Lincoln Park Zoo

It’s been awhile (I think 15 years) since I’ve been to Lincoln Park Zoo during the day time. (I went to Zoo Lights last year.) My husband is between jobs right now, and ended up getting a few days off, so I used a few vacation days so we could have a little staycation. Including an afternoon at the zoo.

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Reptiles & Amphibians

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My husband really wants a pet snake. Or a scorpion. Me, not so much.

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Snow monkeys … I guess they are new-ish to the zoon. This guy actually came to the front of the exhibit to poop, and then walked back into the grass.

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I don’t know about you, but gorillas have always kind of freaked me out, probably because they most closely resemble humans, so it’s 1) weird to see them in captivity and 2) I  wonder what they are thinking when they stare back at us?

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As I watched the ostrich parade back and forth in from of her pen, I couldn’t help but think about a burlesque performer … and then I remembered feather fans are made of ostrich feathers and it all came together.

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Of course, the big cats were my favorite. Behind the two female lions was a male lion who looked like he was out cold for a nap. Just like my Olive.

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Rhino

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Ice cream detour

We checked out the Lincoln Park Conservatory for a few minutes before they closed (also at 5).

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Rehydrating

We were able to visit almost every exhibit in the three hours we were there. We didn’t make it to the Farm-in-the-Zoo, we skipped the children’s area, and the Polar Bear & Penguin exhibit was closed for renovations.

The Comparison Trap

A conversation came up recently among my burlesque friends that kind of reminded me of conversations I’ve had with other runners, conversations at work, and conversations with friends.

The conversation at hand was basically … at what point are we no longer “students” and can we consider ourselves legit performers? When are we “qualified”? What if someone less qualified than me start getting accolades? What does that say about me? 

It reminded me of new runners who start off with “I’m not a real runner” or some qualifier, only to hear the response of “Do you run? Then you’re a runner.” Which is easy to say in a community where anyone can sign up for a race and even if you walk every step and finish, you’re a finisher.

But in the burlesque community, you need an audience to be a performer. And you generally need someone to cast you in a show (or produce your own) to perform. So there is a degree of external validation that feels necessary to consider yourself a legitimate burlesque performer and not just a student.

Likewise, I experience this a lot in my professional day-job life. I think I’m qualified and have a lot of great experience and know what I’m doing.  But when I see someone younger than me achieve more, or someone who I work just as hard as (or so I thought) get more recognition, it makes me stop and question myself. Am I not working hard enough? Am I not smart enough? Not good enough at what I do? Am I kidding myself to think I know what I’m doing? Does everyone else see it and think I’m delusional?

One other thing that stuck out to me in two conversations – one with burlesque friends, and one with a friend talking about her office job – is the difference between men and women. Women will wait until they are 100% qualified for something to go after it. Men will see that they are maybe 50% qualified and go after it – and often get it. Leaving the woman who had the same qualifications (or more), but held herself back, scratching her head in frustration and resenting the man who had the guts to put himself out there.

Why do we so often hold ourselves back? I have reviewed job descriptions for my team that to me were laughable – they included so many “nice to haves” that the person in that position will never even be doing. So in some cases, if you’re waiting until you’re 100% qualified, you’re really waiting until you’re over-qualified (and then no one can afford to pay you what you’re worth), whereas if you go after something when you’re 50% there, you might actually be 90% there. We’re our own worst critic anyway, you might think you’re not qualified at something when by comparison, you’re more qualified than a lot of people doing whatever it is.

I know that ultimately, the only person I should be measuring myself against is me, and it’s up to me to put myself out there and go after what I want, whether it’s professionally with my day job, or in the burlesque community, or elsewhere. It’s up to me to measure how far I’ve come, how hard I work and what I want to achieve.

Of course it’s so much easier to say that than do that. We’re so quick to measure ourselves against others and fixate on where we think we fall short. But only I can control myself, so if I see things in myself that I don’t like, it is on me to improve them, and if I see something I want, it is on me to go after it, and if I see things that I do that are great, it is on me to share them. As my mom always said, you gotta toot your own horn. So, keep tooting. Even if you don’t have the best horn out there, it can still make great music.

 

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34 years

Hey, so I’m 34 years old today. How did that happen?

So, let’s reflect.

