Ready, Set, Go

Saturday 9/29: Gym, Safeway, Brunch with coworkers, Costco for birthday party food run, Danville, Beyond Wonderland

Sunday 9/30: Drive home from Beyond Wonderland, clean house, do laundry, cook food, party starts at 3pm

Monday 10/1: Fly to LA at 6am, training, pick up rental car, drive to Arcadia

Tuesday 10/2: Clear as many review notes as possible on file, drive back to Bay Area, pack for Hawaii, send birthday thank yous, plan Hawaii Day one

Wednesday 10/3: Return rental car, board plane to Hawaii, sleep on plane, research trip on plane (while … sleeping?) arrive in Oahu. Undetermined activity.

Wednesday 10/10: Arrive in Maui. Undetermined activity.

Friday 10/12: Arrive back in Oahu, fly straight back to SFO

Saturday 10/13: Arrive in SFO  around 8am. Undetermined activity. Pick up packet for Nike’s Women Marathon

Sunday 10/14: Nike’s Women Marathon

Monday 10/15: Begin Q3 and interim fieldwork at public company #1

Monday 11/19: Begin YE at public company #2 while simultaneously lead senioring the public company #2

Friday 12/7: Public company #2 finishes fieldwork

Friday 12/21: Public company #1 finishes fieldwork

Saturday 12/22: Begin winter holiday

Tuesday 1/1: End winter holiday

Wednesday 1/2: Training

Friday 1/5: End training

Monday 1/7: Begin public company #1 YE fieldwork

Friday 2/22: Public company #1 ends

Monday 2/25: Private company #3 begins

Friday 3/15: Private company #3 ends
And … the end. Basically the only break I’ll have between now and 3/15 will be the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Bye guys. See you never.


Celebrities for 2012!

Listening to: The XX – Chained (Panic City remix) and Sky Ferriera – Lost In My Bedroom

I feel like I’ve done this list annually but this may be the last year because I’m weaning myself off of celebrity gossip. I’ve quit ONTD cold turkey and sometimes I am a little tempted to check it (it was hard to resist when Amy Poehler’s divorce was announced) but I haven’t looked at it since I returned from Seattle! For the first time that I can recall, today at dinner someone said “omg did you hear about Amanda Bynes?” and I didn’t!

I also didn’t make this list for a long time because I don’t really have favorite celebrities anymore. I am too picky for one thing. For females I’m like … well they have to not only be pretty, they have to be interesting and be personable and make good career decisions and also be in seemingly healthy relationships. It’s a pretty high standard. With that, I have:

Favorite female celebrities:

1. Anna Kendrick: The reason Up in the Air is one of my favorite movies

I DID NOT add her just now because I just watched Pitch Perfect. I have adored her ever since Up In the Air! I think she hit all five of the criteria … well I don’t know who she is currently dating or has ever dated, but she seems like a normal person. She’s my favorite part of 50/50 AND Up in the Air. Pitch Perfect may be the first movie I have been excited to see in several years.

2. Troian Bellasario: The most normal PLL of the PLLs

I used to like Shay Mitchell the most on PLL and then my second runner up was Ashley Benson for her shiny blonde hair but after watching that horrible, horribly addicting show for several seasons, I’ve come to the slow realization that Spencer is the best character and Troian is my favorite cast member. I like her style and always think of her character’s fashion whenever I see a hipster animal print dress. I think I first liked her when some twitty interviewer asked her “Justin Bieber or the Jonas Brothers” and she unhesitatingly said “neither.” She’s like the perfect amount of indie hipster.

3. Kristen Bell: The one who needs to make better career decisions

That’s not a great freeze frame. I HEART Kristen Bell as a person and as an actress but she needs some better roles! I always debate whether she should be on a top ten list because I can’t think of a single project she’s made since Forgetting Sarah Marshall that I have both watched AND wanted to watch. But her interviews are so awesome that it’s forgiven… and I used to think Dax seemed like a very odd choice of a boyfriend but Parenthood is so good and he is in that and it totally makes sense now.

4. Jennifer Lawrence

Awesome all around. I think if I could be friends with anyone on this list it would be her because she could probably give me good inside gossip. She works best in gif mode

5. Emma Stone

My only reservation on this is my brother is so into her that it makes me a little grossed out.

And here’s where it gets rough…

6. Eliza Coupe: the one whose twitter I like

She posts amazingly hilarious and crude tweets and THE BEST instagram photos. In particular I love when she wears her giant plastic glasses and a leather jacket and has her hair in a messy updo. And she is probably my favorite character on Happy Endings, which is a hard cast to choose a favorite from. I know almost nothing about her and couldn’t name a single other project that she’s been in.

