Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “life plans

So Says My Husband: “Christmas Is Saved!”

We decorated our tree! We have a pitifully small number of ornaments on it (first world problems, amiright?), but it’s up and lit. Not lit, like a great party, but alight, lol.

I put a picture up on Instagram where it was pointed out that our tree was on a lean. I would like to clarify that it’s NOT leaning. Chris did a great job at getting the tree set up. It’s very much upright… It just didn’t grow evenly on all sides.

I’ve yet to be responsible, at any point in my life, for picking out a Christmas tree. But I imagine if I did, I would walk around the entirety of the tree, checking it out from multiple angles, making sure it was as even as could be.

But like I said,¬†I haven’t ever had to go buy a tree. So what the hell do I know about what tree options are available? A whole bunch of nothing, that’s what.

All I know is I love our tree. This is our 7th Christmas together, but it’s the first time we’ve decorated a tree together. Both of us have memories of decorating the tree with our fathers (parents, but mostly our dads), and it’s nice to make these new memories together.

Weird how one tree can make me feel like Christmas is saved, huh?

After an hour at Target yesterday, we are back on track. A failed trip to Home Depot will henceforth be known as “That Time Chris Almost Ruined Christmas, But He Didn’t, So It’s Fine, So Get Over It, It’s Fine.” That’s all I’m saying about that.

Last night I cooked half a dinner at our friend Corey’s house, the other half provided by leftovers from Merry Black Christmas. Shout out to Allyson for delicious food she’s always cooking. We drank–wait for it–watermelon double IPA beer. That 10% and lovely bitterness and low low price made the watermelon worth it. It was a like a summer-themed Blue Moon. I wouldn’t recommend it.

But we were soon drunk adjacent and happily enjoying roasted chicken breast with mushroom gravy, green beans, butter-dipped artichoke, cornbread, and macaroni & cheese. We flipped back and forth between Last Holiday and whatever football game was on. Chris and I decorated the tree when we got back home. To me, it felt like the official start of our holiday celebrations.

Tonight, we’ve got a birthday hang that will span a bar I’ve never been to and a jazz club I go to all the time. It’s our friend Deadria’s farewell to her twenties. Corey has his regular jam session he leads at Smalls Jazz Club, and as usual, if we’re out, that’s where we’re ending the night.

Tomorrow, hopefully I’ll get some packing done for our upcoming trip, then we have a Christmas Eve party to go to being thrown by my friend Michael from college who lives nearby in Brooklyn.

Christmas will be a quiet day with just me and Chris (for now, lol). We’re going to see Fences in theaters. It’s not a movie unless Viola Davis is crying out her nose. I’m cooking us a tasty simple meal.

On Boxing Day, I’ll be at work, and when I get home, I’m going to watch the Sense8 Holiday Special on Netflix with my best friend David. It’s one of the shows we try and watch together even though we don’t live in the same state. Go technology. We both love Christmas, and it’s really cool that the first episode of season two is doubling as a Christmas special. I’m also working on the 27th. But I’m leaving work early on Tuesday, heading home to get my packed bag and my husband, then we’re headed to the airport.

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago I was over everything. But now I’m back on track. I’m excited for the next two weeks, like really excited. Not sure-to-be-disappointed-because-reality-can’t-live-up excited. More like who-knows-what-each-day-will-bring-so-bring-it-on excited.

Now for your visual enjoyment, my Tannenbaum and other Christmas accoutrement (when it’s singular, it’s without the s, right?):

I know it looks like it's leaning, but I swear it's not!

I know it looks like it’s leaning, but I swear it’s not! The more I look at this tree, I’m thinking, “is it really that great?” But then I’m like, “of course it is, that tree is adorable, and anyone who disagrees is blind to the truth.” So dramatic, I know, whatever.

Our cat Jazz simply had to inspect the tree. Chris chose that fabric hangy ball thing for them. Fingers crossed they don't use it to pull down the tree.

Our cat Jazz simply had to inspect the tree. Chris chose that fabric hangy ball thing for them. Fingers crossed they don’t use it to pull down the tree.

Our older cat Belle, being creepy as fuck as usual, also inspecting the tree, and judging the rest of us for our mirth.

Our older cat Belle, being creepy as fuck as usual, also inspecting the tree, and judging the rest of us for our mirth. Also, we clearly need to sweep up the needles that got sacrificed on the altar of artificial lights.

So... this was a random Etsy purchase that I love and am choosing not to justify. The inside writing is the only reason I'd pay money for White Santa. I just really love this mug. #sorrynotsorry

So… this was a random Etsy purchase that I love and am choosing not to justify. The inside writing is the only reason I’d pay money for White Santa. I just really love this mug. #sorrynotsorry

You’re welcome. ūüėČ

 


When You Forget How To Enjoy Life

Do you ever forget how to enjoy life? I don’t mean sinking into a full depression where nothing holds the same joy. I’m referring more to when responsibilities and relationships and work and bills and politics and injustice take over most of your brain power, and you forget to make time for things that suddenly feel a bit trivial.

I wasn’t even sure what I was thinking or how to articulate it, but then Twitter came through for me. A write for The Establishment, Ijeoma Oluo posted a piece today that targets a lot of what I’m feeling. If you’re not familiar with her, Google her, she’s got a lot of great things to say.

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Her piece today is called, “What I’m Doing To Get My Black Ass Ready For The Next 4 Years.”¬†I read it and so much of it resonated with me. In it was a call to action, and a reminder for self-love. Seeking out community as well as allies is essential.

In case you don’t understand, the worry of the next four years is almost entirely about Trump. In just the two weeks since he was elected, the ugly underbelly of America has shown it’s ass. A lot of people aren’t sure how to respond.

