Tuesday, July 31, 2012

chapter seven: college and a special

Remember when I said I didn't love high school?  I loved college.  It bears repeating: I loved college.  At the time, I remember thinking I was born to be a college kid.  (I'm also certain I said that to my mother several times through those four years, and she was probably grimacing).  I had good grades in high school, and shit grades my freshmen year of college.  (After several "come to Jesus" talks with my parents, my grades showed gradual improvement, and while I never hit quite the academic mark of my promise, I graduated with a B average).

College was the polar opposite of high school.  Full of freedom and liberal thinking and interesting minds and parties and friends and beer and the library until 2am.  And fun.  Lots of that.

The third Saturday of college, I got a tattoo on my left foot.  In ways both symbolic and stupid, the 1/2 inch star was a tangible sign of my rebellion, my breaking out of the Kate Generation One in to the Kate I was always meant to be.  (It also serves as my most tangible regret of college life... while I don't regret the actual tattoo, I do regret the timing, as my parents had specifically requested that I not get one).

I began working at the University of Iowa Helpdesk, harnessing the little technological information that I had in to a job.  (Several years and beers later, the guy that hired me admitted that they hired me for my people skills, not my tech skills).  I loved my time at the HD, and while I still don't have many tech skills, I have friendships that have endured to this day, and many hilarious memories.

I was a member of Chi Omega sorority, and met two of my best girlfriends (and closest confidants) that I've ever had.  I loved the women in my sorority, and for the first time in my life, had sisters.  My sorority was among the best on campus, full of philanthropy and "best in grades" awards and socials with fraternities and community service.  I lived in the house my sophomore and junior years.

I chose to major in Political Science, a degree that I declared on my UI application, and a choice I never wavered from.  I enjoyed my poli sci classes, even though the grades I earned in those classes didn't always reflect this.    In hindsight, I should have applied myself more to my studies, but I can't list this as a regret, because I learned so much about how to be a 19- 20- 21- year old, and at the conclusion of my time in Iowa City, I was ready to grow up.  To be a grown up.

In addition to political science, I made the decision to get an English minor.  My mother was an English major at the UI, and I loved to write, so it seemed a natural fit, and it really was.  My creative writing classes were among the best grades I ever received, and I got high marks and accolades for some of the writing that I did about Mike Maloney.

At some point, my mom encouraged me to take a class from a teacher who had been popular during her time as a student at Iowa, Professor Jay Holstein.  His popularity had continued to soar since then, and his classes were always hard to get in to.  I finally got in to one during the Winter of 2004/2005, and took his "Quest For Human Destiny" an introductory level religion class.  He was both a Professor and Jewish Rabbi, and his class lit me on fire.  Over the course of the next 3 semesters, I completely tapped out the classes that he taught (six in total) and because of him, graduated with a minor in Religious Studies.  He goes down in history as the best professor I ever had, and I don't even know if he was that good of a teacher.  (He probably was).  He was passionate about religion and the Bible and the Torah and his passion made me passionate.  He re-instilled the idea of faith and religion and belief in God in to me (sorry Xavier).

On April 19, 2006, I met my friend Melissa for a quick lunch.  Melissa and I were friends from high school, and we were both busy with classes and different sororities, but maintained a semi-regular standing lunch date that semester.  We met around 2 in the afternoon and decided to go to Mickey's because they had a good afternoon special (on Margaritas, I think... because that's always a good idea at 2pm on a Wednesday).  We walked in, and the place was packed.  We were looking around, considering going some place else where we could get a seat, when a vaguely familiar face got Melissa's attention.

"Oh, that's my friend, we can sit with them", Melissa said to me.

She led me over, and re-introduced me to Scott Special.

And that's when college got really interesting.

Photo of the Day: New Carpet Edition

Our freight elevator just got new carpet... Retro!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Photo of the Day: Blue Edition

This weekend, Scott's cousin Julie stayed with us.  She lives in the suburbs, but was a bridesmaid in a wedding downtown.  As a "thank you" for staying in our guest room, she gave us wine, plus gave me these nail polishes... the color on my hands, incidentally, was already there.   Is my blue nail obsession that obvious?! :)  Love!

Milwaukee Visit

I mentioned earlier this year that my brother Joe recently graduated college, and earlier this month he moved to Milwaukee.  Scott and I visited him yesterday, and saw his crazy cool bachelor pad.  (Seriously, it put my first place to shame!)   I love his neighborhood - it's smack in the middle of downtown and has an awesome skyline view.  Plus, it's walkable to his work, and to tons of bars and restaurants off of Water Street.

