Kayaking in Chicago

Crystal and I were finally able to get on the river and kayak downtown last weekend. When I say we had the best time and shared tons of laughs, I’m not kidding! We walked around downtown with our Vitamin Waters and Kettle One peach vodka mixes and headed to Urban Kayak. We were definitely the rule-breakers and tipsiest ones out there – and we may or may not have been reprimanded a couple times – but had the best time and really needed it.

After kayaking, we took ourselves to Caffe Oliva, a beach restaurant right on Lake Michigan with the best view of the city. We instantly felt like we were transported to Miami or something, and of course grabbed another peach vodka cran.

Crystal and I have both been struggling with relationships – and our dynamic with Chicago lately, due to said relationships – and really needed a girls day and quality time together. We’re going through heartache now, but we’ll both be okay in the end. ❤

Photos taken Sunday, July 31, 2022

Lollapalooza Weekend 2022

The one thing I love as much as travel is live music. Going to concerts and events where the music is blaring and the energy of the crowd is contagious pumps me up like no other.

Lollapalooza is a huge Chicago music festival that takes place in Grant Park every summer. I was finally able to attend this year, and it was worth every penny. On Thursday night, I saw Royal Blood at an indoor venue (The Vic, my favorite in Chicago) at a Lolla after show and was by far one of the best shows I’ve been to in recent years—and maybe of all time. I’ve loved Royal Blood for a few years now, and hearing Trouble’s Coming along with some of my other favorites was exhilarating beyond words. I had a blast and met some nice people in the crowd, and stayed up way past my bedtime!

I took the following day off to attend the actual Lollapalooza event and loved every minute of it. I’ve been planning who I wanted to see and when for quite some time, and was thrilled with yesterday’s lineup.

Genesis Owusu is someone I’ve recently discovered and loved instantly. He’s super political and progressive, and all his songs are as meaningful as they are bops!

I obviously had to see Royal Blood again. They’re one of my all time favorite duos and I can’t wait to see them again. Seeing them at an intimate venue and at an outdoor event were two completely different experiences—and I appreciated them both in differing ways.

After Royal Blood and King Princess for a drink and sit down session, I saw another longtime favorite: Glass Animals. Juan and I saw them back in March and have loved them since 2015 or 16, but going alone was my way of reclaiming them for myself. I danced with other loyal fans in the crowd and I had the time of my life. Dave Bailey delivered yet again!

Last but certainly not least was Machine Gun Kelly. One word: OBSESSED! I’ve attended somewhere between 50 and 100 concerts in my lifetime, and can easily say he and his band were the best performers and knew how to work the crowd.

I love that he raps and is punk—which led to the best surprise of the night…

AVRIL LAVIGNE performed with him!!! Oh my god, my ten-year-old self would’ve died knowing that this would happen in my future! We all screamed and it was SO MUCH FUN!!!

Thursday night and yesterday evening were full of memories that I’ll never forget, and I look forward to feeling more of this ❤️

Media taken Thursday and Friday, July 28-29, 2022

My heartwarming week in Michigan

I was in Michigan for the week and returned to Chicago yesterday evening. My week didn’t go according to plan, but it went better than expected in more ways than one.

The original plan was to meet my team on Tuesday through Thursday, with team building dinners and activities in the evenings. However, our get together was postponed to next month, but I still wanted to visit the office—as well as friends and family.

I took Monday off and spent the afternoon on the river with one of my best friends, Donna. We floated down the cascades in Ann Arbor – one of our favorite pastimes – and exchanged deep conversation and support for one another. We have both been struggling with one-sided friendships and overall relationships in general, which made our quality time even more meaningful. We used to spend every Monday or Tuesday evening together, and I can’t wait to pick that back up sometime soon. We ended the evening with some dinner and gin cocktails near my parent’s house—our go-to routine.

A photo from our float last summer

Tuesday and Wednesday were spent in the office. I haven’t felt like myself at work in… probably ever… and being around new and some familiar faces was great. I met my boss Justin, my friend Ray, my teammate Jeff and others for the first time, and was able to see Heather and our CEO Jason in person—which hasn’t happened since 2019. My favorite coworker was William, Ray’s dog, who was my buddy the whole day!

