I think my lettuce might be dying. Also, my neighbours now hate me.

We’ve had a lot of rain lately.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like the rain, which is why I think I would do OK living coastally (either coast. Heck, even in the South Pacific—they’ve got a nice coast there). But this past weekend, the rain has caused a bit of a battle. I haven’t yet decided if I want to be the North or the South in this Civil War—I mostly just want it over.

My neighbours spent the May long weekend building a beautiful little deck. It’s really, really nice. Originally, they just laid out some mats and threw on a patio set. But then they decided to go all out. Soon one of the women (they are two divorcee-female roommates with all of their kids (I think there are 6 people living in that 3 bedroom in total)) brought out a bunch of two-by-fours and was busy sawing away.

By the end of the weekend, they (although mostly just the one) had put up an entire impromptu deck complete with stones, a little fence, planter boxes, and a new barbecue. Like I said, it’s really nice.

Or at least it was.

Until it rained.

A lot.

The deck area is basically three or four inches high, solid from the ground up. Our yards are kind of uneven. And this deck wasn’t exactly well planned out. So when it rained, the slightly uneven deck didn’t keep much water on it—it all rolled down into our yard.

If we were living in a house with huge yards, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But we’re not. We live in a townhouse (although our lease says Condo—towncondo?) and our yards are tight! (Hence the reason I’m planting lettuce in my front flower bed.) Our little front yard was filled with at least three or four inches of sitting water. That means my “garden” was entirely under water.

OK, so now my plants are dying. That’s kind of annoying. But maybe they’ll pull through right? No need to complain about anything just yet. Everyone is flooding (except the neighbours and their higher deck, but whatever).

As I’m working downstairs, my daughter and I hear a funny noise. It sounds like water running. But no one’s showering, the washing machine is running—what could it be? Oh. It’s just the walls. They’re LEAKING!

We have two big bolts sticking out of the wall in our basement where the stairs are attached outside. The water in our yard was so high that it was actually leaking through the little holes into our basement. Gross!

Naturally I called our landlord. I was a little, um, annoyed, shall we say? Fortunately she wasn’t available, so I just left a message. She called back shortly after—her phone had been ringing off the hook all morning. She spoke to my husband and agreed that the neighbour’s new deck has to go (and be rebuilt properly. The landlord will even have it paid for—so no harm done, right?)

She came by a little later, checked out the front yard, and then called on our neighbours.

Needless to say, they’re really peeved off. The one who spent all the time working on it immediately asked, “Can I at least keep my garden?” Really? Your garden? Mine’s dead, thank you very much!

Of course they complained a lot, saying that their deck has nothing to do with the flooding (because the little waterfall I saw coming off of it onto our yard was my imagination, right?). Also, there were a lot of expletives targeted toward us. (It’s amazing what you hear when you’ve got your windows open.)

Fortunately the ground eventually sucked the water up after it stopped raining. Maybe, just maybe, there is hope for my lettuce. I’d like to say the same for my neighbours…

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It’s been cold and rainy all day. 

I don’t mind it at all, really. In fact, I like the rain. It’s pleasant, cleansing. I don’t even mind the thunder and lightning that has accompanied the showers that have been spending time in Winnipeg for the past several hours. Lightning is really beautiful—it’s the thunder that is leaving me with memories.

I miss my dog: Viper, the world’s best poodle.

Probably not, but he was to me.

Viper hated thunderstorms. I don’t blame him—he’s so tiny and they’re so, well, big and loud and scary. Whenever the first rumble would whisper in the darkening skies, he would make his way under my parents’ bed or under the couch, or on really rare occasions, under my old bed. His heart would race, and he would shake and shake and shake. I couldn’t help but hold him. I wanted to keep him in my arms, slow down his pulse, and let him know how safe he was. I would protect him from the thunder and the rain, and our house would protect him from the lightning. (Technically, the house would also protect him from the rain, but really, I’m trying to be the brave protector of smallish dogs here, so work with me...) Yet despite how smart he was (he really was—I taught him how to play hide and seek, but he was better at playing dead. If he kept wagging his tail, I would ask him if dead dogs wag their tails, and of course he would stop, because they don’t. Clever little pup he was!), he never quite understood that he wasn’t in any danger. Sure, he had a huge vocabulary, but he had serious fear issues. (You should have seen him when the vacuum came out.)

