Sunday, March 29, 2009


i am training for the country music half-marathon in nashville (less than a month away now!). excitement is brewing as i see the distances i run go up and my weight go down - i've lost 14 lbs since christmas :D

part of the training is to participate in smaller distance races a couple of times before the big race, to kind of see how you do in the race environment. i did a 5k in january in -2 deg windchill. it was fun; there was snow on the ground, it wasn't currently snowing.

today is the shamrock shuffle. it's an 8k (5 miles) and the longest race i would have run before the half. 32,000 people signed up. it's a huge and fun deal.

but i woke up this morning and there is a freakin' blizzard outside! it's march 29th! arg, this would never happen in atlanta. the silver lining is that the next few days, the temperature will be high enough to melt all the snow quickly. i'm so done with winter...

** update, only about 13,000 people actually showed up to run. i don't feel so whimpy now.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

1 year

so it all began one year ago. well officially, it began in july 2004: my long slow process to chicago.

in june 2004, i started working for my company right out of school. when they offered me the job i was all "awesome, i'm getting paid!" but they threw in a company car and 10 weeks training at the home office in chicago. 'icing on the cake,' i thought. after a few weeks at the branch, i pack two suitcases and flew into o'hare airport.

i had been to chicago once before in the early 90s tagging along with my dad for an AIA convention. AIA = American Institute of Architects. apparently chicago is known for that: architecture. the only things i remember of chicago is that it was windy, the bulls had just won the 3-peat, and my parents left the kids in the hotel to order room service while they went to charlie trotter's.

so in summer 2004, it was a brand new city to me. ok, please don't laugh at me because i was somewhat oblivious in my youth. i didn't know chicago was in illinois, or on lake michigan, or that the sears tower was here. i'm just being honest. i knew where paris was and the gulf of mexico and i'd been to los angeles and new york. i just didn't think much about the midwest. oh, but i was missing out!

that summer i spent every day in a classroom, every afternoon walking around neighborhoods, and every evening on the lake front watching fireworks or movies or concerts. on weekends, friends would come visit and we'd explore the city together. this place was so alive! everyone outside! and it was nice in the middle of summer to be outside! i took the train, learned to navigate the city, had amazing food, and drank in all the beautiful architecture. the city was mesmerizing. i was the only person in my training class really sad to leave and go home. after training, i told my boss "once i pay my dues, i'm moving to chicago." and that was a cloud over his head for the next three and a half years.

i learned a great deal in atlanta and can truthfully say i worked with the best people i have ever known. but in the back of my mind, chicago kept calling. in the meantime, to satisfy my desire to be there, i found every possible way to get up there: training, meetings, presentations, and one girls' weekend in 2006. it was that weekend that i began my earnest search to transfer.

it figures when i decide to do something that nothing happens. i made calls, talked to people, searched the company website for jobs. nothing. and more nothing. i think it was one conference call with former trainees, that someone got a whiff that i was moving to chicago with or without my company. luckily, they wanted to keep me, so they put me in touch with the home office internal recruiter (why didn't anyone tell me she existed before?!?). within a month (november 2007), i had an interview for a position that i honestly wasn't excited about but would have taken just to move. i believe that Someone upstairs knew that wasn't a good idea, so i did not get that job. but i was asked to return as soon as possible to interview for another position. this one was actually in line with my skills and experience. i interviewed first week of january 2008, accepted a week later, and asked for a start date of april 1st (thinking that the city would have warmed up by then... ha).

i put my condo up for sale, found a place to live in chicago, arranged for a truck, and packed everything i own and moved on march 26, 2008.

so 1 year later, my condo is still for sale in atlanta, i still have boxes i haven't unpacked in my apartment here, and i do think upper-40s is warm! i've gone from knowing no one to having a growing group of friends. i've played every intramural sport from kickball and softball to volley ball and floor hockey. saw the cubs and sox play. went to the taste and the scene. been back to atlanta, been abroad, been on work trips, but now chicago is home.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

da blues

this happens to me ALL the time. always triggered by returning from a fabulous vacation abroad. i should probably stop vacationing and... nah, i could never.

so i just returned from all my amazing travels and am sitting here at my desk eating my soup for lunch. oh how tremendously boring! one week ago, i was visiting the catedral de sal in zipaquirá, colombia before drinking mojitos out of half-coconut shells and partying til 4am at andres carne de res in chia, colombia.

