Tag Archives: American Girl dolls

Unfinished business

My pal Randall Arthur Morris posted a link on Facebook a few weeks ago that made me think.

The link was to a project called Before I Die, and it surveys people across the country (and in India) about, you guessed it, what they want to do before they die. Written on Polaroids, the respondents’ answers are honest, heartbreaking, simple, and above all, human.

It’s a topic that’s been on my mind more and more as I approach 30: What the hell do I want to accomplish in life?

However, that’s probably a blog post no one wants to read. And one I’m not yet prepared to write.

Baby steps.

One thing that is apparent is that I want to soak up all that life has to offer: experiences, people, food and culture. That got me thinking about the things left to accomplish in Chicago. That’s much more manageable than thinking through all the things I want to accomplish fore I die. And in some ways, it’s the means to the ends. I’ve lived here four and a half years, and there’s still much left to accomplish. There just doesn’t seem to be enough weekends (or money) to get everything done.

My Chicago “Bucket List”

1. Eating my way through Devon Street

I’ll admit it. I haven’t spent one minute walking down Devon Street, let alone eating in the smorgasbord of dining establishments. I can only imagine all the delicious Indian food that I’m missing out on.

2. Writing class at Second City

Since I started writing this post, I’ve actually signed up for the class! Yay! Stay tuned for details.

3. Frank Lloyd Wright’s home

Architecture. Oak Park. They’re two things that go well together. There’s a great historical fictional called Loving Frank that inspired me to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright, his vision and creative designs. Stay tuned for more on this one as well.

4. Green Mill

It’s embarrassing that I’ve not yet been to Green Mill. I used to share a cross street with the historical jazz establishment. And furthermore, I’ve had loose plans to check it out several times. Jazz fail.

5. Little Italy

Pasta and wine are two things I love dearly. It’s inexcusable that I haven’t ventured to the Chicago neighborhood that would enable me to gorge myself on these simultaneously.

6. Pitchfork Festival

Forget Lollapalooza. I really have no desire to spend an entire sweltering weekend with sweaty, drunk crowds. However, I need to experience Pitchfork and all the amazing music that comes with it. Someone please invite me to a show or pressure me into buying tickets. At least for one day of the shows.

7. Finding out what puts Ukrainian in Ukrainian Village

So, I’ve lived in this neighborhood for nearly two years. I love it. However, because nothing necessitates a need to explore further west than my street. So, I haven’t yet learned as to how the neighborhood became so unique and interesting.  There are many delis, churches and shops yet to explore.

8. St. Patty’s Day Parade

Even if you don’t care about St. Patrick’s Day or wearing green that one day of the year (which I don’t),  bearing the crowds to watch the Chicago River turn green seems like a rite of passage.

9. Hang out in Hyde Park

I’ll be honest. I don’t know much about Hyde Park, other than the University of Chicago and President Obama’s home away from the White House are located there. All the more reasons to check out the neighborhood.

10. Touring all the music venues

I’ve seen many live shows in Chicago, but there are several yet to step foot in. Like Double Door and the Aragon.

11. Running the Chicago Marathon

I always thought that only real runners run marathons. I’ve learned the truth though, that it’s mostly real people like me who set a goal to run the marathon and make it happen. I’ll be running the Chicago Marathon to raise funds for the American Liver Foundation on 10.10.10. I might be crazy.

12. Garfield Conservatory

This is a pretty place filled with botanical treasures. End of story.

13. Lyric Opera

I’ve only been to the opera once. It was a performance put on by alma mater, Indiana University, which is actually internationally renowned for its music program. However, I feel that I should experience a professional opera performance. Perhaps Macbeth or A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Is my husband reading this?

14. Adler Planetarium

It’s not that I am dying to study the stars and planets, it’s more that it’s the only major museum in Chicago that I haven’t yet visited. Family visits may be a good excuse to give this place a shot.

I’m sure that, wherever you live, there are probably things you haven’t done in your locale.

What’s on your to-do list? Or “bucket list?”



Filed under attractions, Chicago, city life, culture, food

Do as the tourists do

Some of my besties are visiting Chicago from the West Coast this weekend. So the age old question arises, what should we do?

Typically when there are guests in town, I try to show them off-the-beaten path Chicago. Intentions begin as the good kind, but before I know it, we’ve ended up at Navy Pier, mingling with the fanny-pack wearers and paying too much for ice cream. While you can end up in places you don’t care to be, you can use your guests as excuses to do the things you’ve secretly wanted to do as a tourist. Point in case, the architectural tour seen in this campy photo:

High fives for playing tourists on TV.

High fives for playing tourists.

And this…

"Hey!! Is that Trump Tower?"

"Hey!! Is that Trump Tower?"

Family and friends often come from out-of-town with loose itineraries in mind. And when they do, here is where you can end up:

Top-five Chicago sightseeing requests from out-of-town guests

5. Sears Tower

Err, I mean…Willis Tower? What are we calling that skyscraper these days? Ok, admit it, who doesn’t love to lean into the glass and pretend they’re in a scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?

I actually took this from atop the Sears Tower...when I was an actual tourist

I actually took this from atop the Sears Tower...when I was an actual tourist

I enjoy a cocktail with my view. So, for the money, you’re better off viewing the city at Signature Room at the top of the Hancock Building. The ladies’ room offers the most splendid view of the city, a mon avis.

4.The Bean

I secretly love Cloudgate/The Bean. I make people go here. And I make them take pictures like they’re tourists.

Denise and Maggie are good tourists and good sports.

Denise and Maggie are good tourists and good sports.

3. Michigan Avenue

I’d rather gouge my eyes out than spend a Saturday hanging out on the Mag Mile. I can’t see what people think is fun about dodging fancy ladies with Burberry bags and little girls clinging to American Girl dolls. If you decide to shop on Michigan Ave., go at 7pm on a Wednesday night, and have an action plan. It should definitely include window shopping at Chanel.

2. Navy Pier

Navy Pier is my most loathed place in the whole city. I decided this after my most recent trip there. It’s overpriced, crowded, and let’s face it, not that fun. I took photos as a tourist here too, but can’t even bear to post them.

1.  Any joint that serves Chicago-style pizza

By far, the top request from out-of-town guests. I can’t blame the curiosity around tasting pizza with a two-inch layer of cheese. One slice can sustain you for a week. I might be ejected from the city for saying this, but I prefer New York-style…eek.

The good thing is, my friends have been to Chicago a few times, so we will not be doing any of aforementioned activities. “I’ll try Off-the-Beaten path for $200, Alex.”

What’s the go-to attraction you show out-of-town guests?


Filed under attractions, Chicago, city life