broadway and the beast.

Our second day in NYC was a little wackier than the first.

flat white little collins

First stop: Little Collins to try a flat white (creamy Australian coffee). Verdict: adorable and awesome. Fun fact: this is a picture of a mocha from our second trip to Little Collins.

dylans candy bar
Heaven on Earth, a.k.a. Dylan’s Candy Bar.

max plokita pullman kitchen beast of midtown east pullman kitchen eating challenge

We spent three hours at The Pullman Kitchen so Max could eat a five-pound sandwich called the Beast of Midtown East (it only took him an hour to finish). As a prize, he received the cost of the meal, a t-shirt, a stomachache, and my love and admiration. I had a salad.

nyc moma paintings andy warhol moma soup cans nyc moma video games confetti nyc moma sculpture garden date nyc moma sculpture garden sculpturegram

At the MoMA with our friends, who almost got us kicked out.

nyc broadway you cant take it with you

You Can’t Take it With You (starring Rose Byrne and James Earl Jones) on Broadway…amazing. We laughed and cried (okay, I’ll speak for myself) and learned that everyone should quit their 9-5 and take up ballet, xylophone, rocket science, painting, and play-writing. So good.

nyc on 9/11.

freedom tower from washington square park

My favorite college professor would always say that every generation has its big event – the one moment every person will always remember where they were and what they were doing. The lucky few had Pearl Harbor, and the boomers had JFK’s assassination. My generation has 9/11. I was 8 years old and listening to talk radio with my mom on the way to school, and I’ll never forget how it took less than 12 hours to learn how horrible the world can be. So needless to say, it’s a powerful day every year.

A couple of weeks ago, on 9/11, Max and I flew to New York City for a four-day whirlwind trip. Neither of us had been to NYC before, and landing on the anniversary of 9/11 was a weirdly special way to start the trip. We spent the day walking all over Manhattan; we’d made a list of sites to see over four days and ended up seeing all of them in the first day (turns out NYC’s city blocks are a lot tinier than Chicago’s – thanks for nothin’, GoogleMaps).

In Midtown, we ate bagels, stopped into St. Patrick’s Cathedral during a memorial service for those lost on 9/11/01, strolled past intense games of chess and ping-pong in Bryant Park, and marveled at the cavernous halls of the New York Public Library and Grand Central Station. We walked until we hit Madison Square Park and the Flatiron building, NYU and Washington Square Park, and the Feast of San Gennaro festival in Little Italy. We toured the Tenement Museum, where we learned about German and Italian immigrant families who lived in tiny Lower East Side barracks during economic depressions of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Back in Midtown, we grabbed some pizza (the best ever, possibly?) and went to the Top of the Rock to view the 9/11 Tribute Lights beaming defiantly into the night sky.

Part of being a millennial and having 9/11 as our “moment” is accepting surveillance cameras and wire-tapping, TSA bodyscans, perpetual war, and distrust of government as the norm. But another part of it is knowing that there are certain things that bring us together as Americans. On that day in third grade, I felt it, and every time there’s a school shooting, natural disaster, or outbreak of disease, I feel it. It’s an it-could’ve-been-me feeling and an it-happened-to-all-of-us feeling. And watching the Tribute Lights stand in the twin towers’ place on 9/11 from the top of the Rockefeller Center, I felt it.

ess-a-bagel nyc nyc st patricks cathedral st patricks cathedral nyc rockefeller center jeff koons exhibit empire state building nyc travel bryant park lawn new york public library grand central station nyc travel flatiron building from madison square park feast of san gennaro festival little italy soho streetart kelsey montague lower east side gallery gnomes washington square park arch rockefeller center nyc nyc american pride 9-11 top of the rock 9-11 top of the rock night view south top of the rock tribute lights view

three.

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.