LisaListed

The best things in life aren't things at all


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10 Things I Miss About Calgary

Yesterday I posted “Ten Reasons We Love Life In Chicago” – but I didn’t want Calgary to get jealous! There are definitely some things that we do miss about Calgary, after all I did compose a love letter for Calgary about a year ago which I will post soon.

Ironically, as I type this… it is SNOWING in Alberta… like real snow. It’s May 6th, 2015. Guess which picture is taken today in Calgary and which picture is taken today in Chicago:

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I wish this was a joke, but it’s just a way of life. No one is surprised by this, yet nobody welcomes it either.

Okay, let’s get on with it shall we? Obviously, I miss our friends and family…  let’s collectively “awww” over that for a minute…   I also really miss our accent! Yeah, I know you are reading this and think to yourself “I don’t have an accent…” But we really truly do! I get SO excited to hear it when I speak to most of you… people from Northern Alberta have it the most. “Eh”, “sorry”, “about”, etc are all very true to the stereotype… and I’m darn tooting’ proud of it! Alrighty then, let’s move on to what I miss about the city itself, shall we:

1) Second Cup – The Pumpkin Spice Latte and Gingerbread Latte seriously makes me homesick during the winter time. There is no comparison. Suck it, Starbucks… their PSL is more like StarSucks.

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2) Waves Cafe – The caramel frappes in the summertime are in a whole new playing field then all of the other frappes in the world. Yeah, I said it… I totally go whappe for their frappe!

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3) The Memorial Trail Stairs – Those stairs are a lung burner, a thigh burner, a butt burner… but I LOVE them so much for these reasons! I cannot find a hill, let alone stairs, in Chicago to improvise on. I loved the commadery and respect of other stair lovers as well. “Started from the bottom….”

 

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4) Glamorgan Bakery – Cheese Buns. And donuts. And sausage rolls. And cream puffs. And cheese buns again. Hint: microwave the cheese bun for 10 seconds and your life will forever be changed into a ooey gooey cheesy goodness!

 

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5) Rat Free since ’93 – don’t quote me on the year, it just has a nice ring to it. Rats.. gross. Dear Americans reading this… yes, it’s true!

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6) Plus Fifteens – Best winter invention ever. Working downtown and walking through the secret passages from building to building deserves a Nobel Prize. Especially during the 8 month winters. I didn’t realize these were not in every city until I moved away… they are an absolute necessity in life.

 

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7) Jelly Modern Doughnuts – After one bite of their donuts, you’ll be willing to spend more than $3 per donut.

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8) Eau Claire Park and Stephen Ave – I used to love going to Eau Claire during my lunch hour to break up the day or else sitting on a patio on Stephen Ave drinking my day away

 

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9) Floating Down The Bow River – Can you miss something even if you’ve never done it? I was always dying to do this… One day!

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10) The Mountains – Have to give it to them… those mountains sure keep ya wanting to come back for more. We got engaged in the mountains, had our mini honeymoon in the mountains… so many special moments happen in the majesty of the Rockies!

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YES PLEASE!

 

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Calgary, you are where I became my true self. Where I met the man of my dreams. The place where I realized that life didn’t have to have limitations… That I decided settling wasn’t an option for me. Calgary, you were only my home for 5 years, but you will always hold a place near n’ dear to me.
I miss you, ya cold son of a gun!
And Albertans, I miss you too… Cheers ya tough troopers!
P.S. you definitely have the Canadian accent in case you are still in denial 🙂

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Enjoy Life,

Lisa

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10 Reasons We Love Life in Chicago

We have been in Chicago for just over a year now and in some ways it seems like we just got here yesterday, but in other ways it feels like this has been our home for a while. The year has been a whirlwind adventure, but I wouldn’t trade this experience we’ve been able to share for the world. Although I now know way too much about Visa’s then I would ever care to know, there is nobody else in this world who I would rather be on this journey with then my amazing husband, John.

