Poem: Craft Fair/T-Shirt, Draft One

I went to a craft fair today
And I bought you another goddamned
Skinny gray T-shirt

It has a bear on it
When I saw it I knew you’d like it

I see lots of things like that
Little gifts I know you’d like
And I wish to unknow

I think about erasing you
From my memory

How nice it would be
If I never knew we’d ever met
If I never knew we never work

I’d erase it all if I could

I lost myself and all I got was this lousy T-shirt

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200 Miles of Summer

My bike at Montrose Beach in July

My bike at Montrose Beach in July

I wrote earlier this year about my newly-discovered love of cycling. I managed to keep loose track of my miles traveled via bicycle this summer using questionable metrics, and I’ve determined that I’ve biked more than 200 miles in three months.

The mild weather kept it from feeling like summer most of the season (I realize this was a major plus in many’s eyes — not in mine) but having my bike to get me around the city made for some great experiences. I rode downtown to do Zumba in the park; I went to the Empty Bottle to see my friend’s band; I made grocery runs by bike and backpack and wasn’t at the mercy of the Lawrence bus. I pedaled proudly and with independence. It was a great summer to get some added feelings of independence.

Thanks to Becca for getting me on my bike in the first place, and to Stef for answering my many questions, and to Brianne for giving me confidence and extremely handy knowledge for basic bike repair.

At the end of June, July, and August I looked at my Google calendar to see where all I’d been. If I remembered biking there, I used Google Maps to check distance. With this inexact data, I’ve compiled a (probably, maybe) complete list from June 1 until today, Aug. 31:

  • Saturday, June 7: Rode to meet Jaimi at Wilson & Broadway, then downtown to Millennium Park: 10.2 miles; then rode north to Belmont, then down to Diversey, then up Clark to Andersonville: 10; then Andersonville to home: 2.3 miles
  • Sunday, June 8: Rode to visit new apartment in Albany Park, then went to Brianne’s with Becca and back home: 8.1 miles
  • Saturday, June 14: Rode bike to Target at Wilson & Broadway, then to brunch with Kristen in Wicker Park: 13.8 miles, roundtrip
  • Sunday, June 15: Rode to Mariano’s on Lawrence and back: 2.8 miles, roundtrip
  • Rode to The Empty Bottle in Ukranian Village to see Saintseneca: 11.4 miles, roundtrip
  • Friday, June 20: Biked to Jaimi’s to stay the night before a race by her house: 3.1 miles
  • Saturday, June 21, biked from Jaimi’s to Montrose Beach run an 8K, then to Horizon Cafe in Lakeview to get breakfast with Liz, and then home: 4.0 miles
  • Tuesday, June 24: Biked to Stef’s and back: 6.4 miles roundtrip
  • Thursday, June 26: Biked down to McCormick Place downtown for an all-day work event, then to Lincoln Park to run a 5K, then home: 24.4 miles total (this was a poorly-planned day)
  • Friday, June 27: Biked to Stef’s and back: 6.4 miles
  • Sunday, June 29: Biked to Pride at Montrose and Broadway, then to new apt, then back home: 7.8 miles

June: 110.7

  • Sunday, July 13: Biked to the lake and back with Dad: 6.8 miles
  • Wednesday, July 16: Biked to Guts & Glory at Schuba’s to watch live lit with Christina and friends: 6 miles
  • Saturday, July 19: Biked to Target at Wilson & Broadway, then up to Foster Beach, then home: 8.2 miles
  • Tuesday, July 22: Biked to Starbucks in Lincoln Square, then home: 1.8 miles
  • Saturday, July 26: Biked from old apartment to new apartment: 1.7 miles
  • Sunday, July 27: Biked from new place to Davis Movie Theater and back: 4.2 miles
  • Monday, July 28: Biked from new place to Potbelly’s in Lincoln Square, then home: 4.2 miles
  • Tuesday, July 29: Biked from new place to Starbucks at Wilson & Kedzie, then home: 1.4 miles
  • Thursday, July 31: Biked from new place to Kevin’s to write episode of webseries, then home: 3.6 miles

