Tag Archives: Chicago

Coming back to blogging: NaBloPoMo!


So here I am . I’m ready to a writing practice for the month of November. I have intentionally brought balance to my life with a big tranformation. New job. New apartment. New city. Here I am! I moved back to the Chicago area. Took a grant writing job at a community college. I leave work at 5 (!). I don’t have my work email on my phone or ipad. I never check it on the weekends (may change with big deadlines). I’ve been working for a little over a month at the new place And now that I’m a little more used to everything, it’s time to improve my self-discipline and habits. Before, at my old job, I was so consumed both with work and the emotions necessary to sustain the work (adrenaline for sure) that I just couldn’t do it. Now it’s time. It’s been a few years without discipline. Maybe since grad school? I need to regain myself. That’s my goal for this year. I started this job, appropriately right after Rosh Hashanah.

What am I going to write about? 

  • Who I am now?
  • The trip to New Orleans my sister and I took this year
  • My bucket list
  • Prompts from here
  • My favorite podcasts
  • Thoughts on current events.
  • what I’m consuming from pop culture

Whatever I do, I just want to develop a writing practice. Improve my skills. Foster my creativity.


These Days

These  days, I am not as busy as I was during Limmud planning but

  • We’ve started planning for 2013, so I have been to some meetings and we’re launching the volunteer process next Sunday
  • I’m writing little blog posts on http://www.jcfscommunities.org for Team JCFS, the crazy (I say this with a great deal of respect) runners raising money for JCFS. There are 18 of them.
  • Enjoying prepping the garden for summer. I put up a fence and planted rhubarb. The garden has been tilled. I’m prepared to conquer the creeping charlie again this year. And I have a new garden hat, so my nose won’t burn so much (hopefully)
  • I’m pretty excited about my trip to Israel that work is sending me on. I’m going to http://www.wcjcs.org. I had a travel anxiety dream last night though.
  • Reading more, watching more TV, enjoying the slower pace
  • sad that my days off this summer aren’t going to equal a week at home. Thank goodness for Sukkot in the fall, though.
  • Coming off a three-day weekend and a very short week. I was burned out, and happy to have the break.
  • enjoying the first big thunderstorm weekend of the spring (I think). Thankful for the rain bringing down all that pollen.
  • Finally finished the Wire. Started watching an Australian teen show, Dance Academy. It’s pretty light, which is good after The Wire.

Life Keeps Swirling and then I turn 30

Life has been busy. I went to a conference in D.C. a couple of weeks ago and someday soon, I’ll write about it. I’ve gotten out to some good programs with work in the past week. It always feels best when I get to experience things and feel less locked into the little room (my office and my head).

But, not the topic of this post. The topic is: I am turning 30 in a little over a month! So many people I know make ultimatums about turning 30. They make lists of things to do before they turn 30. It’s kind of like they think that life ends or something once you hit the next decade. I decided to do the opposite. I’m going to make a list of all the things that I know that my 20-year old self would have put on a list for turning 30 and see how many I’ve accomplished.In no particular order.

My Turning 30 Bucket List from my 20-year old perspective

  • Study writing at The Salt Institute: CHECK
  • Try to be a writer: CHECK
  • Be a barista at a coffee shop: CHECK
  • Go traveling in Europe: CHECK
  • Work at a Jewish Social Justice organization: CHECK
  • Be in a protest: CHECK
  • publish writing: CHECK
  • live in Maine: CHECK
  • go to graduate school: CHECK
  • live in Chicago near my relatives: CHECK
  • get a dog: Nope, need time and $$
  • own a house: Nope, see above
  • teach religious school: CHECK (odd I know, but lay leadership has always been important to me)
  • study in Israel: CHECK
  • hike up a mountain: CHECK  (small one, New Hampshire)
  • Keep camping in tents: CHECK (except this summer, sniff)
  • be an editor at a magazine: well, not one of my aspirations anymore
  • adopt children: see time and money comment (and I really like sleeping)
  • work as a nanny (don’t ask): CHECK

My 30-year-old accomplishments and realizations that I wouldn’t have expected at 20

  • Getting sick, getting better
  • I worked a drive-through window and was known for being fun and speedy
  • I can cook anything, and bake anything.
  • My gluten-free baking can be gobbled up just like my old glutinous baking used to be
  • I know my way around Chicago so well that I never get lost. (the suburbs are another matter)
  • I teach middle school students on Sundays.
  • I can talk about TV shows (popular ones)
  • I can go to an event and not feel socially awkward when I don’t know anyone.
  • I drink coffee
  • I have a great relationship with my aunt (we had a rocky adolescence)
  • I’m still heavily involved in Jewish things
  • I went to Divinity School, studied Jewish stuff, Christian stuff, and a little bit of Muslim politics
  • I didn’t really like graduate school
  • I went to University of Chicago (surprise!)
  • I couldn’t learn Hebrew (well enough)
  • I seriously considered Rabbinical School
  • I don’t eat dairy or gluten. I still eat chocolate.

