Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

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I Literally Make Life Decisions Because of Christmas’s Commercialism

I received a great suggestion a couple of weeks ago. The short version is, “you should start blogging again because you need an outlet for all that shit you keep bottled inside.” The medium version is that a lot of our career coaching at my school seems to be therapy in disguise, and the professor assigned to this particular group saw me, felt that I felt invisible, and was doing her very best to give me even one useful suggestion for how to cope. I will keep the long version to myself for now.

The last couple of months specifically and last year in generally have been a period of upheaval in my life. According to all my social media feeds, almost everyone feels this way. There’s a lot I could dig into there, but instead, I’m going to talk about something that I’ve been thinking about almost constantly in the last few days.

I live in Belgium y’all. I won’t live here permanently, I’m not about become anyone’s expat, especially not here. But I feel so good about my decision to come here and get my MBA. My class is very international. There are 42 students from 20 countries. Something that comes up a lot is the reason that each of us decided to come here.

My answer feels a bit silly sometimes, but I value honesty over appearing to be a very serious person. So here’s the reason I decided to uproot my life and move across a whole ocean:

 

A trip to Paris for New Year’s with my husband at the end of 2016 included a trip right after the new year to Brussels. Purely because of it’s proximity and affordability, we found ourselves in Brussels. And when you are in Brussels, you find yourself in Grand Place. When I walked into the area pictured above, I fell in love.

I’m not sure if this will make sense to everyone who reads it, but energy matters to me. It matter to me for people, places, and things. And the energy of Grand Place appealed to me. And it didn’t hurt that it was still gussied up from Christmas 2016. When I was 6 or so years old, I picked out a bedroom set based on the red & green decorative pillows they added because it was December. Yeah, I’m that chick, and have been my whole life. I was already considering trying to come to Europe for a 12, 15, or 18 month MBA program. But I came back from Brussels and googled “MBA programs in Brussels.”

Once I researched my school, I realized it would be a really good fit and it was the only school I applied to. I was happy to pack up my shit and move to another country, but made sure to leave roots behind in New York for when I’m done.

Christmas is here again, and I went to Grand Place, as you do when you’re in Belgium. They have the tree up again, and I was eager to get a look at it with all decorations in place. It was a bit underwhelming in the daylight, but when I went back the next night, it was better.

It was a really nice moment for me. Standing in Grand Place in early 2017, this new seed of a dream felt near impossible to make happen. And perhaps the huge upheaval of the last year made it more possible, but it didn’t change the fact that it felt huge every step of the way. So when I was standing there in late 2018, I felt really proud of myself.

I made one of my dreams come true. 2018 has been a year of doing a lot for just me, which is something I might be a bit rusty at. I’m still figuring out how to balance all of the things that matter to me. But it was really nice to take this moment and just feel pride and happiness. Christmas is my jam, and I’m excited for getting to spend this Christmas here, even if I have to deal with Zwarte Piet. I might have to do a whole other post about that shit… But for now, let’s just focus on the happy dreams-coming-true, actively-pursuing-my-goals thing for now, okay?

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Finding Myself In Television Shows

Am I the only one who looks at a good deal of my life through a Sex and the City lens? I think if you fall in a certain age range (pretty much anyone born between 1970-2000), there’s a good chance this show occupies a corner of your life. Maybe you were an adult when it came out and watched it as it mirrored your life. Maybe you discovered it because your mother/sister/college roommate was obsessed and insisted you’d love it too. Maybe you stumbled across it like I did, back when Netflix DVDs were still a new and amazing facet of life.

In case you hadn’t heard, last week was the 20th anniversary of the premier of the show. Since I loved it so much in college, I’ve been doing a deep dive. I read old Sex & the City columns for the first time. I read a young Cosmo’s writer take on “living like Carrie.” And I read think pieces arguing about how groundbreaking it was, how it lacked diversity, etc., etc..

I think time has done Samantha well. People appreciate her sex positivity. They love that she didn’t give a damn what anyone thought of her. I think time has been less friendly to Carrie. Look at what came up when I googled “Carrie Bradshaw was trash.”