July: 37.9

  • Friday, Aug. 1: Biked Park West to Stef’s house after Jenny Lewis concert: 3.5 miles
  • Wednesday, Aug. 6: Biked from home to gym and grocery store Lincoln Square, then back home to Albany Park: 3 miles
  • Thursday, Aug. 7: Biked to Pilates at Montrose and Damen, then to Melrose Restaurant in Boystown for writers group meeting, then home: 10.2 miles
  • Saturday, Aug. 9: Biked to Hamburger Mary’s to see live lit, walked to Fat Cat’s, then biked home: 6.9 miles
  • Sunday, Aug. 10: Biked from home to Lincoln Square; dropped bike off for repairs, which took almost two weeks (so much lost time!): 1.7 miles
  • Saturday, Aug. 23: Biked from On The Route Bikes to home: 1.7 miles
  • Sunday, Aug. 24: Biked to Lincoln Square to drop off a gift for friend, then walked bike home: 1.7 miles
  • Tuesday, Aug. 26: Biked to Holiday Club for trivia, then back home: 8.6 miles
  • Wednesday, Aug. 27: Biked to Women & Children First Bookstore and back: 6.8 miles
  • Thursday, Aug. 28: Biked to Stef’s, then downtown, then home: 19.1 miles roundtrip
  • Sunday, Aug. 31: Biked to Starbucks to write this blog post: 0.7 miles

August: 63.9

GRAND TOTAL: 212.5

Me and my bike, as taken by Dad in July

Me and my bike, as taken by Dad in July

Not bad for a first summer. We’ll see how long into the fall I can last.

Ode to the bicycle

I finally get to use the bell I bought last summer in Fort Collins.

I finally get to use the bell I bought last summer in Fort Collins.

I was still sick on Memorial Day, with a deeper cough than I’ve had since maybe when I was a kid, but I was determined to enjoy the gorgeous weather on a day off. Becca told me to bring my bike by her place that morning so I could air up my tires after having left my bike in my building’s basement all winter. I was glad she knew to do that, and that she had a bike pump, because I sure didn’t.

I hate to admit it, but I was honestly relieved that morning to discover my bike was still in my building’s basement. I stopped going down there months ago once Kevin left, after both washers and dryers crapped out and it occurred to me a murderer could pretty easily access that space since my building’s back gate has no lock and the laundry room door frequently catches.

All winter long I’d feel the occasional pang of guilt, worrying about my bike, all alone down there. I’d bought it last May, the same week a much-liked co-worker at Groupon was killed on his bike by a drunk driver. I took my bike out a handful of times last summer, but I never got past my own general four-block radius. I was too afraid to go near major streets like Lawrence, Lincoln, or Western, all of which border my neighborhood in pretty unavoidable ways.

Yet there my bike was months later, with both wheels still there and everything. I walked it over to Becca’s and after airing up, we ended up going on a 15-mile ride to Evanston and back. To Evanston and back. I couldn’t believe it. I suddenly felt like I could go anywhere as long as I took my bike.

When we got home, I carried my bike up three flights of stairs and protectively parked it in my dining room, as I’ve done almost every day since. I rode to my friend Stef’s and back. I rode to the park. I braved Lincoln Avenue and Diversey and Lawrence. I felt alive and powerful and confused by the strange sort of fierce affection and attachment I’d developed for an inanimate object. I started to describe this to my bike fanatic friend Brianne, and she interrupted me to tell me she knew exactly what I was trying to say.

(I think I’m gonna name her Scout.)

The funny thing is, my mom’s entire family was made up of accomplished cyclists.

My mom’s brother is 65 and nearly qualified as an Olympic cyclist in the 70s. He still rides today, although in recent years he has moved more toward competitive in-line skating. He owns a company that designs and makes cycling gear. My mom’s parents met through a cycling group, and the local paper once wrote a feature about my grandfather for riding to work at the factory every day for years and years.