What have I accomplished in 34 years? I earned a bachelor’s degree. I’ve been married for 9 years. I’ve been a cat-mom for 7 years. I’ve been continuously employed in a job related to my degree since graduating college, minus the 5 months it took me to find a job after graduation. I ran a marathon. I’ve gotten on a stage and danced and taken off my clothes 16 times and have taught 9 workshops to do the same. I’ve personally raised over $3,000 for the American Cancer Society, and chaired an event that raised over $300,000.

But what haven’t I done? I haven’t been debt-free as an adult. I haven’t left North America. I haven’t owned anything “big” other than a car. I haven’t birthed a human (and likely never will) nor have I been the legal guardian of another human (jury’s still out if that’ll ever happen).

But I’ve learned a lot about myself in my 30s. So much. I learned I don’t want to birth children. That my style of love is … different. I’ve always known I was a feminist, but in my 30s, I learned that being sex positive and fostering an environment that allows others to be comfortable expressing their sexuality is important to me. And the more experience I gain professionally, the more I’m able to hone in on what I actually enjoy doing, and I have enough experience to tell my boss “I want to do X and Y but not Z” and she’ll make that happen for me.

I’m pretty happy where I am, although I wish I had less debt and I wish that I would have seen more of the world by now, but those things will happen in time. I also wish more of my time translated into making more of a positive impact on the world, but I’ll figure that out somehow.

I’m able to surround myself with the people I love, who love me. I work in an environment where I enjoy what I do and I’m both challenged and respected. I have my health and the means to keep myself healthy. The people I love are healthy. I have the freedom to envision exactly the life I want, and go for it … and I think I’ve been spending my 30s doing exactly that.

Cheers!

 

Five Things Friday

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Still on a yoga kick. I’ve been enjoying Moksha Yoga in River West. It’s a really great space – big, open, airy, comfortable – and the classes are challenging but invigorating. Om.

 

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I’ve made it to three free concerts with the Grant Park Music Festival so far. The summer is going by too fast!

 

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At the last GPMF concert we went to, we were able to stop by The Bean and recreate a photo from one of our first dates 12 years ago. Where has the time gone????

 

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One thing I’ve been working on lately is the idea of “taking up space.” I will readily admit that I often hold back, wait for someone else to speak up with the idea I have in my head because I don’t trust that it’s good enough. I need to stop doubting myself. I have good ideas. I’m good at what I do.

 

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My busy July of performances is over. I think this is my favorite photo. I was killing “Freddy Krueger” … can’t you tell????  And my next round of shows starts in a month. Save the date, it should be a good run😉

 

 

Cheeses of Europe

This past Monday, I attended a Wine & Cheese event with Cheeses of Europe and the Windy City Blogger Collective.

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I love cheese, so this event as an easy sell for me🙂  However, I don’t know much about cheese. I know I like brie. I know I like gouda, especially smoked gouda (thanks, ALDI). Beyond that, I don’t really know much about cheese, or what I like.

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Above: brie, a cheese whose name escapes me (raclette perhaps?), comte, mimolette and fourme d’ambert. 

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The big winner for me! Mimolette. Looks like a cantaloupe. Tastes delicious. At the end of the event, they were wrapped up wedges for us to take home, and by the time I grabbed some, the mimolette was all gone.

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How to make blue cheese more palatable – drizzle a  little honey on it. This was tasty stuff, and my second favorite of what we tried.

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We learned that you should set cheese out for a couple hours so it can rise to room temperature before serving. This allows the flavors to come out more than if it was cold straight from the fridge.

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We tried wines with each cheese, and I wasn’t really paying attention :-\  I don’t remember what we tried, but I liked it all.

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With Lauren and Emily and the beloved mimolette.

What’s your favorite cheese? 

Painting the Town Some Shade of Red

River North is not a neighborhood I often visit for nightlife. Usually, if I’m there, it’s for a workout via ClassPass. But my best friend is flying solo this weekend, and wanted to hang out. She’s a mom of two, works full-time, and lives basically in the country but loves going out in the city, so I wanted to show her a good time😉

I’ve heard about the Drifter many times, and by that I mean that I see many Instagram posts from various burlesque performers from their performances at the Drifter. And it looks like a really neat space. So  when Gen asked if there’s anywhere I’ve been interested in going, this place came to mind.

