Make your own Countdown Clocks

Thursday, October 7, 2010

DAY 1: Totally freaking out/Sorority Alum book club

THE LAST DAY OF MY TWENTIES!!!!!

So how did I spend it?  By getting my butt kicked in my basic training workout class, preparing the packages to send to my soldier in Afghanistan, talking to my grandpa while cleaning the apartment, bleaching my teeth and inspecting my pores and wrinkles then putting on three different face masks.  Doesn't help that I am breaking out like a 13 year old!  I thought that stuff was over with.

Taken from my scrapbook!  10-08-2000
But before all that I began this glorious sunshiney day by jumping out of bed and going through old pics from college.  For some reason the moment I opened my eyes I wanted to find pics from my 20th birthday dinner at Tortuga Mexican Cantina in San Marcos, Texas.  I remember going there with my sorority sisters and just like yesterday, I can remember my friend Annie bringing low calorie tortilla chips so we wouldn't have to eat so many of the fattening chips there!  Ten years has gone by in the blink of an eye.  I also found some fun pictures from my 21st birthday!  I wonder how many margaritas I have had since then?!   Hardly any I'm sure haha.  Looking though those pics at all the faces belonging to the people who have meant so much to me over the past decade made me emotional, and thankful that those friendships are still very important in my life.  When I got home from running errands I was surprised by a huge basket from one of my BFFs Shawna.  It was a mixture of everything I love and things that were meaningful in our relationship.  Of course I cried and once again remembered how thankful I am for all of my friends, the ones I have known since 2nd grade and the ones I have just met!

Out for my 21st Birthday w Shawna and Lindsey!
Woohoo 21! 10-08-2001



















It is a nice coincidence that the book chosen for this months book club is  called Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah. I was determined to finish this book since I didn't finish last month's book, but ended up finishing so fast because I couldn't put it down!  It is about two friends who meet as pre-teens and form such an incredibly strong bond.  They stay best friends for the rest of their lives even though they couldn't be more different and  they end up taking different paths as they get older...one chooses career and one chooses to have a family.   In the end, something tragic happens to one of them.   I won't spoil it for you but it is deals with a really personal subject to me.  It seems like this is a common theme for women's books, but this one was long and really developed the characters, reminding you how incredibly important relationships are in your life.  Even though you may go through ups and downs or not see or talk to each other as often as you like,  it is important to lean on your true friends when you really need them and be there for them as well.  Naturally people are going to grow apart and make different decisions...but true friendship endures.  I am so blessed to have many of these type of friendships in my life.  I know the relationships in my life have shaped me into the person I am today.  A true friend is someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway.  I have always loved that quote!

The book club meeting was at Swirl Wine Bar which is  a block from my apartment. Perfect!  We had the best time drinking sangria and talking about the book, and other girly things.  Put women together and give them some wine and they will be happy!  I am so glad I read this book and was able to get involved in the discussion...I have found that I really enjoy book club!
The crew tonight for our book club at Swirl
Ok, I have two hours left of my twenties.  I am headed out to get a few drinks.  GOODBYE TWENTIES!!!  We had some amazing times and I will NEVER forget you, but I think this is just the beginning for me, we had to part at some point.  It is time to experience new things...I am into the thirties now!!!

Thank you guys for following me on this journey...I will let you know how the birthday goes!!

BRING IT ON 30!!!!!   

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

DAY 2: PAWS volunteer orientation/Jr. League information meeting

Today was a two-for-one day!  After trying multiple times to sign up for volunteer opportunities online I finally had some luck!  I had both my PAWS Chicago new volunteer meeting and my Jr. League new member informational meeting today.


PAWS Chicago is the city's largest no kill humane organization, focused on implementing solutions to end the killing of homeless pets.  I was so excited when I read about what they do and actually got a time for orientation!  There were so many things to chose from but I decided to volunteer with the Dog Town.  This is where they house all the dogs that are waiting to be adopted.  Once a dog is admitted there they will stay until they are adopted, no matter how long it takes.  I will get to walk the dogs and play with them and eventually assist in the adoption process.  My training session is next Tuesday for Dog Town, then I will be ready to start as soon as possible after that.  We had a chance to tour the facilities and I have already fallen in love with these animals.  Last year Oprah adopted a cocker spaniel from this PAWS and even made a pretty hefty donation.   One dog's story brought me to tears.  About a year ago a pit bull named Red was shot and paralyzed defending his elderly owner during a robbery.  The owner lives on a second story walk up and was no longer able to care for Red so PAWS took him in.  He was the sweetest dog ever, I can't believe he hasn't been adopted yet. I know he has very special needs but I know there is someone out there for him!  Here is Red's story.

Red and his cart

My second meeting of the day was the new member informational meeting at the Jr. League of Chicago.  The JLC is an organization committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.  The Chicago chapter focuses on at risk women and children and childhood obesity among many other things.  I heard about this organization through a friend in my sorority alum chapter and she said it was a great way to get more involved in the volunteer scene in Chicago as well as meet even more girls!  I thought it would be a perfect match for me since I am always looking for new friends and volunteer opportunities.  When I showed up tonight I got that familiar awkward insecure feeling but ended up meeting a lot of  new people.  It feels kind of like a grown up sorority.  I already signed up to be an associate member and my training starts with the next new member group in January!

I can't believe I am coming to my last day of my twenties...but I am beyond excited for these new opportunities to get involved in my community and help!  Life will only get better!