I only hope he wasn’t afraid when he died.

Or rather, was shot.

Yup, good ol’ dad brought out the rifle (he had just reapplied for his hunter’s license for the first time in years with my help. Yup, that’s me—helpful dog killer (not on purpose—I had no idea. I’m like a getaway driver who doesn’t realize that his friends are going in to the bank to rob it—he just thinks they all have business in there, and it’s cold, that’s why they’re all wearing ski masks)). He took Viper out to my aunt’s farm and put himself out of his misery.

By himself, I mean my dad. Both my parents, actually—Viper was really old and peed everywhere! (plus a few other little “accidents”) Not to mention he barked non-stop at everything and was just a pain in the donkey—kind of like kids, right? (I can say that—I was one. Although I didn’t pee everywhere, just the bed for a little longer than most kids…)

In the end, Viper was old and dying anyway. At almost 14, my parents looked into putting him down, but that cost $200! A box of shells only cost about $2. You can see how economics plays in here…Blame it on the recession?

So yes, Viper was “put down”. It was a downer finding that out. It probably would have been easier to handle if I hadn’t read it on Facebook first. But oh well, that’s what social networking is for, right?

In the meantime it’s still raining. More of a drizzle now, though, and I’m OK with that too. It’s helping my lettuce to grow out in the front flower bed. (I live in a townhouse—I don’t have room for a garden) I am still thinking about putting some tomatoes out there, I just don’t know where yet. I guess I could move that really pretty flowery plant that my mom says is a weed. I dunno, I really like it—it just adds so much to the front of the house. Plus it brings out the yellow in my dandelions.
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Yes, I have better pictures of the sweet little guy, but he's just so adorable here. My brother was teasing him, but that's what family is for--to piss you off so you pose for really unnatural photos!

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OK, here's a better pic. This is the one who would lick away my tears and come for walks at Birds Hill Park and get covered in ticks with me. Oh the memories...

 
 
Today is my daughter’s 10th birthday. And it’s also my nephew’s 4th birthday.

That’s pretty neat, knowing that two cousins have the same birthday. Right now, they are the only cousins on my husband’s side. My sister is going to have a baby soon (due September/October), and as long as it isn’t born on my birthday, that’s cool. (I said it’s cool for other people to have the same birthday! I’m selfish—I don’t want to share! Well, OK, maybe if we did have the same birthday it wouldn’t be the end of the world…) But until that baby’s born, it’s just the two of them.

Leah and Jacob.

So for the first time ever, we get to have a dual-birthday on their birthday. Really it’s just a barbeque for family where the two young’ns will get gifts, but hey, there’s nothing wrong with that! I like food and I like presents—sounds like the ideal birthday to me. Plus, these two kids love each other like crazy.

Jacob being four looks up to his older, mature cousin. Leah, at 10, is like any preteen (yikes—I’m actually calling her that! I won’t call her a tween, though, not yet) with self-esteem still in development. She’s got someone who admires her completely, and that will make anyone feel good about themselves. Also, Jacob isn’t very good at hide and seek yet, so her hiding spots, no matter how many doors she hides behind, are just awesome!

So I am trying to decide what still needs to be done today in preparation.

·         I will try to vacuum, although our vacuum is still broken.

·         I’ve got some veggies to cut. (I am currently resuscitating some limp celery in a big glass of water in the fridge as we speak (read?))

·         Decorating! I could be doing that now, but do I really feel like blowing up balloons before I brush my teeth? I mean, if those things pop, ugh—morning breath!

·         Food preparation. I should probably make a salad, but my mother-in-law will be bringing a salad, and how many do you need at a barbeque? Plus, you have no idea how much other food we’ll have. In fact, my husband doesn’t even know that I’m planning something else! (He will now, since he reads this, but ha—you won’t know what it is until you get home, sweetie! Hee hee, I’m so bad…)

Wow, is that it? I guess it helps that I got a lot of the major stuff done yesterday. Presents wrapped, groceries bought, kitchen cleaned. Well, Ryan cleaned the kitchen—I’ll give him total credit. I made iced tea and he swept and mopped. Boy do I love that man!

