Hump Day Brain Dump: Indian Summer Edition

You guys, it’s September 30th. Do you know what that means?

No, it has nothing to do with #psl.

Nope, wasn’t going to talk about apple picking, apple butter, or apple brown betty (no clue what that is anyway).

Rather, September 30th means that we have roughly 57 hours left of fall before it starts snowing. Hard. And persistently. It also means that we’re one day closer to the true beginning of hockey season (also known as our distraction from how bad the Bears are already sucking this season).

I think I’m just not ready to let go of summer. I never am, let’s be real here.

But hey, the good news is that 1. I graduated from grad school! …A month and a half ago! (Bad blogger, bad!)

grad 090915


The feeling of accomplishment walking across that stage was amazing, although I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I already miss it. Ok, I don’t miss final papers and 4,693,542 pages of reading every week, but I do miss it. I was lucky to have a cohort that I really bonded with, and to be a part of a great program with brilliant professors, so it legitimately felt like a privilege to go every week. School is cool, man, don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

2. We took the dogs on a veritable road trip!

dog jeep 090915

Don’t let that face fool you. They did not sit still for more than 4 seconds in the back of that Jeep.

Also, the Jeep doesn’t have A/C. Not uncommon since they have soft tops and you can just roll that baby back in the summer. But topless vehicles don’t really work with dogs. And this particular day happened to be ~90 degrees, so we were all a little toasty.

I’ll bet you already knew this, but dogs “sweat” by panting. And that tongue you see right there was very…sweaty. Donnie and I were pretty much soaked by the time we arrived at his brothers’ house.

…….That was a real cute story, Megan, thanks for sharing…

Moving on.

3. I drank the coloring-book-for-adults KoolAid.

coloring 090915

In a fit of unrelieved stress, I finally broke down and ordered myself a coloring book. People continue to tell me that they are a great way to unwind, so I figured I’d give it a go. I haven’t accomplished much (and I think I need better quality coloring implements), but so far so good.

I’ll show you a picture once I finish a page and hang it proudly on my fridge.

And now I’ll leave you to your Wednesday night must-see-TV. Hey, at least if the seasons insist on flying by and the weather absolutely must turn colder, at least my stories are back!

Hump Day Brain Dump: Podcast Nuggets and this Weird Dog

I keep waiting for that summer slow-down at work, but things are still coming fast and furious and it doesn’t seem like it’s about to let up anytime soon. The good news is that I’ll be done with grad school in 3 weeks and then I can actually have a life again!

In honor of this being a week of crazy, and because my capacity to form well-organized thoughts is lacking, I’m brain dumping at you today.

Incidentally, I was going to title this post “Hump Day Dump”, but I figured you’d all accuse me of making poop jokes again, so I thought I’d spare us all.

1. The Brain Dump idea is on…my brain lately

This quarter I’m taking a class in Public Persuasion, and one of the exercises that we’ve done includes starting with a prompt and writing fast and without stopping for a set amount of time (say 10 minutes). While I joked with some of my cohort that we’re paying $2000/day to learn how to journal, I can’t express enough how much I have gained from practicing this kind of writing.

The idea behind the exercise is that as you continue to write whatever pops into your mind as quickly as you can, you stop censoring yourself and you can come up with insights that were previously locked up somewhere in the deep recesses of your brain. It’s amazing how inhibited our everyday/work-email writing tends to be.

If you’re interested in learning more about it, check out Mark Levy’s book, Accidental Genius.

(Not a sponsored post, Mark Levy doesn’t know me, and that’s not an affiliate link. Over and out.)


2. My “new thing” is listening to podcasts while I walk

My commute to work involves a 3/4 mile walk each way and I also try to get out and take a walk at lunchtime whenever possible, so I manage to find quite a bit of time on my feet for an office-dweller. I’ve decided that there is so much content out there just waiting to be heard that I put on a podcast most of the time I’m walking. I’ve been jumping around between podcasts a lot, so I can’t say that I really have a favorite, but here’s a sampling of some that I’ve enjoyed:

  • Invisibilia (produced by NPR) – concerning the unseen forces in our lives that determine why we do and think what we…do and think. Really interesting if you like thinking about the brain from a psychological perspective.
  • Planet Money (also produced by NPR) – quick episodes on economic/financial/miscellaneous money matters. These are lighthearted and, like I said, quick, but I always feel like I learned an interesting tidbit.
  • The Tim Ferris Show – Tim interviews various successful professionals (they are often names you’d know) and gleans from them some of the tricks they use to heighten their success. Motivational to the max.
  • Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! (also produced by NPR…jeez, maybe I should go work at NPR since I’m obviously such a fan!) – A weekly radio show, converted into podcast format. A look at this week’s news through the lens of fart jokes. Sort of. Just plain funny.