"You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love." -Henry Drummond

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

DAY 3: Adopt a soldier

Doesn't matter if you agree with the war or not...I believe that serving our country is one of the most noble and selfless things an individual can do.  I know several people who are in the service or who have served before and I wanted a way to say thank you to them, and thank you to our troops that are there now.  I came across a program online called Adopt A US Soldier and I immediately signed up.  These soldiers are thousands of miles away, many in combat zones...away from their families and comforts of home.  This program links you up with a specific soldier and from there you email them, write letters or send care packages if you choose.

I signed up for this program a couple weeks ago and was assigned my soldier a few days later.  He was deployed from Ft. Hood which is near my hometown of Waco, Texas!  They said they could tell he was in a remote part of Afghanistan and wouldn't have much access to the internet, but that he would really need the support.  I emailed him right away to let him know I was matched with him and asked if he wanted me to send him anything specific.  I still haven't heard back from him but I decided to go ahead and get his care package together today.  There is a list on the website of things they most often request....an assortment of toiletries, foods, drinks, candies, magazines and books, and fun things to pass the time like cards or games.  I was surprised to find out you can't send any alcohol, pork or pork by-products or any inappropriate images.  (nudie magazines ha)

I still have a few more items I want to get before I send him the goodies...I absolutely love shopping for my soldier and thinking about how happy he will be when he gets my care package!  I read that I need to send two separate packages for food and toiletries...and that the USPS will ship boxes to the military in Iraq or Afghanistan for the same rate as a flat rate box in the US!  Packing the stuff correctly, filling out all the customs forms and making sure I am following all the rules so it will get to him is very time consuming, but it is nothing compared to the sacrifices they are making for our country.  It is just a little gesture for them to know that someone is thanking them on the other side of the world.
THANK YOU to our troops for all that you do!  If I could send you all care packages I would!

If you would like to get involved with this program please visit www.adoptaussoldier.org.

Monday, October 4, 2010

DAY 4: Pull credit report

I am ashamed to say that I have NEVER looked at my credit report.  I have always been a little careless with my finances but somehow everything always worked out.  Well, almost.  I have been in a couple tight spots a but I will tell you about those later.  I blame some of my lack of financial literacy on these things:

1) My freshman year in college I was on reasonable budget from my parents and my grandfather, but as an 18-year old who has just tasted the freedom of college life, it just wasn't enough.  Everywhere I turned there were booths in the quad offering one credit card or another...persuading students to sign up to get free t-shirts or whatever
worthless thing they were giving away.  The credit limits were very low, but that was just enough to get a new dress for the sorority winter formal or buy a plane ticket to spring break.  When I would max out these cards, I would just sign up for another one and not worry about the debt I was collecting.  I wasn't completely naive!  In the back of my mind I knew I would have to pay that back...I thought I would get a summer job to pay it and I never told my parents.  It was like free money!

2) After college I moved to NYC, then LA then back to NYC.  I never really needed my credit and because I had so many previous unpaid credit card balances I never even bothered trying to get new ones.  In New York I didn't have a car and my parents had to cosign for my first apartment, so my credit was never an issue.  The second time I moved to NYC I subleased my apartment and once again no credit was needed.  Because I never needed to use my credit to buy a home or a car, I never thought about it.  I also never wanted anything to tie me down to one city like a mortgage...I wanted to be free to move whenever I wanted!

Until one day I had to think about it! In 2006 I was working at the Rachael Ray Show in NYC and got a call in the office.  I never got calls in the office so I knew it couldn't be good!  It was a representative from the  US Department of Education that wanted to talk to me about my defaulted student loan.  WHOOPS!  It had been 3 years since I graduated from college.  I think I did the first loan deferral but after that I completely forgot about it. My parents had paid half of it back and the other half was up to me, that was our agreement the entire time.  So at that point I owed somewhere around $25,000.  What a way to ruin my day!  He said they tracked me down and I would either have my wages garnished or set up a payment plan.  I was barely squeaking by in NYC but obviously a payment plan made more sense.  I paid on time for a consecutive 9 months to make it out of my delinquent status and they removed about $5,000 of late and interest charges.  I have made a huge dent in it but I still have a long way to go. Luckily that is the biggest amount I owe and it is in a current and healthy status, which now helps my credit.

I made this for my scrapbook...these pics were taken on that night!
This is right before we had to get out of the cab and walk!
I clearly remember one night in 2003 when I lived in NYC where I could have used a "for emergencies only" credit card.  My roommate and I heard that Britney Spears was going to be at a club in the meatpacking district.  We lived on the upper east side at the time and at night we didn't like to take the subway, so it was about a $20 cab ride.   At the time Britney was crazy popular so we just had to go!  I think I spent my last $20 getting there, but we had a great time and actually got to dance with her.  So it was so worth it!  Problem was on the way home we had almost no money between the two of us!  I thought I had enough in my bank account to get another $20 out but I didn't, and I didn't have any money on my metro subway card.  So we got our change together, took a cab for as far as we could and then did what any other 20-something scantily clad girls wearing heels would do in the middle of the night.  We started to walk home.  I don't know if we were crying or if we just looked like we needed help, but a nice stranger stopped us and asked us why we were walking then gave us $20 bucks to get home!  Divine Britney Spears intervention!