I didn’t come up with this idea on my own. An article all about it popped up on my google feed not too long ago. You can read it for yourself here.

As much as I wanted to binge-watch the entire series over in celebration of the 20th anniversary, it ain’t gonna happen. I’m not putting myself back in the frame of mind that made me grateful for the diversity crumb that saw Jennifer Hudson cast in the SATC movie. No thank you. I’d rather wait for the next season of Insecure to premier (August 12th!!).

But still there’s this:

It’s a piece of “art” I bought on “the street” years ago. I think it was back during one of my first trips to NYC. I drove here, on a rather impromptu road trip with my girls, for an in-person job interview. My husband wanted to move to NYC, and so I wanted to make his dream a reality. I even have a picture of that evening in Times Square when I bought the picture that still hangs on the wall in my bedroom. Want to see it? Of course you do. I looked like I fell out off of a Forever 21 mannequin display and was proud of it. Perhaps the shades of lipstick I used to choose are the reason I was less confident in a bright red lip back then…

Well, the internet has me convinced I do NOT want to be a Carrie, haha. She was far too vanilla for me anyway. The heteronormativity and the barely hidden homo- and biphobia irritate me to no end. And the way she would have these moments of silence (read: silent judgement) whenever one of her friends’ stories got too extra was the worst. Besides, these four white women aren’t the only friendships shown on TV. There are plenty of others for me to figure out which archetype I am.

There’s Living Single:

There’s Girlfriends:

There’s Insecure:

I’m gonna figure out which one of those I am instead on continuing to fuss over SATC. Too bad there aren’t any handy quizzes out there to help me learn if I’m a Joan or a Maxine or an Issa. But wait! There is! Sort Of! Not for Living Single (does the show pre-date Buzzfeed? That’s prolly why), but there are quizzes for the other two.

This 8-Question Quiz Will Tell You Which “Insecure” Character You Are. This quiz covers all the characters, not just the women, but I’ll take what I can get.

Which “Living Single” Character Are You?. Same. All the characters.

Okay, I’mma go off for one quick second. See this is what the fuck I mean about intersectionality! Y’all so busy lumping us into the women category or the black category, there’s no space for black women. I’m looking for the space for just us, but nope, we gotta get in where we fit in. And Buzzfeed tells me that separating me from my brothers isn’t an option. Surprise, sur-fucking-prise. Whatever. Here’s my quiz results.

Nope, not giving you my quiz results yet. What the fuck is this question?!?!?!?!?!?!

Do I need to talk about how the only two options with white folks are “chic and sophisticated” and “preppy and minimalist”???? Really buzzfeed, y’all couldn’t find no black people on Getty Images to represent those styles?? This, ladies and gentleman, is what is referred to as a microaggression. Ugh, okay, back to my quiz results.

Trying not to be irritated by this intergender quiz because my results are actually quite spot on, lol. Whatever.


Working on Living My Truth

This blog is supposed to be a personal blog where I share things about myself, and my experiences as I explore the world around me. Feeling like a city girl, born and raised in Chicago, there are some Midwestern mores I’ve struggled to let go of.

You want to live out and proud? Eh, sure, but not so loud. The people who chose to do that when I was growing up were always looked at as weird and odd and not the type of people you want to be too close to.

But my parents raised me to be weird, to let my freak flag fly. They never encouraged me to seek out oddities simply for the sake of uniqueness, but they taught me to embrace the things that made me stand out and to take pride in the ways I wasn’t like everyone else.

I’m sure these days, when I’m fussing at them about toxic masculinity (which neither of them fully understand their complicit roles in) and the shortcomings of affirmative action (which several family members dedicated their careers to enacting and supporting), they are wondering where they went wrong.

My mother even jokes that she advises her friends to give their kids less choices. Choices is where she went wrong with my brother and me. I think we turned out just fine, better than fine either. But there is the evidence: the amount of illicit substances we consume (mostly alcohol, calm down), the fact that neither of us is happily married (more on that later), and the fact that only one of my seven first cousins of childbearing age have or even seem to want a child.