Thanks for having us, Joe!  

wisconsinite beer + the milwaukee skyline
mike's photo is in this life mag

joe has our family bible with mom's family tree on the
left, and mike's on the right

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Photo of the Day: Perfect Sunday Night Edition

How hilarious is this book?  I found it in our condo building's library.  Maybe I'll get an idea or two ;)

chapter six: high school

After Mike's death it was summer, and then another school year rolled around.  I attended a Catholic high school (the only Catholic one in my town) and while I made some life long friends, high school was an awkward time for me.  I was starting to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be, but there was a disconnect between those things, and I wasn't self aware (or self confident) enough to jump the bridge.

For much of high school, I floated.  Good grades and test scores, and knee-deep involvement in tons of extracurriculars.  Peer court, NHS, volleyball, soccer, softball, show choir.  Inch deep, mile wide.   Some of my middle school friendships fell apart, and other new friendships grew together.  I am still close with two good high school girlfriends, and casual friends with a bunch of others.   For some people, high school was one of the highlights of their lives... not so for me. 

Looking back, some of my most distinct memories are from high school, and they really set the tone for who I am today.  My then 16- year old brother and his girlfriend were briefly at a party where underage drinking occurred - there was no argument about the fact that they had NOT been drinking, but  he was sentenced to miss a football game as a result (the same penalty as if he had been drinking).  My parents tried to fight it, but didn't win.  He was sidelined.  I thought this rule was horrible and unfair - and I wrote a letter to the editor of the school paper because of it.  It was my senior year, and I was taking two English classes (back to back, nonetheless).  Both teachers encouraged me to write the letter, edited it thoroughly, and let me work on it in the Journalism office instead of attending their classes for a day.   I pinpoint that incident as the first time I realized that I like to fight when things aren't fair, and I like to harness passion through language.  Through the backward lens, I also recognize that as a way that two teachers went to bat for me, and fanned the flame of writing within me.

In that instance, and many others, I was the recipient of good teachers (and people) at Xavier... but there was certainly bad too.  My one-time theology teacher wasted an entire semester teaching us almost nothing, coming in late and leaving in the middle of each class to get more coffee, and then gave us a horribly unfair final essay test.  I wrote him a note on the final saying that I thought it was unfair, and the "A" that I had in his class until that point suddenly dropped to a C+.  Mathmatically impossible, mind you, since the test was worth only 10%.  It was the only C I got in high school.  (I'm also not above naming names...  So thanks for that Mr. Phelan).  

The flip side of that coin was some truly wonderful teachers that I encountered during my four years at Xavier. A teacher that lit a fire within me to learn about justice and law, and chartered the course for my four years of college.  English teachers that I loved.  Science teachers, gym teachers, math teachers.  The teachers at Xavier were for the most part remarkable, a group called to the vocation of Catholic education, and I am fortunate to have learned from them.  A principal that I was paired with in a mentorship program who went on to write me a glowing letter of recommendation.  One day each year dedicated to community service.  I loved Xavier, but in many ways, it was very small, and very political.  I mostly loved and sometimes hated my time there, and some of the strongest lessons I learned were that kindness, circumstances, and people matter.  I also learned that adults don't always know best, to question authority, and to trust my gut.

As high school came to a close, it was time to start thinking about college.  I considered many options and in part because of the narrow minded and authoritarian system that Xavier employed, I chose something completely different - the University of Iowa.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

So.  50 Shades.  I mentioned earlier this summer that I wanted to read the book but that since I refused to pay $15 of my hard earned cash on glorified literal literotica, I was waiting for a friend to loan it to me or to get if from the long waiting list at the library.  A friend gave it to me on Tuesday… and I returned the 400+ page book on Wednesday.  Finished.

I think a review of this book would be remiss to start with anything other than sex.  Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex.  I would estimate that approximately 75%+ of the text in the book is dedicated to Anastasia and Christian’s sex life… in graphic detail.  I knew the premise of the book going in – and I’m no prude – but I was still shocked by the amount of sex.  And by how detailed the descriptions were.  To be honest, about 50 pages in I started skimming some of those scenes.  I mean, I don't need any more details on how good lucking Christian Grey is or how bumbling and innocent Anastasia Steele is was.   I get it already!

