Category: City

About the city of Chicago: around town.

You got me wrapped around your leash

♪♫♪ Tracing patterns across a personal map / And making pictures where the lines overlap, where the lines overlap…

Sometime earlier in the summer, I spent two Saturdays at PAWS Chicago’s Adoption Center for volunteer training and subsequent Kitty City and Dog Town training. For those of you who don’t know, PAWS is the largest no-kill shelter in the city, and its adoption center is located on Clybourne and Racine. Ever since high school, I’ve wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter, but I’ve never seem to found the time or the opportunity. Also, I had my own dog to take care of in high school, and I always felt busy enough with school and activities as it was. My dog, a Pomeranian named Zephyr, was also diabetic. This meant that he needed insulin shots twice a day with both of his meals, and usually it was either my mother or me giving him his shots. At first when he was diagnosed several years ago, I was nervous at giving him the shot, and I remember his twitch of pain when I was accidentally too rough due to my fear of hurting him – which of course would make the shot hurt more. But gradually, I became more adept at painlessly slipping the needle in and out for his insulin by coaxing him into behaving with his food. Eventually it became easier to maintain his diabetes by watching his food intake and walking him every day for a good amount of time.

I loved Zephyr with my whole heart, and I’ve never been so heartbroken in my life than I was when he died a little over a year ago. It was the second half of my freshmen year, and my mother was actually in Taiwan at the time. I know she was deeply saddened as well since she had no idea leaving for Taiwan would be the last time she would be able to see him. And with my brother and me both at college now, Zephyr was her constant companion at home when my father worked late nights. I remember my entire family was deeply impacted by his passing, and we all grieved together. I know a lot of people just see it as a pet dying, but I felt like I lost a sibling. Zephyr had been with use for over ten years and I had spent the better half of my childhood with him making memories and having a best friend always there for me. I think anyone who has loved their pet deeply would understand the hole that is left behind once he or she is lost. It took a long time to feel normal again, but slowly I came to terms with my grief, realizing I gave him all the love I had and the best life possible. I still keep my favorite picture of him taped over my bed that travels with me every year when I move to a new place.

This past year, my interest was peaked in PAWS because I heard from a friend of mine that the volunteer process was super simple and that they’re always looking for new help. Their volunteer base is enormous because they’re always trying to dedicate more money to medication, care, surgeries, neutering, and other materials for the animals. It’s really inspirational to see how dedicated some of the volunteers are to spending so much of their personal time outside of their regular jobs to be there just out of their love for animals. They’re also the ones who hold the training sessions, so after just going there for two of the mandatory sessions, I knew that I wanted to be involved too.

Last week, I had my first day at volunteering. I chose to do Dog Town because of course I’m much more comfortable with dogs after having had one myself for many years. Although I completed the training for Kitty City, I think I’ll save that for a little bit later until I’m more confident on what I’m doing. Also it seems like from the emails that Dog Town requires more frequent help because of all the walking that needs to happen! Because of my class and work schedule, I chose a Saturday morning shift. It was actually the first shift of the day at 8 AM, and it’s the prime time for all the busiest work to begin – washing the rooms (no cages! all the dogs get their own rooms. It’s very nice and comfortable!), feeding the dogs, letting them out to walk and do their business, washing dishes after meals, and doing laundry. The volunteers are split into levels, and I was of course a Level One Volunteer. Since it was my first time, I was paired with a Level Two Volunteer, Erica, who showed me the ropes of feeding and walking. Erica, who has both fostered and adopted dogs from PAWS before, was extremely friendly in showing me what to do and I quickly felt very involved and comfortable in my work. For three hours, we walked several dogs (some more than once!), fed them, and helped clean out the rooms. The most difficult task was probably feeding the dogs who needed to take medication. Many of them are very picky and clever eaters, eating around their pills or spitting them out after eating their favorite parts. It took a lot of coaxing and tries to finally get some of them to eat the pill!

This is Lassie, one of the pups I walked. He's only 4 months old. I love his nose!

It was wonderful to be able to walk the dogs. Walking Zephyr used to be my clockwork routine after I came home from school from elementary school through high school, and it was always a meaningful time for me to spend with him because I felt like decompressing from the day. I hadn’t walked many dogs since he passed, and on that Saturday I had the chance to walk dogs for hours. Erica and I always went together, and the Level One dogs were always well-behaved and I had no problems making the two circle route around the Adoption Center. That’s not to say that the Level Two or Three dogs are not behaved – Erica handled them fine – they’re just more prone to pulling or being excited at seeing other dogs or people. I remember Zephyr was the same way, particularly toward big dogs! There’s a good rule they have where it’s one dog/puppy per volunteer to make sure no one loses control, but even so, the puppies that Erica and I walked still had a knack to get their leashes tangled up around our legs and with each other, especially if they saw cyclists or pedestrians that they wanted to sniff or investigate. I could certainly say there wasn’t a single dull moment!

