New Years Eve at Fuego. Drinking a strawberry colada.

2007 Rocked My Socks

2007 was both the best and worst year you could ever imagine. OK, so definitely not the worst year ever, but at the same time I feel kind of shitty that I didn’t suck it up and accomplish the two biggest things on my list. I’m still living with the parents and I’m still single 🙁 Other than that though I had one of the most amazingly awesome years you could ever imagine! Thank you so much to everyone who helped make my year so sweet! Highlights definitely include Nadia and Bryan’s wedding, the Illinois road trip, Warped Tour exhibit at the Rock Hall, the Krystal Square Off, meeting Kurt Halsey (and him recognizing me!), and meeting Pat Bertoletti (and him remembering me!). Oh! And the Kwik-e-Mart…and my birthday…and skiing…and cicadas…and well…I guess a whole lot more!

Despite the fact that this year I also completed my masters in writing, I think i probably can sum up the year best in the 10,328 photos I took…

(Don’t worry, I didn’t really post here all 10,328 photos. But sorry they go so fast, I had too many!)

For those brave ones, below the cut is a recap of my “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” 100 in 2007!!!

Valerie’s 100 in 2007:

At the beginning of the year I composed a list of 100 things to do this year with the goal of completing half of the list. I didn’t get through everything, but I did succeed at my goal and completed 55!!!




1. Move out, 2. Furnish, unpack all my boxes and decorate, 3. Find a man (or twelve)
– nope 🙁

4. Pick a hair color and stick with it
I did I did! I went blonde and stuck with it. I haven’t even dyed it since August!

5. Get a tattoo (or at least get mine touched up)
Nope. Don’t even know if I want any more.

6. Stand up at my best friend’s wedding

7. Stand up at my sister’s wedding

8. Audition for American Idol 🙂 (or at least apply for one reality show)
AI did not audition in Chicago. I did, however, apply to be the next Elvira!



9. Go to the top of the Sears Tower (hello, when is the last time anyone did that?)
We saw Chicago from the top!

10. See a roller derby bout
Saw the Windy City Rollers Summer Slam!

11. Have a picnic
Nad and I picnicked at Jazz with the Joffrey!

12. Go to 10 pin
Still haven’t made it there 🙁

13. See the Christmas trees at the museum of science and industry
Didn’t make it here either 🙁

14. Go to the 80s dance club
We tried to go for Nad’s bachelorette, but who knew they weren’t all 80s all the time?

15. Go to a carnival
So what if I didn’t ride any rides? I saw some cows and ate a lot of carnival food. Funnel cake, corn dogs, and lemon shakeups are really the only reason for going to a carnival anyways.

Carnival at the DuPage County Fair in Illinois.

Carnival at the DuPage County Fair in Illinois.

16. At least 2 Chicago summer festivals
Printers Row Book Fair

Gay Pride Parade

And the boring-ass Do-Division Festival.

17. Free dance lessons in Grant Park
I went a few times and learned some funfun dances!

SummerDance to learn Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata


18. Go to Bromann Park
I have a park!

19. Go to Millennium Park
Went several times for several reasons

Cloud Gate - The Bean in Millennium Park, Chicago.

Cloud Gate – The Bean in Millennium Park, Chicago.

20. Go to a haunted house
I actually got out of Statesville Haunted Prison alive!

21. See a concert
Well, I saw some crappy opening band who broke the stage so I could not see Plain White Ts and a short concert of Sister Hazel

22. See fireworks on 3rd/Fourth of July

23. Ride the Navy Pier ferris wheel
Hopefully next year!



24. See Blue Man Group (I haven’t seen them since HS)
Saw the blue men, got banana all over me, drank hot chocolate

25. See Second City (I’ve never seen them)
Saw them for New Year’s!!!!

26. See Naked Boys Singing
There was a lot of singing…and a lot of penis!

27. See the Kurt Halsey Art Show at DVA
I met Kurt! And he remembered me from the drawing he did!

28. See at least 3 plays
House Theatre’s The Nutcracker at Steppenwolf
House Theatre’s The Sparrow at the Apollo
Steppenwolf’s Good Boys and True at Steppenwolf

29. See at least 1 ballet
I saw ABT’s Romeo and Juliet and kind of saw the Joffrey at Ravinia.

30. See plenty of Opera
I saw half of Cosi fan tutte, Dialogues of the Carmelites, La boheme, Die Frau ohne Schatten, and Doctor Atomic. I could have definitely seen more…but I say this counts as plenty.