7. Nina Dobrev: the one who looks SO GOOD candid

Ok I originally had Jennifer Beales in this spot but I don’t have any photos of her or any good video links and no gifs so … she got bumped off. I like her in spirit. I do not know anything about Nina Dobrev and I don’t particularly care for her boyfriend, Ian Somerhalder, but she is one of the few people who looks amazing both on screen, in photo shoots, and on the street. Love her fashion sense!

8. Candice Accola: the one I hope makes it big

And then when she does, I want to be able to say I KNEW HER WAY BEFORE SHE GOT FAMOUS. And then I’ll probably lose interest. She’s one of the few celebrities who I knew very little about and after following her on twitter, grew to like her more.

9. Kate Middleton: the one who I will always click on

I don’t know anything about her and am not particularly intrigued by her personal story and would probably never watch an interview with her in it but like most women in the world, I will never pass up clicking on a photo of her, so I can stare at her fashion and think “well that looks totally doable, why don’t I just dress like that?”

10. The Cast of Girls

This is a cheat. And also I barely know anything about any of these four actresses. I follow Lena Dunham and she is hilarious and the fact that she writes, produces and acts in a show of her own creation is astounding to me. The way I tried to explain Girls to a coworker: “ok so this show is like the new Sex and the City. Ok. Well. In all honesty, the only similarity it has with SATC is that it’s a show about four women in New York. And it’s also on HBO. But other than that … they live in like … Brooklyn. They’re poor. They don’t have jobs. None of them have any real goals. They’re all brunette. Basically it’s like … hipster Sex and the City.”

Close Cuts: Dianna Agron (because if I could date anyone it would be her), Connie Britton (because she was my favorite part of FNL which is my favorite drama ever), Amy Poehler (because she is hilarious and so boss)

Favorite Couples to Ogle:

Emily Blunt & John Krasinski

Joshua Jackson & Diane Kruger

And for the guys … their only requirement is that they are pretty. And I guess, aren’t misogynists.

1. Zac Efron: of course

I’ve had many a debate with various people about when he looked his best. I’m adamant that he looked his best in Charlie St. Cloud – perfectly proportioned body AND in a tight white long sleeve? WIN. Marina is convinced that he looks the best in The Lucky One. I think he’s gone too beefy

2. Kyle Chandler

Texas Forever

3. Jeremy Renner

He is like my new Ben Affleck

4. Matt Bomer

I am appalled that he was barely mentioned in Magic Mike advertising.

5. David Beckham: but only when he is carrying Harper

I have no feelings for this guy other than when I look at pictures of him holding Harper Seven. Adorbs!

And so concludes my week long horrible sleeping pattern…

Listening to: Little Boots – Earthquake (Fytch remix)

Last Friday I went to bed at 3:30am after researching vacation (the one two weeks away) and packing for the next (happening in two hours) and woke up at 5:30 to catch my taxi to the airport. I survived the day by hanging out with my CS host, Katie, who was really fun and interesting to talk to. Also, playing with her cat. Also, eating a ton of delicious, cheap food

Katie’s funny little Hemingway cat with six toes

Last Saturday I went to bed around 2am after hanging out with Katie and her friend Ken and then after I read about a quarter of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I woke up around 8am to finish reading Perks. I survived the day because Kathy came back into my life; we picked her up at a corner of State and some street with a CVS and set off for brunch at m. Henry‘s (AMAZING), antiques shopping, and walking around Andersonville. About ten seconds before we pulled over to let Kathy in, I stopped Katie in mid sentence and went “OK so my friend Kathy is really awesome but sheiscompletelyoppositefromme sheisSUPPPERRRRRpeppy AND HIIIIIII KATHY!” After reaching m. Henrys, Kathy left to get her phone from the car and Katie turns to me and immediately after Kathy is out of earshot, she goes “HAHA I LOVE IT she IS totally different from you SHE IS SO PEPPY it’s amazing.” Ended the day with arriving at the Q Center and going to dinner then gym with Kathy and Marina, with appearances by Lillian and Lexi.

The puppetbike in Chicago is this adorable bike stand with a guy coordinating hand puppets to the cute music played
My Lindsay Lohan look a like CS host. We are both wearing our favorite shirts

Last Sunday I went to bed at 1am because I hadn’t converted to Chicago time yet and I also wanted to read Animorphs. I woke up at 6:30 in order to catch breakfast (the BEST meal at Q Center!!!). I survived the day because it was mandatory – training until 6pm, dinner, then a two hour networking event. Immediately after the event we (Lexi, Lillian, Kathy, Marina and me) went to the gym. Love.