I’d like to think my parents are satisfied with us. I’m satisfied with them. Actually, that’s an understatement. Like any good Libra child, I’m obsessed with them. I intended on writing about trying to stand more in my truth, but yet I’m talking about what my parents opinion of that might be.

They’ve had to deal with a lot from me in the last year. They’ve heard about my plans for grad school. They’ve heard about the dissolution of my marriage (sorry if you actually know me and this is how you’re hearing about it). They’ve heard about polyamory (more on that later). They’ve taken it all in stride, certainly better than they did when I gave them unasked for progress reports on how well they’re doing at fixing their inherent racial prejudices.

I’m one of the lucky ones. My parents try to hard to let me be me, and tried to teach me to let me be myself. Ever the aging millennial, I cannot possibly move forward with confidence without rooting around for parental support. But I have it, so I should probably move on to step two, right?

So what is step two? Am I such a Libra cliche that I must spend time every few years “finding myself?” Here’s what I know. The only constant in life is change. If you’re exactly who you were five years ago, you’re doing something wrong.

This was me around five years ago.

I am pretty sure I took that picture at work, some night shift I was working when I still lived in Chicago. I was coming up on my first wedding anniversary and feeling myself because my locs had just about reached my shoulders. I knew my husband wanted to move to New York, but I had no idea what it would look like to live anywhere else other than Chicago. I was just as proud of my eyebrows then, which I didn’t have to do anything to for them to look like that.

This is me just a couple of months ago.

I like this picture enough that it’s currently my profile picture. I could talk for another 500 words about the process of eradicating my marriage from all my profile pics and blurbs, but I’d rather talk about this picture. My vision makes it so that I now have to wear my glasses all the time. I’m no longer afraid of a bright red lip. Too much hair dye means my locs aren’t as long as they should be at this point, but I’m working on it. Oh, and I’m wearing a Slytherin scarf that was my actual winter scarf. My husband and work husband both worked hard to make sure I didn’t lose that thing by retrieving it when I drunkenly left it behind at all the bars. I’ve learned this half smile thing (don’t know that it qualifies as a whole smize) that does a nice job at camouflaging the lines around my eyes. And I still have wonderful eyebrows with very little effort.

I’ve worked hard to stay happy with myself, and I’m proud of it because self-confidence is not a given. I think step two isn’t so much about finding myself, but more about authentically expressing myself. I’ve always been the girl with an opinion on everything, whether someone asked me or not. Hopefully I can take those skills and apply them to this.


All Marvel Cinematic Universe Properties, In Order!

If you aren’t into comic books in general or the Marvel Cinematic Universe specifically, this post isn’t for you.

But if you consider yourself an outsized MCU fan and are interested in every single one of their properties, please, join me.

Have you ever asked yourself, “what order should I watch MCU properties in?” Or, “can I get a list of all the MCU properties in order?”

I did something last night. I spent a few hours organizing, in chronological order of release, every MCU property.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Why didn’t you just google it?”

Yeah, I tried. And if you want to watch the MCU (all TV and film) in the order the events happened, I’d suggest you head on over to CNET’s post about it. CNET’s post is mostly up to date, as far as I can tell. And that’s because I’m assuming the first half of Season 5 of Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D. is taking place right where Season 4 left off, therefore it would be before the events of the Punisher. Oh, and it’s way more pleasing to the eye than what I’m about to post below.

But if you’re like me and for some crazy reason want to consume everything in the order it was released, I can help. I did a deep dive on Wikipedia, and as long as no trolls managed to edit the locked sections, we’re good. My list is better than Wiki though because I meshed the films, short films, TV shows, and comics together for your consumption. For the comics, the release dates I found online don’t always agree; also I focused on the comic’s (not the graphic novel’s) release date.

Why do I even care about seeing things in the release order? Well, Marvel is very meticulous about release dates. So I want to start from the beginning and take everything in the order they intended.

I warn you, this is a long ass list. I’ll name the property, then the release format, then the release date (for comics/tv episodes with multiple dates just the first release date is mentioned), and I’ll also name (when applicable) a link or release association.

