Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lakeview, I'll miss you...Andersonville, here I come!

In less than a week, I will be moving from one great Chicago neighborhood to another.  There is so much to love about this great city, that I feel it's time to move on and experience another part of it.

Now, like many of you, I'm not one who likes to move.  In fact, I've stayed in my current apartment for the past five years, even though I've wanted to get a bigger place, just because the process of moving is so off-putting to me. However, for some reason I am really looking forward to this move, which tells me that I am doing the right thing.

There are plenty of things that I will miss about living in Lakeview: BYOB dinners at Joy's noodles, devouring ice cream at Bobtail, the mouth-watering soups at Soupbox, breakfasts at Stella's diner...

Okay, maybe there is plenty of FOOD that I will miss in Lakeview!

I will also miss living right next to the lakefront path, which may help or hurt my marathon training (we'll see!). I will miss martinis at Kit Kat, coffee at Intelligentsia, and the multiple friends living mere blocks away.

But, it's time for change.

I'm reminded of the great quote by Frank Herbert, "Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken."

Combining this move with the new career that I recently started, hopefully the sleeper inside of me has been awakened.

Now, I am excited for the new Andersonville establishments that I will get to become a regular at, including Marty's martinis, George's sweet shop, In Fine Spirits wine bar, M. Henry, and Hamburger Mary's.

Oh, and did I mention that I get to live so much closer to my Nate?

Yeah, I'm ready for change.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oh, Chicago

There are so many fantastic places to visit here in Chicago.

Just the other day, I had such a great experience at a particular dining establishment.  So great, in fact, that I wanted to share with others how excellent of a time I had.  On the flip side, I have had some pretty awful times while being out-and-about as well.

I spend a lot of time visiting various restaurants, theaters, cultural events, etc. Therefore, I have decided that Dangling Carrots will be a place where I can share my experiences with all of you.  Sure, I will still offer opinions on hot topics as well, but the focus of this blog is going to change.

That's the great thing about the internet.  Companies have to be on top of their game, providing quality products and consistent customer service at all times.  We are all reviewers. 

I promise to be very fair and open-minded, but mostly informative and opinionated! 

I hope to hear your opinions as well...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Say Cheese!

"Okay everyone, gather in for a picture!  Ready?  1-2-say cheese!  Great.  Hmm....You know what?  Let's do one more since Susie's eyes were closed.  Ok, here we go...  Good!  Wait...John, stop flipping the bird to the camera.  Now, one more time... "

Ah, the wonders of technology!

Ok, remember back if you can...to the days before we owned digital cameras, or had cameras on our phones.

Yeah, I know.  Those were some sad times!

Who can forget when you actually had to 'pose', or prepare correctly before snapping a photo?  You couldn't do three or four takes because Mom would KILL you for wasting all that film!

Yeah, that's right.  You had to actually BUY film...and it wasn't cheap!

Going to the store and purchasing a 36 exposure roll of film cost you about $6 back in the day, so you better carefully plan out those pictures!

AND, you didn't have the pleasure of seeing the results immediately (unless you were using an old Polaroid instant camera).  You had to just cross your fingers and hope that you didn't have a booger on your face, or weren't victim to really bad lighting!

Oh, the anticipation of waiting for Walgreens to call you up and say that your photos were ready!  Then, you would rush to the store to pay for them, and open them up immediately to take a look!

Of course there were always a few photos of 'nothing,' where your finger was covering the camera lense.

But sometimes there was a nice surprise!  Like, when your sister's friend decided to sneak the camera and take a pic of her boobs!

Oh...that's another thing.  If you had nudity on your camera, the place that was developing the film would usually discard those specific pictures.  CENSORSHIP!!!  Today, we are able to take our own dirty pics and post them all over our phones and the internet if we choose!

(Yes, I admit...there was a part of me that wanted to work in a photo lab so that I could catch everyone's dirty pics as I was developing them.  Hey, we didn't have the internet for our porn back then!)

Speaking of the internet, in today's society we take pictures and then immediately publish them to our facebook and twitter accounts for all of our friends to see as many times as they choose to look at them!  But remember back in the day when you would develop your photos and take them around in an album, forcing your friends to look at them?

We didn't have facebook back then, so generally, people only saw your pictures that one time.

I tell ya...I love my digital camera.  I can't begin to count the number of unflattering pictures I've deleted.

You: "Hey Paul, remember that picture we took standing in front of the statue?  Why didn't you ever post that one?"

Me: "Oh, it didn't come out right."

In all actuality, I just hated the way I looked in it, but you don't need to know that!

