Residence hall requirements

In just over a week, I’ll be moving back into the residence halls for my final year. For most people living on campus, move-in isn’t until much later on in August, but I’m headed back for one last round of resident assistant training.

After living at school for 3 years, I’d like to think I have a pretty good grasp on what I need to bring, what I can survive without while I’m away at school, and what I absolutely can’t do without. Here’s my list of essentials that I recommend everyone bring when living on campus. Don’t go without them-trust me.

(In no particular order):

Fridge: I can’t imagine ever not having a fridge while away at school. You’ve got to have somewhere to put leftovers from one of the many awesome restaurants downtown! Even if I was just keeping water bottles cold, my fridge has always been pretty much vital to my survival at school.

Bandaids/first aid supplies: I’m not joking about this. At least having bandaids and Neosporin on hand is really important, because you’ll always find a way to get hurt at school. Plus, around here, there isn’t a nurse or parent to go to for immediate help. Step 1 in becoming a grown-up.

Outfit for job or internship interviews: Some people back a small amount of clothes for school. Others haul nearly their entire wardrobe (guilty as charged.) Either way, don’t forget to bring some type of professional outfit for potential jobs or interviews. Don’t miss out on an opportunity because you didn’t have anything to wear; always be prepared for these types of things. Since you’ll be at school, not to mention in the middle of a huge city, there will be a lot of opportunities waiting for you to take advantage of. Don’t let your wardrobe be your boss.

Movies: Don’t leave yourself at the mercy of whatever you can find on t.v.-especially if you don’t have Netflix like me. Bring along some movies that you can watch in case you feel like laying around one night and relaxing or if you’d like to watch with some friends.

Shower shoes: I don’t care who you are, where you live, whatever the case-bring shower shoes. You don’t want to contract anything from other people’s feet germs and you’ll actually feel clean if you come out of the shower in your shoes. Just do it…there are plenty of inexpensive flip flops out there.

A book to read: Textbooks are always really dense and it can be hard to find a way to relax or feel a bit of home. For me, reading a book for leisure while at school makes me feel like I’m at home, since that’s something I’ve always done. It’s great to have something take your mind off of schoolwork and stress.

Chocolate/candy: Not too much, and not to the point that you are getting cavities or giving them to your floormates. It’s nice to have a little stash or backup for those times where you’ve had a rough day or just need a pick me up. It’s also a great thing to share with other people on your floor-instant friends!

Ear plugs: If you don’t have these, you can pick up a pair from the Wellness Center. Living with other young people is unpredictable and can become very lousy. Make sure you have a pair of earplugs on hand so that you are able to get your sleep when you need it.

Brita: It isn’t good for you (or the environment) to only drink water bottles all the time. It also isn’t good to only drink when you’re down at the cafeteria. This is why I think Britas or other water filters that can be kept in a fridge are your best bet. This will help you make sure you’ve getting enough water and have it available at all times.

Travel mug and water bottle: Whether it’s with this water you’re drinking or a cup of coffee, make sure you are staying hydrated all day. Bring some type of travel cup/mug so that you can bring a drink wherever you go, whenever you need to.

Cold medicine: Just like papercuts or scrapes, colds happen. And trust me- it can be really hard to be away from your family and feeling helpless. Bringing whatever cold medicine you are comfortable with is a good idea to stave off some of those awful cold symptoms. You’ll be feeling back to 100% in no time.

Lap desk: I know there are a lot of people who prefer to study or do homework outside of their room, but for those who aren’t bothered, I recommend purchasing a lap desk that can sit on a person’s lap and allow them to do whatever they’d like while sitting wherever they like. I’ve used my lap desk for homework, for eating a meal, and for RA door decorations before, and each time I use it, it proves even more invaluable.

Command strips: Can’t be punching holes in the residence hall rooms. Make sure you have brought many different forms of the command strip so that you can hang anything or fix anything that has fallen. They won’t damage the wall when you take them down, either.

Bathrobe: I think robes are the best thing ever. For me, getting out of the shower and into my robe is a great way to relax. Plus, in terms of living on campus housing, a robe is an extra privacy step around others. These are also perfect for when you’re sick, tired, etc.

Isopropyl alcohol: This goes hand in hand with the command strips, because the directions call for you to wipe down the wall or surface before applying the command hook. This also doubles as part of a first aid “kit” to prevent infections and stop bleeding.

Cleaning supplies: It isn’t always going to look clean in your room or bathroom, especially once it was lived in. Make sure to clean up fairly frequently to prevent germs and infections spreading. This just prepares you for the real world in which you have to clean whatever space you’re living in.

 Extension cords: Although there are a lot of outlets around the rooms, I strongly urge bringing a cord or two. This way, you can plug in anything you want around a location in the map. Don’t go without at least one.

Good luck packing up with the end of summer almost here. I hope you remember to bring some of these essentials, because I can guarantee that you will be needing them at some point. Good luck!

Where did my summer go?

I have less than a month of my summer left.  What the heck happened?  The polar vortex is back.  Seriously?  I’ve worked my butt off for two months.  Where is the money to show for it?  Oy.

