Chicago: The Day Everything Went Wrong

GazingOn Sunday morning, Charlie and I had tickets to go on an “architecture tour” of Chicago. The idea is pretty simple; a boat ride down the Chicago River while a tour guide gives a lecture on the different buildings that we see. Chicago in general has a lot of amazing skyscrapers, and while the Sears Tower is the most notable it’s not the only one worth seeing.

Sunday was supposed to be a cloudy, overcast, and potentially rainy day like Saturday had turned out. What we got instead was a bright sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. This seemed at the time to be a good thing. So, we boarded the boat and cringed at the occasional bouts of silliness as the tour begun. (The typical “who traveled the farthest to get here?” questions, and even a pirate-related joke.) Before long, though, I was entranced by the views of the buildings, learning about each one. So entranced, in fact, that it didn’t hit me that I didn’t put on any sunscreen that morning and my hat was still in Charlie’s bag. Uh oh.

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Chicago: The Day Everything Went Right

It wasn’t quite the crack of dawn when Charlie and I got up on Saturday to head to Chicago, but it sure felt like it. It must have been worse for Charlie than myself, though; he’d gotten very little sleep on Thursday night (including a 4am trip to the ER because of throat problems) and even though he’d gone to bed on Friday night as soon as he came over he was still on a definite sleep deficit.

Before too long we’d deposited the car off at the daily garage, and headed down a series of completely empty corridors (that grew progressively creepier—where was everyone?) before finally arriving at the ticket counter so Charlie could check his bag, which was just slightly too big to fit in the overhead compartment. “Technically this is a late bag,” the helpful Southwest employee told us, affixing a gigantic LATE BAG tag to his luggage. “But only by a couple of minutes, so I’m sure it’ll make it on board, no problem.” (It did.) The flight was also oversold, but thankfully Charlie had printed out our boarding passes the day before so our position in the “A” boarding group was assured.

The flight was quick and uneventful, and before long we were checked in at the very nice Wyndham Chicago, just a block off of Michigan Avenue. The weather was much cooler than in DC, and also perpetually threatening to rain. Undaunted, we grabbed umbrellas and headed out. We just walked around for a while, enjoying the sights and grabbing a bite to eat. In our wanderings I was quite amused to finally see the Cloud Gate, Anish Kapoor’s sculpture in Millennium Park that’s more commonly called “the bean.”

Cloud Gate

Continue reading Chicago: The Day Everything Went Right

“It’s important to be selfish sometimes.”

Those are wise words I’ve heard on numerous occasions from my therapist, usually when I’ve been spending so much time worrying about other people that I forget to take care of myself. “But what do you want to do?” he often says after hearing me explain why I’ve made numerous decisions on what “needs to be done” because of other people.

I mention all of this in an effort to explain what I’ve been up to lately. Primarily? Worrying about other people. Doing things for them. That sort of thing. (Oh, and not running. At least my appointment with the doctor is today.) If there’s one thing I have absolutely learned over the past year and a half, though, it’s being able to recognize at what point I end up exhausted and needing to pull back and do things just for me. Fortunately I actually have some stuff ahead for myself. I’m leaving work early tomorrow so I can pick Julie and Scott up at the airport, and while that on some level does fall into the “other people” category what I’m looking forward to is seeing them after their trip from Tokyo. So that’s going to be great. Especially if it takes them a while to get their luggage and I’m just sitting in the “cell phone waiting area” reading a book. Yeah, I actually really like that idea.

The rest of the week isn’t so structured, aside from plans with Charlie on Wednesday and a birthday dinner for one of his friends on Friday. Both low-key. And tonight and Thursday night will be just about me, and no one else. I plan on staying in, watching some television, reading some comics that have been piling up, and just enjoying not doing anything else.

But even better is this weekend. I’m off to Chicago with Charlie and I cannot wait. Just a long weekend with him and me, on our own schedule, away from everyone else. I feel like I’ve known him for ages but we’re still finding out things about each other. (It’s the little things that amuse me the most. Like our love for Prince’s “P Control” and our sorrow that he won’t sing it in concert any more.) The last time I went to Chicago was in November 2004, and I was hardly in the right frame of mind; I’d been suddenly and (slightly unexpectedly) dumped the day before I was due to leave, not the best way to start a trip. I feel bad for poor Scott, Mike, Robert, and everyone else (I could keep listing names but you get the idea) who had to put up with my melancholy feelings throughout the weekend, although they’d cheered me up a lot. But this trip? Well, provided history doesn’t repeat itself in pre-trip events, I’m really looking forward to it.

Members of my extended family love to joke, “It’s all about me,” if the attention shifts away from them. This weekend? It’s all about me. And it’s all about us.

Is it Saturday morning yet?

