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Neurotic As Hell

Choosing Figs Blog

September. In Instagrams.   Goodbye, old friend. I got my first passport in 2006 when I was 25 years old. Now nearly ten years later my passport has seen me through 36 countries. Time to send it off for renewal! #passport #travel A photo posted by Val Bromann (@choosingfigs) on Sep 2, 2015 at 7:40am PDT I was really sad to let me passport go. But I had less than six months validity left and a trip to Thailand in my future. Sigh. I got my first passport in 2006, at age 25 and in that time it saw...

Every so often a dream team comes together. The Million Dollar Quartet. The 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team. The cast of The Breakfast Club. For all we know the 1945 Chicago Cubs could have been a dream team too. And maybe they could have gone on to be a dream team in 1946 and '47 and '48 or any other of the years in between then and now. And maybe they could have won the World Series that year and the next and the next....

Beer cap wall at Barcade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. #arcade #bar #brooklyn #newyork #Williamsburg A photo posted by Val Bromann (@choosingfigs) on Jul 3, 2015 at 9:02pm PDT It's almost hard to believe that it was only four weeks ago that I visited New York. It feels like ages ago. Of course, it often feels like I've never left Chicago before at all, so there's that. I'll hopefully have several more chances to travel this year. I should have a car for a week next month and may take an extended-weekend road trip somewhere in Illinois...

It's back! It's been over a year since my last installment of Val Reads The Baby-Sitters Club. And I have one bad reason and two good as to why it's taken me so long to continue. 1. I've been lazy. (That's the bad reason.) 2. I left to travel shortly after finishing book 25 and my quest to pack light didn't include stuffing my backpack with a BSC library. (That's a good reason.) 3. I knew what was coming next...

On July 4, 2007, at the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, Joey Chestnut ate 66 hot dogs to Takeru Kobayashi's 63. It was a historic feat: no one had ever out-eaten 6-time champion Kobayashi in hot dogs and some speculated that no one ever would. That day, Joey Chestnut did the impossible. He out-ate the man who couldn't be out-eaten. He brought the victory back to America. I watched this all go down that morning on the TV set in my parents' living room, wishing I was there, in person, to witness that historic event. Most people may think of fireworks...

It was in bar in Sevilla, Spain, many years ago now, when a fellow backpacker asked me what I liked most about traveling. I paused for a moment before saying, "When you're home and wake up the first thing you think is, 'what do I have to do today?' But when traveling you think, 'what do I want to do today?'" I've been home "for good" from traveling for over 8 months now and my life has become a list of have tos. I have to clean before guests come over. I have to do dishes before the entire place starts...

Step 1: Don't Sign Up for an Eating Contest The first step to not preparing to compete in an eating contest is to not sign up to compete in an eating contest. I suppose you can apply this logic to most anything you might (not) want to train for: marathons, SATs, dog-obedience. Whatever. Just don't sign up and you don't have to prepare. Easy. For instance, I didn't sign up to compete in the Ribmania ribs eating contest at Ribfest Chicago this past Friday. To be fair, I might have tried to sign up for it if I hadn't have been been in...

It's festival season in Chicago. At least, it is in theory. In reality the weekends have been cold or rainy or both, and every Chicagoan is waiting for consistent sun and consistent warmth. Not warm one day, cold the next. Not sunny all morning with a downpour at noon. Just warm, just sun. Summer. But in a city known to have all four seasons in one day, we might be waiting for a while. Chicago is miserable in the winter, having the kind of weather that merits not-so-cute nicknames such as "snowpocalypse" and "snowmageddon" and "Chiberia." But we brave those...