Antiquing picture

Last Monday I went to bed at 2am because I still refused to go to bed when my cell phone, still in CA time, said 12am. I woke up at 6:30 again to catch breakfast. I love how every morning promptly at 7am Lillian would knock on my door and we would walk together to the dining hall where we’d be joined, basically by Lexi, Kathy, Marina and sometimes Amy and Justine. It was Justine’s birthday on Tuesday, so for dinner we got her a balloon then sat around Q Dining and ate a ton of desserts. Then the gymming group gymmed for a good hour and for the rest of the night, primarily sat around on the weight equipment chatting.

Biking with coworkers

Last Tuesday was  the least sleep and I went to bed at 3:30am because I was researching vacation and then decided I absolutely had to watch an episode of Parenthood before calling it a night. Woke up at 6:30 again. At this point I was already missing the Q Center, knowing we’d leave the next day. We (Lexi, Marina, Kathy, Justine and Amy) rode bikes around the lake in St. Charles then ate dinner together.

Seen whilst biking

Last Wednesday I went to bed at 1am and woke up at 6:30, probably the most “regular” bed times yet. Left the Q Center around 2pm and got into O’Hare. I was super, super sad because at that moment all I wanted was to go back to CA and not have to spend the next four days in Chicago. But American Airlines didn’t strike so my flight didn’t get cancelled, so I couldn’t get a new flight, so I was stuck in Chicago. In the end, I’m glad I stayed. I spent the end of Thursday night going to Wicker Park Area with Justine and Amy and sitting in Vault, a HUGE cafe. Then got dinner with Justine and Portillo’s (just not the same without Kathy) and then walking to Navy Pier (I’ve maxed out on Navy Pier for the rest of my life).

This bean again

Last Thursday I went to bed at 2am after walking back from Navy Pier so late at night, and woke up at 9:30 to get our Chicago day started. If I had it my way, I probably would have slept until 11am but on we went – Justine hates good food and considers Chili’s fancy dining. This is something I found hilarious when in an office situation, but realized in a vacation setting it is something I would sometimes get very annoyed about. Also, she has never traveled and I’ve now added to my list of dealbreakers “has little experience traveling.” We went to this Cuban sandwiches shop Katie had taken me to the previous weekend, which I was super excited for because we only got churros that time. The sandwich WAS freaking good – it was the bread that impressed me the most. I’m sad NOW that I hadn’t bought a churro but honestly my stomach could not have fit it in and it just wouldn’t have been as yummy. Justine liked the food but thought the area was terrifying because some patrons of the establishment included people who were clearly gang members and had gone to jail before. Which, I feel like, shouldn’t impede someone from eating good food, but whatever.

Yums. Cuban sandwich for about $4 at Cafe Marianao

Then proceeded a fairly wasted day, in my opinion, because it involved me walking around Magnificent Mile with Justine, which I have already done before and is just a straightforward version of SF’s Union Square and a less impressive version of NY’s Fifth Avenue. In short, I hate Magnificent Mile. After this we walked to Willis Tower which was on Justine’s must see list and I cared nothing about. So she went up to the top and I walked around financial center of Chicago without an umbrella, while it rained. I just really enjoy walking around big cities when it’s commute time – there’s so much energy in the air! And that was when I realized, working in downtown Chicago would be SO AWESOME assuming good weather. Depending on where you live, you could be walking across one of the MANY bridges to reach your station to take you home. Just seems super cool especially because it was lightly raining. I then went to Ranch Triangle area to scope out a Crate and Barrel outlet. It was kind of a let down and I felt like I was so close to a street I loved when Katie drove us past it, but couldn’t find while on foot (I now realize I WAS SO CLOSE to my favorite yuppie neighborhood in Chicago which I would discover the next day). Ended the night with Lou Malnati’s which was really not very good although I had liked it the first time when I went with Kathy last year. Chicago deep dish pizza is just NOT good and I am going to stop giving it a chance from now on because there is SO MUCH MORE to eat in the city.

Willis Tower

Last Friday I went to bed at 3:30am and woke up at 10:00am because Justine and I had spent such a long day out and about in Chicago. We went out for brunch at Milk & Honey, which is a restaurant I had tried last year and LOVED the granola. It was the restaurant that made me think, omg, yogurt and granola is SO GOOD in restaurants. Unfortunately, I realized that it’s because they specially make their granola and not all restaurants do. Anyway – YUM for that, it was the only restaurant that I was like HAVE TO GO BACK. I bought some packages of granola, but now that I’m home in CA and no longer have to lug my duffel around, I regret not buying, like, five packages.