The Competitive Foot closed.  It was a very, VERY exhausting week not only for the store’s emotional closure, but also because I was working about 60 hours with no day off and I was physically exhausted.  I had some long, LONG days.  I celebrated with co-workers for the success we shared and the good times we had together.

On August 18, I officially unofficially start student teaching.  I have to be at school and go to meetings and whatnot, but the kids don’t come until the 25th.  THEN I officially officially start student teaching.  I’m very excited and super nervous.  The good thing is that my mentor teacher and I are both new to the school so it will be a learning experience for both of us.

Three weeks of summer left.  Where does the time go?

Last weekend, my cousin, my aunt, her friend, and I went to see Blake Shelton at Wrigley field.  Even though I am a SOX Fan….Let me repeat….SOX Fan, it was very cool.  We had rooftop seats and I had never been on a rooftop before.  I think they purposely put the stage where we couldn’t see it, but we heard it and it was still awesome.  The weather was perfect, too.

It wasn’t long before I noticed some people that I knew down below on the last section of the bleachers.  It looked very VIP and I saw a familiar face.  I squinted down and stared realizing, “OMG that’s Jonathon Toews!!!”  Word traveled from rooftop to rooftop all on my discovery.  It ended up being the entire team.  Bryan Bickell waved to me.  I saw all the new guys as well.  It ended up being an extra show to watch. 

We were on Twitter looking to see if they were saying anything about being at Wrigley, and sure enough…the word was getting out and they started posting pictures and statuses.

It was very cool to see them out having a good time after working so hard during the season.  Don’t have too much fun boys! We have a cup to win this year!!

As for the next month, I’ll be working, seeing Jake Owen at the Illinois State Fair (yeah…I didn’t know we had a state fair either), planning a weekend getaway with my boyfriend to Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, MI, seeing Luke Bryan at Soldier Field, the Chicago Jazz Fest, and then mid-September going back to Wrigley to see Zack Brown Band.  A lot of country music.  This is actually the FIRST year I won’t be going to Lollapalooza. Sigh. There’s always next year.

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy the rest of the summer because you can’t get a better summer than a summer in Chicago! <3

The honeymoon is over.

 ♪♫♪ Burn it down till the embers smoke on the ground / And start new when your heart is an empty room…

There’s this one scene in Lilo & Stitch (yes, the lovable Disney cartoon movie that came out in 2002…I feel old) where Lilo, a lonely little girl, is trying to teach the incorrigible, destructive blue alien Stitch how to be a “model citizen” by emulating Elvis Presley. The duo follows around Lilo’s older sister Nani, who’s going to interviews all day to try to secure a new job for herself. Predictably, whenever Nani seems to have a stroke of luck, Lilo and Stitch somehow manage to stir up mischief and ruin her chances – whether it’s by causing a large disruption in a hotel lobby, knocking over all the produce in the market, or scaring away all the people on the beach. It’s a part in the movie where you sympathize with Stitch, who despite being an alien that was created for evil and destruction (it’s a kid’s movie, don’t hate), still inherently wants to try to be good and find a family and acceptance for himself. But even when he tries his best, he ends up misbehaving, being destructive, and causing a ruckus around him – and then he’s left to deal with the disappointment from others and a good amount of self-loathing.

I feel you, Stitch, because that’s kind of where I’ve been for the past week. Not that I’m a blue alien from outer space causing mass mayhem, but there have been some bad days recently that I’m just trying to get over and out of my mind. There have been a few days where I woke up, went to class and work, and then came home feeling like I couldn’t stop screwing up the whole day. It seems like when things get rough, it all happens at once. The TA gives me a public scolding in lab, I carelessly screw up making serial dilutions at work, almost get an accident during my bike commute, talk back to my mom because I’m in a bad mood…I kind of feel like Stitch in that scene, trying so hard everywhere I go, but still messing it up. Then when I try to take my mind off myself by surfing Facebook or opening up some Snapchats on my phone, I see my classmates doing spectacular things in London/Copenhagen/Tokyo/NYC, making big accomplishments in their jobs and internships, enjoying happy times with family and old friends…I’m so happy for them but also can’t help but be jealous at the same time – and then, even worse, just utterly disappointed in myself. The other day, a familiar thought came to my mind while I was biking to west campus for work: the honeymoon is over.

And by that, I just mean that the exciting adjustment period where everything is new, fascinating, exciting, and full of promise has once again dulled and rusted, and some of it feels like my own fault. I often feel like this is a reoccurring phase for me, because whenever I enter a new environment or circumstances that are different, I just get really excited. I do. I definitely felt that way when this summer started and I got all settled in my beautiful apartment room at Thomas Beckham Hall and locked in my schedule for classes and work everyday. I was full of anticipation and enthusiasm for my first week and felt fully ready to make the summer special in Chicago. But now? Over halfway in, I’m not quite as eager when I stumble out of bed in the morning…

It takes me back to when I first stepped foot in Commons West as a freshmen two whole years ago (wow, time flies…), which was probably the prime example of a “honeymoon” period that eventually crumbled too. When I first came to UIC as a bright-eyed freshman, I wanted to take on the whole world, stand out and be a leader, fall in love, get all the grades I wanted all the time, make my parents happy and always be proud of me…I wrote all of this down in my journal then, because someone once told me that if you write down all your wishes, there’s a better chance of them coming true. During my first GPPA Medicine class, when Dr. Chambers warned us about the temptations of complacency, I mentally took note but, without meaning to, I also deemed it irrelevant to me. After all, I thought in the back of my mind, surely my motivation is impenetrable and tireless, never to be daunted by any looming challenges to come. During my first meeting with my Honors College adviser and my future Fellow Dr. Cohen, I naively brushed off their concerns about adjusting to college, telling them, “I’ve never been happier in my life.”

