Hey, Chicago, What Do Ya Say?

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In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, the Chicago Cubs have won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. Read that again. One Hundred and Eight Years.

Being from Chicago, I’ve found myself in past years, along with many others, falling into a similar slump as the Cubs notoriously have. Thoughts of “Will this ever happen?” and “Are we cursed forever?” crept into my mind post-season after post-season and it seemed that every time we would get a glimpse of hope, it would get squashed ten times over.

But not this season.

Something was different from day one this season. With every Kris Bryant home run and every Baez/Rizzo double play, we got one step closer to completing the century-old dream. And we knew it.

Fast forward to October, every baseball fanatics favorite month. A month that Cubs fans aren’t too familiar with associating with happy feelings. Last year, we made it to the NLCS…and lost. We were so close, but it got away. But this year it all felt different, it felt better, and we felt confident.

When the moment finally came that we clinched the NLCS and made it to the World Series, I didn’t react like I thought I would. I didn’t scream and jump up and down. I didn’t cry. I sat there and stared at the television screen. I watched Dexter Fowler and Willson Contreras jumping into a group of the other players and Kris Bryant hoist his teammates above his head. It was in that moment that I realized the Chicago Cubs, my Chicago Cubs, were going to win the World Series.

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My next emotion was being overcome with sadness. I went from an ultimate high to rock bottom. I realized that the moment that I’ve been waiting for, that my dad, grandpas, aunts, uncles, cousins and so many other people have been waiting for was coming, and I was going to be 2,036 miles away from the corner of Clark and Addison. I was able to watch every post-season game with other Cubs fans. Even when we played the Dodgers, we would find Chicago bars in LA to watch the game at; to celebrate every win and mourn every loss with fans who had the same goal in mind: Fly the W. But it wasn’t the same.

My dad and I immediately called each other and began looking up flights and game tickets, calling everyone we knew. Nothing was coming together. Flight times didn’t work, game tickets were starting at $3,000 for Standing Room Only. It wasn’t going to happen. We were going to have to watch from what might as well have been the other side of the universe. And we were devastated.

Then we realized something, as much as we wanted to be in the Friendly Confines that weekend, it didn’t matter where we watched it. It was still happening. He and my mom were going to be in LA for the first few games and we would be able to watch them together. “Cubs in 4!” we thought. We’d be able to watch the Cubs win the World Series together. In LA. But together.
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When we lost the first game, I don’t really think anyone flinched. We made every excuse. It was an away game. It was the first game. We didn’t have enough of a break between the NLCS and now. We’ll be fine.

We came back and crushed the second game and a fire was ignited. Every Cubs fan knew it was happening. Our confidence was peaking and we were getting ready to witness history. And then games 3 and 4 happened. It was like watching a horror film, but it was real life. There was no waking up from that bad dream, there was a Cleveland 3-1 lead and we were horrified.

If you are a Cubs fan and you say that you didn’t freak out that night, you are a liar. Prayers were said and stats were pulled…how many times have we won 3 games in a row? How many teams have come back from being down 3-1 in any series, let alone the World Series? We woke up Sunday morning with a “must-win attitude” and we ran with it. Watching that game was the most dramatic hours of my twenty-three years. Every error felt like a dagger and every great hit and out that we got was like winning the lottery. That roller coaster feeling was back. But we won game 5. Two more to go.

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Game 6 came and I was sick as a dog, but there was a 0% chance that I was going to miss that game. Another must-win for the Boys in Blue and I am on the edge of my seat. We crushed the first inning and from that point on, my worries eased and I knew that this series was going to Game Seven. My parents changed their flights and stayed in LA and we made plans to watch the moment we’ve all been waiting for together.

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, there was something in the LA air. It traveled those same 2,036 miles that I did. I could feel it. We all could feel it. History was going to be made. I peeled myself out of bed and we met at a bar down the street. The six of us crammed in a small booth in a bar in Brentwood in front of three TVs all showing the pre-game warm ups. We got ready for what would easily be one of the best nights of our lives.

