‘FUN’ ON TARGET FOR THE WEEKEND

Forty-eight hours.

Oh, why must the weekends fly by so fast? Who decided we needed to work five days a week and only have two to play? If you know, send me their phone number/e-mail address/twitter feed/facebook ID. We need to talk. Pronto.

I always go into the time off thinking about all that I have to get accomplished: Laundry. Groceries. Bills. Cleaning. I always come back to work on Monday thinking about all I failed to get done: Laundry. Groceries. Bills. Cleaning. I could sit here at my desk, feeling unaccomplished and irresponsible, but that wouldn’t change anything right? I still only have one pair of clean underwear left; I’ll get some almond milk today, I promise; ComEd’s at least been paid, so I have electricity; and well Huxley and Tallulah can only complain about the state of my apartment if they both grow opposable thumbs and pitch in some.

Instead, I will marvel at all the things I did do as I celebrated my freedom.

A weekend in the city. Well, kind of.

Friday night found me at the Long Room on Irving Park, one of my favorite bars in the city. I’m not sure what it is about this tiny establishment, but it is one of the most laid-back watering holes in the city.

This trip, although a joyous evening, was tinged with sadness, as many of us were there to say a fond farewell to Shawn Barkdull.

Leaving Chicago for the more-natural, yet more-rainy, town of Portland, she brought a group of us together for a final beer. (Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale for me please, too many to count for Shawn.) Set to the sounds of a lot of Broken Social Scene (obviously on heavy iPod rotation) we all shared a lot of laughs … and I saved my tears for later.

If you know me, you know I hate to make plans. Why get yourself all excited over something that may never come to fruition, is what I finally learned.

Or so I thought.

For months now, I have wanted to go to Hot Doug’s. You can’t throw a stone in Chicago without hitting someone who swears by Doug’s … but come on now, I’m not a big proponent of encased meats. But I have friends who worship the tiny establishment, and some who have waited in line for hours just for The Kiera Knightley (a “hot” hot dog) or duck-fat fries. So after months of waiting, Saturday I met some friends early to go.

All the way over in the car, dreaming of the Pete Shelley (vegetarian dog, of course) and Huey-, Dewey- and Louie-free fries, I could actually feel my mouth watering at the thought of such bad-for-me food.

An hour later, Hunter, Kirk and I were sitting in Wishbone on Lincoln Avenue waiting for our breakfast.

Yep, no standing in line for us at Doug’s. It was closed. Flooding. Phooey. (And no, not the duck trio’s long-lost brother. The adjective riddled with disgust.)

It might have been a better dietary option … well, save for the piece of strawberry-rhubarb pie we shared … but none of us left all that satisfied.

Just full. (Both with food and giggles from a gaggle of girls we saw crossing the street.)

I’m a pickling queen.

No seriously, I am. Just ask the 6+ pounds of cucumbers that now sit sliced or speared in jars around Hunter and Kirk’s kitchen.

But don’t worry, the chunks of vegetables aren’t lonely. I threw in some garlic, jalapeno peppers, fresh dill and a spicy, sour brine to keep them all company.

I spent hours on Saturday sterilizing, chopping, stirring, mixing, creating. And now I am left with eight large jars of pickles. (Well, seven now that Hunter and I had our way with one of them in a 24-hour period.)

After opening the first jar Monday night to try, I can say with some authority, they are quite amazing pickles.

And I did it all myself. (Well, and with a little help from my friends.)

After more than three decades on this thing we call Earth, I have become a completely different person.

Well, when it comes to beer anyway.

As Shawn likes to tell me, “I don’t even know who you are anymore.”

Guess what Shawn? Neither do I. All I know is there are some brews I actually like … and the list grows weekly. (I would say daily, but I don’t want you to take me literal here and think I have become an alcoholic.)

This weekend was devoted to trying Chimay,* one that I have heard raved about for months. At $13 for a (big) bottle, my friends and I had been saving this one for a special occasion. Since we were celebrating my “birthday” Saturday, it seemed a fitting decision. As I canned pickles in the kitchen, Hunter left for the liquor store, only to call minutes later to say he had been in a wreck. But always the trooper, he was mainly calling to get Kirk’s truck so he could continue on the beer run.

I would like to say it was worth it, but seeing a friend out of sorts is never the price to pay for anything. But the night was not a loss, and after a dinner of shrimp and grits, we broke open all three bottles and spent the night relaxing at the apartment.

The wreck, albeit small, was enough to put a damper on my evening, and made an expensive beer even more so.

But I’ll never forget my first taste of Chimay.

* FROM WIKIPEDIA: Chimay Bleue (Blue), 9% abv darker ale. In the 75 cl bottle, it is known as Grande RĂ©serve. This copper-brown beer has a creamy head and a slightly bitter taste. Considered to be the “classic” Chimay ale, it exhibits a considerable depth of fruity, peppery character. The taste continues to evolve and develop with a few years of age, and is extremely popular with the Belgian population.

Target is open. Let me repeat. Target is open.

It’s sad that I find the opening of a big-box store to be so exciting, but I must admit that I have been waiting with fevered anticipation for the “discount” supercenter to open in my Uptwon neighborhood for nearly two years now.

I lived across the street when they tore down the building that encompassed the land at Wilson Yard, and I used to awake every morning at 6 a.m. to the sound of backhoes and falling debris. Thankfully, I moved far enough away so I missed out on the noise of the new buildings going back up. (And not so far away that I can’t claim ownership of the store and feel proud that it is in my neighborhood.)

Saturday morning found Hunter, Kirk and I there for the first time, wandering around in surreal contemplation. It was massive, overwhelming to say the least. Grabbing what we needed, it was actually a quick foray into the new store. But Sunday … well Target and I were introduced properly.

After a leisurely “breakfast” with Josh at Golden House Restaurant at 3 in the afternoon, I talked him into going to Target with me, since it was on his way home. We joked while walking toward the store that it would become like a Walmart in Ohio, the place to see and be seen. The first person I saw when I walked in was one of my neighbors; Josh called out to Hunter and Kirk an hour later while we perused the second floor. (See, they couldn’t get enough either.)

I have instructed my Mom to set aside an allowance for me each week for the new Target. In the six days it has been open, I’ve now been there three times.

What can I say? You just can’t beat convenience.

Or $18 bitching shoes. Bought right in my ‘hood.

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