It was a warm, dark morning when the UChicago cohort members and I, their chaperone, boarded the shuttle that would take us to Midway Airport for our return trip to California. Our flight back home was over a week ago, and with memories swimming in my head, I will recount the final experiences I had in Chicago during my Ivy League Connection stay.
|Yoga on Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach|
I first learned about Sun and Moon Beach Yoga last summer during my stay in Chicago, and I bought a Groupon pass so I could practice yoga on the beach an unlimited amount of times this year. My routine went something like this: after finishing my IO improv classes, I would walk to the 72 bus that took me to North Avenue Beach. I would flatten out my yoga mat and take a sunny nap in the sand for a half hour before my yoga class started. The advantages of practicing yoga on the beach include the beautiful view of the water and the restorative energy of the sun on your shoulders. Disadvantages include remaining sandy for minutes and sometimes hours after your class and trying to balance on a sinking mat during a particularly windy day. The yoga was wonderful and centering, and I would often finish the evening with a relaxing soak in the Hyatt pool.
|Old Town neighborhood with the most dogs I've ever seen.|
Something I love about the surrounding area of Old Town and Lincoln Park (the neighborhoods near my improv classes) is the constant presence of dogs and their owners. I have never walked down a street with so many happy canines. It made me miss my parents' dogs intensely. Groomer shops and pet hospitals could be found all over, like the grooming shop above with poodle-themed handrails. Adorable!
The food in Chicago has been fresh and tasty, just like last summer. The IO theater is across the street from the most amazing, Costco-sized Whole Foods you have ever seen. The store includes a bakery, coffee shop, deli, wok, pizzeria, florist, wine bar, extensive produce section, beauty counter, and aisles of artisanal cheeses and organic goods. Favorite restaurants I have visited include Eataly, Ramen-san, Chant, and Ja'Grill in Hyde Park.
|Prosciutto and arugula white pizza from Eataly|
|Section 5 with our Week 2 teacher, Patrick Rowland|
|With Katie Rich, one of the few female Saturday Night Live sketch writers|
Oh, did I mention that I went to Lollapalooza for a day during its 25th anniversary festival? It rained for three hours and I was grateful to have an umbrella that I could sit under while sitting atop of my waterproof jacket. Others at the festival weren't so lucky, walking around in squishy, wet sandals and ponchos that covered only the upper half of their bodies. Once the rain subsided, the festival continued in full swing, and I was grateful to finally stretch my legs and see several artists that I had come to see - Future (with quick appearance by Chance The Rapper), Duke Dumont, M83, Major Lazer, Radiohead, Miike Snow, Ghost, and others. My night ended with "Karma Police" by Radiohead, and I don't think I could have chosen a better song in my head with which to walk back to Metra before my return to Hyde Park.
|Getting ready for Rufus du Sol and Alessia Cara at Lollapalooza|
|Me at Lolla|
|Our Week 4 teacher, Colleen Doyle, performs with her 2-person ensemble, Dummy.|
|Before my group's "Cagematch" performance in the Chris Farley Cabaret|
Week 4 brought a lot of first-time moments for me. I had my first improvised performance onstage at 3Peat's Diversity Jam on Monday night. A few acquaintances from another section peer-pressured me to put my ID card in a bucket and told me I might be called up to improvise with some veteran improvisers for a few minutes. Of course, I was terrified and begged them to go fish my ID out of the bucket, but then calmed down a bit, succumbing to the reality that I most likely would be called up. Sure enough, I was the second student's name called out of, like, twenty students, so I went onstage smiling and pretended to be confident. It ended up being so fun, and our veteran improviser was so kind and supportive. We were able to do some warm-up activities in the back room just next to *gasp* 3Peat's group who were hanging out before going onstage. I saw Allison Ringhand and Patrick Rowland, two of my fave 3Peat people. We did a montage format and our suggestion was "goat," so I came out as a goat-herder a few scenes in. My scene partner was a character pitching reality television show ideas, and so our scene became about a reality television show about goats who are voted off each week. Silly, but fun. I was honored to be in the opener for 3Peat.
One of my Section 5 teammates signed up our section for a slot on "Cagematch," which is basically a competition for sections from the intensive to do montages and be judged by more experienced improvisers who are acting as characters. One of our judges was acting as Guy Fieri - his review of IO's food menu was killing me. Only 7 of the 16 people in our section participated in "Cagematch" and I was one of them. After performing before 3Peat, I felt that my fear was gone of being onstage, so I signed up for the competition with Brian, the sectionmate in charge. The suggestion from the audience was "wig," and we had comedic scenes with themes of chemotherapy, 'Locks of Love,' and wiggety wiggety rap. We ended up winning second place and I thought that was awesome. In my section, I came to IO as one of the least experienced long-form improvisers, and I have got to give shout-outs to my experienced, amazing teammates who really held our show together and made us all shine. Second place!
|Onstage with our group, Oprah Has My Wallet|
As the Ivy League Connection experience comes to an end, I want to say how grateful I am for the opportunity to spend time in Chicago and delve into my theater passion while the students were at UChicago. Thank you to the students, Don Gosney, sponsors, and everyone who makes the ILC possible. Since I will be leaving West Contra Costa Unified School District to teach at California High School and Iron Horse Middle School in San Ramon Valley Unified School District, it is a bittersweet end to the three years I have spent with the ILC. I flew home to a wonderful anniversary party for my grandparents - 70 years! Aren't they cute?