 

 

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I’ve tried to make a video about our one year in Chicago, but apparently I am not tech savvy enough to do so. Therefore, out of frustration, I have put together a list of why we love this gosh darn city so much!

Top Reasons We Love Life in Chicago:

1) Unhealthy Food! From popcorn, to deep dish pizza, to italian beef, to hot dogs… it’s paradise! Cue “paradise” song from Bachelor in Paradise…  When we first moved here, I ate like we were on vacation every weekend… turns out, my jeans weren’t stretching with the rest of me… Jerks. 

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2) The Weather! People LOVE to bitch about the weather, and although it is now May 2015 people are still complaining about the winter in 2014. One thing I’ve learnt about winters since living in Chicago… Canadians and Chicagoans measure snow very differently. We didn’t need our “real” winter gear this year at all and it is so wonderful living somewhere where there are actual Springs and Falls!

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3) The Beaches! Who knew a ginormous city could boast so many beautiful beaches off of one lake!? I love the beaches here.

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4) The architecture… also referred to as Chi-tecture. It’s something that photos don’t do justice, looking at all of the incredibly diverse buildings in an experience in itself.

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5) Free parking! Or if you have to pay for parking, it’s extremely cheap compared to what we are used to. Free parking seemed to only exist in Monopoly in Calgary…

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6) Flowers & Art! Throughout the city, there are beautiful flowers planted. And not just pansies… but hydrangeas, etc! Chicago prides itself on having amazing art sculptures, paintings, etc and you can’t help but be impressed by how beautiful the city is!

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7) Diversity: Until living in Chicago, I always lived where the people were predominantly white. I love learning about other cultures, influences, food, etc. If you choose ten random people on the street, there will be a handful of different races in that group. I love it. I was talking to my friend the other day and had mentioned Bridget Jones Diary, and he had no idea what I was talking about! That blew my mind! Things like that make me realize how ignorant I can be to just assume that my normal is somebody else’s normal. 

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8) Restaurants/Pubs/Breweries/Wineries/Cafes … need I go on?

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Cheers!

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9) Baseball games! I will never ever, ever, EVER get sick of watching a Cubs or Sox game. The whole city comes ALIVE and they are so proud of ALL of their sports teams.

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10) SO MUCH TO DO ALL THE TIME!!!! If somebody ever says that they are bored in Chicago, then the city itself is not the problem…. From Second City, to Blues music, to Jazz music, kayaking on the river, paddle boarding on the lake, to visiting the Bean, or going skating in front of the Bean in the winter! There are so many free events that happen all throughout the summer and even the winter. There are tons of museums, including the Art Institute that just won Best Museum In The World award, an incredible planetarium, the Field Museum, etc. There are AMAZING parks, the lake side goes on for miles, and miles, and miles, and it NEVER gets old. There are free fireworks over the lake every single Wednesday and Saturday night throughout the summer. There are parades, which can be really annoying when you live on the same street as the darn parade. And the shopping is absolutely ridiculous too.

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The city is just so alive and people who live here have such pride in living in Chicago. It’s amazing! There is a city of Chicago Flag, and you will see that bad boy almost anywhere you go.. from clothing, to bumper cars, to flailing in the wind, dog collars, etc…

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There is a huge sense of pride in living in such an amazing city, and there should be. We are proud to be part of the city as well.

I could go on and on about how amazing Chicago is and how much we love it, but I’ll never do the city the justice it deserves. It’s a city that needs to be experienced. So, my lovely, put Chicago on your bucket list if you’ve never been here before… the only thing you’ll regret is not coming to Chicago sooner!

Enjoy Life,
L


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A Year Ago I Quit My Job To Move To Another Country With My Husband

Holy crap – One year ago today, we gave our two week’s notice to our jobs and told our friends/family that we were packing up and moving to the US in two weeks. That was one of the toughest things in the world to keep a secret, as we weren’t sure until the very night before that we would actually be moving.

