When I packed my bags and moved to Chicago, I arrived by train. And ever since that May day in 2009, I find myself taking the train quite often. While the CHI—STL length isn’t nearly as glamorous as travel up on the East or West Coasts, there’s still something comforting in the travel. Train travel seems timeless to me, classic. I love finding myself in Union Station and knowing the rush of traveling and the look of the building were what people many, many years ago experienced.
So imagine my excitement when I came across Amtrak Residency. There’s a ton of press going on about the program, though here’s the gist: Reporters tweeted at Amtrak how cool this would be. Amtrak agreed, and made said writers take a train ride. And now, the Residency is open to writers of all levels for various lengths of time.
What I really love about this whole initiative (despite the fact it’s right up my alley) is it came about from one writer just tweeting about a love for writing on trains. Amtrak listened and decided there was something powerful there. As more brands continue to use their consumer base for more than just customers, I’m excited for more things such as this to come to fruition.
As this weekend is another family wedding, I’ll be taking that well-traveled CHI–STL train ride. And I’m excited to sit there, put in the headphones and just start writing.
To see the power and beauty of train travel on the Coast, visit my gal pal Leela’s blog. Last month she spent 36 hours on a train from California to Seattle (now she’s moving all throughout Europe).
“At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel we have been returned to ourselves — that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us. It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves.” — Alain de Botton, “The Art of Travel.”
Chicago Cares just announced their speaker for this year’s Serve-A-Thon…
I’ll be one of the site leaders down at Haines Elementary School this year and obviously will be hitting up the Serve-A-Thon rally party when it’s all done.
Volunteers and Leaders are still needed if you’re interested.
It’s that time of year where music fests start announcing their line-ups. The leaked Lolla line-up looks unreal, Bonnaroo nearly makes me want to camp (nearly) and Beale Street will tell the world any day now.
But none will come close to this. It’s all in the presentation folks and well, Firefly Festival really delivered. In this epic mash-up, I’m not sure what I want more, tickets or this song mix.
I feel another Northeastern adventure to a state neither of us has been to is in Amanda’s and I’s futures.
It has been a crazy, hectic week. And I for one, cannot wait for the weekend.
My friend Emily must have known all of us would need a break when she asked us a month ago if we’d want to head up to Green Lake, Wisconsin for a weekend trapped in a lakehouse.
This will mark my first journey north of Chicago. Despite living here for nearly 4 years now (whaaaat??), I’ve never gone north…of Evanston. Which is really not all that far north of the city. I’m so looking forward to a weekend with some friends, movies, pajamas and books. Along with Wisconsin’s beer and cheese curds. And obviously stars…I live for moments when I can just hang out with my head in the sky.
We’re driving up after work, so hello sing alongs to mixed CDs while we sit in inevitable traffic.
It’s award shows season, which is my next favorite season to college basketball season. Right alongside that actual season called Fall.
The Oscars don’t have too do much to get me jazzed for the awards night. Which is why I’m so over the moon about their latest campaign “Oscar RoadTrip.”
That’s right, Oscar is going on a nationwide tour with two reporters capturing videos and photos along the way. They’ve listed cities the statue will make an appearance, then turn to the public to determine where in town Oscar must stop.
It’s genius. And I for one, cannot wait for February 11. Time to start prepping that acceptance speech for screenwriting. And here’s to hoping they have a mixed CD with some stellar soundtracks (looking at you Beasts of the Southern Wild).
The minute I get out of the city, all I can harp on are “Look there’s a star!”, “Oh, there’s a constellation!” and “I love/miss the stars!” Whenever I see a few stars when I am in Chicago, I simply marvel at the wonder. And when I’m in Colorado? My neck starts cramping from just sitting in a chair around the fire pit, sitting in silence.
When I came across Thierry Cohen‘s photography exhibition entitled Darkened Cities, I immediately started to have a new appreciation for city stargazing. Here, Thierry captured the cities without their usual glow and instead, played with the skyline shadowing against a starry night. And the result is quite moving.
My personal favorite is the San Francisco one. Time to go back I guess.
New York City
Maggie and I have started a roommate tradition during the holidays of having a little date night. Typically it involves dinner, but this year, we decided the Of Monsters and Men concert would be the perfect option. So I bought tickets and we were off!
Only to find, I forgot the tickets. Cab home, search and nothing. So now, I’ve lost the tickets. Cab back. Buy some more from someone on the street, go in and have one hell of a time. (Note: lesson learned, it’s time to carry a purse. The stuffing-it-in-your-pocket method has failed more than a handful of times. Time to adopt a new practice).
