Normally on a gray day like today, I’d be scrambling to get home just like a cat caught in the rain. But today was different. Yes, I was anxious to get back to my apartment, but I stopped to grab a coffee for a quick boost of energy so I could work for the rest of the afternoon. I was feeling pretty good about myself.
A few weeks ago, I met with an advisor from school just to check in and bounce some job prospects off of him. Our meeting, however, quickly turned into more of a reality check for me. Looking back now, it was definitely something I needed.
After talking in circles in no particular order about all the things I wanted to do and see, and all the projects I wanted to accomplish and be a part of, my advisor asked me point-blank, “Where do you want to be at 35?”
I sat back in my chair, slightly stunned.
The question was so simple, yet the answer… is complex. In less than nine years, I’d be 35. That’s much sooner than I realized. What exactly did I want to have under my belt by then?
I’ve had in the back of my head for a while that I wanted to practice French again. I imagined writing some freelance magazines pieces, too, and maybe even work on a news podcast at some point. I started thinking out loud, listing these aspirations on my fingertips, when my advisor told me my hour was up and it was time to go home.
OK, so maybe he wasn’t so harsh about it — he wasn’t at all actually — but he did say to go somewhere and write down all the work I wanted to do, including the job title I wanted when I reached 35. “Think about your personal life, too, who you want in your life around then. That’s important.”
His thoughtful question has become my new mantra. Now, my “By 35 Goals” include all the ones from above, as well as “be an editor” and “be happily married.”
I know who and where I want to be when I’m 35. And to reach that goal, I’m working backwards, putting the bricks in place so I’ll have control of my world when that time comes and won’t be scrambling. It’s easy to get caught up in that ‘One day I’ll do it” state of mind, but it’s just as easy to put one foot in front of the other and walk toward your dreams– or in my case, walk backwards.
Racing to be done with graduate school, I’m eager to start my life, but sometimes I forget that I’m living it, which brings me back to today. This afternoon I had just stepped off the train when I felt my phone buzzing in my jacket pocket. It was a magazine editor I’d recently been put in contact with, and she told me she loved an audio story I’d sent her two days ago.
“I’d like to work with you on a piece for the magazine, if you’re interested,” she said.
“Yes, of course, I’d like that.” A part of me wondered if she could hear me smiling through the phone.
She gave me a deadline, the conversation ended, and I rounded the corner in front of my favorite coffee shop. I smiled again. It was obvious — I deserved a treat.
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Tags: Chicago, happiness, journalism, peace, philosophy, solitude, To do list, twenties, winter, writing up a storm
Every couple of months, a long day comes around and reminds you why you’re doing… whatever it is that you’re doing.
Today was one of those days. Thank God.
I feel like I’ve been all over this city today, and tomorrow I’ll have a slight break before I run around again on Saturday. It was seriously so cold tonight that I had to run in place so my legs didn’t give out, a tip I picked up from my man-friend.
I’m loving this feeling – I can feel myself coming back, showing up and reporting like I mean it – but this time I have this more pronounced air of confidence. That’s probably the best way to put it. Not smug, just direct.
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Tags: Chicago, journalism, winter, writing
Tonight I went to a Chicago Bulls game. I’m not all that into basketball, but it was a free ticket, so why not.
I thoroughly stuffed myself with a cheese fries, a hot dog and a beer. After being booted out of my seat (along with a friend) which wasn’t really my seat, I retreated to the concessions to finish my meal. C’mon, everyone does it.
But if I hadn’t been in the concessions right then, I would have totally missed an underage girl being kicked out of a neighboring section for possessing what looked like ol’ moonshine, or at least some type of liquor, in a water bottle. It was quite the show, about 10 security guards surrounded the girl. My friend with me said the girl looked like she was crying. I’d be terrified, too.
Later my friend and I explored a little more then returned to our appropriate section somewhere near the real seats. Around fourth quarter, the Bulls were up, and we decided to call it a night. A slightly eventful evening out, and a much-needed one at that.
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All right – it’s time to confess….
I forgot to take a photo while I was out today.
And it sucks because I feel like I’ve been all over town today: the West side, the Loop, the South Loop, and Lincoln Park. Everywhere, and yet I forgot to take a photo somewhere along the line.
Anyway, my morning began with a two-hour volunteer session at a women’s rehabilitation clinic. I’m not in a position to commit to very much, with moving in a few months, so I’m helping to organize the clothing donation closet. It was my first day, and it was nice to have my mind off my own life for a minute. It’s not that my life is all that difficult, everything’s pretty great actually, but I think it’s good to reevaluate how you spend your time. Volunteering does that for me.
Up next was a trip to the downtown newsroom to pick up a ticket to the Chicago Bulls game this Saturday. They may not be doing so hot right now, but it’s free and I RSVP’d months ago so I’m going. Only the woman who had my ticket wasn’t there, so I’d have to come back later. Dang.
From there I made my way to the Boyfriend’s place for lunch. We had sandwiches and it was pretty sweet.
After that I finished up a few more errands and made it back to the newsroom to pick up my ticket finally. All in all, a very productive day. It was a busy but not a stressful day. It’s nice when those days come around once in a while. Low maintenance is totally my style.