It was so lovely to be surrounded by animals and other animal-lovers – and it was only my first time volunteering there! I can’t wait to go back again, and I hope to make it a regular habit to spend some time there. I’ve really missed just being around animals, and I think this could be the perfect way to spend some time for others and myself at the same time.

And now I’ve got a feeling if I sang this loud enough / You would sing it back to me, you would sing it back to me ♪♫♪

(Where The Lines Overlap - Paramore)

I feel your heartbeat ♥

♪♫♪ Oh you got a fire and it’s burning in the rain / Thought that it went out, but it’s burning all the same / And you don’t look back, not for anything…

A few weeks ago, when I was reading over some of my old writing from high school. I found a very old essay that I wrote for my AP English Lit class in high school. The topic was to compare a selected poem that we read in class with another piece of art, such as another poem, book, song, or painting, and I remembered that assignment so well because I chose to compare the class poem in the class to the song “Fall Away” by The Fray. I think I picked it just because I have always internally swooned whenever I hear Isaac Slade’s crooning voice, and I related the song to the poem by noting how both employed second-person narrative and similar themes of blame and distancing from pain. (If you’re curious, here is the song and lyrics. It’s not one of their most catchy or popular, but I’ve always found it to be very evocative.)

I stored away all of my old essays a few weeks ago and I wish I could pull them out again because I can’t recall the title or author of the poem. But I do remember feeling very proud of that essay, which rarely ever happens for me because I usually cringe at reading my old writings. But occasionally serendipity strikes, and I find myself feeling accomplished when I finish writing something – and expectedly I would when I’m writing about The Fray, one of my favorite bands. Last week, I also got to see them live for the first time!

The concert was at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion on Museum Campus, which is not far from TBH, where I live at Halsted and Roosevelt. With the surprisingly cool weather, I even decided to walk there to meet up with Brandon. After going to a few concerts now, I should have known that there would be opening bands to take up an hour or two before the real act begins. But it was my first time at the Pavilion too, so I was pretty excited to look around and explore a little bit. It was a chilly night for summer, and the Pavilion is located right next to the lake. I was thankful I had brought a jacket because the wind that carried from the lake was relentless the whole night. I even saw people buying sweatshirt and jackets just to have something warm to wear – and then proceed to buy cold drinks for sale like lemonade and beer.

All of the lights

Finally, The Fray came on around 8:00, and by then the crowd was more than ready for the main event. I will admit, I only knew a few songs from their entire new album Helios, but I had spent a couple days beforehand just streaming the music on YouTube while I did homework. I was glad I did, because I recognized all of the songs they played, and to me, it’s always way more exciting when you’re hearing a familiar song being played. They also played some of their biggest hits too! I thought they had an excellent set list because there was a pretty even balance between their new songs and the audience’s old favorites that had everyone in the crowd singing, like Over My Head, How to Save a Life, Look After You, Heartbeat, and You Found Me. Even though Brandon and I technically had standing seats, we found some empty seats. By the time the concert really got going, nearly everyone was standing and singing along anyway. Everyone was able to see everything pretty well thanks to two enormous screens that displayed the stage brightly and clearly. Even though I was in the way back and far away from the stage, I could see the details of the stage and each of the members of the band as the camera panned around. And then with all the flashing lights around me, it was easy for me to get lost in the rush of the music, the crowd, and the adrenaline.

Isaac Slade on the big screen!

It seemed like the show was over as The Fray left the stage. But even as the lights started coming up, people continued cheering loudly for them to come back for an encore. Very few even left their seats. Then, after a few minutes passed, the band reemerged on the stage, with guitarist Joe King holding a mop, cleaning up what appeared to be a mess on the stage! It was both confusing and comical to watch until the band mused on their slow, humble beginning before mainstream fame and mentioned they spent time as custodial workers to get by.

To preface their encore, the singer declared, “Nobody cleans a toilet like Isaac Slade!” The band played two songs (Break Your Plans and, my favorite, Never Say Never) and the audience was much more satisfied when the lights came up the second time. Because of everyone who stayed for the encore, it was ridiculously crowded as everyone tried to exit at once. But even that gave me a little rush because it was just exhilarating to be part of the crowd. It might seem silly but I still get so excited over experiences like these. Things like concerts, going out to the lake, and other pretty normal things just make me really happy. Even though I envy people I know who are studying abroad or doing great things in other cities and other countries this summer, I’m still so happy to be here in the city, still falling in love with Chicago more and more every day.