I think I’ve done pretty well. I’ve never wanted to become a runner and do a race (lots of people put those things in their bucket list). I would love to travel more, but I have low expectations. I’m an explorer in other ways–books, neighborhoods, the woods. Someone at work today told me that I was “one cool girl.” If I’m cool to at least 1 person in their 40s, I’m pretty sure I’ve made it to nearly 30 in better shape than I expected. I like my job and my co-workers, I like my apartment (minus the crazy stomping toddler feet that incessantly pound above my head in the evenings), I like my volunteer work. I still like teaching 8th grade Sunday School. I appreciate my connections to my family here in the Chicago area. I love my trips home. My smithies and other friends that live far away are still just as important as they were when I was 20. Life is busy. It keeps me interested, and that is good. I still don’t know why 30 is so significant though…

the problem with a four day weekend

Usually, when I’m presented with extra time off, I head home. I’m a sucker for Wisconsin. I love being in the woods, in my parent’s house, with the puppy. I love the hiking, the lakes, the ease of life that Madison just is. So, that’s where I go. This last 2 holidays though, I went to Houston and then I stayed home. I was really lucky that Sukkot provided us with 2 four-day weekends.

I don’t know the last time I was home for 4 days. In my house, not in my parent’s. And I had tons of to-do lists (my desk is littered with post-its). And I didn’t get everything done, at all. And I still feel guilty. Some things just took more time. I went to the eye doctor, the dentist, and the regular doctor. Each of those appointments took up between 1 and 3 hours. (The regular doctor was deep in Glenview, so travel time took up an hour total, and there was the waiting, etc.). So, excuses, excuses.

I took the air conditioner out of the window and washed the screen. The duct tape that I had used to seal things up was a bit of a disaster. The pine needles from the tree outside the window get everywhere. And then, I put all the cleaned filters back into the vacuum. But, it still was making this atrocious sound and not sucking anything up. So, I looked up how to take it apart and figure out what was wrong. And I did, and the belt was broken. So then I frantically searched the internet for vacuum stores, very worried because it was Sunday (but it was Saturday, something I forgot again when I went looking for the Sunday Paper). I found the belt at Home Depot. So, I did my errands and picked that up. And put it back together. It’s still sounds kind of awful. And it’s not working so well on the wood or kitchen floor (which is most of my apartment). But, it does legitimately work on the rug. I’m still perplexed.

That sucked up lots of time that I was intending to use to clean or to do other things on the list. I also had to, of course, prepare for Sunday School. And I baked cookies for my friends and then went over there for Saturday night.

Today, I got one of my stupid sinus headaches and watched tv for 2 hours and then took a nap in order to get rid of it. I got to take a walk, though. And then, best of all, I talked to some Smithies on a conference call. It was quality friend time.

The thing is, is that I still have things on my to-do list and I’m staring down a week where I’ll be home after 9 on three days. ugh. And then there’ll be Shabbat dinner. So, I think the problem with the 4 day weekends is that they feed into my ambitiously high standards. I forget that I want to watch 3 hours of Pan Am on hulu to see if I like it or catch up on the other shows I like. I forget that I might get a headache or get immersed in recipes for roast chicken. (I roasted a chicken for the first time on Friday night, just because).

Tonight the crock pot is going with some stew for the week. The roast chicken remains are in the fridge. I baked the cookies that I used on Saturday night AND the rest will be used on Shabbat. The laundry is done, the sheets are changed. If it was a regular weekend, I’d feel quite accomplished.

P.S. I baked pumpkin cookies that passed the non-gluten free eaters taste test! hooray!

Things I think about on Friday and could another Smithie move into town?

It finally feels like summer, which means I have a warped sense of what summer feels like. I like it cool in the evenings. And the cicadas have returned. So, it sounds like summer, too. I can finally handle sitting without fans on in my apartment for periods of time. And last night, I turned my air conditioner off for 5 hours. And slept in amazing, wonderful silence. I can’t wait to sleep again.

I have been doing some of my favorite summer things. I have gone to an outdoor movie–I love outdoor movies. We went to one at Northwestern this year. It was lovely, and small and not so insane. And then at the end, we carried our stuff to my car and drove back to my apartment. Where we went our separate ways, although I still have someone’s (cough) tarp in my back seat.

And I’ve been to 4 outdoor concerts. I thirst for more. Summer is outdoor music. Since I’ve been going to outdoor music since I was a baby and in a stroller, this is the way it should be. I love eating dinner on a blanket listening to music. I love it more when the weather is cool in the evenings. But even when it’s so humid that you are sweating and damp, it’s still something nice to do in the evenings.

I finished my summer TV series tonight 😦 I’m very sad. No more Greek. What am I going to watch? Greek took me through the hot horrible month of July. I hated July. Where I could sit in my room and watch it on my computer after feeling like I was dying in my living room.

What haven’t I done this summer? Lots. But today, I realized that I haven’t gone out for ice cream or gelato or italian ice. Now, I can’t eat ice cream, but I can eat sorbet or sorbetto. And I haven’t. I almost went to Linz and Vail for dinner because I’ve never gone (they have gelato). But I held myself back. Maybe I should get off the train at Armitage sometime and get some amazing Italian ice. Or drive down to Logan Square. That place is incredible too.

My Smithie Lamonster friend is leaving town this weekend and we had our last coffee together tonight. I am sad and I cried after I left (because she wouldn’t let me cry in her presence, although we both stood there with tears in her eyes). Even if we only see each other every other month or whatnot and things are sometimes complicated, she’s been there and I’ve been there, in the same city. And I love spending time with her. I’m going to miss her. She’s going after her dreams though and I’m rooting for her. So proud! Another Smithie just left the city to go to grad school too. We need a new Smithie influx, preferably Jewish or from my house and graduating between 2001 and 2007 please!