Welcome to Things I Love, a roundup of some of my favorite things from throughout the week, including a special travel deal just for readers!
This week I’ve been working in Chicago and lining up trips for the rest of the year. Since I haven’t actually been traveling anywhere exciting, I wanted to take this week’s edition of Things I Love to talk about the United States, especially as campaigning is reaching a fever pitch with the Iowa caucus only a couple of weeks away. Whatever your political leanings and wherever you live, I believe you should be engaged in what’s going on in your own country. I get overly excited about politics, but admittedly slacked a bit while living in Rome, and conversely while living in DC became even more obsessed. Since I’ve been in the US since November, it’s fun to be able to watch the debates live (without terrible Internet!) and easier to stay up to date.
The State of the Union is one of my favorite annual events. It’s like the Super Bowl for me, or what I can imagine the Super Bowl is like for people who enjoy football. This year didn’t disappoint, and I admit to cheering at the screen and shedding a few tears. My favorite moments? Obama eviscerating climate change denial, touting America’s strength, and Joe Biden’s face the entire time (especially here). I can’t believe eight years are almost over! Seems like just yesterday I was attending Obama rallies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Also exciting this week was the release of four Americans, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian from Evin Prison in Iran. And the lifting of nuclear sanctions. So what’s next for Iran?
My brother was visiting Chicago this week so I got to play tourist for a bit. We went to the Art Institute (which is free for Chicago residents through January!), ice skating at Millenium Park, and to Second City, which was more political and funnier than ever. Also this week I FINALLY went to The Violet Hour, and had one of the best Italian meals I’ve had in awhile at Osteria Langhe, which serves Piemontese cuisine. (Order the Plin. You won’t be disappointed).
Articles I enjoyed this week include this one on why Americans work so much, this review of Obama’s domestic achievements (I learned some things here!), this photo gallery behind the scenes of the West Wing, this article on ‘United’s quest to be less awful, this one on why we keep playing the lottery even when the odds are wayyy against us, and this interview from one of my favorite Chicago writers, David Hammond, with Anthony Bourdain. Also this stunning video that got me through the negative wind temperatures this week and this David Bowie commencement speech where he tells stories of his friendship with John Lennon. Lastly, the New York Times brings politics and travel together in a look at Iowa’s Heartland Beyond the Campaign Trail.
Since we’re talking politics, I have to promote my favorite podcast, the Slate Political Gabfest. A friend turned me onto this a few months ago and it brings me immense joy every Friday. John Dickerson of Face the Nation, David Plotz of Atlas Obscura, and Emily Bazelon of the New York Times Magazine get together every week to chat and sometimes argue about the week’s political news. They’re funny, they’re smart, the podcast is amazing. Where else do I get political news during the week? Various newspapers and the Politico Playbook, a daily email that tells you everything you need to know for the day. It’s packed with information and Mike Allen, Politico’s Senior White House Correspondent who puts it together, has a way of throwing in entertaining tidbits and a some sass. I also love the Lenny interviews Lena Dunham and her crew have been doing with female politicians, and The Skimm for being fabulous and knowledgeable at once.
Blog crush of the week: This week it’s actually an Instagram crush of the week, and it goes to Pete Souza, official White House photographer. His Instagram is obviously incredible, and if you haven’t seen it don’t miss his 2015 best.
Book I’m reading: Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. I’ve been meaning to read this for so long and finally did. Interesting to read it now that Obama is nearing the end of his presidency, and the book was written long before that was even an option. One moment that was particularly funny to me is when he’s in undergrad in California and becomes so discouraged after giving a speech on race that he swears to never to speak publicly again. Years later, he delivered one of the most memorable speeches on race in history.
Travel product I’m loving: Pocket. Whether saving articles to read on a plane or on the bus around Chicago, this is my most used app both on my phone and computer.
Quote I’m thinking about: “A wise traveler never despises his own country.” – Carlo Goldoni
And finally, the travel deal of the week: Use the code Europe15 at CheapOair for 15% of flights to Europe, and get to the airport using Super Shuttle and take $10 off your booking with the code QFY7s (through end of January).
Hope you’re all having a wonderful Sunday!