Last Week in D.C.: Day 6

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After ordering bottomless mimosas at brunch which seemed like a great idea at the time, I trekked over to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum for a looksie.

The Wright Brothers plane. Drones. Space suits. And lots of information. All very good.

I was tempted to stop for an IMAX movie, but I always freeze in theaters. No dice.

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The Wright Brothers plane. The exhibit was crowded!

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Missiles from the Cold War era

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Media dangles from the ceiling

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Gotta love those drones, drones, drones

Last Week in D.C.: Day 7

pentagonOh, hello. I’m in Washington D.C… and have been for the last two and a half months.

My bad. I’d have updated you on my adventures, but as always my excuse, I have not had time. And for that matter, outside of congressional hearings and the newsroom, I haven’t had many adventures in Washington overall.

I’m officially a hermit. Pleased to meet you.

However I have decided to ramp up my efforts for the next seven days and for the next seven days only. These are photos from my walk to the Pentagon Memorial tonight.

Right as I hit ‘send’ to email a story I’d worked on all day, I realized it was still light out – just enough time to take in a monument… or two, if you count the Pentagon itself. #kindais #kindaisnt

Still I came, I saw, I blogged. Sleep tight.

remember

Time Flies: Working Backwards

PuddleIt’s a soggy day here in Chicago. Not only is it raining, but the city is thawing out, too, leaving behind giant brown puddles on every street corner.

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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Exhausted, Yet Feeling Accomplished

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. 

I’m exhausted. And it’s freezing outside so that doesn’t help anything. I mean, come on, it’s 0 degrees outside. 0. I think it’s time for this cat to relax. Well, sleep is more like it.
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Moonshine

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.

No Photo, But Please Read Anyway

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.

Next time.

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.

Prime Writing Time

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 :)