LisaListed

The best things in life aren't things at all


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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Six Months In

After ALREADY/ONLY 6 months in Chicago, John and I have about 5,000 pictures together on these bridges. We have about 60,000 thousand photos of us in Chicago in general. And I have about 20,000 photos of Chicago’s landscape.  Yes, we have 85,000 photos in the last six months.

 

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On The Bridges

 

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Photo Cred: ME!

 

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Photo Cred: Google                                                                      Can you tell why I love these bridges so much!?!?

 

Since moving here, we have made a handful of friends to add to our bunch of forever kind of pals. (If you read TALL, DARK & HANDSOME (for a woman) – SEEKING Fellow Carb Lover & Outdoor Activist you will know just how gruesome it was to try to make friends.) We now have friends who we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with and we are also spending American Thanksgiving & Christmas with (and potentially NYE.) Yay!

Sign on our door for Canadian Thanksgiving

Sign on our door for Canadian Thanksgiving

 

Okay Lovelies, so in my VERY FIRST POST as LisaListed I promised that I would share the good, the bad and the ugly… so I’ll give you a little taste of some of the ugly. Keep in the back of your minds that we DO love it here, but I will keep my word and dip your toes into the ugly pool.

THE UGLY
It hasn’t all been rainbows and butterflies … there have also been some tornadoes and rats:

– There has only been ONE teary phone call to Mom and Dad. The loneliness and home sickness hit me for about 24 hours about 5 months in, but it subsided pretty quickly. Although I’m sure that son of a gun will strike again… probably in the dark and dreary winter.

– Crossing the street is a daily activity of playing chicken with cars, taxis, buses, etc… so far I have an undefeated record

– I was almost mugged once but thankfully had nothing on me.

– I’ve just gotten off the phone talking to three different health insurance companies trying to pay one stupid bill but each company that I talk to tells me that I need to call a different company… and getting ahold of an actual person to speak with is a God send! Until they tell you to call a different company… then I hate them as much as the computer I was just yelling at trying to say “claim” clearly enough so they could direct my call properly. And then you finally get a hold of a person who is as useless as a left toe… I’m still pissed if you can’t tell. Just take the money or let me keep it.

– It sometimes terrifies me knowing that we live in a city where terrorism is a true threat… to live in a city where people carry guns, where people get mugged, where the streets are lined with beggars. There are streets where I spin my wedding rings so that the diamonds face the inside of my hand and I am extra aware of who is walking beside and behind me. I’ve asked John on more than one occasion “was that a gunshot?” and there have been times when he can’t tell me with absolute certainty that it wasn’t…

– It’s scary to know that the newspaper here has an entire section under the Sports Headlines titled “Homicide Watch Chicago”.  And I’m mad at myself for becoming desensitized to reading about all the shootings that happen almost every single night… I have caught myself thinking “only 4 shots last night, not bad..” and I HATE that.

We still have frustrations here… I’m working up the courage to write a follow up post to The Not So Warm Welcome – We Blame You Justin Bieber. Maybe courage is the wrong word… I’m working up the energy to do so. And also the patience, I get so pissed off thinking about some of the things we’ve had to deal with (mainly healthcare. Grr..)  I had thought that most of the confusing paperwork and the hours dealing with the Government, the Embassy, DMV were a thing of a past… but they most certainly are not… we are already dealing with filing our taxes and I can tell already that this is going to be one expensive, confusing and frustrating situation. Although MAYBE in another six months I will finally be able to receive a drivers license – YAY!

 

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Proof

 

(That being said, we both feel very safe here. I’m working on my street cred every day (just kidding… kind of.) It is just the reality of living in a big city and we are both new to this.  In all seriousness,  if we didn’t LOVE it here then we wouldn’t still be here.)

Our journey has taught us more about different cultures. Has taught us about a variety of paperwork that I do not wish to pass onto my worst enemy. Our journey has allowed us to view life in a new light. I am a different person compared to who I was this time a year ago.

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Who I was a year ago is so different from who I am today. How ironic that a year ago today we moved into our “forever home” not having any idea that our “forever” in that home would hardly last six months…  I still cannot get over this. It blows my mind. John and I sometimes talk about that house and long over the amazing kitchen, main floor and backyard but we quickly remind ourselves of having to shovel the three car garage’s driveway twice a day. And that normally curbs the longing. We have adjusted from living in a four bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home to living in a one bedroom/one bathroom apartment pretty well  (although there were most definitely times were I wanted to pull my hair out due to lack of storage. Our vacuum cleaner’s home was in our hallway for the longest time, then it was moved to behind the couch, and then finally we managed to somehow make room for it in our bedroom closet.) Our storage locker is perfectly suited to hold a set of winter tires and hockey gear. So Canadian of us.

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When we first got our keys and my lovely Mom helping us do a thorough clean


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When we moved into our home, we had no idea that six months from then John and I would have two weeks to sell ALL of our furniture, donate everything else, and put whatever we could stuff into our Ford Edge to bring with us to a whole new country. I realized over Thanksgiving that I had even given our gravy boat away. We had celebrated Christmas  & John’s Dad’s birthday at our forever home last year and I’m so thankful to have created those memories. But a home is where your heart is, and our hearts have settled quite nicely into our rented itty bitty home in Chicago.

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Christmas on our back deck. Bonus about moving when we did – we never had to mow the lawn ONCE! That’s funny to me.

In some ways it feels like we have been in Chicago now for SO much longer and in other ways it feels like we are still so fresh here.  It’s weird. When I’m asked where I am from, I still say Canada. And then I have to say:

“no, not Toronto or Vancouver. Calgary.”

“No, Calgary is not close to Toronto, it’s about an hour east of the Canadian Rockies.”

Which I typically receive a blank face from and follow up with “North of Montana.” (When I’m asked where I grew up, then I say in a small town relatively close to the Alaskan border because can you even try to explain where the hell Peace River is!? Explaining where Peace River was to fellow Albertans was difficult enough – my go to response was always a heavy footed 5 hours north of Edmonton.)  I’ve been told that we’ve been here long enough to respond to that question with “Chicago” but no matter how long we live here, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to say that I’m not from Canada.

Whenever I see somebody wearing something with some sort of Canadian symbol, I get SOO excited. Embarrassingly excited. Within our first month or so of being here, I saw somebody in Millennium Park wearing a T-shirt with a Canadian flag on it… before I knew what I was doing I smiled at him with a big, goofy grin and followed that up with a ginormous over friendly wave. Like not just a cute little wave with my fingers… but my WHOLE ENTIRE ARM flailing in the air, like I was waving my hands in the air and I just didn’t care. I didn’t realize at the time that maybe he didn’t know that I was Canadian, and I had hoped that IF HE DID KNOW  he wouldn’t have given me that strange look.

Just this past weekend, John and I were walking admiring the fall foliage when I saw three guys coming towards us… one of them had on a hat with a curved red ‘C’… I had mistaken this symbol for the Montreal Canadiens symbol when in fact the guy was wearing a Chicago Bears hat. I couldn’t help myself from pointing at him (again, full arm exertion and index finger out loud and proud), smiling and much too loudly saying/shouting “CANADA” at him. We made eye contact and it was weird. I wouldn’t have blamed John if he had explained to the guy that he was taking me for a walk from my “home”. I’m doing my best to work on keeping my outbursts intact. I’m still learning how to cool my jets. Whenever I see a little piece of “home”, I have an overwhelming sense of emotion in my soul.

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Snapped this beauty at the Botanic Gardens


I love all of the Canadian stereotypes and it makes me feel strangely happy when a smart ass asks me to say “A-B-O-U-T” – sometimes I humour them and say “aboot” doing my best to not crack a smile. Most often times I pronounce it as “about” and they kind of get disappointed. Other times I have been asked where my accent is from and I proudly say that I’m Canadian. Then do the whole “no, not Toronto or Vancouver” dance all over again. I’ve been told that I pronounce “bag” and “pasta” funny . I quite enjoy hearing that I have an accent.  On the flip side, I often see tourists looking super confused and lost and I offer to help them… I also have a strange sense of pride in being a local.  Maybe I’ll just coin the term and call myself a Canadian Chicagoan – who likes ketchup on her “hawt dawg.” A Ketchup Eating Canadian Chicagoan – there ya have it, folks!