OK enough blabbing bout how I dug myself into this financial abyss...let's talk about my surprisingly great credit score!!!!  Ok maybe not great but it is classified as a medium risk and fair score.  I pulled all three reports online from freecreditreport.com and also ordered them by phone from annualcreditreport.com.  My credit to debt ratio is 90% to 10% which is very good...the national average is 48% to 52%.   I attempted one time to go to a credit consolidation agency around 2002 and I did pay on the college credit cards for about a year, but eventually that stopped.  Those cards are listed on there now as closed with zero balance, even though I know I didn't pay them off.  I guess it is true if you don't touch a debt for 7 years it is wiped off of your account?  There are several other blemishes that I remember but it wasn't  nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  I am going to get those settled as soon as I can!

This is definitely a relief.  Many people my age already own homes and cars, but that doesn't bother me. I am working in the right direction now to improve my score, and I am definitely learning and understanding how to be more financially responsible.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

DAY 5: Haunted house

Today we (myself, Rachael and Cara) planned to go skydiving out in Long Island, New York but because of the high winds they cancelled our appointment.  We were over an hour into our train ride from Manhattan and the entire time I was filled with anxiety!  Skydiving is something I really wanted to do but I just had a bad feeling about going that day.  So once we got the call that is was cancelled we headed back to the city and decided to go to Nightmare Superstitions: America's #1 Haunted House.  Or so they say.  I would almost prefer jumping out of a plane and risking my life than going to a haunted house.


CHUCKY!  AHHH!
I guess I have always been a scardy cat.  When I was growing up I would spend a lot of time at my cousin's house and my aunt had an obsession with witches, scary movies and even zombies.  We watched all sorts of scary movies like Poltergeist, Night of the Living Dead, Pet Cemetery, and Kujo. Child's Play was the scariest though!  I still get scared if I see a picture of Chucky or randomly find that movie on TV!  The older I got the scarier movies I watched, even though I was beyond terrified.  I still get nightmares after watching anything that has to do with demons or the devil.  So as you can imagine haunted houses aren't the first place to look for me...but just like I continue to see horror movies...I had to scare myself and check out this haunted house.  Oh, I don't like the numbers 333 or 666 either.  It can ruin my day or scare the crap out of me if those numbers cross my path at the wrong time.

My one rule for the haunted house:  I had to stand in between the group.  I could under no circumstances lead or be the caboose.  There is a another haunted house in NYC that makes you take your shoes off and go alone.  AWW HELL NO!!!  I think the last time I had been to a haunted house I was in high school and probably drank a few wine coolers to get enough courage to go!  (just kidding mom)  We definitely had a few drinks before we made it this time!
The rules
This is the theme of the haunted house:
Visitors to NIGHTMARE: SUPERSTITIONS enter a surreal insane asylum. The patients have voluntarily admitted themselves, seeking protection from the danger they perceive is awaiting them because they broke a superstition. They feel they’re safe behind padded walls, and that they can be set free if NIGHTMAREpatrons break these superstitions and accept bad luck themselves. They have to…it's the only way out!

Rach covered her face the entire time!
Basically this really was my nightmare because I am be superstitious.  One of the first rooms they took us into has names all over the walls and I saw my name (spelled wrong) several times.  Yes we did give them our names before we walked in, but mine was the biggest and in the middle of the wall!  So the crazy mental patient followed me around the room screaming some kind of demonic sounding chant at me and said  I would be cursed.  That stuff is so not cool!  Rachael and I started singing songs that we remembered from church camp as loud as we could!  "Lord I life your name on high...Lord I love to sing your praises."  Haha thank GOD we remembered the words so the crazy person would let us go!  That part was pretty scary, but I didn't see much else.  I do remember a room full of unlucky pennies and a room of bloodied rabbit feet.   I walked through the rest of the haunted house practically buried in Rachael's back screaming as I gripped Daniel's arm behind me.  I woke up several times that night and I was sure I saw a ghost!

Instead of facing my fear of skydiving I faced my fear of haunted houses.  But I don't think you could pay me enough to go in alone!  I was relieved that we were alive when it was over!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

DAY 6: Recap and updates

I planned on doing this post Friday with one week left on my countdown... but since I was surprised with a birthday party Friday night I had to use Saturday as a recovery day.  A perfect day to reflect on my progress, to see what things are left on my list and to make sure I am on track!  I also wanted to update you on a couple tasks I had completed and some of the follow-ups.

DAY 30: Send out Komen 3-Day for the Cure donation emails

  • So far I have raised $975.00, about 40% of my goal!  I have about a month left to complete my goal!  You can still donate here!!


DAY 29: The dentist visit



DAY 28: Bike tour around Chicago




DAY 27: Windy City Wine Festival
  • Finally picked up my almond flavored sparkling wine and it is chilling in the fridge!


DAY 26: Chicago Bears football game


Day 25: Twinkie goes to the vet
  • I received Twinkie's city registration in the mail and I still need to register him with my building!

DAY 24: Pottery painting
  • I was so excited to get my completed star!  It sits next to my bed and is perfect to set jewelry on!
The finished star!

DAY 23: Cooking class-Chicken 101

  • I haven't cooked at home yet...but I will!



DAY 22: Helping the homeless

  • I still see the same homeless people around Chicago and always give them a smile and a dollar when I can!



DAY 21: 10 mile sunrise training walk

  • I hurt my foot during this training walk but it is all recovered and I am ready to resume my training.



