An Abundance of Adventures

Fall semester starts August 19th. That gives me 2 months, 3 weeks, and a day to achieve everything on my summer adventures list.

(Note: This list is subjective because apparently not everyone considers reading as many books as possible fun. Who knew?)

Adventure Awaits

1. Midnight Beach Excursion

2. Glow In The Dark Kickball

3. Explore a Cavern

4. Read (at least) 10 Books

5. Write More – I want to use this time to expand upon all the creative writing stories I’ve saved up.

6. Go Kayaking

7. Visit Iowa

8. Go Hiking- This one might actually be difficult because, Florida.

9. Go Kayaking

10. Roll Down A Really Great Hill- We’re talking a hill of epic proportions.

11. Warped Tour- A given.

12. One Day Road Trip To Explore A New City

13. Find An Old Drive-In

14. Spend A Full Day Wandering Around St. Pete

15. Say Yes More.

 

 

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MY GUIDE TO CHICAGO

Okay so here’s the hypothetical situation that I have concocted in my head: You, my friend/acquaintance/stalker, are planning a visit to the windy city, but you only have one day. Also , for some reason, you theoretically want my opinion on the matter. Here is my imaginary itinerary of the things that you should do in that time span.(Note: This itinerary will have nothing to do with deep dish pizza or Chicago pizza in general, because gross. Unpopular opinion, I know. My apologies. Also, I am completely forgoing allotting transportation time. It’s all make believe, after all. )

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8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. – Morning coffee at Heritage General Store. Combination coffee/bike shop that is one of those local gems that you won’t find anywhere else. Plus they make a mean chai. Even if you’re not a coffee or bike aficionado, it’s worth a visit.

9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. – This is going to sound weird, but you have to pay a visit to the Salvation Army that’s on Clybourn (right across from Ashland). Not only is it huge, but it has a particularly impressive selection of used books and women’s clothing as well as assorted odds and ends. The best thrifting I’ve found in Chicago, by far.

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. – The first time that I entered Uncharted Books, I fell in love. Few used book stores in the area can compare to their selection. They also have a section entirely dedicated to supporting local writers. Just a cool place, all around.

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – Next up would be a quick jaunt to Dave’s Records. There are so many good finds hidden in this small shop, and Dave could tell you where anything is. Never have I encountered someone who was so friendly and familiar with his stock.

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. – For lunch, there is no better spot than Conte Di Savoia. Hands down the best subs in Chicago, and it’s located in Little Italy (a.k.a half a block from my old apartment). Fresh baked bread and meats and cheeses sliced right in front of you makes this the closest sub I’ve found to Publix. Opt for the outdoor seating now that the sub-arctic temperatures have thawed,  and maybe walk a few hundred feet afterwards to check out the fountain and Joe DiMaggio statue. (If you hit Starbucks, you’ve gone too far)

1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. – The best place to lose a few hours is at Logan Hardware. Admittedly, I’m probably biased because that’s where I picked up the Don McClean record that I hold so dear. Besides being just a record store, Logan Hardware also features a secret arcade. All you have to do is make a purchase and then you’ll get a password printed on your receipt. Walk to the door in the back, type the password into the keypad, and walk into the free arcade that makes this place truly warrant a visit. They have a cool selection of classic arcade games and pinball machines that’ll keep you entertained for quite some time.

3:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.- I’m not a big beer person, but a visit to Revolution Brewing is still a cool time. They give free tours Wednesday – Saturday (with varying times) and it’s cool to see the growth of this Chicago native company.

5:00 p.m. -6:00 p.m. – You can’t go wrong with dinner at The Rosebud, another Little Italy hangout. Prices can be steep but it’s the best eggplant parm of life. Of life, I tell you!

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 pm- One of my favorite hangouts in Logan Square is Logan Theatre. It’s a relatively small theatre with only a few movies running at a time, but it’s the best place to catch films that have a limited release (Drinking Buddies). Not only that, but prices are incredibly cheap. Oh yeah, did I mention that they have a bar? It seems to be a very Chicago thing to put bars in every place possible, but it works in this environment.

8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. – The best way to end the evening would be the independent book store, The Book Cellar. What makes this a great nightcap to the day is that ,in addition to their great selection, they also serve craft beer and wine. Also their name is a pun, and I love a good pun. Or a bad pun. I like ’em all. Complete with cozy areas to hang out with friends, discuss books, and play board games. Getting back to that aforementioned great selection, they have a large selection of autographed John Green novels since he is a friend of the owners.

 

Casually just going to end this thing at 10 p.m. because I’d probably be ready for bed around that point, and there’s no point in keeping this going just for pretenses sake. Once again, sorry about the lack of pizza.

 

2 years, 3 months, and 1 day

That’s how long it’s been since you left. Everyone says that time makes it easier. Numbs the pain. I haven’t found that to be the case. I always find myself lying in bed late at night wondering what I could have done differently. Driven to the hospital faster, hugged you tighter the last time I saw you, spent more weekends at your house. But nothing can change the inevitable fact that you aren’t here anymore. That one day I won’t be either.