I, on the other hand, preferred riding my pink Schwinn in circles in my parents’ driveway growing up. It’s weird that this love is only just now hitting me at 28. But that’s also kind of awesome, because it makes me feel like there are probably many other cool things that someday I’ll discover a love for, and therefore life will always be exciting.

And I love it! I want to bike everywhere now. If only I too could bike to work.

Helmet shopping.

Helmet shopping.

I rode at night for the first time this week. I asked an old co-worker from Groupon to show me how to turn on my lights since it occurred to me I’d never once done so. Another friend of ours walked out with us, whose brother had died in a bike accident a few years ago. He has since become a strong advocate for cycling safety and helmets.

“Where’s your helmet, dummy?” he asked, and I held mine up.

“Never,” I assured him. I don’t blame him — if something could have possibly been done to prevent my mom from getting brain cancer, I’d probably be a little bit of a stickler for whatever that would be.

I rode home, half-amazed at my own boldness at riding on Irving Park, even signaling and making a left turn onto Broadway. Granted, it was 10:30 at night and there weren’t a lot of cars on the road, but I felt so daringly bold.

I’m sad I didn’t feel this way about biking last summer, but I plan to make up for lost time. Maybe I won’t be using my new Ventra transit card that much after all.

Ear Annoyance

Ever since the week of my birthday, I’ve been experiencing diminished hearing in my better ear, the left one. After a few days of this, I made a panicked call to my ear specialist’s office, because the last time that happened, it was because a hearing bone-eating tumor had shown up on my eardrum and I had to have a pain-in-the-ass two-part surgery to remedy the situation.

Call my gun shy, but I don’t take many chances these days.

My doctor got me in right away, but spent about ten minutes prodding around in there only to determine it was business as usual in my inner ears. I was, and am, relieved to hear that, but all he could say about my hearing loss as of late was to remind me that I’m almost certainly always going to have a bit of that. The two surgeries didn’t go completely as planned in the end, and so I will always have a bit of fluid in there that shouldn’t be, causing my hearing to fluctuate at times. He couldn’t say why it’s been happening so much lately, but if he’s not concerned about it, I guess I shouldn’t be, either.

It’s been tough though, because it does affect my day-to-day life, and it’s been particularly stressful to meet a slew of new co-workers under these unpredictable hearing conditions. Restaurants and bars are harder than they were before, and I’m constantly fidgeting with that left hearing aid to turn it up, only to realize it’s already at top volume.

I’m glad there’s no tumor, and I’m very glad I don’t need surgery, because after my Groupon benefits runs out April 30, I won’t have health insurance until July. There just doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to fix this, and that’s frustrating. It’s been a month, and while the loss isn’t constant, I also never know when it’s just going to dip out without warning.

Meanwhile, I’m glad I got into my doctor before losing my insurance, and again, he didn’t see any cause for concern. I’ll just have to hang in there for a while and hope the situation rights itself soon.

The Liz Lemon List, at Age 28

Also, if he could look like the Pie Maker from "Pushing Daisies" that would be great. But maybe with a beard?

Also, if he could look like the Pie Maker from “Pushing Daisies” that would be great. But maybe with a beard?

In the past I’ve updated versions of a list I once wrote, based on a speech from “30 Rock,” as made by one Liz Lemon. I’ve decided it’s time for a new version, because I made the last one when I was 25, and my God, do I feel like a different person now than who I was then.

At 28, I am tired of putting up with a lot of things. I’m less concerned with whether or not a guy likes pickles or Death Cab for Cutie, and more interested in whether or not he’s had the foresight to start a 401K. I am an old lady now, and I want old lady things.

Not all of these observations are referring to my most recent relationship, and most of them are either a composite of more than one person’s past actions, or are simply hypothetical. More than anything, these are about myself and the things I’ve come to realize I want and need, as well as the things I’ve decided I just will not put up with anymore because I have no time for such crap.

There is something about my personality that makes me seek out the gruffest, most curmudgeonly people I meet, and do everything in my power to win them over. My “type” of man is surly as hell, it turns out, and hates everyone but me. I’ve definitely dated guys that break this type, but the ones that fit it have long seemed so damn attractive to me for some reason.