Cause if you love somebody, you love them all the same / You gotta love somebody, you love them all the same ♪♫♪

(Heartbeat - The Fray)

Running in a rainbow

♪♫♪ Boom clap – the sound of my heart, the beat goes on and on and on and on~

Since I started running about two years ago, I’ve done a whole lot of races, from 5Ks to 8Ks to the Chicago half marathon. While I enjoy the challenge and adrenaline that come from these runs, it’s always been on my running bucket list to do a color run. For those who aren’t familiar, a color run is basically a 5K that features a ton of color dye being thrown at all the runners…might sound a little crazy but it’s a whole lot of fun! It’s not only great because it’s just a big, messy fun day, but it’s also nice because it’s a kind of run where no one has to worry about finish times or who is faster than who. People just run, get colorful, and have a fantastic time. I spent some time scoping out all of the color runs happening in Chicago, and it turns out that there’s a whole lot – the Color Run, Run or Dye, Color Me Rad, Fun Run in Color…the list goes on and on. Then, a few months ago, I chatted about it with my best friend Armita, who lives in Berkeley, California. Armita and I have known each other since first grade, and I’m always sad I don’t get to see her as much now because she goes to school at UC Berkeley. It was awesome to find out that she got a paid research position in Chicago this summer because now we can finally hang out! Well, we searched for a long time, and finally we found a great deal for the Color in Motion 5K, which would work for both of our schedules. Back in April, the race had a special April Fool’s Day discount, so we were also able to register our friends Nava and Brandon for the race for free! Before long, we were all registered months early, and just last week the Color in Motion 5K turned out to be on of the first things we did together in Chicago!

I was super excited that I would be able to run with a group of friends for the very first time. I don’t really have many friends who run, so usually when I line up for a race, I’m by myself and stretch alone. I always see a lot of people getting pumped and ready with their groups of friends, and sometimes I get kind of lonely and wish that I could just sneak into a group of friends and run along with them…that’s not weird, right? Haha, well I was really happy that I had a group to run with because it made it so much more fun.

We arrived pretty early, but it was still quite a challenge to find parking. After we had finally parked and walked to the run site, we spent some time just taking lots of photos while we were still looking clean in our spotless white shirts. But of course the temptation of our four bags of color dye was too much, and it wasn’t long before we opened them up and started dousing each other in shades of blue, red, green, and yellow! I thought we were already decently messy by then, but I had no idea what was to come…

With the crowd’s thunderous cheers and the sound of KISS FM’s radio music, the race started at 9:00 AM as people poured onto the race path. Nearly all of the volunteer groups there were supplied with countless color packets of every color, so immediately there were shades of purple, orange, pink, etc. flying everywhere! After that, the 3.1 mile run course consisted of intervals of running in between color dye stations where volunteers would blow colors at all of the runners. Many times I thought it felt like running straight through a rainbow, and even though I knew it was probably bad to breathe in the chemicals of the dye, I would always charge straight through the color stations. By the time we finished, we all had green, purple, blue, pink, and red on us from

She's the best :) Sarmita since 2001 ❤

head to toe! Afterwards, KISS FM held a color party at the finish site where more people were throwing out color packets to spray on everyone. There seemed to be hundreds of people just cheering and trying to get as messy as they possibly could!

By the time we were ready to head home, I felt sure that I would be spending the rest of the day in the shower. Luckily, Armita and Nava had brought extra towels for everyone and we were able to spare Brandon’s car from looking like a rainbow on the inside. Later that day, Armita, Nava and I also ate some greasy burgers from Jim’s and some delicious Coldstone ice cream…it was quite the day of indulgence. And to my very pleasant surprise, the color dye came off quite easily! I felt much better after just one shower, and even my shoes were clean after going through the washer just once. I had heard from friends who have done color runs before that the dye is most annoying to get out of shoes and clothes, so I was really relieved to find out otherwise. After all, I only have one pair of good running shoes (nice ones with good padding can be quite expensive, and it’s a good investment to prevent knee/shin injuries), and I’m counting on them to not fall apart…at least not for a couple more months.

Speaking of which, I started my training for the Chicago Marathon a few weeks ago, and it’s just the first weeks of a loooong 16-week process. I actually started kind of late because I slacked off while living at home, so now I’m paying the price by trying to hurry and get ready! Typical full marathon training is at least a 20-week commitment, so I’m kind of running (pun intended, ha) on a tight schedule. Mainly I’m finding that I have to listen to my body instead of strictly following the schedule. Those few weeks of not running much at home are hitting me hard, so I’m trying to build back my endurance as quickly as I can so I can get ready. As per the schedule, I do one big “long run” each week, and I’m hitting just about 10 miles for that right now when it should be 12…hopefully I can catch up the schedule soon! But the last thing I want to do is to injure myself, so I’m still trying to know when to take it easy and take a rest day, especially if I’m exhausted from classes or spending hours in the lab.