Here’s what I’ve personally been doing:

  1. Putting my money where my mouth is. I make monthly contributions to Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood. I also have donated money on different fundraising sites to help different causes such as Get Rodricus Crawford Home! and Baton Rouge Legal Defense Fund. And I’ve taken out a subscription for Mother Jones, independent news outlets will likely be our only hope in the coming years.
  2. Adding my name to the roll. I’ve signed a number of online petitions, and I’ve made a number of phone calls to elected officials to make sure they know at least one additional person cares about what bills and policies they support.
  3. Reaffirming for myself what’s most important. I have to be in a position to protect and support those I care about. Making sure my priorities are in order a useful bit of self-care so I won’t have to make hard choices later.
  4. Maintaining my health and wellness. Continuing to try and live healthy and happy will keep my body and mind fortified for what’s coming. And I signed up for more volunteer work, it benefits me just like it benefits others.

When Trump is sworn in, will the sky fall? Maybe not for all of us, but definitely for some of us. In just the month of November, he’s both promised to indict Clinton and backed off from that. He’s promised to build the wall between USA and Mexico and later spent a lot of time talking about everything but. He’s completely full of crap in almost every way possible. The only thing he’s been clear on is his business interests and his need for constant praise.

Trump settled the Trump University lawsuit for $25 million and has an upcoming rape trial. A lot of that is too hard to even process for most people still in election shock. This is all just what’s happening now, while the executive branch is still in transition. No one knows what policy positions he’ll actually land on for anything.

We must remain vigilant because there is no telling what he will do.

I have a lot going on in my personal life, so focusing on both the big and small pictures will be hard for me. Worrying about myself and those closest with me will not always line up with worrying about the world around me. But I’m not going to stop trying to do both.

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I borrowed this image from Ijeoma Oluo’s article. It’s such a powerful image, and it strengthens my resolve every time I look at it.


Thinking of Oranges, Master’s Degrees, And Someone Other Than Myself

I have found a volunteer opportunity! I’m going to work with a Boys & Girls Club in Manhattan doing tutoring for high school students. It’s a pretty low time commitment and they’ll work with my not-my-choice flexible schedule.

I’m just happy that I’ll be back volunteering again. I’ve missed doing something for people I don’t know. Living in New York can turn you into a self-involved navel gazer for sure. Taking a step outside of the bubble that makes up life can be healthy. In my case, it’s super healthy.

I went for orientation last week, and we start the week after next I believe. These NYC kids are tough, but the kids in the program are there because they signed up, so fingers crossed they actually want to be there and want the help being offered.

Other than getting back into volunteering, there’s still yoga, there’s still work, there’s still supporting my husband’s career. And there’s still lots of family stuff.

My mother and mother-in-law will be here on Wednesday. They’re coming in town for my husband’s recital. All the graduating students have to have a recital, and I’m excited to see what he’s chosen for his part of it. He’s in the middle of midterms now, so we’re on the final downhill slope. In just a handful of weeks, he’ll have his Master’s Degree and never have to be a student again if he doesn’t want to.

I’m so jealous. I’d love to be done with school. Instead I’m ramping up to finally complete an application to get my MBA. I’m kinda glad I waited because I was so sure I wanted to get an MBA with a focus on healthcare. But now, staying in the same industry isn’t so appealing. Getting a less specialized degree seems wise.

Leaving my company for different job isn’t the best idea because of the salary, benefits, and job duties. Not many companies can compare for my current education level and work experience. Getting a Master’s would change a lot in terms of what jobs are available to me.

Instead of standing still, not making any one decision, I need to choose a path. All standing still has got me is three years in the exact same spot I was in when we first moved here. That is a waste of time, and I’m kinda over it. And with my husband wrapping up his degree, it seems like the perfect time to finally move forward.

People usually have introspective moments on their birthday or New Year’s or whatever. I’m having this moment because my grandfather died one year ago today. He turned 90 on October 30, 2015. One can say many things about that man, but I’m thinking about how he squeezed so much life out of 90 years.

I wonder if there are things he wanted to do that he never got a chance to. I bet that list for him was shorter than it was for most people. If I had to pick one of his traits to emulate, I’d like to it be that one. Gonna squeeze more and more out of life, like a particularly juicy citrus fruit.

I love that pleasant surprise when your lemonade (made with fresh lemons) or your margarita (made with fresh limes) or you mimosa (made with fresh oranges or blood oranges) uses less fruit than average. You get a workout from really squeezing the fruit, you feel like the world gave you a little bit extra that day. And I swear it makes your beverage that much better.

I should probably buy some oranges. My mother and mother-in-law love mimosas. Plus it’s cold and flu season and I ride the subway to and from work.


Remember That Time I Started Bloggging Again?

So, if you asked me on pretty much any given day, I’d swear that blogging was important to me. I think about it a lot. I’ve been working on the Grey’s Anatomy post, updating it for years. And I read so many blogs. So. Many. Blogs.

But I think actions speak louder than words. And my actions show I’ve posted nothing new here on my blog in months. So what do my actions say? They say blogging just isn’t a priority for me. I’d like it to be though.

Hell, I wish I could make time to blog every day. And those blog posts would be adorable and funny, but also intimate and deep, making the blogosphere flock to my every word. I’d turn that popularity into a platform for equality of the live-and-let-live vein. Then ABC would call, and¬†of course, I’d happily appear on the next season of Dancing with the Stars.

But, none of that is likely to happen because I can’t manage more than 20 posts a year…

What it really comes down to is that sometimes stuff happens in life that I just don’t want to write about. Sometimes those things are major and take up all my brain, but it just doesn’t feel publicly discussable. So when that happens, instead of posting cat videos or posting about the other, less-super-important things in life, I just kinda disappear.