Mortality has been on my mind lately more than ever. I’ve lost so many people. I myself will become lost one day, and it drives me insane that I don’t know what that entails. It’s the not knowing that frightens me. The idea of a silent, black, eternity in which I cease to exist. In which everyone I love ceases to exist. I wish that I could believe in things the way I used to. I don’t know where my head is to be completely truthful. It doesn’t make sense to me that this would all be for no purpose and that we all just emerged from virtually nowhere. Yet, I’d be a liar if I said I whole-heartedly accept religion. That sounds bad. And would probably be a shock to a lot of people who knew me when I regularly attended church. But it’s the honest truth; I have a lot of doubts. Lying about that wouldn’t make me any better of a person.  I am twenty-one and I don’t have all of the answers. I’m not even close.

All I know for sure is that while life may sometimes seem infinite, it is anything but. So I suppose I should spend as much of it as I can being happy. I want to live a life full of love, inquiry, and endless adventure. I want to see as much of this expansive world as I can possibly manage. I want to relinquish all of the guilt from the past that I hold onto, and spend more time being present. Gonna give that my best shot.

I DON’T REGRET MOVING TO CHICAGO

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That should be known, first and foremost. Maybe it seems like I should. My time here hasn’t necessarily been what I thought it would be. My best friend ditched me. Private school tuition got to be more than I could handle. But I never, ever would have learned this much about myself if I hadn’t left Florida. I’m viewing the rest of my time here as a character building year to grow and continue to discover even more about myself.

The biggest thing I’ve learned is how to fend for myself. I live in this big ‘ole city with pretty much no one I know and I manage to navigate it every single day. I keep a roof over my head, and I always find a way to make things work . That being said, Chicago has also been a very humbling lesson on accepting help from others. I like to fancy myself as completely independent, but that isn’t always realistic. I never would have gotten through all of this without support. I always try to do everything on my own and accepting help from others is sometimes harrowing for me. But I’m learning to put aside my pride and accept the help that is offered to me. I always thought that growing up meant doing everything on your own, but I guess sometimes it means being able to admit when you can’t.

Yin and yang is the perfect philosophy to describe life in the windy city. The good and the bad, living harmoniously alongside one another. Neither can exist without the other.

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It’s really easy to be cynical and let yourself become hardened here. While Chicago can be a city of opportunity and adventure,  it can also be a city of poverty and sadness. Some of the things that I’ve witnessed here have absolutely broken my heart, from driving past a suicide to seeing people sleeping outside in the freezing cold because they have no where else to go. I’ve been verbally threatened on the subway and witnessed muggings, both in the same day once. In a way, these are things that I’ve always been sheltered from.  But at the same time, I’ve also witnessed an incredible amount of kindness and seen the beauty in the hearts of so many people. I believe I wrote about this in an earlier post, but there was a time when I was really struggling and couldn’t work public transportation into my budget. A girl I work with found out that I had been walking home, and selflessly gave me a bus pass loaded with fare to get me home. I couldn’t believe that someone who hardly knew me and had no motive for such generosity, would show me so much kindness. Even today, I was astounded by the kindness and compassion of the entire staff at Erie Medical Center. I am currently uninsured and needed to get a TB test to start at my  job at the after school center. Not only did they do the TB test for no charge, but they also provided me with a flu shot, a check up, and sent me home with information that could help me get insurance coverage. The good and the bad live side by side here.  Intertwined and completely codependent on one another. It’s the perfect symbiotic relationship. Life can be both beautiful and monstrous at the same time and I’ve seen a lot of that here.

Residing here has been such an adventure. For better or worse. Just because all of my experiences haven’t been positive, doesn’t mean that I won’t learn from them and become a better person for having them. Hard lessons are valuable lessons too. I’m learning how to live on my own. I’m learning who to trust. I’m learning that I have so many incredible people in my life. I’m learning to take the bad with the good. I’m learning to trust in myself and my abilities. I’m learning every day I’m here. That’s invaluable.

MY BIGGEST DISILLUSIONMENT IS THINKING THAT THERE ARE RULES

The only rules in life are the ones you set up for yourself. And honestly, the only one I’m interested in is this: 1. Be happy.

I’ve been wrecking myself for not doing things “the right way”, I’m not graduating college in the standard 4 years, I switch schools too much, I switch majors too much, basically I convince myself that I’m doing everything wrong.

I don’t update this thing as often as I should, so I guess I should probably fill in the gaps for you. I moved to Chicago at the start of August to go to DePaul. I had planned the move for almost a year with one of my best friend’s, but she ended up not being able to come so I had to do it alone. I found a new roommate, moved out here, landed a job, and started school.

My first term at DePaul was great. I loved being challenged so much and I loved my courses. I ended up writing columns for The DePaulia and ending the term on the Dean’s List.

But sometimes things don’t work out the way you think they will and I couldn’t come up with the money to continue on there. Which absolutely broke my heart.

So now I’m trying to salvage everything and rebuild. My greatest desire is to finish school and the best way for me to that is to move back to Florida and reapply for my scholarship. I’ve been really upset that I haven’t taken a traditional path. I’ve categorized myself as a failure for needing to move back. But that’s not true. I’m setting myself up for the best future I can give myself. One that isn’t ridden with more debt than I can handle. And I still get this amazing year in Chicago to explore and wander at my heart’s content.