Despite the crazy training schedule, I’m delighted that I was able to just relax for the color run with my friends and forget about counting miles or times. I’ll definitely have to sign up for more fun runs like this in the future because even though I love running and how it makes me feel, it’s even better when I can share the experience with others.

Before...just a boring group pic. After...we're a work of creative art!!! (Top left to right: Nava, Armita, Brandon, me)

Boom clap – you make me feel good, come on to me, come on to me now! ♪♫♪

(Boom Clap - Charli XCX)

Meet me in St. Louis

It happened. We survived AND had a great time. And I’m still suffering from post-vacation depression all these days later…pretty sure that’s a sign of a great vacation.

We left for St. Louis Saturday morning at 4:30am, but my trip started much earlier. Around 10:30pm Friday night, I finished packing everything I needed for the trip and headed over to Kevin’s for the night. He, of course, hadn’t even started packing yet…so typical. By about 12:30am, he looked as ready as he ever would and headed to bed. From what I could see, everything was ready to go-directions to every place we planned to go were in order and I didn’t see any room for problems or things that would make me regret agreeing to this so last minute.

When the alarm went off just 3 hours later, I felt like it was the school year all over again. I’ve been getting much more sleep this summer, so the 3 hour “nap” was a bit of a nightmare. Regardless, I got up, got dressed and got myself not only ready for the 5-hour car ride we faced, but also for the first day of vacation, as we planned to immediately head off to a destination upon arrival in St. Louis. I was ready to go at 4:00am, as I’d planned for, and when Kevin couldn’t get up until 3:50am, I knew we were in trouble. 40 minutes, a ripped contact and a meltdown later, we were loading up the car and trying not to murder one another before the trip even began. Things definitely started to look up as we were the only car driving through town and stopped at McDonalds for my absolute favorite breakfast burritos and coffee. We were then on the way.

The ride to St. Louis was nice and uneventful. We saw lots of cows and horses, which was totally hilarious. Kevin hated finding out that all of his radio stations didn’t travel with us and were instead replaced by countless country stations. At 9am, we were driving past St. Louis and got our first glimpse at the Arch and our hotel, which was so close it was almost kissing the Arch. We arrived at our first stop, Grant’s Farm, at just about 9:30am.

This place was awesome. I loved every minute of it and honestly wish I was there right now. It was so funny and so totally like nothing you would ever experience in Illinois. To get to the farm, everyone has to ride on a tram with open sides. It doesn’t just drive you to the farm, though-it takes you through miles of expansive land with crazy animals on it…

We were almost charged by a bison who apparently didn’t like us on his lawn, elk were inches away from my skull, and other animals I’ve only ever seen on t.v. wandered around so close to us that we couldn’t believe it. When it was time to get off the tram, we  arrived in an even funnier and stranger place. Grant’s Farm was complete with a baby goat petting zoo where you could feed them milk from bottles, acres for the Clydesdales (coolest thing ever!) an elephant show, a crazy kangaroo that stood on its tail,a camel that caught food people would throw in its mouth, and free samples of Anheuser-Busch alcohol. It was definitely something we’d never experienced before, but everything was so cool. It was a really great way to start off the vacation. From there, we wandered across the street to check out Ulysses Grant’s house and farm (hence the whole Grant’s Farm thing on the property…)

After this, we headed back to the heart of the city to check into our hotel and figure out where we were going to watch the Blackhawks game. After a horrible time trying to figure out how to use the parking tower (and trying to figure out how we would remember that our car was parked 6 floors underground…[what the heck, St. Louis]) we checked in and enjoyed the fantastic view of the Arch and the Mississippi River from out hotel room. We went for a walk around the city and were lucky enough to find out that one of the many, MANY restaurants in our hotel was a sports bar with a million t.v.s We were fortunate enough to get a waitress who was more than willing to put the game on for us. Despite the fact that the Cardinals were playing the Reds, eventually everyone at the restaurant had their eyes on our t.v. and were cheering for the Hawks. The next thing we knew, the Hawks were on every channel, and these potentially Blues fans were cheering. I couldn’t believe it! Definitely earned them all some serious brownie points in my book. 

The next day, we were off to Purina Farms. Not to be confused with Grant’s Farm…totally different things, but both really awesome. This place was massive, and we got to see two different dog shows. The dogs did tons of awesome tricks and were really talented. We were also lucky enough to come on a weekend where people from all over the country had brought their dogs for agility course competitions as well as obedience training and speed races. There was also a barn with even more animals to pet! I was in heaven for a second day in a row.