Never my intent, but what the hell is intent worth when the end result is the same?

I’m sitting next to my husband Chris, and he’s super shocked that I’m blogging. His exact words were, “holy shit! You still blog?!”

I think that says it all.

So after the most rambling introduction I could come up with, what am I to talk about?

I could talk about my grandfather dying. I could allude to work frustrations, avoiding HIPAA violations to tell funny co-worker stories. I could talk about Chris’s career in music and our crazy New York friends. I could talk about my friends who aren’t in New York and all the wonderful drama in their lives. I could talk about my obsession with TV. I could talk about finally having a fully livable, completely unpacked house (for the first time since Chris and I have lived together!).

Eh, I should probably figure out what this blog is going to be about these days. Having a focus is key. How else am I going to end up on Dancing with the Stars?

I could to about being a shopaholic in denial. I could talk about how domestic I am (three course meal, anyone?). I could talk about how painting my nails is totally my therapy, but it’s the one thing in life I never seem to get better at with more practice. I could talk about my hair (dreadlocks) or my tattoos (I’m up to 6 now). I could talk about my cats; they really have way too much personality. I could talk about my family and my fabulously retired parents.

Maybe I’ll talk about all of that. A lot of how I talk to my friends is just telling stories of things I think are interesting or things that matter to me. I don’t if you can tell that I’m just typing all of this as I’m thinking it, but I’ve decided just now that I’m going to treat this blog going forward as a way to tell my stories.

If something happens that I’d tell one of my friends in a story (assuming it doesn’t violate anyone else’s privacy), I’ll tell it here. Hopefully with pictures or memes to illustrate, because who wants just words?

And now for your viewing pleasure, a picture of my latest tattoo:

holly and mistletoe tattoo

This is holly & mistletoe, tied together artistically. It’s designed to match the ivy tattoo on my arm.

ivy tattoo

I love my tattoo guy. His name is BJ Storms and he works at Code of Conduct in Chicago. He can take my crazy clip art ideas and make something wonderful and artistic from it.

Now let’s all cross our fingers that I post literally anything else between now and the end of the year.


I Won’t Paint My Home, But Can I Paint Yours?

I can’t even say why, but I really love talking about the weather y’all. It’s finally over 60 degrees in New York now. And that makes me very happy. And the forecast is holding. It’s not supposed to go any lower than 38 for the next 10 days.

You know it’s been a brutal winter when you’re happy for a low of 38 in April.

In celebration of Spring, there will be pastel nail polish, there will be spring cleaning, and there might be packing away winter clothes.

Now that I live in NYC, and there are pretty distinct seasons, I feel like I should put away the sweaters and heavy boots until November. But now that I live in NYC, I don’t have any freaking room for extra storage. I know, I know, first world problems.

But I really want to put away the clothes. I want to put some lavender potpourri in with the clothes so they smell good when unearthed in 6-7 months. And I would love being a size too small to fit some of the clothes at that time.

A girl can dream.

Pinterest isn’t helping. I dream of amazing storage solutions and a multi-tasking armoire, and basically just other ways to spend up all the money. Thank God I married a man who likes to save.

It’s nice to add things to my apartment to make it feel more at home. Brooklyn still doesn’t feel like home to me, but that apartment is feeling more like home.

We’ve been in the apartment since July 2013, which is quite a while for me. So. Much. Moving.

In all that time, it always felt like this super temporary place, and even unpacking the suitcases seems extra. But everything changed when my parents came to visit.

My mother and father came for New Year’s, and it was amazing. We didn’t really even do much of anything. But on New Year’s Eve, it was perfect. I came home from work, my dad made steaks, we popped some champagne.

We watched the New Year’s Eve programming on ABC, flipping back and forth between that and a Law & Order marathon. At one point my mother fell asleep, and then Belle took a nap of her head. My dad and I were the only ones awake in the house, just bantering back and forth about whatever was on the screen, and I’m pretty sure we went through almost 3 full bottles of champagne.

It was like someone picked out my favorite New Year’s Eve moments from the last 30 years and smushed them all into one evening. Having that time, just on the couch with my parents, finally made that apartment feel like home.

Since their visit, I’ve been doing more decorating and organizing. Knowing our 3-ish year plan, it just makes sense. Why feel temporary in a place for 3 years if you don’t have to?

But there are certain things I just can’t bring myself to do until I’m in my permanent home. I won’t paint the rooms any color. I won’t get any more custom shelves made. I won’t buy curtains that cost more than $25. And I’m not buying my dream couch.

Something like this is what I’d love. To be able to lay down in front of the TV also facing the TV… that’s the dream…

It would suck so bad to have this amazing couch and then have to get rid of it because it doesn’t fit in a new place. Ditto for those custom-made shelving solutions I’ve seen at the Container Store. And on Instagram. And Pinterest.

Pinterest really isn’t helping.

I take it as a sign of growing up that I’m having this desire to set up a more permanent home. That, and I watch¬†a lot of HGTV. I would be falling over myself to get on one of those shows if they filmed¬†in New York.

I would love to go on¬†Property Brothers. If not them, then Fixer Upper. Worst case scenario, I’d buy a crap place with a lot of space, then go on Love It or List It. But none of these shows are in New York. Why?! It’s just not fair.

In the mean time, I’m living vicariously through my parents. They just bought a new house. I’m trying to work out my schedule so I can go visit and see it in person sooner rather than later. I am not¬†painting my apartment, but I can certainly paint in their new place.

Yes, a bit of a nesting fix is exactly what I need.

I’m off to check ticket prices on expedia.com.


Just The Icing, Still No Cake

Easter is on Sunday, and I’m so excited! Part of me wishes I could say it was religious reasons, but it’s not. It’s for food and shopping reasons.

