanta turned out to be much more walkable than anticipated (they had a dedicated walking trail snakeing throughout the city!) and I toured CNN for the second time (they adorably made a crack at the BBC, just as the BBC had made a crack at CNN when we toured there).
Just a couple weeks later we hopped down south again, this time to Dallas, to celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday. It was wonderful being surrounded by my cousins and their children and I want to make it a priority to continue to see them frequently. Continuing with the family theme–just a few weeks later we went home to California for my mom’s 60th birthday. I feel confident her surprise party was a success as, after we entered and she saw what was happening, she turned to me and went, “you little shit!” Big thanks to Mike and Marcie for hosting and helping my dad and I plan.
Back in Chicago we continued to watch Bake Off with Joe and Julie and shame Prue for her necklaces. Speaking of the British, we played Chicago host to Grace and Charlotte for a few days, which obviously meant a trip to Kuma’s and a bonus trip to Little Goat Diner. In case that wasn’t enough food-based excitement, we capped off March with our now traditional fondue for Catherine’s birthday and then brunch with Melissa and Rudy in Evanston. (Thank you, Melissa, for basically making Chicago your second home.)
We’ve now made it to April, which theoretically should mean warmer weather, but in reality did not. Despite my growing anger with Chicago, the month went by rather smoothly. We hosted our first big Uncharted event where over 80 people came in support of Run for Something and Dom and I saw Ed Miliband speak at the University of Chicago. Yes, I did go up to take a picture with Ed while wearing my “Hell Yes, I’m voting Labour” t-shirt.
We indulged in way too much food at a Passover/Easter feast with Joe, Julie, and Amanda and Dom ate two giant easter eggs. We then took Amtrak to Milwaukee for a quick weekend getaway courtesy of Dom having $100 groupon bucks to use and us having exhausted most everything on groupon we deem interesting in Chicago. Biggest win of Milwaukee was the Mitchell Park Domes, which seem like the perfect place for a terrifyingly cool sleepover.
The weather has finally begun to warm up and we’re now all moved into our new apartment! This move to the apartment across the hall from our old one started as a joke (literally) and somehow morphed into reality. While moving everything was not fun, I’m now sitting here in our beautiful new apartment, looking out the front-facing windows to the church across the street and eyeing the patio door and the ample space and feel pretty good about that joke becoming a reality. Without our new apartment, we wouldn’t have been able to host 20 friends for the Eurovision final (at least not nearly as comfortably as we did) this weekend and indoctrinate a whole new group of Americans into the intercountry joy that is Eurovision. In case we didn’t experience enough music this weekend, we also went to see Haim in concert (and the very unexpected performance by Lizzo as the opener).
Year number 24 was pretty great, and I’m now eager to ring in 25 equipped with a proper horizontal license (darn you, California license, for expiring on my birthday)!