Sunday, June 23, 2013

Big news!

I'm engaged!  I'm so happy I have this blog to record all of these thoughts. I've been busy the last several months writing our story for all of the other media outlets like wedding websites, emails to friends, introductions to extended family, and even the tiny local papers.  We made the decision to have a short engagement, so the wedding is scheduled for this November.  Most venues laughed at us for even attempting to shoot for 2013.  Others gave us the "you must be pregnant" sad nod (spoiler alert, I'm not pregnant...just didn't want to get married in the bitter Chicago winter).  I guess the big reveal is that Jewed Law's name is Tyler.

Anyway here is our story...

Tyler and Lindsay first met several years ago at a Cubs game arranged by Tyler's sister (and Lindsay's friend) Rachel. They next met in the security line at Midway Airport where they had a "I think I know you but don't want to start talking to a random stranger" moment. After Tyler moved to Chicago after law school, Rachel brought him along to her annual summer picnic at the lake. This time, Lindsay didn't see Tyler as Rachel's little brother, but as a handsome man. She even volunteered to throw the frisbee around with him even though she is abosultely dreadful at it.
The real spark happened at Rachel's wedding to Norm in June 2010.  Lindsay joked to Rachel to seat her at a table full of handsome single men. Turns out, Rachel secretly was trying to set Tyler up with her, and therefore sat Lindsay at a table full of female dancer friends since Tyler had to sit at the head table. Well, the signature drink at the wedding was a Mint Julep ... so it is only natural that most guests at the wedding were twelve sheets to the wind. Other family and friends of the Zanders clan were also playing matchmaker and suggested Tyler go dance with that friendly girl in the bright blue dress. The photographer was able to catch the pair together several times during the party and after-party.
A week after the wedding, Tyler asked Lindsay out on a date.  She got permission from Rachel hoping Tyler wasn't "off limits" since he was her little brother.  Their first date was a music concert of Lindsay's favorite band.  After the show, they got a couple more drinks at a nearby bar, Fat Cat, where they played Jenga with a giant set constructed out of 2x4's. Tyler left the date a bit inebriated, but he claims that is when he knew she was the one (then again it could have been the booze talking).

Our engagement story...

We purchased tickets to the broadway musical The Book of Morman months ago. We see musicals and plays all the time so nothing raised the red flag. Since it was a Friday night and we both work downtown, we grabbed dinner at Rosebud beforehand. The show was great and we highly recommend it.
Once we got home to our apartment, we started getting ready for bed. The bathroom is tiny so only one person can really fit at a time. The bathroom is also right next to the bedroom. Lindsay finished up and was doing her puzzle book in bed while Tyler was still brushing his teeth. Tyler came into the bedroom and said with a dreamy look "I had a lot of fun with you tonight, and I would be happy having nights like this for the rest of my life." He then turned around and headed out of the bedroom (to wash his face or something, so Lindsay thought). Lindsay was a bit confused because it was incredibly romantic of Tyler but was there an underlying message. She jokingly called after him "you know that doesn't count as a proposal." Tyler then came back into the room, jumped on the bed, and opened up a ring box and asked "Well, does this count?"
We were so happy and wanted to share the news with everyone right away. Unfortunately it was 1am, so we had to wait till morning to call our parents, family, and friends.  We hardly slept that night as we stayed up giggling like tween girls at a sleepover.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Spare in the air

Going through the phone camera again and noticed I am behind AGAIN on updates.  Yes I have four other international vacations to get caught up on also, so here is the quick post to clean out some semi-recent activity.
For my winter birthday, a group of friends headed out to Colorado for some skiing.  The parents of a friend had a sweet ski-in ski-out condo at Keystone.  It has been established that I am more sporty than Jewed Law.  In high school, I was captain of the basketball team...he was the lead actor in the school plays.  After every race or athletic event he would claim, "you win this one, but wait till I get you skiing."  Sure enough, he is golden on skis.  Smoked my ass like I was a novice.  Even the seasoned skiers were super impressed.  Mama so proud.
The group consisted of three guy-girl couples and the 18month old daughter of one pair.  Since most of the ski lifts only take 4-people, we normally had to split up into 3-3 or 4-2.  One time, the three ladies were grouped together and we gossiped about...wait for it...boys.  M asked me when Jewed Law was going to propose.  I thought about it for a moment and said "I don't know, my birthday is this weekend and I don't think he would do it then, but then when he asked me if I wanted my present before the trip or on the birthday I said birthday unless the gift was too large to pack (we wanted one carry on and one duffle bag only), and he said no problem it is tiny...oh my God he might propose on my birthday".  The evening of my birthday, the group surprised me with a cake & candles.  Jewed Law plopped down a small square blue box from Tiffany's.  Everyone was stunned into silence.  Spoiler alert, it wasn't a ring...just some lovely earrings.