I don’t want to give much away, but I will say that I enjoyed the plot line (er, the plot line that escapes in between all the sexin’) and the chemistry between Anastasia and Christian.  Is it far fetched?  Yes.  Is it enjoyable?  Yes.  Were there parts that I was uncomfortable reading?  Err, no, but the book is definitely rated NC17.  Or XXX if you will.

My main criticism of the book wasn’t the sex, or the dominant/submissive relationship or any of that (as a “feminist” I believe that it is just as acceptable of a choice for anyone to make).  Rather, my main criticism was the writing and language.  I had been warned about the writing style, but c'mon.... a 12 year old me could have edited this thing more effectively.  The author is CLEARLY British, and writing from that POV, which is fine - but the entire time I pictured both Christian and Anastasia speaking in British accents.  I mean, what 22 year old Seattle resident is going to describe her outfit as “smart”?  I also wish the author would invest in a thesaurus… how many times are you going to tell us that Christian “beguiles” Anastasia, or call him the same three adjectives.

I'll admit it: I really liked the book and cannot wait to read the other two (any Chicagoans out there own them that I can borrow?)  I also think this book would be a fabulous bachelorette gift (perfect beach reading, and perfect honeymoon reading).

To sum up: I would highly recommend this book.  Unless you’re related to me, then please steer clear. :)

Race Recap: Undie Dash 2012

On Thursday night Scott and I joined a couple thousand other Chicagoans for the annual "Undie Dash".  Undie... like underwear.  The premise of the race is that you wear your underwear ONLY for a 5K run around the city.   While I didn't exactly wear underwear (well, I did, but with clothes OVER it), I did rock my shortest running shorts and a t-shirt I frequently wear to bed, so..   Scott on the other hand, wore his tried and true (and hilariously awesome) American flag running shorts.  (More on those famous shorts in a moment).

photos 1-3 via undiedash FB page
The outfits that everyone else wore were truly entertaining.  They ranged from traditional race clothes (tank top + running shorts) to legit underwear (glorified thong underwear).  I had three favorites:  the first was a guy dressed up like Forrest Gump who ran the entire race while bouncing a ping pong ball on a paddle.  The second was an Army guy wearing Army underwear - Army green boxer briefs and tshirt, Army green socks and combat boots.  The third was a group of seven women who were each wearing different colored sports bras + underwear which were labeled with "Monday", "Tuesday", etc.  Hilarious.

There were lots of other really entertaining people/costumes.  An entire bridal party running in white teensy bottoms + frilly tops and veils/feather boas.  Lots of angel/devil costumes.  Two "green guys" dressed in head to toe neon green - including painted bodies/faces.  The fun costumes make the people-watching aspect of the race a thrill.

The course itself was beautiful.  I prefer running by Lake Michigan to any other course I've discovered to date (although the 3 mile loop that my parents do every evening comes a very close second) and the entire race was along Lake Michigan.  The course was very similar to the Run to Remember, but we started near Navy Pier and ran south (versus the opposite at the R2R).  I'm not a huge fan of running on rugged terrain, and the first mile or so was a mix of very choppy grass and sand, but other than that it was a rockin' course and I really liked it.  One other criticism would be that the mile markers weren't labeled that I saw, which makes it a little harder to judge how you are doing and how much energy you should be using (maybe a more seasoned runner wouldn't have the same complaint).

I felt pretty good about my run.  I really pushed myself, and was completely wiped when it finished (that could have been partially blamed on the really strong winds pushing against us for the last 1.5).   Can I just stress again how much I enjoy running (races or recreationally) along the lake?  This race had a photographer, who caught me mid-stride in a photo that captures the gorgeous background.

At the post-race party (which was held on a huge yacht docked on the lake), we were walking around to each of the different stations and getting our freebies for running (Coconut Water, a Mikes Hard Lemonade, etc) and we walked up to the Pop Chips booth... and the woman recognized Scott and his shorts from the Beach Dash!  It was hilarious.

Overall, I really, REALLY enjoyed this race.  It was definitely a "fun run" (we didn't wear chips to record our time) but I may prefer those.  Less pressure, more entertainment, more running for pleasure.  I'll speak for Scott and say we'd love to do this one again in years to come.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Raising An Olympian - Jordyn Wieber

I love the Olympics.  There's something about the raw athleticism that just makes me want to go for a run (or at least dance around my apartment :)  Anyway, my friend Melissa posted this video the other day, and I think it's so appropriate for today's Olympic kick-off.