“Game Seven” are arguably the two greatest words to any sports fan. But add in the fact that it’s the World Series and it’s the Chicago Cubs, the feelings were amplified tenfold. Every out against us or bad play resulted in the entire strip of bars booing and swearing. Every run resulted in an uproar of screams and cheering. I realized in that bar that even though I thought I should have been in Chicago watching this, LA was going to be a great alternative.

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The game went on for 4 hours and 28 minutes, including a rain delay. We had a three-run lead going into the eighth inning and the Indians tied it. No one scored in the ninth and we went into extra innings. At this point, no one was okay. In the crowded bar, people were pacing, cursing, praying and sweating. We wanted this so badly and in the next 15 minutes, it could be taken away from us for the 109th time in a row.

The tenth inning began and the Cubs scored two runs. Now all we had to do was get three outs and we would be the World Series Champions. Three. Outs. That’s it. It was the longest minutes of my life. Davis scored one run for the Indians with that we only had a one-run lead. With two outs, Martinez hit the ball straight to third and before he could even throw it, Bryant’s face lit up. A gentle toss to first and a catch from Rizzo sealed the deal. The Chicago Cubs won the first World Series since 1908 and broke every curse the city was under.

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That moment was the definition of sheer bliss. I jumped on the booth and screamed. Everyone was hugging, cheering, crying…sobbing. After what seemed like ten straight hours of this, I stopped to look around. To remember this moment. To see the people I was with, where I was. And look up at that screen and see my Lovable Losers spraying champagne all over each other and holding the title of World Series Champions.

To end this documentation of the last weeks of my life, I just want to say thank you, Chicago. For raising me. For making me believe in superstitions, but even more in my team. For letting me leave, but still be completely tied to you. For giving me something so earth-shattering, that it made men, women and children around the world scream louder and cry harder than they ever have. For letting me listen to every doubter for years ask me how I could be a Cubs fan and respond with confidence that one day we would be the World Series Champions…and for making that happen. Thank you.

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You & the Moon & Neptune Got It Right

Everyone has been encouraging me to write a post about “living with a boy” lately. This whole thing makes me laugh. First of all, the fact that living with a boy is “post-worthy” is hilarious. Second, I had no idea what to talk about. It would be completely one-sided and awkward. But…

A few weeks ago, a reporter from a national magazine reached out (I can’t say which yet!) after hearing our story of how Daniel and I met. It is pretty hilarious. For those of you who don’t know, Daniel is from Southern California and I am from Chicago. We met at Whatever, USA, a town created by Bud Light for one weekend and contest winners get to go on the trip. Daniel won by auditioning and I won through a job I had in college. One of the events at Whatever, USA was Beer School, where you learn how Bud Light is made (and drink more beer). You can go any time, on the hour, on Friday or Saturday, and we happened to go to the same one. He saw me walk in with my roommate asked the hostess to seat us together…the rest is history. We spent the next 24 hours running around the island with impromptu concerts and watching the Blackhawks until it was time to head back to reality. Something inside both of us wouldn’t let this be the last time we saw each other, so not too long after, I was flying out to San Diego for a month to see where this could go.

Not long after getting home from California and Daniel visiting Chicago (for the first time in his life, I might add), he left the country for 7 weeks to travel in Asia. Between the distance and the difference in time zones, it was extremely tough, but we managed through, and the week after he got home from Asia, he moved in with me (and our puppy!) in Chicago.

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The questions below were from the reporter and Dan and I answered accordingly. The answers, of course, made me cry and I figured what better way to update everyone how “living with a boy” is going than from both of our own words.

Why did you two decide to start your life together in Chicago rather than both of you going to Southern California?
A: We decided on Chicago because I had a year lease signed here already and Dan was planning on looking for places in LA when he got back from his trip. But the more we talked while he was gone, the more we wanted to start a life together right away, so we decided on him coming here until my lease was up and then we would decide if we wanted to stay in Chicago or head back west.

D: Apart from her having the lease signed, I was also very interested in experiencing a new city. I had just spent nearly two months traveling around Asia, and going back home to San Diego seemed a bit too routine. When we had spent time together before, we couldn’t get enough of each other. When I was gone, these feelings only increased. As crazy as it was, moving to Chicago seemed like the natural next.