But first, dinner. We ended up at Bernie’s Lunch & Supper because 1) I was entertained by the name and 2) based on Yelp photos, they had really nice rooftop seating. Well, the rooftop had a 2-hour wait, so we dined inside instead. We ordered the Lamb Hashwi (humus with ground lamb & pita), Roasted Oysters and Patatas Bravas. The Lamb Hashwi was amazing, I would go there just to order that and a cocktail to start my night. The oysters were pretty good, and the potatoes did not disappoint. For cocktails we had the Just Us (me), Pear Favor and Butterfly (Gen) and I also had a sparkling rose but the name of it escapes me.

Via

We finished dinner around 10 and headed over to the Drifter. It’s a secret bar, and the internet told us the entrance is near the bathrooms of the Green Door Tavern. I almost walked into what was probably a janitor’s closet, when thankfully, a couple people came out of a different door, which turned out to be the entrance. We left our name & phone number with the hostess, and headed back up to Green Door to get a drink and wait for a table to become available (and got to watch a little bit of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics). After a half hour, I got a text that our table was ready.

The Drifter is a very small space. The sign on the wall said they are only permitted to have 37 people in there at a time. Because of this, there isn’t a bad seat in the house, and it feels cozy, but not crowded. There is a beer & wine list, and cocktails are ordered off of tarot cards from a list that changes daily. They have some food (snacks) but we didn’t order any. (Also, there is a cover that is added to your tab, I think it was $6.)

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Gen ordered the Sibling Rivalry, and I ordered something that was a mix of fruity and spicy – it had raspberry but also a chile liqueur. It was great, but I don’t remember the name. Our second round for both of us were custom drinks. Gen liked her drink, but wanted something simpler, explained it to the bartender and her brought her something. I told the bartender that I like gin & tonics, nothing sweet, and he brought me this amazing bitter cocktail that he said was made with vodka, gin, lemon, lime and cascarilla, which he explained is an ingredient in bitters. The third round for me was The Lonely Horseman – bourbon/amaro/gin, it was really great, but all three drinks I had were very different.

I also wore a jumpsuit last night via LeTote

The entertainment at the Drifter is “pop up style.” There is no emcee, the hostess just pulls back the curtain on the small stage every half hour or so, and someone performs. In between sets, silent black & white videos (mostly vintage burlesque performers) are projected onto the curtain. I knew that Trixie Little was in town, because I was signed up for a workshop with her at Studio L’amour, and given that Michelle L’amour curates the entertainment at the Drifter, I was really hoping Trixie Little would be performing.  And my stalker sense was right! She performed, then Michelle L’amour performed, then Trixie Little performed again … the act that won her the 2015 Miss Exotic World title.

When we left the bar, Gen wanted to dance, but the the nearest place to do so has a $20 cover, so we decided it was time to call it a night.

So I wouldn’t say we painted the town red, but maybe we reached orange level.

Four Things Friday

I confess. I have drank the DNC kool-aid. I may have cried at one point last night, over the thought of the first female president. And then got into an argument with my husband about Hillary. (I had wine; he likes to debate.) I care too much about my uterus and the uteri of all women to vote for anyone else, despite who I voted for in the primary.

 

 

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I’ve been really enjoying yoga this year. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m getting older, and my body enjoys yoga as much (more?) than some other workouts. I don’t know. I did an Ashtanga class the other day. That’s some legit stuff. Somehow I got into this bind during class (with the teacher’s help). It was both painful and satisfying. It looks a lot harder than it is.

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That’s not me … you knew that, right? 

 

This weekend is the LAST (of 4) performances of our group “Scream Queens” act – a 10-minute long act of vignettes inspired by horror films. I’m a bird! And a nun! And a virgin! It’s been a ton of fun! It’s also confirmed that my forte is not character-driven burlesque. I’m a dancer, not an actor. It’s fun to pretend once in awhile. More info if you want to come see us. You won’t regret it.

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I’m a sexy bird. Photo by Eve Studnicka

I also had a moment at the office this week where I was forced to share my most significant accomplishment of the past year (or something along those lines). My accomplishment? That I’m a dancer and I’ve performed 10 times this year (actually, it’s 11). When asked what kind of dance, I default to “cabaret style.” Which is true.

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Basically how I spent my weekends this month. via GIPHY

 

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How about those storms last weekend?  A few trees in my neck of the woods city didn’t make it.

 

What have you been up to??? Did you watch the DNC? #SistersAreDoingItForThemselves amirite?