But of course, as the year progressed, I settled in – the residence halls became a little smaller; the other freshmen, comfortable with a closed friend circle, were less eager to meet me and know me; the classes were no longer filled with bright new things to learn but mundane repetition and a constant source of stress and worry fluttering constantly in my mind. The city is no smaller and Chicago still holds my heart, but I became more conscious of my limitations. As I crossed off items of my Chicago/UIC bucket list, I gradually stopped adding to it too – not intentionally, but maybe just some of the first spark was lost. I spent lonely times wandering the city, getting lost in more ways than one. I did poorly on exams and felt ashamed of the grades. I got my heart broken. And everything that once seemed so sensational faded into reality.

So this listless feeling of pessimism and sadness isn’t new to me. I’ve been here before. I’ll indubitably be here again. I go back and read my blog posts from the start of summer and I just want to go back to that time, and maybe prevent some of the major mistakes I made. I know it’s impossible, but it’s still hard for me not to dwell on the failures I’ve had and not wish I could do something to change them.

And then…some things that are really bringing me down recently are even definitively out of my power. One of the only things that is worse than self-disappointment for me is when people I really care about are sad, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I end up realizing that I had actually been relying on their happiness, selfishly just counting on them to be always there for me and using that as an invisible source of constant support. And now they’re at their worst, and there’s nothing I can do to make it better, fix it, make it whole again…and I feel like there’s a hole in my chest because I’m helpless to help them.

And so I do all I can do for them – I tell them that I love them, so so much, and nothing in the world can change that. I pray that this might be enough for now. I continue my routines at classes and work, trying to stay focused when my head feels too cluttered to think straight. I distract myself by running miles and miles and miles on end, thinking those endless circles on the track might take me someplace else. But no amount of footsteps can take me away from reality and the truth that no matter how fast I can run, life is always faster. And I crash to the realization that all I can do is hope that these terrible feelings eating me inside all pass soon, and that they take all the strife away for a little while too.

I’m not naive enough to just put my faith in false positive platitudes anymore, but I still do hold on to this: just like all of the honeymoon periods come and go, so do the times like right now. I have a lot to be grateful for right now that I can’t forget about. And there are spectacular times to come. I just need to rely on myself to have patience for them. In the meantime though…thank goodness for writing, running, and music, because they still remain the steadfast sources of catharsis and escape when nothing else is.

‘Cause all you see is where else you could be when you’re at home / Out on the street are so many possibilities to not be alone ♪♫♪

Being Happy

I haven’t always been one of those kids who always knew what they wanted to do when they “grew up.” At least, I have changed my mind a handful (or two) of times. There is now a month before my senior year starts, and I’m wondering if I’ve done enough.

It perplexes me that we are supposed to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives at such a young age. There’s totally a stigma about changing majors or career paths, but I wish there wasn’t. It’s so bad sometimes that it keeps people from switching. Even the slightest change in the plan can set someone into a panic.

I remember early on in life (and for a pretty long time throughout) wanting to be a teacher. Then, at some point along the way, I decided I wanted to be a college professor and not teach anyone younger. Despite the fact that I had never witnessed a professor in action, I was nearly positive this was what I wanted.

Sitting at the now-gone family desktop computer, I filled out the UIC application. That was one thing I was sure about-I only wanted to go to UIC and was absolutely dead set on it. So much so that it took me months after filling out the application to begin freaking out and wondering what would happen if I wasn’t accepted. Eventually, I filled out a second college application, this one to Bradley…after I had a moment of panic in the high school counselor’s office asking whether or not they thought I would get in to UIC.

At any rate, on the application, I looked through the majors and colleges that were available. I distinctly remember calling my mom and sister in and talking about what I would study. It’s crazy to think that that moment defined so much in my life. We talked about it all, and the next thing I knew, I was applying for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as an English major.

Freshman year, I analyzed my teachers’ every moves, considering their teaching style and telling myself whether or not they enjoyed their jobs. I considered classes an opportunity to witness firsthand what it truly means to be a college professor. Some days I wondered what else was out there for me. It took me until sophomore year to decide that being a professor wasn’t my ultimate goal.

Honestly, I have no idea where the concept of getting into public relations came from (especially since UIC doesn’t have a specific PR track or major), but suddenly I was diving into this area head first. From this point on, I hardly considered becoming a teacher. I was also really set on avoiding any additional educational requirements outside of the many needed for a bachelor’s degree.