You know what else is true about the surly guy? He hates hanging out with my friends or making polite conversation with new people at brunch or even GOING TO BRUNCH or doing anything that wasn’t strictly his idea. To hell with surly guys.

And so, a list:

  • I want someone who’s motivated and actively working toward some kind of self-improvement or self-fulfillment. I cannot sit here and hold one more guy’s hand while he complains about how he hates his job/apartment/other non-permanent factor without doing anything about any of it.
  • I want someone who likes me and likes lots of things about me and mentions to me those things a LOT. Contrary to what you might think, I will not tire of hearing how awesome a guy I like thinks I am. I just won’t. I need to hear it, and way more than once.
  • I will not stand for bad behavior toward my friends. A guy doesn’t have to love every single one of them but goddammit if he’s not going to be polite to them on the most basic human-to-human level.
  • I want someone who cares about other people and strives to make a difference in some small way, whether it’s donating time/money/pro bono graphic design skills/a kidney.
  • I am at the point in my life where if a guy doesn’t ever want to get married or if he hates kids, it’s a conversation that should probably happen sooner rather than later. (These were definitely not questions I was asking anyone, including myself, at 25, but this is info that matters now.)
  • Dude best not be allergic to cats at this point.

I think that’s what’s up for now. It’s strange how much can change in three years.

A fond farewell, x2

On our Columbus trip.

On our Columbus trip.

Last fall, Sarah told me and our friends that she and her husband Dave would be moving back to their home state of Utah in the spring. I heard her then, but didn’t really process it until around Christmas, and now I am freaking out because she leaves in a month.

Then, a couple weeks ago, Evan, a friend I met at Groupon but got to know through Kevin, let me know he will be moving back to HIS home state as well, which is Washington. He’d talked about this plan as a possibility, and I absolutely understood the appeal of it, but I remained in denial until he said it for sure.

This winter was a beast, and while I know Sarah’s plans were in motion well before the Polar Vortex(es), I still hold it accountable somehow. It broke a lot of us, and while it’s finally starting to warm up (this upcoming week being the exception, from what I hear in the weather report) this had better be the best summer EVER in order to make up for it. But it won’t be the same without Sarah or Evan.

Like I wrote recently in my Groupon reflection post, I met Sarah when I was assigned to be her cube mate. As the story goes, I insulted Utah on about day four, but we still managed to become the very best of friends despite this. Having friends at work is important, but three years later, Sarah is so much more to me than a former cube buddy. She, along with our third Musketeer Stef, has been around for a lot of life changes both good and bad. I will always treasure the bonding experience we shared while road tripping to Columbus last April so she could be part of a comic expo there. We stayed with my Columbus aunt and uncle, she met my dad, and we listened to possibly the entire discography of Rilo Kiley when we weren’t swapping stories and learning about each others’ lives.

It’s hard to describe our friendship, other than to say I consider myself extremely lucky to know her. The powers that be clearly knew what they/it were doing when I was plunked into a desk by her. I have to believe stuff like that happens for a reason, because she has directly and indirectly helped make my life so much richer.

Evan and our friend Becca.

Evan and our friend Becca.

Evan and Kevin moved to Chicago together five years ago, right after graduating from Whitman. They packed what they could fit into a moving truck and drove across the country, from eastern Washington to Chicago, over two-and-a-half days. Evan was a manager in my department at Groupon and actually was one of the people who hired me. It was a little awkward when Kevin and I first started dating, since my new boyfriend’s best friend was kind of my boss, but after a while I was lucky enough to get to know Evan well outside of work.

There were so many nights where it was just the three of us, drinking on the small back porch of my apartment, watching bad action movies, sitting around the table playing board games, or just watching video after video on YouTube well after 1 a.m. I heard their stories from college and after a while I felt like I’d been there with them and knew the cast of characters like old friends. It was actually really tough when Kevin and I broke up, because I knew I wasn’t going to get to see Evan nearly as much anymore. And now I’ll have to split the next two weeks or so with the rest of his Chicago life. At least I’ll have someone I know in Seattle now — I’ve never visited there before.