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We had to list our home and keep that as a secret from our friends, which sucked because if friends wanted to come over we would have to come up with some sort of excuse/dirty lie so that they wouldn’t see the For Sale sign in our lawn. 

We had to figure out if we should sell our house, then we had to actually sell our house when that decision was made (thanks Dad). We had to sell all of our belongings (I was an effin Kijijii ninja), figure out what the shit we were getting into, try and manage the thousands of pounds of paperwork that was coming our way that we didn’t understand, figure out if we should keep our car, if we should hire movers or if we should rent a U-Haul and drive a trillion miles, keep a documented spreadsheet with every single item listed with a value that we had to present to the always so friendly peeps at the border, cross our fingers that our Visas would actually get issued. We were homeless and jobless for a few days and it was utterly terrifying…. yet thrilling!

Everything fell into place for us literally seconds before manic panick mode struck… John’s offer was unconditional on the Friday, our house closed at 11:58pm on the Monday, and we quit our jobs the very next morning so that we could LEAVE the country in 15 days to make John’s start date. Ideally we would have given more than two weeks notice, but we didn’t have that luxury. Our renewed passports arrived the day before we left the country. We both had a sense of relief knowing that things would get a little less hectic after we arrived in Chicago, but little did we know that things were going to get ten fold more hectic once we actually got here. The hectic-ness was just getting rollin’…

I look back at the excitement, fear, and courage on the day where we were able to spill our secret and by golly goodness, I am so damn proud of us for taking one hellllll of a risk. Over the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking chances… about how it’s really just about overcoming your fears. I’ve come to realize that every time you take a big risk in your life, no matter how it ends up, you’re always glad you took it.

Enjoy Life,
L


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Our Adventures Five Years In

Five years ago I met the man of my dreams. In fact, as time has passed, I realized that he has surpassed the man of my dreams on so many levels. Is it possible to feel as if we just met yesterday yet also feel like I’ve known this person my whole life?

When John and I met, we both felt all sorts of strong emotions that neither of us had ever felt before. After all this time, those strong emotions have gone away… but only to become fiercer, more intense and stronger than ever before!

When we first met, we were young. I was finishing up university and John was three weeks into his career. We happened to work for sister companies in the same building downtown and only three flours separated us. Since I was still finishing up school, I only worked part time but the days that I did work we would each leave our houses at the perfect time so that we could meet before work at our special spot and walk the few blocks together hand in hand. We would meet for lunch at least once a week and our coworkers would both make comments to us about how cute we were when they saw us together. We still meet each other for lunch once a week, even if that meant that a 12 block walk or a train ride just to see each other for twenty minutes and for that midday smooch. Since day one, we’ve never been able to get enough of each other and I’m so happy to say that we still can’t.

We have gone through so many life changes together and I can’t imagine what our life will look like when we get to a decade. Over the past five years, between the two of us there have been five moves, five jobs, three vehicles, two countries and a puppy! There have been ups and downs, positives and negatives but the one thing that has never wavered has been the love and respect for one another.

Although our looks and hair have changed a bit over the past five years, the way we feel about each other surely has not. We are celebrating this weekend by doing five things that we have never done before… today we kickstarted the “events” by going some place new for lunch.

Sticking with the “five” theme, here are five photos for each year that we’ve been together to highlight some of our favourite memories together:

2010:

Our First Road Trip

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Our First Calgary Stampede Together

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A fancy dinner and evening at the Calgary Tower celebrating our 6th month anniversary

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On “our bench” we discovered our on our first trip to the mountains together. This is where John eventually proposed. EEE!
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At Heritage Park in the fall time. Being our silly, sassy selves.

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2011:

Pre St. Patty’s Day Green Beer Chugging

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A helicopter ride in the mountains to celebrate one year together

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Christmas at my parents new home

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My University Graduation

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BBQ’inq and drinking beer in our backyard

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2012:

We had a stay-cation in Calgary and went to Calway park for the day (amusement park for kids)

 

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We “I do’d”

 

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We mini-honeymooned in the Mountains. This is canoeing on Lake Louise

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An autumn stroll in a park close to our home

 

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2013:

Watching the sunset together in Whitefish, Montana

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Enjoying our honeymoon in Punta Cana!

