Last year, we wrangled Rudolph.
We’ve Elfed ourselves. That’s right. From 11-4 tomorrow at Pioneer Square during the Festival of Lights, we’re dressed as elves. It’s time to relive the glory days of being a mascot. Finally.
This past year has been a crazy year of firsts. Going on my first blind date, my first trapeze class, my first Blackhawks game as a Chicago resident, the first time I read over 50 books in a year, the first time I took a challenge to write a novel, the first time I went rafting and the first time I spontaneously hopped a plane to travel.
But I didn’t stop there. This year also marks the first time I marched down Michigan Avenue in the Festival of Lights parade as a balloon handler. With Kara, Sarah, Durda and Amanda, we manned the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer balloon. The balloon, as big as a house, was a beast in the wind. Thankfully, we only had a couple of scares while walking down Magnificent Mile, including the reindeer game of getting Rudolph’s head stuck in a tree.
It was a fantastic time with the gals and I’m not sure if we had more fun creating a spontaneous sing-a-long while moving down the street or helping deflate the balloon at the very end. All in all, such a worthy bucket list item.
Last summer, Maggie and I became pseudo-fans of Millennium Park Workouts (I think we went three times). This year, I vowed to take advantage of the free classes all summer long. We finally had a non-rainy Saturday morning, so Mia and I went down for Pilates and Salsa Boot Camp.
Pilates: I am terrible. If you were at the class, that was indeed myself, laying on my back refusing to do the bends and legs in the air and breathing. This lasted for 45 minutes.
Then we opted to stay for the dance aerobics class. For those that know me, I love being outside and doing physical things as long as I don’t realize they’re physical workouts. I hate running because I know it’s a workout. I love Zumba because you basically jump around and throw your arms in the air and make weird noises for an hour. I love hiking because I see it as beauty and art and not the working my quads and whatever other muscles are in your legs. I don’t like rowing boats, I do like pedal boats…you get the idea.
New this season are the dance aerobics classes. Each one lasts for a span of 3 weeks. Mia and I, being the fortunate people who we are, arrived for week 1 of Salsa Boot Camp. And holy mother of pearl did this turn into pure comedy.
First up, Pink Shirt, Shorts and Hat lady really knew how to throw her hips from side-to-side. We seriously were in awe trying to mimic her moves. She even got to go up on stage and show the Great Lawn her moves, all while wearing a Derby-esque hat. We would later inquire about her moves and adhere to her request to show up next week.
Second up, partner dancing. Naturally, Mia and I eagerly joined sweaty palm to sweaty palm and paid no attention to the instructor as we made up our own twirls and spins. We like to think of it as the Lazy-Gals-Who-Want-To-Draw-Attention-To-Themselves-As-Crazies Salsa, with a fantastic ab/laughing workout thrown in the mix.
Third up, this crazy hip move Teacher Lisa made us do. Literally felt like our hips became unleashed to the world. Like something just fell right off. Like our hips finally broke free of the shells that encased them. At any rate, I don’t think our hips will lie anymore.
Lastly, Teacher Lisa loves to interject Spanish throughout the class time. I’m a huge fan of Spanglish and sliding in and out of the language. Whether I’m yelling at the dog Oscar to “Ven aqui!” (I like to think of Oscar as the Oscar character of The Office who is of Spanish decent) or quoting the “Oh Mickey You’re So Fine” song in Spanish, I just can’t get enough.
After two hours (and lord knows how many tourists pictures), we finally saw the end and water break. While I don’t see me “baa-ing” and “give it to me” and “take this” in my future dance moves during an evening at Big City Tap, I do find myself eagerly anticipating Teacher Lisa’s new moves, phrases and historical facts next week.
Side note: When Teacher Lisa inquired the class about the merengue, I jumped up and down just like the kids from Mad Hot Ballroom. Something about that word being screamed over an amp just fills you with complete and utter giddy.
Let me preface by saying, for what seems like eons, our family packed up the Nissan Altima and the Acura Legend to venture to Chicago for a summer outing. Our destination was always the same: The Westin. And we rarely wandered off the Michigan Avenue path. We took public transportation once to my recollection (down to the White Sox game) and rarely crossed south of the river (just for the aquarium). I also love traveling and being a tourist in others’ cities.
Tourists drive me up the wall. I’m not sure if it’s the visors, the high socks, the gum smacking, the poor clothing choices made for the day (they never seem to dress appropriately for the Chicago weather), the loud way they scream at each other or their need to say over and over “We’re visiting.” Either way, I can’t stand ’em (say it in the Lena Lamont voice à la Singing in the Rain).
Por ejemplo: After hopping on the 151, I descended into the city with one mission: Trader Joe’s. While driving past the Lincoln Park Zoo, the inevitable happened: tourists. After they finally figure out that after boarding a bus you’re supposed to walk to the back, the bus ride begins, as does the gum smacking and loud shouting to various party members.
“KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIM, What’s the stop?!” “Ontario!” “Ontario? We’re not going to Canada!” “I meant Ohio not Canada.”
Promptly pull out my book and begin reading, which only invites my nearby tourist to begin a conversation.
Deranged Tourist: “Oooo with this tote bag, you must live here right?”
Hanna: “It’s a market tote and yes. I’m going grocery shopping.”
DT: “Kiiiiiiim. This gal’s going grocery shopping IN THE CITY. Can you believe it?! So what kind of things do you buy there?”
Hanna: “Ummm food.”
DT: “Heavens. That’s crazy.”
Hanna: (inside the mind: what a concept, buying food at a grocery store)
DT: “We’re not from here. We’re visiting from Nebraska.”
Note: I usually would pipe up with “I went to Kansas”, but I didn’t want to instigate this any further.
Hanna: “Oh nice, well enjoy your time, this is my stop: Canada!”
I get that tourists are good for our squandering economy and that because of them I get to enjoy “Chicago Resident” admission prices at museums, but gosh is it quite the price to pay. I wish everyone stuck to the “Single-Mom-Does-Chicago-With-Two-Kids” trip itinerary my mom used.
I can’t wait to see what The Taste brings in!