All three couples were flying back on Sunday.  The couple with the child (M&D) picked a noon flight in order to get back home in time for the little one's bedtime.  The other couple and us had tickets on the last flight in order to get another 1/2 day of skiing in.  It started snowing the previous night and continued throughout the day.  We got 12" of fresh powder, but Denver was like fuck and started canceling all flights out.  When M&D were being re-booked, the soonest they could get back was two more days.  The group talked about other methods of getting back to Chicago, including renting a van and having three drivers go 24 hours straight.
We kept calling the airport and airline asking when our flight would be canceled so we could just get on with it.  They assured us our flight was still scheduled to leave, thus making it the ONLY flight leaving Denver that day.  Sure they were letting flights land, just no more leaving for some reason.  During the 4-hr drive down from the mountains (snow + weekend = parking lot on the highway to Denver) we still were being told the flight was going to leave so help them God, just maybe delayed a bit.  Sure enough, the flight is delayed 2hrs (making our departure closer to midnight) but they had us board even though all other gates were closed.  It was baffling why they would work so hard ship out the last flight of the day (which likely was the least book of them all).  Once we got on the plane, the reason became obvious...they need to fly the pilots back to Chicago.  Seriously, the plane could take say 100 people, and 65 of them were pilots.  Every row had two or three men in the white shirts with epaulets and the telltale cap.  Chicago is a major hub for Southwest Airlines (our carrier this trip), so they needed to get all those trapped pilots back in order to avoid canceling some more flights tomorrow.  We kind of in a twisted way wanted some one to come out of the cockpit announcing there was something wrong with the pilot and if anyone else on board could fly the plane...then imagine 50 hands shoot up in the air.  Ha!

Holy Moley

I went to Easter service last marks the first time in Chicago I have gone to church without a wedding involved.  I consider myself a submarine Lutheran...we spend most of the year submerged and surface on major Christian holidays like Christmas  Usually I am home visiting my parents and can attend the church I grew up in.  So I googled churches within walking distance and headed on over.  Jewed Law was a sweetheart and offered to go with me, until he the morning came and we were both hung over and tired.  Yes I am totally waiting to be struck down by a lightning bolt or raining frogs.
I picked a pew and sat down alone.  Shortly thereafter, a girl joined me asking if I was worshiping alone too.  She was my age and normal looking...and apparently wanted to be my new best friend.  From what I gleamed, she was a social worker and a big ole fan of Jesus Christ!  She swayed and grooved to every song, even though it was just her.  She also lifted up her hands when they say "lift up your hands"...yeah they mean it as a metaphor.  With her personal dance party and constant Hallelujah hands, she managed to be "that girl".
So the Easter service program booklet is an inch thick.  We sang like 50 hymns.  You know how there are 6 songs to get us through communion, but you only really sing 3 and quit unless there is a long line and need to sing one more to make sure everyone is served without awkward silence of shifting pew creaks.  Well this church only needed three...but we sang all six for good measure.  In fact we sang every song in the program, and each song had at least FIVE verses!  Clearly this church loved to sing because in addition to the full playlist of songs, they sang everything from the Lord's prayer to the call and responses.  Plus they had a jazz band that liked to rock out.  As I watched the minutes tick on and on, I soon stated to despise the musicians for deciding create a jam session in the hymns.  Seriously where in "Go Tell it on the Mountain" is a trumpet solo?  I knew they were fucking with me (and the other rusty submarine worshipers) when all prayers/calls/responses/etc. after the sermon were done first in English, then in Spanish, and then again in English (in case the Spanish made you forget what that was all about).
Thankfully I had all the discounted candy to console my heathen soul.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Relaxing...maybe a little too much

I joined a new gym.  I know boring news, but you have no idea how thrilled I am at the switch.  My previous mad ghetto gym had a few sad treadmills and an angry polish dominatrix kickbox instructor.  You know it is a depressing gym when it is a block away from one of the hotly contested gang corners and you get a free handgun with membership application.  It was almost as sad as the NYC Park District exercise center I joined in Manhattan that was turn-key children and old naked Korean women.