Taco Joint in Lincoln Park. So good

OMG so much in this day. Well, Justine’s flight was Saturday so we parted ways. I then went to the Airbnb apartment Eugene had picked out. Eugene and Natalie’s flight ended up getting massively delayed so I had most of the day to myself (which I have to admit, made my weekend a lot more worth it because I’m not a huge fan of rehashing touristy things with newcomers to a city). I got crazy lost trying to get the the Armitage station in Lincoln Park but I am glad I didn’t give up because IT IS MY FAVORITE AREA IN CHICAGO. If more of Chicago were like this … well … it’d basically be a Midwest Palo Alto. I stepped off the train and immediately noticed, I was surrounded by ALL. WHITE people. ALL. The shops were cuter and boutiquey and the girls looked, as Frances L once termed it, “more inspirational.” HAHA (That was in response to me telling her “I don’t really like San Diego. In other cities like LA and SF and Seattle when I see girls I think ‘oh she looks cute. she looks cute. I like her style. Oh I like her style too.’ But in San Diego I’ll only ever think ‘is this a trashy tourist or a regular San Diego person?’ It’s hard to tell”)

Stuff on Webster: Now I see why Taylor Swift loves antiquing so much

I ate at Taco Joint (delicious, I got a ceviche and their Saturday special which I think involved pork and Coca Cola. IT WAS AMAZING). Browsed some shops and REALLY wanted this $68 lamp that would have matched well with my old lady bird chair, but I didn’t want to deal with transporting a lamp shade home, so I nixed that idea. Boo. Walked to a cafe, Citygrounds, which was cute and spacious … then I decided I would get XOCO for dinner but they closed at ten and when I left the cafe at 9:10 I was in a major time crunch. I spent some time walking around lost because I got super confused as to which way I had to head. I was adamant on getting XOCO though, so I ended up just hailing a taxi. Halfway through the trip, I saw the bus that I had wanted to take, so I told him to stop, handed him $6.50, jumped out of the car, and then got on the bus. Even then, I still got a little lost finding the restaurant HAHA but ended up arriving there at 9:45 AND IT WAS COMPLETELY WORTH IT.

Chicago Riverwalk at night. Oh, how are you so pretty

XOCO IS SO FREAKING GOOD. THESE CAP LOCKS CANNOT STRESS THAT ENOUGH. I should have come here for breakfast … ok now I need to go to Chicago again. I ordered the Baja Chicken Torta and a rice pudding and a tres leches cake and a hibiscus + lemongrass drink. All delicious – but honestly I feel like I could try every torta and not get sick of it. The bread was toasted perfectly and the chicken – I have never had such juicy chicken!!! How does Rick Bayless do it …

Anyway, headed back to the Airbnb apt after that, it was like 11pm. Walking across the Chicago river at night was also freaking gorgeous. And thankfully, didn’t feel incredibly dangerous unlike most places in Chicago at night. When I got back to the apartment, all I could think was how grateful I was that we ended up getting a place right in downtown Chicago because it was GORGEOUS. We were on the 41st floor of a 42 story building, and I don’t think I could really comprehend that height before, but it’s a pretty awesome height. I went to the gym, ellipticaling in front of a wall made of windows, overlooking Chicago, so that ended my pretty awesome day to myself. All it really takes to make me happy on vacation is 1) a good mocha 2) good food and 3) exercise.

The 13th floor of our apartment which includes indoor pool, gym, media room, jacuzzi …

Natalie and Eugene ended up arriving around 1am and we left the apartment at FREAKING 2:30am to go to a bar. I can’t even get mad though because it was freaking fun. We went to Hangge Uppe which I worried at first would be a very Korean bar. Not at all. I was one of three Asians in the bar, the second one being Eugene, and the third one being some Asian guy who immediately came to hit on me. Ok so it was 2:30, I had had very little sleep and hadn’t had the time to nap during the day, and I knew that we would not be leaving until probably dawn. BUT. I STILL HAD FUN. Everyone: Melissa had fun AT A BAR. A DANCE CLUB DIVE BAR. Breaking news. Their music selection was awesome – basically all the songs everyone knows and sings loudly too. And people WERE SINGING. And dancing. And not gross, slutty dancing but “I’m having fun at a wedding!” kind of dancing. And it was disgustingly packed but awesomely so. And Natalie and I agreed the guys in the bar were fairly good looking (as Natalie says, “none of them are unfortunate looking”) and all very forward in talking to girls but not in the way CA or NY does where my knee jerk response is “omfg who is this creeper.” It’s done in a very … unintimidating Midwestern way?

