A Long-Awaited Break

Since before I can remember, I’ve wanted a break. When I was in college and took summer classes, and packed my time with jobs, 21-credit semesters, and internships, I’ve wanted a break. When I jumped straight from college into a job, I wanted a break. When I moved to New York, and from company to company, I wanted a break.

By break, I don’t just mean a few weeks off to get married (for those of you who’ve gotten married, you know this isn’t a break), but a real, true, sit on my ass and do nothing but get my mind straight, break.

So in October, I decided to do it. Take off the month of November to just be. I tied my loose ends, checked my bank account, and quit my job. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I’d feel, or what those around me would think. Would I seem lazy? Careless? Privileged? Or God forbid… Millennial!?

I hate to say that I care what people think, but I do. Especially the people I love, appreciate, and admire. But if I’m really honest with myself, what I care about above all is transparency. I can understand the need for a social highlight reel, for sharing the good, and portraying oneself in the best light. But I don’t understand why that’s it. Why we never reveal any other aspect of ourselves. To me, sharing in each others humanity is far more powerful. Embracing each other during the ups, and cradling each other during the downs.

So I decided to share my news. Admitting that I felt disconnected from myself, my city, my relationships. Confessing that I wasn’t doing the best, or being the best I could. Revealing that even a few days in, I could still feel half of my body in knots, and the other half slowly unraveling. It was terrifying.

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Deep down, I knew, and know others feel the same way. So why don’t we talk about our vulnerabilities? Why don’t we talk about fading friendships, faltering love, and failure when these conversations can liberate us?

When I pressed “post” on Facebook, I braced myself. I knew some people might read my post and see the frailty and naiveté of my character. But I also knew that some people might empathize. I didn’t, however, expect the outpouring of support – from my friends, my parents friends, my family all over the world. The “best decision in world!”s, and the “THIS IS NUTS (in an awesome way!)”s, and the “you deserve it!”s.

It wasn’t just sympathy or empathy. It was people throwing convention to the wayside and standing by me when I was most vulnerable.

In retrospect, I don’t know why I was that surprised. Especially now, when solidarity is pulsing through all of us. When we’re all tapping into the same positive, loving, helpful, encouraging consciousness, whether we live next door to one another, or across the globe.

The world is a scary place, but our community is beautiful.

Thank you for your kindness, understanding, and support. May we all continue to inject one another’s lives with this same sense of friendship, camaraderie, and unity.

Love,

A

A feeling of “grown-ness”

A few weeks ago, as I was riding on a boozy boat, surrounded by some of my oldest and best friends, I felt old.

I don’t mean old in the typical sense of wrinkles and graying hair, or painfully hungover after two glasses of wine from the night before, or surrounded by all my friends’ children (in fact, not only do none of us have children, none of our other friends from this trip are married, either). I mean old because our “grown-ness” dawned on me.

Most of us have been friends since about 2006. It was early in our college careers, and we were inseparable. We ate meals together, drank beers together, danced together, cried together. It was an emotionally packed time in our lives, where 5AM bedtimes were the usual, and 1PM recaps from the night before were routine. All of us would say college was a magical time. We agree that we had the most quintessential college experience, and it defined the strong friendships we have today.

Honestly, little has changed. I’ll say again, we were on a booze cruise, with coolers filled with beer, handles of whiskey, a few bottles of Rosé (typical). We were laughing hysterically, calling each other out, making fun as each one of us toppled over while tubing from the back of the boat (also typical). It was like we were in 2006, again. Except we weren’t.

We had new friends in the group, too. New loves, who at this point had turned into old loves, turned from new friends to old friends. We celebrated two 28th birthdays. We spoke about moving, and settling down, and careers, and families. How many weddings we’d all attended this summer, and how many more there were to go.

It was the first time, with our historic group of friends, that we stayed in each night. Laid on the living-room floor. Watched football. Had whistling contests. Cuddled with Ziggy the dog. None of us had the desire to go bar hop, see the Floridian scenes, wear “going out clothes,” we were just content being together. Grilling on the balcony, getting adjusted by the Chiropractors in the group, and playing Heads Up. If our 20-year-old selves saw us now, they’d wonder when we got so boring. But our 28-year-old selves were just 100% content. Even if we did fall asleep by 11PM.

My 28th birthday came around this weekend. And it was an incredible weekend. Friday night celebrating our friends’ wedding in upstate New York, near a waterfall, among the hills, with instrumental Beyonce.

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And then Saturday, my birthday day. We celebrated on a rooftop in Brooklyn, surrounded by whichever friends and family could make it amidst the final weeks of wedding season, the bachelor and bachelorette parties, the marathon training, the work fire-drills, or the relationship-commitments. Even though some key folks were missing, it was my favorite birthday I’ve had in years. A small group of family and close friends that I’d met from 1995 through 2015, talking about things adults talk about – love, careers, taking shots. Happy and at ease with who they are. Excited about what’s to come. Under the setting sun, in my favorite neighborhood in New York.