My work partnered up with the FFC gym brand to subsidize the monthly fee, so it worked out to be around the same price as my ghetto gym.  The FFC gym locker rooms are bigger and nicer than the entire ghetto gym as a whole.  Seriously, they have hair dryers every five feet with artfully arranged piles of tampons, lady Schick razors, and Q-tips.

Well my new AMAZING gym offers yoga and pilates twice to three times a day!  Now that my right knee is on life support, I need to ease way back on the step aerobics and running.  These classes are usually pretty quiet and you are bending into some odd positions.  Last week in pilates, the instructor said we were going to play and then took us through a series of poses that inadvertently sucked air into our buttholes.  Yeah you read right...air right up the ass!  I am sure all of us were feeling slightly uncomfortable while clenching our cheeks together.  The instructor went over to a woman to demonstrate a "hip opening leg stretch" on her.  In short, she ended up wrenching her foot up towards her ear resulting in a stretch beyond her sphincter rating.  In the middle of a dead silent class, a very load fart reverberated in the room.  The instructor (still clutching this poor woman's foot) was so startled that she blurted "oh my".  Since that fart broke the ice...two other people probably thought why not and let it rip too!  It was so comical I almost burst out laughing in class.

Today was another farting experience.  Ok yes I am a 14 year boy and find farting in public hilarious.  In yoga I was next to a smaller 45-ish woman standing on two mats stacked.  About five minutes into the class, I heard a distinct raspberry sound from the woman.  At first I giggled because it was a funny toot toot sound, but then I realized it must have been the two rubber mats rubbing against each other.  I convinced myself it must be the mats when the farting sounds regularly sounded every five or so minutes for the remainder of the class.  Towards the end when we would hold poses, I began to realize the tooting noises continued even though we were not moving or shifting the mats.  The last pose before resting was laying on the back with the knees spread and feet touching.  The staggered spacing of people lined up my head with her waist plus 4ft of separation between us.  Again another fart noise, but this time the smell wafted over me.  Oh wow, she really WAS farting all class.  I involuntarily scrunched up my face and shot her a "what are you eating" look.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The journey of hair

I am jealous of men.  They can avoid nasty truck stop toilet seats, pay less at the dry cleaners for basically the same articles of clothing, and never have to wonder whether they put their thongs on backwards (I hope).  But the one thing I am most jealous of is their ability to manipulate their hair.  If a guy decides to try out a different hair cut, and it doesn't turn out at planned, then he can just shave it off and start afresh.  I meanwhile, have to deal with ridiculous bangs for six months.  Plus there is the facial hair...the male's version of accessorizing.  There are like 20 different kinds of mustaches, let alone beards, sideburns, and whatever disgusting neck growth the hipsters are favoring these days.

Jewed Law has been considering a full head shave for some time now.  He is on the losing end of the battle over the forehead hairline, so he figures why not beat nature to the punchline.  Knowing the shaved head was in our near future, we saved it for a key moment...Halloween.  Unfortunately this decision came about a month too early and he spent a couple of weeks with excessively shaggy Kris Angel hair (why pay for a hair cut when you are going the buzz the darn thing in a fortnight).
The Halloween party theme was "I love the 80's", and he had the perfect costume in mind...Mr. T.  Sure, a skinny, pale, Jewish man is exactly what comes to mind when I think Mr. T. impersonator.  The intricate hair cut meant I had to do the shaving, and oh man...shaving a man's thick head of hair is soooo much fun!  I had to stop every 5 seconds to gain composure after being overtaken by a fit of giggles.

Here is the progression of the hair-extraction for your enjoyment...

No surprise, Jewed Law's awesome costume was a smash at the party.  Upon seeing him, everyone would exclaim, "whoa, did you really shave your head! shaved your head for a costume?...are you going to leave it that way?".

This same party the previous year had some pretty poor participation with costumes.  Surprisingly, this year everyone brought their 'A' game.  In attendance were:
  • She-Ra
  • Richard Simmons (complete with short shorts and peppy attitude)
  • the Blues Brothers
  • a pair of Smurfs (with Blue-face...they were committed because that blue paint did not look comfortable)
  • Claudia from the babysitters club (my favorite BSC girl cause she had mad style and one hell of a sweets/hording problem)
  • Baby and Patrick Swayze from Dirty Dancing
  • and my vote for most awesome (besides Jewed Law of course which was in a different league), a girl with the exploding chest alien from Spaceballs (she is pregnant, so the costume was doubly hilarious...the alien even had a top hat and cane!)
I was early 1980's Madonna (think like a virgin with the dark roots, not the classier vouge era).