I can’t believe how things have changed. Never in a million years would I have thought that my horizons would be expanding so much. Others may not see it this way….that is truly the plight of the English major. People still constantly ask my major and then proceed to ask what I want to teach. The degree certainly doesn’t limit one to teaching. In fact, my time in public relations has helped me realize that is exactly what I want to do, and I become more interested in the business side of it all each and every day.

I have picked up two minors since starting college-Managerial Studies & Communication. I hope the three specialties (and my experience!) help me secure an entry-level position while I (can’t believe it…) get things sorted out for graduate school. I now 100% realize that I need to go to school and constantly improve myself. I never would have imagined myself ready to enter my senior year of college with two minors nearly completed, multiple internships under my belt, graduate schools in mind, and a clear concept of what I want to do come May 2015 (well, actually now, but that isn’t allowed).

If you know what you want to do the moment you apply for college and always have, that’s great. If you’re 60 years old and still saying that you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up (my mom’s frequent statement), that’s fine, too. To some people, a career and getting the perfect job is everything. To others, like me, it isn’t nearly everything.

Ask me what I want to be when I’m older, and I’ll most likely give the cheesy answer of “happy.” Yes, I am very determined to make the right career choices and have the right amount of schooling to have a great job that I’ll enjoy, but that’s just a part of it. I want to be happy with the rest of my life as well, and that can be so much more important sometimes.

I never threw the thought of becoming a professor away, by the way. I’m not discrediting anyone’s majors or career goals or anything for that matter. In fact, if I could just do every job ever for a week or so at a time, I’d be great. But since that isn’t exactly an option, I’d like to get a job, potentially be a professor at the same time, oh, and not to mention, write books or something interesting.

So there it is. Who cares if you want to change majors or colleges or career paths? As long as you’re making your choice for the right reasons, it doesn’t matter what you do. Make choices that will make you happy both now and in the long run. Because that’s what I’d assume we all want to be.

Medieval Times

My boyfriend and I are really bad at surprises. One of us usually figures it out or decides to buy whatever it is, unknowingly, when the other already purchased it as a gift.  It’s an ongoing joke.  So, I was going to try my hardest to keep the secret that I bought tickets to Medieval Times.  Every time we happen to pass by, he mentioned that he’d like to go and hadn’t been since his golden birthday when he was 8 years old.  The last time I was there was when I was in 4th grade for a field trip.  I remember thinking, “we have to eat with our HANDS and drink the soup from the BOWL?” All the girls were grossed out.  And I also remember hoping that I got a rose from our knight. I guess things don’t change over an 18 year period. Anyways, I purchased the “celebration package” about a month ago which included VIP seating, a photo, an announcement during the tournament (A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LORD KYLE!! —said in an English accent), and cake. What else do you need? He was a bit concerned I was going to make him dress up for the photo.  As much as I would have liked to ;) I couldn’t do that to him.

To keep my secret, I only told a few people and I told him I was taking him to Shaw’s Crab House in Schaumburg for lunch.  We had been there once before and they were within minutes of each other so I thought it was a good alibi.  I freaked out a little bit when he offered to put the address in his phone for GPS.  I snapped, “JUST LET ME PUT IT IN MY PHONE, OKAY KYLE? GEEZ!”  I thought for sure he would put two and two together.  Luckily for me, he was too busy waiting for Carmello Anthony’s big announcement (and a bit annoyed with me for my crazy coming out) to look up from his phone.

When we pulled in the parking lot, he looked up from his phone completely confused.  I said, “So, by the way, we’re not going to Shaws, WE’RE GOING TO MEDIEVAL TIMES!”  He said, “Wait, what? What’s going on?”  “Umm hello!! We’re going to THE CASTLE…”  He was surprised and I was proud I was able to keep it a surprise.

We were in the red section with the red knight and NO :( I didn’t get a rose this time EITHER!  The food was great, and the show was even better.  We had a great time!

Before the show, you can sign up to have someone knighted.  Since Kyle expressed to me SINCERELY that he DID NOT want to be knighted and embarrassed, we watched from afar.  It was so cute seeing all of the little kids (and more adults than I expected) kneel before the king.

                                                       The red knight won!!

We had such a good time.  I would definitely go again and I’m glad he enjoyed his birthday surprise.

 

What a marvelous view ★

♪♫♪ The whole place was dressed to the nines, and we were dancing, dancing / Like we’re made of starlight, starlight…

Every July, when all of the people in America are getting pumped up to celebrate the anniversary of our country’s independence, my family prepares to celebrate something else too–my mom’s birthday! Since my mom’s birthday is on July 3rd, we typically tend to celebrate it along with the 4th of July. I didn’t have work or class on Friday, Independence Day, so I was able to come home early on Thursday night right in time for my mom’s birthday.