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Just hiking n’ stuff in the mountains

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ERNIE!!!

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A trip to Edmonton

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We ran stairs here ohhhh too many times to count. The view was always worth it at the top.

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Just a typical Saturday…

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Walking in the provincial park right next to what was supposed to be our Forever Home

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Celebrating Christmas in said Forever Home

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2014:

Hiking in Palm Springs and keeping an extra cautious eye out for snakes

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Leaving our Calgary life behind for our Chicago life

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Drinking beer at our favourite place

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One of many “selfies” of us on my favourite bridges in Chicago

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Deeeeeeeeeeep Dishhhhh

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We’ve been to 2 Cubs games and 2 Sox games… we liked the hot dogs equally

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What our summer Saturdays typically look like now

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2015  has already been an amazing start and we are SO excited to see what else we can get up to in the next five years! And fifteen years! And fifty years!

Thank you, Lovely, for taking the time to read and celebrate with us! Cheers to you!

I love you, Honey, and I wouldn’t want to go on this adventure with anyone but YOU!

Enjoy,
L


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Emotional Hoarders Unite

My name is Lisa and I am an Emotional Hoarder.  Not to be confused with a “can’t throw away soup cans, have spiders crawling on my toilet, used kleenex collection” kind of hoarder. I’m more of a “saver of things that have some sort of emotional value” kind of hoarder. Actually I’m about 100 points away from being any kind of self proclaimed hoarder… the “H” word is a hard word to accept. Maybe denial is the first sign? Bear with me if I turn to anger next…

I tend to give things “feelings”.

I fought back tears when I sold my first car because I was certain that Henry Honda thought that I was abandoning him and I made myself believe that he (yes, “he” as in my car”) thought that he wasn’t good enough for me. Even after a few months (and right now as I’m typing this) I wonder how Henry is doing… if his new owners are kind to him and taking good enough care of him. I can’t bring myself to wonder if he’s actually in one of those auto graveyards…

From as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been this way. I didn’t really realize that this was an issue until my husband pointed out that I was giving my car feelings. Uh, didn’t everybody do that?! Hearing that this kind of behaviour was not normal was news to me!

I feel guilty about throwing something out that somebody has given me. Even if I don’t like it or if I never use it.

I have a chest that my Dad gave to me when I was probably ten years old that it full of cards, letters, poems, etc. given to me from people. Words that touched me. Even though I rarely go back and read them, and even though the top of the chest is completely busted, I will never get rid of the chest itself or the sentimental words within the chest. I will also probably never get the top of the chest repaired because I fear that the repair man will break it even more. That’s totally logical, right?

Within that chest there are letters from my deceased Grandma, she used to be my pen pal, and when she died I read all the letters and cards that I had kept from her over the years. If that’s not comfort, than I don’t know what is! Also within that chest is a letter from my cousin, Nicole. Nicole is about 15 years older than me and although she lived in an entirely different part of the country from me and we hardly ever saw her, I still idolized her and looked up to her growing up. I thought that she was THE coolest! Nicole went missing in Syria on March 31st, 2007 and although her Mom and Brother have done absolutely everything possible to try and find out what happened to her, sadly, it’s still an unsolved mystery. I have a letter from her from when I was about 12 where she had traced her hand for me… again, that was so comforting to me.

I have every single nice card or letter from my parents. I have every single card that we received from our engagement and our weddings. I have every single card that was ever given to me that was out of the ordinary… such as the card I received out of the blue with a gift card to Magnolia Bakery “just because” or the card I received my “Lovely” necklace with that was also “just because”. I have kept all the flower “cards” that I have received from John, especially the “just because” ones.  And if the card is homemade, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll keep that too.