31. Go to at least 2 book readings

32. Go to at least 1 art show (other than Kurt’s)
I went to a show for Cynthia’s friend Gabe and a handful of CharlieD shows!

33. Go to MCA

34. Go to the Renegade Craft Fair
Went and scored some cutecute stuff



35. Go to a midnight opening of a movie
I went to see the Simpsons as soon as it came out!


36. Watch all the 80s cartoons I have on dvd
Didn’t finish but I watched a lot!

37. Watch 3 80s movies I have never seen before
The Gate
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Can’t Buy Me Love
And I’m sure a couple more.

38. Watch The Science of Sleep (looks interesting)
Yup! Watched it and thought it was…interesting…it was a very nice, but odd, film.

39. Watch every Hellraiser movie (I’ve already seen all the F13s, Halloweens, Elm Streets, and Childs Plays)
Hellrasier – Jesus Wept
Hellbound: Hellrasier II – He’s ba-ack
Hellrasier III: Hell on Earth – I remember watching this when I was 12.
Hellraiser: Bloodline – every horror series has an obligatory movie that explains the origins and an obligatory movie that takes place well in the future. This one was both.
Hellraiser: Inferno – detective crime movie. I think Pinhead was in it for 30 seconds.
Hellrasier: Hellseeker – I remember seeing this before, but can’t place where or when for the life of me.
Hellraiser: Deader – my favorite part was when the reporter from LONDON bribes a landlord from ROMANIA with an AMERICAN $20
Hellraiser: Hellworld – the one where Pinhead learns to use the internet.

40. Go to free movies in the Grant Park
I saw Sound of Music there!

41. Go to at least one midnight movie at music box
Not a one 🙁



42. Get my nails done
Got falsies for Nad’s wedding

And went al natural (and pink) for Jen’s

43. Take a bubble bath

44. Get flowers from a boy 😉
OK, so not exactly what I meant…but Josh got me flowers for my birthday!



45. Resurrect Valerie’s movie night at least a couple times, 46. Throw a housewarming party, 47. Throw a wine and cheese party, 48. Throw a pajama party, 49. Throw a game night, 50. Throw a Christmas party
you can’t really entertain if you have nowhere to entertain.



51. Read ten Pulitzer Prize winning books (my goal is to eventually read them all)
I didn’t get to ten because I have taken to only reading computer manuals and travel guides, but I did read Middlesex, The Fixer, Gone with the Wind, and A Thousand Acres

52. Read A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Finished it in April!

53. Read A Million Little Pieces to see what all the fuss is about
I finished it in February!



54. Write a good draft of my memoir, 55. Edit that draft, 56. Write an article and send it out, 57. Finish a good essay and send it out, 58. Finish a good short story and send it out
Didn’t do nearly as much writing this year as I should have


Web Design:

59. Learn Google Analytics
Me think me learnt it enough to count.

60. Learn Actionscript

61. Finish my website (so many little things I never finished)

62. Figure out what is wrong with the leave comments section on my website
Fixed it in February!

63. Scan five old event’s photos onto my website
Cow costume
21st Birthday Party
Quad Day 2002
Nadia and Bryan’s engagement
Homecoming ’98

64. Relearn basic php and mysql


Life and professional:

65. Finish my masters
Got my masters! Now just waiting for my diploma!

66. Develop a good “5 year plan”
Yeah, I kind of came up with a plan. And that plan kind of involves me wanting to do everything.

67. Apply to do freelance editing

68. Organize my recipe collection
I did scan a bunch of recipes…but my scanner was not Vista compatible, so I wasn’t able to do many 🙁

69. Organize my photos

70. Develop a financial plan (MK help!)
I trusted Matt to invest some of my money and put the rest in a high-interest savings account. A start, but definitely not a plan.

71. Design a freelance website

72. Learn to use my iPod and get all my music on it
I’ve had this thing for over a year, only have a handful of songs on it, and have used it all of once in the car.