Lent ends real soon. And I gave up carbs and shopping for Lent, as you know. So all of you can go from being mini cupcakes back to being regular human people. You can keep your whipped cream frosting if you’d like.

One of my friends, the lawyer has a plan for the end of her Lent. Our girl is having a birthday dinner in Chicago on Saturday night. And of course there will be a cake. So my friend the lawyer is planning on getting a piece (or three) of this birthday cake and keeping it until midnight. After dinner, and likely dancing, there will be birthday cake.

When she said her plan for ending Lent, I knew I had to come up with one of my own. I thought about making one of the amazing recipes I’ve seen on Pinterest recently, just go full carb.

But that didn’t seem appropriate. I certainly haven’t lost any real weight since I’ve cut out carbs, but I feel a bit like I’ve cut an addiction. So I think I’ll just make some roasted red potatoes to go with my Easter dinner, and leave the carbs at that.

Speaking of Pinterest, I’ve been told by a few people how amazing it is, I’ve even been called a walking Pinterest, which I wasn’t sure was a compliment. But I love Pinterest!

All the hair ideas, clothing ideas, food ideas, drink ideas, design ideas. And I’m sure that’s just tip of the iceberg. I probably has one million and one cute cat pictures, I just haven’t stumbled across those boards yet.

I’m only using it (right now) to have a board for my Stitch Fix stylist and to get great accessory ideas. I got¬†an idea I got for how to wear a head scarf, and I tried it out on Tuesday.

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But back to the end of Lent. If I’m not going to go all carb, all day, I have to do something, and that something is going to be shopping.

It’s not going to be just shopping for the sake of shopping though. I’m going to be useful shopping. I’m going to take some of the money I’ve saved¬†not shopping during Lent and buy a bicycle.

Every single bike I’ve ever owned has been stolen. I guess that’s the price of living in the hood (or hood-adjacent) all my life.

So while priority #1 for this bike will be the usual: it must be super cute, priority #2 is that it must must be lightweight.

The reason my last bike was stolen is because I had a cheap lock on it and kept it locked up outside. It was just so heavy to carry in and out of the brownstone where I live.

So this new bike that I will hopefully purchase on Sunday will:

1) be cute

2) be very lightweight

3) be turquoise

4) have some sort of basket for carrying things, and some other way to carry stuff on it

5) be old-style looking

6) be a relatively reasonable price

7) help me get my ass back to yoga

I’d like it to look something like this:

I just really want to get back to yoga. I always feel my best when I go regularly, I still have my monthly membership, and with a bike I can easily get back and forth to the studio.

Perhaps I’ll ride the bike even more now that Spring has truly come to NYC. With a real lock this time, I’ll have less worries of it being stolen. Then perhaps the bike can provide useful transportation as well as exercise.

Exercise is something I need in my life. Not just because I’m 30 and my body is already responding differently (ie, worse) to the lack of exercise. And not just because my family is going on vacation to the Dominican Republic this August and I’m trying get that beach body right. But because I want to feel like myself again.

I want the increased energy, I want the better sleep at night, and I want the confidence.

I want to be able to grab anything out of my closet and not have to hope it’ll zip up today. I want to wake up refreshed, not be so lethargic.

And the fact that the key to all of this seems to be shopping, well that’s just the whipped cream icing on the cake. Well, still no cake. I’m going to try and stay low carb even after Lent is over.


A Chicago-Style Girl In New York, Weekend Edition

Because I was so busy getting ready for the move to NYC, I started a bunch of draft posts. As I’m settling into the city, I’ll post them. To keep up with my new adventures, don’t forget to follow my new Twitter account @ChicagoGirlinNY

So now here is the story of my weekend in New York with my girls that resulted in me having just a couple weeks to relocate.

My girls and I left on a Saturday evening to drive to New York.  We had a great time doing the tourist thing in the city.

We stayed in a hotel in Chelsea. When we rolled up, it was hot, it was Sunday, and there was garbage everywhere because New York doesn’t have alleys. Garbage pick up day in New York has got be where the phrase “hot garbage on a Sunday” comes from.

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We hung out in Chelsea all morning, and did a little shopping. I had a high fashion moment with a collar accessory in H&M.

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We couldn’t check into the hotel until 3:00 PM, so we had time to kill. We decided to go to Central Park. I was so excited because out of all the times I’ve been to New York I’d never make my way to the park.

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Us citified-yet-Midwestern girls are not cut out for all that nature/walking. We entered the park at 59th & Columbus Circle. Next thing I know, we’re by the zoo and tired as hell without the energy to make it back to the subway.

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It was just so much fun walking and taking random paths and seeing the meadow, the carnival, the kids park, the rocks to climb, etc. So much stuff, and we didn’t even see half of it.

We really spent a lot of time figuring out places where they shot movies. We saw locations for scenes from Enchanted, Brown Sugar, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and others.

Riding the subway was fun. I’ve ridden it before, and it’s just slightly more complicated than the L in Chicago.

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It was nice to be the expert for my girls as we made our way around Manhattan.

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And we were entertained by the local performers. Sorry the picture is fuzzy, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share a local jazz flute player.

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After Central Park, we checked into the hotel. Then it was time for food. We headed towards Times Square to do a food crawl of all the New York-style foods one should get as a tourist. But before we got the food, we got stopped by quite the sight to see.

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That’s body paint, not a bod suit. She was really something, no? I sent this pic to my friend who just moved back to Chicago from New York, and she got nostalgic for all the crazy shit that happens there that’s just regular to everyone except the tourists. Apparently, in exactly six months, stuff like this won’t even phase me.