two weeks before, i was spontaneously buying a eurostar ticket to paris for 1 night with my friends from london. in less than 36 hours, i had a beurre-sucre crepe in front of notre dame, watched dusk approach from the steps of sacre-coeur, had an amazing 4-course dinner and red wine at oh! duo in the 15th, saw la tour eiffel, and had the most delicious tea known to man....

two weeks before that, i was laughing the hardest i've laughed in a year with my sister and friends in brooklyn at radegast hall & beer garden over wallet phones and talking in numbers (you really had to be there).

so back in chicago, it's 40+ degrees but feels like 32. i had already packed the snow boots and scarves, but i should probably bring them back out.

march <> spring in chicago (sorry that was a little computer dorkism).

the only thing that keeps me going is: tulip days, cubs baseball, beach trip with family, training for 1/2 marathon, chicago summer festivals and concerts, possible trip to south carolina, new baby in the family and trip to atlanta in july, sister and friends coming to visit this summer, searching for a salsa dance club, and potentially the most amazing christmas & new years plans i'll ever have (i'll keep you posted).

** for photos, check

Thursday, March 5, 2009

36 hours in paris

i planned my trip to london in november thinking that i wouldn't have an opportunity to see erin for a while if i didn't go over thanksgiving. well, work sent me to london in february, so i was back earlier than i expected. we were at an office for 14-16 hours a day, stepping out for triangle sandwiches at lunch and crawling back to the hotel after dark and after everyone else had left the office.

thankfully, i had gotten a good tour of london in my previous visit, so i had more time to relax with erin while in town. we ate at pasha, drank at lounges in south kensington, and in general hung out in erin's flat.
because the work i was completing required a weekend stay, friday night, erin, her flatmate frances, and i were all talking about what to do for the weekend. we came up with every plan from going to scotland, ireland, bath, or york. while looking at the train schedules, we noticed we could take the morning eurostar to paris for only £139. it had been 6 years since i'd been to paris and i was pratically salivating with excitement! we decided and bought tickets for a departure 7 hours later.

we went to st. pancras station at 6am and were on the road to paris just after 7am. we were so excited but also without a plan. we had no hotel, no map, no idea of what to do other than wander aimlessly around. we arrived at gare du nord in the 10th arr just before 10am. we walk outside and are immediately bombarded by gypsies. the ploy these days it to come up to you with a piece of paper asking if you speak english. i knew it was a diversion, but i had to warn erin and frances.

we head back into the train station to purchase a guide book with map and made our way to the châtelet metro stop. side note: the châtelet stop spans quite a few blocks with stairs, escalators and moving sidewalks transportating hundreds of people around underground. it can be quite confusing. i think we spent 25 minutes trying to navigate the labyrinth.

we exit and make our way to the Île de la cité: an island in the middle of the seine river, housing notre-dame and sainte chappelle. in 50 degree sunny weather, we sit at les deux palais for coffee and a croque-monsieur. it is somewhat of a tourist spot due to its proximaty to notre-dame, but we were starving and needed to sit down to start researching a hotel. at the cafe, we poured over the guidebook and blackberrys, making phone calls and trying to use my elementary french to book a room. we finally find one for €85 a night in the 14th arr near the cité internationale universitaire de paris, just a few stops south of gare du nord on the RER B.

a plan! after dropping off our luggage at the hotel parc montsouris (bare bones, thin walls, but a bed and bathroom and cheap; served its purpose), we head back into the city on the RER B. destination: notre-dame and a beurre-sucre crepe.

a stroll across pont-neuf and the rue de rivoli (and an attempted shopping experience at la samaritaine, but apparently it's closed for "security enhancements"):

and up to montmartre to watch the sun set from the steps of sacré-coeur:

back down to le marais, for tea at mariage freres and sweets:

and ending the evening at oh! duo in the 15th arr for an mouth-watering, plate-licking, four-course french meal and red wine.
the next day, we pay our respects (as all who visit paris should) to la tour eiffel. we wander the neighborhood and stop for a leisurely lunch at la patata, not quite ready to leave as our time was so short.
but our train departs at 5pm, so we head back to gare du nord, first saying goodbye to the the Île de la cite and the seine....

au revoir paris... until next time...

for more photos: flickr: paris