Accidental Naps

bra

I fell asleep after work today.

For 3 hours.

Instead of going to a party.

I think that’s a sign I’ve been having too much fun (according to my father) (who told me over the phone this week that I need to relax).

I was supposed to be at a “going away” party for one of my friends from college.  I quote “going away” because I’m using the term lightly.  Said friend is going on a 2 month vacation to Brazil as part of his bar trip.

(For those who are not familiar.  After individuals finish law school and take the dreaded bar, they are somehow due a 9 week trip to an exotic locale.  Yes this makes sense.)

So I don’t know if tears were going to be shed at this soiree.

But I am inspired to have a “goodbye party” every time I plan a vacation!

Ok it wasn’t going to be the most emotional night, but I’m pretty sure some A-w-e-s-o-m-e was going to happen.

Sometimes it’s just in the air.

Summer atmosphere and meeting friends of friends of friends mixed in with cucumber coolers usually leads to bonding, spontaneity and unexpected wonderful things.

Clearly that’s not happening tonight but there is a point to this entry (I swear!).  This is my all-things-awesome reminder to take some time for a nap, a bubble bath, a dance around the room in your underwear (Kelly Clarkson is a great aid to this), an Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition marathon (I am hooked on this inspiring shit!), a private cooking party (i.e. making yourself a feast) or a long distance run where you don’t time yourself or plan the route beforehand (just MAP-MY-RUN it later).

I was a bit surprised when I woke up at 10PM with my work clothes still on but I am now indulging in this rest and relaxation.

I know it’s a departure from my typical rhythm… but sometimes that’s cool too.

A 3-hour nap is sometimes just what the doctor ordered and exactly the “me” time that I needed.

I highly recommend it.

Feels Awesome.

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An Autumn Sail in July

chicago boat

The old saying goes: “it’s all how you look at it.”

Never is this truer than when your oldest friend in the world comes to visit and you plan to bop up and down with a bunch of other boats on Lake Michigan….

And it’s 61 degrees in July.

(Yes, this is a first world problem post)

Let me lay out the significance here.

My friendship with oldest friend was kind of pre-planned in the womb.  Back in Soviet times, when our parents were perfecting the art of homemade vodka distillation well-behaved model Soviet children, their entire high school class started to like one another.  And then married each other.  And then had some babies at the same time (it’s like a backwards Brady Bunch).  And then moved to America around the same time.  And then vacationed every year together.

We were basically destined to be besties.  Mostly because no one else was going to understand the trials and tribulations of having parents who started their life anew in a new country with small children and little knowledge of English … but I digress (I’ll save this enthralling sociological theory for another post).

Back to the significant problem at hand.

Months of preparation, one flight, one taxi, one night of serious dancing and too many hours of hype, we were ready for my promised day out on Lake Michigan (how else was I going to get her to move to Chicago?).

I told her to pack nothing but bathing suits and get ready for pool, beaches and BOATS.

Imagine my surprise when I woke up Saturday morning, felt around for my iPhone, found the weather app while squinting with one eye (daily morning routine) and was told by Yahoo! That it was winter.

I quickly checked the calendar app to make sure I hadn’t slept through July, August and September.

Nope.

It was 61 degrees in Chicago on July 27.

glass half full

The Mother Nature Gods were testing us.

Do we throw in the towel and… see a movie??  Go sight-seeing with sweatshirts and fall scarves??

NO.

We put bikinis on.  Bring hoodies.  Buy snacks.  Go anyway.

After all, having fun is really about whom you’re with and our history shows that we can basically tear it up under any circumstance.  Like when we were 10 and our parents took us to Lake Placid for New Years and we decided to make memory cups by dripping candle wax into wine cups and… set her hair on fire.  We danced all night anyway (tears were brief).

Lucky for our positive attitudes, the friends we were joining (on their boat) were in too.

The ride out to the location of said boat party induced a bit of sea sickness and it was cold but we indulged in the day anyway.

sail

Once anchored and tied to a row of boats (for boat hopping), adrenaline (and beer) took over and we jumped in the water, made friends, played with water toys, took  pictures, laughed, drank, danced and truly vacated.

Most of all, there was a lot of laughter and bonding.  I’m pretty sure that was the whole point anyway.

I’m really glad we got out of bed on July 27 and went out to sea.

It was Awesome.

picstitch (3)

Home-Running it Through the Bucket List

chicago sport and social softball

Number 11 on my bucket list this summer was to join a summer sports league.

I put it on my bucket list because I’ve never actually joined a recreational sports team for young professionals.  I’ve seen many a group walking around sporting ZogSports or Chicago Sport and Social Club t-shirts… and really wanted one.

There are a host of excuses for why in the 6 years post college I have not yet participated.  I’m busy.  I’m a figure skater (i.e. not a soccer/football/baseball player).  None of my friend groups have ever organized a team.  Games are held in inconvenient locations.  The last time I played football in fourth grade I was tackled and couldn’t feel my body for a bit.  The other girls have more experience.

Basically, I’ve been too chicken-shit.

Time to amend this issue.

This summer I’ve joined a Chicago Sport and Social Club softball league with about 20 of my co-workers (read: public humiliation is even more fun when carried to the workplace).

And today was the first game.

Today was also, conveniently, the hottest day Chicago has seen this summer.

Let the shirt-soaking fun begin.

I took a cab found my way to the field and joined everyone for beers warm-ups.

I quickly found out that laying low wasn’t in the cards.  Turns out league rules state that each team must have at least 4 girls on the team at all times, 4 girls in the outfield and must rotate a girl batter every two players. (I haven’t decided how I feel about this gender equality driven rule-book as of yet).