DAY 20: Family time


DAY 19: Go to church


DAY 18: Psychic reading


DAY 17: Dermatologist visit

  • Just got a call from them saying my results came back normal and the mole wasn't malignant!  I am still having to treat and dress the wound daily but it is almost healed.



DAY 16: Sorority Alumnae Chapter Sisterhood Dinner


DAY 15: Donate to a women's shelter

  • I got the nicest thank you card them with such a great quote on it!


DAY 14: One day juice detox


DAY 13: Race for the Cure


DAY 12: Get health insurance

  • Health insurance is still being processed but I am hoping everything goes smoothly and I will be insured next week!  


DAY 11: Clean out closet and donate

  • Huge donation was dropped off at Salvation Army!  Wow that felt good!



DAY 10: Celebrity book signing


DAY 9: Second City comedy show


DAY 8: Latin groove dance class


DAY 7: Surprise party in NYC




It has been such a busy and exciting month so far!  I can't believe how quickly it has all flown by.  Here is what I have remaining on my list:
  • Skydiving (we tried to go in New York and it was too windy so it was cancelled)
  • Kyaking in the Chicago River (after multiple attempts my reservation keeps getting cancelled)
Both of those activities are something I still want to do, but it just doesn't look like it will be completed by the end of this week. 

  • Pull my credit score and see what in the world is going on with that.
  • Adopt a soldier.
  • PAWS animal volunteer orientation meeting and Jr. League informational meeting.
  • Book club meeting. (and actually finish the book this time)
  • Send resumes out and commit to finding a job (I purposely waited until the end of this project for this one...I need to focus 100% on this!)

ALMOST THERE! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT!

Friday, October 1, 2010

DAY 7: Surprise party in NYC

Friday October 1st marked the week countdown to my 30th birthday, the beginning of my favorite month and the day I could officially start celebrating THE BIG 3-0!  The plan was to fly to NYC and land about 4pm on Friday, then relax and go to a sushi dinner, have some drinks and call it an early night to prepare for Saturday night. (the night I THOUGHT we were doing my birthday get together)  I had planned to do a little catch up post today since I would be traveling to New York City and really didn't have any other task planned, but things got really turned around and I was completely surprised!  So I will tell you all about my surprise 30th birthday party!

For weeks I had been trying to plan a little get together with the help of one of my best friends Cara, who lives in NYC. I also had been asking my boyfriend Daniel what he thought we should do and no one seemed that interested in making plans!  Granted my actually birthday isn't until the weekend after, but this was going to be my celebration in the big apple.  I didn't want to seem too bratty so I didn't push the issue that much, even though I had already bought the most perfect sparkly birthday dress!  Finally we decided on a place and Cara sent out the fake Evite, made all the fake makeup and hair appointments and pretended to set things up with the venue we chose.  At the same time her, Daniel and my one of my other BFFs Rachael were scheming behind my back planning a surprise bday party for Friday night, not Saturday!  Rachael had told me she was coming to Chicago for my actual birthday but really she was secretly in New York.....it is all very confusing!

Our first flight was supposed to leave at noon but was cancelled because of weather in NYC, so they put us on a flight leaving Chicago at 7pm.  I thought that was fine since we didn't really have plans but Daniel had us switched to another airline leaving at 12.  Ok, nothing fishy there, he just wanted to get there sooner!  That flight was delayed two hours but we finally got to New York around 6.  As soon as we landed Cara wanted me to meet her at a hair salon where she said she was getting her hair done.  We couldn't go straight there and then she was ignoring my texts, but I threw my luggage at the hotel and tried to hurry to meet her.  Plans changed and then Daniel was instructed to stall at our hotel room...I was ready to go meet up with Cara so had no idea why we were waiting.  Fifteen minutes later Rachael shows up at my hotel and the whirl wind begins!  I had no idea Rachael was even in New York!  She told me to get myself together and we headed to get my hair done...unfortunately I had missed my makeup appointment because of the flight delays.  After getting my hair done we went back to the hotel to change and another group of people showed up.  I was told we were going to get drinks and dinner and the plans were still on for Saturday night.  I was a little confused but of course just went a long for the ride.  While I finished getting ready Daniel went ahead to get drinks and we were to meet them at The Bubble Lounge.

Yummmmmm!
Our group made our way to The Bubble Lounge in Tribeca around 10pm.  They lead me through the crowd as I kept looking for the people we were meeting there...then we walked down the stairs to a private party space and everyone yelled out SURPRISE!  I was honestly 100% so shocked!  There were about 20 of my friends there along with a fabulous open bar that included all my favorite champagne/drinks, party favors that included mini pink bubble blowers and little tins decorated with stars and filled with assorted pink jelly bellies and even a red velvet Magnolia Bakery birthday cake decorated with tiny champagne bottles!  Trays of my favorite foods were passed around the party...this was seriously the most perfect party for me and I had the time of my life.  I even woke up with the biggest smile on my face wanted to do it all again!

The favors! So cute!
I wanted to go into so much detail about how Daniel, Cara and Rachael pulled it off because I know how hard they worked.  I am not a snoopy girlfriend but I am still stunned that I didn't discover what they had up their sleeves! The party was perfect for me in every way... I have always secretly wanted a surprise party but of course I would never ask for one!  THANK YOU Daniel, Cara and Rachael who planned every little detail flawlessly and to those who came!  I love you guys! I wish I could be in a place where all my friends  could have made it but you all were missed!  It was most definitely an unforgettable experience,  I felt so special!