EDITED TO ADD: And I left my wallet at home today, which has my insurance card in it. Which I need for the doctor’s appointment. *sigh* Yep, definitely hitting the point where I need a break. I’m not normally this forgetful.

365pictures: Days 151-180

Halfway there!

Ok, not really. Technically that’s not until I snap another three pictures. But I’m going to declare this “Halfway There (Observed)” and that’s good enough for government work, to coin a phrase.

This batch is, I think, slightly stronger than the last one (even though the last one had a couple of really fantastic pictures, especially some centered around a certain wedding) because I think there’s only a small of pictures that I look at and think, “You were really reaching, there.”

As always, enjoy, and a link to the full photoset is available here.

The Two JaredsSecret MessagesHaa-Cha!HangingDown the Hatch
Spin Spin Spin
Also sprach ZarathustraDo Not LickTable DressingsTogether Again
Newberry Parfait PicoteeInterior Design by Tobacco HeritageDalekmania 2007Vino
Festive!
JumbleA Nice Spring Afternoon at WorkDavid RakoffGo to Hell, Men's Health
Petals like Fingers
Brighton RockSea of PetalsPink DogwoodLight Trails
Little Viet By Night
ColumbineMore Construction?BemusementTemple of the Scottish Rite

Uberlist 2007: Four Months Later

So! Four months down, let’s see how this year’s Uberlist is coming along.

Completed!

3. Complete a 10-miler in under 1:32:38
4. Complete a half-marathon in under 2:06:08
7. Go to one gym class
10. Learn how to properly use the weights at the gym
11. Quit Gold’s for Arlington Rec, or use Gold’s classes
16. Go to an exhibition at the Freer/Sackler Galleries
17. Go up to the top of the Washington Monument (you’ve only lived here 32 years, Greg, it’s about time)
21. Visit the National Museum of the American Indian
41. Start the New Year in a way you want the rest to follow
55. Visit Marc when you’re in Los Angeles
67. Get a code for the front door (found out by accident but I don’t care! victory!)
96. Mail your marathon thank-you cards
103. Write an article for Enlightenment

So, not too bad, but I’ve done better at this point in time as well. Although I do have a bunch of ones that are partially done, or an ongoing process. That should help spruce up my feelings of getting things done a bit!

Continue reading Uberlist 2007: Four Months Later

People Really Do Win on MTV!

I try, whenever I can, to participate with a local running group on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Pacers holds “fun runs” on those evenings and it’s a nice chance to see some fellow runners and friends and tackle things like the horrors of the Custis Trail (and its 900 hills), or wonder how long until a car tries to run us over as we hoof it through Old Town Alexandria.

The Clarendon location of Pacers, as part of their gearing up for the inaugural Battle of the Boulevard 10K, has gotten sponsorship from Brooks for their Thursday night runs. I’ve missed those runs up until this week, but was happy to finally get to participate last night. The theme of the evening was a scavenger hunt, where everyone was given a little laminated sheet of paper with 11 questions on it about the evening’s running route. And just like that, we were off.

Chris S. and I realized a fatal flaw in the evening’s plan almost instantly. Namely, ballpoint pens and laminated paper don’t often mix well. Doubly so while you’re running just under five and a half miles of nasty hills. Oops. Still, that didn’t stop us as we tried to look for the answers to each question while continuing to keep a steady pace. (Just under 9min/miles, which for this hard-as-nails course is a major victory in my book. Oh, how I hate the hills in my neighborhood. Especially those along the Custis Trail.) Once the ludicrousness of the situation had sunk in, we ended up laughing our heads off at the idea of even trying to puzzle through the 11 questions and enjoyed the run.

Well, enjoyed the run while still keeping an eye cocked for the answers. After all, the first place prize was a $125 gift certificate for Brooks shoes and gear, and I’m not going to say no to that, right?

When we finished, sheets of paper were handed out that you could actually write your answers on, and then everyone adjourned around the corner to Mr. Days where appetizers plus one round of beers were provided courtesy Brooks as well. Chris had to leave early but I stuck around (and ran into Elvis from last year’s AIDS Marathon program, which was a nice surprise) and had a lite beer (which bizarrely actually tasted good) and one or two small munches of food. Finally, the results were in, with the organizers first reading off the answers before then saying who won what. When I realized I had gotten nine of the eleven answers correct and the fifth-place winner had gotten much less, I knew things were looking very promising indeed.

Victory!
And, sure enough, I claimed myself a second-place finish, which was a whopping $100 gift certificate. As someone who wears Brooks shoes to begin with, I’m quite happy with my firm decision to memorize as many answers as I could. And to think, earlier in the day I was even telling myself how lucky I felt and I actually bought a lottery ticket. Who knows? Right now I just feel like the sky’s the limit. Here’s to a great time.