A Summer in Chicago

So – I guess I get why they say Chicago summers are the best. I moved here at the end of June, life unfolded almost instantly, and here I am, mid-October, feeling perhaps the most settled I’ve felt since my junior year of high school (which was over A DECADE ago, by the way. Where has the time gone?). While saying I don’t miss New York would be a lie, my time in Chicago feels very purposeful on a personal level, and now that I’ve had a chance to get my bearings in this new-to-me city, I’m excited to dive in, do work, and see where I land. All of that, and then also visit New York the first chance I get (see you next weekend, NY pals!).

Since we haven’t caught up in a while (How are YOU? Coffee soon!), here’s a visual peek at some of the things I’ve been up to over the past few months, in my life back in the Midwest.

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In the grasp of dusk and summer

With summer winding down (or “over,” if you view the world from the Labor Day = autumn calendar), I thought I’d catch us all up to speed from the past season. Real talk: the past few months been challenging, to say the least. Things happened: amazing things, utterly terrifying things, I-have-to-nurse-myself-to-sleep-with-a-bottle-of-wine-if-I-want-to-get-any-shut-eye-tonight type of things. All of them. But we’ve (almost) made it to a new season, so you know it couldn’t have ended up all that bad.

For myself and strangely enough a number of my very close friends, seismically insane occurrences happened in the recent months. But I choose no longer to dwell on the happenings-that-must-not-be-named. Perseverance, determination and plain old instincts of survival got us (mostly) through. I’d like to instead reflect on some of the good things that happened over the course of my summer in the city. As it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures of day-to-day life when you’re going through a tough time, it’s so important to not. Often it’s the little things that add up to the big things, and I personally think those are what ultimately save you. So without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite things I did over the past few months that helped me rise above the hellstorm that was the summer of 2015. (Note: I’m focusing on events that happened in the city, even though my real favorite moments were likely any time I got away. New York, I love you, but summers are tough.)

My top 10 favorite happenings from the summer of 2015 in the city:

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10. The first GOP Debate on Fox. I couldn’t not include the most tuned-in election event that’s ever been. Not to mention this week’s workout schedule has been meticulously planned around debate numero dos. (Tonight on CNN for any interested parties, Happy hour at 6/Trump-show at 8 ET)

9. Finally catching a Yankees game. It had been a long time coming, so I was thrilled to finally cross this off my bucket list this summer. Also: the ticket was only $13. PLUS they happened to be playing the Cleveland WINdians. And Cle won. Winning all around!

8. Any time spent at the beach. Because summer without a beach is no summer at all.

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7. Finally paying attention to The Cloisters. At long last, I ventured up to the castle filled with art residing in my backyard! And regardless of where you live in this city, you too should make the trek; it’s worth at least one visit.

6. Birthday Times Square madness. A few months back I crafted this wild idea about a chain restaurant bar crawl in Times Square, and lucky for me, I have an amazing group of friends who indulged me in this silly endeavor.

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5. Seeing Hamilton. By the grace of The Good Lord Almighty in heaven, I was blessed with a chance to see this force of theatrical magic for less than $500. I’ll just leave you with this for a review: everything the critics say about it is true. Run, don’t walk, to catch Mr. Lin Manuel rock rap your socks off and completely change your perception of what theatre can say and do for a community (hint: it’s much more than entertain).

4. Any time spent on a rooftop. Because summer without a rooftop (many rooftops!) is no summer at all.

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3. The 17th Annual Del Close Marathon. A how-to post is in the works for next year, but this was the year I hardcore DCM’d it up. (DCM is a nonstop weekend-long improv festival, for those who don’t know. I obviously have not and will not pick up long-distance running any time in the near future.) This year’s experience entailed hours (14! 14 hours!) of waiting in the pouring rain with total strangers who – by the end of the weekend – became extensions of myself, some of the best comedy blocks I’ve seen to date in this city, and the most impossible question I’ve ever pondered: Marry, bop, kill: Ben Schwartz, Adam Pally, Zach Woods.

2. Surprise taping(s) of The Ellen Show at 30 Rock. One of the best things about NYC is the randomness that ensues when you let the city take you for a journey. A friend and I went for a late-afternoon walk/break from work and wound up in the audience for two shows (the second in VIP!) of Ellen that were taping in midtown. The whole experience was the best kind of whirlwind (Ellen! Hillary Clinton! A P!nk set!), and a great overall reminder that sometimes in life, the most awesome and random shit is waiting for you – right around the corner.

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1. Accepting The Job. Oh yeah, that little thing that happened at the forefront of the season. Early this summer, I was offered a position with the company I moved to New York (now over 4 years ago) with ambitions of working for. Currently a few months in, I still pinch myself daily. Although I am not yet in my dream role (Do I know my dream role? Does anybody?), this happening was a pretty big deal to me and I am very much looking forward to seeing what can blossom out of this opportunity.

So summer of 2015, I bid adieu to you; you have definitely been one for the books. And fall of 2015, you ain’t seen nothing yet. (You literally ain’t – seven more days!) And I know, at the very least, there’s a handful of us waiting with bated breath.

A DC Independence Day

If your parents aren’t interested in American history, maybe don’t plan a family vacation to Washington DC.

