Posts Tagged Chicago

An open letter to people- and pet-loving drivers

Dear LVURKIDS,
Do you really think people need a reminder? Yeah, you’re right. They do.

Dear ARF MEOW,
I’m picturing a dog vs cat battle for affection at your house. Or in your passenger seat.

Dear RKNRL 56,
’56 is a ways back now, even in the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame …

Dear NVRNUF1,
You even have a personalized license plate, and it’s still just NEVER ENOUGH for you!

Dear PDF IT,
Ooh! I know, you made your fortune creating that program that turns any file into a pdf attachment.

Dear FIND SNO,
Just keep going north and stop when the ground turns white.

Dear MOOVFAN,
Who doesn’t love cow moovies?

Dear BIGUY5,
There are two readings here, but I’ll stick with you’re a big guy.

Dear IB NIU 86,
Is your name on a building at NIU? With that kind of devotion, I’d guess you’re a big donor in DeKalb.

Dear REC CRE8,
Well you sure are one creative recreation professional. No one believe you?!? Just show ‘em your ride!

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The latest open letter to the vanity plate drivers of Chicagoland

Dear FLN GR8,
Your license plate’s a liar when you’re sick.

Dear NAB BUM 1,
Go, cops, go! Nab ‘em!

Dear DA ONLY 1,
And proud of it, 2.

Dear SPRMOM6,
Follow me (and my six kids) to the soccer field … (I’ve got the good snacks.)

Dear KAZ TOO,
Tattoo, kazoo, and Taz the Tazmanian Devil, too?

Dear ABCRMB1,
Where’s your buddy, Fitch? It’s just not the same without him.

Dear JEDI 34,
May the force be with you, Walter Payton.

Dear CU BY BY,
Just wait ‘til next year, Cubby Bear. Because this year? You’re out of the playoffs for sure. So see you! Bye bye!

Dear 1 GO BLU,
Your license plate’s from Illinois, but your message says your heart’s in Michigan. “Hail to the victors …”

Dear SPRFINE,
I thought it was “Superbad” … just sayin’

Dear BBQ JEDI,
May the force be with you … and your marinade!

Dear HI HEELT,
This is the Lieutenant of High Heels, reporting for duty!

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A wintry open letter to … the vanity plate drivers of Chicagoland

Dear My ROSE 1,
Is your first name Derrick? It should be.

Dear FLAGS 99,
Sheldon, the guy from “The Big Bang Theory,” would have a field day with you. And your 99 flags.

Dear BID OFFR,
Is a big bid offer what allowed you to buy this car?

Dear SLO RUN,
I’m a little surprised I’m behind you … But any run is a good run!

Dear MKY ERS 8,
You, and the eight members of your Mickey Mouse-loving family, belong in Florida, not Illinois.

Dear SNEEZY D,
For some reason, your license plate made me think of Snooki, not of Snow White’s dwarfs. Take some Allegra already.

Dear FUZZIE 1,
There are conventions for people like you. And they always manage to make strange news.

Dear BAGELS,
I WANT TO EAT YOU.

Dear HVN BND 3,
I wrote down your license plate and can’t remember why. Oh, wait! You think you’re “heaven bound,” that must be it! I’m glad to be following you, even if only for one traffic light!

Dear RDN SOLO,
Sounds like you’re single and proud of it – more power to ya!

Dear FML BUG 4,
Today, I saw a gray Volkswagon bug convertible long after my friend, who slug-bugged me when I was least expecting it. FML.

Dear SEEYA35,
Wouldn’t wanna be ya … Sorry, couldn’t resist.

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The texting clues to our twenty-something lives

If the twenty-somethings of today were to vanish completely from the Earth, leaving only our cellphones or text message records behind, we would actually give the anthropologists of the future some pretty good clues into what matters in our lives.

We care about our moms and our friends. We communicate differently with our dads than with our coworkers. We can make a joke out of anything. We’re not always very prompt; we sometimes ignore each other. Acronyms have taken over for real words and most messages are short – no matter how important.