I can’t possibly be breaking all of the rules if there aren’t any in the first place. I don’t have to follow the herd, nor have I ever wanted to in the first place. So, I’m doing things a little differently. And maybe it’s taking me a bit longer to figure everything out. But so long as I’m pursuing my happiness, I can’t be doing anything so terribly wrong.

 

I RODE IN THE BACK OF A COP CAR (SORRY MOM)

So this morning I was trying to catch the 157 bus to work. I waited for around awhile after it was supposed to have already arrived and it never showed up, so I started walking to the 9. Naturally, once I did that the 157 started approaching.

Needless to say, I didn’t run fast enough to get back to the stop in time. It must have been pretty obvious that I was shouting some expletives, because a cop that had been driving on the other side of the street turned around and told me to get in the back of his squad car.

We chased the bus for a few stops, but the bus kept barely stopping before continuing on. The cop ended up having to cut off the bus driver so that I could board the bus. It’s hardly 6 am and I’ve already met my excitement quota for the day.

TRANSITION

Yesterday was quite the transition.

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I flew home on the fifth to surprise Breann for her wedding. I may have forgot to mention to my mom that I was coming home either. Oops.

I had Jared pick me up from the airport once I got in and it was so nice seeing my little brother again. So often I forget how similar we really are. And it’s nice seeing so much of my dad in him. Dad always said that together we made up all the best parts of him.

We wanted to surprise my mom at work so we arrived at the school with lunch for her. Jared walked into her classroom first, and I hid behind the corner. He walked in, gave her the sandwich, and then came back around the corner to get me. My mom was so confused that he was bringing her lunch and she just kept exclaiming, “Jared?! What are you doing? Why did you give me a sandwich?” Then ,when I came around the corner, she screamed, threw her sandwich in the air, (narrowly missing the head of a student) and immediately burst into tears. It was so nice to be home.

Later that same night I surprised Breann too. Leann arranged for a girls night with Breann so when we showed up to pick her up, I hid in the trunk. She was so shocked I was able to make it, and I am so incredibly glad that I was able to. I would have been heartbroken if I would have had to miss seeing her marry Matt. It was such a beautiful wedding.

 

I  stayed in Florida the fifth through the ninth, and it was great to see everyone again. Honestly, it makes the transition coming back a bit harder. It’s weird going from one place where you have friends and people who look forward to see you, to another where you’re still trying to establish friendships and figure out where you fit in. I kind of miss the 80 degree weather as well.

TOMATOES FOR DINNER

Five of them to be exact. (Cherry tomatoes not whole tomatoes, ya goons!) I am unfathomably broke this week so ,instead of buying groceries, I’m trying to live of whatever I have left in my apartment.

This entire week has been a real lesson in going it alone. Starbucks messed up my paycheck when they switched me to my new store, so I’m living off of half a paycheck this month. Which makes everything even harder, including scrounging up the money for bus fare. A girl from work found out that I had been walking home in the cold from work and gave me a bus card loaded with enough fare to get me home so I wouldn’t have to walk that night. That was the nicest thing that someone has ever done for me, and I felt so unbelievably humbled. I tend to be a cynic, but it’s nice to know that there are a few good-hearted people out there. I can’t believe that somebody would do that for me and I am so incredibly grateful.

All of this grappling is worth it because I was able to get a flight home for Breann’s wedding. Things are a struggle right now, but I’m gonna get through this month.

Everything comes at a price.

MUSE

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Tonight I was really stressed out about having to cover this Muse screening because I’ve been stretching myself so thin between school and work.

But I’m actually really glad that I write articles every week, because it forces me to make time to explore. It’s a beautiful night, and I’m going to enjoy it.

Update: The article I wrote on the screening is now in the paper and up on the site! Here’s the link:

http://www.depauliaonline.com/arts-life/muse-come-alive-in-ultra-high-definition-concert-film-live-at-rome-olympic-stadium-1.3120566

IT’S HARD

Being an adult and having no one to lean on is scary. Sometimes it feels like I’m walking on a tightrope with no net underneath me. Everything could come tumbling down at a moment’s notice.

I guess I’m just having a hard time balancing everything. Working 39 hours a week on top of 5 classes and trying to consistently write for the school paper is wearing me down. I feel like I’m starting to let things slip through the cracks and I don’t want to wreck everything that I’ve worked so hard for. I need to catch my breath and regroup. But that would require me to have time.

Last night I was up working on assignments until 3 am. I hardly slept before I had to get out of bed and head to class. I’d like to say it’s not getting to me, but it is. Today I felt terrible all day because I haven’t had enough sleep in days and I’m holding on to so much stress,

I just have to make it through these last two weeks of the term and then I’ll have a moment to rest. When it all gets to be too much I try to picture heading back to Florida in a few weeks and being back at the beach. That was always my place, you know? Where I went to escape. I haven’t found a place like that here yet. It’s hard because there aren’t too many places I could go and call my own in a city this big.

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had time to read. I need that back in my life because it’s nice to have an imaginary place to escape to when a physical one isn’t available.