We finished at Purina Farms much earlier than we did at Grant’s Farm the day before, so we headed back to our hotel to explore. Of course, we needed to stop at Jack in the Box, since it’s my dad’s favorite fast food place and we don’t have any around home, so we needed to try it and, of course, send my dad pictures. After our delicious stop, we headed back to St. Louis and our awesome hotel.

We sort of planned to go to the Arch on our final day (Monday) before we checked out of the hotel at noon, but we thought we’d go give it a try, since it was about 4:00pm. We waited for nearly half an hour in an outdoor line that led you through security to enter the underground area of the Arch. Here, you can buy tickets for the various things offered about the Arch, go through a museum, shop at multiple gift shops, watch historical informational films, or board the pod to go up to the Arch. We got in line right away to buy our tickets, but our trip wasn’t scheduled until 6:50p.m. We went and looked through the museum, read everything, and wandered through one of the gift shops before it was our turn to get in line. We waited another 45 minutes in line after 6:50…luckily we had already eaten and didn’t have any plans for the night. When it was finally our turn to head up, we were put into this horribly claustrophobic “pod”, which was no taller than 4 feet and could comfortably carry 1 person on their 4-minute journey up to the top; however, they put 4 people into the pod. The journey felt much more like a ferris wheel than an elevator or anything else…it rocked and swayed side to side, all the while traveling up 630 feet. I was having some sort of anxiety attack, but I kept quiet and calm for the sake of the poor strangers who were loaded into the pod with us. I couldn’t wait to get out and be at the top; little did I know, it wasn’t much better at there.

The ceiling was still so low in the Arch itself, and with 12 tiny windows on each side-12 facing St. Louis, 12 facing the Mississippi River- I wasn’t any less claustrophobic. I couldn’t wait to get down, but I was also terrified of riding the pods back down. After countless pictures and enough time to justify getting the heck out of there, we boarded another pod and made the journey back down. I have never been happier to be back on solid ground. It was a good thing we didn’t save the Arch until Monday, because we wound up spending a grand total of 6 hours on that…It was very beautiful at the top, though…

After finishing exploring around the Arch, we headed back for our car to explore even more by vehicle, and to do so while eating Imo’s pizza. We heard this was a very big part of St. Louis culture, and we couldn’t miss out on trying it. It was really good, but absolutely nothing like Chicago style pizza. Cute try, though, STL….

Bacon, sausage, green peppers, onion...Kevin's dream come true!

We had a really nice anniversary (Sunday). On Monday, our last day, we packed up, headed out, checked out the beautiful and historical capital building and stopped at a drive-thru zoo to check out even more bison, elk and deer. We didn’t see too many, but we did come across a giant herd of elk sitting in the parking lot. It made for a really interesting final stop.
Our ride home was complete with a torrential downpour…I guess that was Illinois’ way of welcoming us back. We got home after 7pm on Monday, just in time to watch the Blackhawks lose…and I slept like a baby until I had to wake up at 6:30a.m. for work. That wasn’t easy…

I have yet to unpack, but I wish instead that I was just packing for another vacation. It only took 7 years, but we went on a vacation together and had a great time. I can’t wait for the next one. It’s kind of addicting…

The dog days aren’t over…

Everyone is completely stressed out. Finals are so close. My friends and residents are living off of energy drinks and iced coffee.

I’ve had an amazing week.

Last Friday, I attended a volunteer opportunity sponsored by the leadership chapter I am on the executive board of NRHH. We spent the afternoon at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago learning about why people abandon or mistreat animals and gaining a better understanding of just what the society does. We were given a tour and stopped in room of dogs. Our group leader took two out, and I got to hold Puki, an absolutely adorable dog. He actually seemed to enjoy being held and liked looking out the window while I held him. It was so nice to be near so many animals, since I had been going through withdrawal after not having seen my puppy in weeks.