My family’s birthday celebrations may always be a little bit different as years go by, but they still do have one thing in common: there must be cake. And no one loves cake more than me! Whenever someone’s birthday comes around, someone always goes to either Costco or Jewel to buy a huge, delectable birthday cake that feeds way more than just four people, and because of this, it usually stays in our fridge for a while for all of us to indulge in (although usually I whittle it away the fastest haha!) until it’s gone. And since my brother, mom, and dad have birthdays in June, July, and August respectively, there’s basically a regular supply of cake in our fridge all summer long…no qualms here! ☺

So when my dad picked me up on Thursday, we stopped by Costco on the way home to pick up a huge bouquet of flowers and an enormous cheesecake to bring home to surprise my mom–not that she was surprised really. It’s become so common for us to do this for Mother’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays. I even managed to convince the baker at Costco to write a nice birthday message on it. After living on my own, preparing my own meals, and working hard at school and work for a few weeks, it felt so good just to relax and be with my family at home. I also got to play with Charlie again too, and between the two of us, I don’t know who was happier to see the other!

Other than cake, my family doesn’t usually make big plans for birthdays other than a birthday dinner. But this summer, both my brother and I were home for July 4th weekend (which is sadly becoming increasingly rare as we both get older and get more summer jobs, schooling, and other obligations to attend to), so we were determined to make it special. After bothering my mom for a bit about what she would like for her birthday, she mentioned that despite living so close to Chicago for over 20 years now, we had never been on a boat tour on the Chicago River. It’s something that she had mentioned before, actually, and it had always seemed incredulous to us that we have been here so long without ever really touring Chicago. And so, my brother and I immediately pulled up Architecture Tours on the Chicago River on our laptops and within the hour, we had booked four seats on a morning tour for the very next day! I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was, since we got tickets for 4th of July. The tour boarded at Navy Pier, so early the next day we left in order to avoid as much traffic as possible and hopefully snag a parking space. We arrived around 11 AM and nearly all of the parking garage space were already gone, but we got lucky and managed to find a spot. Before long, we claimed our tickets and boarded our boat for our 11:45 tour.

Happy birthday to my beautiful mom!

The boat tour was 75 minutes long, and it was definitely well worth the cost of under $40 per person. I hadn’t been on a boat in quite a long time, so it was really fun to be on the water! Our tour guide was entertaining and informative, telling us all about the different building and their architectural history as well as background information about Chicago. He had little humorous quips that kept everyone entertained and pointed out little landmarks that might not have been as well known, such as the closed down post office that had once been the largest in the world. He even pointed out the building of the traffic court in the city — “I’m quite familiar with the inside of that one,” he joked. I knew most of the information from reading or from school, such as the Chicago Fire or stats about the Sears (“Spelled W-I-L-L-I-S, pronounced Sears,” the guide explained to out-of-town tourists.) Tower, but it was interesting to hear it all again anyway, particularly about the influence of Spanish and French architecture that is still seen on our skyline, and then the change to Daniel Burnham’s style, modern, and postmodern architecture. My parents were surprised to learn that pretty much the entirety of Chicago was originally built on a swamp. Cruising down the Chicago River, it was wonderful to be able to experience the skyscrapers of Chicago from the water and just relax and enjoy it with my family.  I think the weather was absolutely perfect for once – not too hot, not too cold, and just enough wind to feel cool outside without being chilled. The water shined under the sunlight and my mom, who absolutely loves taking pictures, had lovely photo ops all throughout the cruise and after.

The view from the boat.

“Enjoy it,” the guide said. “Because Chicago really has only two seasons: 1) Winter. And 2) Construction season.”

By that, he explained that pretty much the moment the cold winter weather lets up, numerous buildings begin construction all around the city. The skyline and the buildings are constantly changing because of the intense competition and demand for bigger and better designs, and it’s no wonder that Chicago is such a forefront of architecture in the world. Even though Chicago – particularly the Central Business District – was decimated by the famous Chicago Fire in 1871, reconstruction began immediately, and within 2 years many new building were already erected. By 1893, Chicago hosted the World Fair, with the Chicago Columbian Exposition being designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. It was incredible to hear about the tenacity of the architects and how this spirit still continues today. Every day, architects and engineers every where are still competing to build the biggest, tallest, and most impressive building. As someone who has never really understood architecture outside just a historical or landscape context, I found it interesting to hear the buildings described in more of the builder’s perspective for once.

My mom took this sweet picture of my dad and me walking without us knowing!

After the tour ended, my family spent a glorious few hours under the sun wandering about Navy Pier and enjoying the beautiful scenery. We had lunch and listened to a live band play as the crowds gathered quickly throughout the day to enjoy the Independence Day festivities. Even though I know Navy Pier is kind of underwhelming or boring to native Chicagoans, I had a great time because we were all together. To avoid traffic, we headed back in the early afternoon and made it home to Naperville in good time. Not long after we got home, the news on the TV even said that Navy Pier had even closed its entrance because it was at capacity! It’s amazing to me just how many people gather just to watch fireworks there, and to be honest, I wonder if it’s worth the crowds, the crazy traffic, and the madness of being there. But now that I think about it, if you’re with friends, I guess that kind of craziness would be worth the memories and the good time. Maybe one day I might actually try to spend a 4th of July night there just to see what it’s like. But I’m already with my family, and as for my mom, dad, brother, and me, we just drove to a gas station not even 5 minutes away from our house and watched the Naperville fireworks in a far distance. They were tinier in the horizon and probably less flashy, but also just as bright as they lit up across the night sky. We sat in the cool grass (forgot our blanket and lawn chairs, oops) and swatted mosquitos while counting the number of sparks flying around us. I don’t know how I might be celebrating 4th of July years from now, but I can’t imagine a more perfect day than the one I had with my family this year, making memories with my loved ones that I’ll keep forever.