I also don’t need to do a cake. That’s awesome. For the first birthday, I don’t have to worry about a making a cake (or on lazy years buying one!). My sister-in-law has that covered. Very awesome.

Although, thinking about it, this last year I totally forgot about my hubbie’s cake.

But it wasn’t entirely my fault!

OK, mostly it was.

Probably all my fault.

Ya, I’ll just take all the credit. I went to get my hair done for his birthday. I figured it would take 2 hours max—it took about 8! That’s just gross. Basically his entire shift. So while I was planning on baking while he was at work after my hair was done, I didn’t get the chance. And when I got home, I was just really focused on making him awesome, awesome chilli (his request) and totally forgot about the cake. Until, like, the next day or even day after. I don’t remember. I felt horrible! Thankfully we live close to a Safeway that makes a good half-carrot cake. It was just perfect for the two of us.

But today, I don’t need to make a cake. I don’t say bake because I don’t always bake them—some of the best cakes I’ve made have been ice cream cakes! Although that Hamburger Cake I made Ryan our first year together for his birthday was pretty sweet…literally, because it just looked like a burger, it wasn’t made of ground beef.

Ew, a ground beef cake…

But then again, I do like meat. Maybe I could make Leah another castle-shaped cake, but this year, it will be out of chicken! Yum!
 
 
I’ve been struggling with what to say now that I am back on familiar soil. In the last two days, I have not seen a single tiger, zero tall ships, dipped my foot in any lakes that are as blue as an ocean, or closed my eyes and raised my head as fresh raindrops fell from the sky, kissing my cheeks. All and all, it’s been a pretty uneventful few days.

I’ve been observant, though.

I’ve been watching people. Or rather noticing them. There are a lot of us, all with our own motivations for getting a point across.

I’ve encountered “the parent.” She wants to be happy for her child, she wants the best for them, but the only way she’s able to express that love is through anger.

There is “the lover.” He is lost without his other half; broken, if you will.

“The complainer” can’t keep her mouth shut—she always has an opinion, and it’s never a positive one. (And she has something to say about everything! Does it really matter that the logo on a box of Kraft Dinner used to be different? Does that really change the fact that the stuff is just over-processed noodle-shaped poison in a box, despite how tasty it still is?)

Then there’s my favourite so far—the “pace setter.” (I wanted to call him the pacemaker, but I know how that sounds—I’ve spent a lot of time in a senior’s home.) The pace setter knows what he wants, and he knows what he doesn’t want. He goes after what he deserves, he accomplishes his heart’s greatest desires, and he loves the whole time through.

And that’s who I want to be. Not an angry, complaining, can’t stand on my own two feet kind of gal, but someone who knows just what she wants and goes for it.

With or without a plan.

I was told the key to success in life is planning. And trust me, I love to plan. But sometimes, you just need to close your eyes, raise your head to falling rain, and take a step forward. (Preferably not into traffic of course, unless that was your plan. Hmm (insert *tsk, tsk* here).)

I know I will still complain about things (hopefully worthwhile things, and not trivial items like how awful a certain vampire book series is (seriously, just stop already! It doesn’t matter that you don’t like something, someone out there does, so stop professing to the world your pure hatred for all things Twilight and let them have it already!)), and I will of course continue to lose my temper (preferably only at haters—do you know how juvenile you sound? Oh, and also at winter. I really don’t like the cold, so expect some yelling come November/December.). Heck, I will even have days where it just seems impossible to move forward because I feel so lost without my other half. And if that means that I would rather stay in and spend the evening with the love of my life who I haven’t seen in a week than go to a concert that I never wanted to go to in the first place, well, deal with it. Because at the end of the day, like everyone else, I’m just me. Blind at times, angry at others, and always in love with something or someone (most of the time it’s my husband I’m in love with, but man, when I’m having a good hair day…look out mirrors!).

I’ll keep trying, keep searching, and keep making mistakes. But most of the time, I think I want to work on keeping my feet warm. Even in the summer, it’s very cold in my basement. But then, it was also cold in Chicago, so I can’t even say the basements are warmer across the border. They’re not. At least not that far North.

With this in mind, I could be the complainer. I could go on and on about my poor little feet, blame my parents for poor genes, yell at my husband for turning the heat off in May (really, who does that?), and cry over why people would insulate a basement with cement.