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Tags: Chicago, happiness, peace, philosophy, relationships, South Loop Chicago, twenties, Volunteering, West Side Chicago
In almost every corner of my apartment, there are stacks of stuff. Nothing life threatening — just books, receipts, little mementos and sticky notes here and there — but nothing worth tossing either. Well, maybe in a few weeks but for now, the stuff can stay.
In another corner a black picture frame is perched on my window seal. Beneath the glass, foam letters spell out “memories” above two photos of my best friends. They were taken during a summer not long ago — one at Strawberry Reservoir, the other at a drive-in movie theater just before dusk. Each photo evokes such strong feelings from those days: the warm sun on my face, the heat radiating from the pavement underneath our chairs, and all the silliness we managed to draw out from our adventures… A fleeting summer at its finest.
It doesn’t seem like that far away. Yet when I actually think about where I’ve been, where they’ve been, and everything we’ve seen, I can’t help but wince, just a little. Happy winces, of course, because those memories are etched so deep that no summer will ever come close to matching them.
I’ve always been painfully sentimental, keeping everything from photos to ticket stubs, from cards to invitations. I like to think of it as being kind of a romantic in the nostalgic sense. I keep things that make me smile. I think everyone should.
Sometimes though, my sentimentalism gets the best of me and turns a little wistful. But I can’t say I regret much of anything. I’m living in Chicago now, and she has been good to me. I’ll leave her for a few months to finish up school in Washington D.C. in the spring, but I’ll be back. What can I say – she makes me smile.
Lately at night there’s been these moments when I’m all done with my laundry and caught up with all my reading and trashy TV shows where I don’t know what to do with myself. So, I’ve been going to bed early. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been fantastic, but it occurred to me tonight that these moments are prime writing time. It may be a resolution eight days too late, but I’ve learned you can decide to do something anytime you want – no reason to wait another year.
And I’ve decided I want to write every day again. (Sorry, I’ll have a photo with tomorrow’s post
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Tags: Chicago, Good Friends, graduate school, happiness, love, making new year's resolutions, philosophy, solitude, twenties, writing up a storm
It’s one of those days where it’s snow flurrying outside, but I’m inside – safe and warm, bundled up in a cozy black sweater. I like the idea of experiencing my first taste of winter in Chicago from the confines of my apartment.
I feel like I’ve written this post before, one where I admit to myself that I haven’t written in my blog for who-knows-how-long. And it’s ok, because I’ve come to realize that there will be periods in my life where I don’t particularly feel inspired to write every day. There will be times where I don’t want to pick up my writer’s pen – or keyboard, for that matter – but that trait will still be there, somewhere deep down, turning up when I least expect it, like the change from fall to winter.
A lot has changed in the last five months since I moved to Chicago. My life feels more full now than I ever could have imagined, something I will be eternally grateful to this city for. It’s funny, I’ve always dreamed of living in a big city, and now that I’m here, I can’t imagine living any other way – spoiled by Chicago.
My sister got married last month, and the wedding was beautiful. She was beautiful. I could feel my heart swell a little during the ceremony, but luckily, I didn’t cry. Haha. I think I’m just excited about what’s next for her, especially because she’s pregnant. This entirely new chapter of her life is about to begin: my sister – a parent. So yes, there’s going to be an addition to our family. I can’t wait to meet her.
Things in my personal life have changed too. I met someone, a man I’ve been dating now for about three months. I’ve never met anyone like him, as cliché as it sounds, but he’s another ‘thing’ I can be grateful to Chicago for. Things are going well with him, I can’t complain.
I didn’t used to look back on my dating past fondly. It was its own flurry of guys, many of whom I’m not proud to say I’ve dated, and in the end they didn’t make me happy.
Mike, however, makes me happy. And he knows it – I tell him all the time.
It’s full on snowing outside now. I love it. All right, time to do homework.
Filed under: Living in Chicago, News | 1 Comment
Tags: family, happiness, I'm a deadbeat blogger, love, relationships, solitude, twenties, winter
I haven’t written in a while, at least a month, I’d say. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of motivation or a lack of anything substantial to report.
My apartment is empty now. The air mattress deflated, bed sheets crumpled in a corner and now there is enough room to walk around without kicking something. I can hear voices from the street again, some cars pass by, but mostly my block is quiet, tinged with orange from the streetlights above.
I bought a book three weeks ago soon after I moved in. I found David Carr’s The Night of the Gun at a used bookstore down Broadway, near the flower shop I pass by on my way to buy groceries. Not knowing much about David Carr, other than that he writes a column for The New York Times, curiosity got the best of me and I paid $10 cash for the right to crease the pages and scribble in the margins. I needed something offline. I always do.
Though school, houseguests and just being in a new city sidetracked my reading. All of a sudden there were so many things to do in Chicago at any given time that, I’ll admit, I got caught up in it and ventured out at every chance I could. And now, now that things are finally starting to calm down and the houseguests are gone, I see my book again, and all the other books I brought from back home, on the ledge by my window. I missed them.