PARTY PEOPLE!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

DAY 8: Latin groove dance class

No comment! ha
Today I got to shake my booty!   I finally made it to  the Latin groove dance class at my gym.  They offer a plethora of free classes but I haven't branched out and tried a new one until today.    My staples are cardio kickboxing, basic training and spinning.  I have peeked in the window of this class several times before and everyone always looked like they were having a blast.  I wasn't really scared to try it, but sometimes you just get in a comfort zone and it is hard to break out of that routine.

I even bought a new workout top for the class!  When I got there and looked around I realized I was by far the youngest person by at least 30 years.  I thought great...this class is going to be a waste of time and not a good workout.  I was mistaken!  Those old ladies can move it and the guy teaching was FAB.U. LOUS.  It is described as  a high-energy dance class that incorporates unique moves and combinations, set to fun Latin and international music.   I was a little rusty but eventually I got the juices flowing.  I attempted to secretly film a little of it...but the video was out of focus.  And after reviewing the footage and comparing my backside to likes of Kim Kardashian's,  I don't think I would show you anyway!

I started taking dance classes as soon as I could walk until I was about 17, so I feel somewhat comfortable on dance floor.  I am not ready to win the Dancing with the Stars coveted mirror ball tomorrow, but I can pick up choreography quickly and I really enjoy it!  Today wasn't my first experience with Latin dancing.   Not many people know, but my grandmother was Mexican and wanted me to take traditional Mexican folkloric dancing classes when I was about 7 years old.  She had one of the full brightly colored skirts made for me...I will never forget the first class I went to.  I was SO out of place as the ONLY blond haired girl... all the other kids were so mean to me!  They couldn't understand why I was there, but I shyly learned the Mexican hat dance and even did it for a talent competition in a pageant!  Even to this day if I hear that song I can still remember some of the dance steps.  I was secretly hoping we did a little  Mexican hat dance today!

Traditional Mexican hat dance costumes

DAY 9: Second City comedy show

Chicago is well known for having some pretty great comedy schools and shows, and I have been wanting to check one out for a long time.  I chose The Second City, Chicago's best known comedy club where many famous comedians and stars of Saturday Night Live got their start.  Some of my favorite notable Second City alumni are:

Mike Myers (SNLWayne's WorldAustin Powers: International Man of MysteryShrek)
Chris Farley (SNLTommy BoyBlack Sheep)
Jane Lynch (GleeBest in ShowA Mighty Wind)
Steve Carell (The Daily ShowThe OfficeThe 40-Year-Old VirginLittle Miss Sunshine)
Stephen Colbert (The Daily ShowThe Colbert ReportStrangers with CandyExit 57)
Tina Fey (SNLMean GirlsBaby Mama30 Rock)
Amy Poehler (SNLBaby MamaParks and Recreation,Upright Citizen's Brigade)

I saw a show called Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies and I think it was one of the funniest shows I have ever seen. From the first minute you can see the actors are truly talented and really love what they are doing.  This show was a series of sketches and some improv and it dealt with many current issues.  It even touched on some sensitive subjects like religion and race, but they always hovered on that line and never really crossed it.  Well maybe they did a little...but everyone laughed and didn't seem too offended.  

Here is the synopsis of the show: In the blockbuster of human life, we all know the outcome – no spoiler alert needed. In spite of this inevitable ending, we continue to live our lives, find joy and understand the world around us. Sometimes our path leads us to save the world and sometimes our path is to simply remind our husband where they left their keys – it's what you make of it and how you deal with it that matters. From cold feet on your wedding day to the comfort of viewing the comic misadventures of others on Reality TV, Spoiler Alert: Everybody Dies reminds us that in the end, we are all in this together.




I came into the theatre right as the show was beginning and was seated in the second row.  I hate sitting close to the stage for fear of being heckled or pulled up there to make an ass out of myself, but thankfully this show wasn't like that.  When I lived in LA I took a few acting classes and many times we worked on our improv skills.  I think it is one of the most important skills you can learn not only in acting, but in your day to day socializing.  Isn't life all about improvising?  That being said, I was pretty awful at it!  I would get so nervous in class each time it was my turn for my scene I would almost pass out.  I discovered acting really wasn't my thing and certainly not improv.  However I did make a guest appearance on The Soup!  The Soup is a show on E! that basically makes fun of people on reality shows plus much much more.  I was on a silly reality show in 2005 called The Starlet...and my amazing acting skills were made fun of by Joel McHale himself! I don't blame them...it was pretty bad.  Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself but at least I tried!  




But funny really does run in my family!  My cousin Carissa is involved with improv groups in Dallas-Ft. Worth called Monkey Junk and Four Day Weekend.  She is naturally hilarious and belongs on The Second City stage!  I look forward to going back and seeing another show when she comes to visit me in Chicago.  They have many to choose from!  And who knows, maybe I will even try an improv class again one of these days. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

DAY 10: Celebrity book signing

Tonight I tested my patience and went to a celebrity book signing at Borders on Michigan Avenue.  I have always wanted to go to one but  never wanted to deal with the crazy lines. This event was for a book called I Do, Now What: Secrets, Stories, and Advice from a Madly-in-Love Couple  by Giuliana and Bill Rancic.  In case you don't know who they are:  Giuliana Rancic (DePandi) is a celebrity news anchor on E! News and co-hosts many red carpets events like the Oscars and Golden Globes.  Bill Rancic is an entrepreneur who was the first winner of Donald Trump's show The Apprentice and oversaw the development of Chicago's Trump Tower.  They married in 2007 and now have a show about their relationship on the Style Network called Giuliana and Bill.