We did hot dogs, pizza, and were going for cheesecake at Lindy’s, but we got too tired and just stopped at this place called Havana and got tapas and Latin themed drinks and flan and cheesecake instead.

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By the time we left there, the sun was going down.

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We decided to go out dancing, but I still didn’t have anything to wear. So we popped into Forever 21, which is open until 2:00 AM in Times Square.

We were loving NYC when we realized we could shop at a four-story Forever 21 almost 24 hours a day. But then it was time to go out. I got the best picture ever while we were waiting for the subway train.

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When we made it to the club, it was closed. Whomp whomp. Sunday night, what can you do? So instead we went to a bar near the hotel and had a drink. Then it was time for bed because I had an interview the next day.

I honestly don’t even know what the girls did while I was at my interview. I just know it involves Macy’s. My interview lasted three hours, during which I did amazing things. I mean, it must’ve been amazing because they offered me the job less than 24 hours later. I’m just so grateful to be given the opportunity and soooo excited for the move!

We ended up going to the world’s fanciest sports bar for lunch. It’s right across the street from Madison Square Garden on like 32 St. I think.

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The good was great. After we finished, we got ready to get back on the road. This quick little turn around got me a job and got my girls to NYC for the first time. Even though the total driving time was only 6 or so hours less than the time we spent there, it was totally worth it.

Now I’m here in New York and experiencing times like this weekend every day. I can’t wait to share all the great places I’ve discovered in Brooklyn, a borough I never set foot in until I was apartment searching. Stay tuned!


Big Changes Coming

There will be a change coming soon to the look of my blog. I’m going to have to do it because now the look is Chicago-centric. I’m a born and raised Chicago girl after all, so it made sense to have it that way.

But now, drum roll please…

 

I am about to become A Chicago-Style Girl in New York City!

 

That’s right, I’m moving to the Big Apple on July 15th. It all happened so fast. I’ve been alluding here and there on this blog for months that a change might come, but I never really got too much into it. There was just so much up in the air, I didn’t eve know where to start.

The uncertainty of my future coupled with my shame over not staying on a consistent exercise schedule made it difficult to find the motivation to blog. Add to it how busy my life is, and you have a perfect storm of neglect.

I should start vlogging. That way I can just chat about what I want to say and don’t have to go back over it for spellcheck.

But back to the point at hand. I’m moving to NYC!!

Here’s what happened.

The husband has always intended to move to New York. He’s a jazz musician and New York is the place to see where his career can really go. We’ve planned on heading there the entire time we’ve been together.

The plan was for me to look for work in the donation/transplant field that I currently work in and for the husband to apply for grad school.

But then he didn’t apply for grad school, and our plans got pushed back a year.

This year, he applied, but extra late. Lucky for him, he got into Queens College, which is where he really wanted to go. Apparently there’s some amazing saxophone person there he really wants to learn from/study with.

Once it was clear the husband actually turned in an application for grad school, I started applying for jobs in New York. There weren’t a lot of them available that fit what I wanted to do with what I’m¬†qualified to do, but I still applied.

I got a couple of bites here and there, but nothing that resulted in a job offer.

After a series of unfortunate events, the husband decides he isn’t going to start grad school until January 2014. Pretty much immediately after that, I got a call for an interview in New York. My girls and I had a weekend trip up there, and the timing worked out for the interview.

When I went, I fell even more in love with the city. Walking around Central Park, hanging out in Chelsea, and riding the subway  just felt so right. The interview went really well (they had me there for three hours!), and they called to offer me the job the very next day.

This was last Tuesday.

Things have been on such a whirlwind since then. Since our lease was up at the end of June, I was more than happy to move out, but now had to plan for an almost immediate move to NYC. We don’t have all the details worked out yet, but this is happening.

The husband and I are at my parents for a few weeks until it’s time for me to head to New York and try to find an apartment. My last day of work is July 12th. There are a million things to do between now and then.

But for blogging purposes, I will soon be A Chicago-Style Girl in NYC. Wish me luck!


Hyde Park, Oh How I Hate Thee

Can someone explain to me why my neighborhood is full of assholes? Just non-parking assholes. Assholes who don’t understand that we’re all living practically on top of each other, so can you please have you domestic dispute a little quieter? I know there are jerks everywhere, but my little south side of Chicago¬†eclectic¬†neighborhood houses a special kind.

Pretty soon, my problems will change. I’m looking forward to June 30th. That’s the day our lease is up. I’m turning Project UnPack into Project Pack The Hell Up.

I’m trying to decide if I want to go the route of trying to sell all the extra crap we have. We really don’t need two beds, but we have it. We really don’t need 3 TVs, but we have it. And we really truly don’t need all the bookcases we have, especially since we bought the Elfa shelves.¬†Wouldn’t¬†it be better to donate everything to Salvation Army or something and get a nice receipt for when we file taxes? I like the idea that my TVs would help someone who would get a great deal at the Salvation Army store.

Aside from packing up and leaving and downsizing all our crap, there are a few other things I’ll be glad to say good-bye to:

  1. Theft: someone stole the husband’s bike. They stole it from the basement room in our building that houses over 15 bikes. As far as we know, his is the only one missing.
  2. Gunfire: I hate that I saw two people exchange gunfire outside my apartment. I grew up in the 100s, so gunfire isn’t new to me. But for real, when you have galleries and hotels (not motels) and pets dogs so well trained they don’t need leashes in your neighborhood, you shouldn’t have to also dodge bullets.
  3. Hypocritical Cops: Having to deal with cops who don’t come when I report gunfire, but who make my parents move for sitting in their car outside our apartment talking before pulling off is some bullshit. I’ve heard more handcuff jokes from cops who were poorly flirting than I’ve seen drive past wearing their seat belts. And we have CPD, University of Chicago PD, and whoever those unmarked cops are because we live a half mile from Obama’s house.
  4. Poor parking: Aside from the fact that the neighborhood is too congested is the fact that half the residents cannot park. If you know your neighborhood doesn’t have enough parking, why do you purposely park like a jackass? I will never understand the answer to that. And for all you people who are self-aware bad parkers, ignorance is not an excuse. They can tell when they get out of their car that had they only moved up another foot, someone else could park behind them.