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Can you name two-three things that changed when you moved in together?
A: For us, since we met it was very fast-paced. We met at Whatever, USA and shortly after, I went to visit him and a few other friends in California and ended up essentially living with him for a month while I was there anyways. Immediately following our month together, he left for seven weeks for Asia and we dove right into 12-hour time differences and a major lack of wifi, so three things that I really noticed that changed when he got back were:
   – Our communication. I felt like it was so much easier to be able to talk in person, whether it was just deciding on dinner or where we were spending Thanksgiving. In today’s world, it’s so easy to hide behind texting, so us being able to sit down and talk was so nice.
   – Our comfortability. This was the biggest one for me. We have always been comfortable around each other, from day one. That’s how I knew it was different between us. But this was even more than that. I could be goofy or cry or I do this weird little snort when I laugh (ugh) but he loved everything about me and that has really become clear since we’ve been living together.
   – “Little things.” I think with Daniel traveling and I was starting a new job and helping my parents move, we kind of took what we could get with talking or Facetiming. There wasn’t much room for anything else. But once we moved in together, little things became so important for us. Like compromising on plans or when I come home and the apartment is cleaned, or he’ll make breakfast while I sleep in or get flowers from the place down the street. Stuff like that really started to mean something because we had so many days where we couldn’t do stuff like that for each other.

D: I couldn’t agree more with the things that she’s said, my answers add to that just a bit.
   – Our appreciation for each other. Living with each other allows us to show this so much more than being apart. Having someone around that is available and willing to help out with chores or errands is such a nice luxury. It makes me happy when I can do something to make her life easier, and I know she feels the same way. As we continue this journey, I know that I’ll have my biggest fan by my side.
   – Having a third body in the apartment. When we were together before my travels, it was just us. When I moved to Chicago, I wasn’t just moving in with her. We have an adorable little puppy to take care of as well. He’s only seven months old, so he’s quite the handful, but he’s my little buddy and I love taking care of him. It’s a little crazy to go from being apart, to moving in together, to essentially having a little family, but it’s all been nothing but great so far.

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Can you name two-three things you learned about each other?
A:
   – He’s so thoughtful. We were skeletons one day of Halloween and I did his face make up before mine. Naturally, it looked terrible (I’m not a makeup person!). He kept saying “Do you want me to keep it? I’ll keep it! It’s okay, it’s your first time!” It was so sweet. But I didn’t make him keep it. I re-did it…and we were late…haha!
   – He’s so smart. Every time we’re watching tv or walking around the city, anything, he will “quiz” me on different things about the world. Whether it’s watching rugby and he asks me “what country is that city in” (I never know) or something about politics, he always knows. I chalk it up to him traveling so much, but maybe he’s just played a lot of trivia crack? Who knows.
   – He has the best support system. I come from a pretty big Italian family, so I know support. No matter what it is, they’re there for me…and now us. But his family is the same. They are so sweet and I have gained some great people in my life just from knowing him and his family and friends. I’m just the luckiest.

D:
She is hilarious. I pride myself on being a jokester and making her laugh until she snorts (sorry), but she’s really funny as well. Every once in a while we’ll lie in bed and watch funny videos online until we’re in tears. We couldn’t be more on the same page when it comes to humor which is an amazing asset to me. We still laugh at some of the jokes she first made with me, and she’s kept them coming since. I even snorted once, and that’s saying something…
   – I’ve learned all about her life. The first night we met, we stayed up until six in the morning sharing stories about our past, and learning about one another. In the months that followed it continued, but now living together, it has escalated to a new level. I now know all about the special combination of events, people, and environment that makes her who she is. I’ve met the friends I’ve heard stories about, I’ve seen the house she grew up in, and I’ve spend time with the family that raised her. It’s done nothing but advance my feelings about how special of a girl I found. 

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What surprised you most about moving in together?
A: Mine is easy. What surprised me the most was how much my day-to-day life improved by him being there. If I had a bad day at work or I was crabby or anything, coming home to him made absolutely anything better. He’s always there to make me laugh. On the good days, he’s the first one I want to run home and tell everything to and he gets just as excited about the things that happen in my world as I am. My days are brighter simply because he’s a part of them.

