Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: December 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

12 Days in Italy... With My Mom (Part 1)

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I am traveling through Italy with my mother for 12 days: Milan - Venice - Florence - Rome. 

If you do not normally read my blog, you might want to follow along for these series of posts from our trip. Not sure how candid I can get (she reads my blog a when it pops into her Facebook feed) but I am going to bank on her being preoccupied and reveal as much as possible. 

 Leyla (age 2) Already trying to escape

I corrected it 10X and I can not stop it from taking over! It's also adding capital letters for no reason! 

Backstory on our trip 
You may already know, but I like to travel - a lot . I used to travel alone (mostly), but more recently I have been taking family trips. Last year, my dad planned a family trip, shortly thereafter, my mom started to jump on the "family trip" bandwagon - "When are you taking me somewhere ..." So that is why we are currently in Italy. 

Originally, my mother and I were supposed to visit Iceland and Norway because I wanted to see the Northern Lights (a dream of mine). As I started to plan the Northern Lights trip, I got the sense That my mom was not really up for buying a snowsuit and heading up to the arctic circle in a ferry boat. And I was not really up for snuggling up with her ​​in the freezing cold while others (more than likely couples) cuddled underneath the fantastical skies and gazed at each in wonderment. I also knew that she probably would not want to hang out in the  Reykjavik nightlife scenes with me, so the itinerary shifted to something we could both enjoy. 

Departing for Italy 
My dad found us a really good rate (he owns in travel agency ) on Emirates flying out of JFK. Even after we bought our round-trip tickets from Chicago to NYC, we ended up saving about $ 500 per person on airfare. Not to mention we were flying on to much better airline than any of the other options departing for Italy from Chicago at Christmas time. I found all of our hotels and apartments (AirBNB - so far, so good, I'll keep you posted).

our loft in Milan

Since this is the first post, I will just get right to the point ... besides, I am still jet-lagged and I think We Both ate something bad yesterday. Either That or we are coming down with the stomach Both flu (Which would suck). 

Look at some photos first and then read on ... 

approaching the Duomo in Milan

 and there it is in all it's glory!
if there is a "Selfie-mecca" this place is it

Noteworthy things that happened on our Italy trip, so far... 
  1. When we were checking into our Southwest flight, the counter agent asked my mom if she wanted to sign up for Rapid Rewards and she replied, "Can I use them on United ? " 
  2. We had Christmas dinner in a diner at JFK, I had a burger, she had a Rueben and we both had light beers.
  3. On our flight to Italy, while the flight attendants tried to serve 300 people breakfast, my mom insisted That they bring her tea Because she can not eat her breakfast without her tea . Although the whole food service and beverage service concept was lost on my mom , the flight attendant was kind enough to go get my mom her tea. 
  4. Our first full day in Italy (Milan), it snowed. My mother pulls out her umbrella and puts on her sunglasses, she turns to me and says, " Put on your sunglasses, your mascara will not run . " 
  5. The tea saga went on well into days 1 and 2 of our time in Italy. She can not stand the "smelly" tea here and can not Seem to get a decent cup of tea. My response , "If you were so Concerned about your tea, you should've brought` some with you. " 
  6. Sitting in the bar having drinks my mother got a whiff of something pleasant and her immediate reaction, " Do you smell that? It smells wonderful ... is it me ? " My response , "WHO ARE YOU?" Who picks up a pleasant scent and automatically Assumes That they might be the one who is magically emitting this aroma? 
  7. Last night after dinner, she asked where the closest grocery store was located and the next thing I Knew, the manager was Bringing my mom eggs to take home so she could make breakfast in the morning. Two eggs went right into her purse and I had eggs for breakfast this morning. 

More photos of Milan for your viewing pleasure! 

 Cathedral fron the Aperitif

my artsy version of the Duomo from the Aperol Terrace bar 

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II 

the cathedral this afternoon a when it was sunny and beautiful 
like how the framed it with the Christmas tree & cut out all the people but forgot to crop the M for Metro?