We text frequently, staying in almost constant communication with people like our BFFs or
boyfriend/girlfriend/partners. Distance might be an obstacle, but we don’t let it get in the way of our friendships or family connections.

Read through someone’s texts and you can see all of this and more.

When one of my close friends from college included me and another close friend on a group text to tell us some exciting news, I was impressed again at the variety of messages our texting conversations can carry.

This particular chain started out about an engagement. The guy who texted the other two of us sent a photo of his girlfriend’s left hand with a simple, beautiful, diamond engagement ring. There were no words, only a smiley face type thing that looked like this :-)! Proving another point about distance, these texts were traveling between Chicago, the Western suburbs and Hawaii, of all wonderful places.

Anyway, after some enthusiastic congratulations, the conversation shifted to getting the group back together, to music – one of our favorite topics – and to an old memory of building an igloo as 21-year-olds, just to sit in it and drink beer. (Not just any beer, we’re talking snow-chilled Coors Light. It was fanstastic.)

The whole thing certainly made me smile, but look through the other texts I had on my phone at the time, and the anthropologists of the future could see that my life has a lot to do with variety.
There’s work and play, family, friends and love. And a big bunch of random.

A source for a story at work who happens to be a heroin addict. Two separate text chains of friends praising me for another story I wrote about the cause of death of a Chicago Blackhawks staff member. A school board member who was asking me if my newspaper had any pictures that she could use for her re-election website. One of those five-digit numbers I texted to vote for a player for the NBA all-star game (I chose Butler, Jimmy Butler of the Bulls, that is). And then that fantastic news of my friend’s engagement.

Texting is only one way we communicate and I’m quick to caution about its limits in conveying tone, body language, emotion and sarcasm. I shy away from texting things that are really important, when I can. But I might as well admit that what’s in my texts is a good reflection of my life. And if it continues to show a whole lot of variety, I’m happy to keep it that way.

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In the ABCs of Twenty-something life, O is for Outdoors

Over the weekend, my Prius and I took advantage of a preferred parking spot for fuel-efficient vehicles at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. Not because I’m lazy or because I think driving a hybrid makes me special — there’s a great South Park episode to prove otherwise — but just because it’s darn cold.

The outdoors this season are a frozen tundra of chilly annoyance, icy driving hazards and poorly timed snowstorms, and I want to avoid all that as much as possible. Avoiding the outdoors, though, is not my style the rest of the year. I love being outside.

I’ll run, bike, walk, read, write, eat or even nap outside if I’m not going boating, water skiing, tubing, kayaking, Frisbee golfing or stand-up paddling, unless I’m playing basketball, tennis or soccer. Being outdoors and experiencing nature makes life better, they say, and I’m a big believer… Three-quarters of the year.

The problem with winter is it steals the outdoors from our easy enjoyment. Sure there’s snowshoeing and sledding and cross-country skiing, winter running at Santa 5Ks and hiking while bundled like an eskimo. But all of that requires the extra effort of dressing properly for the cold.

Around the holidays, there’s plenty of darkness and time to drive around checking out Christmas lights, but that’s not really being outdoors. There’s walking to the car from the office or the gym or the grocery store or your favorite sports bar or your best friend’s place, but that doesn’t leave any time to enjoy being outside — just long enough to stare at parking lot pavement and wish upon a snowflake for spring.

The problem with winter, for those of us who have mostly outdoor hobbies, is it leaves us with very little to do when the temperature makes it impossible, unbearable or at least unpleasant to be outside for more than 5 minutes. And I’m definitely one of those people who has mostly outdoor hobbies, like my long list earlier proves.

I can read and write and eat inside, thankfully. I can run inside on treadmills, but the silly machines annoy me more and more every year. I can bike inside, too, on those stationary bikes where all I really do is move my legs up and down a little bit and read fitness magazines. I could play basketball inside … if I went to a fancier gym or drove 15 miles to a rec center with open gym hours and battled teenagers for court space. But what’s the point of all that?

The point is winter sucks when most of your enjoyment comes from being outside. Not always from being outside on its own, but from being outside AND, as in being outside and biking, or being outside and reading, or being outside and simply exploring the surroundings. That’s pretty tough to do when the mercury reads “you’re an idiot to be out here!”

