Chicago, African Geography, Lions, Artichokes, and Space Ghost


I’ve been super busy lately- such is the end of the summer and ramp back up to school days, and that’s without a 2,000 mile road trip thrown in there!

So first things first- we DID fly to Chicago to get my husband’s new truck, and it it AWESOME, as was Chicago. We’ve never been and didn’t really know what to expect. Food? We didn’t have a set itinerary really aside from the truck, Institute of Art, and a list my husband put together of restaurants.

We went straight from the airport to the dealership. While in with the finance guy he mentioned he was from Africa AND THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING OH MY GOD IT’S HAPPENING!

Me all casual like: “So where in Africa are you from?”

Finance guy: “I’m from Zimbabwe.”

Me, internally screaming: “Does that little arm on Namibia reach all the way over to Zimbabwe?”

Finance guy, surprised: “No, Namibia doesn’t touch it, almost though. Have you ever been to Africa?”

My husband, unintentionally ruining my whole woman of mystery thing I had going on: “No but she studies African Geography!”

Dang it!

Like, I totally DO, but I would rather folks thought I was retired CIA or an accomplished academic or something… but I DO in fact study up on African geography for this exact kind of moment.

It annoys me that people think Africa is a country! Do you know how many African countries there are? It’s 55! Do you know how many European countries there are? 44! When I realized how many European countries I could name and how few African ones I could name I decided to do something about it.

I started doing this geography test: found here and I have gotten pretty damn good- though I am garbage for some reason at knowing Togo from Benin. Like come one, brain- how many TIMES?! And look- it isn’t in depth or anything on my part- but it’s a damn sight better than Candy Crush in that I’m actually learning something. I have gotten a 100 before too, and regularly get 90+ these days.

It’s totally my party trick when talking to people in airports or taxis (please don’t let that actually be as racist as it sounds now that I’m typing it…) or elsewhere! Like a finance department at a Toyota dealer!

I just figure it must be so damn isolating as am immigrant to get asked where you’re from and get told over and over again no one has ever heard of it nor knows any specifics about your country, right? So I want to be the exception to that. As Melania should have said: “Be better.” Well I’m trying, fake, grammatically correct Melania. I’m trying.

Anyway- back to Chicago:: WE FUCKING LOVED IT!

We bought the truck and then parked it for 2 days and never got it out of the garage again till we left: we walked EVERYWHERE! Our hotel was only a few blocks from the lake and we started every day by jumping off the seawall into Lake Michigan. This sounds… unsavory, I know. It wasn’t! There was an area roped off for swimmers, the water was clear and clean and refreshing (especially on the second day, a little hung over) and it was such a treat to be bobbing in water looking around at the city and buildings!

We saw the museums, parks, buildings, architecture, bars, restaurants… it was great and we had such a good time- it would be the longest blog post in history if I went through everything cool thing we did or how romantic the whole thing was- so I’ll spare you. We almost had a catastrophe though:


So I have loved, LOVED the two lion statues in front of the Art Institute of Chicago FOREVER! Like, there were many years where my mom would ask what I wanted for Christmas and I’d reply that I wanted the Chicago lion bookends. And they were pricey so I didn’t ever get them but I did get a Chicago lion Christmas ornament one time. And then that is what they got me when I graduated from college- the bookends! These!

Yes I’m showing off my newly redone front table here. Ugh and I have to move the mouse painting up a smidge I’m now realizing… and also- I got damn near everything except the bookends, one book, and the paintings at thrift stores and estate sales! Yay!

Anyway- it was a thrill of a lifetime to be able to do this:


They had been removed for conservation for five weeks and got back two days before that picture! Oh that would have been so sad if we’d gone all that way and missed them.

The institute itself was AMAZING- but this was on our last day in Chicago we were damn near paralyzed due to sore feet and legs for walking everywhere- neither of us packed correct shoes. We muscled through though. We saw Picassos. Cezannes. Sooo many masters- though my favorite was in fact some new to me artists and paintings I was unfamiliar with.

I have a list of stupid shit I say that really illustrates how middle aged I am. I got to add to it on this trip. Because when I saw this painting:

This is what I said: “Those artichokes are stunning!” That exact phrase, unironically, actually came out of my mouth! Sigh… add it to the list. They are stunning though.