Go Team USA!

Photos of the Day: My Wedding Flowers

Apparently this is the week of wedding posts on The Year of the Kate.  Anyway, I stumbled across pictures of the flowers at my wedding, and I realized I had never posted about them and since I loved them so much... well here we are.

The flowers for my wedding were something that I didn't have super strong opinions about.  I did love hydrangeas, but other than that.. no real opinions.  My mom and I had heard from several sources that one specific floral department (and one specific person at that floral department) of a grocery store (!!) was the person in CR that we should work with.

So we dutifully made an appointment for a weekend I'd be back in town, and went to meet with their team.  The main lady was out of town, so we met with her assistant... and it was a little disasterous.  (Ask my mom, it might have been the only time during the wedding planning process that we had cross words?  Sorry mom).  Anyways, there were so many choices - colors, types of flowers, few big stems, many small stems, etc etc.  I was overwhelmed and made decisions, and felt just... ugh.

We rescheduled our appointment, and met with the main lady... and it was wonderful.  Our main goal was to have a flower scheme that was one bright color that would pop with the navy bridesmaids dresses.  I also don't see the need to spend a fortune on flowers, so I made that clear to the woman, and she guided us towards flowers that made the most sense for us.   After speaking with her, I really felt like she "got" me and my flower vision, and I was not disappointed.

The day of the wedding, the flowers arrived right on time, and I was thrilled with the results.  Here are a few photos:

I loved the flowers.  The bridesmaids had those wild bright green bouquets, and the groomsmen/Dads/Grandpas/Ushers/male readers and gift bearers had the matching green corsages.  The moms/grandma/female readers and gift bearers had the corsages with a little wild green and a rose. My bouquet was mostly white roses (something I initially didn't think I wanted, but loooved in person).

Overall, I was so happy with the flowers.  I thought they were gorgeous and interesting and fun - and really added a little badda bing to the photos.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

15) Find an "important" book that I haven't read and actually read it

I'm a big reader.  I read daily, almost without exception.  I have a thirty(ish) minute bus commute each way Monday through Friday, and Scott and I read before bed for 30-60 minutes almost every night.   I don't discriminate on book topics either - I like everything from sleazy romance books to Jodi Picoult to John Grisham.

(My latest obsession is for the Dirk Pitt series by Clive Cussler.  I got hooked on him in May, and am on my sixth or seventh book in the series out of about twenty.  Scott and his Dad read the series, and when I was desperate for a new book, Scott handed me one.  I can't say enough good things.  It's like Indiana Jones on the sea... I'm not selling it very well here, but they are exciting and interesting and I may name my firstborn son Dirk Pitt Special.  This is how much I love the character and the series).

All this to say - I've been dreading this goal.  I enjoy reading books.  I like to read.  And I shouldn't have included a goal that forces me to read something I don't want to.  (I'll admit, I have exactly zero desire to read Pride and Prejudice, or the Tale of Two Cities, the books that sprang to mind when I concocted this goal.  Zero).

I was talking about this to my cousinfriend Christine the other day (on gchat, obvs) and she sent me this, a letter to the editor disagreeing with the notion that some books are better than others when it comes down to it:

Re “Some Books Are More Equal Than Others” (Sunday Review, June 24): Claire Needell Hollander notes that while a 13-year-old may be entranced by “The Hunger Games,” he will not gain any “verbal and world knowledge” from the series. But she misses the point: The reader is learning that a book has the power to entrance, something that new readers need to learn and all readers need to be reminded of occasionally.

Being reminded of the joy of reading, particularly after a school year spent reading books that may not have entranced at all, is of huge value. While it is surely good if readers of all ages are also learning life skills or global politics or ecology, no teacher or parent — or indeed, reader — should discount the value of reading for pleasure.

It is a hobby that can be at least as entertaining as television or Angry Birds and yet is being discarded by many who are made to feel that it must always be work.

Yes.  All of this.  I already like to read and do it for pleasure.  I've decided to consider this goal achieved - who's to say that the books that I have read this year aren't important.  Not me.

Hiding from Reality by Taylor Armstrong
Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielsen
Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi
Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar
The Mistresses Daughter by A.M. Holmes
Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family by Catherine Hooper
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25, 2001

Eleven years ago today I became Shawn Steil's daughter.  It was an act full of choice and symbolism and the ties that make a family.  And while it seemed symbolic at the time (and still does) it was also just... the right thing for us?  It was more than a symbol, it was making official a relationship that we were living.  The stars aligned for the Maloney children.