At this point, I don’t even care where we live next. As long as there is no parking issues, and the cops come when folks start shooting, I’ll be happy.

Oh, and if I could somehow make my work commute (~90 minutes in traffic currently) more bearable, that would be nice too.

Someone who loves where they live give me a comment so I can live vicariously through you for the next three months!


BPA, Damn It!

Have you heard of BPA? It’s bisphenol A. Google it if you’re not sure.

It’s an estrogen mimicking chemical in a lot of plastic products. You can recognize it because it has a 7 in the recycling triangle on the plastic.

Here’s the deal. BPA is bad. Giving people a large amount of synthetic hormone is no bueno. Women with weird menopause symptoms, men with boobs, babies with second evil heads, BPA probably contributed to your issues.

Because my undergrad degree was in Chemistry, I get real uneasy about these chemical issues because of stuff I learned in school. BPA in particular freaks me out. I know they’ve been using it since the 1960s. But they’ve used more and more over the years as plastics have become ubiquitous.

And it’s not just plastic. BPA is in receipts, canned goods, and all sorts of other things. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my baby to grow a second evil head.

Since I got married, I’ve been especially worried about this. I’ve started avoiding receipts. I keep a Ziploc bag in my purse for¬†receipts¬†when I have no choice but to take them. I don’t eat any canned foods anymore (though I will still serve 50+ year old men canned food).

But there’s one issue I can’t figure out how to handle. Plastic cups and other containers. The FDA recently made a rule for no BPA in baby containers, but adult containers can still have them. So if I use cups with BPA in them, it will be in my breast milk. I don’t want my babies to have second evil heads.

I have tried very hard to keep my health the best it can be. We’re not planning on having kids for a few more years, but in case I accidentally (knock on wood) get pregnant, I want low BPA, high folic acid, and high antioxidants in my system at all times.

Would it be going to far to only drink out of cups that are either glass or meant for children? Maybe, but what if (God forbid) I get pregnant in 4 months? I don’t want all that BPA floating around my system, feminizing my unborn son.

The FDA is still insisting BPA is harmless. I say whatever to that. I tend to stay away from things until we’ve had enough time to prove their okay. Laser eye surgery concerned me, and still will, until I know someone who’s had it for 20 years.

Now that BPA is going away from babies, I expect we’ll see a decline in weird new baby issues in the next 5 years or so. And since that’s smack in the middle of my baby making intentions, I will avoid BPA.

I know I can’t avoid all possible issues with any children I give birth to. But just like eating (relatively) healthy, and exercising, I can do my part and hope the genetic dice roll agrees.

Am I being completely crazy? Has anybody else ever made any big pre-pregnancy changes just in case?


And Now I’m Worried

The husband and I sat down today. We had been planning on it for a while. We were going to chase our dreams. We were going to throw caution to the wind in hopes of fulfilling the hopes of our lives. But first… We had to come up with a budget.

I’ve decided I married a five year old.

The husband is not bad with money. He keeps track of his bills, he doesn’t over-spend, he has his shit together. But for some reason, talking about budgets makes him sit cross-legged on the floor and stare with glazed over eyes into the distance.

He’d definitely five years old.

After a general talk about our finances in the coming year, I knew that we needed to come up with a budget. Now that the husband will be only a musician and not a musician/music teacher, our income is going to drop by tens of thousands of dollars. That’s a lot ‘o money.

He makes good money as a musician and I make good money at my job, so we’ll still be in the middle class according to the IRS and government and them. But things will be very¬†very different.

No more $300 dinners at any restaurant we feel like frequenting. No more shopping sprees on a whim. That thought alone makes me was to act like a five year old. Like the husband.

But we got through the budget talk. We set what we hope are realistic goals for what we can spend each month. We included all our bills, saving for a rainy day, still managing to travel, and maintenance for the cars, instruments, cats, etc.

We also underestimated our income so we’ll have a cushion each month for incidentals, like a flat tire.

According to our budget, we’ll have exactly $4 left over each month after bills, entertainment, tithing, and saving.

We’ve been spoiled in our little world where we have lots of disposable income. But if we stick to the budget, we can still travel, eat out at restaurants, go to movies, shop, and hang out at bars. We’ll just do it a lot less.

Now I feel my eyes glazing over.

And I feel worried about money. I¬†never ever ever¬†worry about money. I don’t like this feeling.

The good news is we plan to re-assess our budget in a month or so to see how it’s working out. And luckily, we can both access our budget in an app that I can get on my blackberry and kindle, and he can get on his iPhone.

Technology may be what keeps us on task.

Or in two months I may be saying we scrapped the whole plan.

But I have faith that the husband is in fact 28 and NOT five years old.

He will check the budget before he goes out to a bar after a gig.

And I have faith that I can control my impulses.

I will not come home with $500 worth of shoes for the husband and myself.

Do you keep a budget? How do you make it work?


More Thoughts On My Career Path

I wrote a post exactly six months ago with musings on my career path. I gave it some more thought and now I want to talk about what I’m feeling on the matter.

Some background:

I used to be in medical school, but I withdrew because I didn’t want to be a doctor. If you’ve only ever read this blog and not my old ones, just know that this is a story for another time that I will explain one day. After I left medical school, I had to get a job. I like the field of medicine and knew I still wanted to be involved but only tangentially.