Now, if they could just make a camera that does instant photo-shopping.  (who knows...they actually probably already do!) THAT would be a real technological win!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Did you miss me? Danging Carrots turns 1!

Hello friends, bloggers, readers!

First of all, I have to say Thanks to all of you who have left such wonderful comments, emails, and texts after my last blog posting.  When I started this blog last year, I had no idea that it would turn into the beautiful community that it has become.

I know it has been a while since I last posted, and I apologize for that.  I needed to take a little break...a hiatus from the blog to get some other things in order. 

It wasn't that I had no inspiration to write, it's just that I have been in a different mindset.  In a GOOD way!

I also apologize for not updating all of you sooner on the fact that I did find another job.  In fact, I was only out of work for 3 weeks.  I have been at my new place of employment for over a month now.  I was very determined, and I woke up every morning, sent out my resume to MANY, many places, and it paid off!  PHEW!

Other than the job, things are going well for me.  Summer is within our reach!  Beach volleyball starts this week. Kickball starts next week!  Hooray for summer sports!

I just ran the Soldier Field 10 mile race this weekend and had my fastest time ever!

I am currently dating a great guy.  He is one of the most adorable people I have ever laid eyes on.  We're taking it day by day, but I'm having a lot of fun with it.

So yeah...I can't really complain right now.  I am counting my blessings every day, because I know that in a heartbeat it could all be gone.

Which brings me to....

Today is the 1 Year Anniversary of Dangling Carrots!

I can't believe how fast time has flown by. Starting this writing adventure has been a great, therapeutic, wonderful journey.

I went back and read through my posts today, especially my very first posts where I was happy to get a single comment!  Or, to have my page count reach 20-30 reads per day.

Thank you for letting me share my ridiculous opinions, thoughts and even some personal moments with you all. 

AND...thank you for letting me take some time off.  I will update more frequently because I feel like I have been away from friends. 



Thursday, April 8, 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons...

To begin, I apologize for the delay in posting any new blog updates recently.

Last Friday, I officially became unemployed.  That's right...I lost my job.

It came as a bit of a shock to me, but for the most part I've been okay.  I've been trying to keep a positive attitude and a fighter's spirit, knowing that something better is right around the corner.

I had been with my previous company for years, giving them my full dedication and lots of hard work.  If this wouldn't have happened, I probably would've been a lifer and never would have tried looking elsewhere for another opportunity.  Therefore, this may be a blessing in disguise!

However, waking up in the morning with nowhere to go is a bit depressing, and not my style.  I feel fulfilled going into the workplace. 

I can be honest here with you guys, right?  

The disappointment of losing a job, mixed in with a couple more recent personal disappointments, has really led me to lay there in bed with such a heavy feeling. Thoughts of disappointment and failure are typical for anyone in my position, I'm sure. 

Wondering where I went wrong, what I could've changed, and what I have learned and can grow from for next time.

But you know what?  Sometimes I have to force myself to get through this.  Get up, Paul!  Keep moving.

I know, I know...some of you are thinking, "But Paul, it hasn't even been 2 weeks yet," which is true.  However, I guess I am not like most people.  I want to work. I want to feel like I am contributing.

So, I have been out there taking all the right steps.  I have sent my resume out to some places, I've met with a recruiter, etc. I am determined.

Yesterday was rough for me.  I woke up in a bad place.  Feelings of regret and failure were heavy on me.  I didn't want to search for jobs, I didn't want to keep taking the proper steps and not hear back from anyone. 

I forced myself to go for a run.  A long run.  13 miles, in fact.  It was also raining pretty hard. 

A good run has always settled me down, cleared my head.  Somewhere around mile 6, I just completely lost it.  It's a good thing that nobody else was out there, because I probably looked like a complete idiot, balling my eyes out like a little baby.

Like Robyn says, it's a good thing tears never show in the pouring rain!

My emotions were going crazy.  I wanted to stop running, but I also wanted to prove how strong I was. 

SO yes...Overall, I'm in a good place, but a bit of a fragile place. 

Wow, this is all kind of hard for me to admit.  I like the appearance that I am always such a strong individual!  I like staying positive.  Nobody likes a downer...

This old song lyric keeps coming to mind, and kind of explains where I am:

'They don't know that I go running home when I fall down.
 They don't know what picks me up when no one is around.
 I drop my sword and cry for just a while...
 Cuz' deep inside this armor, the warrior is a child.'

Okay, now...