Since being in Chicago, our lives have changed drastically. Our lifestyles have changed immensely. And our relationship feels like we are dating ALL over again. A few weeks ago I had received a text from my friend which said that she had just saw John and I and that we had looked like best friends rather than an old married couple. I couldn’t imagine a better compliment to receive about our marriage than that.  Not that we were ever unhappy in Calgary or had a bad relationship, but our evenings and weekends were WAY different from what they are here. We are just so much happier now.

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One of the biggest truths I’ve learnt about big life changes is that some people won’t come with you. And that’s okay. Plenty of people miss their share of happiness – not because they never found it but because they didn’t stop to enjoy it.  This journey has forced us to stop and enjoy it. Life to me is about going on adventures. Being around good energy. Connecting with people. Learning new things. Growing. There are days where you will have to create your own sunshine – but you can’t enjoy the rainbow without a little rain, right?

My perspective and view on life are a trillion time different from the Lisa who had just moved into her forever home with my handsome husband and I’ve got to tell you this…

My life today is richer, fuller, HAPPIER, healthier and now has more depth.

My life today ensures that I am not just living the same year 40 times in a row and calling that a life.

I’ve learnt that happiness and success is about spending life in your own way. There is no “wrong way”. Live a life that feels right to you… nothing’s more fun than doing something that somebody said you can’t.

Each and every day now gets lived, so even though we still have frustrations and miss our loved ones back in Canada, I’m not sure there is a more beautiful thing to discover about life then to truly live each and every day. Stop focusing so much on living a perfect life that you forget to live.


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The Pretty

My lovely, I have learned that there will be times in your life when all of your instincts will tell you to do something. Something that will defeat logic, upset your plans and may seem crazy to others. When that happens, you do it. Listen to your instincts and ignore everything else. Ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore the complications and just go for it.

I’ve learnt that life isn’t necessarily about the happy ending… it’s about the story.

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Enjoy Life,
L

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MOVIE STARS FOR A DAY – Take 2

Shall we pick up from where we left off in Take 1? If you haven’t read it yet, I am sorely disappointed in you. And so is your Mother. So read it. Now. Thank you 🙂

MOVIE STARS FOR A DAY – Take 2 begins now… AND ACTION!!!

(Quiet on set, we are now rolling)

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I get super excited AGAIN and tell John:

“TOMORROW WE ARE GOING TO BE IN A MOVIE!!!!”

John’s reaction is NOT what I was expecting. I just ASSUMED that he would be just as excited as I was, but he sure put the ass in me (see what I did there?)

Not only is John not nearly excited as I am, he is not excited in the slightest. IN FACT, he has the nerve to be not very impressed WHATSOEVER! I am extremely confused as to his reaction and cannot understand why he isn’t jumping off the ceiling after I told him that we were going to be in a movie the next day! (Now to be clear, I realize that I potentially have made it sound as if John totally blew his fuse and berated me… but there was no abuse involved at all. Or yelling. Not even voice raising. God, he’s so patient…)

The funny thing is is that John just kind of looks at me with a look that says “What have you done?” … He knows me so well. RIGHT before we moved from Calgary I was only 1% away from submitting John’s photos to a modelling agency without telling him. I was certain that he would be scooped up right away and would be walking the runway with Giselle. I know what you’re thinking, why would I want my husband to walk the runway with GISELLE!? Because I trust him and my jealous days are behind me. How cool would it be to transform from mathematician to supermodel man?! Pretty cool right? I didn’t think he would feel the same way, which is why I didn’t tell him my trick up my sleeve. But I spilled the beans during our 3,500 hour road trip to Chicago.

Okay, okay.. back to the story of being movie stars. I tell him what I’ve done and how I submitted some photos of him, etc, etc… and next thing I know I get an email saying that we are booked to work TOMORROW! FOR A MOVIE! I try to convince him how awesome it all was, but he wasn’t biting. I told him that the email said it would only take 3-4 hours and then we could retire from our movie careers. He begrudginly agrees.

And that is when I tell him that the location is in Ukrainian Village (about a 3o min drive) for early morning the next day. This makes John even MORE unimpressed as he was VERY much looking forward to not waking up to an alarm clock on his Saturday morning. Fair enough, but I mean… how often does this opportunity come around!? I am able to convince him by reminding him that it is only 3-4 hours and that it is a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. Finally, because he loves me so and realizes that he doesn’t have an out… he is sold.

We have a celebratory drink and then we hit the sack to get some good shut eye before our big debut. I cannot sleep for the life of me because I had no idea what to wear. The ONLY info that we received was to wear “dressy casual” for a “baby viewing party”. That’s it. At this point we had no idea what the movie was even about or who was cast in it. I had no idea what the hell a baby viewing party even was. I still don’t. Finally, instead of sleeping I settled on 3 options to wear for the next day. When I woke up extra early the next day to do my hair and makeup, I pulled the options out. When John saw two of the options I had pulled he had said something along the lines of “I regret to inform you that clubbing attire and sparkly sequence dresses are not baby viewing material.” He was so right…. but the “dressy casual” part was playing with my mind… what would that be considered in Hollywood!? You tell me.. So I settled on my third option.

When we arrived on set, even John was a little bit excited at this point. We parked and saw the Brownstone where they were filming. It looked so neat. We were told to go into this crappy church to sign in. There were maybe 8 round tables with people scattered around them and I figured that these must be the other extras. We sat down at a table and tried to be friendly to a couple of men, but they weren’t all that interested in chit chat with us. I can take a hint and I’m happy not to participate in awkward small talk with people who don’t want to talk to me. One guy was even chewing tobacco and spitting in to a plastic cup. Gross.

John and I kept looking around at the awkwardness of the entire situation and I tried to avoid eye contact with John’s eyes that I’m sure were screaming “You dragged me out here for this?!” Without having the courage to look him in the eye, I muttered a quick “sorry”.

Eventually we all had to line up for Wardrobe to go over our looks, and thanks to John, we were the only ones who got the thumbs up from Wardrobe and didn’t have to change… I most definitely was not the only one who was confused as to what “dressy casual” for a baby party was… them other girls thought they were going clubbing as well!

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Proof he was a little bit excited too…

 

We sat back down and I figured we were going to be called any minute to do our scene so we could leave. We had already been there for two hours, so we only had to be there for another hour or so… two hours at most. Au contraire, mon frère! We sat around for hours… literally hours. Finally people started to talk to us and we quickly realized that we were the only newbies. These people were serious. Like legit serious. They were trying to make it to the big screens and were “pros” at being extras. Because I’m such an ass I had extreme difficulty in taking these people seriously as they told us the rules for being extras… we were NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE to make ANY eye contact with any of the actors/actresses. We were NOT TO SPEAK unless spoken to. And when you are told to jump, you dare not talk back to ask how high… you just DO AS TOLD! It all seemed so serious to me.. and ridiculous. I used to bump into the CEO from my company back home in the elevator and the hallway quite often.. and guess what? He looked me in the eye and would joke and make small talk with me. If the CEO wasn’t too good for me, surely these actors weren’t either. Does that make me conceited?

I did my absolute best to keep my mouth shut and not shoot out any sarcastic comments. One or two popped out, but I still consider that to be a success of biting my tongue. I could tell John was thinking the exact same thing that I was thinking… Why are these guys making such a fuss over this, and how do these people think that they are going to be making it big when all that we had to do was send over a few photos the day before to “get the job”… it’s not THAT hard. That probably makes me conceited too.

FINALLY we got called to go outside and to line up outside of the brownstone home. We literally stood in a line as if we were being picked for Red Rover teams in elementary school (why would that game ever get banned?! It was AWESOME! Makes ya tough!) So there we all are, a bunch of wannabe schmunks, standing in a line on a brisk, chilly morning without daring to make eye contact with anybody but the squirrels. Two people eventually came over to us schmucks, didn’t say a word, looked us all over as if they were the Marine Sergents and picked four people out of the probably 20 or so people there. Somehow, John and I were part of those picked. We were mostly excited to go inside as it was seriously really cold that morning… the email failed to mention to bring winter jackets.