 Surprise...the cat is hiding in the stereo cabinet.
The day after the party we said goodbye to the T-hawk.  Here are some more pictures of the funny things I was able to shave into his head.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

South America Adventures - Part 8 (on the road to Puno)

Off to Puno, Peru.  I am sure you are saying, "Puno...what the f- is that".  It is the Peruvian town on the border with Bolivia and the stepping off point to Lake Titicaca (giggle).  Yes, the main reason I wanted to go to Puno is to slip Titicaca in every conversation about my travels in South America. 
Ok don't get me wrong, Puno is a dump...a major dump of a town, but it was necessary in order to get to the lake.  We could have gone from the Bolivia side (which I hear is much more charming and sanitary) but that country is known for random transportation strikes and all sorts of bus cancellations, and we didn't have enough travel time to gamble with the labor unions.
Speaking of buses, we took one from Cusco to Puno.  There are three options to make that route, 1) fly to Juliaca which is an even bigger armpit of a town and take an hour bus into Puno, 2) take the train direct to Puno which is more expensive and a lot slower than the bus, or 3) take a 9-hour scenic bus ride.  There are dozens of bus companies that go between the two towns (it is a popular route...mostly because the other two options suck), so we selected one that had four scheduled historical stops along the way.  Yep the tourist bus, but the bathroom breaks alone made this worth the extra $10.
Our fist stop was a small church in Andahuaylillas.  The Spanish conquistadors founded this church and the interior was decorated in opulent ornate gold frescoes.  We were forbidden to take pictures because they had a lovely gift shop looking to profit.
Next was some inca ruins in Raqchi.  The ruins were a mix of inca technology and highland people traditions that they conquered.  It didn't look like anything I had seen on the road to Machu Picchu.  At that stop, we were able to use a public restroom.  The diet and mountain climate hadn't been so good to my digestive system, so I was constipated beyond belief (I know, TMI).  At this pit stop, I felt hope in my bowels.  Poor Dana was outside my stall shouting in "the bus is leaving, seriously, it is probably pulling out right now' with me on the other side crying "I know...its almost there!"  We RAN (well I waddled) to the bus and made it just in time.
Next stop was lunch in Sicuani, a tiny town of weavers.  The local band entertained everyone with the same three songs...over and over again.
The tour took a 5 minute break at the highest point in the road. Apu Chimboya over 14,000ft elevation.  You can see glaciers in between mountains.

Apparently when you are above the treeline (which stops around 12,000ft), there isn't much crop growing besides a potato variety or two.  It is however excellent for grazing animals like cattle, sheep, and LLAMAS (yes lots and lots of llamas).  Plus the animal poop provides fuel for burning since there are no trees to chop down for firewood.
Next stop was a museum of pre-Inca artifacts in Pukara.  Interesting fact, the Incas really didn't come to power until quite late in the game (1438), and they only rules 100-150 years before the Spanish came in and kicked ass.  Most of the artifacts were of beheaded sculptures.  I'm not talking sculptures with the heads knocked off ancient greece style, but men holding heads in their hands (it was all the rage didn't you know).  The town is also known for inventing the paired bull ceramic sculptures that don the rooftops of many Peruvian homes.  The old church was solid stone with few windows and fewer decorations (felt very monk cell like).
We breezed by Juliaca (like I said before, dangerous dump of a place) and rolled into Puno...right into the middle of a political parade/protest.  More to come later (don't worry, the story has a happy ending...we survived to tell about it).

Here are the bags of live chickens that we found at the bus depot.  Carry-on luggage I assume.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

South America Adventures - Part 7 (Machu Picchu)