Don’t you see the starlight, starlight? / Don’t you dream impossible things? 

(Starlight - Taylor Swift)

A Waiting Game

Everything I learned about patience, I learned from waiting for my hair to grow.

It’s pretty obvious that patience is one of the most important things to have, and without it, life can certainly be difficult. At first, I’d say I’ve learned to be patient because in life, there is a lot of waiting, but I don’t think that’s true. That’s probably helped me out, but only to an extent.

But my hair grows so slowly…so incredibly slowly. Slower than anything has ever grown in the history of ever. Once, the person cutting my hair told me that hair grows about a half inch a month. I wish that were the case for me. But it definitely isn’t.

In December, I decided to cut my hair. So I did. But I didn’t just cut it – I cut it all off. I got my hair cut so short that I couldn’t put it up in any type of pony tail or bun. I had to leave it down. Which meant I had to “do” my hair every day until it grew out. I really liked my haircut for a while, but eventually, the fact that I had no way of getting it out of my face (ever) started to drive me insane.

I had to get up much earlier than I ever had to before just to make sure my hair wasn’t absolutely crazy or frizzy or offensive. If, on the slight off chance I exercised, I had no way of tying my hair back from my face and neck. Yes, I’ve heard of bobby pins and hair clips, but believe you me, with hair as large and in charge as mine, you’re really limited on your options; it can be so hard to say whose the boss of whom.

It’s July. Seven months since I cut my hair. In the past month, my hair has finally gotten to a length where I am able to sort of pull it back into a pony tail or bun, but pieces still fall out and make my hair look crazy. I have no idea how it’s taken this long for any type of change to happen. But the progress is there. When I can pull my hair out of my face, I see just how real the progress is, even if it has taken 7 months to notice any chance whatsoever.

I didn’t come here to tell you about my hair and my stupid or maybe not stupid hair cut (it depends on the day and how I feel about what I did.) My point is, if you want to learn true patience, chop your hair off.  Because a big part of the choice is the fact that eventually it will come back, but for the time being, it is gone. And the only way to get it back is to wait. And eventually, you’ll be faced with the decision once again of whether or not you should cut your hair and to what length and what style and whatever else you wonder about. That’s why I don’t usually have any qualms about cutting my hair a certain way. If I just wait, things will be right back to where I started. And after the hair cut, it’s fun to try something new and different for a while.

And as my hair grows, I wait. I wait for the three books I requested from the library to come in through the inter-library loan system. I wait to see if I will be able to find a job immediately after college. And I wait to see if it will rain or be sunny tomorrow because I no longer trust the forecast. I’m ok with that. I’m ok with all of those things, because eventually, I will find things out. And soon enough, my hair will grow, and it’ll be at such a length that I’ll probably want to chop it all off again. And that just might be my personal circle of life.

Stay tuned for insight into what I’ve learned from the crazy cowlicks all over my head (totally kidding…)

Support for our farmers

The agriculture industry.  It’s a tough one.  Especially if you’re a farmer and most especially if you’re a farmer who wants to grow organically without chemicals and agents.  In this day and age, almost everything we eat is loaded with chemicals and processed so much, it shouldn’t even be edible.  Ever wonder why workers who are spraying pesticides on fruits and vegetables have to wear masks?  It’s because what they are spraying is so toxic, they can get really ill if they breathe it in.  Except….we’re eating that food that’s being sprayed and there is an enormous company trying to force farmers to do it.

Another thing that scares me is the way animals are treated on “farms.”  Many huge companies that you may get your meat from have “farm fresh” stamped on their product.  The problem with that is most people don’t know that “farm fresh” means literally nothing.  Many of the cows, chickens, pigs, and even fish are cramped together in unlivable environments and are pumped with steroids to make them bigger and given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick from standing in their own filth.  Those things they are given, obviously are still in them when we eat them. Not to mention they are fed things that shouldn’t be in their diet, like corn and meat from other animals rather than grass.

I chose to write this week about supporting farmer’s markets.  There are many small farmers that are trying to make their products as natural and organic as possible but are being sued, frightened and bullied into following policies of bigwigs that don’t want them to succeed.  For more information about this, I encourage you to watch two documentaries: Food, Inc. and Farmageddon.

After watching those two documentaries, I have been interested in going to local farmer’s markets and giving them my business.  I went to one last week in Elmhurst and loved it.  I bought basil, mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinagrette, tomatoes and bread and I made myself the most AMAZING sandwich.  It was all so fresh and I felt good supporting these small farmers who care about the product they produce.