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Where the “magic” happened. I know it looks warm, but it wasn’t. Blue skies being all deceiving..

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We were picked – whoop! whoop!

The four of us followed the cast crew inside like cattle. When we got inside the Brownstone, we saw two famous people. I will not tell names, but they are both well known for sitcom series. I was EXTRA excited to see the actress as she is from Canada, therefore I figured we would bond over our Canadianism. Nope. It was really weird inside… I’d much prefer to get caught in an elevator with my prior CEO than these people. All that kept running through my mind was that I better not sneeze or look at anyone. We were placed and John got to sit on a couch close to the actress. I was SO jealous that he was going to bond over Canadianism with her instead of me. I had to stand in a hall so that the actor could walk past me to the actress. THAT was the scene. And we were inside REPEATING the same effin thing for TWO HOURS STRAIGHT!!! I forgot to tell you that I get bored REALLY easily and after the first 30 times of redoing that scene I was ready to go home. But it wouldn’t be Hollywood if they didn’t redo it 3,333 more times just to get that perfect shot.

Finally, the extras were told to go back outside. I figured that it was time for John and I to go home now! YAY! I was so excited to be finished! When we got outside, ALL THOSE OTHER POOR SCHMUCKS were still waiting outside!!! They now had chairs, but I felt so awful for them!  We had figured that all the other extras were sent home… NOPE! They were still outside FREEZING!!!! Little did I know that we would be joining the other schmucks to freeze outside for the next few HOURS! Eventually, John overheard some work crew guy say that lunch would be in two hours. I figured that John and I would be gone by then so I started to google places we could venture to afterwards to reward John for being such a patient hubby and coming along with me. Except two hours had passed and we were still sitting outside….

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I was not the only bored one…

Then we heard “lunch will be at 5:00pm” … isn’t that dinner time? I figured that we would still be gone by then, so tried to calm my teeth from their constant chattering. Sadly, we were around for the 5:00pm lunch time and at that point, I figured that we could scarf down our food and then peace out. And truthfully, I was kind of excited for an elaborate actor’s lunch… the other extras bragged about how they always get fed so well, so my expectations were way too high when we were served dry, boiled chicken with microwaved broccoli. I was bored, cold, and sad that I dragged John along for this, and was sick of hearing all these wannabe actors talk about how they are going to update their IMDb accounts with this “extra work”. Um… you guys just sat outside for the whole entire day!?? But before the schmucks were allowed to eat their “lunch” everybody had to wait for everybody else to eat first and you still had to be on your best behaviour not to talk to them or look at them.

Over lunch, we started talking to people who told us that this was a normal day as an extra and that only certain kinds of people were cut out for this. I agreed. I tried to whisper my apologies to John for wasting a Saturday on this and I told him that we would just leave right after lunch. I went over to the “casting director” and told him that John and I had to leave as we were only told that the scene would take 3-4 hours and now we were having a lunch at 5pm. I told him that our puppy had to be let out because he’s been alone all day as we were not expecting the day to be this long. And cold. And boring. (I didn’t mention those last two points.)

The “casting director” looked at me with a look of utmost confusion. He was flabbergasted to say the least! Like sincerely flabbergasted. Apparently, when you have the “honor” to be an extra… people don’t just leave. They are thankful to have gotten the opportunity, etc and this was a first time he or the extras had ever heard of extras leaving before they were told they were able to. I was adamant to the guy that John and I had to leave by 6:30pm at the latest and sat back down, proud of myself for standing up for myself.

This is the best part and this is when I should now tell you that THIS WAS NOT EVEN A PAID JOB!! FOR ANY OF THE EXTRAS!!! WE WERE ALL VOLUNTEERING OUR TIME!

This pissed me off. Here I am being TOLD that I am not permitted to leave when I am volunteering my time? Holy Dina! I almost went all Diva like… surely they couldn’t kidnap us all! But I didn’t. I go back and tell this to John and I am adamant that we are leaving at 6:30pm NO MATTER WHAT!

And then.. at 6pm John gets called to do his couch-sitting scene again. I figure that it should only take about 30 minutes this time around as last time it look so long they couldn’t possibly need him for longer than 30 minutes. Like c’mon, a person is literally walking ten feet to another person… It could NOT take more than 30 mins. And then we would be able to leave… HURRAH! I assumed that only John had been called because I had pissed off the casting director and he was punishing me by not being in the scene with John. Fine by me! At 6:45p, John comes back inside… I go all Ikea Commercial on him and tell him to get in the car! I almost toss him the keys, tell him to run and then…. I hear my name being called. Shit. I am called back to do the scene.

I am at a crossroads and decide to just shut the hell up and participate. But I cannot get poor Ernie’s exploding bladder out of my mind. I figure if I hurry then it won’t take long. Nope… FINALLY at 8:30pm, they are done filming the scene where I stand and the actor walks by me.

During the whole day, the actress was stuck up, wouldn’t talk or look to anybody but the Director or the other Actor, and would suddenly need a drink before they were reading to say “ACTION!” And of course her drink of choice was not in the vicinity. I got over my earlier jealousy of John being so close to her and there were many times throughout the day that her and I were face to face. Literally. And she would not make eye contact with me! And trust me, I tried! It almost became a game to me. At one point, I thought that I would force her to make eye contact with me, but she simply looked at my forehead. Seriously?! What a stuck up son of a gun…. you’re disappointing another Canadian, lady! In a last ditch effort to bond over our Canadianism, I loudly whispered “Go Canada” at her. She gave me the most pathetic sound/laugh and still did not make eye contact with me. How rude.

That ticked me off, so as I was leaving the scene, I took out my phone and snapped an unflattering photo of her. I was really sneaky about it but the other extras who saw were horrified on my behalf. I didn’t care. It’s not like I had an IMDb account to update.

In my failed attempt to become an extra on Chicago Fire or Chicago PD, I somehow had managed to get my husband and I roles as extra in a friggin movie that probably won’t even make the big screens.

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Not sure how but John managed to capture this photo of the actor walking by me

As we drove home after our 12+hour day on set (for which we did not get a penny for… legally we wouldn’t have been able to accept it anyhow, but it’s all about principle, people!) with a bunch of wannabe actors who will also likely never be an extra on Chicago Fire or get their 15 minutes of fame. Am I judgemental? Yes! One girl was moving two LA in two weeks time to live her dreams… I asked her about her plans once she got there and she didn’t have ANY! NOTHING! I assumed she must have a sweet resume or something, but her clubbing’ dress didn’t seem to help her out there either. Another girl was still living with her parents and doing free extra work was her “job”. Call me judgemental, but that shit wouldn’t fly with my parents.

As we were leaving, I withheld myself “Peace Out, beyotches!”ing the extras. What that other extra had said to me was so very accurate… “there are only certain kinds of people cut out for this” – surely, I am NOT one of them… but if volunteering 12 hours of your day to stand outside in the cold is your cup of tea, drink up sister!

As a side note, John was incredibly sweet and never gave me a hard time about our shit day together. He even told me on the drive home that maybe one day it’ll be a cool story to tell. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have the most supportive and patient husband to put up with me and my shenanigans. Thanks for loving me.

To any extras or wannabe actors out there who I’ve offended, my apologies. At least you’ve gotten rid of two more potential competitors as I hope to never do that again… unless it’s for Chicago Fire or Chicago PD (call me)

Enjoy Life,
L


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MOVIE STARS FOR A DAY – Take 1

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Don’t you ever wonder what it would be like to be a movie star for just a day?

To live the lifestyle of the rich and famous?

To have people fawn all over you and want to be you?

To drive fancy cars, to live in big mansions with a cleaning lady and maybe even a pool boy (or girl)…

To get your hair and makeup done, to wear fancy pants clothing, to have perfectly manicured toes and fingers at all times?

To see yourself on a magazine cover and skim the pages of Vogue with an in depth interview of yourself…

Maybe you’ve even pulled your own Kim Kardashian in the hopes of making it big in LA… no judgement here! Okay, that was a big lie, plenty of judgement here!

JUST FOR ONE SINGLE DAY, isn’t that something you have at least WONDERED about at least at one point in your life?