Houses in Chicago are just freaking gorgeous with the brick and the black trims

So then it became Saturday. Actually, it was already Saturday when we went out – it became Saturday when I had been watching Jurassic Park while waiting for them. We stayed at the bar until maybe like 5am and then went to get pizza and then went back to the apartment, now around 6:00 and watched the sun come up over Chicago. LOVE IT. Then slept. Then woke up to get brunch. That was a shitshow of walking around for one hour lost before we finally gave up, took a taxi back to our apt, and then used our rental car. I’m so glad because at one point we came close to eating brunch near Millennium Park which I was privately horrified at the thought of eating at a restaurant filled with so many tourists. Luckily, when they said we couldn’t bring our champagne in, we nixed that restaurant and continued onto my original suggestion of Toast in Lincoln Park.

Eugene on Toast: wow this is really small, it’s like an SF place Me: Except in SF they’d have squeezed in about four more tables. What a waste of space

And SO GLAD we did. Because once we arrived our day took a turn. Maybe that is the magic of Lincoln Park. Maybe all we ever want in life, when the chips are down, is to walk around a nice, very green, peaceful, yuppie neighborhood. We walked around Oz Park, then random residential streets, ate our BOMBASS meal (both Natalie and Eugene said they were glad we eventually made it here) which included two orders of french toast (came stuffed with strawberry, marscapone and Mexican chocolate, which I have never had anything similar or quite as delicious before), two orders of benedicts, two strawberry lemonade champagnes, and a bloody mary. So. Freaking. Good!!!

French Toast Orgy: stuffed flavor (marscapone, chocolate, strawberry), topped w/ vanilla yogurt, house made berry granola, fresh fruit and drizzled w/ honey. Natalie “I’d share that but the one you want is too healthy”

I’m glad now we got a rental car because at first I was really against it. But since we had wasted that time earlier trying to walk to a brown line station, all of which ended up being closed, we decided to just do a driving tour down all of the main streets. And it was at this moment that I realized, no matter how convenient public transportation is in a city, there’s nothing quite like speeding down a street that you’d previously walked down at a snail’s pace.

Driving along Lakeshore

Went back to the apartment, I took the train to the airport, had a tiring flight (what is it about any non-Southwest flight that makes it seem like the takeoff process is 4x longer than it actually is?) and here I am!

Yay Chicago. It seems like now I have more reason to go back …

Chicago: Year 4, Day 1 and 2

So another year, another training, another flight to Chicago. I have to admit, I’m not particularly in love with Chicago and at first, regretted booking my flights to be in Chicago for so long. But then of course I couchsurfed on Saturday and, while it’s no Seattle, I do want to return again and do some more damage to my wallet and stomach.

My plane landed at 1:30pm on Saturday but I didn’t get off until 2pm. I don’t know what it is about O’Hare but it seems like every time my plane lands, the wheels hit the runway and then I fall asleep and half an hour later I’ll wake up and the plane is still rolling around the runway, waiting for a gate to stop in. The one thing I don’t like about O’Hare is that I always forget about the plastic seat covers lining the toilets and by the time I get to a bathroom, I’m just bursting to pee so I just sit down. About five seconds into my pee, I realize that I never waved my hand to move the plastic and god knows what the butt before had been like. I don’t know why it bothers me more than sitting on bare porcelain, but sitting on a plastic covered toilet seat is just a bit gross to me.

The thing I DO like about O’Hare is that there is always someone playing the trumpet at the El stop and the sound actually fills the underground station in a very pleasant and harmonious way, unlike the cacophony of subway performers in New York and SF.

My CS host was at a rally when I arrived at her stop (CA blue line) so I went to a cafe (Cafe Moustache) and ordered a mocha and a veggie chili mac & cheese. The mocha was DELISH. I read an Animorphs book and was just about to finish when she came into the cafe where we chatted a little bit (instant hit off, always the best!) and then walked over to her CUTE and SUPER CHEAP apartment. So jealous. She pays $500. I’m so used to hearing people tell me their rents are twice mine, and I’ll respond “oh … that’s not too bad!” so it’s been a while since my response was “WHAT THE FUCK.” But I don’t think I could handle living in Chicago. Funny, her driving me around Chicago and taking me to some of her favorite places made me have a new appreciation for the city I previously thought was too awkwardly gentrified and racially segregated for me to embrace (which is still true to some extent). But it also solidified my belief that I couldn’t move here, mainly because I think the driving here is the worst. There are just as many one way streets and random pedestrians as in SF, and there aren’t hills but the lines are very poorly painted and potholes are HUGE. Just seems far more dangerous.