I don’t really know what I think anymore. I’ve had a lot to process. It’s not that I regret moving to Chicago, or going to graduate school, god no. This kind of confused overstimulation stems from the fact that I’ve met so many personalities just in the few weeks of being here.
It’s a good thing. My world is being challenged; my thought process questioned. It’s not a feeling of being threatened, it’s a nice breezy state of enlightenment brushing against my shoulders and twirling me around, like a dance partner I know I’ve danced with before.
Correction: I haven’t written in three months. Oof.
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Tags: Chicago, David Carr The Night of the Gun, graduate school, I'm a deadbeat blogger, print enthusiast, solitude, twenties
It’s been a little over a month since my last post, but I’m here, alive and breathing, just busy, overtaken by the reality that is graduating from college.
Overhead, Adam Levine’s voice envelopes the words of my favorite song, “The Way You Look Tonight.” Fresh flowers and sunlight breathe life into the back room of my favorite cafe, The Chocolate.
I’m studying for my last two final exams, well, sort of studying. Luxuriating in a sea of red velvet, milk chocolate and coffee is more like it. But there’s a sense of peace I find here that is difficult for me to resist, not to mention, one of my best friends works here.
“Is there lettuce on my neck?” my silly friend asks of me. (I bought her a spicy McChicken on my way in.)
“Um, no, I don’t think so.”
“Look at my neck, is it purple?”
“Oh, yeah. Oh no!” I respond, before we both burst into laughter together.
She tells me her sister dyed her hair yesterday, and because of the way she slept last night, the remnants of the dye stained the right side of her neck a light purple. In the sunlight, her black hair takes on a violet persona.
Colbie Caillet, Matt Kearney and Michael Buble overtake the speakers, one after the other.
This morning I woke up with a headache, which is just now starting to simmer down, so I just might get some studying done today after all. With only two final exams left, I’m starting to feel that ‘oh-so-familiar’ feeling of nostalgia. In less than a month and a half, I’ll be loading up Milo the Honda Civic with my baubles, trinkets and whatnot and hitting the road.
I keep catching myself on the brink of tears, but then I put things into perspective with something like “It’s only 1,400 miles,” or my favorite, “It’s only a plane ride away.” I’m finding I’m getting better at this thing called ‘controlling my emotions.’
Someone once told me my sensitiveness isn’t a bad thing, rather it’s a personality trait, which took a long time for me to welcome with an open heart. I’m nostalgic, I reminisce, but I never regret.
My coffee is getting cold. I should study.
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Tags: Chicago, coffee lover's anonymous, friends, good food, Good Friends, graduation, happiness, i love red velvet cupcakes, Milo the Honda Civic, The Chocolate bakery
A nightmare just woke me up.
Correction: I just took a shower, finished off last night’s leftover barbecue chicken pizza and checked out apartment listings in Chicago online, AFTER waking up from a nightmare.
The past two months have been quite difficult for me in every sense of the word. Physically, emotionally, spiritually – each one brought their own set of challenges which were entirely unnecessary, but perhaps in the long run, taught me something about myself.
The biggest piece of all this is that I put together a campaign for my senior capstone class. And from it, I learned how to work as a team, but more so that I’m not really passionate about pursuing public relations as a career.
Indeed, I’m a writer, I’m a journalist. Doing this campaign further solidified that. Not to say there isn’t writing in public relations, there is, but that’s not all of it. There is planning, execution and evaluation, which wasn’t exactly enthralling for me. In fact, I wasn’t really all that happy during the entire month of February, now to think of it.
On top of this, I was sick, definitely sick, and my eye started hurting me again – my HLA B27 coming around. God damn you HLA B27, you can be so inconvenient. Luckily this time, my back didn’t give out on me, just my eyes. I saw the world through my shiny brown glasses for a whole month. I still reach for my temples to adjust sometimes.
And finally, there’s that good ol’ heartbreak to settle the score – just when I thought, ‘maybe, maybe this is it,’ it bit me in the ass. Walls went back up, the fortress reconstructed. I’ve been avoiding thinking, feeling, acknowledging it, but it happened, there’s no denying that.
I think the worst part about it is that I was so ready. Everything felt right, he was right, everything I imagined he would be. My gut telling me: ‘this is right.’
But no. Not so fast… not yet. Yep, no.
There’s a difference between wanting to think it’s right and knowing that it’s right. Now for me, I’m a feeler, I’m the sensitive type, so of course, I know things are right because they feel right. Every ounce of me is just dancing on air and my instincts are telling me, ‘it’s right, it’s right, it’s right.’
But this time, for whatever reason, the warning bells didn’t go off. My b.s. monitor didn’t sound the alarm. And I fell for it, big time.
So this is my attempt at starting over, the day I move on, the day I keep moving. Chicago is just right around the corner.
Filed under: News | 2 Comments
Tags: dating, does this make sense to anyone besides me, good food, journalism or pr?, love, moth to a flame, philosophy, relationships, twenties, when do mid-twenties end?
I received a call from Evanston, Ill. on my way to school this morning. The verdict? Accepted, accepted, accepted – to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
This is me – grinning ear to ear…
God it feels good to say that – accepted. Mmm, smile with me.
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