Our final day of hiking!  I don't know if the prospects of watching the sun rise over Machu Picchu or having a warm real shower was more exciting.  Speaking of excitement, there was plenty overnight.  The camp site was again on some crop terraces, but since it was more mountainous (if you could imagine since we were in the Andes), there were some major cliff drop offs right outside our tents.  One mid-40's woman was making her way to the toilets (or designated holes in the ground) in the middle of the night stepped off the path and fell 15ft down a cliff into a tree.  She was actually extremely fortunate to land in a tree since the drop continued on for another 50ft or so.  The porters and guides rigged up a make-ship harness and pulled her back up to safety.  This all happened about three tents away, so I didn't get too much sleep.  Then again our wake up call was 3:30am, so we likely were not getting a full night's sleep anyway.
Our guide wanted to make sure we had a good place in line when the trail opened to secure a vantage viewing point at the Sun Gate.  We were in line by 4:15am...and waited, in the dark till 5:30am.  While waiting, we saw the woman who fell during the night being carried to the gate.  Yes carried...on the back of a Porter.  They were going to take her the easy way downhill to the road where all of the porters go with the tents.  From there she could take the bus up to Machu Picchu.  Being the ugly American tourist (yes Dana and I were mortified, all of our work the last few days showing American's are not stuck up demanding rule breakers went down the tubes), she insisted on hiking the last few miles with the group to get the full experience.  Of course she couldn't hike because she broke or severely sprained her ankle, so the Porters had to carry her between them throne style or tied to their backs like a ginormous baby.  Mind you these trails are treacherous and uphill, so she wasn't doing these guys any favors.
We arrived at the Sun Gate and watched the sun rise over Machu Picchu.  It is true, the sun strikes a particular point on the mountain top which is also the location of their sun temple.  In my head, I thought the sun rise would be under five minutes based on the hurry up attitude the guides had.  In reality, it lasted a lot longer, and the group eventually got bored and tried to urge on the sun.
We took the trail down (whoo-hoo downhill) to crop terraces just outside of the main entrance.  The guide let us chill out there for a couple of hours while the first batch of tourists filed in.  We had most of the day there, so he said we were not in any hurry (plus it would give time for the crowds to thin and let us catch a quick nap since we were up so early).  The view was spectacular, and we started to get punch drunk taking pictures with the llamas grazing there.  Side range llamas have fleas...all of us later had bug bites all over our arms and legs (Norbert's count was 102 bites on his legs alone).  The llamas were evidently so used to tourists that they were super tame.

We also took lots of "postcard" pictures; you know, the kind where the scenery is so unreal it looks like you are posing in front of a green screen or something.  Dana and I did the obligatory "jump" picture to add to the collection (I even got in a Machu Picchu...ah life checklist mark).
When we entered the historic site, you could distinguish those who hiked there and those who took the bus.  Yeah when your parents say the hiked to Machu Picchu, they lied because if they truly did, they would look like a group of exhausted, smelly, "I've been wearing the same clothes for four days now" people.  The road the bus takes up is quiet treacherous as it has to go practically up a vertical surface with dozens of hairpin switchbacks.

We walked past the woman with the busted ankle, and she was using two Porters as crutches.  Automatic groan, but we later found out the Porters were actually pretty psyched since most of the guys have NEVER visited Machu Picchu before.  Yeah they do a dozen or so group tours a year and always have to turn off on the final day to the bus road (where they hop on a bus to take them home for a week of rest).
We toured the temples of the sun and wind, and our guide demonstrated the acoustics in a meditation room.  We had the option to hike up a second mountain peak, but the thought of another serious uphill hike didn't go over well with the group.
I will surely get struck down, but the temple of the Condor kind of looked like a vagina...seriously it did!  There was a tiny cave behind it, and it was so narrow that the width of my shoulders barely passed through.
Besides tame llamas, the wildlife also had wild chinchillas.  The sneaky little guys were everywhere if you looked hard (because they blended in so well).  One we didn't notice until it was only 5ft from us, and only the sudden movement of dashing away revealed it.

After a few hours touring the site, most of the group elected to lay down and doze till our scheduled bus pick up (no more walking for us).  Norbert (the gay Puerto Rican) and I headed off to see the Inca Bridge (and old reconstructed suspension bridge).  The hike was a lot longer than advertised (about 45min) and the path was carved on the side of a cliff (again...these Incans and their damn lack of safety concerns).  Once we got there, we found the bridge entrance boarded up and the bridge taken down.  The popular story is that some tourist fell off so they closed it as a precaution.  Norbert and I were so pissed about our fruitless detour that we resorted to flipping the bird to the bridge.  Yeah we are totally mature.

Our reward at the end of the day (besides a warm hotel shower and real bed) was a train ride back to Cusco.  The ride is so scenic through mountains and along rivers, that the wall and ceiling is glass panels.  On the train ride, I found out one of the Irish girls was #7 in the family.  Apparently her parents were so ho hum about another kid, that they let the nurse name her on day 6 (the last day to legally name a baby) and she has the same middle name as her older sister.  This is the same girl that pounded two HUGE beers at dinner.  I joined the masses and got a burger and beer at our first meal back in civilization.  So worth it!

Again with the funny signs:  do not remove your head!

This llama totally knew how I felt.

More pictures of Machu Picchu