Here is a list of local Chicago farmer’s markets (or go to Illinois farmers markets for suburbs)

Division Street

May 10-October 25, 2014

Division & Dearborn

On Division between State & Clark

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Lincoln Park

May 10-October 25, 2014

Armitage & Orchard

Lincoln Park High School Parking Lot

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Beverly 

May 11-October 26, 2014

95th & Longwood

Every Sunday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Lincoln Square 

June 3-October 29, 2014

Lincoln/Leland/Western (City Parking Lot adjacent to Brown Line Station)

Every Tuesday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Hyde Park 

June 5-October 30, 2014

53rd Street & Hyde Park Blvd. (Harold Washington Park)

Every Thursday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Fulton Market Pop-Up (New)

June 10, 2014

Fulton St. (btwn. Peoria & Green)

4-8 pm

Northcenter

June 14-October 25, 2014

Belle Plaine/Damen/Lincoln

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Bridgeport Art Center

June 21-October 4, 2014

1200 W. 35th St.

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Printers Row 

June 21-October 25, 2014

Dearborn & Polk (Printers Row Park)

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Southport Market 

June 21-October 25, 2014

Blaine School, 1420 W. Grace

Every Saturday

8 am-2 pm

Garfield Park Conservatory

June 22-October 26, 2014

300 N. Central Park Ave.

Every Sunday

11 am-4 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

South Shore-Rainbow Beach Park

June 22-August 24, 2014

79th St. & South Shore Dr.

Every Sunday

12 Noon-5 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Columbus Park

June 24-October 28, 2014

Harrison & Central

Every Tuesday

2-7 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

La Follette Park

June 25-October 29, 2014

1333 N. Laramie

Every Wednesday

2-7 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Austin Town Hall

June 26-October 30, 2014

Lake & Central

Every Thursday

2-7 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Englewood/Anchor House (New)

June 28-October 25, 2014

76th & Racine

Every Saturday

8 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

West Humboldt Park

June 28-October 25, 2014

3601 W. Chicago (NHS Parking lot)

Every Saturday

10 am-2 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Union Park Community Market (New)

July 8-September 9, 2014

Ogden & Washington

Every Tuesday

4-8 pm

Pullman 

July 9-October 29, 2014

111th & Cottage Grove (In Arcade Park)

Every Wednesday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Devon Community Night Market (New)

July 9-September 10, 2014

2720 W. Devon St. (Republic Bank Parking Lot)

Every Wednesday

4-8 pm

Ford City Mall (New)

July 9-October 29, 2014

7601 S. Cicero Ave.

Every Wednesday

8 am – 1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Argyle Night Market

July 10-September 4, 2014

Argyle & Sheridan Rd.

Every Thursday

5-9 pm

I feel your heartbeat ♥

♪♫♪ Oh you got a fire and it’s burning in the rain / Thought that it went out, but it’s burning all the same / And you don’t look back, not for anything…

A few weeks ago, when I was reading over some of my old writing from high school. I found a very old essay that I wrote for my AP English Lit class in high school. The topic was to compare a selected poem that we read in class with another piece of art, such as another poem, book, song, or painting, and I remembered that assignment so well because I chose to compare the class poem in the class to the song “Fall Away” by The Fray. I think I picked it just because I have always internally swooned whenever I hear Isaac Slade’s crooning voice, and I related the song to the poem by noting how both employed second-person narrative and similar themes of blame and distancing from pain. (If you’re curious, here is the song and lyrics. It’s not one of their most catchy or popular, but I’ve always found it to be very evocative.)

I stored away all of my old essays a few weeks ago and I wish I could pull them out again because I can’t recall the title or author of the poem. But I do remember feeling very proud of that essay, which rarely ever happens for me because I usually cringe at reading my old writings. But occasionally serendipity strikes, and I find myself feeling accomplished when I finish writing something – and expectedly I would when I’m writing about The Fray, one of my favorite bands. Last week, I also got to see them live for the first time!

The concert was at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion on Museum Campus, which is not far from TBH, where I live at Halsted and Roosevelt. With the surprisingly cool weather, I even decided to walk there to meet up with Brandon. After going to a few concerts now, I should have known that there would be opening bands to take up an hour or two before the real act begins. But it was my first time at the Pavilion too, so I was pretty excited to look around and explore a little bit. It was a chilly night for summer, and the Pavilion is located right next to the lake. I was thankful I had brought a jacket because the wind that carried from the lake was relentless the whole night. I even saw people buying sweatshirt and jackets just to have something warm to wear – and then proceed to buy cold drinks for sale like lemonade and beer.