If you hate being amongst huge crowds of humans 24/7, probably don’t travel over the Fourth of July weekend.

If you do not enjoy walking around, sight-seeing AND all of the above things also exist, our nation’s capital over Independence Day is definitely not for you + your family.

But guess what my parents and I did over this year’s holiday weekend!? An expensive monuments cruise which showed us nothing, a three-hour bus tour guided by the world’s least funny non-comedian that was so hot we almost melted, and crowded, expensive brunches filled with annoying tourists (like us) were the highlights. BUT. I did capture a handful of mediocre photos, and, of course, it was nice to spend the holiday with family. Plus: DC, as clean and structured as it is in contrast to NYC, always makes for a nice getaway from the daily grind of a sweaty Manhattan summer. At long last, here are a few photos I managed to shoot during that hot and humid weekend at the beginning of July.

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Throwback Thursday

As per Monday’s post, I’ve been in training for my new job in the city this week. I’m having a great time, learning a ton and the hours are absolute BLISS; but emotionally/mentally/physically, I’m a little drained. So I’m going to lazily revert to the Instagram’s most prevalent default series for the fourth day of the workweek: Throwback Thursday.

The seasonal chill to the air has got me missing Ohio (and porch weather…and my alma mater UD) more than usual. Here’s a throwback picture of a few of my favorite people, at one of the greatest places in the world, a few (maybe more than a few) years ago. How I long for a chance to relive one of these summer adventures with these amazing girls whom I’ve known since childhood. *Cue the intro to Kenny Chesney’s “I Go Back”*

UD - Steph and Jord

Regardless if our paths will ever allow us to be as crazy and infallible as we were that summer, I’m so thankful that you both still have such an active presence in my life. If two decades and three states can’t break up our friendship, I’m thinking we’re in this thing for life. Miss you both to the moon (or ya know, to Cle and Indy) and back.

A Summer in New Rochelle

As I’ve mentioned only a million times prior, I spent the better part of the past four months in Southeast Westchester. I’ve definitely had my ups and downs there (not enough lunch options, I tell you), but overall, I’m glad I was able to spend a significant potion of my summer outside of New York City. From the gorgeous views of the Long Island Sound, to having a coffee shop that knows my name and order when I walk through the door, I’ll definitely miss this weird little city and all of the adventures it brought me. Thanks for an unexpectedly good time, New Rochelle.
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Summer of ’13 Highlights

Summer Collage

It got dark at 7:30pm last night, so I guess that means summer’s officially coming to a close. School’s back in session, Starbucks is actively painting the town pumpkin-spice, and even though the weather was in the 90’s yesterday, that “fall mentality” is starting to kick in. This summer was very challenging for me on a personal level but simultaneously quite rewarding. I spent most of my days (and too many nights) working in Westchester and fled the city at any chance I got. A trip to Siesta Key with my best friends from college, vacations to D.C., Phoenix and Tucson with wonderful people who I met through Nordstrom, and a birthday brunch surrounded by my some of favorite people in all of the five boroughs definitely top my list. The end of summer (and really, the start of football season) are always bittersweet in my book, but I’m beyond ready for all of the exciting adventures I’ll be having in the city this autumn!

Turnt Up Saturday Night Blogging

It’s been a minute, I know. As they say, time flies when you work consistent 12 hour days, attempt to regularly work out, read, write, lay out, are enrolled in a challenging class and try very hard and usually fail at maintaining some degree of a social life. Oh, they don’t say that? Good. Because if you aren’t Kelly Ripa or super-human, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to do all of the above, get 7-8 hours of sleep every night and not solely exist on caffeine/crack.

As you can see, my life’s been a ball full of rainbows and butterflies lately. Here’s the top 5 reasons why I never want to get out of bed ever again:

5) New York is hotter than hell in the summer time and it smells like piss everywhere.

4) I’ve been reading more: novels, the news, my twitter feed. Everything is so sad and it makes me angry and miserable to think about it all the time. Rainbows and butterflies forever.

3) I’ve gone vegetarian, against my own will. My sidebar announces my love for bacon and today at Subway I ordered a veggie patty for the second time in two weeks. Can I blame my terrible attitude toward life on a meat deficiency?

2) I recently enrolled in a sketch comedy class in which I hoped to immediately kick ass and shortly thereafter get swept up into the world of Hollywood dubbed as “Judd’s new ‘it’ girl.” Basically, that’s still happening; it’s just taking a little longer than I anticipated. A few excerpts by my girl Amy from the Del Close press conference on Friday are helping me power through: “If you’re uncomfortable it means you’re growing,” “People can be too hard on themselves. They have a bad show or a bad class and get discouraged. It takes a while,” and my personal favorite, “Whatever you do, commit.”

1) I downloaded the new Miley Cyrus song and I like it. Beyond that, I watched her Good Morning America interview and defended her as being “cool” in a conversation with co-workers (????). I’ve obviously lost my mind, but part of me just wants to do some molly, twerk it out and get turnt up. Is that so bad? As Miley would surely tell me, “forget the haters, cause somebody loves ya.”

I hope everyone else is having a better Saturday night than me. Just kidding I hope it sucks.