Puki at the Anti-Cruelty Society


After our tour, we moved on to volunteering. We brought along dog and cat toys we made for them earlier in the year and sat down to make more now that we had seen the animals who would be receiving the toys. With them in mind, we got down to work. Not long after we started, two of the workers brought in twin, 2 month-old toy poodles, Electra and Iphigenia. Electra was born with one eye, and Iphigenia was born without either eyes due to inbreeding. Nevertheless, they were so playful and sweet. I couldn’t get over how Iphigenia would walk up against Electra as guidance-that was the sweetest thing ever. And just like my puppy at home, they proudly pranced, not walked, around the room, looking for things to explore. Those dogs were incredible

Iphigenia at the Anti-Cruelty Society

The next day, my resident, my boyfriend and I couldn’t help but walk around the city since it was so beautiful outside. My resident wanted to show my boyfriend a Mariano’s he liked even more than ours on Halsted. I didn’t want to go since we were far from campus and I would be tempted to buy groceries, but after following them through the store, they showed me my dream come true-a dog park! I was so excited. We went in and sat down and I impatiently awaited attention from someone’s dog. After sitting on the bench for quite some time and not getting more than a brief second to pet a dog, I moved to the ground. I quickly made friends with an old golden retriever. Such a sweet and awesome dog. He let me pet him for 10 minutes straight-and even came back for more.

Golden retriever at the dog park

It’s safe to say my dog encounters last weekend helped me get through the week ahead of me-all that stood between me and my puppy at home. After a wonderful reuniting today, I sit here writing. Bear is huge. No longer the tiny baby we brought home in January. I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by and how big he’s gotten. He’s still our lovable, playful puppy, he’s just a big puppy!


Pretty sure I went dog crazy this week! What a great time.



Shamrock Shuffling

I turn the music up / I got my records on / I shut the world outside until the lights come on…

Happy Spring, Chicago! At last the seemingly endless winter has ended. It’s terrific to be able to walk outside in just a light jacket or even short sleeves again! I even joined some students who were studying the quad the other day between classes. It was quite a wonderful sight to see after a long, harsh winter that left most of campus empty with people rushing to get indoors all the time. I’m hoping the warmth is here to stay!

With summer approaching fast, I’m excited for many new races to try, and I’m already signed up for a few of them in the summer and the fall, including a color run for the very first time! It’s been on my bucket list for a long time now to do a color run, so I can’t wait to be able to run the Color In Motion 5K in June with a few of my friends. I also tossed my name in for the lottery for a chance to run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon…I’m not sure if I’ll get lucky and be selected, but if I actually do get the opportunity to run it, I’d be so excited, although probably quite nervous as well. I remember how tough the Half Marathon was…running twice that distance would be extremely challenging.

To get myself excited and kick off the running season, I ran the Shamrock Shuffle 8K! The race
was on Sunday, March 30th, the last day of Spring Break, so I found it to be the perfect way to end my week of relaxation before going back to school refreshed. Although it was my second time running the Shamrock Shuffle, it was actuaully my first time ever running an entire race with somebody! One of my best friends Brandon and I ran the entire 5 miles together, and it was a very motivating experience. It was his first race ever, which was pretty amazing since he never an a 5K, which is what most runners start with.
I especially love the Shamrock Shuffle because while it’s more challenging than a 5K, it’s not overly strenuous like a half marathon or 10 mile run that would require weeks and weeks of training. Brandon and I ran in Wave 2, which started around 9 AM. I was hoping that starting later would mean that it might be a bit warmer, but alas that was not the case! Even though the weather is much nicer now, it was still absolutely frigid just a few weeks ago. As someone who feels cold very easily, I was shivering while I was running all the way until mile 4!

(Brandon also laughed at me because at one point I resorted to running with both of my hands tucked across my chest beneath my armpits to keep them warm. I must have looked really silly running like that, but hey, it was really cold! My fingers were FREEZING!)

I’m really proud of both of us. Even though we had anticipated that we would need to walk at some point during the race to recover, we actually never stopped or even slowed down until the finish line! Additionally, I achieved a personal landmark of not listening to music while I ran. That was a definite first for me, since usually I  am crazy reliant on my music to help me get through the tougher times during a run. I think I should try running without music more often, as it really made me focus more on my breathing and made me pay attention to my surroundings. Hopefully, with the upcoming good weather, I’ll have plenty of chances to go jogging outside and explore new running locations!

As we soar walls, every siren is a symphony / And every tear’s a waterfall

It’s so cold!

Is anyone else as freezing as I am?! When is it going to warm up?

I officially have the winter blues and am absolutely over this. Walking to BSB twice a day from my room is getting really old really fast, and I’ve been staying inside the building for entire days at a time when I don’t have class. The weekends have been filled with wasting time and feeling my cabin fever get worse and worse. I don’t know about you, but I need to do something about this before I go crazy…I need to be more productive so that when the time actually comes for us to go outside and enjoy the weather, I can. Here are my goals/ideas for making the most out of being stuck inside:

-read books (not just textbooks…good books, too!)

-redecorate your room by moving furniture around/add small accents

-go through your closet and look for clothes to donate

-craft! There’s nothing like a good old DIY

-watch a new tv series or movie genre

-make Valentines for your friends/family

-plan spring/summer trips or vacations

-learn a new instrument

-get completely caught up with your homework and studying

-get ahead on your studying ;)

-deep clean/spring clean your room in the winter!