This morning, I got emotional for a different reason.  I was overwhelmed by some of your generosity.  There are so many wonderful people out there who have been very kind to me; providing me job leads, sending me information on their company's open job posts, referring me to recruiters, or just calling me everyday to make sure that I am in a good place.

The funny thing is...The people who have really reached out to me are people that I never would've expected such generosity from.  Some of these people I am not even that close to.  There are REALLY some good people out there!

But I have so much respect and newfound love for them.  They didn't have to reach out to me, but it's nice to see that I have people on my side.

I am grateful for these new friendships, and hope to one day return the favor to them!

Thank you for letting me speak honestly, and for allowing me some time to process all of this.  I will try to get back to blogging regularly.

But for now...it's back to the grind!  Keeping my chin up, my hopes high, and determined to work as hard as I need to.

This story WILL have a happy ending! 
Stay tuned...

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm About to Whip Somebody's A....

Happy Friday!!!!!!

We made it to the end of another week! Yes!!!

This has been a rough few days for me at work, so I decided that last night would be the perfect time to let off a little steam and go out for a little fun with some of my favorite guys!

So...the weekend is just about here and seriously couldn't come any faster!

I am visualizing a delicious margarita on the rocks with salt.... 

Or an Ambien...

For an accurate description of how I feel today, please see the short video below:   :)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What the..???

Yesterday, I was sitting at the Under55 Cafeteria having a little lunch.

I was also reading a great book at the same time, 'The Perks of Being A WallFlower' by Stephen Chbosky, so I was pretty focused on that.

All the while, my jacket was on the back of my chair.

When I was finished and was getting up to leave, I put my jacket on, zipped it up, and put my hands in my pockets.

Except...something was in there. 

I pulled my hand back out, and someone had placed an empty 'Twix' candy bar wrapper in my jacket pocket!

WHAT THE...????

Ok, as much as I would have LOVED to have been the one to devour that delicious chocolate bar, I didn't.

So clearly, someone thought it would be really cute to put garbage in my pocket as I was sitting there.  How rude!

And I didn't even realize it!  I must've been so into that book that I wasn't paying attention. 

It's a good thing I didn't leave my phone or wallet in my jacket pocket while I was having lunch!

What is wrong with people?

I mean, this wasn't really a big deal.  Someone was being stupid, but nobody got hurt here.

However, This incident reminds me of a time many, many years ago when I was in elementary school.  I was in 5th grade.

We had all filed into the gymnasium for a school assembly.  We had to sit indian-style on the floor, with the kindergarteners in the front and the big 6th graders in the back.

I was sitting there in the last line of the 5th grade row, with the 6th graders right behind me. 

All of a sudden, I felt this tug on the back of my pants, as if someone was pulling on my belt loop.  Weird...but I didn't turn around or do anything.

Later, after the assembly, I realized that whoever was behind me had cut my belt loop!  With a knife or something equally sharp!

I was so sad.  Those were my favorite pants!!!  I actually cried because my favorite jeans were ruined!!

I don't know what made me angrier:  The fact that someone had the nerve to cut my belt loop, or the fact that I was too chicken to turn around and say anything while it was happening.

If it happened today, things would be MUCH different, as I would probably beat his ass!

My mom did ask me about my jeans when she was doing laundry. I didn't tell her the truth because I KNEW she would've called the school immediately and opened up a can of WHOOP-ASS on my principal!

Look...I have no idea why the Twix incident brought up this memory, but it did.

The difference here is that in elementary school, kids do things that they shouldn't but we chalk it up to 'being a child.'  From what happened yesterday, that is just plain immaturity and stupidity!

At least they could've put the Twix wrapper in my pocket with one of the bars still uneaten...as a gift for me!  I mean...that would be the polite thing to do, right?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Celebrating Y'all!

Hey Hey!!!

I am very excited about today's blog post!  Because I get to talk about people that I LOVE!

God, we are such RIDICULOUS people sometimes!  I am so lucky and so blessed that I am able to have such wonderful people in my life

AND today I am going to celebrate some of those SILLY, OUTRAGEOUS times we've had.  Damn, we do a lot of silly, stupid stuff! 

From costume parties to funky, coordinated outfits, we ROCK!

I just want to say thank you so much for being there for me when I've needed you most, and that I am extremely happy that you are in my life!

Thug Photo shoot!

Deadra's delivering!

Care Bears in da house!!!

Destiny's Child has nothing on us!

80s Roller Party!


I'm the boss!!!

Douchebag Party!

What??? Did we just dominate at Dodgeball?

Every pic should be taken from this view!

Team Diabetes! - 2009 Flip Cup CHAMPIONS!

Did someone say WHOPPER?