These two leaving Chicago seems to signal the end of an era, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel unsettling. I know it’s only natural for people to take on new chapters of their lives, but I feel like so many things are ending at once: My time with Kevin, with Groupon, and now with Sarah and Evan.

I hope it means other things and people are on their way, but even if that’s the case, they’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill.

Saying goodbye

This photo misleadingly represents what this post is about

This photo misleadingly represents what this post is actually about

I had my first day at work this past week, and I like it a lot so far. I want to write about it, but that’s going to have to happen another day. What I want to talk about now is what I left behind.

I wrote a bit recently about my thoughts on leaving Groupon, but my last couple of days there seemed worth writing about separately.

I celebrated my third “Grouponiversary” Feb. 28. It was the longest time I’ve spent working at one company. Last Monday night, it occurred to me that few people in my department would be in the office on Wednesday, my actual last day, since most of us work from home that day, so Monday night I made some muffins and sliced some fruit for a next-to-last day breakfast. I sent an email to my department Tuesday morning and CC’d a handful of other people I’ve gotten to know over the last three years and invited them to grab something to eat from my desk.

I also solicited audiobook suggestions, since I plan to listen to books on my iPhone during my commute. (Thanks for all the suggestions!)

That morning I brought in a bottle of sparking wine that was leftover from my birthday party and bought some orange juice, but no one opened either Tuesday. On Wednesday, I emailed the three people I could see in my row who were there that day and asked if they wanted a mimosa.

I am terrified of opening sparkling wine — always have been. When my co-workers accepted, I grabbed the bottle out of the fridge at work and saw two sales reps at the break room counter.

“Could one of you open this?” I asked, holding up the bottle. “If you do, you can totally have a mimosa.”

One of the guys did, and I told him it was my last day. He wished me luck. Three of my co-workers and I sat and sipped before my exit interview at 11.

At 2, I had a meeting with my manager scheduled. It had been set for the day before, but she changed the date after I put in my two weeks’ notice. I sat in the usual small meeting room we usually had our bi-weekly check-ins in, and when she got there, she asked if I wanted a coffee.

We went to the cafeteria at work, which has a barista on staff, and she got me an iced coffee. We sat and talked for about a half hour, and she gave me some advice and wished me the best.

It was nice.

I stayed longer than I meant to on my last day, taking my time packing up my belongings into an IKEA bag headed for Schaumburg. I chatted Kevin intermittently throughout, as I have done nearly every day for the last almost three years.

He and I met at orientation on our very first day at Groupon. While we didn’t start dating until three months later, his friendship has been closely tied to how I felt about working there at any given moment. We chatted each other links to interesting articles and funny videos throughout our time there, even after we broke up in January. On the days when one of us was sick and/or out of the office, the other’s absence was noticeable. Some people might think that working with your significant other would be stressful, but it never felt like that for us.

But things are different now.

On my birthday, my two best friends in Chicago held something like an intervention for me. I think they knew that Kevin and I still talked to each other a lot, but neither of them had realized how much — up until this past week, he and I talked nearly every day, even if only for a few minutes on chat.

They suggested I take this first month or so at my new job as a real fresh start, and not just in terms of employment. I knew they were right.

I told him a week or so before I left Groupon that I wouldn’t be talking to him for the next few weeks, after I started my new job. He was sadder about it than I would have expected. But then again, it’s becoming more and more likely that another close friend of his is about to move out-of-state, so between that and my emotional distancing, he’s heading into a rough few weeks. I feel terrible about that, but I also know I can’t fix it.

If I could fix the things that don’t work with us, I would have by now. I have to remind myself of that a lot.

We’ve been apart for almost three months, but every day I think, even if only for a second out of the day, that this was all a terrible mistake and we never should have ended it. I think it without meaning to, without really understanding the weight that glint of a belief carries. And then, I have to remember why we’re not together, and how we may never want the same things or be on the same page.

It hurts a lot. I’m trying to make it hurt less.