There are plenty of reasons to complain when it’s cold  — constant goosebumps and shivers being the least of them — so I’m really not trying to add to the complainers’ chorus. I’m just trying to talk up the benefits of being outdoors, of hearing sounds that aren’t human-made, of discovering scenes off the beaten path, of learning and observing and watching the seasons change.

Let’s just hope this dreary season of minimal outdoor enjoyment changes soon to a spring of flowers and sunnier days and warmth.

Until then, I’ll be on the hunt for a new indoor hobby … Jigsaw puzzles, anyone?

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In the ABCs of Twenty-something life, N is for Nature

I’m sitting in my apartment looking at my favorite cactus, some weird mini tree-like plant thing my roommate just bought and barren tree branches outside. It’s November in Chicago, when winter is right around the corner, and I wish I was somewhere else.

California, along the ocean, maybe. Or even Wisconsin boating on a lake would do. I just want to be in nature, and the suburbs in pre-winter don’t feel very natural right now.

Even for those of us who can’t tell corn from soy bean plants or would never be caught dead eating a Nature Valley bar in a forest, the underlying message of wilderness therapy can come in handy.

When we’re stressed, overwhelmed, unsure or otherwise unhappy, being outside can center us, calm us and bring our racing thoughts back to reason. All it takes is some water, a path, trees, a park, a field, or whatever natural area is within reach in your microcosm of the world.

The lakefront bike path, Lincoln Park Zoo, even a pocket park with nothing but a couple of trees and some playground equipment or Busse Woods forest preserve with its view of Woodfield mall all count as nature around here.

But water, usually lakes, is my natural setting of choice when I’m stressed. The sounds of waves lapping and wind whipping have a mysterious way of combining with the sight of sparkling blue-green water and landscaped shores to wipe away my worries, tears and fears.

Some might choose a forest or a canyon as their favorite outdoor site. Others may favor an urban river, a wetland, a prairie or even a remote desert. But the principle remains the same: Get outdoors, find peace in nature and lose your problems to the power of pleasant sights. … Before winter really sets in.

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The fantastic T-shirts of the typical fitness club

Let’s just say I don’t go to the gym for the scenery. If I did, I’d pick somewhere that costs more than $10 a month and draws a clientele of far fewer old people.

But I’m cheap. And I just go to the gym to run on a treadmill when the Chicago-area fall/winter weather is its usual cold or insanely windy or rainy or snowy or dark at 4 p.m. or otherwise horrible.

As an added bonus, I get to see some gems of T-shirts and workout apparel on my fellow gym rats.

First, there’s the couple who’s always matching. I’ve seen this guy and gal on lime green shirt day (my personal favorite), on red shirt day, and on purple and yellow shirt days, too. They clearly do laundry together, and in color-coded loads, because I’ve never seen this duo in mismatched hues. And they don’t seem to think this is anything out of the ordinary. Gotta admire their confidence and their unity. Whoever sweats together, stays together … or something.

Then there are the people who wear the same T-shirt every day. For a week. As if it’s a high school gym uniform, which, in hindsight, must have been so gross it’s nearly unimaginable. A shirt is definitely dirty after being worn to the gym just once. But that’s just my opinion. Ask the guy who wears the “Every DAMN Day” shirt at least three days in a row – he might just have a different take.

I’ve been puzzled by a few barcrawl T-shirts with wacky nicknames and lists of unknown campus bars from colleges across the country. I’ve been reminded that the Shamrock Shuffle and the Naperville Noon Lions Turkey Trot are quite popular among west suburbanites and I’ve seen just how popular the Blackhawks have grown since their Stanley Cup win in 2010.

But if you haven’t made it to the gym in a while, you might be missing out. I’ll leave you with these few messages from real-life T-shirts and none of my commentary:

“VIRGINITY ROCKS” (front) “I’m loving my husband and I haven’t even met him yet” (back) “Never trust an atom; they make up everything” “You don’t get what you wish for; you get what you work for” “SOBER” (front) “Never looked so good” (back) “Pass me the rock” “I’m a Keeper”

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