-drink tea or hot chocolate or coffee- and lots of it! At some point later in the year, these hot drinks will sound gross.

-work out in your room! There are lots of household spaces and items that are great for a workout.

-try on your bathing suit

-cook/bake new recipes and try them out on me!

-learn to do something productive with your computer

-apply for jobs/internships online

-enjoy a nap under a nice, warm blanket

Stay warm! Until next week…

“If there is a future, we want it Now.” – Paramore

♪♫♪ Well she lives in a fairy tale, somewhere too far for us to find / Forgotten the taste and smell of a world that she’s left behind…

There are very few artists in my music library that I can honestly say I own every single one of their albums and songs (including the unreleased!) but Paramore is one of them. So when I found out during the summer that Paramore would be playing in November at the UIC Pavilion, literally down the street at from where I live on campus, I was ecstatic and bought my ticket right away–and I am so happy I did because the concert was astounding! My friend Brandon and I met up amidst the bustling people inside the pavilion as the bands hellogoodbye and Metric opened the concert. When the lights dimmed down and PARAMORE finally flashed up in bright lights on both sides of the stage, there was a deafening roar in the crowd while the opening drums began to play.

I am quite thoroughly convinced that Hayley Williams is one of the most incredible singers/performers of all time – she has such an effortless stage presence that commands an entire screaming crowd and gets everybody pumped up. Her voice has an amazing range that can go from loud, crazy punk rock to slow, beautiful rock ballads. I was completely psyched for the concert beforehand, and she was even more amazing live than I expected. I don’t think many singers can do that! This concert was part of Paramore’s Self-Titled Tour and featured songs from their newest album Paramore, but I was thrilled that they also played the best of their old songs too, including lots of my favorites like Ignorance, Decode and crushcrushcrush. The whole pavilion lit up with cell phones and lights when they played the slow and soothing In the Mourning, which they even combined with some lines from Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, and the acoustic The Only Exception, one of my favorite songs. During the energetic Misery Business, she even brought a super lucky fan on stage to sing it with her!

I was completely pumped up during the whole concert. My friend was laughing a lot because I was jumping around and singing so much, whereas I’m usually a pretty reserved person. I fit in with the rest of the crowd though, because everyone was beyond excited by the time the finale came about, which was the super popular Still Into You. During the song, balloons rained from the ceiling of the pavilion and it felt like one crazy, awesome party. I had a fantastic time and it was the perfect way for me to end a hard week with one of my favorite bands!

I only snapped a few poor quality photos with my phone because I was too busy rocking out! (It actually bothers me when people spend so much time taking pictures or recordings – Put your phone down! You’re missing the whole concert!)

A lot of people don’t expect me to be such a huge Paramore fan (I don’t really come across as a punk rock fan) but Brand New Eyes and Riot! are two of my favorite albums – I especially love them during my intense workouts. And even though their sound and style has definitely changed since then, I still think they’re great. I hear and read a lot that they’ve “fallen” to being mainstream pop, and that the departure of the Farro brothers (two of the band’s founding members) a few years ago ruined their music, but I don’t think so at all. Their music has changed, so I can see how some people might not like it, but I personally still do. In my opinion, it shouldn’t matter if a band is mainstream, or how many people like them, or who liked what song first, second, last, etc…if you like a song or artist, then listen to them! The music is for you to enjoy. I like to think that’s a big reason why musicians want to make music in the first place—for people to listen, appreciate, and share with others.

Never heard Paramore before? Then thanks for reading this long, excited rant about how spectacular their concert was. Now go rock out to That’s What You Get.

Well, go get your shovel and we’ll dig a deep hole / To bury the castle, bury the castle… ♪♫♪

(Brick By Boring Brick – Paramore)

Perks of Being a UIC Student

Every time I hear a person complain about some aspect of UIC, I laugh to myself (or oftentimes outloud…) There is no reason for someone not to enjoy their time at UIC; college is what you make it. I think it’s safe to say we are far more fortunate than almost all other college students. Not only do we have a great university, but we get a chance to go to school in the city, giving us direct access to millions of events, stores/restaurants, internship/job opportunities, history, etc. Because of all of this, we are not just having a college experience, but a UIC experience.

This weekend gave me two more reasons why it’s great to be a UIC student. Thanks to UIC and Campus Housing, I spent my Saturday night on the 99th floor of the Sears (“Willis”) Tower as the Residence Hall Association hosted their annual Fall Ball.

