Archive for the ‘weekend fun and roadtrips’ Category

just as free…free as we’ll ever be.   Leave a comment

As soon as I felt the sun on my skin and the breeze through my hair, I knew that it was going to be hard to leave this place.  California.  Never in my mind did I think I was going to fall in love with California- let alone fall in love at first sight.  Heck, until this summer I wasn’t sure I’d ever even see California.

Last Friday morning my friend, Jenny, and I fled the craziness that is Chicago for a four-day weekend in sunny California.  After landing and getting our rental car, I found myself taken by the fresh air as we drove to San Francisco with our windows down and sunglasses on.  With the sun shining down on me, I had one of those moments of recognition that there was nowhere else I wanted to be. 

I could call my weekend in Northern California perfect, but instead I’ll reference it as being exactly what I needed.  After a summer of anxiety and a few months of nothing but work-school-sleep-repeat, a weekend of sunshine and freedom was just the ticket.  Add one of my best friends and a countryside of vineyards into the mix, and perfection may actually be the best way to describe it.

It is nearly impossible for me to give justice to the beauty that I experienced during my four days in California.  Between the exquisite landscapes and the relaxing environment, I found peace.  Peace within my surroundings, but most importantly peace within myself.  Sure the wine had something to do with it, as did the companionship with Jenny; however, there was so much more to it that words simply cannot capture.  In essence, I discovered myself.  My true self.  The girl without worries.  The girl who lives fearlessly with no regrets.  The girl who does what she says and says what she means.  The girl who is comfortable being single and doesn’t rely on the affection of a man to complete her.  The girl who believes she is beautiful- inside and out. 

California was truly an awakening experience.  Not only did I uncover things about myself, but I came to recognize how important certain things are to me.  Within ten hours of my arrival back to Chicago, I was forced to adapt to a changing culture and face a somewhat stressful situation.  This last week hasn’t been easy, but fortunately I’ve been able to keep my California sense with me and embrace it all with as much ease as possible.  To be fair, if it wasn’t for my four days in California, I’m not certain that I could have handle such a buzzkill.  But then again, as they say, “Everything happens for a reason.” 

For the first time in a while, I felt free in California.  I felt like nothing mattered expect where I was at the present time.  Sure I knew that things were bound to change when I returned to Chicago, but then again I remained hopeful that my peace of mind would stay intact.  And if not, then at least I had the vivid memories of the sun shining down on me as the wind blew through my hair as I drove through the captivating state of California. 

*The title of this post is lyrics from Free by Zac Brown Band.

champagne mornings and vodka nights.   1 comment

My legs are sore; my throat is scratchy; and the dark circles underneath my eyes keep getting darker and darker.  Just the price you pay for spending a weekend with your friends, including those named Champagne & Vodka.  Might I add that it was a four-day weekend too.  Oh, and lucky me woke up this Moan-day with horrible cramps and an early visit from her least favorite monthly guest.

After a weekend in Pittsburgh with my family, I arrived back in town last Monday evening to begin a week of hosting a bevy of guests.  On Wednesday night my cousin, Ryan, and his boyfriend, JT graced me with their presence; and merely 24-hours later, my married friends, Jen and Matt, came up for a long weekend.  Add some lovely Chicago friends into a mix and let the shenanigans roll!  And roll they most certainly did.

Today, the day after the last of my guests headed back to Columbus, OH, I struggle to feel any perks from my first cup of coffee.  I’ve either let the scratchy throat and painful cramps get the best of me, or I’m ridiculously exhausted.  Truthfully it may be both, but the latter is definitely the case.

Getting ready for work took longer than expected:  Nothing looked nor felt right.  (Which means I’m coming home tonight to a bedroom floor covered with clothes. Lovely.)  Somehow I found something to wear, but I can already imagine myself taking off these cute boots as soon as I sit at my desk with the day’s second cup of coffee.

Whether I’m tired or just PMSy, it can’t last too long.  Maybe another day, or two, but that’s all.  Somehow these busy last few weeks have also brought us to August 9th, which means school begins in less than 3 weeks! 