I know this sounds stupid, and maybe this has just been coming to me in waves, but today it feels like we’re broken up.

First, I slowly accepted that I was single. Eventually I started to kind of like it.

Now I finally feel like he really isn’t my boyfriend anymore. This apartment is not where he lives, and he is not privy to the everyday details of my life anymore, nor am I to his. We are no longer people who talk every day and share both our serious and our mundane thoughts. We are people who, at one point, knew each other better than anyone in the world did, and now we are people who might someday manage to still be friends.

Our great, arrogant plan failed. You can’t be friends with your ex in the way you tell yourself you can be.

I chatted him minutes before I walked out of Groupon for the last time on Wednesday.

“I am glad I met you here,” I said. “No matter what.”

I said I’d talk to him in a few weeks.

“Bye Kevin,” I said, and I left.

That was three days ago and this is the longest I’ve gone without talking to him since we got together. It’s hard not to text him whenever I think of something he’d find funny, or to send him pictures of the cat looking insane/cute/insanely cute. My friends have offered to be the ones I send stuff like that to, and I’ve been doing my best to take them up on that offer.

2014 has been a year of change so far. I am hoping to get my feet completely back on the ground soon so I can start enjoying the new life I’ve been building for myself.

March on

From l to r: Owen, Mom, me, Granddad Fred. Also: kittens, Small Foot and Jeffrey.

From l to r: Owen, Mom, me, Granddad Fred. Also: kittens, Small Foot and Jeffrey.

I was telling someone last week about the month of March, and my family’s connections to it.

Not only is my birthday in March, but my mom’s was 10 days later, on the 31st. My brother and his wife were married on the 11th, and my parents’ anniversary was the 24th.

That makes the whole month a celebratory one, but it’s also at least a little bit tinged with sadness each spring. We don’t mean for it to be, it just is.

This must have been what my dad was thinking about when he wrote this. It arrived in my email inbox late on the evening of the 24th, sent to only me and my brother.

Mom and I were married 35 years ago today. We never celebrated too much, although we went out to eat and got each other small stuff. On our 21st Anniversary, I photocopied an Ogden Nash poem about a marriage turning 21and being grown up and left it at her spot on the breakfast table. She took it to work and showed it off and was so pleased you’d think I wrote the thing myself. So I got a lot of mileage out of a photocopy.

Seven years later, the situation was different. On our last Anniversary, Mom was in the hospital because her tumor had grown back so quickly. On the 24th, we met with a backup surgeon, a man I’ve not seen before or since. After confirming the catscan results that the tumor had grown back already, he rather inartfully added that with the only other tumor he’d seen grow that quickly the patient was dead within six months. After hearing this death sentence, I was in shock, but Mom calmly said, “I’ve had a good life.” That upset me, because it sounded like she was giving up without a fight, and, as we all know now, we process the bad information at our own individual paces. We never spoke of her comment again.

Seven years later, the situation is different again. I now have come to realize what a valuable and lasting present her comments were. They offer a palpable solace that increases with each passing year and gives a chance for real closure. And since her comments came just three days after her youngest child turned 21, it must be clear that her children had a lot to do with her having had a good life. So I want to share this message with you, as it reinforces that a life tragically cut short can still be a good one, and a cause for celebration as well as mourning.

I sent him a short message back thanking him for writing it, and called him a couple days later. I asked him if I could share what he wrote and he said that would be nice to see.

My mom was in the hospital on her last birthday recovering from her second brain surgery in six weeks. She didn’t want us to talk about it even being her birthday. I’d just turned 21 and we were staying in Cleveland near her hospital. She was 54.

She’d be 61 today, and a grandmother of two. I’ve been thinking about her a lot lately, and wishing I could ask her advice in recent weeks. I think she’d have some things to say about all these decisions I’ve been leaving to the last minute.

I’m sure her remarks were painful for my dad to hear at the time but I also see what he means about them now. She was calm and accepting of the inevitable, even if I myself found I was surprised, somehow, when she actually died. The human mind is a strange thing, and is prepared to convince itself of or against most things, despite all sense of reason.