Marvel Properties in Chronological Release Date Order

  • Iron Man, Film, May 2, 2008
  • The Incredible Hulk, Film, June 13, 2008
  • Iron Man: I Am Iron Man! (Issue #1-2), Comic, January 27, 2010.
  • Iron Man 2: Public Identity (Issue #1-2), Comic, April 28, 2010
  • Iron Man 2, Film, May 7, 2010
  • Iron Man 2: Public Identity (Issue #3), Comic, May 12, 2010
  • Iron Man 2: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Single Issue), Comic, September 1, 2010
  • ****The MCU Wikia seems to think the following three comics are their own individual part of the MCU. However, the link for Iron Man 2: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. includes them all of you just keep going forward (and if you have Marvel Unlimited).
  • Captain America: First Vengeance (Issue #1-4), Comic, May 4, 2011
  • Thor, Movie, May 6, 2011
  • Captain America: First Vengeance (Issue #5-8), Comic, June 8, 2011
  • Captain America: The First Avenger, Movie, July 22, 2011
  • The Consultant, One-Shot, July 22, 2011, associated with released of Thor movie
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer, One-Shot, October 25, 2011, associated with release of Captain America: The First Avenger Movie
  • The Avenger’s Prelude: Fury’s Big Week (Issue #1-8), Comic, March 7, 2012
  • The Avengers, Movie, May 4, 2012
  • The Avengers: Black Widow Strikes (Issue #1-3), Comic, May 12, 2012
  • Item 47, One-Shot, September 25, 2012, associated with the release of The Avengers
  • Iron Man 2 (Issue #1-2), Comic, November 7, 2012
  • Iron Man 3 Prelude (Issue #1-2), Comic, January 2, 2013
  • Thor (Issue #1-2), Comic, January 16, 2013
  • Iron Man 3, Movie, May 3, 2013
  • Thor: The Dark World Prelude (Issue #1-2), Comic, June 5, 2013
  • Agent Carter, One-Shot, September 3, 2013, associated with the release of Iron Man 3
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Ep 1-6, TV (ABC), September 24, 2013
  • Thor: The Dark World, Movie, November 8, 2013
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (Issue #1), Comic, November 6, 2013
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Ep 7-10, TV (ABC), November 12, 2013
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (Issue #2), Comic, December 11, 2013
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Ep 11-12, TV (ABC), January 7, 2014
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier infinite Comic (Single Issue), Comic, January 28, 2014
  • All Hail the King, One-Shot, February 4, 2014, associated with the release of Thor: The Dark World
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Ep 13-16, TV (ABC), February 4, 2014
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comic – Dangerous Prey (Single Issue), Comic, April 1, 2014
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude (Issue #1), Comic, April 2, 2014
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Movie, April 4, 2014
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Ep 17-22, TV  (ABC), April 8, 2014
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude (Issue #2), Comic, May 28, 2014
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Movie, August 1, 2014
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Ep 1-10, TV (ABC), September 23, 2014
  • The Avengers (Issue #1), Comic, December 24, 2014
  • Agent Carter Season 1, TV (ABC), January 6, 2015 
  • The Avengers (Issue #2), Comic, January 7, 2015
  • Avengers: Ague of Ultron Prelude: This Scepter’d Isle (Single Issue), Comic, February 3, 2015
  • Ant-Man Prelude (Issue #1), Comic, February 4, 2015
  • Ant-Man – Scott Lang: Small Time (Single Issue), Comic, March 3, 2015
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, Ep 11, TV (ABC), March 3, 2015
  • Ant-Man Prelude (Issue #2), Comic, March 4, 2015
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2, Ep 12-16, TV (ABC), March 10, 2015
  • Daredevil Season 1, TV (Netflix), April 10, 2015
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Ep 17-19, TV (ABC), April 14, 2015
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron, Movie, May 1, 2015
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Ep 20-22, TV (ABC), May 5, 2015
  • WHIH Newsfront Season 1, Digital Series, July 2, 2015 
  • Ant-Man, Movie, July 17, 2015
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Ep 1-2, TV (ABC), September 29, 2015
