October has always been a very strange month for me, even back to my childhood days. Some of the most memorable times I've had happened in this month, whether they be good or bad. But there are always memorable events.

This October has been mostly one of stress, but that's because of a huge software conversion that I am project managing and doing most of the work on. It's definitely the biggest conversion I've ever done & the stakes are high, and as tired as I often feel I really want people to be blown away by the end result. This will be my own shining moment at this company as long as I can avoid the obstacles being put in front of me on a daily basis. I also can't ignore the climate of the organization which I feel is very close to doing something that will be a first in the history of the organization. If it happens, I will go from being a very miserable employee to a very happy one. "Just wait," I'm being told. I won't hold my breath, but I think it will happen.

Enough of work, because I have something ahead of me this upcoming weekend that is a lot more important: my cousin Anna is getting married. I love all my cousins, but Anna was born eight months after my brother, so they hung out together all the time. And because I was seven years older, I often entertained and played with them. Anna was like a little sister to me (along with my cousin Gina who was three years my junior), so I am so happy that she is with a man who treats her well, loves her and makes her happy.

Part of my enthusiasm is selfish, as the wedding means I get three days where I'm forced away from my office. Friday morning the husband and I are boarding the Amtrak train at 3:45am and making our way to Union Station in Chicago. Seven hours on a train is like heaven to me. Yes, I'll probably be on my laptop working a little bit, but I love the comfort and views a train provides. I could care less if I step foot in an airplane again, just give me a train and I'm happy.

From Union Station we will rent a car and drive along the very familiar I-88 route to Davenport, Iowa. I love this drive because a lot of my childhood involves cities along this route. St. Charles, Sycamore, Rockford, Sterling...at one time I called these places home. I always make it a point to stop in Sterling and stop at Arthur's Deli or drive through the little town and look wistfully at the schools and parks I once frequented with friends and family. Last time we stopped in Dixon and ate at The White House where we had their famous fried chicken, potatoes and salad bar items that took me back to the 80's when eating there was reserved for special occasions.

In Davenport we'll settle into the Courtyard, where I've stayed for so many years that I've lost track. It's a few miles from where my Grandpa Suntken once lived and a few miles from where he currently is buried. I love driving through the streets and remembering times when we were all younger and those who've left us were still with us. I love seeing the golf courses my Grandpa S. and father would play on, the parks we used to walk or bike through, and the restaurants we would go to because my Grandpa had no idea how to cook & loved eating out.

After we settle into the hotel, maybe take a little nap & change, we're off to Clinton, Iowa. Again, another "home base" city where a lot of my family is from so there is a lot of history. The wedding is taking place at what can best be described as the family church. My Grandpa & Grandma Grimm were married in what is called "The Wee Chapel" back in the 40's. My youngest aunt was married there and I served as a junior bridesmaid. We've had several wedding showers there, and my own was held in a beautiful mansion next door. When my Grandpa Grimm passed away his visitation and funeral were held there, and it was in the main church that I read something I had written about him on the bathroom floor of a room at the Courtyard in the early morning (1am-3am) hours. (A bit off topic, I know. All I will say about that is that it took me until 11pm the night before to get permission to write something about my Grandpa G. from my mother. The whole family was expecting it since I had done the same thing for my other Grandpa a month prior when he passed away. So I was not procrastinating, I was just dealing with family issues. I didn't want to keep Brad awake so I took the laptop into the bathroom, sat on the hard floor & wrote about four pages that I hoped would describe my Grandpa from the grandchild point of view.)

This time I'll also be reading at the church, but it will two bible passages for Anna's wedding ceremony. She refers to me as "The Lone Reader, not to be confused with The Lone Ranger." I figure if I can read pages of my own personal writings for funerals without messing up, I can easily do this. So Friday evening will be a run through followed by a rehearsal dinner. Saturday will be a quick morning of getting ready, packing up everything and getting to the church by 12:30-ish. There will be waiting around, as the wedding doesn't start until 4pm. After the wedding it's off to the big celebration, where I'm hoping to kick back a few glasses of wine. No work for me on Saturday. Unfortunately we'll be doing what we usually do for evening family events; getting in the car around 10pm and driving to Naperville to stay at the Courtyard there. Again, another hotel I've spent more nights in than I can count. Where's my discount, Marriott? Yes, I have Marriott rewards & actually have gotten some great deals, just not on this trip. Oh well. We'll be exhausted, especially because we'll still be on Eastern time. We'll get in a few hours of sleep, wake up in a blur and try to slap ourselves awake through coffee (for Brad) and Diet Mt. Dew (for me.).

You probably think at this point we're heading to the train station & back home. Well, it's half right. We have to get to Union Station to drop off the rental car no later than 9:30am. But then we throw our luggage in a locker and head to...wait for it...Soldier Field. Yes, we are going to a Chicago Bears game against the Washington Redskins.

My mom called a few weeks ago and said that for Christmas they wanted to get me, Brad & my brother tickets for the game. Turns out the best value was Club Seats, which doesn't put us as close to the field as I'd prefer, but it's still better than most seats at Browns Stadium here in Cleveland. As a special bonus, my parents are going as well. I am a HUGE Bears fan and have been since I discovered football. I can still recite "The Superbowl Shuffle" word for word. I still remember sitting next to my dad & watching the games on TV, and also remember how he'd almost have a stroke when they played badly or lost. He was really, really into the team. He's not as big of a fan now, but I think it's because he realized they were bad for his health.

My parents & brother went to the stadium about ten years ago when my brother's high school band performed there. I was living in Minnesota and couldn't make the Sunday night game. As a child we were too poor to even think about going to a game, and as an adult I've never lived close enough to fit a game into my schedule. And yes, tickets are expensive because it's "Da Bears." I fulfilled my dream of going to Wrigley Field in July, and now I finally get to go inside Soldier Field and watch my favorite sports team play. Words cannot express my excitement.

When the game is over we'll make our way back to Union Station, get a bite to eat, grab our luggage and hit the 6:40pm train back to Cleveland. I always hate leaving Illinois & going back to Ohio, but at least we're not driving. The drive sucks. We'll be getting in around 2am, but it's worth it. I'll probably have to do some work again on the train, but I look forward to watching a movie on the laptop or iPod, putting on the headphones, relaxing & hopefully getting some sleep. Because we live downtown, once we do arrive it's maybe 15 minutes of walking home at most.

So we have a wedding, a football game, and our first train trip to Chicago. As long as the rest of the month can remain uneventful, I think this will be a very good month. As for my cousin Anna, I wish her and her soon-to-be husband Adam (not to be confused with my brother Adam) a lifetime of happiness. Since she's a huge Simpson's fan, I hope their marriage is as wonderful as what Homer & Marge have.

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