What a good boy!

Tuesday evening was great because I grabbed dinner with Veronica, a new and quick friend from work. We both started in May and have quickly found that we have a lot in common. We both are obsessed with Whose Line, Seinfeld, Anthony Bourdaine, The Twilight Zone and so much more. We’re even going to see Whose Line live this November! It was awesome meeting Veronica in person and we’re both amazed at how quickly we’ve connected over these past couple of months.

Wednesday was just Justin and me in the office, but it was really nice because we were able to get to know each other a little better. Justin has been incredibly supportive of me – personally and professionally – and I have so much respect for him as a leader. We enjoyed a nice lunch together, and luckily he also laughed at my silly jokes throughout the day!

That evening, I was finally able to spend quality time with my brother from another mother Ter Ter B! We spent over three hours laughing, tearing up, and hugging at one of our favorite Mexican places in town. Seeing him again was much needed and even though we usually talk on the phone four or five days a week, being in each other’s arms and presence again was insurmountable.

Thursday was such a happy, heartwarming day! I worked from home but drove Linley down to his former doggy day care—his home away from home. When we moved last year, his favorite camp counselors were heartbroken to see him go, so seeing some of his favorites was fun for both Lin and me. When I scooped him up after my work day, one of his favorite employees Sam had given him/us a toy, some treats, Camp Bow Wow swag and wrote me a kind note. I teared up reading it on the way home! I love and miss that place for Lin as much as he misses it for himself.

The four of us wrapped up our day with a concert in downtown Fenton, which played all of our favorite 60s and 70s music. I absolutely loved dancing around and enjoying some vodka lemonades with my parents. It was the perfect end to a fulfilling day. ❤️

Clearly Lin enjoyed himself, too!

After work on Friday, my parents and I grabbed dinner and drinks at their favorite place in town. I enjoyed a gin watermelon drink and some vegan drunken noodles. We chatted about life and it was just nice to be with them again. Really the whole week had been nice, business and all.

What was really fun and surprising was hanging out with a coworker Ray in Ferndale (who owns our office dog!). We hopped around a few bars in the area and had a nice time together.

Saturday morning was spent with my Little Sister Aniya, who just graduated high school, and her mom Marcion, who just celebrated her 37th birthday. We grabbed breakfast in Saginaw and shared some tears and lots of laughs. I love them so much and they have truly been a second family to me. ❤️

My Aniya is all grown up!

The rest of my weekend was spent with my parents. We spent some time outdoors, watched some Twilight Zone and even shared some moments of profound conversation. As difficult as things are right now – and as confused as I may feel – I know I will be okay thanks to the support I have back home. ❤️

“Makin’ waves” in Indiana

Last weekend I needed a little break from the hustle and bustle of the city, so I ‘ventured over to Indiana Dunes National Park with Linley. We spent the late afternoon and early evening at a dog-friendly beach and did some light hiking before heading home. Sometimes spontaneous “get in the car, bud!” kind of trips are the best 🙂

Media taken on Saturday, July 16, 2022

Chicago has “lost its magic”

Allow me to explain… and disclaimer: this is my personal experience, not a generalization of the city or Chicagoans as a whole.

During yesterday’s therapy session, I was vulnerable with Erin about my grief. Grief of my marriage/ten-year relationship coming to an end, grief of a city I’ve always wanted to live in and will be leaving soon, and grief of a life I wanted to live and share with the love of my life.

For several months, I struggled with emotionally and physically absent loved ones, manipulative and rude coworkers, a few friends who have proven to be more about status and materialism than the “warm hug” feeling I receive from my friends who live elsewhere, and not feeling a sense of community or belonging here in Chicago—despite all of my efforts. All of these situations and feelings caused me to question the validity of my marriage, my newfound friendships, and decision to move here in the first place.

When I was six years old, my mom, brother and I took the train to Chicago from Flint to see my dad who worked here at the time—as we did most weekends. I saw big city lights, lots of diverse people, the bustling streets with seemingly important and busy people heading to work and looking stylish, and heard new noises as we approached the city. I turned to my mom and said, “I’m going to live here one day.” Despite many of my favorite childhood and college memories taking place in this incredible city, it has lost all its magic.

