Archive for the ‘life in chicago’ Tag

it’s not always rainbows and butterflies   1 comment

Another whirlwind week for this girl.  Again I find myself in disbelief that it is Friday night.  What even happened this week?  Being sick is what threw a curveball into my typical routine, and oh yeah, my friend Laura was in town for 1.5 days.  Now it’s all coming back to me…

I sit here tonight, preparing for an early bedtime because I have an early wake-up call in order to meet Laura at the Megabus stop at 6:15 am.  Yes, the same Laura.  It’s a long story but in essence, she’s in town to interview for a position that would bring about her relocation to the city. 

So what does that mean for me?  Why am I writing about this tonight?  I’m not sure, but I do feel the need to get my feelings out of my head.  I’m not going to digest everything, but I’ll start by asking myself the question: Am I really okay with staying in Chicago if Laura moves here?  That is the most important question and the first of many. 

Somehow I found myself talking about a new roommate, new apartment, and new neighborhoods… all in Chicago.  Seriously, is this what I want?  I don’t know.

It was only a few days ago that I was talking to a few friends about applying for a job at the children’s hospital in Seattle; researching internships and grad programs in Austin, San Francisco, Boston, and Columbus; and sitting on a dream about moving to Florida for my ultimate job.  And now I’m close to agreeing on signing a new lease to keep me here in Chicago.  Again, is this what I really want? 

The squirrels were running around in my head last night as I tried control all of the thoughts: Do I like it here?  Do I want a roommate?  After living alone for the past two years, can I even live with someone?  Do I want to move to a new apartment, new neighborhood?  Do I want to stay in Chicago?  Can I still handle being at my job for another year? 

Worrying about all this stuff isn’t going to give e any answers.  So what is the answer?  What do I want the answer to be?  If I closed my eyes right now, or kept them open, I could image what I want my life to look like…and I’m okay with it being here in Chicago.  I really am.  I know that it will never look the way I imagine it, but I know that some of those images are capable of becoming true.  And even though my recent daydreams and ‘what if’s have taken me to Seattle and Orlando, I’m not really seeing myself in either place- even if the opportunities are part of my dream. 

So where does that leave me?

This Chicago…isn’t it the same Chicago that I previously announced as “not feeling like home to me” and “I don’t feel like I belong here”?  Isn’t it funny how things change?  Here I was, struggling to find my place and the feeling of belonging here, and after two years I think I may finally be onto something.  Perhaps the stars have been working their way to align this whole time.  How can I walk away now?  Am I supposed to stay?  Do I belong here now?

I’ve come to the conclusion that Chicago has been my boyfriend for the past two years.  I should probably update my Facebook account to read “It’s Complicated” as my relationship status- tagging Chicago if at all possible.  (Hmmmm…)  It’s been quite a roller coaster ride of what I describe as “good days, bad days”, but knowing that I’m still here, 2 years later, is proof that I’ve never given up the fight.  Even amidst the heartbreak and lonely nights, I still continue to give this relationship chance after chance.   

Some relationships are worth fighting for and maybe this one means more to me than I realize(d).  Only time will tell…

 

It’s still two human beings trying to get along, so it’s going to be complicated. And love is always complicated. But humans must try to love each other, darling. We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something. — Eat, Pray, Love

wake up lonely with you by my side, one more night it doesn’t feel. there are movies playing in your eyes, you dream of our fortunes. but you’re wrong. i don’t belong to you.   4 comments

Instead of writing another love letter, I think it’s time that I stop hiding behind the pen and ‘fess up to what’s really going on.  I am feeling so down this week.  I cannot seem to shake it.  Like every other funk I went through the possible diagnosis: Sick? (No.) Period? (No.) Tired? (A little.) Sad? (More than I like to admit.) Lonely? (I guess.) In need of the weekend? (When am I not.)

So if you put all of these symptoms together, the diagnosis is quite simple.  Drumroll please….I think I’m just in the wrong M-F ‘relationship’.  Following?  Trust me there are other symptoms that favor this diagnosis, but I’m going to save you from (some of) my ramblings.  You’re welcome.