Some of my favorite photos of my handsome dad, taken by Rebecca and Studio Noveau photography:

Happy anniversary, Dad.  I'm lucky to be your daughter.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Photo of the Day: Panoramic Sam Edition

The groom's younger sister (whom I adore) posted the following photos after Sam and Andy's wedding.  I loooooveeee panoramic photos, and these are just fabulous.  Good thing to remember when I'm snapping wedding photos - panoramic shots take a little time, but the results are awesome. 

on victims and violence and blame

I was away for most of the weekend, and through the love and laughter and joy and "happily ever after", my thoughts turned to the events in Colorado more than once.

I spent a few minutes this morning reading the names of the victims, including about six year old Veronica Moser-Sullivan.

Much has been made about the littlest victims, including the three month old baby.  A horrible tragedy that knew no limitations, striking down veterans and schoolteachers and mothers and fathers and - yes - children.

I'll admit it - my gut reaction was one of dismay.  I read comments that cried out"What kind of a parent brings a child (a six year old, nonetheless!) to a violent, midnight movie?" and I didn't disagree.

And the more I read, I realized that my reaction was one of victim shaming.  Frankly, I'm ashamed of myself.  It was a summer night, and a parent should be able to take their child to a movie.  No one could have predicted that an evil man would shoot up the theatre.  Not you, not me.  The worst that should happen is that the child sees something they maybe shouldn't see as a six year old, or falls asleep and wastes their $9 movie ticket.  But I'll admit it: I was wrong. Feeling the way I did is not just akin to blaming the victim... it IS blaming the victim.  I would never say that a woman was asking for trouble by wearing a mini-skirt in to a bar, and I shouldn't ask what a child was doing at a midnight movie.

But even that is too simple, as there are so many layers to delve through and facts to digest.

The fact was, there were children in the movie theatre, just as there are children that see every other movie, and listen to violent lyrics, and witness violence in their own life.  Violence is everywhere.  Violence is all around us.  Music.  TV shows.  Movies.  Song lyrics.

The issue isn't that there were so called "bad" parents who made the judgment call to allow their child to see a PG-13 movie.  The issue is that there are bad people out there in this world, who shatter our safe havens and end our innocence.  Few people will ever walk in to a dark movie theatre, popcorn in hand, with the same naive confidence again.

The second issue is one of gun control.  While I'm not knowledgeable enough to debate the Second Amendment here, I will say that the fact that the shooter killed and injured "only" 70 people was a miracle in itself.  He had some kind of assault rifle - and over 6,000 rounds of ammunition - so the fact that his gun jammed was literally a miracle.  I've read a bit about these types of weapons today, and what it boils down to is that there is no reason for a private citizen to own these types of machines.  The are capable of doing so much damage to human lives, very, very quickly.   While we are lucky that more lives weren't shattered in Aurora, I think it would be hard to convince the twelve families that the tragedy involved any at all.

And when is that going to end?  When is someone going to stand up and do something about this?  I stumbled upon Howard Stern's take on the situation, and I thought it made a lot of sense (warning: adult language):

"President Obama was there…And he should have stood up. Forget all the bulls**t: ‘I’m so sorry. I’m here as a father.’ No, you’re there as the President of the United States who can affect policy. If I was President of the United States…I’d get up and I’d go: ‘This a tragedy we’ve seen too often. The only reason more people aren’t dead is because the stupid asshole’s gun jammed—his assault weapon jammed, so had to go to a shitty rifle with some buckshot in it, otherwise all you $Q*#@%*ckers would be dead'.”

It's hard to think about answers when we don't even know all of the questions.  I think a good start would be to stop blaming the victims, and instead, to think about what we can do to end the violence in our culture.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sam + Andy: Part Two

The morning started early, with hair appointments, and fake eyelashes.  :) 

I decided to wear my hair curly, because I prefer how I look with my hair down, but the curls make it seem a little more special (and something I can't do to myself very well).  After the hair appointments, the whole crew traveled to Sam's mom's house, which was only a few blocks from the church, to get our dresses on, eat lunch, etc.  

After all of Sam's bridesmaids were dressed and ready to go, it was time for Sam to get in to her wedding dress.

