Sunday, July 14, 2013

Field trippin' like a middle schooler

I don't even need to talk about this weekend because this week was more than enough to keep the conversation going.  I recently moved to an entirely new city to do an entirely new job in an entirely new field, so "new" is nothing, well, new.  But this week was new even to me.

I guess I'll start where most weeks do...

Monday.  You may remember me saying a few weeks back that I was a paralegal turned historian.  Well, I took that title to another level.  I can now display my badge of history researcher proudly.  Literally.

Although I had found sort of what we were looking for in our big old box of "keep forever" case documents circa 1950, it wasn't exactly what we wanted.  My boss told me to make a few calls.  I did, and they led me to a friendly email chat with an archivist at the National Archives in Chicago.  She told me that they did indeed have documents from our case but because there were 7,000+ pages of such, they didn't have the manpower to look through them.  She suggested that we "send someone down to look ourselves."

To me, read: "Nice try, Nicole.  Go back to paralegal-ing now."  To my boss, read: "Get in a taxi, Nicole, you've got some reading to do."

So between last Wednesday and this Monday, I became my firm's leading expert on the 1950's cream cheese debate.  You might think that that sounds horribly boring and yeah, while I probably wouldn't have been reading antique dairy patents in my spare time, I would actually consider going back on a Saturday.

I got to talking to some of the people there and apparently one weekend a month, the Archives is open to the public with free access to sites like and the occasional genealogy workshops.  You might still think that sounds horribly boring, but I wouldn't mind spending a cold Chicago afternoon researching what led to the construction of Nicole.

Tuesday.  I spent some time with a couple of attorneys in a limo party bus on our way to a kingdom of macaroni and cheese.  Sounds like the intro to a really weird dream, right?  Well, welcome to my reality.

Our monthly meeting with one of our clients hit the road this month, so I made my first Illinois trip outside the city with a team of attorneys and a few paralegals.

The team left it up to an extremely responsible, middle-aged paralegal (and mother of three) to coordinate our transportation.  Coordinate she certainly did, but as one of the attorneys put it after our ride pulled up, "I don't think she asked the right questions" when securing our lift.  Questions like, "Will the bus have a stripper pole?"

I think if she had realized what sort of "high-end" transportation she was securing for her colleagues (one of whom is a pregnant woman), she might not have gone with the party bus decked out with a stocked bar and strobe lights.  But who knows, maybe she thought the faint "Get Low" in the background would pump us up for our meeting.

The whole thing felt surreal, including the meeting itself.  I'm not sure what exactly I'm allowed say about our clients, but I will just tell you that this one is apparently trying to give Google a run for its money with the whole "unconventional office space" idea.  I'm talking  legitimate treadmill desks.  I didn't even know those actually existed.

Wednesday.  My firm gave me the opportunity to experience one of the hottest, greasiest, fattening, most wonderful experiences imaginable.  The rumors that had been floating around the lunch room since Monday were confirmed: we were all given 24 tickets to the Taste of Chicago, which we could use on either Wednesday or Thursday during our complimentary two hour lunch break.  Who says lawyers don't have hearts?

The point of the tickets is that you trade either a small amount (3-4) for "tastes" of different dishes at one of the 50 or so restaurant stands, or you trade in a larger amount (8-10) for legitimate meals.  I was expecting the festival to be overwhelming, and it exceeded all of my expectations.  The prospect of getting 24 tickets worth of food almost blew my mind, and even more dangerously, almost blew my stomach.

There was a devastating amount pierogies, fried ravioli, watermelon and feta salad, polish sausages, margaritas, and crab rangoons to be had, and have we did.

At one point, when our two hours was almost up and I realized I had only spent about of half my tickets, I panicked and made an impulsive 12 inch Polish sausage purchase (don't you hate when that happens?).  I only made my way through about half of it before I realized I was one bite away from the point of no return.

So it ended there.  But that wasn't before I added number 652 to my list of "Why Chicago Rules".

Thursday.  I added number 653 to my list: random weeknight races in my backyard.  A few people I know through running signed up for the Bastille Day 5k or 8k race and because the course was steps away from my apartment, on the lakefront path that I run every other day, I decided to jump on board.  I mean, I'm always looking for a good way to celebrate a basically irrelevant holiday.

I think this picture may be Copyrighted.

The 5k was actually very nearly number 3 on a different list, "Why Chicago Sucks," right under smelly bums on my corner and bottled water taxes (yes, that's a real thing).  Part of the reason that I paid $40 for the race, in addition to the free drinks at the block party afterward, was because it was chip-timed.  I still wanted to know my actual fitness level after I had found out (a little too late) that the coordinators of the last 5k I tried apparently had a very loose sense of the word "race" (and of the actual distance of a 5k for that matter, which I didn't even realize could be subjective).

So imagine how amused I was after the Bastille Day 5k to look at the results online and find my name in dead last at a blistering 30 minute per mile pace.  I had distinct and unpleasant memories of going a bit faster than that, so not very amused at all.

But after leaving a somewhat aggressive comment on the comment section and writing a peeved Facebook status, the next day the site posted some more legitimate results:

I guess those irritating Facebook rant-ers actually know how to get stuff done; who knows what I could accomplish if I just put a little more effort into my online complaining?

So who needs the weekend?  This post is already bordering "Dr. Seuss book length", so I'm not going to get much into this weekend.  To save space, I'll just summarize quickly without using real sentences.

Kettle bell workout.  First long run with new GPS watch (thanks, Nana and Pop!).  Friend's friend's birthday party at new beach.  SPF 8.  First time in Lake Michigan.  Biscotti bigger than head.  Practice LSAT.  Frustration.  Procrastinating LSAT with Snapchat.  Grocery shopping.  Laundry.  First ever Navy Pier experience.  Friend's dad's jazz band performing at beer garden on Navy Pier. Cheap sangria.  Too many buses.  Blog.

Seem like a blur?  It sort of did to me too.  This might just be how I do all of my posts from now on; it's probably the best way of describing how most weeks feel to me.

But I'm sort of hoping the next week does go by in a choppy fragment blur because I can hardly wait for the week after that, which will include most of my favorite things such as my birthday, home, my family, the first days of our Outer Banks vacation, and the man I've been missing most of all:

Wishing you all a super speedy week!


  1. Your job sounds entertaining! Brave move uprooting from the DC area and moving to Chicago. I think I read somewhere last week you have a degree in biochemistry? And holy smokes, you're fast!

    1. My job has its moments! And I did graduate with a degree in biochemistry but I'm trying to get into patent law (hence the random job change). So far, it's definitely keeping me busy! :)