73. Go golfing (at least to a driving range)
Went to a driving range with MK and Scotty.

74. Learn to snowboard
No 🙁 But I did learn how to ski…kind of…

75. Skate along the lake when it is nice out, 76. Go ice skating, 77. Go to a roller skating rink
No, No, No

78. Go to a baseball game
Go Sox! Even though you lost 🙁



79. Go to Las Vegas (I’ve gone every year for the last three years)
Of course I went to Vegas!

80. Go to Bengston’s Pumpkin Farm (or a similar locale)
Pumpkin Farms Rock! I got my perfect pumpkin there!

81. Visit a state I have never been to
I went to Ohio for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and The Christmas Story House.

Kentucky for a mystery house and wigwams

Tennessee for the Krystal Square Off

82. See Takeru Kobayashi
Nope 🙁

I did, however, see Pat Bertoletti win the Jalapeno contest

and saw Joey Chestnut win the Krystal Square Off

Joey Chestnut wins Krystal Square off hamburger eating contest.

Joey Chestnut wins Krystal Square off hamburger eating contest.

83. Knock off at least a few of the following Illinois Roadside Attractions:

     a. World’s largest Catsup Bottle
Stopping at the World's largest catsup bottle on an Illinois road trip.

     b. World’s Tallest and Ugliest Lincoln Statue

     c. World’s Largest Pot of Coffee

     d. Giant Lincoln on a Covered Wagon

     e. Effingham Giant Cross

     f. The Gays 2-Story Outhouse

     g. The Leaning Tower of Niles
Road Trip Around Chicago - Leaning Tower of Niles - a roadside attraction replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Niles, Illinois.

     h. Ahlgrim’s Funeral Parlor and Mini-Golf
Didn’t make it there yet 🙁

     i. The Hubcap House
This was taken down 🙁

     j. The Golden Pyramid House
Chicago Road Trip - Golden Pyramid House roadside attraction in Illinois.

     k. Statue of world’s tallest man


Food and Libations:

84. Go for a fancy tea

85. Bake once a month

86. Learn to make good soufflé
I attempted a soufflé once…but it sucked 🙁

87. Eat duck fat fries at Hot Doug’s

88. Go to Adobo for guac and margs
Best damn quac ever! We went for Nadia’s bachelorette!

89. Try three different wine bars
I went to one for an MK work thang. That was it 🙁

90. Make a ginger bread house
I never said it had to be a good gingerbread house.

91. Chicago Wine Festival

92. Go to half of the coffee shops that Time Out recommended in their coffee issue: Metropolis, Charmers Café, Lakeside Café, Café Ennui, Istria Café, Medici Bakery on 57th, Third World Café, Julius Meinl, Pick Me Up Café, Uncommon Ground, Intelligentsia, Ventrella’s Caffe, The Grind, Beans & Bagels, The Perfect Cup, Swim Café, Atomix, Mercury Café, Muse, Café Mestizo, Jumping Bean, Kristoffer’s Café and Bakery, Marshall McGearty Tobacco Artisans, Filter, Half & Half, Caffe de Luca
Not a one of them.

93. Sigara (Hookah Bar)
Nad and I shared a “Serenity Now” (Jasmine and mint) hookah in February!

94. Moonshine for mohitos

95. Orange for brunch
Went to Orange after Nadia’s bachelorette party!

Bachelorette brunch in Chicago - Cinnamon roll pancakes at Orange in Chicago

Cinnamon roll pancakes at Orange in Chicago

96. Skylark (because they apparently have good tater tots)
Went with Nad, Bryan, and Joel in June. Yummy yummy tots.

97. Enter a recipe contest
I entered my pineapple chicken pockets in the Pillsbury Bakeoff, but alas I did not make it 🙁

98. Go to the Taste of Chicago
Ummmm…eight times 🙂

99. Get sushi
Had a terrible experience with Josh and a great experience with Em and Heather.

100. Freddy’s Pizza in Cicero (Chicago Mag voted it Best Gelato in the city)
Nad and I stopped on our way to Cleveland. Mmmmm, yummy gelato and fried artichoke.

Pistachio gelato at Freddy's Pizza n Cicero.

Pistachio gelato at Freddy’s Pizza n Cicero.


Thanks again to everyone who helped me cross things off! You are all amazing!

Stay tuned for my 2008 list, coming soon…

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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