For every single email account I’ve ever had, I’ve ALWAYS struggled to delete any non-junk related email. It’s pathetic really. I am pretty sure that I still have emails from when I was in grade 8. Don’t judge.

When we moved to Chicago, as I’ve mentioned before, we started brand new – selling most of our belongings in Canada. I had no problems getting rid of our furniture and such, but getting rid of things that have sentimental value to me is nearly impossible for me to do. Our friends in Calgary are keeping boxes of John’s and my childhood memories which the very thought of having to get rid of brings a lump to my throat. John had a dinosaur hat that was given to him that probably didn’t cost any more than ten dollars, but because it had sentimental value it made the cut and was brought to Chicago. Sadly, throughout the moving process it got crushed and ruined, and it was so tough for me to throw away. RIP Dino Hat

I’m also a hoarder of things that I can consider to be special and/or fancy. Case in point, I never actually wear my Lululemon clothing to work out in because I want to “save” them and make them last longer. I have clothes in my closet that I hardly ever wear because I want to “save” them for something special. I always save gift cards too because I know that once I use it, it’s gone. I will go to the store that the gift card is for and pay for the item out of pocket because I want to save my gift card. John forces me to use them, which I’m begrudgingly grateful he does. He also forces me to spend the full amount on the gift card because he knows that if there is money leftover, I will “save” it.

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I save fancy bath products that I receive to the point of where I hardly ever use them because I am “saving” them. Until recently I saved my first pair of boots that I had ever bought, but I finally managed to bring myself to get rid of them when they started to make me bleed… but even then I made excuses for them and tried to convince John that I would just wear thicker socks with them. I have saved a leather coat from my Grandma that hangs in our front closet that I have never actually worn before, I’m not even sure if it actually fits me to tell you the truth, but I will likely save that forever too. The jewellery box that my parents gave to me when I was probably 14 or so it completely busted from moving over ten times, but I can’t bring myself to replace it even though the top rests on top and the side doors don’t easily open or close.

Even as a child, I would always save my Halloween candy. I would eat my least favourite ones first and then hide everything else under my bed. I would allow myself one or two of my favourite chocolate bars, but my natural instinct was to save them. I would save my Halloween candy to the point of still having about 80% of it the following Halloween and I’d have to throw my last year’s stash of favourite chocolate bars away.

I’m a booze hoarder too. I HATE cracking open an expensive bottle of booze because I am saving it for sometime special. In fact, John and I have been saving a fancy bottle of Pinot Noir since we were boyfriend and girlfriend. Whenever John asked me if I wanted to crack it open, I would always tell him no, that I wanted to save it for sometime special. It’s been sitting there collecting dust for about five years and although we have shared SO many special times in our life, I still wouldn’t want to crack the bottle of wine. I didn’t even have a pathetic excuse as to why none of those moments where special enough to crack, all I knew was that I wanted to save it. For what? I had never really thought about what the perfect occasion would be that would make me WANT to actually open it… so we continued to save it.

BUT WE FINALLY CRACKED THE SPECIAL BOTTLE OF WINE!!

Last week was another loooooong week at work for John. Since August he keeps telling me that “this is the busiest time of the year”. Whenever I ask him when the “busiest time of the year” will finally be over, he doesn’t really have a concrete answer. Since August his hours have been getting longer and longer, and his stress levels have been getting higher and higher. He loves his job, don’t get me wrong, but having him come home around 9:00pm is starting to get really old. I don’t even bother starting to cook dinner until around 8:30pm most nights. This past week was probably the longest week he’s worked all week, and he had to go into work for Saturday and Sunday as well. Knowing that he had to work all weekend on top of an already really long week, we decided on Friday night that a glass of wine was most definitely necessary (to be clear, by glass of wine I really mean bottle… but glass sounds nicer.)

