Although I consider Chicago my new home, New York will always have a piece of my heart. I was reminded of just how much I love NYC when I was in town last weekend – for a whirlwind 30 hours! It was a short trip due to a time crunch, and while I was disappointed knowing that I wouldn’t get to see everyone on my list, it was also kind of nice to have a smaller “list of things to do.” I promise I will be back again soon, friends!
First up was a long overdue reunion with my friend MaryAnn. After years of working together in the lab, I really miss talking with her every day! We lucked out with the most beautiful, sunny, and warm day, which is the perfect weather for walking around Manhattan. We walked up and down the UWS, stopping for brunch at The Smith, and hung out in Central Park while people watching.
After a quick shower and wardrobe change, it was time for the main event and the reason I was in town in the first place – my dear friend Bharat and his fiancé Jahnavi’s engagement party! We were very generously hosted at The Empire Hotel, home to one of my favorite rooftop venues (Gossip Girl fans will know it as Chuck Bass’ hotel!). The party itself was at the fabulous Mandarin Oriental.
It was so wonderful catching up with so many old friends and meeting some new ones too! Everything was spectacular, and as expected, we all danced the night away! And continued into the wee hours of the night (morning?).
After a few hours of sleep it was time for Sunday Funday! My good friend Dominika drove into the city to hang out with me, and reminisce about our glory days! Stop number one was the quintessential NYC boozy brunch at Essex. Each entree is served with three cocktails (!), so you know it’s gonna be a good day after that!
Upon exiting, we were somewhat surprised to find ourselves in front of LaCaverna, a bar we used to frequent when we were much younger (before I even lived in the city!). Funny how it looks so different in the light of day! As we walked through the Lower East Side it was really like a trip down memory lane.
We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping in Soho, where we both picked up a few things. Despite the same chain stores being all over America and the prevalence of online shopping, there’s just something special about shopping in NYC. Perhaps it has something to do with the whole no tax on clothing thing!
It was about this time that we got a little punchy, and so a Starbucks run was in order. Fitting, since it was Dominika who got me hooked on coffee years ago – all those Mocha Frappuccinos!
It was the most fun 30 hours I could have asked for; my next NYC visit will be much longer!
Have you ever wondered what became of your former high school marching band members?* Well if they live in Chicago, there’s a chance they are now performing with Mucca Pazza, “a marching band that thinks it’s a rock band.” I found out about this gloriously delightful performance group through my friend Anh, whose boyfriend Brent is one of the members.
I’ve been wanting to attend one of their shows for ages, so when I found out they were performing their “Sitting in Chairs” show at Revolution Brewery, I jumped at the chance. I also invited Tamara and Vy because I knew this would be right up their alley!
MP is comprised of over 30 incredibly talented members, including a couple cheerleaders and a dancer or two! But what makes this band really stand out is their musical ability (all those instruments!). They’re good. Really, really good! Their set list contains complex numbers and original compositions. Which is why it’s no surprise that they’ve already gone on tour across the country, been featured on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, performed at Lollapalooza, and have left a string of sold-out shows in their wake. Oh, and did I mention how much fun they are? You know it’s going to be a good time when the entire band participates in (multiple) toasts throughout the night!
We had a blast, and I definitely plan to seem them again in the summer for a full marching performance! Check out my video below of their show last night.
*Note from above: Not me. I was relegated to the orchestra and various recital halls, as I played the violin and the piano. #Asian 😉
As I was walking home from yoga class the other day, all bundled up in my winter gear, I was thinking that only a Chicagoan would think nothing of trekking to the gym in a snowstorm. And I guess that’s a sign that it’s official. Perfect timing, since I just hit two years in Chi-town!
My first year in the Midwest was pretty great; after all, moving anywhere new is novel and exciting. But my second year in Chicago has been even better! It really started to feel like home as opposed to a temporary assignment. I’m now used to the infamous winters, I no longer need Google Maps to get everywhere, and I know where all the local hotspots are. Most importantly, I know that 312 beer is pronounced three-one-two, not three-twelve 😉
With the transition phase out of the way, I was really able to focus on my career. The biggest change came over the summer when I landed the best job ever! The last 8 months have really been a dream-come-true. In addition to using my skillset in a unique and creative way, I really like the people I work with, and truly enjoy what I do. I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever felt this way before. Given that we spend the majority of our days at work, this has been life-changing for me. The new position also affords me great work -life balance, and after all, we work to have a life!
And speaking of having a life, what a year it’s been. From loads of travel, to being a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding, attending my first NFL and NHL games, donating 12 inches of my hair, and even making a cameo on the Jimmy Fallon show…EW!
I continue to make the most of city life with an amazing group of friends who become more like family every day. I’ve also had a ton of visitors, which makes living far away from the east coast so much easier.
I’ve always been a social creature and being around friends and family makes me happy, so I’m thankful to have so many fun people to hang with! It kind of surprises me that there’s always something new and exciting to do around here. In fact, every time I walk through my neighborhood I stumble across another restaurant or bar to add to my list of places to check out.
When my girl-friends aren’t dragging me out to late-night turtle races or trolley tours around the city, they drag me out to run! I wasn’t much of a runner when I first moved to Chicago, but I made it my goal to run a 5K. Well, I’m proud to say that I actually completed THREE official 5K races in the last year! It feels really good to achieve something I once thought impossible. I may not be the fastest person around, nor do I have any desire to run a marathon, but I realized I have more willpower and drive than I thought. Even if it sometimes takes a deadline and a little bit of fear to get myself in motion!
But let’s get down to it. As you know from this blog, my passion is travel, and I got to do quite a bit of it last year! When you live far away, you end up missing people, so I’m thankful that I was able to fly all over the US to spend time with my friends and family.
While I didn’t hit my goal of traveling to at least one new country last year, I made up for it by visiting 13 states, 5 of them (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana) new to me! This summer I embarked on an epic road trip with a friend, during which time we visited/hiked/conquered 5 National Parks. As much as I’m a city gal, I experienced a new found love for the great outdoors!
So that’s the wrap-up of my second year in the Windy City. What’s next? Well, for starters, this is going to big year for travel, which I’m beyond excited about. I have 4 weddings on the books, in addition to a family vacation, and a few business trips. Other than that, who’s to say? I guess a little bit of mystery and the unknown is what makes it fun! Here’s to year 3!
This past weekend, I escaped the bitter cold of Illinois and headed down to Texas. While I’ve been to San Antonio and Austin, this was my first trip to Dallas. I was in town to visit two of my favorite people, Manjula and Fahad, both of whom I met while I lived in NYC, and both of whom happened to end up in Dallas. While I didn’t do much in the way of sightseeing, I had a blast catching up with friends… which is really what it’s all about!
Welcome cocktails at M’s.
Black, grey, and white… former New Yorkers through and through!
The Rustic; quintessentially Texan.
Off the beaten path…
So excited to see this girl!
and old friends!
Brunch… outdoors! Amazing food and drinks at Delfrisco’s Grille.
F’s balcony is the perfect spot for afternoon cocktails. The view!
Strolling around Uptown. Requisite “stay awake” coffee stop.
Dinner at Velvet Taco, home of the fusion Chicken Tikka & Paneer Tacos. Perfection!
Singing and dancing our hearts out at Dram. Definitely hit my 10,000 steps that night!
Morning after brunch at Breadwinners. So necessary after 4 hrs of sleep!
I had a blast in Dallas! Thanks to all for a fun weekend!