With Bill and Giuliana Rancic
I joined the Twitter bandwagon about a month ago and Giuliana is one of the celebrities I decided to follow.  I am not an uber fan but I find her amusing and I have followed her career throughout the years.  She has one of my dream jobs and I admire her because she worked hard to get where she is.  She has a Masters in Journalism...she didn't fall into her hosting job because she was on some reality show.  I occasionally watch their show Giuliana and Bill and I have always thought they were a cute, happy and real couple.  I was excited when I read that they were going to be in Chicago signing the day the book was released!  I figured the lines wouldn't be too crazy because they aren't Beyonce status, so I headed over to Borders at 6:30 and the event started at 7pm.  

Boy was I wrong!  They started handing out wristbands at 9am!  Luckily I was still able to buy a book and get a wrist band, but I was in the next to last group and there was about 400 people there.  They did a quick Q&A and then really took their time with each person which I thought was great, except I was near the back of the line.  I finally met them and had  my book signed around 9:45.  Since I was solo and didn't have anyone to talk to,  I started reading the book while I was waiting and so far is good!  They are a pretty entertaining couple and sometimes remind me of myself and Daniel.  He is the put together even-keeled business guy and she is the quirky, messy free thinker.  I figured a book on relationship advice wouldn't hurt after all the predictions the psychic gave me last week!  

A funny story they tell in the beginning of the book is when Giuliana lied to Bill about her age on one of their first dates.  She told him she was 29 when she was really 31.  Eventually he finds out that she was lying, and she said her age just sounded better starting with a 2!  I have 9 more days with my age beginning with a 2!  O.M.G.

I did have a chance to ask them a couple relationship questions...but I will keep those a secret.  ;)  Giuliana complimented me on my hair...now I really love her.  I am not sure I will be attending any more book signings in the near future but it certainly was nice to meet them!  


Monday, September 27, 2010

DAY 11: Clean out closet and donate

WHAT. A. NIGHTMARE.

My closet and dressing room, what a mess.

Today was the wonderful day where I switched out my summer clothes for my winter clothes, organized them and decided what I don't need anymore.  I honestly have no idea how these clothes fit in my tiny apartments in NYC.  I have 4 times the closet/drawer space here but it is never enough.  I really don't mind doing laundry but I dread having to put my clothes away!  They have to be squeezed into the drawers and closets so I knew it was time to get rid of some things.  


AHHHHH!!!
I started with the drawers (that were overflowing and couldn't be shut) in the bedroom which contain tank tops, night clothes, t-shirts and workout clothes.  I have mentioned this before, but I really have a hard time getting rid of anything.  Does that make me a hoarder?   I had 65 tank tops and got rid of 6 of them.  It is better than nothing!  I think I have a hard time getting rid of things because I can almost always remember exactly where I bought it and where I've worn it.  Memories!   For example, I came across a shirt that said Texas with a cowboy hat on it. I remember I bought this shirt at Macy's in NYC shortly after I moved to New York in 2003.  I was so excited to find a cute Texas shirt in NYC and I probably spent everything in my bank account to get it.  I hadn't worn this shirt since 2004, but somehow it has moved with me several times and made the "donation cut" over and over again.  Sadly,  today I decided I had to say goodbye to this shirt, and many other t-shirts that had ridiculous word phrases on them.  Did I really wear those?  One shirt that I will never part with is my New Kids on the Block Joey McIntyre shirt.  That is forever.   :)

My Joey 


After I managed to organize my drawers and get them to shut, I made my way to what I call my dressing room.  It is really an office but I have completely taken it over with my crap.  I got my huge bin of fall clothes, winter sweaters and scarves and dumped it on the ground, then started taking all my summer stuff and packing it away.  Frowny face.  I'm always sad when I have to do this for two reasons.  1)  I see cute things that I forgot to wear or didn't have anywhere to wear them...I  will have to remember for next summer!  2)  I wish I had a closet big enough where I could keep all my clothes out year round!  I worked on that closet for hours and hours and many times I would just sit in a huge pile of clothes and frustration.   Now I am about 85% done with this project.  I was able to let go of many dresses that I haven't worn in years and shorts and skirts that I just won't fit into again, no matter how hard I workout! LOL.  I wish I had a picture to show you of my closet neat and organized but it isn't quite there yet.  I have to make a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond in the morning for another storage bin, pick up the remaining stuff off the floor and then drop off all the clothes I was able to part with at the Salvation Army.  It definitely feels good to get rid of a bunch of things and I know donating to the Salvation Army is a positive thing.  I was dreading this task so I am glad it is completed! (almost completed) 

 Now let's go shopping!!!  

DAY 12: Get health insurance

Do you what PPO, HMO, or HSA mean?  I surely didn't, so thank God Daniel my boyfriend was here to help me through this process. I thought it would take 20 minutes to do, but it took us a few hours to look through every plan and finally decide what would be best for me.  Actually, he looked through everything and tried to explain it all to me...I understood every other thing he said.  Why is it so confusing?