I don't even know how to describe it.  I've never seen anyone get ready for their wedding until Sam, and it was really special.  There was something in the air - anticipation, surprise, nerves, joy.  Seeing her in her wedding dress, watching her mom zip it up and tie the sash was really, really cool.  It was unlike anything I've ever experienced before, and I loved it.  (It didn't hurt that Sam was a gorgeous and gleeful bride).

After the ceremony, the bridal party boarded a trolley, careened around town to several cool photo locations (sidenote: the photographer was the same one who took the photos at my wedding).

The reception was awesome - my feet are still killing me :)  But more importantly - most importantly - Sam and Andy are wonderful together, and their happily ever after has only just begun.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Photo of the Day: Girlfriends Edition

During and after college, the four of us (plus Carolyn and Sam) lived together on and off in different places across Iowa City and Chicago, in different combinations of roommates.

We've gotten older, and moved further apart.  Three of the six are married.  Two of us live in Chicago, one in Minneapolis, one in St. Louis, and two in the Chicago suburbs.  Two are planning weddings.   We all have busy and full lives, with boyfriends, husbands, friends, family, work.

But while this picture is missing two, I feel so grateful for these women and enduring friendships.  And I miss the days where they were no more than a few doors down.

Sam + Andy: July 21, 2012

One of my very best friends got married this weekend, and it was definitely a weekend to remember.

The weekend started out by meeting Jennie for mani pedis downtown... I was debating between bright blue toes and something a little more neutral, but decided to go blue.  Lo and behond, Sam was also rocking blue nails for the weekend (as her "something blue" nonetheless!).  That's one example of the kind of bride Sam was - something traditional with her own Sam spin on it.

We took the train out to the burbs, and another bridesmaid picked us up and took us to the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.  (Sidenote: we thought there was going to be a restroom in the train station and there wasn't.  Normally wouldn't be a big deal, but we needed to change in to our rehearsal dinner dresses.  Let's just say there was some creative maneuvering going on in that train station).

After the rehearsal, the group headed over to the rehearsal dinner venue - only two blocks away.  It was held at a brewery, which was cool.  Bonus: it's actually the same place I met the groom for the first time, at Sam's birthday celebration two and a half years ago.

After the rehearsal dinner it was off to the maid-of-honors home nearby for a bridesmaid slumber party in anticipation of Sam's big day the next morning...

(Post about the wedding day coming soon!)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Quote of the Day: Bus Edition

"Chase down your passion like it's the last bus of the night" - Terri Guillemets

on colorado and gun violence and fear and evil

I woke up this morning just like many Americans, powered up my laptop, and opened CNN.  The headline blared: Batman Movie Massacre.  Twelve killed.  Fifty plus injured.

The events happened in Aurora, Colorado, home to my cousin John and his family.  (They are all ok, thank God).  A group of excited Batman fans, looking forward to the newest movie and a fun summer night.  An article someone posted on Facebook this morning summarizes it so well:

Those are our people, y’all — excited moviegoers — and I grieve for the loss, the injuries, and for the families who didn’t think anything of sending their kids to a late movie in the middle of the summer. There are a lot of people who won’t be returning to their jobs, their summer camps, or their homes this morning. It’s cast a pall over what was supposed to be one of the more exciting days in our moviegoing lives, and more more significantly, it’s cost us 12 lives so far. There are true monsters in our midst, and we can never be vigilant enough to protect ourselves from these senseless random acts of violence.

And it is exactly that - senseless, random, violent.  And now twelve people didn't get to wake up this morning like you and I did.  The lives affected are countless, because as President Obama said this morning, these were "mothers and fathers. They were husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors."  I don't have anything original to add to the conversation, I just felt like I wanted to say something.  And I guess that something is that life is fragile.  All we have is this moment.

The Year of the Kate Wordle: Refreshed

I did a Wordle for "The Year of the Kate" a while back, but thought I could use a refreshed version today. 

I really like this one.  I love that "life" is so huge, as well as "wanting" and "summer" and "hearts" and "twenty-eight", and "Chicago" and "dreams" and "imagine" and "goals".  Pretty accurate representation of where I am right now.   (Um, realistic except for "Animals"... not sure how that snuck in.  Ha!)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

ideas for next year list

As you may or may not know, depending upon when you started reading my corner of the internet, The Year of the Kate blog started because of my life goals - wanting to do specific things with my (relatively) new Chicago life, and wanting to have a public way to hold myself accountable.  Almost three years later, I can't imagine a life where I'm not snapping a quick blog photo, or hearing a quotation and jotting it down (er, emailing it to myself) to blog it later.