Montenapoleone (that's the Cartier store in the red package)

Stay tuned for more of my Italy posts! And follow along on social: 

Friday, December 19, 2014

5 Question Friday with Sara Altier

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5 Question Friday - the long awaited edition!

This is where I ask friends and interesting strangers to answer the same 5 questions and it happens on Fridays. However, it has been a while since I posted a 5 Question Friday, and my friend Sara was kind enough to write one back in October, so today we have a very special edition of 5 Question Friday -- the long awaited Pre-Holiday Sara Edition. 

The lovely Sara Altier

Sara Altier (in her own words)
I am on the Communications Team at Eventbrite, a self-service ticketing company based in San Francisco. I live in the Mission with my pug, Eleanor Roosevelt, but I fantasize daily about moving back to the Windy City. Leyla and I met when I was working for Eventbrite in Chicago because she was a power user and had used our platform for a social media scavenger hunt. I think I saw her tweet something about whiskey early on, so I liked her right away.

Sara Altier (in my words)
I too liked Sara right away... but I'm pretty sure we met shortly before the scavenger hunt days via the social media world and then IRL. I liked Sara because she was a tireless professional, a fantastic ambassador for her company, and she was tremendously helpful to me and to many others. In addition to her affinity for the king of brown spirits, bourbon, I thought Sara was quick-witted, a joy to be around and a great friend. 

Sara and Leyla
Sara Altier (and me) at my birthday party in 2012

1. What defines you? (Be descriptive, is it your job, family, a certain skill or talent you may have?) 

A few years ago I had this 'LIFE OF YES!' stage where I ran a marathon, moved across the country in a minivan, did improv in front of 800 people, went to a million events, and never said no to anyone. I always felt this pressure to be 'doing more!!1!' It was fun, sometimes ... but it was just totally exhausting and I was constantly stressed. After realizing how burnt out I was, I adopted a new mantra, a life of 'Ehhhm, no thanks!', which is not to say I don't do anything and never step outside of my comfort zone -- but I'm much better with boundaries now. I realized that it's ok not to take every coffee meeting and ok to spend the night in. Once I realized that it was ok to say no, I became a much happier person.

2. What song that energizes you when you are looking for motivation? (maybe it is more than one depending on what you need to get motivated for)

Two years ago I ran the Chicago Marathon (with bronchitis) and just about died at mile 18, so I played the following three songs on repeat for the last 8 miles. I crossed the finish line and I'm not dead, so you can make any assumptions you'd like about these song choices (or my taste in music in general).

  1. Only the Horses, Scissor Sisters
  2. Run Around, Blues Traveler
  3. Without Love, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes 

3. If you were to show up to a potluck, what would you bring? (and why? And what kind of potluck is this?) 

I always make the same salad for dinner parties, and I stole the recipe from my friend Danielle, so I can't even take any credit for it. It's arugula, quinoa, butternut squash, and whatever other odds and ends I have in my fridge. I like bringing salads to potlucks because salads imply: I'm invested in this event because I didn't just bring a bottle of wine, but I also didn't spend all day in the kitchen, because, like, I'm a busy person who still hasn't read the manual on how to operate her oven.

4. Describe your perfect day. 

I would get up in time for my favorite instructor's class at Barry's Bootcamp in San Francisco (hi, Erica!). Then I'd meet all of my best friends for brunch at Lula Cafe in Chicago, wander around the Tate and Brick Lane Market in London with my pug, go catch a show in NYC (I am dying to see a Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder) and be back in my bed with freshly laundered sheets by 10pm.

5. What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery? What would you do if you won $100 million? 

I'd probably buy my own place (back in Chicago), take my family on a crazy vacation, help Ray of Light Theatre get their own performance space in San Francisco, and donate the rest to various causes I care about. $100 million? Pretty much the same.

Read Other 5 Question Friday Posts

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Wanted: Amish Hipster Boyfriend

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Seeking your assistance with this crucial request. 

I am on the hunt for an Amish Hipster for a short-to-long term relationship, if you are able to help, that would be great. Please read below for the conditions and/or preferences required of my Amish Hipster boyfriend-to-be.  