The show this Icelandic band puts on is nothing short of stellar. Granted, you can’t really understand what they’re saying due to their accents, but their spirit and energy are quite catching. We couldn’t stop smiling, laughing, dancing and singing right along. If you get the chance to see these guys, take it!
Also to note, the band passes around instruments. Everyone pretty much plays every single thing. When the keyboardist was on the clarinet and playing the keys, I was completely mind-blown.
As Maggie said at the end of the night, “Europe does everything right. They have cooler clothes, accents and can play a variety of musical instruments.”
If you’re like me, you devoured The Hunger Games trilogy. And now, have to get your fill of that world in the movies (which are just as fantastic). But fret no more. I’ve been tipped of a series that’s similar in nature minus the arena. It’s called Divergent, by Veronica Roth (who’s 24, cue my jealousy). I was hesitant when Maggie first told me about this, because let’s be honest, nothing could ever compare to The Hunger Games.
Borrowed the first book from a co-werker (Divergent) and read it in three days. Got the second one (Insurgent) and missed my bus stop this morning from reading for too long.
I’m hooked. And if you have a gaping hole the size of Panem, this just might be something to tide you over until Catching Fire comes out. I should note, the third and final book of the Divergent series is not out. Which means you’ll have to sit around twiddling your thumbs, just like you did when you finished a Harry Potter book. The Divergent trilogy is slated for Hollywood, though I refuse to see a casting list until I finish the second book.
Also to note, this book takes place in Chicago in the very distant future. But Roth still makes current landmark Chicago references (every time I look at Millennium Park, I think of a scene from the book). And I love every minute of it.
Sponsored Post: Everywhere, LLC provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.
As we continue to move our television, video gaming and movie habits to smaller and smaller screens, I can’t help but wonder if we’re missing a key part of the experience. Naturally, I was eager to head to the IMAX and see a film how it was supposed to be seen, and felt. Figuring it couldn’t get better than James Bond on a big(ger) screen, I went where few Chicagoans go: to Navy Pier on a Saturday afternoon. It was there I caught Skyfall among Bond fans, tourists and gals eager to see Daniel Craig in a larger-than-life way.
It.did.not.disappoint. From the very beginning, I felt like an added character. And peripheral vision? Forget it. No matter where I looked, the scene happened right before me.
Yet the screen did more than just make me feel like I had to duck and roll with James Bond. An IMAX screen did something I never imagined: tuned out the world around me. That man crinkling his plastic bag…heard it for four seconds and…wasn’t thinking of it anymore. The loud breather…the sound took away his breath for me while the movie’s score engulfed me.
I highly recommend the IMAX experience for any film with detailed elements (looking at you Pixar® Films) and action films. After watching the two-minute trailer for the upcoming Hobbit movie, I knew watching any other way would be disappointing. As we continually opt for the screens of laptops, phones and tablets, it’s nice to get a reminder of how movies should be seen. A nice big, six-story, massive reminder.
For more information on IMAX:
–IMAX on Facebook
–IMAX on Twitter
Dîner en Blanc was everything and so much more than we imagined. After meeting at the Belmont stop with about 20 others, we took the train and headed to Monroe…which was when the guessing game began. Standing on State Street, we learn we’re heading to…..the Art Institute! Upon crossing Michigan Ave., we see we’re in the South Gardens, a place I often overlook when walking by the building.
It.Was.Amazing. We quickly set up our table, popped open wine and began our 2.5-hour dinner. Everyone got along swimmingly and Rich even found ways to sneak his French in to conversation, though he often got a “I literally have no idea what you’re saying” response.
When we finished our wine, Rich went to get another bottle (the site said they weren’t selling onsite, but they were). And what does he come back with? Hanna wine. Cue my glee.
Once we stuffed ourselves full of cheese, hummus, crackers and fruit, we made our way to the dance floor. And had ourselves quite the interpretative dance party until the wee hours of the night.
I must say, for something that was just so “sudden,” this event was fantastic. You were responsible for yourself and party and there wasn’t a “schedule” to the night. You went at your own pace. At first, I wasn’t a fan. I think Rich looked at me and said “Just calm down” at least 7 times in the first hour. But that was the beauty of this. Hundreds of people could come together and enjoy a civilized night without any barriers and rules.
We’re definitely hitting up the party again next year.