We decided on BlueCross BlueShield and I couldn't even tell you what plan I got.  But then came the fun part  of filling out my medical history for the application.  I don't smoke and I am not (that) old, but I had to write in if I had been hospitalized in the last 10 years.  I've been very lucky and haven't been severely sick...but I did have one memorable trip to the ER.  The questionnaire asked if I've had any head injuries or concussions. Why yes...yes I have.  During the last weekend in September of 2007, I tripped on a suitcase and hit my head on a marble table in my hotel room at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  I was there with a big group for one of my girlfriend's weddings.  Everyone that has heard this story always asks me if I was intoxicated when I tripped, but I wasn't!  This was early in the night, right after the wedding and only one glass of champagne.  It was a mixture of a messy room, my heels and  my clumsiness that caused this fall!  I hit my head VERY hard and suspected I had a concussion, but I didn't want to miss out on my last night in Vegas with my friends!  So I went out with them, drank and then went to sleep.  Two major no-nos when you have a concussion!  SO STUPID!  I woke up the next day and had a hard time moving my neck, so I pushed my flight back, headed to the ER and spent 9 hours in the waiting room.  Like I suspected, I had a pretty bad concussion but I recovered in a few days.  Would have been helpful to have health insurance then!

Although this was probably one of my least favorite tasks on my countdown, it was very important to get this done.  I hurt my foot and my wrist last week during workouts, I am falling apart at my old age!  My application is being processed right now and if everything goes smoothly,  I will be insured by October 15th!  Then my hypochondria can kick in again and I can see all kinds of doctors, oh joy!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

DAY 13: Race for the Cure



ZTA girls working the survivor tent
The only problem with Race for the Cure is that I am an emotional wreck the entire time.  I swear I teared up about 50 times today.  At the survivor tent, the survivor parade and opening ceremonies, the start line and the finish line...and even in between while I was running.  I had the honor of volunteering with my ZTA Alum chapter at the survivor tent before and after I ran the 5K myself.  We had to be there at 6am but it was worth it!  We handed out bright pink survivor hats and backpacks filled with goodies for the ladies. (and a few men survivors!)  They were so appreciative of our efforts, but considering what they have been through and how many people's lives this disease affects, I really wish I could do more!

I can't even begin to tell you how awesome it was to see these people face to face.  They were all so happy and proud!  Each time I talked to a survivor and she told me how many years she has been cancer free, I teared up and we all cheered.  Each time I read a shirt or a sign that was in memory of someone, I teared up.  Today was about celebrating life, love and hope. I really saw how cancer affects people of all ages, shapes and colors.  Several women I saw in the survivor tent looked younger than me.   I hurt my foot last week on my training walk, so I wasn't sure if I was going to actually run today.  After I spoke with one women who was A WEEK out of surgery or many who were still going through their treatment...I decided to get my butt out there and run!  It really puts things in perspective when you see the hope in the survivor's smiles.  They have been through a tough battle and came out a stronger people because of it.

I ran today for my Grandma Lewis who lost her battle in 1991.  I ran today for my step-grandmother and other family members who have  battled this disease.  I ran today for my friend Natalie who can now call herself a survivor!  And I ran for the survivors  I met today, for the ones I haven't met and for the ones who will have to battle breast cancer in the future.

The start line!  
When I registered for Race for the Cure Chicago, they had an option to buy a pink ribbon in memory of a loved one who lost their battle.  I of course bought one to commemorate my grandmother and I really feel like she was there with me today.  I imagined what it would be like if she were one of the survivors enjoying the day in the tent, and what it would be like to still have her in my life.  The cutest lady came straight up to me and proudly said she was diagnosed in November of 1988 and has been cancer free since.  That was around the same time my grandmother was diagnosed.  I feel like it was a little message sent to me from my grandmother...that she will always be in my life. :)

In memory of Gloria Alanis Lewis, my grandmother

Friday, September 24, 2010

DAY 14: One day juice detox

After my food tour of Texas last weekend, my delicious LARGE Mexican meal I had Wednesday night and my pasta carbo load last night, I decided it was time for my juice detox.  I have not been looking forward to this. AT.  ALL.  I have tried the master cleanse once (the one with cayenne pepper, lemon juice and maple syrup)  but I don't think I even made it a day on that one.  I chose to do a detox to feel healthier and flush out some toxins.  I know I am not going to lose any weight in one day but I think this is a good start to eating healthier.  

My colorful food for the day
I researched one day detoxes online and got completely overwhelmed.  I read that you are supposed to follow a certain diet a week before to get ready for the detox.  OOPS!  They also call for fresh veggie or fruit juice and I do not own a juicer...so I got frustrated and decided to head to the juice bar at my gym to see what they suggested.  I told them what I wanted to do and they made me three deliciously gross juice concoctions for my meals.   Here was my menu for the day:

1oz. shot of wheat grass  (not my first choice for a shot!)