As anxious as I’ve been about getting started, now that it’s so close I cannot help but question if I’m indeed ready for it all.  Am I ready to trade in my champagne mornings for textbook reading sessions at Starbucks?  Am I am to bypass those vodka nights for research papers?  Can I sacrifice my spontaneous play dates with Max and the girls in order to dive into the role of Full- Time Employee AND Full-Time Student?  Am I able to put my carefree single girl lifestyle on hold to follow my dreams- once and for all?

weekend shenanigans with addie, mitch, lana, jordan & kendall   Leave a comment

One of my favorite things about living in Chicago is that friends are always anxious to stop by and play for a weekend.  This weekend I hosted four of my OU besties: Ashley, Mike, Libby, and Jay (pictured left to right).  Note: They may be referred to as Addie, Mitch, Lana & Jordan- which became their (bar) identities to increase this weekend’s antics. As for me, I may have introduced myself as Kendall a half-dozen times (or more). Yes, ladies and gentlemen. These four, along with some of my other Chicago friends, certainly partook in some shenanigans this weekend.  To put it best, they’ll all be back again (asap) if not moving here after a weekend that can only be described as A*MAY*ZING.

I had a blast with my friends this weekend and certainly sad to see them leave this morning. I’m so glad to be able to provide some good old-fashioned fun and more memories from the ones we’ve created since our college days in Athens.

Song of the Moment: Home by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros & Cover by Father and Adorable Daughter

my best friend’s wedding   Leave a comment

For the last 7 1/2 years, I have been one of the luckiest girls in the world.  Now I say ‘one of the…” because there are many of us who have been blessed to have Brandon as their friend.  And on Saturday, June 25, 2011, Brandon made Stephanie the luckiest of all when he became her husband.

It’s nearly impossible for me to explain to you just how special Brandon is to me.  I can tell you that he is truly (one of) my best friend (s); however, he is also a brother to me.  He’s been my confidante; walking partner (around OU); drinking buddy; and, from the beginning of our friendship, he’s been the person I turn to when I don’t feel like being around anyone (else) yet don’t want to be alone.  He’s my Brandon.  And now he’s also Steph’s husband.

I cannot figure out if I’m happier for Brandon for finding a wonderful lady in Steph; or Steph for seeing my dear friend for how A*MAY*ZING he truly is.

oh becca & kenna, don’t you ever grow up. it could stay this simple.   Leave a comment

As I rode back from Midway Airport early Tuesday morning, I turned on the Becca & Kenna playlist that my weekend guests made me only to find myself crying happy tears as Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift played.  After spending a weekend with my 18-year old cousin, Becca, and her best friend, Kenna, I couldn’t help but wonder where the time went.  When did my little cousin grow up?  Is she really going to college in a few weeks?  And how is she old enough to be talking about boys with me?  As I pondered these questions, my mind when through a montage of memories from the previous weekend and how A*MAY*ZING it truly was. 

For those of you who don’t personally know me, led me shed some light on the events leading up to my guests’ arrival.  Last December, my cousin, Becca, traveled from Atlanta to perform with her high school band.  Spending limited time with Becca due to her travel schedule, I invited her back to Chicago (since she expressed her love for it!) during the summer after graduation/before college began.  She willingly accepted and we decided to extend the invitation to her best friend, Kenna, too. 

Last Saturday morning, I woke up early to venture down to Midway Airport to pick up the college girls!  To be honest, I had no idea what the weekend would entail but so excited to find out!

Somewhere on the train between Midway and our stop we decided to conduct a photo scavenger hunt over the course of the next three days.  The first photo taken was of the girls in front of the first Starbucks that their path crossed.  (Note: We ended up passing/seeing 15 and taking a photo at each.)  We eventually headed back to my apartment to change and get ready for lunch with our other cousin, Kelly, (who was also in town) and her friends.  After some pizza at Giardano’s and more photos, we embarked on some shopping on Michigan Avenue and a stop at Garrett’s for popcorn.  Shortly after we decided to call it an early night- since these ladies were up at 4 am ET!!- and headed home to watch a movie.

Sleeping in on Sunday morning, we began our day perfectly with Panera bagels and Starbucks coffee before venturing around the neighborhood towards a few destinations.  Just like the previous day, we had no set plans; however, the girls were really interested in finding the production company of (their crush), Glee’s Darren Criss.  Unfortunately they were (apparently) only in Chicago temporarily, but that didn’t stop us from taking photos in front of their one-time theater, as well as The Gap, which all Gleeks know as the place of Blaine’s serenation.  And since we were in the area, we headed over to Wrigley Field before taking a trip to Navy Pier.  Before we knew it, we  were hungry again and I knew just the place to take my guests: Wilde’s!   After a hearty meal at my favorite neighborhood bar/restaurant, we headed back to lounge around in our pjs and rest up for another day around town.