“What does it feel like to you, Cate?” Erin asked me. “Why do you need Chicago so much?”

To which I answered, “It feels like I’m relearning that Santa isn’t real and never has been. And I guess I needed Chicago because this used to be my happy place, and I’m sad that it isn’t anymore.”

BUT the world is my happy place. The memories I’ve shared here with friends and family (including Lin of course!) can never be replaced—and nothing can ever take that away from me. I have also had incredible memories in the 24 countries I’ve visited (three of which have held addresses in) and the over 30 states I’ve explored within the US.

I look forward to reclaiming this city as a staple favorite when I move—whether that be one, three, six… months from now. Tomorrow I will start by kayaking downtown with a Michigan friend, but today I need some space from her (her being Chicago, NOT my Michigan friend haha!).

As a 28-year-old young woman now, I would hug six-year-old me looking out the Amtrak at the big city, and say “You did it. And now it’s time to go on even bigger adventures.” 💛

I am grateful for…

Learning that consistency is one of the best qualities anyone can possess. My friends who have been supportive, encouraging and consistent — not just now, but always. My support system who have helped me pivot from self-deprecating thoughts and into better boundary-setting. Going on adventures in Chicago with friends, new and old. Having friends who even want to go on those adventures with me.

Walking away from people who aren’t serving me — who aren’t showing up for me physically or emotionally. Not having a relationship with certain family members who would certainly bully me and verbally abuse me because of my personal life right now. Having the courage to even stand up to/walk away from those individuals and groups of people anyway. Finding my chosen family; feeling like I belong with my friends and some of their families (e.g.: Donna’s siblings and parents).

Having the courage to move out here despite the circumstances. Finding my way back to the healthiest work environment I’ve ever experienced — albeit in a rather roundabout way. My health and my body, even though I may not love her and appreciate her everyday. My mobility and the freedom I have to explore and keep going on these fun adventures.

Linley. The fact that he is such a great travel, hiking and adventure buddy. The fact that I have him right now, when all else seems fleeting. Lin getting me out of bed and out of the house everyday; teaching me that there’s insurmountable beauty in the simplest of moments and things.

The fact that I even have things to be grateful for as my heart breaks.

South Haven with Mom and Linley

“First my mother, forever my friend.” – Unknown

…this may not have always been the case for my mom and me, but all in all we have overcome some difficult times together. And despite whatever we have endured together and apart, we have always had deep love for one another. Boy did I need her last weekend!

A few weeks ago, my mom called me and left a nearly two minute-long voicemail (if you were born in or before the 90s, you probably have a parent or parent-figure who does this as well, haha!) about this dog dog-friendly “resort” in South Haven, Michigan. We love spending time together with my dog Linley, and we had the best weekend at the Sun and Sand Resort.

Friday was our busiest day with the nicest weather. We met at the resort, where my mom’s huge pieces of luggage exploded all over the room, then headed to Pilgrim Haven Natural Area for some swimming and relaxing on the beach.

Pilgrim Haven was quite rocky compared to other dog beaches we’ve visited together, but the three of us enjoyed it nonetheless. We strolled the beach which led to a cute “pool” and scenic river, found some cool rocks and camped out in a sandy, shaded spot for Linley. He spent the majority of the time in the water, but surprisingly splooted (what dogs do when they lay on their belly with their arms and legs stretched out) in the warm sand for a while. As simple and easygoing as our time was, we had so much fun and I really needed it – almost as much as Linley needed the stick from Lake Michigan!

The rest of our evening was spent in downtown South Haven and at the lighthouse. We ate at a cute local restaurant – where my mom even brought some cooked chicken for Linley. After some great cheesy bread, caprese salad, good conversation and the waitress giving Linley some love and attention, we quickly drove to the lighthouse to watch the sunset. This is where things got interesting…!

Without further ado, my mom face planted on a hill full of sand! She wasn’t hurt and is totally okay, but it was hilarious and had both of us laughing so hard we almost peed! Linley laid in the sand as though we were burdening him by making him wait for us to gather ourselves, which made the “incident” even funnier! Once we wiped sand off of my mom’s face and ears, we laughed our way to the ice cream stand for a much-needed treat. I continued laughing about my mom’s fall the entire evening, and my mom did too! I’m just glad she was okay and a good sport about all of it. A couple summers ago, we were walking Linley near her house and I completely wiped out – making us even now.