Photo courtesy of  Personal Shoplifter

Leyla, Why An Amish Hipster? 
That's a good question. A few months ago I was in Las Vegas with the lovely and talented Monica Samuels, and our equally lovely friend Katie G., where I happened upon a mysterious man at the blackjack table. He was wearing a plaid shirt, he had a thick, dark beard, skinny jeans and vans - he was part backwoods lumber-jack, part skateboarder, part brooding thug - an Amish Hipster, a concise and apt description. 

I watched my Amish Hipster flit about the room from nickel slot to the quarter machines, it was evident he was waiting for his friends and not really gambling. I played it cool and I did the dance - making eye contact for just a moment longer than one should... if one were not intentionally trying to make eye contact. I was about to go in for the kill and suddenly I felt silly. What was I going to do with one of those Amish Hipsters? What would we talk about? He was probably too young and his friends were "total bros" (as the kids say these days). I aborted the mission - no Amish Hipster in Vegas for Leyla. 

However, since that night, I haven't been able to stop thinking about this newer genre of males. And, unlike that night in Vegas, I do believe I could have enough in common with the RIGHT Amish Hipster. So, what's the problem? You ask. I am a homebody and I have no clue where the kids hangout these days, but I believe it's some shitty bar with an arcade. This is why I need your help! Help me find the Amish Hipster of my dreams.  

What An Amish Hipster Boyfriend Looks Like (for me) 
In your quest, please be considerate of the criteria I have outlined below. I worry about a man who has put extreme thought into his appearance and made such a concerted effort to conform (as he pretends not to conform). Therefore, to best ensure that this Amish Hipster and I will "click", a certain set of criteria should be met. Well, unless you get me Ricki Hall, I will have zero standards for him, he can pee on the rug for all I care. I mean look at him! 

Ricki Hall photo courtesy of Mens Style Fashion 
Keep scrolling for the criteria, do not get distracted by Ricki Hall.

Criteria - In No Order of Importance
  1. He must be gainfully employed. Preferably, as a professional with some sort of a boring desk job. He can be a writer or artists, so long as he truly works. Many guys out there embrace the Amish Hipster look, but they're bartenders - experience has proven that will not work for me. Nothing wrong with bartenders, I love them, I used to be one, but I am too old to date a bartender. I need to relate to my Amish Hipster when we talk about our day, the conversation should include a lateral exchange of experiences.  
  2. He should be smart. I would like my Amish Hipster to be informed and have the ability to hold a conversation on a number of topics. Whether it is politics, religion, civil rights, fashion, science, history, current events, or all of the above. I would like this fellow to be well-rounded and witty. 
  3. He has to be age appropriate. I fear this might be the toughest ask of all. I just don't think there are very many Amish Hipsters out there who fall into my target age-range of men. I prefer an Amish Hipster between the ages of 37 and 45. I am willing to go older, but seeking a 47 yr old amish Hipster is like looking for a purple squirrel. 
  4. He needs fashion sense and appreciate quality goods. I think a lot of these Amish Hipster types shop at the same store, they're like copycats of each other, but I want my Amish Hipster to be slightly more evolved from a fashion perspective. T-shirts are fine, so long as he is able to couple the look with something more significant in the pant and footwear department.
  5. He is open to dating regular girls. Be sure to ask this question, because I don't want to disappoint the Amish Hipster, as he will surmise rather quickly that I am NOT a female Amish Hipster. If he is open-minded, he should be OK with it, but be warned finding an open-minded Amish Hipster will be difficult. Someone who works hard at establishing a fashionable persona will want to complete the "look" with his partner.

There you have it folks! This is what I am looking for, please leave a comment if you have any recommendations. You can also TWEET me or tag me on Instagram with your recommendations. Be sure to share this post with your friends who have aging hipster-y friends. And if you are unable to find an Amish Hipster, I will also accept suggestions for the Elegant Dandy Hipster boyfriend.

Francois Verkerk Photo Courtesy of Beards & Barbers

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