Week 30: Thanks Mark Fenske, For One Thing Anyway.

July 25, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

In grad school, my Creative Concepting professor said that there’s no such thing as listening; only waiting for your turn to speak. As much as I hope I’m not this much of an asshole, we all know I’m probably one of the worst offenders. I am so defensive I’ll listen to just a few words before jumping in and swiping. I’ve got a lot to work on.

This week, work officially got busy and a little stressful. I caught myself jumping from assignment to assignment. There was barely enough time between sending one Word doc. and opening a new one to receive criticism from 5 creative directors, 7 clients and almost twice as many account people. It’s a lot to take when you’re new at a place, and I’m partciularly sensitive as I’ve just come off a few years you all might agree were “difficult”. I’m working on it, though. I recognize it and I’ve thought about it, and I’ve decided that — short of starting a chain smoking habit to handle the stress — I need to just slow down. I need to respect my colleagues, listen to what they’re saying, not take it so personally, try what they suggest, see how it ends up; _then_ ¬†gather my thoughts and push back with rationale on why I think I may have something better. I just need to not be so damned defensive. It’s so rude and disrespectful, not to mention toxic to a department. Not to mention hard on friendships.

I don’t want to cause people stress when life’s hard enough. I think if I listen more and fight less, when I have something to say, I might be listened to, too.

So thanks Mr. Fenske, advertising professor, for leaving me with one lingering grad school memory I don’t want to forget.

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Week 29: Too Much Information.

July 19, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized)

Tonight, T stopped the conversation on the park bench and jumped up to chase fireflies. It was the most fun I’ve had since he woke me up on my birthday with the Beatles “You Say It’s Your Birthday”. I love us. I love him. I am so proud of us. That’s all there is to tell.

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Week I Don’t Know, Who Cares If There’s a Headline?

July 15, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized)

I had a great birthday. I have great friends, great co-workers and T. 

I’ve written thirty things in this box and deleted them. It’s one of those nights where I need to go on an adventure and get drunk. I wish life weren’t so busy and serious I could go out and do that. I just keep telling myself, “Five weeks ’til Rome. Five weeks ’til getaway.”

Until then, I miss you guys. I want to hang out and everything be the same. Let’s play! It’s summer!

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Week 27: Turning Over a New Leafy Green.

July 6, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized)

I don’t know what happened. Don’t know if it was the new job; the stability of my health and therefore of my day-to-days; the confidence of finally fitting in at work and growing and having enough money to get by; the feeling useful; the shopping for engagement rings and feeling confident in my relationship and choices and life… Don’t know if it was any or all of this, but something finally clicked. I am starting to put myself a little bit first. Not on purpose, but purposefully.

See, if you care, it’s not something I know how to do, so just putting myself first was never an option. It was hard earned and hard fought against. But the tide’s turning and I’m suddenly getting more of what I want: getting in more fruits and veggies, cooking dinners with T, eating healthier instead of grabbing chocolate and ice cream and starting to work out. It’s just happening. All the things I wanted for myself but felt I didn’t deserve: To be comfortable in my own skin, to treat myself as important, to like what I see in the mirror. They’re happening.

It’s my time. Finally. Happy birthday, Me.

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Week 26: Halfway Point

July 5, 2010 at 7:16 (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

At Week 26, I am halfway through 52 Weeks of New — halfway through 2010.

T and I went to Denver this week for a speedy 48 hours in which we saw his old friend, my old friend, a couple peaks, some wildlife, Buffalo Bill’s grave, his haunted museum, a friend of mine get married, a full moon, two rainbows, a natural outdoors concert venue, a million hippies and something inside ourselves. We saw without looking that we are true Chicagoans.

Now lately I’ve been craving a lot of things Chicago doesn’t offer: trees, grass, inclines, rock formations and roads that don’t go straight out from where you are. In Denver, all that is around every sharp and windy turn, and it is beautiful. It’s so intangible how breathtaking it is, I hardly believe I was there. But Friday night’s concert at Red Rocks didn’t take my breath away, even with the altitude. I don’t know if it’s just my age or not my taste in music (we decided we didn’t care who played that night; only that we saw live music in such a magical venue), but the Widespread Panic crowd made us both miserable. And while it takes nothing to make me miserable, in T’s case it takes a lot.

I take it back. Widespread Panic was my taste. I love dancing to jam bands. I love how — when we were waiting in line — someone called out: “Hey, are you two not drinking beer because you don’t want to or just because you don’t have any?” And then they tossed us a couple of Blue Moons. Someone else offered up their water “because my mom bought me like a 36-pack for $1.50. What am I gonna do with them?” And in talking to these awesome people, we found out the majority of them are from Iowa. Astounding, since our very hospitable host was T’s friend from Iowa, as well.

The rest of the crowd, holy crap, left lots to be desired. Apparently Widespread Panic is the event of the season. Within hours of buying our tickets months ago, they all sold out. And when we rushed in to Red Rocks to lay down our blanket — after getting there hours early — the rest of the country rushed in with us. We made it as close as row 36, surrounded by sex, drugs and douchebags. They stepped on us, scowled at us, pushed us around, danced on top of us, encroached further and further on our square foot of space, blew smoke of all kinds in our faces and — in an uncommonly Midwestern gesture — generously offered of themselves via cocaine on the pinkies of their fingers. We rejected it all, leaving early after traveling all that way to get there. What I may have pretended to enjoy even two years ago I had a hard time feigning interest in because T wasn’t into it himself. And that taught me that Denver is not comprised solely of the active and the activists among us: Sometimes it kinda just hypocritically sucks.

This vacation taught me a lot: how much I enjoy travel, seeing how much old friends have changed, making new friends; and it reminded me to take more advantage of Chicago in summer and any activity and nature I can access. But it also confirmed something I learned when I visited LA in January: whereas I always thought I might want to live anywhere, I now know there are fewer and fewer places that qualify to be my home.

The Midwest is the best. The people are the best and the opportunities are the best. There’s lots other cities have that we don’t, but I can always visit. Unless, of course, the incomparable Chicago O’Hare International Airport gets in my way.

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