But I’d rather be the pace setter. I know I have cold feet; I’m going to go put socks on. Or better yet, cute slippers that make my short legs look long. Hoo boy, I know what’s coming—LOOK OUT, MIRRORS!
 
 
Today was a day for things to go wrong, but like Mike, I turned those lemons into lemonade--Hard Lemonade! (Not really, but I wrote an ad for it last week, it’s still kind of in my head.)

But in all seriousness, I am quite pleased with the way the day ended up turning out. Yes things went wrong, but I did what I could and I still had a great day.

Another one of the coupons or deals or whatever you’d like to call them from my Go Chicago Card is the Grey Line Hop On/Hop Off trolley—totally paid for. That’s just awesome. However, you can only buy tickets at one of two stops. One is close to my hotel (but they don’t open until 10am), the other is a good hike away (they open at 9am).

Naturally, I wanted to start my day as early as possible so I could fit in as much as possible. I didn’t want to wait around until 10—I wanted to take the first trolley at 9. So that meant a walk. No worries—I’ve been walking 30,000+ steps everyday for the last two days—what’s a little more? Plus, I decided to wear runners today, runners that have already been broken in.

So off I went.

I wanted to pick up a drink in the hotel first (they’re only $1.50, and way over-priced almost every other tourist location). Of course, the machines wouldn’t take my one dollar bills. No worries. That worked out for the best. It was during that time I realized I didn’t have my camera. Crap, that would have sucked!

So back up to the room. Grabbed my camera, everything’s good to go.

I began the long walk down to the Hilton Hotel. After all, that is apparently one of the places that they sell you tickets for my trolley ride—it’s the early location.

It’s pouring, mind you, but I’ve got my umbrella and I am going to enjoy this day.

And I do.

I walk and walk and walk. For over 40 minutes, I’m just enjoying the city. In fact, it even stops raining, the sun is coming out, I actually take off my sweater (to show off my already less red, more brown shoulders that could really use some definition—first thing I want to do when I get back home (after seeing my hubby, of course. And taking a nap. And maybe unpacking. And figuring out what to do about our car (It’s dead. It died the day before I left. I already miss him.).OK, so working out won’t be the first thing I do, but it’s in the top 10. Probably.)), and start snapping away with my camera.

The city is so beautiful! I can’t not share this place with others!

I get to the Hilton and can’t find the trolley stop anywhere. So I go inside. I barely get inside the door when I’m already greeted and assisted on my way. (Have I mentioned that everything seems to have a revolving door here? So I basically go all the way around—it’s just like a ride! (that I have to push myself...but still fun!)) The bellhop shows me where to catch it and is really friendly. I didn’t tip him. I don’t believe that you should tip everyone you ask a question to—that’s why people aren’t good for the sake of being good anymore, they’re kind because they expect something in return. Just call it me keeping people honest. And travelling on a budget.

So I go and wait by the stop. But there’s still no place for me to buy my ticket. I wait and wait. And still unsure, I look at the schedule and map I happened to pick up the day before (from another location I can’t buy a ticket). This isn’t the right stop. There are two stops with the name Hilton in it, and it’s waaaay back there—long passed! Crap. I can’t buy my ticket here. Which means I can’t ride the trolley. Super crap.

So what else to do? Easy—walk!

And so I do. I’m seeing amazing things, taking more pictures, and then I see it. The signs to Museum Campus. It’s just ahead. I’m so close.

Yay! I’ve made it at last.

I go into the Field Museum, buy my ticket (free with my Go Chicago Card), and head out to find the man-eaters from Tsavo.

And there they are. In all their glory. Kind of. They’re a bit smaller than I imagined, but still evil looking (just like the movie promised!). I turn my camera back on and...my battery is dead.

Hmm. What now?

I go to the gift store looking for a replacement. I don’t know what I’m thinking, considering it’s a rechargeable camera battery. So that’s it. I’ve come all this way, seeing the only thing I really wanted to see while I was here, and can’t even remember it. Not a chance I am going to miss this!

I leave and catch a cab back to the hotel. I’ll charge it quick (15 minutes, right?), then catch my trolley (the close location) and go back.