After the sunset and some scoops, we went to the front desk of our resort for some fire starters. We were craving smores and some time in front of a warm campfire. Of course we’re amateurs and didn’t use the fire starters correctly, so my mom grabbed a lighter from home. After smore laughs (see what I did there?) we called it a night.

The next day, we headed north about 20 miles to Saugatuck Dunes State Park – a place where I’ve taken Linley once before. It has a beautiful hiking trail to one of the prettiest dog beaches in Michigan, full of sand dunes and warm water. Although the weather wasn’t as sunny or warm as the first day, we enjoyed some our time lounging, hiking and people watching on the beach. After a few hours of that, we made grilled cheese over the fire for a later lunch, then repeated our first day by revisiting Pilgrim Haven and the lighthouse before the rain came in.

Instead of my mom wiping out again, we walked the pier and met some really friendly people along the way. Once we were near the car, it started to rain and we headed back to our resort for the evening. Even though it would’ve been great to see another sunset, we were content with calling it a day and playing cards in the room. The funniest part is when my mom wanted us to look at all the rocks we found from Pilgrim Haven. She pulled out this huge stone and said, “And here’s yours!” I, dumbfounded, said, “That’s not mine, it’s yours…” She used the rock to hold our sheet down in the sand, and had been carrying it around in her beach bag for two days! What a goof…

Sunday, our last day together, we pretty lowkey. It was another overcast day, but still nice enough to have a lazy morning and do some hiking. We found a nice trail nearby, where Linley made a new friend and peed on everything his heart desired. It was bittersweet because as nice as our walk was, I knew our weekend together was coming to an end. We wrapped up our two-mile hike with Linley not wanting to ride in his bike basket, and jumping out of it in the parking lot!

In 2020, we had taken two trips up north: Empire and Petoskey. In 2021, we had a falling out due to tension between my brother and me – with whom I still don’t have a relationship. Being able to spend time with my mom again this summer really meant a lot to me, and I hope we continue to navigate our relationship and a better path forward!

Feels like summer in Chicago

There’s something really magical about June in Chicago. It’s sunny, warm with a nice breeze from Lake Michigan, not too humid… it’s magical. Some of my favorite, childhood summer memories took place here and it’s been great to relive some of these experiences in adulthood.

Montrose Beach

This should come as no surprise to those of you who have read my recent posts, but I’ve been loving the sunrise and sunsets on Lake Michigan with Linley.

Comedy!

My all-time favorite thing to do in big cities is see a comedy show. Improv, stand up… it doesn’t matter as long as I’m laughing and having a good time. I’ve been to Second City, Laugh Factory and Zanie’s lately and have no plans to slow down.

Kayaking

Being out on the water has always been one of my favorite summertime activities, and doing this with such an amazing view can’t be beat. My friend Jes visited from North Carolina over the weekend, and we had to kayak in Lincoln Park!

Festivals

Chicago is home to some of the best summertime festivals, including a super fun Midsommar Swedish festival that took place in Andersonville a couple weeks ago!

Riverwalk

Chicago’s Riverwalk is so much fun, especially when I take Linley and we grab some gelato on the way home!

Baseball

I’m not the most athletic or sports-orientated person, but there’s something about going to a baseball game and sitting under the sunshine that’s so much fun! Jes and I enjoyed some Wrigleyville brunch and a fun Cubs game at Wrigley Field against the Braves.

Millennium Park

A quintessential part of Chicago! Tourist or resident, you can’t say that you’ve seen the city without taking an obligatory stroll through Millennium Park.

Media taken June, 2022

Letting It Out & Letting It Go

Yesterday evening we ventured over to the AIDS Garden Chicago, memorializing the HIV epidemic and honoring those who live with the disease today.

I hadn’t had a good cry in a while, until yesterday. I’ve been putting a smile on for my new team at work, my neighbors, myself… and the tension I’d been feeling was building up to more I could handle.

