the everyday adventures of sabrina

i'm happy, hope you're happy too

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I love the Santa Train

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I have seen the Santa Train go by on the L tracks, but have never had the chance to actually ride it. I found the schedule and it was on the Blue Line, my line, today, so I worked a little late and showed up at Jackson about 15 minutes before its scheduled arrival (so as not to miss it!).

The guy playing guitar and singing at Jackson was actually really good, so I enjoyed sitting there hanging out waiting for the train, and tipped him $5.

Finally, we heard the sound of the approaching train from the south, and turned to look. Instead of the normal destination direction lights on the top of the front car, they were all lit up in holiday colors, and, under the headlights, they had blinking red and green lights. And as it grew closer, you could see that the train was outlined in tiny white fairy lights, around all the windows.

The destination sign read Santa’s Express.

As the train pulled into the station, every car was decorated with snow on the windows and garlands, and huge signs were hung on the sides, and lighted candy canes and other elements. Santa’s Elves – CTA employees volunteering for Santa Train duties, and dressed in bright red jackets and hats – greeted us as we got on the train. Everyone was oohing and aahing over the decorations. Even the upholstery on the seats was changed—instead of the normal brown fuzzy seats, we had seats with snowmen and Christmas trees. All the normal ad placards inside were replaced with new ones, with silly reindeer jokes and ads for Comet’s Billiards (Closed December 24 and 25) and Northstar Bucks Coffee.

A special flatbed car was between two of the married-pair of cars, and on it was a sleigh, reindeer, and even Santa himself waving and telling everyone Happy Holidays.

I’m so glad I made the time to hang out and ride the Santa Train. I may be old and crotchety the remaining 364 days of the year, but that was the best L ride ever.

See more progress on: ride the CTA Santa Train

So I did some arithmetic over coffee this morning, before getting ready for work, and it looks like if everything holds steady for the next little while, at worst I will be out of credit-card debt by next march, and with a little more effort, it’s even possible I might actually be totally out of debt by the end of the year!

I think I’m going to make that my goal. I’ll keep on brownbagging lunch and avoiding using my car ($4/gal in the city for the premium gas my car drinks!) and doing errands on foot and .. well, I’m not going to give up my magic laundry fairies (because they really do improve the quality of my life, and I think that’s worth safeguarding), but I did cut back from the magic pick-up and bring-back fairies (who turned out to be not so very talented at the bringing back thing, though in fairness they were good at the picking up) to the drop-off and take-away fairies, which saves twenty bucks or so a month. Maybe I can give up Netflix (though I hate to, but that would be $25/mo!). Anyways, I’m going to make it my goal to continue to be a complete cheapskate for the rest of the year and try really, really hard to get it all paid off by then, because if I do, I can increase my 401(k) contributions at open enrollment in December, to use up the extra money I’ll have once my credit cards are paid off. And really, that would make me feel really really badass. :) From exhaustingly endebted to responsibly saving, in 6 months or less! (Well, actually it’s been about 6 years at this point, but I’m pointedly ignoring the past.)

I’ll have to do some more math tonight and figure out exactly what I’ll have to cut out of my budget to make room for this kind of money. But I’m feeling really cheerful and energized. Who would think that doing compound interest calculations over your first cup of coffee on a Tuesday would turn out to be a good thing?

See more progress on: pay off my credit card debt

Done and done!

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Looking north at the Sears Tower from Cermak Road and Clark Street

We started at Howard Street at 8:15 AM, and reached Cermak Road at 1:57 PM exactly—including a pause for lunch at North Avenue, from 11:20 AM until 12:15 PM.

So that’s 12 miles in 4.75 hours. Not too shabby!

We took tons of photos. My camera had 164 on it, and Sean and Steph both had cameras of their own with plenty of photos. We’re going to create a Flickr pool with them.

But for now? I really, really, really, really, really want to drink about a gallon of water, and put my feet up on a cushion!

my friend Sean had (what i think is) a brilliant idea—to walk the entire length of Clark Street, this upcoming Saturday. (it’s Clark Street that makes it brilliant, not the Saturday.) we’ll start out at Howard Street, the northern terminal of the CTA Red Line, 7600 North/1700 West, at 8:00 AM.

from that point, we have twelve hours to traverse the approximately twelve miles south on Clark Street to its end at Cermak Road, near the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line stop at 2200 South/140 West, by 8:00 PM.


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Giving things up may be good for the soul, but I’m still sad to send my Santa Bike (so called because it’s green with red reflective tape on the tubes) off to its new owner.

Nonetheless: it’s done, its new owner was happy to get it, and I know it’ll be better off with someone who can use it. Besides, I already have one bike and I don’t need two.

Farewell, Santa Bike. Don’t get stolen.