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There were cocktails, cupcakes, tacos. The breeze was refreshing, and my outfit was on point. And 28, despite feeling old (or more precisely, aware of my “grown-ness”), was beautiful and complete.

Growing up feels good.

Thanks to all of those who celebrated with me.

Love,

A

(I wish) I Woke Up Like This

We all know those people. The ones that practically skip out of bed in the morning. At 6AM when their internal alarm clock rings from the depths of their subconscious. They have run five miles, done 75 squats and 50 lunges, and had a nutritious high protein, low carb breakfast all before 7:30AM, when most of us trudge from our beds to our bathrooms as if there were hundred pound shackles bound to our feet.

Photo credit to the cool things Colleen Leddy has at her amazing bachelorette party.

After breakfast, this person sits down to spend an hour on their personal project. They are the writers, philosophers, entrepreneurs, makers, creators. The enlightened ones, if you will. They are the masters of their own lives. They had a dream at one point (and yes, MLK would also be considered one of these SSs), and are either on the very well paved path to achieving it, or in the midst of the surreal splendor of it.

For the luckiest, this one morning hour turns into many hours. They spend their day building the landscapes and skylines of their future.

All my life, I’ve tried to be a Self-Starter. I set goals for myself, and I achieve them momentarily. Writing every day for two weeks straight. Opting into initiatives like the 100-day program. Taking classes and feeling the rush of anticipation in the moments before, and the flood of satisfaction in the moments after. Enlivening characters I fall in love with, rooms I want to occupy, and storylines I want to share with everyone I possibly can.

I do it! And I love it! And then comes a moment when I stop. When the path to achieving my dreams becomes so convoluted, like a maze in the dark, in the middle of a large expanse of land, surrounded by nothingness. So even if I were to ever emerge, I’d only find another harrowing obstacle.

The self-starter has this same moment. When they stop and evaluate. But, these f**kers (excuse my French) just happen to be Eagle Scouts who know how to use the crap on the ground and friction to create a bright and fiery torch to light their way. They have to push through and persevere, too. Even though we might feel that by sheer will-power they can light-up the world.

So all you Self-Starters out there. Can you please take some time from being incredible, jealousy-inciting humans to give us all some advice on how in the world you do it?! Also, sorry I called you all f**kers (excuse my French, again). It comes from a place of love and admiration. Promise.

XX,

A

10 Thoughts on Winter

Up until this month, I was pretty content with 2014-2015 winter season. Obviously, it was colder than I’d like (I’m a 70s and sunny girl…but who isn’t?), but I was managing.

And then, February hit.

I partake in the semi-frequent social media “it’s so cold” conversation (posting Snapchat stories with the weather filter, uploading photos of the frozen lake onto Instagram, and tweeting multiple hateful tweets a day while still maintaining a semi-professional voice on Twitter), but it just doesn’t seem to cut it. I need to complain. I need to vent.

So, I have decided to share with all of you, some of my most recent and frequent thoughts on winter and, more specifically, winter in Chicago.

1. The layers

You cannot even imagine how sick I am of piling on layer after layer, adding probably a good 15 pounds to my body weight. It’s the same story every day. Two pairs of socks under my Uggs (with work appropriate shoes in my bag or stored in my office filing cabinet), leggings under my jeans (as if women’s jeans weren’t tight enough, let me just throw another layer beneath them), a tank top, a sweater, a puffy or fur vest, a 600 level NorthFace jacket. And then…no, I’m not done, a hat, a scarf, and gloves.

So as you can imagine, throughout the day I’m peeling layer by layer off, only to pile them all back on around 5PM and waddle back to my apartment,

2. Uber

There is always surge pricing on Uber these days because everyone is too cold to take public transport.

3. CTA

But, everyone isn’t too cold for public transport. Which means that we must go from the freezing cold, onto an overly packed train or bus, with our ten layers and ten bags (including our change of clothes, change of shoes, and gym clothes) and try to stay balanced while the bus goes over those infamous Chicago potholes.

4. My social life

Any commute that isn’t to work or back home falls off the priority list (sometimes those do too – can I just sleep at the office?) I’d love to see ya, but I’d also love to keep my limbs. See ya in April – maybe May or June because, well, you know Chicago.

5. Adulthood lacks snow days

Just because I’m over the age of fifteen, does not mean I can handle below 0 temperatures any better than a high schooler. Science is not my forte, but I’m pretty sure our DNA doesn’t alter after twenty, increasing our chances of surviving freezing temperatures. Adults deserve snow days/cold days too.