Either way…we had 5 girls.  I had to woman-up and learn fast.

I started the game as the Center-fielder.  By the grace of some guardian angel, the other team’s first line-up couldn’t hit a ball the size of a kickball had some trouble and struck out quickly.  I had another beer with my teammates/coworkers and prepared to bat for the first time.

Everyone started to cheer me on as I went up.  I swung once and missed and then got a walk to first.  I was pretty psyched.  We struck out shortly after, but I was starting to get the hang of it.

My next turn at center-fielder, I was the recipient of a giant welt on the side of my knee stopped a ball hurled straight towards me and was able to get it to the second-base in time to hear “out” called on the other team.

At some point during the game the other team started to kick our ass play really well.

Any judgment passed in the beginning of the game flew straight out the window (lesson learned).  This team didn’t have matching uniforms, seemed disorganized and had one member with an artificial leg.

You’d think the score would have at least been close.  NOPE. (I will refrain from divulging the actual score)

We lost.

I’m pretty sure that bystanders couldn’t tell the difference though.  We immediately began toasting and drinking beers on the field and continuing the hyper excitement of the past 2 hours.

After on-field drinks, we moved the matching t-shirt party to a local bar where we toasted to our next game.

Playing with a team of coworkers/friends/new team members at sunset on a summer day was Awesome.

Looking forward to next week’s game.

On the Land of the Free and the Brave…

beach

It’s the 4th of July.

Among the obvious reasons (which we will get to), here are some reasons why you might be acting like an excited buffoon today:

  • The day job has released you mid-week to celebrate the (questionable yet wonderful) acts of that little British spin-off group that decided they were moving out of the house and paying their own bills.
  • It’s the one day a year when devouring gross processed meat products hot-dogs is not only OK, but it makes you a better citizen (let’s get real – this reason alone is enough for me).
  • Finally, coordinating all of your red, white and blue clothing is appropriate.  No one is looking at you funny.  They are admiring you (way to be prepared!).
  • Sparklers.  Enough said.
  • Explosive pyrotechnics.

In the past 24 hours, I have engaged in shameless frolicking through the streets of Chicago, drank ‘Merican beers while watching fireworks, spent the afternoon at the beach and drank one too many “Beachside Bloody Marys” and  “Cucumber Summer Flings” (this is a real cocktail).

Of course, when one engages in such behavior for the equivalent of a day, one usually ends up in the fetal position, drooling taking an early nap.

and watching Independence Day with Will Smith… twice.

I think everyone can agree with me on this.  This movie is epic.  For a number of reasons:  We kill aliens. America saves the day (as if we were doubting!).  Will Smith punches an alien, marries a hottie and does some brave s***.  The president and the first lady have the best marriage ever. Everyone gets the girl.  None of the main characters die (only 100,000 random citizens… whatevs). There are planes that fly fast.  We see the inside of an alien ship. Area 51 is everything we thought it was and more. The underdog saves the day.  The Jewish father is H-I-L-A-R-I-O-U-S. Nations that threaten to blow each other up work together. Morse code still works. The president joins the troops as a fighter pilot despite the fact that putting his life in danger is the worst decision any president can make and will potentially orphan his only daughter. The happy ending.

I watched it for the 56th time…twice.  I teared up twice (that musical score gets you every time).

Despite the cheese-tastic nature of this movie, I felt inspired.

Let’s get mushy on America for just a second.

I love this country and the 4th of July.

22 years ago, my family immigrated to the land of the brave (following the acceptance of our admissions essay).

We were pretty thrilled.

We left a nice apartment in downtown Kiev, friends, jobs and the only way of life my family knew to move to America… and start over.  For my parents, it was no easy task.  They had two kids under the age of 6, they had little money, no jobs and little knowledge of the English language. The choice to make things harder in hopes of making them better is no easy decision but my parents decided it was worth it… for the chance to live in the USA.

I don’t think this country is perfect (understatement) but I do believe it is a great country and I do believe in the American dream.  From personal experience, America offers opportunities, opens its doors and has a melting pot unlike any other nation.  We’re a country that believes in happy endings, is wired to be happy (check the current time article) and is blindly optimistic.

I know we’ve hit some road bumps, but as a walking example of the American dream, I celebrate well on the 4th of July.  I celebrate to honor the independence won by those questionable band of rule-breakers that gave us the chance to dream about what we wanted to be when we grew up; to receive an education despite our religion or personal beliefs; to simply be free.

Today I celebrate because America is Awesome.

Turning it around… part II/Random Acts of (Kind) Surprise

reflection

Today was day 4 of the elevators in my newly renovated building not working.

If you know me… then you know that I don’t take to these types of injustices well.

I live on the 23rd floor.  And hiking up a mountain at the end of the day is not on my list of things to do. Regardless of the exercise bonus (I just got my ass KICKED in booty ballet and I refuse more exercise).

SO.  Waking up this morning to find the elevator button simply non-operational brought up my heart rate instantaneously.

I was ready to fight management (physically), call the Better Business Bureau or hurl myself down the stairs to give them something to deal with… maybe all three at the same time.

I somehow made it through the lobby without attacking anyone and took the bus downtown to work.

As I got off the bus, I noticed a man walking toward me in the all-out chaos of rush hour in downtown Chicago.

I debated conking him in the face.

He came over and gave me one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever heard.

I was stunned for a moment.  Looked awkward.  Said thank you.  Turned.  And smiled, despite myself.

I walked off smiling.  In that embarrassing way that surely had people thinking… “issues.”

This stranger quite literally turned my day around with one comment.

(I’m considering the missed connections portion of Craigslist).

Nothing left to do… except pay it forward – Since random acts of kind surprise are just…

Awesome.