I thought I’d be doing research, but instead I’m doing organ and tissue donation. And I really freaking love my job. The only reason I ever don’t want to come to work is if I haven’t gotten enough sleep. I like this job enough to consider making it into a career. When you turn away from being a doctor, finding a new career is a daunting task. But I think I may have found it on the first try.

In doing my research, I have found out several things. 1) I can work anywhere on the planet because everyone does donation. 2) I can always find new things to try because there are so many facets to donation. I just will never be a transplant nurse or surgeon. 3) Administration is the way to go. With a Master’s and/or PhD, the pay scale jumps almost to the mid 6 figures at the very top.

I’m still not 100% sure I want to make a career out of donation. But I could, I really really could.

If I could add to my job some face-to-face interactions with either donor families or recipients, that would be even better.

Let’s play a game. It’s called, “In a Perfect World.” Usually I play this game with another dreamer friend where we imagine what would be perfection in our entire lives. It’s usually based solely on our motivations right at the moment, but it’s useful to assess reality compared to hopes/dreams.

But for today, “In A Perfect World” will be career only. In my perfect career world, I will be making 6 figures¬†after taxes and tithing. I will do paperwork and occasionally make presentations to my peers. I will interact with families who my services help. I won’t be in charge of the money. I’ll still get to do the day-to-day work of making donation happen. I’ll have a couple more degrees under my belt. And most importantly, I’ll still love my job. Oh! And I’ll have time for my family and friends in there too.

If you were in a perfect world, how would you describe your career?


Getting My [insert noun here] In Shape

Summer, my body, parties, my apartment, hobbies. Fill in the blank with almost anything I wish I were doing more of.

I should be getting my ass in shape. I’m working on it. But just not as wholeheartedly as I’d like. I love bike riding, and I love yoga. Finding the time and¬†motivation¬†is a losing battle. At least I’m eating better. More grains and fruit, less over-processed and fried foods.

Summer is shaping up. I’ve been trying to spend more time outside, and more time with my friends. I’ve been quite unsuccessful at both. It took so long to get warm, and now that it is, I’ve got to get it together. I have a whole week off starting the 4th of July. I’m planning some great things for the husband’s birthday, and I should be able to squeeze a lot in that week.

We’re throwing a party for the husband’s birthday. We had one in June which was amazing. And we’ll have another in July. That should keep me feeling party-ful for the summer. I’m still in my 20s, so I shouldn’t be over clubs yet, should I? I am though, so I won’t be doing much partying-in-a-loud-ass-room-surrounded-by-strangers-I-have-no-interest-in.

My apartment is still terrible. It’s getting better, but I haven’t made any progress since we got those amazing shelves from The Container Store. My next plan is to buy another set of shelves and connect it to the first set. The expansion will make room for the TV and our books. That way we can get rid of the bookcases and really have some effective downsizing done ahead of the move to NYC.

And lastly hobbies. I thought I’d be doing more at church, more volunteering, more rock climbing. And I’ve done nothing. I don’t even draw in my sketchbook anymore.

You know what? I’m done complaining. If I spend all my free time doing nothing, I can’t feel bad that I’ve got nothing done. I’m going to focus on what I can get done.

I can stay on top of my TV shows.

I’m not kidding. I really do love television. And coming up this month and next are the summer premiers of some of my favorite shows. I love White Collar, Leverage, Franklin & Bash. I can watch those shows and feel a sense of accomplishment.

And then after that, I’ll get my butt up off the couch and go bike riding along the lake. And I’ll invite along one of my friends. And bring a snack of fresh fruit and water.

Boom, problem solved.


Fifty by Age 50

[Last Updated January 9, 2017]

The husband and I have decided that we will do better at accomplishing goals if we make lists. Both he and I are list people, and we’ve made some lists together. We both love to travel, but we keep acting like we are tethered to home.

We have no kids, we have no mortgage. We’re young and we make good money. So we are going to get back into travel. As teenagers and college students, we both did a ton of travelling. We’ve both been to China. And we are going to go to a lot more places together.

We have decided we’re gonna go to every state in the United States of America and we sat down during our honeymoon and picked fifty countries we will make every effort to visit by the time we’re 50.

Some of the countries listed are places one or both of us have been, but we want to travel to these places together. I’ve got more travel experience in the Caribbean, and the husband has been to Europe. But in the next 22 and a half years, we’ll make it happen.

I’m sure at this point you’re dying to know which countries we picked. But I’m going to first talk about states. I’m thinking we should include their districts and territories too. Here’s our list:

Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Marianas Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Virgin Islands, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

I know that’s more than 50, but it’s not our fault the U.S. is so territorial. On to the 50 countries:

Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, C√īte d‚ÄôIvoire, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, United Arab Emirates.

Even thought only about half of these are places neither of us have been, nothing gets crossed of until we go together. I took a weekend off next month, and we’re still trying to decide where to go. Maybe we’ll hit up Canada and cross that off. Or maybe Memphis so we can do Tennessee and Mississippi.

Having this list gives us a sense of urgency about actually travelling. It’s so easy to worry about money or being in town for important gigs. The next thing you know, a year has passed and the furthest we’ve gone is back and forth to Indianapolis and St. Louis and Chicago. That was pretty much our 2011. But no more!

Wish us happy travels.


Climbing Up The Ladder At Work

There have been some changes going on at work recently. I’m not about to air our office gossip and drama on the internet, so I will skip to the important facts that pertain to me.

My main job duties include placing kidneys and the pancreas in organ donation cases. Only some of our office staff is trained to do this work. The kidney placer with the most seniority on each shift is the shift lead. Because of some moves around the office with other people’s training and switching to different shifts (and a lof of drama in between), I’m about to become a senior placer and a shift lead on most of my shifts.