Now you know I’m not good at relationships, in fact I’m horrible at them.  Or is it fair to say I’m horrible if I don’t do them at all?  (To be debated and analyzed later by my shrink.)  So based on what I’ve learned from romantic comedies and others’ experiences, when one relationship isn’t working then it’s time to A) walk away; and/then B) either find a new one or take time to be by yourself.  Unfortunately when it comes to the inevitable M-F ‘relationship’ world, at my lovely age of unstable, non-existent savings account, I cannot literally afford to talk time to be by myself. 
Okay, enough with the analogy.  I really do see this as being in a relationship; a really bad relationship.  Should a job ever feel that way?  It takes up so much of my time and almost all of my energy.  It’s been draining of me of my sanity as well, especially lately.  Every day I try to think positively, but as soon as I enter the building- if not before- it’s gone until I feel the fresh fall air of the evening upon me…as long as I don’t think about having to repeat the cycle again tomorrow.
  
I know I shouldn’t feel this way, but it’s not always easy to walk away from a bad relationship, is it?
In catching up with my DVR I was easily comforted by Robin’s line in How I Met Your Mother:“I am done with this (city).  It wins. I just want to move somewhere near and start over.”
 

This is and isn’t how I feel.  I still cannot figure out my verdict on this city.  It’s far from perfect, but is it worth giving up without testing the waters of a new ‘relationship’.  Do I belong here with ‘someone’ else?

 I literally packed my bags and said goodbye to my friends for this relationship.  I’ve given 2 years of my life, fighting every dragon along the way.  I’m tired.  I cannot find the energy to even wake up in the mornings- not even with the incentive of Starbucks.  Is this taking chances is supposed to be?  Do you man-up and face your fears only to fall flat on your face?  What am I missing?  Is this the reward for fighting the battle of life?  Haven’t I paid enough dues to deserve something out of this deal?

Is this my fate?  Where I really belong?

So maybe this is a love letter.  A love letter without much love.  This is my last chance letter before the goodbye:

Dear ‘Reason Why I Moved to Chicago in the First Place’,

Are you worth the fight anymore?  What am I really still doing here?  Do I belong here anymore?  Because honestly, if I really do, then you’re going to have to step up and show me why.

Waiting for your response,

Kristen

Song of the Moment: Belong by Cary Brothers

she always has the best intentions. her kindess is innate.   2 comments

 Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. ~Mother Teresa
 

My brother called me last night which was unexpected but completely welcomed.  I miss him.  In the middle of our brother-sister bonding/soul-searching conversation, he said something to me that will ring in my ears for (probably) the rest of my life: “You know yourself better than anyone else.”  He’s right, and although I try to fight it- doubting myself and who I really am- I know that my heart is bigger than this city.  Much bigger.

I had a rough adjustment when I first moved here 2 years ago, which is a story that my close friends and family know quite well.  Since then I’ve explained that Chicago has made me colder, even bitchier, but I never go further to say that I hate that it’s done this to me.  Sure this city has impacted me in many positive ways- including making me stronger and more independent than I could have possibly imagined- which is something I’ll always appreciate.  But I have a difficult time accepting my colder persona because, quite simply, it’s not ‘me’. 

I get so exhausted trying to combat the ignorance, tune out the negativity, and convince myself that there are still good people out there.  I know there are.  I am friends with them; I volunteer with them; and sometimes I chat with them at Starbucks or while waiting for the bus.  But for the most part I feel like I’m fighting a battle every day- from the moment I walk out my apartment door to the second I closed that same door behind me in the evening.  I refuse to surrender.  I just won’t.  But tell me, why is it so hard to find kind, giving people in this city, in this world?   

Kindness.  It’s such a simple, beautiful, and E.A.S.Y. concept, so please explain to me why is it so hard to be kind?  It takes so much more energy to be mean, so not just make it easier for yourself and the whole world- including yours- will be a better place. 

I saw this song performed on GLEE this week and in case you haven’t, I share it with you now:

I’ve been listening to this song and thinking about the concept for the past few days, and now it’s time to indulge you with my thoughts.  Before I share you off, let me say that I’m not being uber-religious with you here.  Instead I’m preaching the message of kindness- as it should be practiced. 

What if God was one of us?  What would you ask if you had just one question?  Most people would probably ask the typical questions that fill our minds every day: When will I meet my soulmate?  Is the guy/girl I’m date “The One”?  When will I be rich/famous/successful?  Of course we want to know the answers to those questions, and I certainly do too!  But with one question permitted, would you really ask that?  How would knowing the answer to that question really impact you?  How would it impact others?  Wouldn’t you want to ask a question whose answers helps more than just yourself?

I know one person cannot physically change the world alone; however one person can impact another, who impacts another… so that the domino effect empowers us all and evidently changes the world.  It can happen.  YOU can be the domino that begins it all.  Why not?  Perform (at least) one kind act today and you are doing your part to create the necessary change that this world needs.