Following another breakfast of bagels & caffeine, the girls and I jumped on the train to visit two of my favorites: Michelle & Max!  After playing hard-to-get for a little while, the world’s most adorable toddler finally came around and enjoyed playing with his new girlfriends.  And boy did they love him!!  As Max opting for play time instead of nap time- who can blame him?- we headed off to Millenium Park to show the girls “The Bean”.  And while he was a little intimidated by it a few weeks ago, Max as entertained as any other tourist.  I think it’s safe to say that the girls have fun but mostly enjoyed being in the company of this little heart-throb. (Honestly, it’s impossible not to fall in love with him.  Surrender now.)  Lucky for us, our time with Max wasn’t over because the wonderful Michelle invited the girls & me over for dinner.  In my opinion it was the perfect end to the weekend.  There was just something so special about watching them play peek-a-boo with Max.  Especially Becca.  Having known her since she was a toddler and now watching her with another who is like family to me, I just had such an indescribable feeling come over me.

So this now takes us to the ride to the airport on Tuesday morning.  Thinking about last weekend makes me realize how simple life used to be when we were kids- even teenagers.  When did life get so complicated?  While I am thrilled for Becca & Kenna to begin the next chapter of their lives in college, I am also filled with reservations because I don’t want them to grow up and lose the innocence that I witnessed within them.  I want them to avoid all of life’s complications and cherish the little things.  I want them to live simply and simply live.  I want them to remain young at heart instead of cold from the harsh realities.  I want so much for them, but above all things I really just want them to be happy.  This past week I saw happiness shine through them and their friendship; and based on the lessons I’ve learned, that is something that should always be cherished.

*This post is dedicated to Becca & Kenna.  May you both always know that you have a second home in Chicago as well as a cousin/ friend forever.

and there’s this burning, like there’s always been. i’ve never been so alone; and i’ve, i’ve never felt so alive.   2 comments

Monday, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt because I know it’s tough to follow this A*MAY*ZING weekend of mine.  And work, it’s downright impossible to measure up to two adorable kids, Max (22 mos) and Tommy (6 yrs), beautiful friends, and the fabulous Make-A-Wish Foundation.  But still, you could have at least put up some sort of fight today.  Instead you had me feeling nothing but emptiness.  To tell you the truth, after feeling so alive this weekend, the empty feeling hit me even harder.  Maybe that’s not fair to you, but it’s the truth.O

Everybody Needs Inspiration.  And in fact sometimes the ones that require inspiration are those that are known for inspiring others.  I Need Inspiration.  Fortunately I’ve been able to obtain it in the charitable and social aspects of my life; however, as others know (and I’ve shared before on here), it’s been lacking in another part of my life.  Today it was drastically apparent and therefore, I found myself fighting to feel anything (but emptiness). 

Tonight I came home to find the envelope I’m been waiting on for the past month (if not longer) and I’ve spent these last few hours trying to decide what am I going to do.  The one thing I know is where my Inspiration comes from and this opportunity allows me to follow that my passions.  However, the reality of this situation is that it may not be the right choice- which is what my instinct is whispering.  So here I am, trying to figure out how I’m deemed to spend the next 2 years of my life and truthfully I don’t have a clue.  I just want to do what I know I’m meant to do.  Do what I love to do… what makes me feel alive.

The unfortunate part is that I know I’ll struggle with that empty feeling again tomorrow.  And the next day, and the day after that.  But what keeps me going are the opportunities that light me up instead.  These moments that Let Me Be “Me”.

…and i can’t remember life before your name, ohio.   Leave a comment

Greetings again from my Starbucks in downtown Columbus!  Yes, I did it again.  I rode the overnight mega of all buses (aka Megabus) from Chicago to Columbus, OH.  Arriving at 6:15 am this morning, I took my hobo-looking self into my morning post and pulled a Superman swap into the bathroom.  Goodbye, travelin’ hot-mess-minus-the-hot girl and Hello, reasonably presentable I-love-being-back-in-O-H-I-O lady.

Now I don’t have much time since Nila is on her way to pick me up, but I wanted to give a quick hello before embarking on my A*MAY*ZING weekend back in O-H-I-O.  Today I’ll venture around Columbus before Kristin and I roadtrip back to good ol’ Athens, Ohio for my weekend with Alisha, Jakob, and their mom, Kelly!  SOOOOOOO EXCITED to FINALLY meet my beloved Pen Pal/Little Sis and her family!! 

As always, it feels great to be back in Ohio…however, I have to say that it feels different this time.  I feel different.  I’m in a really good place right now and I hope it stays around for a while.  I have a funny feeling that it will.  As my dear Darlene says, Pingers Crossed.

Have a wonderful weekend!!