She had asked if I wanted to attend this talk about socialism and equality and basically the Russian Revolution to which I said “not really my thing but I see that it’s at a bookstore and I love bookstores” so I went along with her. One of my favorite times of this CS outing was her driving me from her apt in Logan Park through Lincoln Park and Gold Coast and then Downtown into University Village. I just love being driven around a city after having spent time walking around. Then I recognize some of the buildings I had stopped to admire, but at a faster speed and greater convenience.

I ended up sitting in the bookstore and reading (considered getting this book as a future bathroom book but … I can always buy it off amazon the day I actually have my own house) then we went to get Italian Beef sandwiches (basically like a prime dip sandwich where they did the dipping for you) and Italian Ice. At first I was very dubious of Italian Ice and asked if my host, Katie, had ever had asian shaved ice which I had no doubt would be far superior than any other culture’s interpretation of ice shavings and artificial sweetener. While I still think asian shaved ice has more room for creativity and experimentation, I was very pleasantly surprised with my fruit cocktail shaved ice, which included real fruit (pears, peaches and grapes) and was awesomely refreshing. I should probably just copy and paste this into my yelp review. The best thing is, this place, Mario’s Italian Lemonade, apparently closed up on Sunday and won’t return again until the spring so I caught it just in time!

I failed to take any pictures because I was overcome by a wave of embarrassment but it was a cute little hole in the wall place with stringed lights and ridiculously long lines. Then we went to a liquor store to pick up some Polish beers and went back to her place along with Ken (friend who came with us to the socialism talk) and we ended up chatting until about 1am. Love her! She is a special needs teacher from Minnesota who started teaching two years ago and just started her third year, although teachers are all on strike in Chicago. She bears a very similar resemblance to Lindsay Lohan, who she dressed up as for Halloween 2011. She is a hardcore biker, the kind that is not afraid to knock on the windows of douche drivers and yell at them. And kick their car repeatedly if they continue to be douchey. It seems like she knows a lot of cheap but yummy foods – everywhere she took me to, I would privately react with “wtf is this dump” but gave her the benefit of the doubt and upon first bite, would always love the food. Today she took me to this cuban sandwich place where we just picked up churros which were SO YUMMY (filled with chocolate) and now I do kind of wish I could spend some time in Chicago so I can discover all these random little places. It seems like Cuban and Mexican food is a big thing here, so I’m going to add that to my Chicago Yelp List in addition to hot dogs, ice cream, and brunch.

She has an awesome collection of books and an almost 180 degree taste in music from me. I spent the rest of the night sitting on the coach / my bed reading as much of The Perks of Being a Wallflower as I could. I really liked the feel of the cover and wanted to read it before my option was to read it with the three actors on the cover. I ended up reading a quarter at night, half in the morning, and because I was SO close to being done, I was a bad guest and told her I couldn’t talk and had to read in the car. Which I did, and I FINISHED IT WOOT! (Not a fan of the ending but it was a very quick and easy read and if nothing else, it felt awesome to start and finish a book while on vacation and while reading in the comfort of someone else’s living room).

So this morning we got the churros then picked up Kathy who flew in from New Jersey and then went to m.henrys for brunch. DELISH. And BYOB, which Katie says is typical because it’s very expensive to get a liquor license in Chicago. Highly rated and somehow we still only had to wait 25 minutes despite it being like 11am. That would NOT happen in SF or LA. The menu is ridic, like usually there is one stand out item for me, but here I was like I WANT EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!! The interior was cute and used its narrow space well but I am kind of bummed I didn’t take a picture of the front entrance. I just need to get over my self consciousness at being the photographer of mundane things because now I HAVE NO MEMORIESSS!!! I always tell myself I can find a decent picture on yelp or tumblr but usually I can’t find any perfect ones on tumblr and it turns out, a LOT of yelp pictures are SHITTY. Like, I do not care that much about what your food looks like. I’ll read about how good the food tastes in your review, but what I want to SEE is whether paying $9.50 for a scrambled egg is worth the ambiance and decor that I will be surrounded by.

Then walked around Andersonville for antiques and clothes which was super fun. Yesterday she drove down Clybourn Ave and I spotted a Crate and Barrel outlet amongst a TON of other amazing looking places and now I REALLY want to go back. Basically it looked like an awesome yuppie area, which is like my haven. We went back to her apartment and parted ways but HEART this is yet another CS memory that further confirms how awesome CS is and how much it enhances my take on a place (although I think I do prefer to travel alone the first time then travel again to see it through different people’s perspectives the next time because then I don’t want to do touristy things and can appreciate the local flavor).

