When I started this thing I thought I’d be popping in with random updates, but like every other writing project I start, this one fell by the wayside (every other project but National Novel Writing Month 2007! I will bask in that glory for all time!). Life, as they say, gets in the way. No matter, I’ve got three cats sleeping nearby, a winter playlist curated by a friend, and nowhere to be but here at home. I can at least manage some kind of recap. Consider this your holiday card/family update from Kailee on behalf of Michael and Kailee.
We’ve been engaged (officially) since May, and since then we’ve made a lot of progress on planning our wedding weekend, but the home stretch is going to be pretty challenging. Before starting, neither one of us had any idea how much detail goes into an event like this. We assumed that a room, some food, and a DJ would pretty much cover it (oh, and copious amounts of alcohol). But the scale of our event began to grow as we realized how many people we wanted to include, and as we received words of gleeful support from far-flung family and friends. So, we’re doing this thing. Ketubah, chuppah, dress and veil, bridesmaids and groomsmen, incredible food, the tunes to get you dancing. (Did you know dancing is one of my adored pastimes? If only we could include karaoke at the wedding too … and cats.)
In retrospect, this was kind of a big year for us. Some highlights, you ask? Sure. Though this may be kind of Kailee-biased since I’m writing it.
In February, I left my job at the University of Chicago Press, where I’d worked for four years in the manuscript editing department of the books division. I started as a financial copy editor at Morningstar (the investment research company, not the veggie burger company! … though veggie burgers are another of my pastimes). Our building is in the heart of the Loop–do you know how cool it is that I can walk across the street to Macy’s and get Takashi ramen in the fancy 7th floor food court? It is very cool. (Though the ramen is hot.)
In March, my brother Morrie came to visit. Shortly after his arrival, Passover began, so we had a nontraditional but excellent seder at Mike’s apartment that he shared with his friend Stephen. We totally rocked Dayenu and Chad Gadya, and our seder plate held a roasted beet for the shank bone. It was still pretty cold then, so Morrie bundled himself up and took the El around the city while I was at work. We went out to eat a lot (it’s Chicago, after all), and he sampled burgers at Revolution Brewery, Kuma’s Too, Goose Island, and I think I recall that he even had a turkey burger at the coffee shop Filter (my brother sort of likes burgers). We watched a highly inappropriate puppet improv show at iO (“Felt”). We spent an evening in the old practice space with my friend and erstwhile bandmate Josh, and Morrie basically shredded, wailed, and otherwise rocked on the guitar for several hours nonstop.
In May, Mike and I both moved from our apartments in our beloved Logan Square neighborhood into a new place in the Andersonville neighborhood. We were blue line people; now we are red line people (the red line gets annoying during baseball season–thanks, Cubs fans). We moved out as Logan Square continued its boom of hip, cool, and generally enjoyable establishments opening up. We lived short bike or bus rides away from most of our friends; now the distance is referred to as a “trek” and a “commute.” But we are lucky to have a few very choice people nearby! (Hi guys! Edgewater and Rogers Park, represent!) We are near such Chicago treasures as Lake Michigan and the famous lakefront path (when you come for the wedding, you need to check it out on bike, ‘blades, or foot–yes I just said ‘blades), Simon’s and Hopleaf (dive bar extraordinaire and craft beer heaven, respectively), the Neo-Futurists theater and several other independent theater spots, places where you can play bingo officiated by a drag queen, and Swedish bakeries. So, while we dream of moving back to where we know more people and stuff, we also really like our neighborhood and have entered a nesting phase as the place fills up with midcentury modern furniture (one of Mike’s pastimes).
Not too long after we moved, we took a trip to stay with Mike’s parents in Clifton, Va., for Memorial Day weekend and Mike’s birthday. I was wowed by the kindness of the friends and relatives I met for the first time (I also met Brenda the cat, but I don’t think she was too impressed by me). A day trip to DC was punctuated by monuments, a few museums, and possibly the best falafel I’ve ever had. Northern Virginia is beautiful, and I’m looking forward to going back in the future.
In June, my San Antonio cousin Kelly and her now-fiance Sam took a trip to Chicago, and we got to spend some time with them. Took them to Handlebar, one of my perennial favorite restaurants but even better in summer–PATIO SEASON. Summer is also festival season in Chicago, so we also took in some of the street-fest scene at Do Division festival in Wicker Park.
In July, we took a trip to California, starting in San Diego to attend my cousin Amanda’s wedding, and Mike met my sisters for the first time, as well as the roughly 23,987 amazing people who make up my extended family in San Diego. It was a fun time, and if Mike was overwhelmed, he did not show it–he ate his carne asada fries with great composure. We then headed up to Los Angeles for a first meeting of our two sets of parents, hosted by my aunt Kathy and Uncle Alan. The city of LA is lucky enough to have Mike’s sister Lauren in its midst, so we got to spend time with her as well. After a stop at my dear friend Dimitri’s place, we headed up to the Bay Area by car, where we were shown all the beauty, history, and vitality of Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco by our gracious hosts, Pete and Stephanie.
In September, we observed the High Holidays at our new synagogue, Anshe Emet, in the Lakeview neighborhood. The other two highlights were that Mike traded his trusty but aged Explorer in for a snazzy Civic, and I ran my first half marathon. My training plan had fallen off midsummer, so I spent the four weeks leading up to the race basically doing a crash course of training. I was actually happy with my time, though I couldn’t really walk down stairs for about three days afterward. I now feel 13.1 miles of superiority over everyone else. Worth it.
In October, it was my birthday, and I celebrated the only way I know how–by going to a suburban roller skating rink, renting brown quad skates, practicing my cross-over turning technique, attempting a little dancing-while-skating, and taking a humiliating fall onto the floor. Cheers to my friends who joined in on what is surely a desperate attempt to hold onto my youth.
Mike and I spent Thanksgiving separately, with our respective families, and got to celebrate a few nights of Hanukkah together after we were both back. And now it’s Christmas Day, the Chinese food has been consumed (it was REALLY good this year), the Christmas episode of The Twilight Zone and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas have been watched (both say that the holidays are about more than consumerism and gifts–hear, hear!). Back to work tomorrow and then a short time until this year is up.
Five months till our big party! Can’t wait to see everyone. Thanks for reading. Happy holidays to y’all.