Anyway.  Since my 28th is right around the corner, it means another list (Twenty nine by 29!) will be coming, and after more than 80 of these things, I'd love to hear any suggestions :)

For a little inspiration, here are my past three lists:

Twenty-six by 26
Twenty-seven by 27
Twenty-eight by 28

Quote of the Day: Political Animals

“Most of life is hell. It’s filled with failure and loss. People disappoint you, dreams don’t work out, hearts get broken, innocent journalists die, and the best moments of life, when everything comes together, are few and fleeting, but you will never get to the next great moment if you don’t keep going. So that’s what I do, I keep going.” - Political Animals

GPOYW: Beach Dash Edition

This is my "oh heyyyy race is over and I'm lovin' the 16 oz Summer Shandy with a pineapple on my head" face.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Quote of the Day: Simplicity Edition

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Leonardo DiVinci

painting class: sherwin gallery, chicago

Last weekend, Scott and I took a painting class.  We purchased a Groupon for it a few weeks ago, and finally got around to redeeming it.

The class ("workshop" would probably be a more accurate term) was led by the owner of the Sherwin Gallery in Chicago, Ian Sherwin, and he was interesting and a good person to lead a painting class.  Scott and I aren't exactly artistic... in fact, neither of us had painted since grade school, and yet we had a blast.  Going in to the workshop, Scott and I decided to paint using the same colors, in the hopes of having two images that could work together, perhaps on our bedroom wall.

Originally we intended to draw something crazy - like a solid grey background with wild black, white and red squiggles.  But, when we got there we decided we weren't artsy enough for that, and instead decided to go for the Chicago skyline - each of us taking a different section.

The class was a BYOB style class, so... let's just say the wine helped loosen the creativity.  :)   Fun and different thing to do on a Sunday night in Chicago! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Beach Dash 2012

Scott and I ran the beach dash this weekend with our friend Brad, and let me say - it was quite the experience.

It was only a 5K race (a little over 3 miles), HOWEVER the obstacles made it much harder.

The race was taking place about a mile and a half from our front door, and we arrived promptly, signed in, got our gear and started getting for the race.  And then... it started POURING.  Huge drops of sharp rain.  At one point I tried to catch a rain drop because it was so sharp that it felt like hail!  The race was delayed a few minutes for the rain, so 250+ runners got completely soaked.  (I could ring out my shirt - and I did, but then realized it was pointless as it was soaked again thirty seconds later).  The starting bell finally rang, and we were off.

The obstacles were interspersed throughout the course, which was nice (I've heard other obstacle races have all of the obstacles at the end).  I will say that while I attempted all of them, they were not all my favorite.  (For example, I hated the first obstacle, where you had to tight-rope walk across a narrow plank in the POURING rain about 8 feet in the air).  I loved the obstacles that I could power through - like running up and down 6-10 feet sand dunes in to 3 feet deep puddles of water.  After running the race I did feel a sense of accomplishment that I haven't felt at the end of other races.   I was especially pleased with myself because so many of the obstacles required you to pull yourself up and over tall structures - and I don't like heights, nor climbing, and yet, I did it.

A few things I learned: don't be polite.  So damn many people cut in front of me as I was waiting for my turn to attempt the obstacles.  They'd say goofy excuses, things like "I'm running the race to get a good time!" But all runners want to get a good time, so... no.  Also, I was glad Scott told me not to use an iPod.  It was my first ran sans music, and while I'm glad not to have to do my daily runs without some rockin' tunes, it was an interesting twist to run without a beat.  (Many of the obstacles included water - like wading through it, swimming through ice and water, etc).

Overall it was a very fun experience, and definitely a nice twist on the traditional running race.  Had it not rained at the beginning, it would have been even better (tough to run 3 miles in soaking wet clothes and drenched shoes that weigh 10 pounds each).  I definitely plan to do this race in years to come!

I also owe a little shoutout to my running buddy.  I would definitely not have attempted this race without his encouragement.  While I had confidence in my ability, it was great having my love cheering for me.

Hilariously, in addition to the standard race t-shirts, Beach Dash runners also get a pineapple hat.

Scott's parents came to cheer us on
the rain magically stopped
See you next year Beach Dash!