I know Ellen DeGeneres agrees with me.  This week Ellen shared the launch of The Trevor Project, which is a nonprofit endeavor established to promote acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, and to aid in suicide prevention among that group.  However, as Ellen & Anderson Cooper addressed on the air, all bullying needs to stop!  Whether you’re the victim, the bully, an innocent bystander, and/know someone being bullied or doing the bullying, YOU need to help STOP IT NOW.

Whether you were/are bullied or not, I’m sure you know at least one person who was once bullied.  I, myself, was bullied by those lovely high school Mean Girls.  Who wasn’t?  Unless you were one of them.  But what haunts me the most is how much bullying I witnessed, especially in high school.  I hated it then and I still hate that it goes on now.  I hate that I didn’t step in enough to stop it, and that no one else did either.  I find myself wondering if those bullies changed, with hope that they changed their adolescent ways.  Was it just the unflattering high school phase curse?  Did they clean up their act and change their ways for the better?

And what about those that were/are bullied…do they ever recover?

I know I’m a little all-over-the-place with this post, so I’ll go back to commenting on what my brother said to me last night.  Yes, I know myself better than anyone else.  I’m not a saint.  I’m not perfect.  But I am kind and like to do nice things for people.  From small everyday gestures to big celebratory surprises, that’s who I am.  That’s who I’ll always be.

My dear friend, Kristin, wrote in an email yesterday that “maybe you do too much for other people. I know how it makes you feel good and everything but you know the old thinking about you can’t really help someone if you’re not taking care of yourself.”  She has a very valid point and this is something that I have, in fact, struggled with in the past.  I know that I cannot fix every problem in the world nor change every person, but this really is who I am.

You know sometimes, usually on the weekends, I choose not to go out.  Not even to the store which is only a block away.  My reason, which I’ve never fully admitted to, is that I want to avoid all the negativity; the rudeness; the complaining.  Everywhere I go I see it, I hear it.  It brings me down.  It can turn my best day in the worst day with one hurtful act on the street, on the train, on the bus, in the store.  But then again, maybe I have it wrong here because I’m also prevented myself from making a change.  My doing a kind gesture or a good deed and inspiring someone else to do the same.  Maybe I can be that first domino and begin the change that the world needs.  Maybe..

It is not the magnitude of our actions but the amount of love that is put into them that matters. ~Mother Teresa

Song of the Moment: One of Us performed on GLEE

 

don’t ask what the world needs. ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   3 comments

 It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.  ~e.e. cummings

When people write about their weekend in Chicago, their stories are typically filled with touristy attractions, adventures at Cubs’ game, trips down Michigan Avenue, and many meals of pizza and hot dogs.  But that is ‘them’ and this is me.  The difference between my weekend in Chicago stories and theirs is this simple fact: I live here and they don’t.  As I’ve commonly addressed in previous posts, Chicago is a different city for those that live & work here and those that play.  Trust me, I’ve learned that lesson firsthand and it’s one of the reasons why I love having guests in town since I can be a tourist too! 

This weekend I tried my best to balance both worlds, leaving me with the question- How is it already Monday?- due to how quickly it flew by.  Waking up this morning was rough, to say the least.  For a groggy few moments, in the absence of my morning radio DJs, I pondered if it was indeed Sunday.  Wishful thinking?  I promise I tried being productive today, but I kept getting distracted…by everything.  I have a love/hate relationship with those days especially because I’d rather being having them anywhere else than Skokie.  I won’t indulge you on the rumblings going on in my mind today.  Instead I’ll tell you all about my weekend and why I chose the title of this post.  (Quote by Howard Thurman)

Saturday was the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois’ annual Wish Ball and given that I was actually going to be in town, I volunteered for the event.  I was anxious because it was my first Make-A-Wish volunteer event in Chicago, but I’d done others for the Columbus Chapter when I lived there two years ago.  My anxiousness and sleepiness turned into anxiety as I found myself in a panic to figure out what to wear to ‘the Ball’.  Don’t worry, this is far from a Cinderella story.  There were no glass slippers on my feet and the #8 bus was my transportation for the evening.  However, I did have my little sidekicks- my Starbucks baristas- who complimented my dressy look and provided me with the magical concoction (1 Grande Soy AmeriMisto) to get me through the evening.  Those boys and girls are so good to me!!