Ugly Sweater Party! Or...Justin's everyday outfit!

FIERCE Jacket, Paul!


Justin, don't flip the raft, fatass!

Ravinia!  Carrie Underwood?  Yes, please!

Oh, silly!

The Deadra!

Another Photo Shoot? On a slide? Ok!

Mikey & me!

Drunken train rides!

My baby James!

It's a good thing I only weigh 98 lbs!

After show!

Oh God...where are we?


Monday, March 22, 2010

Always a Party!!!

Woo Child!

Yesterday, 26,000 of us here in Chicago decided to get up early on a chilly, chilly Sunday morning and freeze our patooties off in order to run the 2010 Shamrock Shuffle!

What.....an experience!

For those of you that do not know, the Sham Shuff is an 8K race (5 miles) that is considered the kick-off to the Chicago running season.

It's also another excuse for runner's to have a little fun and do what we do!

I set a goal for the 2010 running season, to have a personal best in every race that I run this year, no matter if it kills me, or if I have to puke once I cross the finish line!

Well, I started off on a good note! Yesterday, I managed to achieve a Personal Best in this race.

Not only a personal best...but I OBLITERATED my previous best time by 2 and a half minutes. 

Honestly...I have NO IDEA where that came from! 

I managed to finish the Shuffle in a time of 32 minutes 11 seconds!

This averages out to 6:26 minute/mile.  What the????

I guess all that training over the winter, outdoors in the cold & indoors on the dumb treadmill, has paid off!

So, of course I treated myself to a huge Chipotle burrito last night!  AND...chips & guacamole!!!

Overall, I came in 471st out of about 26,000 runners.  (Top 1.8%)

This kind of blows my mind, to realize that out of all these runners in Chicago, I am somehow in the top 500 fastest for a 5 mile race. 

But you know...even though I try to run as fast as possible, it's also just as fun for me to see people sign up to run this race for the first time ever; or people who just strive to push themselves to complete the entire thing without walking at all.

Some people just do this to raise money for charity...and I love that!!

I also like getting to share a beer with all of them once the race is done!  PARTY TIME!!!

What...a cast of characters!

2011 anyone???

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday, I'm in Love!

Hello and HAPPY FRIDAY to you!

Finally!  Friday, I thought you'd never make it, but WELCOME!!!

Aren't you all excited that Spring is just around the corner?  After a long winter, I am looking forward to some better weather soon.

Speaking of Spring, one of the annual kickoffs to spring here in Chicago is the Shamrock Shuffle, which is an 8K race (5 miles) that will be taking place on Sunday morning.

...And will I be running it? 

Does your catholic priest like little boys?  Duh, of course I will be!

I am going to try to beat last year's time of 34:56 (6:59 min/mile).

I came in 587th overall (out of 13,399 finishers!)

Ok, I'll stop tooting my own horn now. However, my goal is to finish at least one second faster than last year.  :)

Which means that I won't be going out this weekend, and will have to fight the temptation of gorging myself with Doritos, and stop myself from eating the entire jar of Peanut Butter out of sheer boredom!!!

Also speaking of Spring...

The annual March Madness college basketball tournament is under way!  This is the first year in 'God knows how long' that I didn't fill out a bracket.  Time just got away from me...

But to tell you the truth, I'm sort of glad that I didn't! 

You see, I tend to root for the underdogs!...and by not filling out the bracket, I got to enjoy some nice surprise wins by Ohio and Murray State without having to worry about yanking my hair out as my bracket gets jacked up!

I did pick a Final Four though.  My pics are:  Kansas, Kentucky, Kansas State, and Villanova.

Hmm...we'll see how i do!  Who did y'all pick?

Thank you to everyone for your comments on my post about getting a Kindle or not!

From the sound of it, those of you who have an e-reader prefer the Barnes & Noble Nook, so I will definitely go there and play around with one.

Those of you who don't have one sound like you really just don't want one, which I completely understand as well!

Did any of you see Ke$ha perform on American Idol?  What...the hell was that hot mess????

Look, I wrote a post about her a couple of weeks ago, saying that her music has become a guilty pleasure of mine...and yes, I stand by that.  Those songs are infectious!

However, I kind of find her to be repulsive, and trying too hard to be 'different or 'shocking.' 
So basically, I like her songs, but am over her!

And finally, I want to give a nice shout out to one of my fellow bloggers, Michael Rivers!  I am very grateful to have gotten to know him a little through the blogosphere and am very happy that I can call him a pal of mine!

Please check out his blog here.

Have a GREAT WEEKEND everyone!