  • Jessica Jones (Single Issue), Comic, October 7, 2015
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Ep 3-8, TV (ABC), October 13, 2015
  • Jessica Jones Season 1, TV (Netflix), November 20, 2015
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3, Ep 9-10, TV (ABC), December 1, 2015
  • Captain America: Civil War Prelude (Issue #1-3), Comic, December 16, 2015
  • Agent Carter Season 2, TV (ABC), January 19, 2016
  • Captain America: Civil War Prelude (Issue #1-3), Comic, December 16, 2015
  • Captain America: Civil War Prelude (Issue #4), Comic, January 27, 2016
  • Captain America: Civil War Prelude Infinite Comic (Single Issue), Comic, February 10, 2016
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Ep 11-17, TV (ABC), March 8, 2016
  • WHIH Newsfront Season 2, Digital Series, April 22, 2016
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Ep 18-19, TV (ABC), April 26, 2016
  • Captain America: Civil War, Movie, May 6, 2016 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Ep 20-22, TV (ABC), May 10, 2016
  • Doctor Strange Prelude (Issue #1-2), Comic, July 6, 2016
  • Doctor Strange Prelude Infinite Comic – The Zealot (Single Issue), Comic, September 7, 2016
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Ep 1-2, TV (ABC), September 20, 2016
  • Luke Cage Season 1, TV (Netflix), September 30, 2016
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Ep 3-6, TV (ABC), October 11, 2016
  • Doctor Strange, Movie, November 4, 2016
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Ep 7-8, TV (ABC), November 29, 2016
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Slingshot, Digital Series, December 13, 2016
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 Prelude (Issue #1-2), Comic, January 4, 2017
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Ep 9-15, TV (ABC), January 10, 2017
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming Prelude (Issue #1), Comic, March 1, 2017
  • Iron Fist Season 1, TV (Netflix), March 17, 2017
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Ep 16, TV (ABC), April 4, 2017
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming Prelude (Issue #2), Comic, April 5, 2017
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Ep 17-20, TV (ABC), April 11, 2017
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Movie, May 5, 2017
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Ep 21-22, TV (ABC), May 9, 2017
  • Thor: Ragnarok Prelude (Issue #1), Comic, July 5, 2017
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming, Movie, July 7, 2017
  • Thor: Ragnarok Prelude (Issue #2-4), Comic, July 19, 2017
  • The Defenders, TV (Netflix), August 18, 2017
  • Inhumans Season 1 Ep 1-7, TV (ABC) September 29, 2017
  • Black Panther Prelude (Issue #1), Comic, October 18, 2017
  • Thor: Ragnarok, Movie, November 3, 2017
  • Inhumans Season 1 Ep 8, TV (ABC), November 10, 2017
  • Black Panther Prelude (Issue #2), Comic, November 15, 2017
  • The Punisher, TV(Netflix), November 17, 2017
  • Runaways, Season 1 Ep 1-4, TV (Hulu), November 21, 2017
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Ep 1-8, TV (ABC), December 1, 2017
  • Runaways, Season 1 Ep 5-10, TV (Hulu), December 5, 2017
  • Avengers: Infinity War Prelude (Issue #1), Comic, January 24, 2018
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Ep 9-10, TV (ABC), January 26, 2018
  • Black Panther, Movie, February 16, 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War Prelude (Issue #2), Comic, February 28, 2018
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Ep 11, TV (ABC), March 2, 2018
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp Prelude (Issue #1), Comic, March, 7, 2018
  • Jessica Jones Season 3, TV (Netflix), March 8, 2018
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Ep 12-14, TV (ABC), March 9, 2018
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp Prelude (Issue #2), Comic, April 2, 2018
  • Avengers: Infinity War, Movie, April 27, 2018
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp, Movie, July 6, 2018

I’m stopping here because I don’t have release dates after the first few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. But I will continue to update this if 1) I remember and 2) I feel like it.

Also, let me know in the comments if something looks wonky, it’s hard to accurately edit a list of 90+ items.