I never had any burning desire to be an actress or a singer. I live in a realistic world and I’ve always known that I would be the worst actress… I can’t lie to save my life and those times I’ve tried to be “fake nice” I’m not fooling anybody. Nor can I sing… my second grade choir teacher suggested to me that perhaps singing was not my forte. Grade 2 teachers crushing dreams left, right and centre…

BUT the world has a funny sense of humour and … well… GUESS WHAT….!!!

A few weeks ago, John and I had the opportunity to be movie stars for a day!!!

How did this happen you ask? Well let me tell you all about it… and like any story, there’s no better way to start then the very beginning, right?! That’s what I thought. So here we go:

I grew up in a small, northern town where the closest Ikea was a 5+ hour drive south. We were pretty isolated to say the least…  It was so small town that everybody knew the mayor, and everybody knew the mayor’s secrets.

When I moved to Calgary, I thought that I was moving to the “big city.” It was in Calgary where I learned that mayors are typically viewed as a local “celebrity”… not just a typical person who you see at the drug store getting their prescriptions filled.  I grew up with the mayor’s son in my class and I didn’t realize until just this very moment that that would possibly be cool if I lived in a big city… but where I grew up, the kid was just another bratty kid who didn’t get any sort of special treatment. And nobody in my class could care less who his parents were. This is how small town I was/am.

When we moved to Chicago I realized that it’s pretty laughable to have once thought that Calgary was the “big city”. I realized quickly how small potatoes Calgary truly was in regards to “big cities”. When we moved here I was on the hunt for three things:

1) Find Oprah

2) Find Chicago Fire or Chicago PD while they were filming

3) Become friends with Melissa McCarthy from Mike & Molly

Since moving to Chicago, John, Ernie and I have gone on so many adventures together around the city. On one of our adventures, I saw green papers taped to every light post…

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When I read the green papers I almost hyperventilated I was so excited! I took a photo of the paper so that I could remember EXACTLY when and where Chicago Fire was being filmed! I thought that I had hit the jackpot… that I was being let in on some confidential super secret that only secret services know about.  And yes, you can bet your bottom dollar that when the day finally arrived for Chicago Fire to be filmed in that certain location Ernie and I went for one hell of a stroll!

I tried to play it cool as bet as I could when I eventually got there. Ernie and I tried to be very casual, pretend like we lived in the area… we walked up and down different streets and sidewalks so that we didn’t appear TOO suspicious or desperate. Mostly desperate. But remember that I’m a terrible actress and I wasn’t able to hid my desperato for too long.. which is how I was able to snap a few photos!! They aren’t the best… but c’mon, I was trying to play it cool!

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This guy was by himself at one point and Ernie and I “HAD” to walk past him… and he totally smiled at us!  I smiled back with a quick n’ cool nod to the guy doing my best to hide my sheer excitement. I also tried to hide the extra pep in my step! It took everything in my will power to hold me back from doing a full on happy dance. I’ve been told that I’m easily impressed.

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They finished filming and I noticed a sign that said “Extras Here”. That got me thinking …  how hard could it possibly be to be an extra!? Probably pretty tough… but I thought that that would be pretty frickin’ cool! I thought that being an extra would be difficult and would mean that I made it in some strange way that I never attempted to make. I got myself super excited (super excited is probably a very large understatement) and convinced myself that I would be an extra for Chicago Fire one day! I figured being an extra was still pretty awesome and that I could add it to my bucket list solely to check it off. Who wouldn’t want to live the glitzy life for just a day!?

As my dear husband knows, when I start to research something… I cannot help but do a full on research paper that includes hours upon hours of due diligence. I can’t help it… it’s in my blood. I could never understand the research that my Dad would put into buying a car… but now I TOTALLY get it and I’m the exact same way. Props to my Dad as he had to break more of a sweat than I did as I’ve been fortunate enough to use Google for most of my searches. I did “some” research as to how to become an extra for Chicago Fire and/or Chicago PD because I secretly hoped that Sophia Bush and I could maybe become friends or something. I still have that hope. After doing some research, I filled in some questionnaires for a company that casts Extras for Chicago Fire and I sent along some photos. I figured that this was actually pretty awesome and that I should sign John up too! What would be the chances that we would actually get to be extras anyhow? Slim pickings, right??? I figured that the pickings were in fact so slim, that it was not necessary to inform John that I had signed him up. Oops.

It was a Friday evening, and John had just gotten home from work at almost 9:00pm. He had an especially long week at work, and I could tell that he was absolutely exhausted. He was beat. He was looking forward to waking up on his own terms the next morning and I couldn’t blame the poor guy. So while John was still in his shirt and tie after coming home from a long ass week, I checked my email…

Low & behold this was sitting in my inbox…:


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“This email is to inform you that you are booked to work as an extra on Saturday, September 13th for the movie (I won’t say the title)”

ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!??!

I instantly get super excited, John has no idea what the hell is wrong with me, and I excitedly tell him to “CHECK YOUR EMAIL, CHECK YOUR EMAIL!!!”  I can tell the last thing that he wants to do is to read another email, but begrudgingly he checks his email.

And guess what pops up on his screen? You probably guessed wrong…

He had an Inbox of 0!

I know, right? I felt awful.

I quickly fired off a reply to my email and asked if this was for just myself, or for John, or for both as I realized that I did not provide an email address for John when I signed him up. I get an immediate reply saying that it is for both of us!!!!

I get super excited AGAIN and tell John:

“TOMORROW WE ARE GOING TO BE IN A MOVIE!!!!”

———-

Stay tuned, my lovely, for Part 2 where I tell you about our day as Movie Stars!! (aka extras… but let’s not get into semantics)

Enjoy Life,
L

Read Take 2 here… 


9 Comments

Why Ordering A Steak and Finding A Doctor Are More Similar Than You Thought

It happens to everyone… There’s always that one restaurant that gets you…

You’re on vacation in another country and everybody you run into keeps on recommending this one restaurant. They keep telling you amazing the food is. How they use local ingredients. How you just have to go.. just have to try it…

So you cave under the pressure and temptation. You dazzle yourself up and you are already salivating on your way to the restaurant. You walk through the front door, and you’re mesmerized by the ambiance. The smell, the décor, the people… you are so excited to join these people and share in this experience. You patiently wait for your server to seat you. They bring you water, light the candle on the table, and give you the menu.

Finally the menu! You tried looking online to see what the menu would look like, but this restaurant keeps their menu a secret from online lurkers. You smile at your dining companion and share a moment of excitement, and you slowly open up the menu that houses all the great food choices.

At first, you think that your eyes are playing tricks on you but then suddenly you realize that the menu is in a whole other language. You have no idea what these words say or what these symbols mean. When the server comes back, you try to ask questions about the menu while pretending that you can read gibberish, but the server doesn’t offer any tips onto what the menu actually says.

You decide you’ll just order a steak. That’s simple, surely a steak is on the menu somewhere. So you the waiter comes back and you try to order a steak… The server then asks you what kind of steak you would like:

1) Gibberish

2) Gibberish

3) Gibberish

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You settle on Option 2 because you like the twinkle in the server’s eye when they explained it in a foreing language you didn’t understand. They then asked how you would like it cooked, so you choose “medium”. The server then goes on a tangent that the chef recommends Option 2 cooked as rare because of “more gibberish….”. So you agree to whatever the chef says.

The server then asks you if you would like to add a whole whack load of side dishes onto your steak, none of which you recognize. You cannot recall what any of the names sounded like so you just say, “just the steak is fine, thank you.” The server thinks you are strange.

The server then asks which sauce you would prefer… again… all you want is the steak, cooked medium, and maybe some steamed vegetables and hell, even a potato too, but you just tell the server to choose a sauce since the chef likely has a suggestion anyhow.

Finally, the ordeal is over and you are left stressed out, panicked, have no idea how much this steak is going to cost you, and you just want to go home. But first with a pit stop to grab a burger.

One of the main questions that our fellow Canadian pals ask us is if we have healthcare. Short answer is ‘yes’, and then they start to ask me questions from there. Short answer to those questions is typically “I don’t know”.