D: I couldn’t agree more with her – just how exciting every day is, and how much I love having her around. I work from home and I literally cannot wait for her to get back from every day. It’s a pretty regular occurrence that I text her at 5:01 asking if she’s left the office yet, and maybe I’ve taken after the puppy, but we sit together each night counting down the minutes until we hear the keys in the front door.

As many of you have been following me on my journey on my blog, you know how much this means to me. To have someone who shows me what pure happiness is and makes every single day magical is something I’ve wanted for so long and I feel so lucky and blessed to have finally found that.

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Love you, b! Here’s to the last six crazy months and to many, many more.

xo,
“Your” Al

“When I grew up she showed me how to go downtown…”

It has been exactly one week on my own in Chicago…
and I am not planning on coming off Cloud Nine any time soon.

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I honestly surprised myself with how quickly I adjusted. The move itself could not have gone any smoother and while, me being me, there were a few anxiety filled moments of clothes all over the closet floor or the shower curtain not fitting exactly right, but anyway, I made it and I’m here. And I’m happy.

Every Wednesday, somewhere around 9:00pm, if I look directly out my bedroom window and just to the right of the clock on the Wrigley Building, I can see the entire Navy Pier fireworks show. As a little girl, I have extremely vivid memories of watching that same show and simply falling in love with Chicago. When I chose my building I had no idea I would be able to see the fireworks, but for me, it is so incredibly symbolic to have that view.

As I grew up, I came to the city almost every weekend over the summer and every year on my birthday. I would stare at the brownstones, the two flats and the towering apartment buildings and dream of the day I would be able to live in the city…in my city. That day came for me on July 21, 2015.

I had done the all too familiar drive eastbound down I-90 more times than I could count, but that morning was different. The butterflies were different. The air was different. The skyline was different. It was my home now and I was infused with a sense of pride that is unparalleled.

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The one “downer” I will say is the struggle of leaving my childhood home behind. Where most people move out and go back to visit every now and then, I do not have that luxury. The week that I moved out, my home went on the market and that broke my heart. I will forever cherish the memories, happy and sad, made in that house. The way I see it, it is just a closed chapter. This is all a part of the new life we are all starting and it’s part of the story.

When I wake up in the morning and I look around me, the Trump Tower, the Wrigley Building, the Tribune Building, the Sears Tower (do not “Willis Tower” me.), Lake Michigan, I realize how many people have been here before me and will be here after me. I am a part of this city’s history, its present and its future. My actions today will be part of Chicago forever. Chills.

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I’m sure I’ll be blogging plenty more of my adventures in Chicago. The people I meet, the things I do, the places I go…they will all be a page in my book. This is only week one. I am ecstatic of what’s to come and to share it with the people I love. Speaking of, special shoutout to my parents, my family and my friends for the outpouring of love, support, messages, phone calls and visits. You’ve made these days unforgettable and truly make me look forward to every one from here on out. I love you all!

Al

Cubs vs. Nationals

For the first time in his major league career, Anthony Rizzo took the second batting spot and it proved to be a smart decision on Dale Sveum’s part based on his two homeruns of the night. Yet, this still wasn’t enough to get the Cubs to win against the Nationals, falling 11 to 6. After his second homer off Ross Ohlendorf, the Cubs began a five run rally in the fifth inning to tie the game, but it was pretty downhill from there.

Starlin Castro became the leadoff hitter after expressing his disappointment in batting eighth for the first time since his rookie season last night. He went 1-5 in tonight’s game.

Not that I usually care much for whoever we’re playing, but there was a bit of a fan section for brand new Nationals’ pitcher Tanner Roark. Roark grew up in Wilmington, Illinois so basically one whole section of the bleachers was filled with posters, shirts and chants with his name from family and friends.  He pitched through the fifth and sixth innings, giving up 5 runs. After being pulled up to the majors on August 7th of this year, he is now 3-0. This just made me happy.

The Cubs, as usual, have a lot to work on. Maybe the small changes within batting order will help to begin this process. To be honest, it wasn’t one of our better or most exciting games, but spending the night with Jules made it one to remember.

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