Chicago 2011: Take 1

This is a bit out of date. I visited Chicago with Kelly in June of last year (yes, nine months ago, what’s it to ya?).

When we got back, I posted this, reminding myself of the things I wanted to post. I’m glad I did that, because I still recall what to write about. I also posted this, a preview.  At what point does it become absurd to blog about something that’s over? Nine months could be on the cusp, but there is a method to my madness.

Here we go:


The whole point of the trip was to see this concert. The day of, Kelly was growing more and more excited. When we finally arrived at the show, we were so early we just wandered around the grounds. Eventually, we saw fans watching the tour bus area. A bunch of BSBers were out walking around (Read Kelly’s blog here if you want the details).

Mostly, though, it was just standing around in a clump of crazy fans, clinging to a chain link fence, salivating that they might get to see someone. With 45 minutes left until showtime, I was getting bored. Finally, I turned to Kelly and said, “I think we should have a sing along. What song do you think everyone knows?”

She laughed, of course. I followed that with, “I vote This Land is Your Land.”

Finally, Joe McIntyre came out and the crowd went wild. I was so happy to recognize someone.

That’s really him. I swear. You should have heard the screams, then you’d believe me.

Don’t worry, the 12 year old is only holding that beer for me so I can take the picture.

It was not the best show I’ve ever seen. Mostly because of the BSB portion. I never knew them or was a fan at all, so I really couldn’t have cared less and they were on the stage a lot. Okay, probably only 50% of the time, but come on.

I really liked the intro, though.

And the ending was pretty cool. What I remember most from this concert is the crazy camera game. My battery was dying. Kelly’s memory card was full. I was snapping photos with my iPhone and she was videoing, while piecing together our two cameras (luckily, we have the same camera) to get one working camera. Nutso.

Also, I remember, quite strongly, that the beers cost $9. I didn’t even have one, but every time Kelly did she’d say, “nine dollars for a twelve ounce beer” I think she had 6 or so of them, so I heard her say that, well, 6 or so times.

4) Transporfuckingtation

Well, now, we’re going to back up a bit, to earlier that same day. We were touring around the city, seeing sights. We were on our awesome trolley.

This was the best deal in the city. We paid $35 for three days and could hop on or off whenever we wanted. Amazing. We saw the whole city this way. We actually used this as transportation. Need to hit the other side of town? Great, hop on.

The day of the concert, we saw some fun stuff and then figured we ought to head back to the hotel to get ready. We hopped on the trolley at the nearest stop.

Unfortunately, this makes a LOT of stops. Which, natch, takes a LOT of time. So, there we were, two girls on a bus. Sitting up top in the sunshine.

(btw, I lost those shades a few weeks later and am STILL sad about it)

Suddenly, I can feel Kelly growing more and more agitated. It’s taking too long. It’s 4pm and the concert starts at 7pm. She wants off this bus. She actually said, “I want off this bus”. Maybe she said trolley.

Then it was, “this transporfuckingtation is taking too long”. And I about died. Yes, it was taking a long time, a very long time, but transporfuckingtation? That’s not even a word!

3) It’s a dry town. (Miller’s Pub)


This pub was like four steps from the door of our hotel. We stopped there several times and it always seemed to be closed. People at the hotel kept recommending we go there, so it wasn’t closed permanently, but it was never open.

So we asked for a liquor store. We got directions. Couldn’t find the store. Kept walking. Couldn’t find any liquor stores. At the end of the first day, we found a convenience store that sold beer.

The next day, more directions, more looking, more walking, no liquor store. Finally, Kelly looks at me, point blank and said, “is this a dry town?”

The night of the concert, suddenly, miraculously, Miller’s was open and we were able to go inside and drink it up, Chicago style. We actually met the owner of the bar who was kind enough to buy us a drink. We met this lovely gay couple who were wildly entertaining.

They talked us into shots, and then when Kelly wouldn’t take hers, they said, “pussy up, girl” which might be my favorite phrase of the trip, if I weren’t traveling with Kelly, who is full of fun sayings. (Wait for #2 and #1). And, as a fun side note, today, nine months later, I am wearing the same shirt as in that picture. What are the odds?