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Similar to ordering a steak in the above mentioned restaurant, trying to find a new family doctor is just as confusing and stressful. If not more. Back home in Canada, you can just call any Doctor’s office and ask if any doctors are accepting new patients. If they are, there you have a new doctor. If they aren’t, you continue calling until you find one. Easy as pie.

But here, it is so much more complicated. There are all of these code words, there are special networks that the Doctor has to fall under, you have to research to see if the family doctor meets cost and efficiency quality, they ask you tens of thousands of questions about your health care plan to which none of the answers are on your card. They talk in acronyms and a secret language that a typical Canadian would not understand.

Never in my entire life have I ever had to worry about how much seeing a Doctor would cost… it’s a strange thought to get used to!

“One sinusitis please”
“That’ll be $500.”

 

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It’s really weird to get used to. And no, I’m not complaining about having to pay. It’s just odd to someone who never used to ever have the thought cross their mind. And please hold all arguments about who has a better health care system, because frankly I’m not choosing a side, nor am I in any situation what so ever to select a side. I’m sure they are both wonderful in their own ways, and both have faults in their own ways.

I called a few Doctor Offices to try and find us a new family doctor. After each phone call, I felt absolutely silly and ridiculous. I tried to be prepared for questions they would ask, but you can’t be prepared for everything that you don’t know. I felt completely defeated in trying to find us a new doctor. It’s like trying to order a steak in a restaurant where nobody else speaks English.

We also have found out that there are three different kinds of places to go depending on what your situation is. I won’t bore you with the proper names of the places, nor does it really matter, so to simplify things they shall be numbered.

Place 1 is where you go if you have a paper cut

Place 2 is where you go if you have a broken bone

Place 3 is where you go if you have been shot

We have been warned that you better not go to Place 2 if really your condition justifies a visit to Place 1. You will be charged an extra premium. You have to know which Place to go to depending on your situation… that is weird. Nor is there a magic list that tells you where your condition falls, these are just things that people know. So if you have a really terrible sprain, do you go to Place 1 or to Place 2? What happens if you go to Place 1 but they tell you that you really should be at Place 2? Turns out that if you are badly injured and/or ill, there is a magic number that you call and they will tell you where to go… but they only tell you one place that you must go to and if you go somewhere else, then pigs might has well fly. But who the hell wants to call some 1-800 number only to talk to some computer who then commands them to go somewhere (when God knows if it is even within a 10 mile radius) when all you want is a gosh darn doctor.  So much to consider. I grew up in a small town where practically everything justified a trip to the E.R… because that was really the only option. So this is a whole new world to people like me…

At the end of the day, I’m still trying to figure out how to order a Family Doctor. If only it was as simple as placing an order for “one family doctor” please. Maybe one day I’ll understand all of these acronyms and secret codes, and if that day ever does come I look forward to it. Until then, I’ll have a medium rare ribeye, with a side of sautéed mushrooms, and a super loaded baked potato.

Actually, my lovely,… hold off on the potato, I’m not sure if I should go to Place 1 or Place 2 for high cholesterol.

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** Note: I wrote this back in July and since then we have actually gone to the Doctor, Dentist and Eye Doctor… will spill the goods soon

Enjoy Life,

L


25 Comments

Puphood: Parenting Lessons Learnt From A Puppy

 

 

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Obligatory “first day at home” photo of Ernie

 

Our little boy is turning ONE! Cue the “where has the time gone?” and “time sure goes by fast” and “I remember when we brought him home the very first day” stuff that nobody cares about except the parents and potential grandparents.

 

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Very first time we met him at the breeder’s when we were only going to “meet the breeders” and ended up falling in love with this Patootie

 

 

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His 1st car ride and his first toy which he quickly destroyed

 

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“What do you mean this is my new home?”

 

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Our first family photo Photo Cred goes to Stacy

 

Now I’ll have to answer the “how old is he” questions using years rather than weeks or months! Is this when we can no longer call him a puppy? Or use the excuse that he’s just a puppy when he pees from excitement? Mr. Ernie may “only” be a fur baby, but to us he is a part of our family. People scoff that he is “just a dog”, but to us he is the third member of our family. We love the lil monkey so much! It’s okay to call a dog a monkey, right?

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This has always been his favourite way to lie

 

 

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Over the past year Ernie has taught us so much about parenthood. Or as I like to call it, Puphood. I’ve been told to “wait until you have a real baby, then you’ll see the light” but maybe I like living in this well light world! How can one scoff at loving an animal too much anyhow? Ernie has opened our eyes to what it’ll be like to have human babies one day and we’ve learnt a few things along the way:

– Watching them play. I have watched Ernie play with other dogs for  literally hours at a time and throughout those hours I have a warm, glowing heart and a big, goofy love struck grin slapped on my face. I LOVE watching him have so much fun with his little buddies and it brings me joy to see him so happy! When John is able to join Ernie and I for our long walks and playtime at the dog park, we sit on the bench holding hands, completely love struck, and watch our boy run laps, chase others dogs, wrestle with other dogs and have the time of his life.

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Playing with his cousin, Freddy

 

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– When they are sick, you feel sick. When little Ernie is sick I feel absolutely helpless. I would do anything, pay anything to make him feel better or to know what is wrong with my cutie patootie. It’s heartbreaking to see your little baby in any sort of pain or suffering and have no idea how to make them feel better. When something is wrong with your baby, you just KNOW! Who knew that instincts were actually legit!? (Except, it seems that my instincts always lead me to believe that poor Ernie is dying of cancer every time he is sick, but the Vet tells me that those instincts require some fine tuning.) 

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Heart. Wrenching.

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He loves me too

 

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– You always sleep with one eye open. Any sort of peep, whine, simper or bark that Ernie makes during the night I am well aware of. I am always on edge in case something is wrong. If he stopped breathing in the middle of the night, I would be giving him CPR within 5 seconds of his last breath. Ernie has woken up twice in the middle of the night from throwing up in his little beddy-weddy (yes, I baby talk to my puppy wuppy) and each time this has happened, I have sprung out of bed like the ninja that I am. I sit with him, rub his back, talk soothingly to him and hold his hair back (or wait.. that last one is what my Mom did for me when I was sick) until he is done. After clean up, I bundle him into his blanket and sleep with him on the couch in the living room with a bucket close by. He appreciates being comforted afterwards, he tells me with his eyes.  As I type this, I realize that I may sound like a crazy person, but I would probably do it for John too.

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– They “talk” back! Yes, I’m well aware that my dog doesn’t actually talk to me… how would you know if he did anyway!? No matter how much training the little fluff ball goes through, sometimes if he doesn’t want to “come” when called HE WILL NOT COME! He sits and stares at you, almost as if he is taunting you. He knows that he is supposed to come, but he won’t. Because he doesn’t feeeeeel like it. He sits in his air of stubbornness as if to say “I don’t need to listen to you, you’re not my REAL Mom” and then I say “you don’t mean that” and then he sits there taunting me as if to say “maybe YOU should come to ME” and I try to reason with him. I do my best to stay cool, calm and collected trying to show that I am the Alpha, but we both know that I’m about to lose control.

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Don’t give me those cute n’ sassy eyes

 

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You come to me!

– Everyone has parenting advice. Now, don’t get me wrong I DO appreciate useful and helpful advice from people who actually know what they are talking about. It’s the people who I hate getting advice from as their dog is humping my leg whilst (fun fact: “whilst” is a word that I love to overuse as it doesn’t get as much love as it really should) getting treats fed to him.   They’ll ask me if I’ve considered puppy classes for Ernie as he is running in circles not hurting anybody while their giant ass, stinky, drooling dog has got a grip on my leg as if my leg were Marilyn Monroe woken from her grave. Or they tell me, not casually mention which dog food they prefer, but they will adamantly TELL me what is the best dog food in the whole wide world. They will go on and on about how the generic brand from Walmart is the cat’s meow (clever, right?!) as if they are the dietician for all dogs that ever once lived. And if I even HINT that I prefer a different brand ((I’m an Acana lover, thank you very much..(love me a Canadian brand with wholesome ingredients) (not a plug, I swear) (these brackets within brackets get me every time… so much fun, give it a whirl one of these days… just not at work))  all hell breaks lose.