I’ve only been working at this job since May 2011, but things have really worked out in my favor. Because of how quickly I trained, along with some office politics and drama, I’ve been left standing as the obvious choice to keep moving up.

With thoughts of moving to New York City in my mind I took a look at the open positions at the NYC counterpart of my office. The job that most appealed to me required some leadership experience in the field. The ambitious side of me started thinking.

I figured that if we do stay in Chicago for another year, the leadership experience of being a shift lead for over a year would definitely count toward me being qualified for that better position. I don’t know if the position would even be open this time next year, but it’s a possibility.

Non-profits have a pretty high turnover rate. If I have this job for 2 years and then only leave because my husband got into grad school in another state, they’ll know I have job loyalty and will be setting up shop for at least another 2 years. That’s a good investment for them.

I feel so blessed to have been trained so quickly, and to have stayed out of the work drama. When this opportunity came up, I was an obvious and agreeable choice for it. The other people who aren’t yet trained may be done training by March, but the shift lead position is mine.

Even if we do end up moving to New York this summer, I still will be glad for the opportunity to grow and learn more. If I make a career out of donation, I want every chance I can grab hold of to gain more experience.

I gotta say, it feels amazing to be a in position where it feels like no matter what move I make, I can’t go wrong.


Planting A Seed of Trust

There’s this metaphor I came up with¬†on Sunday. I think of re-building the trust is my relationship as planting a seed and watching it grow into a tree.

The fianc√© and I discussed how hard it is for me to just magically start trusting him again. My new natural instinct had been to question everything he said, if not aloud then at least in my mind. I couldn’t think of anything that he’d said in the preceding several days that¬†I just believed.

I’m not a cynical or distrustful person by nature, so I was feeling very uncomfortable in this new stage of my relationship and not sure how to move forward. Then, the fianc√© said, “you trusted my strength, and you believed me when I said I pick you over lying.”

I had a powerful paradigm shift right at the moment. I realized he was right. When we discussed how his strenght pulled us through that rough patch, I never doubted it. I believed him when he said he’d be strong for the both of us. I knew he was telling the truth and I knew I could count on him.

Out of all this tumult, we emerged feeling closer and more intimate than ever. We are able freely discuss all our emotions, which is totally new for me. Being emotionally vulnerable all the time, never having to put on a strong front has done magnificent things for our mental, emotional, and spiritual connection as a couple.

I realized that the trust I have in him to be strong for both of us was a starting point. It was a metaphorical seed I could plant and nurture into a strong tree. I felt immensely better almost immediately. Knowing I had something he’d said and done that I just instinctively believed and trusted gave me a feeling of peace.

I stopped worrying about how long it would take to heal our rift. I knew it would take time, but I knew we could do it. All I needed was a starting point to go from, and I had that!

The foundation of our relationship is love, trust, and communication. We talk about those three a lot, but I don’t think I’ve ever really focused on one at a time in my own time to think about it. Writing things out in this blog has become a way for me to process and sort through my logic, emotions, etc., so I think I’m going to do blog posts about it.

Back to this seed. I think sunlight, water, and plant food ought to do the trick. Metaphorically I think that’s keeping up our emotional connection, keeping up our mental connection, and taking specific note of new situations that build trust.


Some Thoughts On My Career Path

Back when I was in medical school (I will eventually write a post explaining that situation to my newer readers), I lamented the fact that the next 30 years of my career were basically planned out for me. I envied my friend who were getting Master’s Degrees and working for non-profits.

Now that I am planning on getting a Master’s Degree and am working for a non-profit, I rejoice in the open-ended opportunities I can make for myself. So far, the grass is indeed greener.

Right now I work in organ and tissue donation. I love it so much. The part about actually helping people and saving lives with tangible results was missing for me in med school. At work, I get to do it every day. Every single day I work, I have proof of someone’s life who was saved on enhanced.

So far, I even personally know one person who’s life was saved through organ donation. That was a moment in my life I will always cherish.

The exact work I do from day to day is not something I can maintain for years to come. Working 12 hour shifts is no good for my sleep needs, spending time with my man, maintaining a relationship with friends and family, and general sedentary behavior I’d like to avoid.

The question is how do I keep up with the joy of my work, but with better working alternatives? It’s something I’ll be thinking about over the next few years.

For now, I intend to stay in the same type of job. All the lateral moves within my company are to jobs with even worse hours and work I really wouldn’t want to do.¬† I’m only 7 months in at this point and so I”m too new to think about advancement.

Do I want to move into administration? Yes, eventually. I’m planning on getting my Master’s in Healthcare Administration. Even though I’d be doing more paperwork than actual life saving, I know I’ll be okay with that. I love making charts and crunching statistics. Filling out paperwork is something I actually enjoy (I know, I’m weird). Plus, I’m too ambitious to not eventually end up in a position of power.

Do I want to move to the private sector? Probably yes. I know that the fianc√© and I want a relatively large family, and he really wants to make a career of his music. We’ve agreed he will do this even if he never gets big enough to command the payment for gigs that would match his current annual salary. So finances is a consideration. I want a pay ceiling that’s very very high and the private sector has a higher ceiling than non-profits.

Do I want to stay in organ and tissue donation? Still undecided. I love what I do, but I was so uninformed about this whole world before I got this job. I’d have to explore it some more and see what related fields have to offer before I’d make that decision.

One thing that makes me happy is that I can do this job anywhere. They have organ and tissue donation all over the globe. The process is pretty similar all over. I’ve got great training and can do this job, so I can travel with the fianc√© and still be employable¬†wherever we end up. At least, that’s the idea.

I don’t know how much time I need to sort this out, but I think I”ll revisit this topic in six months to see how I feel then.