New York City, 1994

The year was 1994.

My sister and I, still enjoying our first computer and the friendships we made through Prodigy (a precursor to America Online and the Internet as a whole), decided to travel to New York to visit our new friend Tony.  He lived on Long Island at the time with his parents, and the plan was to visit New York City for a day, and then see the Elton John/Billy Joel concert on another day.  We also planned a trip to New Jersey to visit the Six Flags Great Adventure park, since my sister and I both worked at Six Flags Great America at the time.We did all the touristy things while in New York– the Empire State Building, Macy’s (back when Macy’s was a novelty), taking the Subway, and visiting some of the neighborhoods.

But the highlight was what we did at the end of the day– we went to the World Trade Center.

Our visit happened only a year after the bombing that occurred in the parking structure beneath the towers.  I remember being a little nervous about that– not terribly so, but since it was still so fresh, I couldn’t help but think about it.  By the time we arrived at the WTC, it was late in the day.  It had been muggy all day, and the evening haze was setting upon the city.  That didn’t hinder the views from the top, however– they were spectacular.I took photos from that trip and scanned them a while ago (this was, of course, before digital cameras were around).  Here is a slide show of photos I took that day, including those from the World Trade Center.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Looking at these, it still seems so hard to believe they are gone. Every year as September 11 rolls around, I find myself re-living the moments of that terrible day in 2001. And we should remember those moments– as horrible as they were.

But sometimes it’s good to recall what life was like before September 11, 2001.  We remember what we once had, and of course, we remember those who were lost that terrible day.  Hopefully, nothingd like it will never happen again.

Summer Plans

It’s that time of year again… as summer approaches, I’m getting out my calendar so I can plan for the weekend getaways that will take me away from life’s insanity.

First up is Memorial Day weekend.  While not officially “summer,” it does signal the first weekend of the summer season.  And what better way to celebrate the approaching warmer months than with a ton of guys in leather?  IML (International Mister Leather) is an annual event in Chicago that draws thousands of leather daddies, puppies, otters, bears and everything in between for a weekend-long celebration of the leather lifestyle.  And whether you are turned on by it or turned off, there is sure to be something interesting to see.  Heck, just walk down Michigan Avenue anytime from, oh, about now until Memorial Day and you’re assured to see some very interesting sights.

My friends and I don’t necessarily identify with the leather community, but we call ourselves “Leather-curious.”  So we doll ourselves up (as much as we can– some of us don’t own any leather items– myself included) and see what kind of trouble we can get into every year.  Most of the time it’s harmless… most of the time.

After that is July 4.  And while I’m not really looking forward to July 4 for fairly obvious reasons, I can’t just sit around and pretend it isn’t here.  Besides, after the year I’ve had, I will need to get away.  So a-campin’ I will go… again.  This time I get to try out my fancy new tent… which, hopefully, will be a lot easier to set up than my old one.

Somewhere after that, I need to plan a trip.  It could be to New York, or it could be to California.  I could even be to Mexico.  It doesn’t matter where I go… as long as it’s in the contiguous US or Mexico.  I have two free tickets on American Airlines to use.  Where should I go?  Hm….

Then toward the end of the summer, my friends and I will be going up north to my friend Jeremy’s family’s place in Eagle River, WI.  We had so much fun there a couple years ago, so I can’t wait to get back up there again.

What are your summer plans?  Are any of you going to be in Chicago?  Let me know!

Recharging the batteries

Mimi and MeThis past weekend I made my yearly trek to one of my favorite cities in the US of A- Madison, Wisconsin.

There’s just something about this yearly visit that recharges my batteries.

I’ve written before about my involvement with DECA/Delta Epsilon Chi, and how it, in effect, changed my life for the better when I was a struggling student just out of high school. The organization provided me with direction and purpose– something I really had not experienced before.

Throughout the five years I was a member, I met and eventually became friends with a number of people from all kinds of backgrounds. Some were older then me, some were younger. Some had worked for years in different careers, and some had done exactly what I did– graduated high school and started the Technical College life.

Over the years since my graduation in 1994, I have remained friends with a handful of those people. And although I don’t see them very often, and we all live in different parts of the state, region and country; when we are together it’s like we had never been apart.

But reunions aside, there is a much bigger reason why I feel so recharged after this event.