Finally, on our last day in Chicago, we were headed back to the hotel to drop off packages before heading out to tour again. Having given up the hunt for booze in Chi-town, we turned the corner on to our block and lo and behold, there was that damn liquor store we’d been searching for all along.

This weird dude was actually kind of creepy and forced his way into our photo, but we really wanted proof that there is at least one liquor store in all of Chicago.

2) “I Love Black People.”

This one still makes me laugh. We were at Miller’s Pub, the night of the concert and we were drinking. In walks a tall dude in a basketball cap and when I say tall, I mean TALL. If I remember correctly, he said he was 6’11”. Kelly, being maybe 5′ 2″ had to get a photo. We approached him and asked. He thought it was weird. It was weird. But she’s so short and he was so tall, and he finally agreed.

Kelly and Talls


As we walked away from this nice boy, Kelly looked at me and said, “I love black people”. Just like that. Like saying “I love cheese”. Again, I almost bust a gut at her deadpan gift for delivering the one liners. And, next time you see her, ask, she’ll tell you, she loves black people.

1)Oprah vs. Jordan.

This one. Oh boy. I’m actually laughing as I type it. It’s the funniest moment of the trip, hands down. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure this qualifies as a “had to be there” moment. Meaning, that you might not find this so funny. I’ll try to set it up right.

We were on the trolley. Driving around. Kelly, as you may know, is obsessed with New Kids on the Block. No one loves them like she does. I’m not being dramatic or a good friend, she really loves them like no other. Jordan Knight is her all time favorite. Since she was a little girl, she loved him. She hasn’t wavered, not once, not ever.

Now, Kelly also loves Oprah, as do many women. I am not one of them. Oprah used to be on the bus (that’s the metaphorical bus where I place all people who annoy me and then drive it over a cliff) but she’s a lot less annoying now that she’s off the air. I’ve never been a fan. I know women the world over love Oprah, but not me. I knew Kelly liked her, but I never really understood how much.

Here’s what happened. We’re riding the trolley. Kelly has actually asked the tour guide to point out Oprah’s home. She asked this in such a maniacal voice I think he was afraid NOT to. But, as these trolley rides can drag on, she started to wonder if he’d forgotten. Then, we drove down Lake Shore Drive and the guide points out “for the woman in the back” that is Oprah’s home.

Kelly flies out of her seat and starts taking pictures at a speed not known to most humans and is frantically scanning the street as if Oprah herself might walk by.

As the trolley sits in traffic, in front of Oprah’s apartment, Kelly turns to me and with a serious and sober expression, no drama in her voice at all, “if she came out right now, I would jump off the bus.”

I laughed, because that’s what you do with crazy people.

She continued, “I’m not kidding. I would dangle from this bar and drop to the ground. I’d have no problem ditching my bag of crap.”

I pulled out my phone and started typing this into a notepad, to preserve this conversation for posterity. Her bag of crap? The souvenirs she had bought for her kids. But, what was especially funny was that she’d also be ditching…ME! and she really didn’t seem to care. I pointed that out and we had a nice laugh. Then we sat in silence, contemplating, as the bus finally started to move.

Suddenly, as though there was zero break in the conversation, she turns to me and says, “if you told me, ‘if you jump off this bus you WILL break your ankle, bu you will still meet Oprah’, I’d do it. I swear to you, I would do it.” Now, I’m laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. She said, “Liv, I’m not kidding.” I think she was genuinely perplexed as to why I was laughing so hard. Now, of course, she finds it as funny as I do, but in the moment, she was dead serious and mystified by my sense of humor.

Again, as though there was no lag in the conversation, she said, “if Oprah was on one side and Jordan was on the other, I’d meet Oprah.”

And I lost it. Never have I had such a funny conversation. A one-sided conversation, as I barely spoke, but that is kind of what made it so funny.

That wraps up our tour of memories and in-jokes from my first trip to Chicago in 2011. Beyond this, I’ll just share a few of my favorite photos.


In a random sporting goods store, a rack of Chicago sports team shirts and this lone pile of Twins shirts. What was it doing there? So odd.

My first ever ride on a ferris wheel and it was 15 stories tall and took 7 minutes for one complete rotation.


No idea why, but I enjoy this photo.