I also think this experience has changed my take on a quote I saw on my twitter feed by Eleanor Roosevelt

Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people

At first when I read this I was like OMG. I AM OF A MINISCULE MIND. But I think the better version of this quote is: females discuss people. passionate people discuss events. potsmokers discuss ideas.

AGH next weekend I’m with Justine Thurs/Fri then Eugene and Natalie on Sat/Sun. I think I have a small window of Sat morning where I can be alone, which is the time I really want to revisit Milk & Honey for their amazeballs yogurt granola, and then this Clybourn Ave where I can throw down some money (or not – and just feel young and rich).

Left Katie’s around 3pm and Kathy and I headed back to O’Hare to get our transport to our training facility. We went to the dining area and ate food at 3:30pm CA time, because I WAS STARVING. Marina arrived after we had finished so we hung out in Kathy’s room and watched Keeping Up with the Kardashians where I witnessed THE MOST DISGUSTING THING EVER (Kourtney giving birth to her baby) then I went to dinner again with Marina.

Now it’s 10pm CA time which is only midnight Chicago time but seeing as how I have to wake up at 4:30am CA time tomorrow … I should really go to bed.


Day 2:

Well I went to bed at like 11:30 CA time and woke up 4:30 CA time. Training was not too bad but I have noticed that as we are going through the slides, I will think to myself, this is easy done that done that. Then they’ll ask a question and I write down the answer and it is ALWAYS WRONG. I asked Marina if this happens to her too and she had said the exact same thing to Nick and they had agreed. So, not sure what’s up with that.

Another thing about these trainings is that at the end of it, I love my office SO much. It makes me appreciate that we are fairly close to one another, and our office is big enough that we can have a sizeable dinner table. I do feel like the bitchy mean girls table because we are only more convinced that CA is  the best state ever after these trainings. But I feel the best when a group of us will nix going to the bar and instead all go to the gym together and share exercise tips. I just want to live in a big house with Kathy, Marina, Lexi and Lillian where we all make smoothies together and wake up at 5am to go to the gym. HAHA Thank you, office, for putting me in a class with young, fun, likable, highly competent, awesome people. At the same time, damn you all, for making me want to stay in auditing.

Things I love about training

1. Cooked meals

2. Outdoor seating on a good weathered fall day in Illinois

3. The pretentious cliqueness of my office and the strong belief that CA, and particularly the Bay Area, eclipses any other location

4. Free flight to Chicago and the bookend weekends

5. Having my own room and bathroom

6. Blasting the AC while snuggling up in my bed

7. The maid who makes my bed and cleans my room every day while I am in training

8. Numerous snack breaks to break up the day

9. Walking around my room in a bra and underwear with no care at all

10. Flat screen TV right next to my sink

11. Gymming with coworkers at night

12. Coordinating breakfast meetup times, usually for a 6am Pacific time

13. Gossiping and revealing our true thoughts about work while crowding in someone’s room, or taking up one of the many lounge areas

14. Giant lake nearby to run around with adjacent million dollar homes (ok. We’re in the suburbs of Illinois. They’re probably like $600K here)

15. Awesome smelling lotion (which Lillian steals and uses throughout the year until next year’s training)

Sometimes I seriously think the purpose of training is not to teach us anything new (most people have already learned everything on the job) and is only minimally to meet standards, but primarily to give us all a scheduled vacation. Training is like being in college – food and housing is taken care of and we go to class. But better because I earned half a pay period’s salary while basically having a week long sleepover.

My traveling ritual

Listening to: Otto Knows vs. Coldplay vs. One Republic – Million Voices (Thomas Gold mashup)

I think one of the greatest differences between my mom and myself is that we have completely different approaches to vacationing. She loves, or maybe doesn’t love but can’t help, to spend hours and hours trying to research and will book everything months in advance. For international trips, she’ll bring down the suitcase about a week early and start filling it, constantly rechecking things she already knows she has packed. She’ll spend the hour before leaving panicking about whether she did this or that, and then she’ll continue to panic all the way up to the airport.

Maybe I started out like that back in the day. But somewhere along the way, I think I either went on too many vacations or had too many near misses that didn’t end in catastrophe, to the point that now I barely prepare anything and I’m constantly finding myself, five hours before a flight, trying to yelp places and draw little maps on scraps of paper, doing my laundry as my duffel bag sits empty with a stack of barely enough clothes folded off to the side.