It was just a typical Friday night, nothing special or anything. We were wearing our cozy winter clothes, which include sweat pants, hoodies and for me a magic bag wrapped around my neck because I have I am always freezing if I’m not in a sauna. When John was selecting a bottle of wine, he first grabbed the Pinot Noir that we’ve been saving for the past five years. For some reason at the time, I didn’t fight it. So sweatpants, hoodies, magic bags and all, we popped open that fancy bottle, put our feet up and savoured each and every sip.

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What I learned from doing that, is that there was never going to be the “right moment”. There was never going to be a moment that I had deemed special enough to crack that bottle of wine. I would always find an excuse as to why we should save it for another five years. Instead of waiting for the perfect moment, I learned that just an ordinary Friday night was in fact the perfect moment! It helped me remember to live in the moment, to stop romanticizing about future moments, to stop pretending as if there would be an actual moment where I decided that “it was time…”

I learned that although I will likely always save all my letters and cards that I receive, and that I will still have a hard time giving or throwing things away that are sentimental to me, life is too gosh darn short to save the fancy wine. To not wear the expensive gym wear to the actual gym. To use the fancy soap on yourself. To eat your favourite chocolate bars first before digging deeper into the others.

Lovely, life’s too short to plan for special moments! Just pop open the fancy wine and enjoy it because tomorrow promises nothing. And for goodness sakes, you can always go and buy another bottle of wine to save for another five years!

Enjoy Life,

L


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Because I Said Sew

A Hem – now that I have your attention and those extremely clever dorky puns out of the way, I have a story to tell you.

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Most girls at one time or another in the life learn how to sew. Well maybe not sew, but at least learn how to sew a button back on or to hem a pair of pants. Maybe even hand sew a small hole in fabric closed.

But not me! When I told this to my Mom, she didn’t believe me that I never learned how to sew. She was a little bit horrified. My Mom used to sew all Halloween costumes for my sister and I, and I remember in junior high when my sister went on an apron sewing spree. But somehow, I slipped through the ropes of learning how to sew. I never took a Home Economics course in any of my school years, nor did I ever have any strong desire to learn how to sew or to do anything girly at one stage in my life. I was a bit of a tomboy.

At my first corporate job, there was a woman who I worked with who was sick of seeing me in pants that were just a little bit too long. Finally, one day she cracked and let out a small outburst:

“Didn’t your Mother ever teach you to sew!?”

I would have loved to see what my face must have looked like, because she then followed up with “Oh my gosh… what if you don’t have a Mother!” She went on a tangent and felt terrible, but in return she hemmed any and all pairs of pants for me during my time at that job. Thank you again!

John would make little comments to me here and there when there was a small tear in something that needed to be sewed up or when I would pay a tailor to sew fallen off buttons back onto my peacoat. I brushed his comments off, but don’t worry Honey… I heard them all.

Since moving to a new country where I am not allowed to work, I initially felt pressure (not from my husband) to be THE ULTIMATE HOUSEWIFE! Sweet John would tell me that I already was the ultimate housewife, but we all know that he is biased. I was convinced that an ULTIMATE HOUSEWIFE needed to at least know how to turn on a sewing machine.

I looked up sewing classes and did my due diligent. For some reason or another, I didn’t want to learn to sew at a place like Michael’s. Like I am in most things in life, I decided that if I was going to learn how to sew than I was going to go all in. Sew (c’mon had to sneak one more in there) after many hours of researching sewing courses, I found the perfect one where I would learn to sew. It was in Uptown, which I had initially confused with Old Town so I thought that it was close by. Turns out, it wasn’t at all… but I got to meet lots of strange characters on the train commuting back and forth.

The class that I had chosen was taught by a high end fashion designer who sewed his own creations for his clients. He did everything from bridal to leather jackets, so I figured if he couldn’t teach me to sew than nobody could. I registered online for my sewing classes and received an email saying that there will be a follow up email with all necessary information. The week before my classes were about to start, I began emailing and phoning the guy to ask for the list so that I could pick up anything that I may require. I didn’t hear back from him.