Upon entering the venue I was overcome with a rush of joy.  Being a part of Make-A-Wish makes me feel alive.  I cannot explain it but just knowing that I’m helping in some capacity makes me feel good…makes me feel like ‘me’.  For as long as I can remember, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has always had quite an impact on me.  I used to love reading the stories in the newspaper and Highlights magazine when I was younger, overwhelmed with empathy for these kids.  However, one story really touched my heart during the spring of 2006, right after I graduated from OU.  In fact, I was still in Athens when I read this story in the Athens Post.  The story was about an OU student, Michelle Little, and her battle with cancer.  Here is the article.  You know I still read this every now and then.  It serves as a reminder of how important the work of Make-A-Wish and Child Life have always been to me.  Not like I need one anymore now that I know exactly what’s important to me.  But even with that being said, on those what am I doing with my life? days, reminders like this come in handy.

Back to Wish Ball, as I’m sure you’re curious to hear about it.  The event took place at University of Illinois- Chicago Forum and dining area was elegantly decorated for the these An Enchanted Evening.  Men looked dapper in suits and tuxes, as women dressed to the nines in fancy gowns, sparkling jewelry, and designer shoes.  But beyond the glitz and the glamour, the true stars of the evening were the Wish Kids.  (I got chills just writing that.)  I encourage you to read more Wish Kid stories at www.wish.org and if this strikes a chord with you, then VOLUNTEER!  Search for your local Make-A-Wish Chapter and contact the Volunteer Coordinator.  If you live in Chicago, visit www.wishes.org or send me a note and I can tell you more about it.

Oh and I made a new friend on Saturday!  From the moment Noelle introduced herself to me, I knew she was my kind of people.  I had such a great time with her that night and such good, honest conversations.  I felt so comfortable talking to her.  I’m telling you, I was ‘me’ that night.  The ‘me’ that I’ve been trying to bring out here in Chicago.  On Saturday night, it was came out to play and that felt so A.MAY.ZING.

There are two things that I really learned from Saturday night:

1. Make-A-Wish is definitely for me, whether it be employment and/or volunteering, I have found my niche.

2. I’m never going to be wealthy.  The elite class is definitely not for me.  While some were nice, others…well, not so much. 

Okay, Sunday was Play Time.  The Pride Parade took over my neighborhood- literally.  Walking to the train today was an experience in itself.  I reminded me of the morning after Halloween in Athens, expect there were a lot more rainbow stickers and colorful feathers all over the place.  But let me tell you more about the parade. 

If you’ve been to a Pride Parade before, you know the lovely shenanigans that go on.  Well Chicago’s Pride Parade is no exception and it could very well be a thousand times worse because of the crazies that inhabit this city- and I’m not talking about the lovely and wonderful gays! 

So as I predicted, I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of my magnificent Starbucks baristas who were all dressed in rainbow-colored shirts and beads.  Add the great pop music that was playing all day long and, as one of the baristas said, “It’s PRIDE at Starbucks!”  Not knowing about the weather and Karrie’s plans, I camped out earlier that morning by the big window as a back-up but we ended up staying there.  Not whether or not you want to see the photos, here they are for you.  Just a few to show you what it’s all about.  Oh, and the Stanley Cup did come out for the celebration. 

Sure the Parade was fun, and I could certainly go on and on about short silver spandex, yellow banana hammocks, drag queens, and skin, skin, and more skin…but I won’t.  Instead I’ll share what I learned from the parade.  (Note: Unlike most people there, I was sober.)

The Pride Parade was more than just celebrating the LGBT community.  It was a celebration of Self-Acceptance, Confidence, Love, and Beauty.  At the beginning of the Parade I found myself thinking, how is she comfortable wearing that? and I could never go out in public looking like that!  As I saw more and more people scantily dressed with a huge smile on their face, I realized that they were saying This is me!  This is who I am.  I am PROUD to me be! 

I attended the Parade to support my gay boyfriends and the LGBT community.  Never for the life of me did I expect to learn a lesson there, from people dressed in short spandex and rainbow boas nonetheless.  But I did.  I learned that I am who I am.  The only person’s opinion that matters is my own. 

I had this epiphany this morning, before my coffee, that I am a gay man trapped in a female’s body.  Need a second to do that math?  Let me explain.  There are days when I want to dance in the middle of the streets, saying “Oh no, honey.  That’s not the right outfit for you.”, and make out with boys at bars.  But I don’t- well the latter unfortunately doesn’t happen any more, but college was a different story.  As a young single, white female I feel like I’m stereotyped to be a certain way.  Why?  I mean I love myself more than I ever have before, but I still feel pressure from society (and others, unfortunately) to present myself a certain way.  Sure, I’d love to strut my stuff in sexy little, atypical number but I never really do.  Yesterday’s romper was a step for me, and hopefully I’ll keep testing the waters- fabulous and class of course!