Here are some of my other favorites:

Anyway- we had ourselves a ridiculously romantic vacation, bought my husband’s truck, got to see the country on the drive back, and still saved THOUSANDS over buying a truck in Texas. Sweeeeet.

Also keeping me busy since we got back: Getting all the school shopping done before August 1st. I’ve worked retail. I know there are no good sales that go on during the ramp up to school shopping, and everything is super picked over so I aim to have it all done by July 31st. This was accomplished but it was some full weekends to get it all done. Check off that parenting responsibility.

I’ve also been shopping and listing things for resale (like… surprisingly successfully too- will discuss on a different post) and then completely redoing our living room and front room.

As to that last one- you ever look around a space and realize it isn’t serving you as well as it could? Yeah- I totally had that moment this weekend. So I pulled everything off the walls, off of surfaces and redid the rooms. Funny how making something look decorated can often times mean removing things, not adding things. I got rid of 3 pieces of furniture and countless things/stuff… and I’m pretty damn thrilled with the results.

Of course I’m only halfway through and my bedroom is an absolute disaster as that is where everything was removed to… so I actually do have to get back at it today but it has been super satisfying.

And finally:


So we had an entertaining evening recently watching Space Ghost Coast to Coast with the children, and they loved the quirky humor and irreverence! Like- what a blast from the past for me!

Back when I was a senior in high school I worked as a waitress at a BBQ joint in Gruene. On most Fridays and Saturdays I would get home tired and wiped out (the restaurant was outside) at 10:30 or 11… and without cell phones I couldn’t really track down where all my friends were a lot of the time. Additionally curfew was midnight so like… what was I going to do in an hour? My brother was in college already… so I did what any other 17 year old would do on those nights by myself: I watched movies from the 40s on Turner classic movies and then Space Ghost Coast to Coast on Cartoon Network after midnight. Considering my folks were often asleep (cough) when I got home I guess I could have snuck out- but the thought never even occurred to me, really. I was a good kid, if a bit too serious sometimes.

All in all those were kinda lonely days for me (as I wine drunk tried to express to my brother, cousin, and husband recently- did a piss poor job at it too) and often I was a bit sad in a nebulous, hard to nail down way. Back then relationships were hard. Friends were hard. Family was hard. Self esteem was hard. Life had an undertone of striving and never quite getting where I was aiming at, back then.

But watching Space Ghost were some of my favorite times in those days: the late hours by myself, sitting in the old mustard yellow chair, watching the garage tv in a quiet house after working outside all day. I was never sad or lonely doing that. Those hours were mine all mine, and I treasured them.

And now to share them, surrounded by my amazing family, sitting in the house where I never feel like life is hard, and where I am never alone… like wow, what a feeling it was! It didn’t take me back to those times, instead it was like I brought that girl in the mustard yellow chair forward to the present. Welcome to your future, girlie- you do in fact get there, you just hold on for it!

The small things are big things sometimes.

Happy August to y’all!

4 thoughts on “Chicago, African Geography, Lions, Artichokes, and Space Ghost

  1. Loved this pos! What an amazing reward for to of the hardest working and loving people I know. What a blast, you had, cherry on top perfect timing to see Lions of Chicago! Ahhh! Universe you know us so well!! To be able to get a new, well deserved and long anticipated truck for Luke and then a romantic adventure road trip home, just so, so we’ll deserved.
    PS: have to admit as soon as I read the part of blog with link for Africa Map, my inner nerd had to check it out. Played a few rounds and now I’m hooked on another learning app to keep this old brain lubricated and working. Then I went back to reading blog.
    The excitement in your voice over so much good stuff is great to hear and read. Can’t wait to hear more.

  2. I am struck anew but the realization that you are just so COOL. I love your African geography study, I love your DRESS in front of the lions, I love your lion bookends, I love your entire set up with the plants and the art and the table. Your trip sounds so awesome. What serendipity that it all worked out the way it did.

    Also, this made me laugh so hard: “As Melania should have said: “Be better.” Well I’m trying, fake, grammatically correct Melania. I’m trying.”

  3. Love the Africa map test. I used to be pretty good and realize that I’m so, so rusty at my geography. Thanks for the link!

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