 

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Acana & Bracket Lover

– Potty behaviour. Never in my life did I ever expect to discuss in great detail quantity, quality or timing of fecal matter with my husband. Since we live in an apartment, we can’t simply let the dog out in our backyard. Because of this we are with him every single time he does number one or two and it seems that every time John or myself come back inside with Ernie we document to the other in great detail about his disposals. And then I worry if his bathroom “duties” are trending differently. When you are married to a mathematician, you cannot help but pick up on trend analysis… in fact, I’m trending to become 25% more analytical this time next year. (I can just imagine the horror in John’s eyes that I just wrote “25% more analytical” and that is partially why I included that last part… I’m nice like that.)

 

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Outside they go!

 

– When they learn something new. When Ernie learnt how to “shake a paw” or do any of his other “tricks” (there aren’t many, so don’t bother asking what his tricks are… and don’t bother bragging to me that your dog plays dead, good for him) both John and I felt an overwhelming rush of PROUDNESS (not sure if that word fits here or not, so I thought it would feel more welcome if I used caps) for Ernie. At times it was incredibly frustrating trying to teach him a trick or we thought we should just give up, but then he would go ahead and surprise us. A sense of pride would sweep over us and we would be so proud of how smart and intelligent he was when he would shake his itty bitty paw at us.

 

 

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What do you mean “shake a paw!?”

 

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Show me again, please

– Prejudice. Ernie has really opened up my eyes to holding back judgement on others. When I take Ernie for a walk on the downtown streets of Chicago, we see so many different kinds of characters. There were people who I would see who I would instictively walk a little bit quicker past, but then they would smile at Ernie and reach down to pet him. And I would feel like the biggest ass there ever once was. Not too boast or anything like that, but Ernie gets stopped on the street multiple times on a daily basis  by ALL kinds of people wanting to love on him, pet him, hold him, talk baby talk to him, take his photo, etc. Ernie treats every single person the same, regardless of their race, ethnicity, clothing, general appearance, wealth factor, etc. If you show Ernie some love, he’s got plenty to give right back regardless if you are a struggling homeless person who has seen better days or if you are a top exec business man or woman. I’m doing my best to be more like Ernie in that sense.

 

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Loves every single person and dog! Photo Cred again goes to Stacy 🙂

 

 

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Ernie gets told he looks like a Teddy Bear every single day. He loves it.

 

– Unconditional love. No matter how many times he is “bad” during the day, at the end of the night when he is snuggling with John and I, we forget about the chewed up baseboards. Each night, no matter what happens during the day, our hearts blow up with love for our little boy. I don’t know how it happens, but I love this little boy more and more every single day. Even if he talks back to me, is extra sassy and stubborn, eats the garbage as an afternoon snack, at the end of each day we always love him more.

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Busted.

 

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“Sorry I was bad earlier”

Although some think I’m completely bonkers for loving my doggy-woggy so much (among other reasons), can you really fault a love so strong? While John is busting his tail feather at work, Ernie and I spend almost every waking moment together. You could call him my companion, my exercise buddy, my lunch partner, my therapist, my travel buddy, my best bud, my furbaby or you could even just call him a dog.. it doesn’t matter what “name” or “title” you put on him because he is all of those and so much more to us.

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Our little munchkin is turning one today and even though he has no friggin clue what that means, that is as good as a reason as any to party like it’s 1999.

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Whad’ya mean, it’s my birthday!?

So, Lovelies, crank up your Sugar Ray (a hit band from the 90’s in case you seriously don’t know) and please help us wish Ernest Theodore a very Happy 1st Birthday!!!

 

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Happy Birthday, Pal 🙂

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Most recent family photo xo

Enjoy Life,
L


6 Comments

Is Human Nature Good Or Bad?

It’s funny how things stick with you no matter what has happened. It’s funny that in the moment, you have no idea that the moment will resonate with you for likely the rest of your life. It’s funny how a memory is made… so much happens to us but you never know which moments will make a lasting impression on you. It’s amazing how no matter how much time has passed or how insignificant a moment may have seemed at the time, you still feel a connection to a certain moment.

Some of you may understand what I am talking about, where as others may be wondering how much Bailey’s I’ve added to my coffee this morning but bear with me… maybe this will resonate with you too. If not, add some more Bailey’s to your own coffee and give me a another read.

When I was in high school, my English teacher had us read “Lord Of The Flies” by William Golding. Long story short (pun very much intended): A group of young boys are stranded alone on an island. Left to fend for themselves, they must take on the responsibilities of adults, even if they are not ready to do so. Inevitably, two factions form: one group (lead by Ralph) want to build shelters and collect food, whereas Jack’s group would rather have fun and hunt; illustrating the difference between civilization and savagery.

We were assigned to write an essay based on the novel as to whether we believed human nature was good or bad. I remember when I first started writing my essay, I had started my tangent about how human nature was good because OBVIOUSLY it just was. As I started getting deeper and deeper in to my essay, I started to second guess my initial assumption that human nature was in fact good. That was a scary thought to me at the time. My whole life I believed that human nature was good, kind, positive, etc, etc, but as I delved deeper and deeper and starting thinking from an outsider’s perspective I realized that perhaps I was being prejudice and naïve. It was too scary to say that human nature was purely not good either.

I turned in my essay and my final conclusion was that human nature was neutral. There are tendencies to both sides. There is good and there is bad. I don’t remember what my mark was on my essay, but even since I started thinking about human nature I have not been able to stop. Over a decade has passed by and I still find myself thinking about that very same question and still struggling to find an answer. In the most mundane everyday tasks, I find myself wondering if human nature is in fact good or bad. And then I wonder if my teacher realizes that she has had me thinking deeply about this very same question for over a decade now without coming to a sound conclusion.

Obviously there is bad in this world. Turn on the news and you are bombarded with the “evil” in this world. It’s really sad to think that it is almost 2015 and there is still a very real war going on in the world today. Living in North America, we assume that we are the “good guys” and those other guys are the “bad guys” but there are always two sides to a pancake no matter how flat you make it (thank you, Dr. Phil). We are all well aware of all the bad going on in the world today and that makes me think that human nature isn’t 100% good. Human all have selfish tendencies, it’s all about “survival of the fittest.” This creates greed, which leads to lying, stealing, fear, cowardness, bullying and violence. We have tried to make the Earth a better place for ourselves and to evolve. In doing so, we have eradicated a countless amount of species as well as destroyed the ecosystem. We are destroying earth with our litter and carelessness, but we sweep all of that under the figurative carpet (collecting more litter). You have to stop and think for a second as to why all of this technology is even necessary in the world? Is it really necessary or are we just continuing to spoil the Earth? We have the chance to lessen and decrease the emissions that we create, but we don’t use it. We have the chance to help the less fortunate, but then why are there so many people in this world who don’t even have clean water to drink from while we are washing our luxury cars with the same water we take for granted every single day? Do our egos make us bad? Why were there ever slaves in the first place? And why are there still slaves today? Because our egos make us feel macho and superior? Are we born bad or does society create this side of us? And that, my lovely, is the very same question I have been debating with myself for the past 10+ years.

On the other hand, of course human nature is good. Otherwise the world would be in even bigger shambles than it already is, right? How could one ever possibly consider Mother Theresa to be evil? There is a lot of good in the world, but it doesn’t get broadcasted as much as the negativity in the world. Not convinced? Well then let me share with you something that happened to me not too long ago on the very same day…:

I had just finished a class at my gym and I was so excited for it to be over, I hustled my butt to the exit door ASAP. When I got to the door, I saw that during my class a monsoon had developed. Am I exaggerating? Probably. But it was as if Heaven were making every living creature do the ALS ice bucket challenge whether or not they wanted to.