I am looking forward to running in her memory in four weeks. I think she’d be proud.

Making a place a home

A brighter discontent

A brighter discontent

I’ve decided to keep my apartment after all. This would have been a much easier decision to make if I’d either gotten hired a month or two sooner, or if my deadline to re-sign the lease was a month from now. Either way, I’d know what a full paycheck at the new job looks like, and be able to budget accordingly. Instead, I’ve made an educated guess, and low-balled considerably, and I think I can do this. I asked my landlord about going month-to-month, but he wouldn’t budge on that. I have to give him notice by April 1, and I don’t get my first full check until later in the month.

You guys, breaking up with someone you live with is just the worst. Never do it. And I’ve done it TWICE. Because I just don’t learn. The first time wasn’t so hard on me because the rent was cheap and I had a great-paying job but it was still just so awful. I broke up with him on a Thursday night and slunk out the door to my car, where I had left myself a packed suitcase. I drove off to my aunt’s as I’d guiltily planned without his knowledge, and I lived there with her and my uncle and cousins for two months before returning to the apartment after he moved out. The second time, the decision came to me quicker, but was executed much, much slower. We kept living together for two months after we knew we were going to break up, made the most of our finite time together, and then he left.

I’ve decided to never move in with a boyfriend again until, A) he makes it clear he intends to put a damn ring on it, and, B) I actually want him to do so.

I think I told myself in January that I’d have my life more figured out by the time I needed to make a housing decision. Little did I know that the job I was in the running for would remain a big question mark months later, and that I wouldn’t know how much my landlord would raise the rent until days before hearing I’d been hired.

I love this apartment. It’s too big for me, it’s too expensive, but I’ll never find a one-bedroom this cheap in this area. And I just don’t want to change neighborhoods or live with a roommate again. I only just set this apartment up to the way I’ve wanted: It’s finally mine, and it finally looks like it.

I had another crazy theme party for my birthday, and it was maybe the best one yet. I thought to myself that it was like one last hurrah in this place, but maybe it was just the start of me celebrating my independence and my ownership of my own life, and my choices.

This apartment was a mess, and yet starkly empty, after Kevin left. I resented it. I had no one over to visit almost all winter. But, now it’s my home. I wish I could go month-to-month here, but if I can’t, then he’s got me. I want to keep living here.

I think I can swing it, and I hope I’m right.

Odd jobs: A list

A friend recently posted a list of all the jobs he’d ever had, and it was a really interesting mix. He’s inspired me to do the same. I’m not entirely sure I have the chronological order correct, but the following is a list of all the jobs I’ve ever been paid* to do.

  • Roast beef specialist at Arby’s (first job ever — first and only food-industry gig)
  • Telemarketer, selling credit card fraud protection (note: possible scam)
  • Home health aide, trained to check the blood pressure AND heat up the frozen dinners of the elderly of Morgan, Guernsey, Muskingum, and Monroe counties
  • Hotel maid: Two summers at two different hotels. I was on my own at the first and listened to books on tape all day (including the LOTR trilogy — it was a long summer). The second hotel was of much nicer quality, and hired on my best friend weeks after me. We got to team up and clean rooms together on the days we were both scheduled to work.
  • At least three paid media internships during college: Two papers, and one radio station that never paid up
  • Newspaper reporter for a weekly paper, covering two Columbus suburbs
  • PR for a statewide labor union
  • Stringer for a chain of online papers covering Chicagoland suburbs
  • Housewares shop girl at Macy’s during first, and only, holiday retail season
  • Paid audience member for a locally-filmed “Judge Judy”-style courtroom reality TV show
  • Fact checker at a coupon factory, followed by data entry for said factory
  • Founder of a hyperlocal news site (*this is unpaid — very much so — unless you count me raising funds to expand it on Indiegogo)
  • Communications for an organization specializing in the fenestration industry

I’ve had a lot of volunteer work over the last several years too, and lots of one-time freelance jobs. It’s been a pretty interesting career so far for sure.