New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

I never reach all of my goals for a new year, but I do alright. With all the optimism in the world, I offer my resolutions for 2015:

  1. Do as many live lit shows as I possibly can this year
  2. Complete intro roller derby class at Derby Lite
  3. Do Feminine Comique training
  4. Volunteer marketing services to at least one nonprofit
  5. Bike 500 miles by year’s end
  6. Lose final 9 lbs for a total of 30 since May 2013
  7. Re-visit ASL skills, even if just via YouTube video practice
  8. Take an intro ukulele or fiddle class at Old Town School of Folk
  9. Mull over possible tattoo idea for at least six months
  10. Have the best Chicago summer ever
  11. Travel to visit Eileen and Margaret in Massachusetts
  12. Write for DNAinfo, NewsCastic, and other sites as much as I can
  13. Make a plan for better savings
  14. Ring in 2016 from Portland, OR
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2014 Year-in-Review

If each year since I started this blog had a tagline, they might go something like, “2008: The Year I Started a Grown-Up Job After Graduating From College” or “2010: The Year I Moved to Chicago” or even “2012: The Year of The Ear Surgeries.”

What would 2014 be? The year all of Chicago’s crazies/misogynists descended upon me at once? The year of my breakup? Or would it be the year I said yes? This is how I choose to look back on this year.

I wrote 18 blog posts in 2013. This is my 54th for 2014. I wrote more this year than possibly any other, save the year I was a full-time reporter. I also traveled more in 2014 than ever before, from California to Vegas to Portland to Salt Lake City to home.

It was a good year. I couldn’t see how it could possibly turn out to be so when it started, but it absolutely was. I started out this year feeling like someone’s ex-girlfriend. I’m wrapping it up with such a solid sense of self, and a clearer understanding of who I am and what I want for my life. For me, 2010 was a similar year of growth, when I made a life-saving recovery thanks to grief counseling, and ended it with the decision to hit re-set by moving to Chicago. This year was less dramatic, but just as eye-opening and productive and soul-feeding.

I spent the first half of 2014 in complete upheaval: breaking up with my live-in boyfriend; spending the first three months of the year unsure if I was going to get hired for a new job I was in the running for; and moving out of my apartment of more than two years to a new neighborhood with a roommate I didn’t know.

The rest of 2014 was spent smoothing things out, leveling them: I am no longer in a co-dependent relationship in which I feel shitty half the time; I love my job; and I live in a much better apartment with an awesome lady who makes me tea and buys me chocolate when I’m sad. The second half of 2014 was spent writing, whether it was an episode of a webseries, freelance articles, blog posts, or a travel series. It was at the start of the second half that I felt the undeniable need to go to Portland alone and experience that city and new place.

I said yes to lots and lots of things. I like myself a whole lot better than I did 12 months ago. So, as I’ve done since 2008, I present to you the inane; the important; the things I deemed worthy of blogging about this year.

January: My ex-boyfriend moved out of the apartment we shared. Was asked to be a contributor for the Addison Recorder. Got an email from an HR department about a marketing job I’d applied for. Enjoyed the company of Mango, a foster kitty that had been left in my custody.

February: Had a rough, cold winter and drove to the suburbs in a snowstorm for a job interview. Spontaneously decided to flee the polar vortex(es) and fly to San Diego to see Eileen and Tim.

March: Debated whether or not to re-sign my lease on an expensive one-bedroom that used to be paid for by two people. The day before my 28th birthday I heard I was hired for the new job, but signed my lease knowing I was going to need to break it in the summer to find somewhere cheaper.

April: A month of goodbyes: Said goodbye to Groupon, and hello to my current company. Said goodbye to Sarah and Evan, who moved to Salt Lake City and Seattle, respectively. Ran a 5K with Jaimi — my first in two years, her first one ever.

May: Said another goodbye, to Mango the cat. Ran another 5K, this time with Travis. Got horribly sick just before Memorial Day weekend, but recovered in time to go on an illuminating bike ride to Evanston with Becca.

June: Rode my bike everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. Made plans to move in with Adele in Albany Park. Was unfortunately assaulted by a cyclist in Lincoln Square just before moving. Began writing in earnest for the Addison Recorder. Ran my first 8K.

July: Went to Ohio for Fourth of July weekend. Threw myself a moving-out party. Wrote an episode of a webseries. Had a meltdown after procrastinating packing for weeks. Packed. Said goodbye to my home of 2+ years and cried a lot. Decided to visit Portland by myself in the fall.

August: Settled into the new apartment and was surprised by how much better I felt just by getting out of the old place. Got really into using Twitter. Tallied up my miles and realized I’d ridden more than 200 over June, July, and August.

September: Bought myself a tiny blue record player and held its importance close. Finally read at a live lit event, sharing an essay about moving out of the old place and away from the memories it was built from. Went to Vegas for work and began to feel mounting excitement for Portland. Ran my best 5K yet, this time by myself.

October: Flew to Portland by myself Oct. 1. Fell in love with a part of the country I was unfamiliar with and biked everywhere I went for four days. Took a bus to visit Evan in Seattle. Read at two more live lit shows. Starting making lists for NewsCastic. Began to imagine myself living in Portland.

November: Climbed all the steps of the Sears Tower with Jaimi, Becca, and Jodi. Felt the heavy weight of my mom being gone for seven years. Had an essay published on Hello Giggles. Saw the final version of the webseries episode I wrote. Flew to SLC to see Sarah with Stef for a very fun Friendsgiving.

December: Had a really effing terrible cab experience. Signed up for a January stand-up comedy class taught by a live lit woman I admire and respect. Took up roller derby. Got bangs! Went home for Christmas and was gifted the skates I needed for game play. Flew home thinking about what I want to get out of 2015 and began making some plans.

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.