After 45 minutes, it’s finally ready.

I catch the trolley and have an amazing time, albeit freezing! It’s cold on the top of an open double-decker. I wish I had thought to bring mittens.

Nevertheless, my guide, Virgil, is really entertaining. I learn so much about the city, see so many neat things.

Finally, I get there.

Of course, I’m also right by the Shedd Aquarium. So why not do that first? Then I can spend as much time after as I want at the museum!

In I go, snapping more and more photos. I see the whales, dolphins, giant snapping turtles, and in under 90 minutes, I’m good to go.

Now across the way to the Field Museum!

Right away I am taking photo after photo. Only to have my battery die again.

Oops.

Well, at least I am prepared this time. I brought the charger along. And there just so happen to be outlets all over the place. Sweet.

So that’s what I do—charge my battery in like 6-minute increments about 4 or 5 times throughout the afternoon.

But it works. I get to see most of the museum, including an awesome section on bugs underground full of animatronics beetles and crayfish and ants. And of course the giant spider. Normally I wouldn’t be bothered by it, considering that was my first tattoo. But because it’s so huge and eating a maggot (also huge) and just all around hairy and creepy, I am feeling itchy all over. Still, it’s a great exhibit.

I’ve now seen an amazing section on ancient Egypt (that starts in a pyramid that you climb up, look down, and then take the stairs all the way to the basement level. It’s absolutely amazing! No wonder this is one of the most incredible museums in the world—it’s just plain old awesome!

They have a very impressive collection of dinosaur fossils, and a neat section on the South Pacific, including a specific section on New Zealand and the Maori. It’s perfect! Only I can’t get in—it’s closed.

But I still see as much of the museum I can in the time allotted. (which isn’t very much anymore.) It’s amazing. Probably one of my favourite things here so far. You really do need a whole day just to see that one site! It is so large, so extensive, and it even has a waaaaay over-priced McDonalds in the basement. (I looked, but I didn’t eat.)

And after buying an over-priced shot glass and a cool magnet, I made my way back to the bus stop and waited to be picked up again. And it just so happened to be by Virgil again (and his trusty driver, Andy). I think I really lucked out, too. Virgil is hilarious—and he’s named after an awesome wrestler, the Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase’s number two guy.

OK, he’s probably not named after that Virgil. But still, it’s nice to think. Here I am in the hometown of CM Punk, the straight-edge superstar, and now I get to hang out with Virgil. Plus, St. Louis isn’t far, so maybe I’ll get to see Randy Orton or little Evan Bourne. It’s a long shot, I know, but a girl can dream, right?

Next, it’s off to Winnipeg where Chris Jericho just might visit. I know, probably not. But give it time. They always come back home, don’t they?
 
 
According to Illinois State Law, I might just be a child predator.

Obviously I'm not! (how could you even think that?)

Yesterday I tried to go to the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier. My Go Chicago Card gave me free access, including a VIP chance to skip the line! (I went at 4pm, there was no line--I would have skipped it anyway.)

As I walked up to the two young men manning the pay desk, I suavely slipped them my card (OK, it was more like awkwardly; I'm still getting used to the thing!). The first guy asked me, "Are you meeting a family in there?"

What? Of course not--I have no family in Chicago, they're all at home and I miss them very much.

"No."

"Are you meeting friends in there? Friends with kids?"

"No."

"Then we're going to need a driver's licence or state I.D."

Uh oh. I don't have either on me. I rented a bike that morning and they needed either my credit card or licence. As if I'm going to give a stranger my credit card to hold on to, pu-leeze! So the bike shop has my licence. I'm not carrying my passport around with me.

Now what?

How about trying to explain to two unimpressed over-protective black men that you aren't a crazy with a thing for kids? I'm a mom! I love kids--just not that way; that's disgusting!

I said I might come back later. I didn't. They probably think I do like kids that  way. Even though I don't! Ew!

But other than that, I had a great day.

I started off walking to the pier and renting a bike. It was a Cruiser. Very fun, very hard to get used to. The handle bars are sooo wide! But you sit up really straight. So that means that when you aren't bent over, your tummy rolls don't fold into one another, making you look bigger than you are. I like that a lot.