16oz. V6-- Tomato juice, lemon, carrot, celery, spinach and parsley

16oz. Berry blast-- Raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, banana and water

16oz. Carrot juice

Sounds wonderful right?  I drank tons of water along with that healthy menu.  I struggled through the day but I made it!  (so far)  We went to the movies tonight and that was torture, but I am surprised by my willpower.  I had to smell popcorn and hotdogs but I stayed strong!  I "cheated" and had an orange juice but I made sure it was 100%  juice first.  I can't really say if I feel cleansed or detoxed yet but I do know that I am ravenously hungry.  My boyfriend says I am grunchy (grouchy and grumpy) but I don't think so!  I have never looked forward to egg whites and oatmeal so much.  HURRY UP BREAKFAST!   Can't wait to eat and then run in Race for the Cure in the morning! :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

DAY 15: Donate to a women's shelter

When I woke up today I fully intended to clean out my closet and switch out my summer clothes for my fall clothes.  I desperately need to get rid of some clothes I don't wear to fit everything in the closets!  I did a massive donation when I moved from NYC to Chicago, but I still have a lot to donate.  I think I am a borderline hoarder...I have such a hard time letting things go.  I swear I still have things from high school that are two sizes too small.  

I took one look at my closet and my drawers and decided to procrastinate by looking up some donation centers online.  Usually I give to the Salvation Army but this time I wanted to give to a women's shelter of some sort.  I came across an organization called Sarah's Circle which is a refuge for women who are homeless.  The more I read about what they do the more I was sure I wanted to help!  They not only provide indispensable services to women in need...they help women empower themselves and rebuild their lives.  I called and asked about their clothing donation guidelines and found out that they didn't really need clothing, but badly needed travel sized toiletries,  blankets, sheets and pillows among other things.

A mural on a wall at Sara's Circle
So the task for today was quite simple.  I gladly put off my clothing donation and headed to the drug store and Bed Bath and Beyond.  I actually had fun shopping for all kinds of toiletries, sheets and blankets!  I realized how easy it is to take little things like soap and your pillow for granted.  I gathered what I could on the list and headed uptown to the shelter.  On the way into Sarah's Circle  I saw at least three women coming and going, and a lot of women in there using computers.  It was a good feeling to see some of the women that I will be directly helping with my donation!   

Cleaning out my closet and donating the clothes is still on my short to-do list...maybe next week?!  And next time I travel I will be sure to stock up on toiletries from the hotels I stay in. You should do the same and donate to your local homeless shelter!  

DAY 16: Sorority Alumnae Chapter Sisterhood Dinner


I began college in the fall of 1999 at Southwest Texas State University (now known as Texas State University) in San Marcos…all alone.  I chose that path because I wanted to start a new chapter in my life fresh and meet new people.   I didn’t want to have a crutch that would keep me from branching out, plus most of my high school class went to Baylor or Texas Tech.  Baylor was way too close to home and Tech was too far…SWT was just right. I remember the day my parents dropped me off in my dorm room.  I sat in my newly decorated dorm room and cried my 18 year-old eyes out.  Then I walked outside and introduced myself to the first girl I saw, who luckily had a car.  (mine broke down the day I went to college, lucky me!)  I had already decided that I was going to go through sorority rush, but now I had a friend to do it with me! 
My pledge class in 1999
 Rush was such a nerve-wracking process and unlike anything I had ever experienced, but I ended up pledging my first choice, Zeta Tau Alpha.  I absolutely HATE it when people say that girls who pledge a sorority are “buying their friends”.  You aren’t automatically BFFs with every girl in your sorority. You naturally become closer with the girls you have most in common with, while still being a part of a bigger family.  It was a good feeling to have that support since I was away from home and my high school friends, and being a part of ZTA greatly enriched my college experience. Being a part of this sorority encouraged me to make better grades, to be more involved in charitable organizations and to become more involved in the community.  Our philanthropy was the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation so this is how I first started getting so involved with it!  Best of all... I still call many of the girls I met in Zeta my best friends! 

Zeta 2010!!  (w babies and a few other friends)
Basically I had to start all over making friends again when I moved to New York after college and after 5 years there I made some pretty great ones!  I moved to Chicago this spring, and AGAIN find myself searching for girlfriends.  I think my experience of going to college on my own then moving to NYC has given me confidence when it comes to just putting yourself out there and meeting new people, but it gets a little harder the older you get. At this age…people are settled into their lives and already have their circle of friends.  It has been one of my goals to try and find some friends here so I don't drive my boyfriend crazy always hanging out with him!  Luckily I knew one girl here in Chicago that was in my sorority collegiate chapter and she encouraged me to join the City of Chicago ZTA Alumnae Chapter.  

I joined in August and so far I must say it has been so much fun!  I realized that the "family" I found in college actually extends all over the country! I tend to be shy around new people but I decided I would put myself out there and go to as many events as I could.  I have found that these women are very similar to my friends back in Texas and New York…all very motivated, successful and smart.  They are from all over the country and very inspiring to be around!   In the group are grad students, lawyers, architects, marathon runners and one girl just got back from studying Arabic in the Middle East!   The list goes on but most importantly they were very genuine and welcoming to me.

My new ZTA friends!
Tonight we had a fun “sisterhood” dinner at a little Mexican food place called Papcito's Mexican Grille in the Lakeview neighborhood and the food was delish!  (not to be confused with Pappasito's Cantina in Texas) I would consider myself an expert when it comes to Mexican food.  At least when it comes to Tex-Mex...it is my favorite food and I have eaten a ridiculous amount of it over the years!  I think this place is my favorite Mexican food in Chicago…although it was BYOB. (I was looking forward to a margarita)    

In addition to volunteering at the survivor tent at Race for the Cure this weekend, we also have  a "Think Pink" event at a Chicago Bears game in a few weeks and a book club meeting!  I have been told that I keep in touch with everyone I have ever met in my life.  Maybe so...but even at 30 I will always have room for more friends!