So, it's 2012.
Last month (or maybe it was the month before that) I decided I was going to Chicago to ring in the new year with my BFFs, as I have for the past ten-ish years (although last year was by Skype). I was all excited.
Three-ish weeks ago, my dad wasn't feeling so hot. And I had difficulties getting a bit of work coverage. And I was asked to take a moonlighting shift by a friend of mine whose wife was pregnant that would've amounted to a full day of holiday pay. So, then, I wasn't going to Chicago. I was not excited, but, it seemed like the right decision.
And then.....last week, things just seemed to fall into place. The work issue resolved itself. My friend's wife had the baby earlier than anticipated (but still fully incubated) and he felt like he could take the shift after all. My dad was feeling better. And so, literally, Tuesday of last week, I was like, well....then....I'm going to Chicago. You know, tomorrow. So I emailed my boss (who said, "By all means, GO!!!") and then I set off Wednesday.
It was a great trip. One of those trips that will go down in the history of Kateness.
I'd originally planned to be up there for an extended period of time, like, ten days, maybe. I'd see everyone, maybe jaunt up to Michigan to see some people, have some down time, whatever. But then, when the trip was then off and then on again, I figured the revised plan to be a much more sneak-in-the-back-door kind of endeavor. Run in, see my inner circle, run home.
As it was, the trip, although somewhat shorter, turned out to be the former. I made it in Thursday morning (could've made it in a day, but, got a late start and didn't want to pull in at 10:30pm). I went STRAIGHT to the Secretary of State's office (like the DMV) and renewed my expired license plates that NC wouldn't transfer and IL wouldn't renew over the phone. Then I met my Nouno (my actual uncle) at my parents' old house. We checked out a few things, then met my Nouna and younger cousin for lunch. I meandered to Robin's house, where I was staying, and then we had a most-of-the-girls' night out. Fabulous Italian restaurant in my hometown with - get this - gluten free pasta AND flourless chocolate cake (which was the BOMB). Then we sat around and chatted for a good long while. Friday morning I hung out with Robin and Bea and their collective four children, who are awesome. I then went and had lunch with a friend from high school that I hadn't seen...well, since high school ended. Because Claudia hadn't been able to make it to Girls' Night the night before, she got me all to herself on Friday. More gluten free menu awesomeness, coffee, and feverish, looming-deadline style knitting. Saturday morning I had - wait for it - gluten free pancakes (although I later came to believe that something about that meal was contaminated) at this great local/organic type restaurant with my awesome, awesome god daughter and her incredibly fabulous mom, whom I haven't seen since my mom's stroke. After that I discovered a very cool gluten free bakery in downtown Hinsdale (Sweet Ali's) and got cinnamon rolls, pizza, etc for the festivities.
We settled in for our traditional No Pants New Year's Eve, and it was wonderful. Lots of fun, lots of food (I made gluten free pizza, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, AND snickerdoodles!), lots of beer (not for me - I was drinking champagne and coconut rum. Not at the same time). It was fantastic, as always, even if Ali and I were both more or less passed out on the couch at 11:45. Sunday morning I got a very hilarious "happy new year!" call from Misty, and then Claud and I went to a party hosted by yet another high school friend I haven't seen since...well, no, I think I saw her at the 10 year reunion, which was a mere *mumble* years ago. It was a bona fide hoot. She has acquired some hilarious friends since HS. Sunday night we ate leftovers and dissected the weekend so far, played some Wii, and were homebodies. Which, was lovely. Monday I packed up at Robin and Brad's, and met Claudia in the city for Irish pub food (burger on a GF bun and mashed potatoes) and hot chocolate. We chatted for a long while and then I headed over to my (not-actually-related) aunt and uncle's for dinner. Both their daughters and their accompanying sons-in-law were there, which was fantastic. I'm not sure I've seen my one cousin since her wedding in India (to which I sadly did not make it). We had jambalaya and raspberry aperitif and a very, very good time. My aunt and uncle just moved back to Chicago from NC and so I was the very first one to stay in their guest room in their new, fancy, gut rehab on the north side. The next morning my aunt made me eggs and I headed down to Ohio, where I stayed with my cousins for the evening. Again, another lovely home-cooked meal and very good company. Plus, I got to meet their horse and play NCIS on the Wii, etc, etc. My cousin made me one of his very special feta omelets this morning and then I stopped by my favorite non-local (to me) local coffee shop and headed east.
A few other things happened, too. I picked up a number of good audiobooks, all of which I recommend. Bossypants, by Tina Fey, I kind of recommend as an audiobook, since she reads it, which is awesome. The other two, Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, and Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, are probably just as good if not better in written form. I also discovered that Cracker Barrel carries Bone Suckin' Salsa (best ever) and how much I like Snikiddy's cheese puffs.
Sadly, though, during the week, two of my mom's friends died (one she hadn't seen in years and one from here who was at death's door for some time) and Buie's middle dog died (Maggie is sad, too. She loved Rusty).
Maggie and Lucky are quite glad I'm home. Me too. I'm exhausted. But that? Was fantastic. Welcome, 2012!!