The night before my class was scheduled to begin, I was in a tithy. I figured that I would just show up empty handed the next day, but then at 7pm that night I FINALLY received an email from him saying everything that I needed. There was a lot and I didn’t know what half of the stuff on the list was, so I panicked! John was still at work, I couldn’t drive myself (no license remember?) to a store to pick up the stuff on my own, so I did what any logical woman would do. I called my parents and cried. Boo Hoo.

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The sewing store closed at 9pm and God knew if John would make it home before then, so I was panicked, flustered, pissed off and lonely. I lucked out and John got home at 8:15pm and immediately drove my ass to the store to go on the hunt for shit neither of had any clue about. One of the items on the list was “muslin” – It took everything in my power to make sure I pronounced that word correctly when I asked the employee where/what muslin was. We gathered most of the stuff and went home. John was so nice about the whole situation… He’s seriously the best!

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Now, most people sew a pillow case or an apron as their first project when they are learning to sew. Not me… oh no no no!!! I decided that my first project was going to be a freakin’ WRAP DRESS! One that I could hopefully wear when I finished. Go big or go home, right? You going to give me grieve about not knowing how to sew on a button – I’ll show you, I’ll sew a gosh darn wrap dress!!!! (Side note: I’m not competitive at all.)

My sewing classes were 3 hours classes once a week for ten weeks. My very first day, I was cocky because for some reason I thought that being naturally athletic would translate well into being a natural sewer. I asked the guy “So it’s going to take me thirty whole hours to sew one single dress!?” I was baffled and was certain that I was going to finish in half that time. Nope… it took me a total of probably 45 HOURS! 45 freaking’ hours… let that sink in.

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My 45 hours in that sewing class were interesting. There were a few classes were I was the only female and also the only straight person. I thought that my dreams were coming true and that I could finally be surrounded by my new found gay best friends. Except they wanted NOTHING TO DO WITH ME!!!! They were too busy flirting with each other. I thought that it was awesome, until I realized that I was such an enormous outcast in my sewing class.

 

In one of my sewing classes, I met a Russian girl. I thought that maybe we could bond over being foreigners and such, but quickly realized that we had nothing to bond over. She bragged to me about how she received a green card by marrying an American and swiftly divorcing him. She then went on to brag about how she is known as the fashionista among all of her friends and they all look to her for new trends. I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

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There were also a few people who constantly pestered me about poutine or who would want to argue with me about how disgusting poutine was. They acted as if they were the poutine champions of the world. Finally somebody asked what was in poutine and I heard somebody say “cheese, french fries, and mayo.” I almost lost it at that point… here I’ve been listening to some dorks go on about poutine and they don’t even know what the hell it is!? C’MON!!!! So I specified that traditional poutine was “french fries, gravy and cheese curds” – and no not cheese slices, but CURDS!

The actual sewing aspect was A LOT MORE tedious and annoying than I ever would have imagined. Never did I realize how key patience were in the sewing world. Perhaps that was why we had never met before? It took my 15 minutes every single time to put the damn thread through the “eye” of the needle on the sewing machine. I would have to get down on one knee, close an eyeball, tilt my head and chest slightly to the right, and hope that my wood pecker hand movements would eventually put the damn thread through the hole. And that was the start of class every single time.

I had no idea how much cutting and pinning and ironing was involved in sewing. And it takes so freakin’ long! Every time after sewing class I would tell John what I had just spent the last 5 hours doing and I always felt like I should be able to tell him that I did more than just cut and iron. Props to all you sewers – you are patient people.

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On my very last class the instructor (who was totally, unbelievably strange by the way… but also nice) was talking to me about how he was getting ready to turn the big 4-0. He kept going on and on and on about it, and I would just smile politely or make an “uh huh” noise when it felt natural. He was still going on about turning forty, and had come over to sit REALLY close to me to help me with something… like so close our noses were almost touching… when this is what he said to me:

“We’re about the same age, aren’t we!?”