So far, I feel like my vacations have worked out.

This seems to be the typical vacationing pattern I have fallen into:

Months in advance: Have destination in mind. I’ll think to myself, “THIS TIME. This time I am going to plan far in advance and not have to worry about anything last minute! This time I won’t stress about not planning for months on end. This time I will be better.”

Preceding months: Every morning I will think to myself “OK TODAY IS THE DAY. I am going to go to a cafe and RESEARCH. I am going to make a list of all the places I want to visit and see and experience!” Then I will go about my day and find better, more important things to do. Such as, reading the entire series of Animorphs. Eating dinner with friends. Going to the gym. Wasting time on the internet. I’ll go to the library and check out guidebooks on the destination, which are left untouched on the floor of my room for weeks. I occasionally stuff it in my backpack in the morning, with the intent of going through it after work. After a few days I’ll dump it out of my backpack, as it’s starting to weigh me down unnecessarily. Two weeks later, I’ll renew the unread book. Another two weeks later, I’ll renew it again.

One month in advance: Every morning, my initial thought will transition into “OMFG Today HAS to be the day. I CANNOT continue to let this vacation go unplanned. I NEED TO BUY MY TICKETS. And book my hotel / reserve airbnb / send requests out to CS hosts! I don’t even care what I do today, I am NOT going to bed until I PLAN SOMETHING.” And then. I will stay awake super late into the night, but more because I’m delaying planning until I just can’t take it anymore and fall asleep.

Three weeks in advance: I’ll buy the plane ticket. By this time I have long ago returned the guidebook I had borrowed from the library. Now I have to reborrow the book.
Or I’ll cancel my vacation plans, if the prices have significantly risen and I am too cheap to buy the ticket because I can remember how cheap they were months ago. In these cases I’ll think to myself, NEVER AGAIN.

Two weeks in advance: I’ll start waking up every morning with a panic attack. Sometimes I feel like I never truly fall asleep because I spend the whole night half awake thinking about the things I haven’t done yet. Somehow, this constant sense of urgency does not actually inspire me to do anything about my stress problems.

One week in advance: I’ll half heartedly start to yelp things for ten minutes before I decide the world is too overwhelmingly large to narrow down. I’ll send out CS requests or look into other housing situations. At least I’ll do that much

Three days in advance: I’ll actually start researching. I think to myself, this wasn’t so bad. I should have probably done this a while ago, so I could have gotten a better night’s sleep for the past two weeks

One day in advance: I’ll REALLY start to research.

Twelve hours in advance: Instead of packing or getting the final touches to vacationing ready, I decide it’s suddenly very imperative that I clean my room top to bottom, so that when I return it will be to a nice, clean room

Eight hours in advance: I decide to go to the kitchen and clear out all the food that has been going bad in the fridge. I think to myself, I need to stop buying so many groceries that I never eat. Either that, or stop eating out so I will actually eat the groceries I buy.

Seven hours in advance: Since most of my vacations involve me, walking alone somewhere or taking some form of transportation in solitude, I decide more important than packing, or researching, or finalizing any plans, is to ensure that my ipod has the best music possible. This entails a two hour search for new music, downloading of all the songs I have been listening to, and clearing out and reorganizing my itunes. All the while, despite a muffled nagging voice that says you REALLY need to do some more productive things, my mind will respond “this is crucial to my vacation happiness. Music is the most important thing!!! If I end up walking around aimlessly in a city, lost, at least I’ll have my precious music!”

Five hours in advance: I’ll realize that I don’t have enough clothes to pack. I decide to do laundry. Perfect. Now I have more reason to stay up and continue my research into the wee hours of the morning.

Four hours, fifty minutes in advance: Screw research. I’ve decided to blog

Four hours in advance: I manage to stay awake long enough to put my clothes into the dryer. Rather than research, I decide this is the perfect time to take a nap

Three hours in advance: Frantic packing.

Two hours in advance: I decide that I have quite a bit of time before I have to get to the airport and everything is going to work out just fine

Ninety minutes in advance: I am on my way to the airport and I keep thinking every red light will be the reason I miss my flight. WHY did I wait so long to get to the airport?!?! NEVER AGAIN!!!

One hour in advance: Depending on the airport, at LAX I am only more convinced that I am going to miss my flight. At SJC I rush into the airport and then realize … oh … there’s like five people in the security line. I amble about. Sit in the boarding area. Decide that next time, I am going to have to leave for the airport even later.

As you can guess, I am at the blogging stage of this cycle. Which means my unplanned nap should be coming up soon. Clothes are in the dryer, check.