The lady at the front desk of the gym smiled at me and told me that I should do an extra workout while the storm passed… That was the last thing I wanted to do. So I headed outside sans-umbrella in my workout clothes and went to my happy spot…. Trader Joe’s. TJ’s is only about 2 blocks away, so I figured I could hustle over there without getting absolutely drenched. Well, I was dead wrong. But there is something that happened to me during those two blocks that I need to share with you…

As I was waiting at the longest red light ever waiting to cross the street, a man saw me standing there getting hammered by the rain in my tank top. He started to walk over and before I knew it, he smiled at me and simply placed his umbrella over my head until I was able to cross the street. I was so appreciative and I thanked him endlessly and he just smiled back. The only thing that he said to me was “If that man on the other side of the street talks to you, just be nice to him.” I said “of course” and walked the rest of the way to Trader Joe’s with a smile on my face. A complete stranger, without saying a single word, saw me getting completely soaked and went out of his way to offer me his shelter. He sacrfiiced his own dryness and warmth just to offer me shelter for a minute or two. Would you do that for a complete stranger? I hope that I would, but I’m not entirely 100% sure that I actually would.  He did this without telling me his name, without trying to sell me anything… he did this purely out of the goodness of his own heart. And the only thing he wanted in return was for me to be nice to somebody else on the other side on the street. Sadly, I’m not sure I would ever recognize the man who offered me his umbrella if I were to see him again, but he sure provided me a lot more than a minute of dryness.

Once I got inside TJ’s, the woman who always offers juice samples looked at me in complete horror. To be frank, I looked like a wet dog. Probably smelt like one too since I was coming from the gym. She went on about “you poor thing, you got stuck out there, you must be freezing… etc, etc, etc” she went on for a solid two minutes while I smiled at her and told her that I was fine. She didn’t believe me and aggressively (in a nice aggressive for of way) offered me her sweater. She had literally offered me the shirt off of her back! I didn’t know that people actually did that! I was able to convince her that I was okay and thank her… her parting words to me were “if you change your mind, I’ll still be here”.

That was only in a matter of five minutes. In a part of the city that can be described as “sketchy”. It’s not totally unsafe, but it’s not exactly a place where I would go by myself in the evening.

I see acts of kindness in this city every single day… I’ve watched teenagers (both girls and boys) go out of their way to give money to the homeless, I’ve watched complete strangers help blind people across the street, I’ve seen people go into a fast food chain and give people on the street corner the lunch that they had just purchased. Those kinds of stories don’t get told as much as they should.

I wonder what would happen if stories like this were told more often. Would the world change if we were to spread these stories more often? Rather than focus solely on what’s wrong with the world today, realize that there’s a lot right in the world too. A lot of goodness. But people don’t like to hear about these sort of stories… the kind of stories that create buzz don’t generally make you view the world in a positive light. And I think that needs to change. I think that the world would be a better place if people told their stories more often about nice things that others did for them.  I think that the world would be a better place if we told positive stories just as much as negative stories. If the media shared what good also happened in the world that day. I think the world would be a better place if we simply shared with others what somebody did for them that day, NOT tell others how shitty society is or brag about what nice thing they did for somebody else. I do nice things for people too, but I absolutely despise it when people brag about the nice things that they did for somebody else. When you brag about something nice you did for somebody else, that gives the act a giant dose of selfishness and there is already enough of that in the world. Imagine if people focused more on what nice things OTHER people did rather than tell anybody who will listen about what nice thing they did for someone.

My lovely, living here has taught me to ease up on premeditated judgements of others. To literally walk a mile in other’s shoes. To be more open minded that your way is not necessarily the best way. I encourage you to tell your friend about the complete stranger who held open the door for you rather than bitch to your friend about the guy in front of you taking “forever” to place his order. I encourage you to write a positive review for every negative review that you write. I encourage you to help spread the goodness of every day life. Small acts of kindness can go a long way in making the world a more loving and friendly place. Be kinder to strangers, put your damn ego aside and say “hello” and “thank you”. If you owe somebody an apology, suck it up and give them a sincere apology. Be accountable for your actions and don’t succumb to the excuses that you create for yourself.

At the end of the day, I still can’t make a decision as to whether or not human nature is inherently good or bad. Regardless of what the true, genuine answer is to that question, I’m not sure it necessarily matters. At the end of the day, no matter what race you are, how much money you have, how you were raised, my belief is that at the core of each and every single one of us we all want the same thing. We are all on the mystery pursuit of happiness, health and love. I believe that if we all put aside our egos, our greed and our selfishness, this is something that can absolutely be attained by all one day. We can all make the world a better place, but it’s up to us to do so. The real question is, are we willing to do so?

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Final thought: don’t bother sending me hate letters accusing me of being a bible thumper or a tree hugger… rather than waste your energy and time doing that, give this another read and go buy a stranger a coffee.


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Why You Gotta Be So Coooold??

Damn Canada – you are one cold son of a gun! Although, you are gorgeous and wonderful, ya da ya da ya da… you are chillllly!!!!

People of Chicago are STILL talking about how shitty and cold their winter was last year, but damn… I don’t think they really know what a true Canadian winter is all about. (Sorry, I mean aboot…)

When John and I left Canada the morning of April 22nd, 2014 to drive to the US we had to shovel our driveway the morning we left… and it snowed during our drive for the first day. When we arrived into the US a mere three days later, we were so hot we were desperately digging through all of our stuff looking for our shorts. We went from winter gear to summer gear in 72 hours!! John and I were in heaven and ever since our very first day here, them Chicagoans have continued to bitch and complain about how cold their winter was. It’s September, I don’t care about last winter anymore…. enjoy the summer you have right now, thank you very much.

On September 3rd, 2014 (two days ago), it was 85 degrees in Chicago and felt like probably 120 degrees with the humidity. A very summery day still. In fact, I took this picture to prove how beautiful it truly was:

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Yet, on the very same day in Canada… this is what it looked like:

 

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Exaggeration? Absolutely not.

Was I 10000000% (honey, don’t even bother correcting me on this percentage) surprised when I saw this photo? Not really. I believe my exact thoughts were “typical.”

Was the rest of Canada surprised when they realized that it was snowing on September 3rd? I would bet not.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that anybody in Canada LIKES it! We just know it’s a part of life and get over it. We kiss summer time goodbye and get mildly depressed when we realize it won’t be summer time again for probably another 8 or 9 months.

I guess they don’t call it The Great White North for nothing right?

So, as Chicagoans are complaining to me about how terrible last winter was and how we hardly got a summer… I do my best to firmly bite my tongue because this is the temperature back home in Calgary (Fahrenheit and Celsius are both included because I’m thoughtful like that):

 

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And in comparison… This is what Chicago’s temperature was at the exact same time as the temps above:

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Those pictures were taken September 4th, 2014 at 7:00am. At 7:00am this morning, it already felt like 31 degrees… compared to Calgary’s 3 degrees. So, Chicagoans, I beg of you to please stop complaining to the pale and pasty Canadians about the temperature here!!!

Chicago actually has four seasons and we are so excited to actually experience a real fall and spring! What amI talking about you ask? You think that Canada has four seasons too? Au contraire… In Alberta the joke is that the four seasons are:

1) Almost Winter
2) Winter
3) Still Winter
4) Road Construction

Now, I apologize to anybody if I came across as a little “frosty” but it’s solely because this is the first time in my life that it is September and I could give two craps about where my toque is! And frankly, I am super excited about that! Now excuse me, lovely, as I go decide on which summer dress to wear today… Life’s tough, I know 🙂

Enjoy Life,
L

 


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Homemade Friggin’ Graham Crackers!!! S’MORE ME!

I’m in a baking mooooooood today!!!! My pup, Ernie, is sick today so being the overprotective PupMama that I am, I am sticking around the house today to keep an eye on the poor guy. That’s the only excuse that I need to put on my baking pants!

With the four brown bananas in our fruit bowl, I already whipped up some banana muffins. My Mom was famous for her muffins and I try to replicate hers the best that I can. She was known as the Muffin Lady by a few of my friends growing up… every Saturday morning she would whip up muffins and the banana ones were always my favourite (her blueberry ones are a very close second…) The muffins are so moist, soft and delicious…. every bite you get a mouthful of banana muffin, chocolate chips, coconut and raisins! Does it get better than that!?

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I’m also slow cooking a teriyaki, pineapple chicken dish that I am winging and plan to serve it with steamed broccoli, rice and a salad to start. On a Wednesday night! We rarely ate like this mid-week in Canada! John offered to BBQ some big, fat juicy pork chops that are currently marinating, but I have an inkling he’ll get home late tonight and the last thing he’ll want to do is go up to the rooftop to BBQ.