I almost cried on the spot. Sew much for this class I thought….

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All of that aside, now that it is all over, I actually think that I might enjoy sewing. I like being able to create something new and after I was finished, I was so proud of myself for creating a wrap dress that I can actually wear. I at least now know where the power switch is on a sewing machine, how to cut fabric properly, I’ve learned sewing terminology, I’ve learned that it’s really annoying to be sewing and realize that your machine isn’t threaded, I’ve learned that the sense of pride you have when it’s all over is worth all the pin marks in your finger pads. I hope that one day I’ll sew my own children their own Halloween costumes, don’t hold me to that though.

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Ironically, through my whole entire 45 hours of sewing class, I was never taught how to sew a button on… but that’s what tailors in our condo lobby are for, right Baby?!

 

Enjoy Life Lovelies!
L


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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


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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no shame

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


13 Comments

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

 


8 Comments

Who Knew That So Much Of Your Life Could Change In Only A Matter Of 3 Months?

3 months

92 days

2,208 hours

25% of an entire year

A whole quarter of a year!

That’s how long it’s been since we left Canada and made Chicago our new home

That’s how long it’s been since we saw our one bedroom, one bathroom apartment for the very first time

That’s how long it’s been since all of struggles were really put into overdrive

That’s how long it’s been since our puppy no longer has a backyard to frolic in

That’s how long it’s been since we started this crazy journey of ours

That’s how long it’s been since the best part of our life began!

Who knew that so much of your life could change in only a matter of 3 months? I sure as hell did not! In only a matter of three months, we are living a whole new life and each day that passes, it is starting to feel more normal! We are loving this “city life” and absolutely loving living downtown in a major city.

Living downtown Chicago, you see approximately 180 differential kinds of people. People who you prejudge right away until they smile and say “hi” to you. People who you try to avoid eye contact with until they reach down and start petting your puppy and you can see their eyes light up from a love that only a puppy can provide. People who shake their cup at you and you wonder what they are going to do with any change their muster up… but then you talk to them and you hear their side of the story.

In three months, I have really enjoyed living a city that is so cultured. Living in a city where a Memorial Parade can make you tear up even though you aren’t from this country. You can feel the pride, the courage, the strength and the sadness from those whose shoulders you are rubbing against.  You can walk down a block or two and have hundreds of different cuisine offered to you. You can walk down the street and hear languages that you have never heard of before.

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In three simple months, my eyes have been opened. I love all of the different kinds of people who live here. The other day at a popular clothing store, a white man helping me was wearing a turban, had a piercing through the septum of his nose, was wearing a cop tank top, tight leather pants, as well as high heels. I didn’t think anything of his style choice until I was leaving and thought that if I had ever seen somebody dressed like that in Calgary, I’m sure I would have thought that he was weird or strange. But now, I applaud his confidence and courage to be who he wants to be.

Since living in Chicago, we have started to “play” tennis. We walk like we are walking to China. Hell, we have gone to China Town and to Greek Town! We go to baseball games. We try new cuisine. We are meeting new people who I have an inkling will become lifelong friends. We have gone stand up paddle boarding. We go to the beach. We go for bike rides and jogs along the lakeside. We probably eat too much gelato, but really is there such thing as too much gelato!? We are learning a new language (yeah, they speak English here but differently terminologies, learning healthcare terms, learning different sayings and pronunciations, etc)
We are vacationing in our own city and we love it! We haven’t even done 2% of the greatness that Chicago has to offer and yet we are already having the time of our life!

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I guess it’s true that the higher the risk, the higher the reward. I am so proud of us for doing all of this and for living outside of the box. We are making a lifetime of memories together and creating stories that only each other’s souls are able to hear.

I cannot wait to see what greatness unfolds in the next three months of our journey!!

Stay tuned, my lovely, stay tuned!

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Enjoy Life  (we sure are!)
L