Sunday, September 30, 2007

One Fun Thing (OFT) No.1 - Baha'i Temple

Since the first couple of weeks we spent in Chicago were pretty devoid of "fun for the sake of fun" I decided that, weather permitting, we would commit to (at least) one big fun thing each weekend. Big is a relative word of course, but think visits to museums, outings with new friends, etc. And of course, I'll try to chronicle them here.

So, last weekend, OFT No. 1 coincided with a trip up to Brian's brother Donald's apartment (in Evanston, he just started a Masters in music at Northwestern) to drop off some stuff for his storage closet. It was also Donald's birthday during the week, so we wanted to take him out for lunch. All of that sounds like fun, doesn't it? Well, the official OFT was none of that, but was a trip to the Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, north of Evanston. It's a really beautiful house of worship that took 30 years to build. Why did it take so long? Well, it isn't clear, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the Baha'i don't accept donations from anyone outside the faith... (not my words - I think that was what a tourguide told Brian's parents when they visited).

Anyway, I didn't know that much about the religion, but have come to learn that it is a monotheistic (only one deity) faith that believes in unity and peace. Not so bad in this day and age.

The building itself is a breathtaking nine-sided dome, with a lace-like exterior reminiscent of the buildings I saw in Morocco. Beautiful outside, and very quiet and meditative inside, it is one of only 7 temples in the world - one on each continent.

Since that was last weekend, OFT No.2 Actually happened today, but I think I've done enough bjourning for one night. But just to keep you hanging - it involved large orange fruit, some of Brian's labmates, and a little red Radio Flyer. How's that for suspense?

Hello October

I can't believe tomorrow will be the first day of October. Where does the time go? It hardly feels like that long ago that we got engaged (February), graduated (May), and left California (June), and it doesn't even feel like it was that long ago that I lived in San Francisco for a year (2003), bought my car (2002), and went backpacking around Europe (2001). As of my coworkers said the other day, once you pass 25 - at that point I cringed - it just goes faster and faster.

Well, just to update you all, things are going well. The apartment is about as up to snuff as it will be for a while - at least until I get my first paycheck on October 31st (my paperwork wasn't submitted in time for the September payroll deadline...eeps). In the past week we finally started putting stuff up on the walls, which makes things feel much more complete. So, pictures to follow soon.

Work (it's been 2 weeks, if you're counting) is going well. The people in my unit (Clinical Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology Research Unit, or CNPRU) are nice and have been very welcoming. It's a little different than the experiences I've had in previous labs, but I think it'll prove to be an interesting change. More on that later... Actual work has been fairly slow, since there was just so much paperwork/administrative stuff to wade through. One good thing about being a student? You don't have to worry about health and insurance benefits because you don't have any options! I know, that seems a little weird, but sometimes too much choice can be a difficult thing.

Life in Chicago is also going well - we have started to get out a bit to do things (see my next post). The weather is holding up really nicely, which is conducive to exploring a bit more. Hopefully it stays nice for a while, at least while work is still slow so we can take advantage and have some fun. When the weather does get cold, however, I will be prepared. I'm stocking up on restaurant delivery menus. My coziest sweats are at the ready. At present, I even have a small collection of FOUR "sleeping bag coats" that will help ward off the chills. Don't worry, I'm only keeping one of them, but you know how I like to comparison shop... I should post a picture of the one I eventually pick though, because they really fit the name! Next on the list of things to look for is winter boots. Boy, it's been a while since I had a pair of those.

So that's it in a nutshell. We are happy, warm, and getting into the swing of things. Considering the flurry of events that has brought us here, I'd say we've adjusted pretty well :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New beginnings

Goodness, we start our new postdocs tomorrow. It's hard to believe that the day has finally come, not just in the sense that our 3-month break (not quite a vacation, as Brian would say) is over, but also in the larger sense that we are actually working folk, not students.

So what have we been doing for the past few weeks? Well, after we signed the lease on our apartment, we spent two wonderful weeks in Vancouver (Richmond, actually) at my brother Jonathan's house. It was fun visiting friends and hanging out with Jono (Natalie was out of town). Toward the end of our stay, my Dad came from Calgary as did my aunt and uncle from Toronto so it was a bit of a family reunion.

My birthday also coincided with our visit up North, so we spent one night in Victoria - the capital of BC, and then two nights in Nanaimo, a little further north on the island. Our bed and breakfasts were great, and the little towns were fun to visit.

On the ferry to Victoria:

Crab trapping in Nanaimo - apparently crabs like raw chicken...mmm...

So, after Vancouver we returned to Chicago to take over our apartment. Our stuff in storage wouldn't be delivered for a couple of days so it was back to the air mattress for us. But then, Hurricane Belongings hit and we were inundated with STUFF:

The last couple of weeks have been full of visits with Rashay, Brian's parents, and Roby, and otherwise dealing with all of that stuff, and making our place livable. It's a great place, we're really happy, but we have a little ways to go still. So, no pictures of the place just yet. For now, here is the view from our living room window:

Lake view facing SE:

City view facing S:

And with that, I'll say goodnight and get ready for my first day of school work. That's Dr. Fung to you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Honey, we're home!

Really, we are alive, we promise. We spent a couple of weeks in Vancouver and now we are back in Chicago, in our new apartment. It's been a busy couple of days since we got here, and all of our stored stuff comes tomorrow morning, so it's just going to get busier. But we are alive.

Lots of updates about Vancouver and Chicago to come! Stay tuned...