6. Iced Coffee

I miss iced coffee. I dream about it. I really do. But I cannot handle drinking it when I’m already frozen to the core.

7. I might as well be naked

The other day I was talking to my mom and listing my layers off to her and she said, “Oh, you must be warm then!” My response? “No, no I’m not. I might as well be naked.” Obviously, I know that that’s probably not the case. But when it’s this cold you’re just like, I can’t imagine any amount of clothing really helping me. I’m helpless.

8. I shouldn’t even go to the gym

Fat keeps you warm. Why get rid of it? This is my survival technique.

9. It just hurts

It really hurts. It hurts physically. It hurts mentally. It hurts emotionally.

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10. I’m moving

It’s been real Chicago. It really has. But I have every intention of this being my last winter here.

October Adventures | Chicago Edition

Hey hi!

It’s time for me to share a snippet of my month with you guys. October has always been one of my favorite months, mostly because of the autumn leaves, Halloweentown, and candy. But this year, October has meant a lot for me.

Along with being my first full month of work (no, I haven’t adjusted. Yes, I’m still going to bed at 10PM latest on weekdays), I also moved into my first very own apartment. To say I am obsessed with it is probably the understatement of the year. Despite loving being around my family, being on your own is satisfying in an entirely different way. I can also say I’ve never felt more at home in a place (probably because I decorated it so it really screams “K”).

Anyways, this weekend was my first weekend in my new place and I got to share it with some of my oldest and closest friends.

On Friday my good friend R and I sat with a bottle (okay, half a bottle, I can’t do as I did back in college) of wine and caught up on the past year where we hadn’t seen each other. One year! Of course, it felt like time had stood still all this time and despite our lives moving forward, our friendship managed to stay right where it was at, in a happy, friend-bliss.

On Saturday, I spent some time with my favorite guy, K, doing some birthday shopping. Afterwards, my sunshine-filled pal, came to see the new place and help me stomp on the new grounds. We went to dinner at the most adorable “grandma’s house” inspired restaurant, Ping Pong which serves amazing Asian Fusion cuisine. I highly recommend the sushi and green tea ice cream (don’t be deceived by the website).

Sunday, though it came all too soon, was filled with furry creatures and cheesy goodness. S and I first hit the LP Zoo and saw everything from monkeys to lions.

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And of course, we found some great photo opps. LP is chalk-full of them around this time of the year. The foliage and city is simply too beautiful to not take advantage of.

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Next, we hit up Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder where we proceeded to stuff our faces with Pizza Pot Pies. They literally brought out a bread bowl with fresh marinara sauce and dropped a bowl of pipping hot cheese in it. There are simply no words.

So, I guess you could say my first weekend on my own was pretty great. September was filled with change, and so far October seems to be the month where I’m making myself at home in my new life. We’ll have to see what November brings. Hopefully a lot of potatoes.

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Lots of love,

K

Jams | August 2014

Happy Monday everyone!

Skip the groaning – I’m here to make your Monday…no wait…your August a little better. After days and days of planning, compilation, and editing, I’m ready to release my first playlist to you guys! 

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I wanted to give you all a little something for these last fleeting moments of summer. There’s some old and some new, but it’s all gold. 

Here it is

Hope you enjoy it!

Xx,

The Cliché Post About Your 20s

So, by now we are all (maybe) growing a bit tired from the stress society puts on the twenties. You know how “the terrible twos” used to be a thing where toddlers go totally crazy and wreck havoc? Well, I sometimes feel like social media makes the twenties out to be equally as terrible.

We all use our twenties as an excuse to not have our shit together because hey, Thought Catalog told us that it’s totally okay and normal! We should experiment with unknown substances and well, even unknown people because we’re only in our twenties!

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I couldn’t disagree more. Your twenties aren’t just for trial and error, for failure and embarrassingly drunk nights. They’re a period of growth. But smart growth. It’s a decade of discovery (note: not “the” because honestly, I don’t think discovery, whether it be self-discovery or not, ever really ends). It’s the time to get to know yourself so that later on in life no one can push you around and make you doubt what you already know. Why are all these sites and blogs making excuses for our dumb mistakes rather than giving us advice on how to get what we want without taking the long, messy route?

Refinery 29 published a post titled How To Get Through Your Twenties, Sanity Intact. While it was a great read and filled with awesome advice from total badass women, I was almost offended. Why would you even suggest that just because I’m twenty-two years old, I’ve lost my sanity, morals, and probably six iPhones (the latter may actually be true)?

You know what, guys? I’m twenty-two and I know exactly what I want from life. And I didn’t need six years of keg stands, shady boyfriends, and occasional F’s to get me there.

So here’s to us. The people in their twenties who may not have it all, but still have their “shit” together and the confidence to have it all someday very soon.

Lots of love,

K