So I rode the several miles to the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was wonderful. That's zoo number 6 off my list. (My goal is to see 15 different ones.) It was quite similar to Winnipeg, only we don't have rhinos. Or penguins. Or giraffes. Awesome!

But we do have way more camels than they have! So ha!

There were two ladies looking at the camels as I came up to them. One was going on how they are dromedary camels, etc. etc. Yes, you're so smart. Except you're not! They were Bactrian! You know how I know? They have 2 humps. Two humps that make the letter 'B'. Dromedarys (dromedaries?) have 1 which looks like a 'D'.

I wanted to tell them, rub it in the "smart" lady's face, but that just would have been mean.

Also, I figured they would eventually see 1 of the 6 signs around the pen that said "Bactrian Camels".

After the zoo, I rode my bike over to Wriggly field. So big, so fun. It was closed, being a Thursday afternoon and all, but still, really neat. I rode all the way around it, then headed back to Lakeshore Dr., named such because it is right along the lake.

From there I went to the John Hancock building (or for you Family Guy fans, the John Footpenis building). I rode the elevator up 94 floors and spent some time with David Schwimmer. He took me on an audio tour of the city. It was very entertaining. (There were two--one for adults, one for kids. I'm not sure it would help my case if I were to say to I took the kid's tour. It's just that they had games! And again, I was alone. You have your own headphones and device, like a really thick blackberry, that plays the tour depending on what side of the city (or lake) you are looking at. Again, so not a pervert!)

After that, I rode back down to the Pier, tried to get into the children's museum, tried to convince people I don't like kids that way, then used my Go Chicago card to buy a ticket (free of course!) on the Tall Ship Windy.

The Windy was a pirate themed ship that sailed around the lake for 75 minutes, while we were entertained with real pirate stories from the area. Our guide, Zachary Daiquiri, was amazing! I'm sure part of the reason he was living it up and so on his game was because of the 16 or so guests on the ship, only two were male.

Nevertheless, we were entertained, we were cold, we laughed and ooed and ahed. It was wonderful.

To start the trip, we had to lift up the sail. So six of us young ladies went and hoisted up the sail. A truly amazing experience, despite my freezing cold fingers and the rope burn. Still, really, really cool.

After the cruise, I went to Forever 21. Sort of. First I got lost and walked about 14 blocks past where I needed to go. Then, when I finally realized I wasn't getting to where I wanted to be, I turned around and had to walk them all back. Let's just say my feet were killing me.

They sort of still are.

Today I will be wearing runners. Can't wait!

Today I will also be taking a bus tour (thundershowers and all kind of taking over the city) and spending the day inside. Afterall, I got my tan yesterday. Sort of. Right now it's still kind of red and tender and burny, but it will brown over. Ideally without peeling.

So now it's off to museums and aquariums, and anyone else who wants to entertain me for the day. And probably cheesecake, since the Cheesecake Factory is so close (although they don't dress anything like Penny on The Big Bang Theory.). I just know that I may or may not try to check out the kid's museum .

I mean, I have already paid for it. With money obviously, not prison time!
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Wednesday started out well. I worked out, had a healthful breakfast (see Dr. Petty? I did learn the difference between healthy and healthful!), and prepared to face the day with my lovely dress and new shoes on.

But then I checked my Go Chicago Card.

I bought a 3-day pass. They only gave me a 1-day pass. Oops. So instead of just going straight to the Art Institute of Chicago, I would now have to walk several blocks in the opposite direction to (hopefully) have them change my card.

I left early and everything, which, of course, is too early. They weren't open. Yet. But in the meantime, I did chat with some nice ladies who are former Chicagoans and are now living in Florida and L.A. (not at the same time obviously).

The lady at the consierge desk was really helpful and even more apologetic. So now did I not only get a new pass, but I also got a "free gift." I love those. It's always nice when it's something you really need, like a set of knives. That was a great free gift. I can actually use them. But this time, it was luggage tags. But really nice ones. I mean, really nice ones. Red leather, fancy, pretty, just high class luggage tags. So I'm down with that. She gave me two. I only wanted my card! Sweet.

From there it was over to the Art Institute. You may recall Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The three of them go there, and they walk through this bright hall of sculptures holding hands with third graders. I spent more time looking for third graders to relive that moment than I did looking at the art. (Wow, that sounds really awful. I promise, I'm not that kind of person!) I didn't find any. But that was cool. I did find something better:

The "Dot Painting."