Can we say tailor-made?

This was a random shot and has become one of my favorite photos from that trip.

‘Nuff said.

Us and Ernie Banks

The Bean. My favorite stop in Chicago. So amazing. Can’t explain, you just have to see it in person.

John Hancock building

Can you find us? We’re in there!

It was a fun-filled, laughter-filled, over-the-top trip. Thanks for making those memories with me, Kelly. And thanks for being so damn funny!

Top Five…

…things I need to remember to blog about Chicago.



3)It’s a dry town (and Miller’s Pub)

2)”I love black people”

1)Oprah vs. Jordan

If any of that whet your appetite, you should stay tuned…plenty of fun stuff to come.

…people who, smile at you


are back from

We saw tall buildings:

even some trying to duke it out for tallest honors:

Some of us were astounded by this, as it was our first time:

We marveled at incredible views:

(no, that’s not a postcard, that is a snapshot from my Iphone camera!)

We did some new things:

And enjoyed every second.

We managed to blend in:

and even squeezed in a show:

There were more views:

and when night fell, the world was even more beautiful, somehow.

We are home, we are tired and we have a 1,000 things to share about the trip. Hope you enjoyed your preview, more to come…

Twenty Two Years

If you read my blog, you’ve probably (once or twice) heard me mention Kelly. Kelly and I have been friends since the 5th grade. We were 10-years-old when we met, way back in 1989.

We’ve done and gone through a LOT together over the years. But, one thing we’ve never done? Travel together. Strange as it seems, we’ve never taken a trip, anywhere, by ourselves. ***Disclaimer*** This does not include the time we “roadtripped” to Forest Lake and met Jesus.*

That’s about to change. In two tiny little days, we’re off on an adventure. We are traveling to Chicago to see the NKOTBSB tour. Going back in time a bit, did I tell this story already?, for Kelly’s birthday, back in November, I was giving her a surprise of telling her they were going on tour together (World’s biggest NKOTB fan – and evidently she owns a BSB CD which is more than I can say, I keep thinking they’re the one’s with JT…) and that no matter where they were playing, we’d go see them.

Well, she found out about the tour four days before her birthday, when I’d known for WEEKS. I was so disappointed that the surprise was ruined that close to her birthday. When the tour dates were announced, there were only six dates. Small tour. One of them was Chicago. We chose that and got our tickets. Apparently, it’s been popular enough that they keep adding dates and now, they’re coming to Minneapolis. Good for them. We’re still going to Chicago to see them.

Our trip is this weekend and I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t taken a vacation since Labor Day, 2009, when I traveled to Portland to see Christian Kane. Lucky for Kelly, he’s not anywhere near Chicago this weekend, so there’s no worry of me ditching out.

Kelly has never been to Chicago before, and the last time I was there was when Jason took me there for my 20th birthday. It was a blast. Of course, I wasn’t old enough to drink, then, so this will be exciting for both of us. I’ve been planning and preparing for this trip since last November. I have an entire document of things to see and do. I also asked for suggestions from someone I work with who grew up in Chicago and goes home once a month. But, his list was lame, mine is way better.

There will be no blogs after tomorrow…until we get back and then I’ll have some stories to tell. I assume.

Things to remember as I pack:

Tickets to concert

Iphone Wall Jack


Autographed meet and greet pass

Jordan Knight doll

It may have taken more than two decades of friendship, but we’re finally going on a trip together. No husbands, no kids. Just two friends and a lifelong love of New Kids on the Block. Chi-town, here we come!


**Edit** One of my faculty just came in and asked about my weekend plans. I blithely start telling the above story. Loved em since we were kids, blah blah blah, New Kids on the Block…

Several student were in the library at the time. I wasn’t really paying attention, but, suddenly, there was some quiet snickering. I glanced up and they caught my eye and burst into laughter. “I thought you were cooler than that” one of them said.

I like to think so, too, but this is a nostalgia thing. I was excited to hear they think I’m cool. Less excited that NKOTBSB has cost me some hard-earned cool points.

I told them that I was taking names of those who laughed and I’d buy them buttons and force them to wear them before I gave them any more help. That shut them up pretty quick. But their eyes were still dancing with humor. Ah well, can’t win ’em all!