Now… to the good stuff! Last time I was at the grocery store, I checked the ingredients in graham crackers and was disgusted. I don’t remember why I picked up the box in the first place, but that’s beside the point. Why does there need to be so much garbage in crackers!? These are the ingredients in the store bought ones:

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Is it really necessary to have hydrogenated cottonseed oil, soybean oil, calcium phosphate, artificial flavour, and soy lecithin in simple crackers? I didn’t think so… so I made my own. With real ingredients that you have in your cupboards! I googled a few recipes and this is the recipe that I blended together:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup brown sugar (Trader Joe’s brown sugar is my absolute fave)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (mine was quite “heaping”)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup water
  • A pour of molasses… I probably used 1/3 cup but I like the taste of molasses
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Mix together flours, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Add butter chunks and mix until the mixture has turned to coarse crumbs… a couple minutes or so. Should be pretty crumbly at this point
  2. Add in honey, water and as much molasses as your heart desires. Mix until all blended in together and forms easily into a ball of dough.photo 1
  3. Roll dough between two large pieces of parchment until ¼ inch thick. I used a pizza cutter to cut into rectangles but you can use cookie cutters too. Place crackers on a parchment lined baking sheet. Re-roll remaining dough until all of dough is used up.photo 2
  4. Bake at 350ºF for 15-20 minutes, until slightly darkened around edges (they will harden as they cool). Remove crackers to a wire wrack to cool.
  5. Devour as s’mores, spread pb or chocolate on top, or just eat them plain jane!

 

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Hope you enjoy them as much or “s’more” than we are!

Enjoy Lovelies!!!
L





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Two Years of Love, Fun, Shenanigans and The Best Kinds of Insanity – Happy Anniversary, Love!

My husband and I are already celebrating our second wedding anniversary!! In many ways it feels as if we have been married for decades already (in a good way) and in other ways it feels as if our wedding was just last week! I remember how excited I was when I was able to sign my new last name or whenever somebody would call me “Mrs” … still to this day I get excited to see my new name.

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When I think back to what our life was like only two years ago and compare to what it is like now, I cannot believe that it has only been two years. In two years, John and I have sure done a lot… this is a little snapshot of our past two years:

– Married – YAY!
– Mini honeymoon in Banff (Rocky Mountains)
– Real honeymoon in Dominican Republic
– I changed jobs
– I got two of three of my professional designations
– John was always studying for his professional exams … every single morning, evening, weekend, even during Christmas and all the other holidays
– We went to Calgary Flames hockey games through work
– We were VIP for Cirque de Soleil through work
– We went to funerals
– We went to weddings
– We’ve been there for when our wonderful friends had babies
– We helped clean up the devastation from the massive Calgary flood
– We went to Whitefish, Montana
– We went to Palm Springs, California
– We went hiking and snowshoeing with friends in the mountains
– We went to Chicago to celebrate our first wedding anniversary
– We went to Dallas, Texas for John’s ceremony to officially receive his professional designation
– We got stuck in Dallas for 4 extra days due to a blizzard that only happens once every decade
– We each travelled through Canada and the US for our jobs
– We dealt with health issues
– We sold our perfect townhouse
– We bought our forever home
– We got a puppy
– John received an amazing opportunity to move to Chicago
– We sold our forever home
– We moved to another country
– And moving to Chicago has been a whole other adventure all to it’s self.. and we love every single second of it!

We’ve done so much together already and I cannot wait to see what the next two years has in store for us… and the next twenty years and so forth! There isn’t anybody else in this crazy life who I would want to experience this with other than my sweetheart himself. He is the most encouraging, supportive, loving, kind, caring, loyal and thoughtful man and I have to pinch myself that I am so lucky to call him my husband.

Here are a few photos of our crazy life these past two years for you to peruse:


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And here is our most recent photo together, absolutely loving life in Chicago:

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Although our “5 year plan” hasn’t worked out so far (the plan is out the garbage now after detouring so far from it in only two years), we have learnt that the best things in life don’t necessarily need a plan. We’ve learnt to roll with the punches, to be open minded, to explore new opportunities. We are both firm believers that things happen for a reason and things always turn out the way that they are supposed to… regardless of what your “plan” is. Life is funner when you stop trying to predict the future and just live in the moment… so wish that, my lovely, I am off to go Cheers my incredible husband and share a bottle of Bubbly  to celebrate our amazing two years and to cheers for many more memories ahead of us that we have yet to make!

Happy Anniversary, Baby, there’s nobody else in this world who I would want by my side!
I love you xo

Enjoy Life,
L


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A Year Ago Today… And NOW!

A year ago today, John and I came to Chicago to celebrate our first wedding anniversary together. We had five days off and we narrowed our options down to Mexico, Vegas, California and Chicago. John had been to Chicago before to visit his parents when his Dad had worked here for 3 years and he always told that I would love it. So, because of an awesome Flight Centre package deal we saw Chicago was the chicken dinner! Thank you, Flight Centre!

I loved Chicago from the very first night that we had spent here. We didn’t get to our hotel until about 9:00pm but there was no way that we were just going to have a quiet night and shut it down early. So we spruced ourselves up and went exploring! That night we discovered our favourite place to go, which to this day is still our favourite place to go! The nachos, $4 beer, ambiance and location won us over and they keep winning us over again, again and again!

 

 

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THEN – at the Bean

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NOW – at the Bean

During our five days here, we did a lot of exploring, eating, drinking, Cubs baseballing and shopping! A perfect way to spend your first anniversary together, wouldn’t you agree!? We took a gazillion pictures and we dreamed out loud about moving to Chicago. We were just playing make belief but we dreamed about working together again in the same building downtown, buying a cool loft condo smack downtown and living the urban life, going to all these trendy spots during the week because we were so cool, etc, etc. But then we would play devil’s advocate and go on about how much we would miss our family, friends, our friends kids, our Calgary life which was safe, simple and the norm. We went on about how if we did live the Chicago life how John would have to work 2,000 hours per week and how we would never have time to live the cool lifestyle… but we never stopped talking about our make belief life even after we got home.

We would watch Mike & Molly and whenever we would see the skyline on the intro to the show we would sigh a dramatic sigh snuggled up together in our home in the ‘burbs. We would go on and on and on about how green the grass must be on the other side, and then we would come back to reality and give our heads a shake. There was no way we were moving to Chicago. Ever. We loved our Calgary home and the chances of us ever leaving Calgary because of John’s job were slimmer than a Slim Jim.

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Until…. there were some hypothetical knocks on John’s door bribing him to bring his family to the US. We ho’d and hummed and thought “what the hell” let’s see what could happen…. turns out moving to Chicago a couple months later is exactly what not only could happen, but did happen! Like every big decision, there has been highs and there has been lows, but we wouldn’t have done a damn thing differently (well that’s not true… we would never have sold our townhouse and bought our “forever home” only to sell it 6 months later… but aside from that.)

A year ago today, we were in Chicago as tourists dreaming about John and I working together in the Aon building. Living in a loft condo downtown. Doing trendy things and going to trendy places. Wearing weird clothes that I would never wear in Calgary. A year ago today, we stayed in the Hard Rock Hotel and ate frozen yogurt in River North. We shopped in the Loop. We went sight seeing. A year ago today, we had suitcases to take us back to our reality back in Canada….

 

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Fro Yo

Today, we are living smack downtown Chicago. We are not working together in the same building, but the job situation is even better than what either of us could have predicted. We do trendy things and go to trendy places. I’ve never heard of a “wine flight” until we moved here. I wear weird clothes like jumpsuits and scarfs in my hair. A year ago I was sad that we didn’t get to end up seeing Buckingham Fountain. Buckingham Fountain is now our neighbour and Ernie and I walk by it every single day. Today we are living a life that we dreamed about a year ago… except our reality is far greater than our dream!

 

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My First Wine Flight

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My Second Favorite Neighbour

Lovely, it’s funny how life can change so much in a year… it’s funny in the best way possible. I can’t wait to see what life has in store for the next year ahead!

Enjoy Life,
L