Now that I’ve been in the working world for the better part of 13 years, I go back to these conferences with a wealth of knowledge to share with the students coming up through the program. I see them panicking and nervous, but confident in what they have to present to us, the judges. I talk to them with a tone of authority– both from having been through this before, and from years of experience in the workplace.

And then when the awards were handed out, I remember what it was like to be in that room. The anticipation. The excitement. The cheering and the support from friends and people across the state. The energy in that room is positively infectious– even a person who has never experienced it before can’t help but come away pumped up about it.

The entire experience re-lights a fire in me. I want to get out there and do more things, get more things done, and make more of a difference. I want to change what I feel is wrong in my life and make it better for myself.  I want to make a difference in someone else’s life as well as my own

So what lies ahead?  Stay tuned, and we’ll see.  Some big changes are already in the works.

Winter already! (and other ramblings)

It snowed today in Chicago.

That’s right… snow.  As in that white, puffy stuff that we get plenty of in December through February or even March.  It decided to snow in October.

OK, it wasn’t all that much snow.  In fact, it pretty much melted as soon as it hit the ground.

But still…

The thing that sucks is I’m heading out of town this weekend with my friends… back to Michigan again.  This time we’re planning to go apple-picking, wine tasting, pumpkin-choosing, and all those fun-filled fall frolics.  So hopefully the snow will go away and we’ll have somewhat more tolerable weather.

But snow or not, it’ll be nice to get away for a couple days.

The Pirate Queen

I promised a review of The Pirate Queen, and I will post it soon– I actually started writing it but it got to be way too long.  And as my rule states, if it starts to get boring for me as I’m typing it, it’s bound to be boring for you as you read it.  So I’m going to whittle it down and give you the good stuff… but not today.  🙂


Bushie vs. Oprah

Georgie W. made an appearance today in Chicago… as did Oprah and Bono.  Who drew a bigger crowd?  I’ll give you three guesses, and the first two aren’t Bush.

Bush was in town for a fundraiser and to pledge his support to Dennis Hastert, whose image has been tarnished by the whole Mark Foley and his teenage boy pages scandal.  And in typical Bush style (with an almost uncanny nod to his similar speech about former FEMA head Michael Brown after Katrina), Bush said about Hastert:

“I am proud to be standing with the current speaker of the House, who is going to be the future speaker of the House,” Bush told several hundred people at an intimate fundraising reception at the Chicago Hilton and Towers on Michigan Avenue.“Speaker Denny Hastert has a long record of accomplishment and he’s not one of these Washington politicians who spews a lot of hot air,” the president said. “He just gets the job done.”  (source: Chicago Tribune)

Question:  Does this guy know anyone’s given name?  It’s always “Denny” this and “Brownie” that… simply no class whatsoever.

Anyway, the helicopters and Air Force One whizzed by at around 2-3pm and we could see them from our windows downtown.  A joke was made about shooting them down… which of course is preposterous, but I won’t say who made it.  Never know who may be reading this thing, ya know. 😉

A few miles away, Oprah and Bono were on the “Magnificent Mile” of Michigan Avenue to promote Bono’s “Product Red” campaign to help end AIDS.  They drew enormous crowds, of course… as they shopped the stores along the street and recorded scenes for an upcoming Oprah Show segment. 

There have been billboards and posters all over the city promoting Gap’s participation in this interesting concept:  Huge corporate brands such as Gap, Motorola, and Apple have all joined in and produced merchandise bearing the Project Red logo– most of which is, itself, red.  Proceeds from the sales of these items will go toward a charitable fund to help fight and hopefully eliminate AIDS.

So why did I list these two stories together?  Because here is the difference between spending money to do good, and spending money for nothing at all worthwhile.  Bono’s efforts are admirable and 100% commendable.  Bush’s efforts are borderline repulsive, but certainly nothing more than an ego boost– at taxpayer’s expense, no doubt.

And one wonders why 60% or more of the population thinks the Republicans are screwing our country up?

I certainly don’t.

That’s the roundup folks… have a great weekend!

I'm blasting off…

So was it strange irony that I posted something about my comments not working, and I turned off the comments on the post?

Or am I really that much of a whore?

Yeah, I’m really that much of a whore.

Speaking of whores, I’m off to Saugatuck! See you next week!

And Happy Independence Day!