All of the lights

Finally, The Fray came on around 8:00, and by then the crowd was more than ready for the main event. I will admit, I only knew a few songs from their entire new album Helios, but I had spent a couple days beforehand just streaming the music on YouTube while I did homework. I was glad I did, because I recognized all of the songs they played, and to me, it’s always way more exciting when you’re hearing a familiar song being played. They also played some of their biggest hits too! I thought they had an excellent set list because there was a pretty even balance between their new songs and the audience’s old favorites that had everyone in the crowd singing, like Over My Head, How to Save a Life, Look After You, Heartbeat, and You Found Me. Even though Brandon and I technically had standing seats, we found some empty seats. By the time the concert really got going, nearly everyone was standing and singing along anyway. Everyone was able to see everything pretty well thanks to two enormous screens that displayed the stage brightly and clearly. Even though I was in the way back and far away from the stage, I could see the details of the stage and each of the members of the band as the camera panned around. And then with all the flashing lights around me, it was easy for me to get lost in the rush of the music, the crowd, and the adrenaline.

Isaac Slade on the big screen!

It seemed like the show was over as The Fray left the stage. But even as the lights started coming up, people continued cheering loudly for them to come back for an encore. Very few even left their seats. Then, after a few minutes passed, the band reemerged on the stage, with guitarist Joe King holding a mop, cleaning up what appeared to be a mess on the stage! It was both confusing and comical to watch until the band mused on their slow, humble beginning before mainstream fame and mentioned they spent time as custodial workers to get by.

To preface their encore, the singer declared, “Nobody cleans a toilet like Isaac Slade!” The band played two songs (Break Your Plans and, my favorite, Never Say Never) and the audience was much more satisfied when the lights came up the second time. Because of everyone who stayed for the encore, it was ridiculously crowded as everyone tried to exit at once. But even that gave me a little rush because it was just exhilarating to be part of the crowd. It might seem silly but I still get so excited over experiences like these. Things like concerts, going out to the lake, and other pretty normal things just make me really happy. Even though I envy people I know who are studying abroad or doing great things in other cities and other countries this summer, I’m still so happy to be here in the city, still falling in love with Chicago more and more every day.

Cause if you love somebody, you love them all the same / You gotta love somebody, you love them all the same ♪♫♪

(Heartbeat - The Fray)

What am I doing?

I haven’t updated you on anything that I’ve been doing for some time. Since it’s summer, things are at a much slower pace for me, or at least, I’m doing completely different things than I am when I’m at school. Either way, summer is still managing to fly by, and in just about a month, I’ll be loading up the car to head back to school (for the final time!)

Even though I normally spend around 3 days a week at work/my internship, that’s where the bulk of my summer seems to be spent. I’m not complaining at all, though — I love every minute of it. This is my second summer interning at the nearby hospital in the Public Affairs & Marketing Office, and it’s safe to say I’m hooked. While there, I’ve been helping generate media coverage for various topics/patient stories, writing press releases and coming up with my own ideas for them, assisting in any way possible, and, probably my favorite part-writing articles for the online news article website for Advocate. It’s such a great feeling to see my name on articles I’ve written and knowing that people are reading them. If you’re interested, you can check out the two articles I’ve written so far here. I’m hoping to write many more within this next month.

Another exciting part of my internship was the night spent in the emergency department. The media was interested in doing a feature on the trauma team at the hospital, so a couple of weeks ago, we stayed overnight in the ER to let them get some footage and interviews. This was never something I expected to do, but it was really cool. I’ll be back in another weekend for a different television channel to stay overnight. Pretty crazy!

When I’m not at work, I have pretty much been reading whatever current book I am on. So far I have read about 7 books, which is pretty good for me since I sometimes have a hard time making time to read. On work nights, I fall right asleep before reading more than a page or two, so everything has to happen on the weekend. I want to read a lot more books before it’s time to head back to school, because that’s when I really can’t find the time to read. Nothing’s really on the reading list at the moment, and that’s kind of nice because I can read anything that way. I’m currently reading “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn…not far enough in the book to have any sort of opinion; we’ll see what happens.

I’ve been brainstorming some ideas for the upcoming school year. I want to be the best Senior Resident Assistant I can possibly be, and I know that means coming in with a plan or some concrete things. I haven’t formalized anything because that would mean summer is almost over, and I don’t want that to be the case. So, I am compiling a list and shelving those ideas for a few weeks down the line.

I have also taken a fair amount of time to search for future internships for the next two semesters. I can’t tell if I should complete two more internships or not; it’s really hard to say. I have been checking my options out and starting the application process for a few. I know I need to have an internship Spring 2015 because I plan on taking a for-credit internship class, but as far as landing an internship for fall, nothing is planned just yet. We’ll see what happens after interviews and applications. Starting to think I’m internship obsessed.

There are still some things I need to take care of before school starts. I need to complete the mandatory RA/PM online homework that every student staff member must complete over the summer. Every time I go to start it, I decide that it isn’t the best time, even though no time will be better than any other…need to get on that. I also need to (for once) look at and possibly order my textbooks ahead of time so that there is less stress when I am assigned homework during syllabus week and have yet to pick up the book for the class. I also really need to do more summer activities because I feel like I haven’t gotten much done. Definitely need to get a beach trip and a game of golf and/or mini-golf in before its too late…ahhhhhhhhhh!

I know everything sounds much less busy and chaotic than the school year, but I still feel pretty tired and sometimes even stressed. I’m trying to really enjoy this since it’s my last summer before being a true adult-graduated and ready to join the working world. Let’s enjoy what remains of summer…

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