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We’re off to see the Wizard…The wonderful Wizard of…

This morning I awoke to a somewhat cold and dreary Chicago day that made me want to pull up the covers and settle in for a long winters nap. Instead, I decided to adopt a more mid-western “can-do” attitude and set out to explore my new city on foot, with Bella at the helm. As it turns out, cold and dreary days are actually good for a refreshing stroll, and Bella and I skipped around town on quite the power walk! We were keeping such an impressive pace that I nearly strode right past the following sight before turning on a dime to discover I had found myself in the Jolly Ol’ Land of Oz!!
Oz Park, Chicago…that is.
 
I assure you I was no less thrilled than if I had actually been over the rainbow! After spending a moment with my dear friend the Tin Man, Bella and I decided to follow the Yellow Brick Sidewalk into the park to see what other magical treasures awaited us. 
Quick backstory here, I love, love LOVE the Wizard of Oz. My Grandmother decorates her house every year exclusively in WOZ themed Christmas decorations, my first dog was named Toto (RIP), and I dress up as Dorothy for Halloween every year and force the various men in my life to dress as other characters, which they have generally been good sports about. 

Suffice it to say, stumbling upon this hidden treasure has made Chicago a lot more likely candidate for my new No Place like Home. 

On our way through the park we passed by the Emerald City…

…Scarecrow…

…and Dorothy herself, donning those ruby reds with Toto by her side! That ol’ so-and-so the Lion eluded me on this trip, Coward that he is, but I will find him next time!
After returning back to the bachelor pad I immediately googled Oz Park and came to find out it has a history as charming as the park itself! It was named Oz Park in 1976 honoring the author of the beloved children’s books, Lyman Frank Baum, who lived in the neighborhood during its earliest years. Soon after that, artist John Kearney was petitioned by an elderly woman (whose name was supposedly Dorothy but that would just be too cute for words) to create statues of the WOZ characters for the park, which were eventually commissioned and installed in the 1990s. Today the park serves as a green space for the Lincoln Park neighborhood, and hosts Movies in the Park during the summer, and a pumpkin patch in the fall!
So far I have found that the rich sidewalk culture, and the wonderful surprises like Oz Park that await the ambulatory explorer, are some of the most unique and special treats of living in a city, especially a city with as much character and history as Chicago. I hope that living here I never again let a gray day dissuade me from strapping on my sneaks, grabbing a puppy, and hitting the streets to see how beautiful this city is, even under the dreariest of conditions.

Following Our Bliss to…CHICAGO!!

Last Tuesday (May 12) after much anticipation, Pete the Boy Genius found out that he got in to University of Chicago!! Hugely exciting news, which constituted a hugely exciting last minute upheaval of plans. Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to make a plan, I am just now learning the true meaning of my mothers phrase “The best way to make God laugh is to make plans.”
Pete and I had always planned on living in Chicago for the summer and had even secured a super swanky, full furnished, bachelor pad for our stay. However, packing for three months is a lot different than packing for three years. Somehow, though, in the span of a week we did it! Monday morning, after a fabulous farewell fiesta with our loved ones in Houston we awoke on the wrong side of 4:00 am, drugged our dogs, and headed out into the sunRISE towards Chicago!!

We arrived here Tuesday to THE most glorious weather Chicago has to offer (I think Pete is tricking me moving me here in the Summer, because I keep hearing some startling stories about winter). We are all settled in and the puppies seem to be adjusting well to their new digs.


Our neighborhood is amazing, and just to bring my largely Southern readership up to speed on Chicago neighborhoods we are going to have a little Geography lesson:

Chicago is a long, narrow city running North/South along Lake Michigan, and extending out towards the West. The central most downtown area is called “The Loop”, which is mostly a commercial/business area. The residential neighborhoods extend mostly North and South from there, bordered on the outside by the suburbs. For you sports fans the South Side is the White Sox’s domain, and houses such neighborhoods as Hyde Park (Obamaville) and the esteemed University of Chicago. The North Side is Cubs territory and is home to the posh Gold Coast, funky Old Town, and young Lincoln Park, Wicker Park, and Wrigleyville neighborhoods. We are living in Old Town, and for all of our more visual learners, the maps below should be helpful.

Map of Downtown Chicago

Map of the North Side of Chicago.
We spent our first full day here (yesterday) exploring our neighborhood for the summer, Old Town, and trying to get a better feel for the adjacent neighborhoods of the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park where we will be looking for more permanent residence! Old Town is perfect for us this summer, it is really residential with very quiet streets and a lot of families. A block away from us is a sort of Old Town Main Street with cafes, flower shops, dry cleaners, and a grocery store! Pete and I have been very green so far, walking with our reuseable bags to the market each day. There is a farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays a few blocks away in the park, and an art fair outside our door in June.
This little beach bungalow my favorite house in Old Town, it is nestled between two large brownstones and reminds me of the episode in Seinfeld where Kramer installs the screen door outside his apartment to create AnyTown U.S.A. My summer mission will be to make its owners my best friends, and as I have seen them out on their “front porch” each night in their rocking chairs enjoying a highball, I think we will be fast friends.

Today Pete and I are heading out to (hopefully) find a bungalow of our own (we are so grown up!) so I will report back on that soon! Until then, I suggest you all start looking up airfare to Chicago and planning a trip to visit us in this fab city!!

Retroactive Blog Post #1: Our Engagement Story!!!