I said that there was a reason for why I chose this quote for the blog title.  This weekend I witnessed and experienced firsthand what it means to be alive.  The line, Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything, has been playing in my head since Saturday- when all of this aliveness seeped thru my system.  Knowing what I believe in, what I enjoy, what makes me feel alive coincidentally draws awareness to those things that (for dramatic appeal) make me feel dead inside.  Unfortunately this weekend intensified that feeling for me in one particular area: my job.  I strongly dislike admitting that, but after feeling so alive with my volunteering at Make-A-Wish and Children’s Memorial, I realize more how the other is not for me.  But it comes down to the same thing, what can I do?  I’m doing my best to keep myself feeling alive by volunteering as much as I can; however, just spending 8-8.5 hours in the office today and another 2 hours+ community made me long to spend those hours doing something that I’m passionate about.

That’s who I am.  Looking back on my life, the memories and opportunities that stick out in my mind are the ones that I was permitted the chance to let my passion shine forth and prosper.  I’ve struggled here (with the job) almost immediately upon moving here, and now knowing what I would rather be doing….well, it makes it that much harder.  Trust me, I would love to feel alive at work- and there are moments that I kinda-sorta do.  It’s just not enough.

So let me leave you with this question.  What makes YOU feel alive?  This question may or may not be similar to that activity I posed a few weeks ago about what you want to do.  Instead, think about moments/occurences when you truly felt like yourself.  Things that you did or perhaps places you visited when you felt at peace- like you found your niche.  If it helps to answer that question as a comment to this post so you can see it for yourself in writing and share it with another, then please do so!!

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People are like stained-glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross)

june series: what a difference a year makes   Leave a comment

As mentioned in a previous post, I am going to divulge the details from my past, well since graduating high school, up until this point. This June marks my 4th anniversary as an Ohio U alum, and therefore I feel the need to look back on all of my Junes, beginning with June 2002- when I graduated from my alma mater, Hampton High School.  With the last few days of June amongst us, I need to get my butt in gear and bring you up to the present day- June.  On that note, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to June 2009 and June 2010, both set (mostly) in Chicago.

June 2009: It really is a distant memory now.  Last year at this time I was interviewing for a job back in Columbus and convinced that I wanted to be back there.  The position was at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and because I had always envisioned myself working at a hospital I decided that I couldn’t pass it up- added bonus of being able to move back to Columbus, which is what I wanted since Chicago wasn’t going to well for me.  I didn’t know too many people in Chicago at the time.  Karrie was my sanity and weekend companion.  Now I hate to say this, and I mean absolutely no respect to the wonderful Karrie…but it wasn’t enough for me.  I’ve always been a social butterfly, blessed with a large circle of friends, but in Chicago I felt lost in the world of strangers, crazy, and crazy strangers.

Last June I felt alone.  I felt lost.  Confused.  Like always, I was looking for something but didn’t know what it was.  I took a chance in applying for the position back in Columbus hopeful that I would find it there.  That my time in Chicago really was just temporary and that everything I wanted, everything I needed was back there all along.  I was wrong.  I didn’t get the job back in Columbus, but ironically through the entire interviewing process I learned that it wasn’t the right for me.  I wouldn’t have known that though if I didn’t apply.  I always would have wondered ‘what if’.   No regrets.  It was through that process that I decided to go forward with the Child Life Specialist position.  Life is a journey. 

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June 2010: Instead of rambling on about this past month let me just stress how far I’ve come since last year.  I owe a lot of friends- new and old- thanks for their continuous support and guidance.  To know that I’m here a year later makes me proud of myself.  It’s still not easy and life is far from perfect, but I’m still here and that’s a testiment to my strength. 

The first year was rough because I was trying so hard to figure out where I fit in.  Through it all I figured out that I don’t fit in here.  I probably never will.  However, I can make it work.  That first year was about me adjusting, and it took longer than I’d like it to.  But this next year is about me continuing to take chances and work towards my goals; and of course, figuring out what I really want and making it happen. 

My hope is that I when I write about June 2011 I can say that I’m 1000x times stronger than I was the year before.  ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life’s about creating yourself. (George Bernard Shaw)