Looking down at our campus from the skydeck, I couldn’t help but think about the massive, ever-growing list of things UIC has helped me to experience. For example, I most likely never would have been up to the skydeck, but this weekend was my third time, (all thanks to UIC!) As I looked at the rest of the city, I thought about how fortunate I am to have Chicago at my fingertips while I am here, providing me with thousands of places to apply for internships and places to go during my “free” time.

As if Fall Ball wasn’t enough, I got to see my favorite band since 2005 perform at the UIC Pavilion Sunday night. The Paramore concert was incredible! Their set list was an absolute dream-with just the right combination of their old songs and new ones from the self-titled album, every fan there had to be pleased. My boyfriend gave me tickets for my birthday back in October. It was a challenge to wait patiently for the concert, but I feel like it came at just the right time. These two nights of fun were the ideal break during the most stressful time of the semester.

I’ve been to the Pavilion for countless UIC events, but never for anything else. It was so funny to see it transformed into a concert venue. The stage was the most mind-boggling thing- it looked great…as if it was always a stage for concerts. It felt strange not sitting in section 110/the student section (during basketball games). It was so great to just walk a couple of short blocks back to my room after the concert as I watched a few thousand people crawl out of the pavilion and cross the street to the parking lot. All the while, we couldn’t stop marveling at the fact that our favorite band came to OUR school as their Chicago leg of the tour.

After such an incredible weekend, it’s time to get down to business (and enjoy Thanksgiving!) Good luck studying for finals and finishing/starting those projects!

Perfect day for a perfect 10

Run fast for your mother, run fast for your father / Run for your children, your sisters and your brothers… ♪♫♪

On Saturday, November 9th, I ran the Chicago’s Perfect 10 race at Navy Pier! I ran the 10K (6.2 miles) race, which took place at 7:30 AM. The 10-mile race, which was an extension of the 10K course, started shortly after at 7:45 AM. This was only the third annual Chicago Perfect 10 at Navy Pier, and it was run by the Gateway for Cancer Research, which is a nonprofit organization that funds cancer research, including new drug investigations, combination therapies, and alternative medicine studies. I was happy that my entry fee was going toward a good cause, and before the race started, one of the race organizers, who is a cancer survivor herself, thanked all of the racers for participating that day.

I had signed up for the race kind of a on a whim, so I was pretty proud of my results! I finished in 52:47 (with 8:31 pace), which was faster than I expected. That typically happens though — I’ve noticed that adrenaline really gets to me on race days and I usually with better times than I anticipate. I came in 4th place in my division (girls 15-19) and 149th overall out of about 1,500 people.

I’ve been completely occupied with my courses and work the past couple weeks, so unfortunately I hadn’t really designated a lot of time to train. These days I just try to make enough time to fit a good workout in every day! After being a Peer Mentor for a few months, one thing I have definitely instilled in myself is how to be relentless with my time management. (Though sometimes even after all of my planning, it seems like there still aren’t enough hours in the day.)

Navy Pier was lovely at 6 AM! I arrived just as the sun was rising, so I was able to watch it from the pier. Then I played the usual waiting game / pre-race pump up by ambling from different sponsor tents to another. After a few races, I’ve learned that it’s pretty routine. There’s always the typical GNC/Road Runner Sports/Skechers booths, dozens of runners stretching in one corner, and somebody blasting “Livin’ On A Prayer” or “Firework” in the background. I was happy that it all took place indoors though, because it was still frigid outdoors! I was glad I chose to wear my longsleeve shirt to run that day, even though I typically only wear short sleeves because I sweat easily.

The race course was beautiful as well — after running through the Pier, we looped by Lake Michigan and eventually entered Grant Park. It was wonderful being able to sightsee while I ran, and the course itself was not too difficult — only at one point did I have some trouble running on some grassy patches (I’m always nervous that I’ll roll my ankle). Also the wind was treacherous at some points, which was to be expected so close to the lake. I’m not used to running in really cold temperatures, but I luckily warmed up pretty quickly. I was most tired between miles four and five, but I distracted myself with my upbeat running music. I also have this ridiculously competitive obsession with trying to pass people during races for some reason; even though I know I’m exhausted, I don’t like being passed by runners behind me! I suppose it’s a good motivating factor, though, because I always redouble my efforts no matter how strenuous so that I can keep up with those around me.

I look a little wild-eyed in this picture because I was trying to keep my eyes open in the crazy sun!

Overall it was a pretty fun race, and I would definitely do it again. Running is something I hope to continue for a long time to come. I’m not signed up for my next race just yet, but it may be a St. Patrick’s Day 5K or the Shamrock Shuffle!

The dog days are over, the dog days are done / Can you hear the horses? ‘Cause here they come ♪♫♪

(Dog Days Are Over,  Florence + The Machine)


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