Cameron Fry stares at a painting for so long that he sees the dots it was made of. Not strokes, but dots. It was really big. I wanted to contemplate my life, but I was too excited pretending I was a teenage guy from the 80s with miserable parents. (Of couse, I really would have been like a 30-year-old Alan Ruck playing an 18-year-old. Just saying.)

It was fun.

There are a lot of cool pieces. Lots of penis photos and breast sculptures. I do have more maturity than a 14-year-old boy who just found his dad's hidden dirty magazines. I didn't hide in a corner and giggle. In fact, I was honoured--most of these women are, well, amply shaped--just like me! They have the belly, the over-sized rounded breasts that aren't as perky as an A-cup, the contemplative looks. Mind you, they don't have my black-coffee brown eyes, but even artists aren't perfect. (And also, most of them, OK all of them, are made out of a bright, white stone--dark, mysterious eyes would just look creepy.)

After enjoying the miniature rooms and coats of armor, pictures of Jesus being crucified and Picasso painting self-portaits, it was time to move on. Back to the hotel to get my portfolio and show it to the professionals at Critical Mass.

Or that was the plan.

My feet were hurting so much, I stopped in the room to have a sit (it was a quick one, but still). And also, wearing a dress (with no material between the thighs) and having, um, sculpture-worthy thighs, they rub together and man that burns!

But still, in pain, I headed out. Walked the long streets of Chicago in search of the agency.

I didn't find it.

So I came back. I changed into capris and went to Navy Pier. Awesome!

First stop, lunch. Second, a boat ride. Or rather a Lake Michigan sight-seeing cruise. It was lovely. And already paid for (thank you Go Chicago card!). I took a lot of photos of the skyline from the lake.

Then, back at the pier, I went on rides. Those wild-flying swings. (Apparently I don't have the stomach I used to. It just went warbly and round and round all over the place. And also I was dizzy getting off. It felt like I had Sea Legs. Even though I had been off the ship for some time.) And then the p, slow-moving Ferris Wheel. So nice. It's the kind that doesn't stop, you just get on and hope you make it. One revolution (almost 5 minutes!) and you're good to go.

With all that height, I was able to get more great photos.

Then I got a Haagen Dazs ice cream. I think it was free. It was a Dulce Split Sundae. Absolutely amazing. But it cost $8.50! Disgusting!

I thought I gave the guy a $10, but when I checked my wallet back at the hotel, I had change from a $20. Meaning, I made money. I think. I can't even check the receipt, because he said I paid $8.50. I thought it was $10.50. So if that's the case, free ice cream and $11.50. This is a pretty nice town to tourists. (I'm still deciding if I should go back and give them their money back--the only thing that's stopping me is if I actually did give him $20. I suppose I'll never know.)

But right now I am off to rent a bike. I'm headed to the zoo (on the sunny day--tomorrow it's supposed to rain) and possibly Wriggly Field.

Quite excited.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, $12,000 pants look just like $12 pants. They might even be a bit uglier. They just have a nicer name, if you have a thing for Italians, that is.

 
 
Alas, we have arrived.

The drive into the city was exciting. I felt just like Ferris, Sloan, and Cameron as we drove toward the skyscrapered skyline.

Except I wasn't in a Ferarri; I was on a bus.

And the windows weren't open.

And also there is a top on the bus.

But otherwise, it was exactly the same feeling!

We stopped yesterday in Cheesetown, USA. It was really nice. Full of cheese. But no stamps. That was disappointing. But I did get two wrestling magazines! (I can't believe I just spent that much on Wrestling magazines! I don't even spend that much on haircuts...) Those were enjoyed with a small paper bag of gas station popcorn and Cherry Coke Zero. So good!

I did a fair bit of walking yesterday, although not as much as I would have hoped. (but then I was still on a bus for most of the day, so I guess that sort of cancels it out.) 13,000+ steps. But then I did have a lot of chocolate.