The last weekend in January Pete and I flew up to D.C. to visit Drew and Caitlyn (Pete’s brother and his girlfriend) who just moved there, and a bunch of our other friends who live in and around the DC Metro area. We had a big group dinner on Friday when we got in, and had planned to go on a date to La Perla* Saturday night. (Clue 1) 

*La Perla is a great, odd, little Italian restaurant in DC where Pete and I had our first date, among countless evenings there when we lived there. We had become friends with the chef/owner, an odd little Italian man who you will hear more about in a bit, and a lot of the waiters there. It was kind of our home away from home in DC.

Saturday we got all dressed up, Pete wore a suit (Clue 2) and went to an early dinner, and we had planned on meeting up with Pete’s brother afterwards. All throughout dinner we reminisced about our time in DC (Clue 3) and Petey was being super sweet and attentive. At the end of dinner I excused myself to the restroom, and when I returned the most diabolical looking creation (see picture 1) was sitting on the table. The chef was standing there looking extremely proud of himself (clue 4), and Pete looked sort of like he might die* (clue 5). 

*Pete had gone to the restaurant earlier to plan the big moment, and had requested that Chef bring out a little “flair” after dinner to signal the moment. Chef had asked him if he had the ring, which Pete gave him, saying he had a great idea. When I went to the restroom Chef had brought out the aforementioned monstrosity and Pete had a minor panic attack. He had spent weeks scheming, designing the perfect ring, imagining this moment, and I guess he just hadn’t envisioned proposing in the shadow of the dinosaur egg. But it was perfect.

The chef instructed me to open it, which wasn’t that strange because the chef, as I mentioned, is a very odd man and has done stranger things before in our dining history with him. I unwrapped the hideous package to find an equally stunning giant chocolate egg with the top cut off. (See picture 2).

“Wow Chef, that is…beautiful…thanks!” “Look, you must look in it!” (Clue 557 at this point) So I began to dig through hundreds of lovely bar napkins chef had stuffed the egg full of, until I felt the ring box at the bottom. 

Everyone has asked me when I knew what was happening, and I can honestly say I didn’t realize it until that moment. Not because I had no idea it was coming, if you know me you know I have been talking about mine and Pete’s hypothetical nuptials prettttyyy much since we met. Not because I hadn’t thought that DC would be a perfect place to get engaged since that is where we met. And not because I am oblivious to said clues, I am a huge snoop and normally any of those clues would have sent me into a complete tizzy. In fact, because I am such a huge snoop I had searched Pete’s bags every single time his back was turned allll weekend. Every time Pete would go to shower I would pretend to be napping and would completely ransack his luggage in search of the ring. 

Apparently my husband-to-be knows me better than I had thought, because he knew I would do this and kept the ring on him the entire weekend. While I thought I was being all stealth, he could see my outline through the etched glass door of the bathroom frantically throwing his clothes across the room on my manic search. And he still wanted to marry me.

So despite all my snooping, all my speculating, all my planning, when I felt the ring at the bottom of that gross-now-beloved egg, I was really and truly surprised. I pulled out the box and Pete took it from me and got on one knee. “Bailey, will you marry me?”

*hysterical sobs*YES!!!!!!!!!*hysterical sobs* 

(See third picture)

Pete then handed me a letter saying all the things he had wanted to tell me in that moment, but knew he would be too nervous to get out. Throughout our relationship we have written each other love letters, which I have saved in a book. I have the letter where he first told me loved me, and many others all leading up to this one promising a lifetime of happiness together. 

After a flurry of phone calls to the fam, I started trying to get in touch with my friends in DC to celebrate! Maymay, straight to voicemail. KP, straight to voicemail. Pinkie, straight to voicemail. JHat, straight to voicemail. If I weren’t literally out of my mind with joy I might have known something was up, but everything was just so overwhelming I decided to just chill (very uncharacteristic, I know) and listen to Pete who suggested we go meet up with Drew at the Hay Adams Hotel Bar and meet up with my friends later. 

When we walked into the crowded bar, chocolate egg in hand, everyone in the bar yelled “Congratulations!”. Not only had Pete planned with the Hotel to reserve a table for us replete with champagne and a cheese plate (I’m telling you, the guy knows me) but he had been conspiring with my friends for weeks. Not only were Drew, Caitlyn, MayMay, Pinkie, KP, and JHat all there waiting, but STINA (beloved college roommate who I see far, far too irregularly) had come in for the occasion as well! 

As much as I had dreamed of Pete proposing, I never could have imagined how much joy it would bring. Not only to Pete and I, who have honestly reached a new level of happiness in our relationship since becoming engaged, but from our amazing friends and family, all of you, who have made our engagement so much more special with all of your best wishes! I am sorry we have not been able to tell our story to all of you in person, but I know we both can’t wait to celebrate with each and every one of you over the next year as we plan our wedding! Thank you all so much for supporting us over the years, we would not be where we are today without all of you and it means a lot to us that we get to share our happiness with such wonderful people!

We love you all!

Bailey & Pete (The future Mr. & Mrs. McCarthy!!!)

Heyyy there, Stranger!

Well Hello my Long Lost Loves! After quite an adventure-filled hiatus (I might have to do a few retroactive blog posts) I am back, Internet! Although I am no longer abroad, I am definitely adrift in my own life these days, and I am thinking this ol’ blog might be the perfect forum for me to hash out the uncertain mire of early twenties angst I have found myself in (certainly cheaper than renting time on a shrink’s sofa). 

So check back in from time to time to hear tales from a different kind of road, the road of LIFE, as I navigate the rough drive through joblessness, homeslessness, waywardness, NEVER hopelessness, and, of course, 17 month long engagements!