A little late but…

max courtney uiuc unofficial max courtney uiuc quad garfield park conservatory max courtney college uiuc max courtney grads chicago max courtney times square

…three years ago, I decided to hire a chauffeur/personal chef. Then, I decided to make him my boyfriend, too. Maybe I got that sequence of events out of order, but either way: best decision I’ve ever made. Happy (belated) anniversary, kochanie. I hope we always agree on the big stuff and debate the dumb stuff. Thanks for driving everywhere, keeping life silly, and reminding me of the only thing that really matters.

carrie underwood at ravinia.

carrie underwood ravinia

For my birthday in April, Max gave me tickets to see my favorite all-American girl, Carrie Underwood, at one of my favorite venues, Ravinia. The show was last week, and I was blown away by every minute of it; I would never wish to undo it. Max didn’t know many of her songs before the concert, but I think she won him over (I told you so)! We were feeling so small in the presence of such a huge talent. It was a flawless performance, and the night felt like it might be just a dream. I had “Some Hearts” stuck in my head for days, so I guess that’s the good in goodbye.

Hilarious use of song titles aside, it was an awesome concert and I love going to Ravinia. We were there a few weeks earlier to see Tony Bennett on the lawn, but having seats in the pavilion is always a treat. With a sea of trees behind us and Carrie Underwood (backed by a full orchestra!) before us, it was the perfect finale to a beautiful summer.

carrie underwood ravinia pavilion some hearts carrie underwood ravinia pavilion tony bennett ravinia lawn

stars of the opera.

millennium park lyric opera

To celebrate and promote the 2014-15 season, the Lyric Opera put on a concert in Millennium Park showcasing some of the stars and songs of upcoming productions. I’ve already written about liking opera, but listening to centuries-old music performed in front of a modern cityscape, it’s hard not to be in awe of Chicago. And for me, that’s saying a lot.

tea time.

In my imaginary dream house, there is afternoon tea every day and a three-tiered platter of mini snacks is always on hand. There are also puppies, twinkle lights, and built-in bookshelves filled with Murakami and Gillian Flynn. For now, though, there’s tea time at the Drake Hotel’s Palm Court.

palm court drake hotel afternoon tea palm court drake hotel palm court palm court afternoon tea afternoon tea drake hotel

3 days in vegas.

vegas airport layover

Sometimes a disappointing ending can ruin an otherwise-perfect story.

After a wonderful week exploring Boise, Sun Valley, Twin Falls, and Lucile, I was sad to return to reality in Chicago. The plan was to fly on standby tickets from Boise to Chicago, with a connection in Vegas. We made it to Vegas on Saturday, but to make a looooong story shorter, we had a much tougher time getting from Vegas to Chicago than I ever could have anticipated. All the flights were full. Overbooked, actually. And not just the flights to Chicago, but every…single…flight out of Vegas. When we realized we’d have to spend the night on Saturday, I cried in the middle of terminal B.

After trying and failing to get on over 25 different flights from 5am to 9pm on Sunday, we were forced to spend a second night in sin city. On Monday, we started at 3:30am, running from terminal to terminal again for half the day, until we miraculously made it onto the list for a flight to Pittsburgh (and we had no problem getting from Pittsburgh to Chicago). I almost couldn’t believe my ears when our names were called; I’d already accepted airport food, the incessant clink-clinking of slot machines, and hordes of hung-over bridal parties as my norm. Being stuck in the Vegas airport for three days is the rudest awakening after spending a week in the calm of mountains. At one point, an apologetic Southwest employee told Max, “At least you have each other!” She was right. We were frustrated and upset, but not at each other – and that kept us sane. Couples who survive three days in the Vegas airport together can survive anything together, right?

I don’t know if this will ever be a funny tale I tell; I had recurring airport nightmares for a week, and typing this still triggers something in me. But, thankfully, my story doesn’t end in McCarran International Airport. Idaho was amazing, and nothing can ruin that. Not even 3 days in Vegas.