While walking down the Magnificent Mile, we (the sweet Bonnie, the lovable Ashlee, and myself, the "not quite sure what adjective to put here" me) found the Hershey shop. Naturally, we went in and were immediately greeted by the most wonderful man who offered us free samples! (Note to single men: want to get a gal? Give her free chocolate! (but not so much that she gets fat--then you're pretty much a dead man))

After being overwhelmed by the enticing scent of chocolate, we went to the little cafe inside where I ordered a hugely delicious Reese Peanut Butter cookie with a Hershey chocolate milk. Mmm mmm mmm!

That was followed with book shopping, a non-Chicago deepdish pizza party (still disappointed about that! Now I will have to seek out pizza and eat it again! Oh, the horror!), more book shopping, a stop in H & M where I realized that maybe I shouldn't have eaten pizza if I ever want to wear anything from there, a walk down to Lake Michigan, window shopping at Gucci, and more chocolate. I met Melanie and Kenton (our two instructor supervisors) and Jennifer, a sweet and hilarious underage first year, and we walked over to the Ghiradelli Chocolate Company. Here, Kenton treated us to more treats--chocolate!

Walking into the little bistro, we were immediately greeted with a sample! Mmm, heaven. After which, Kenton and Jennifer each had a cup of what looked like melted fudge (more like half each--it was just so rich they couldn't eat, or rather drink it all), Melanie enjoyed a milkshake, and I had most of a Hot Fudge Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sundae.

Wow.

It was amazing. But filling. And rich. And peanut buttery. And delicious. And it's just too early to be thinking about that now as I enjoy a good ol' strawberry yogurt. Mmm, un-chocolatey.

So far I partly met my goal: I got some sleep last night! That's also the goal for tonight. Catch up. And the 10 minutes I got on the bus ride yesterday don't really count toward it.

Today I would like to go inside of Gucci (because I am wearing a dress, chances are good that I won't get kicked out!). And Armani. And Tiffanys. I know Cartier is around here somewhere too, I just haven't seen it yet. I probably won't buy anything at any of these stores--OK, I know I won't buy anything--but I can finally see what a pair of $12,000 pants look like! Very excited.

Now off to face the day. Get ready, feet.
 
 
It's just after six in the morning here in Minneapolis.

Back home in Winnipeg, it would be just after six in the morning, you know, with the timezone change and all.

Holy smack, that was a long bus ride yesterday. Typically when I go to the Twin Cities, I make a stop in Albertville and stop at a outlet store we don't have back home--like an Old Navy.

Yes, we have Old Navys, but we don't have them in Albertville!

That mid-way stop between Fargo and Minni is just enough to stretch my legs. I really needed that yesterday. I suppose today, when we head back on the road for the 6-hour trek (or so I've been told) to the Second City, I will have to make pretend trips to the bus restroom. For me, of course, it's the bus walkroom.

My goal today is to sleep.

I had little sleep Sunday night (we left Monday a.m.), no sleep on the bus, and even less last night.

I don't mind. Every girl needs to have late-night gigglefests and heart-to-heart talks about Nathan Fillion. It's just part of growing up.

This morning, I have welcomed the day with a glass of pink lemonade (holy sweet mother of sugar, Batman!) that's still warm (is that an American thing?), a banana, a yogurt, and two little blueberry muffins. 

Mmm. Delish.

I ended my day on a high note yesterday with a really good swim in the pool (I've missed doing my laps!) and a long walk-about through the Mall of America. I bought two pairs of shoes and some XBOX games.

All in all, money well spent.

The scary/negative/worst-part-of-the-trip-so-far thing, though?

Portion distortion!

I ordered a medium drink yesterday with lunch--I got a Big Gulp slurpee!

The sizes of food and their portions are insane. No wonder America has an obesity problem. So my other goal is to not gain weight. I just need to maintain--that's all. I can worry about losing weight when I get home. I weighed myself Sunday morning, so I know where I stand. And yes, I did spend about 30 billion hours too many on the bus yesterday, but I still got my 10,000 steps in (quite a lot more actually. Plus about 50 or so laps at the pool...but then it was a short pool...).

So goals for today: Sleep!
Goal for the week: Don't get fatter!

And on a side note, I'd like to send out a warm thank you to my new mini shampoo bottle--thanks for making my hair smell so nice!

But also, please hotels, stop using down feathers in your pillows. Super swollen eyes isn't very becoming!
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