Darkness covered us as we enjoyed some cheese and crackers along Lake Michigan when Juan started talking about all our good times together. Knowing that we may not have more of those times together broke me in ways I couldn’t imagine possible—and I just cried. Cried so hard and didn’t have any support from him—not even a hug. I was angry and hurt and scared and alone… until Linley comforted me. He sat right next to me and gave me a hug (yes, my small dog can give hugs!). I made me laugh so hard, and even during one of the saddest moments I’ve had in quite some time, he gave me hope that things will be okay—even if they aren’t right now.

When people say things like “animals don’t have feelings” or “animals aren’t that smart,” I wholeheartedly disagree. I was never allowed to have a dog growing up, but I’ve had my fair share of rodents, and even those little critters had personalities! But Lin is different. He’s the most intuitive fella I know. Others (Airbnb hosts, my friends, complete strangers…) even say that he knows me so well, that we’re a good pair. Even as I type this as I sit at my desk, this is how close he is:

I don’t know a better way to channel my love – and receive it – than being with this guy 💛

Media taken Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4, 2022

I want to live like Linley

…try saying that five times fast! 😂

Lin and his new friend/doppelgänger, Bowie!

Linley makes friends wherever he goes, is content being lazy inside or exploring outside, and loves life in all its simplicity.

He’s always up for an adventure!
Another Lake Michigan sunset 🧡
Mocking Lin’s poses
A new illustrative tattoo of my little guy ❤️

I thoroughly enjoyed my Memorial Day weekend with this little guy—and am looking forward to more summer adventures together!

Media taken May 27-June 1, 2022

It’s a walk in the (dog) park

Something that always brought Linley and me joy was hanging out at the dog park. We’re a 45-minute walk to the dog beach (which really takes over an hour with all the times Lin has to mark his territory) and about a 20-minute walk from our local dog park here in Chicago. It’s great to be close to a dog park, but boy do we miss our old one in Troy, Michigan!

The Daisy Knight Dog Park felt like such a sense of community for both Linley and me: long-lasting conversations with strangers-turned-friends and their dogs, Linley getting all the love from neighborhood kids and other dogs… but here feels so different. The past two times we’ve went to the dog park here, we haven’t really been welcomed. Granted, there are a few nice people who say hi and make small talk, but overall it doesn’t bring the same welcomeness that I’ve/we’ve felt in the past.

But Linley and I remain persistent and positive! We always make the most of it, arrive and leave with smiles on our faces, and enjoy the quality time we have on our long walks together.

“Sun’s out, tongue’s out!”

Once my car’s back from the shop (TBD), hopefully we can hit the beach instead 😉

Photos taken Thursday, May 26, 2022

Light in the Darkness: Chicago Riverwalk and Dog Beach Day

First and foremost: thank you to those who read my latest post and left beautiful, compassionate comments. Opening up about my mental health was scary and messy and awkward—but incredibly necessary.

It’s increasingly difficult to remain positive during personal and circumstantial times like these: yesterday’s horrific school shooting in Texas, my closest friends suffering from burnout and depression—while I’m trying to be there, suffering the same sorts of feelings, my car had to be towed a couple nights ago, leaving Juan, Linley and I stranded and taking a Lyft back home, family-related anxiety, work ramping up… But I do want to focus on the positives while acknowledging the heartaches.

Last Thursday, my friend Andrea and I took Linley on a four-mile stroll along Chicago’s infamous Riverwalk. He absolutely loves it, as do we. We spent a few hours walking, talking, laughing and ended our time together with some much-needed gelato and ice cold water.

Last Friday, I took Linley to our local dog beach (clearly our favorite spot!) and we had a great time. Lin was playing in the sand bar, pulling on his leash, whining and “talking” with the other pups… it was such a great afternoon! But the rain suddenly approached the beach—creating swirls in the water and the temperature to suddenly drop by 20° at least. Between Lin grabbing leaves from the lake and the rain on our way to the car, he was soaked!

In no way is this intended to minimize what’s going on in the United States, my friends’ lives, my life… but rather a reminder that there is hope and that I always need to find light in the darkness. 🤍

Media taken Thursday, May 19 and Friday, May 20, 2022