Oh, and sometimes if I’ve had a particularly stressful day I will turn the podcasts off and call my mom to whine – you guys do that, too, right? (Sorry, Mom..)

3. Sonia Sotomayor’s take on why baseball is awesome is…well, awesome

Politics and whatnot aside, this justice loves baseball and it’s awesome. She was featured on a recent episode of How To Do Everything, which is another fun podcast, and her explanation went something like this (I’m paraphrasing here):

Baseball isn’t boring. The great thing about baseball is that it’s not over until the last out. Sometimes I watch a basketball game and halfway through you know what the result of the game is going to be, and THAT is boring.

I could not agree more.

4. One of my dogs thinks he’s a human child, and a weird one at that

Look at this face.


That’s Gus. Sitting on the couch. Looking at me all, “What? I’m comfortable, I don’t want to get up to come eat my breakfast. Also, can you change the channel to my stories?”

I tell you. We’re raising a monster. A cute monster.

That’s all for tonight. Hope you’re having a great week, and happy Friday Eve Eve!

First Annual Girls Trip (Denver)

Here’s a fun fact about me.

Until about a year and a half ago, I didn’t understand why anyone would have a fear of flying in an airplane, especially in a commercial jet. This is interesting coming from ME, the girl with the crippling fear of heights, but it’s true. I just didn’t get it.

I flew on airplanes with my family as a kid at least a few times per year, and the worst part of the experience was always the wait in the airport (which was usually anywhere from 2-8 days considering how early my mother insists on arriving at the airport. Love you, Mom!). As a young adult, I flew back and forth between Chicago (home) and Boston (college) many times without much incident.

But then, last year. Oooh, last year. I was flying home from a conference in Florida and our plane was routed over a major storm in Atlanta. We hit turbulence that would have made you think you were on a rollercoaster. And it lasted for 15 minutes straight. Drinks went flying, people clung to their significant others as I imagine Jack would have clung to Rose had they been on an airplane instead of a door floating in the frigid ocean.

You guys, it was the pits. And ever since then, flying isn’t my super awesome favorite thing anymore.

But I’m not willing to abandon it. No sir, I’m powering through.

And that’s just what I did this past weekend to get myself to Denver to hang out with these ones.

image1That’s Jenny, Sara, and Amber (from left to right) and my big honkin’ face taking up most of the frame standing on Larimer Street. They leave those lights up all year and it’s really very pretty.

Only Sara lives in Denver (the rest of us live in Chicago), but we’ve decided that since real-life adulthood takes you across the country and away from your friends, we should fight reality and arrange an annual girls’ trip.

I know, we’re so special. We also decided that we’re the Golden Girls and pretty soon we’ll be shacking up somewhere warm and humid. We even have character assignments. (100 points if you can guess which Girl I am)

Even though this trip was short, we managed to squeeze in some quality meals. Sunday night we dined at ChoLon which was a special request of Jenny’s as she had eaten there before. Apparently they had some onion soup dumpling something-or-other that was worth a repeat trip.

image8Uh, yeah. See that little dumpling in the back there? That’s the French Onion Soup Dumpling. I need to research how to make these. They look humble from the outside, but there’s a bite of soup (gruyère and all) inside and it’s a thing of beauty.

Oh and that’s a pork belly steamed bun up front, in case you were wondering.

And the little bean sprouts and remnants of sauce underneath it? That’s what happens when I decided this was too big to eat in one bite:

image7There was a lot of destruction when I tried to cut one in half. Just don’t do it. Be brave, do it in one bite.

We had a few other shared plates as well – all good, I highly recommend the joint.

After that we walked over to the revamped Union Station for ice cream.

image4Chocolate cheesecake brownie.

Yeah, the “clean eating” thing is going really well, thanks for asking!

Even though the trip was only a few short days, it was so good to kick back and relax with my friends. Sara also rented us a condo (via Airbnb, I believe), which was perfect.

Mostly because we had two bathrooms.

I’m so easy to please.

Til next time, girls!