Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Overcoming Shopper's Guilt

So, does anyone read Things I Bought That I Love? It's Mindy Kaling's blog—she plays Kelly on The Office and also writes for the show. Sadly, she doesn't update too often, but I love reading her posts because I like living vicariously through people who have more money than I do. Personally, I have an incredible case of shopper's guilt. I can't buy anything without fretting about the money that I've spent on it. Like I still feel guilty for buying The Sims 2 in 2004. This is five years of guilt, people. I have a real problem.

However, occasionally, I buy something that is so fantastic that I am able to enjoy it freely after only, like, maybe a week of shopper's guilt. This is a huge victory for me, and I feel so awesome about these purchases that I just have to tell people.

Black Corduroy Jacket, Smart Set
First of all, I totally love Smart Set. They have super cute clothes in classic styles, but trendy colours. I can wear things from this season and look fairly fashionable and when I re-wear this season's styles next season, I will still look plenty cute, just maybe not trendy, because it's not the hottest colours. I'm poor, so I can deal with that just fine. And Smart Set is totally affordable and I can't complain about the quality, except the time I tried to iron one of their shiny camis and it melted, but I'm willing to accept full responsibility for that blunder. The major drawback is that it's only in Canada, so I hardly ever buy anything from there. Usually getting to Canada breaks my budget and there's no money for frivolous shopping while I'm there. I don't know why I was feeling so wealthy the last time I went to Toronto and buying this jacket actually wasn't the best idea ever once I got home and checked my bank account, but you know what? I didn't care. Two nights of wearing this jacket and feeling fabulous made me totally forget my shopper's guilt. I'd link to it on the website, but their website is kind of a hot mess and I can't get it to work, so you'll have to believe me that it was less than $50, full price, and you can settle for this photo of me modeling it, instead of an actual model who looks more fabulous than me. Oh, and the shirt under it is also Smart Set and was only $15 or something ridiculous. Fabulous sales.

Photo of me entering the Toronto subway for the first time by Christina!

Green Walnut Masque, Warren Tricomi
OK, so full disclosure: I work for a large beauty retailer, and I've had some training on this brand. But they're not paying me that much, trust me, so I wouldn't just promote the products that we sell without really believing in them. I have fine-textured hair and a scalp that tends to be oily, but I flat iron the ends under and put it up in ponytail holders when it gets longer, so I definitely deal with some breakage. I'd been thinking about trying a reparative conditioner, but I didn't want anything that would weigh my hair down. Enter the Green Walnut Masque by Warren Tricomi to the tune of an angelic chorus. I substitute Green Walnut for my normal volumizing conditioner (the Lemongrass one by MOP) once a week, usually on Saturdays or whenever I want my hair to look and feel extra amazing (usually for the benefit of a boy who doesn't notice), and the difference is fantastic. My hair feels healthier, lays flatter (without being heavy-flat), the breakage is less noticeable, and it's really shiny. Completely awesome product. It's $38, but using it only once a week, I'm expecting it to last a year, maybe even longer, so I think it's completely worth it. For friends with more texture to their hair or a drier scalp, I'm told that their Daily Hair Masque is just as fantastic—and you don't really need to use it daily.

This concludes this blog post. I'll do my best to write about something less frivolous next time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Keeping Busy

The fall semester is keeping me busy. I like the constant pace and always having something to look forward to, but I also crave sleep and downtime. I like being able to sit at home and work on all of my different projects, but too often, I start something and can't make myself finish. Like unpacking. I haven't successfully unpacked in months. There has been a constant suitcase on my living room floor since August, except when I repack it and take it somewhere else for a few days. I hope my roommate doesn't hate me.

About a month ago, I was in Ottawa for my second figure skating competition as one of the official event photographers. It's stressful, to say the least. When I cover events as part of the media, it's a different vibe. If I get too bogged down, I can skip skaters or certain events. There are usually breaks built into the day when I can sit down for a few minutes, download my photos, maybe even eat a donut. But at the EOS competitions I'm doing this season, it's nonstop. Floods usually don't last more than 15 minutes (less than 10 minutes at Minto!) and if there's a chance for a longer break, I do what I can to help out Rhonda at the sales table. It's exciting, but I think that four days is my limit.

A few weeks ago, I had a completely different sort of skating event to cover. CBC, one of the Canadian TV networks, has a new show this fall called Battle of the Blades. The easiest way to explain it? It's like Dancing with the Stars, but the girls are professional (or retired) figure skaters and the guys are retired hockey players learning how to figure skate. I took photos at the first taping, available for viewing on Ice-Dance.com. The lighting was a little low and they put me on the "wrong" side of the arena, since most of the choreography was done for the judges' side, but the experience was fantastic. It was such a cheerful atmosphere. It's not meant to be taken completely seriously, but the athletes all have a competitive streak, of course, so they're working hard and putting together some fun numbers. I wish I could go every week, but since it's taped in Toronto and I live 10 hours away in Chicago...it's a little difficult. I am planning on going back for the final week of taping, though.

So the photography aspect of my life is going well. I'm looking at upgrading to a Canon 50D (I currently shoot with a 20D) sometime this month, whenever my student loans finally come through. They're only like six weeks late, so it may still be a couple of weeks, if last semester was any indication. The writing aspect of my dual life, however, is another story. The pressure of being in a creative writing program has made me agonize about everything I put on the page. I don't feel very confident in my writing lately, and I'm not having much fun with it either. I'm constantly procrastinating my assignments, which only makes them more stressful, and I feel like I can never catch up. I admit that I'm starting to rethink this duality, but I don't think that changing my situation is a viable option right now. I tried to change my situation over the summer, but it didn't pan out, and now I feel fairly stuck.

But at least I'm keeping busy. No time to sit around and feel stuck for too long. This week, I have a nonfiction workshop piece to submit, an essay to select and prepare for Ecolit, and when the week is over, I get to enjoy a weekend in western Michigan with some new friends. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some beautiful fall foliage.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I'm so sporadic with this blog. In my defense, shortly after my last post, I embarked on a fantastic adventure. I spent two weeks photographing figure skating events in Ottawa and Lake Placid. I went to Montréal for less than eight hours. I saw friends -- both old and new, took over 50,000 photos (ah, the life of a sports photographer...going to need a new shutter soon!), laughed until the wee hours of the morning most nights, survived attacks from giant spiders and a batlike moth, developed knots in my shoulders from holding my camera that still haven't gone away, and had a marvelous time. Of course, I should have come home and blogged all about it immediately, but it took weeks to catch up from all of those photos. I'm still catching up, actually.

So today, I'm re-resolutioning to blog at least once a week, and I'll certainly try to write more often. It's a good day for resolutions, because tonight is my first class of my third semester of grad school. I'm also resolving (see, I do actually know the word) to do my assignments in a timely manner and manage my time better than I did last semester, so I don't get sick. In addition to my really lame retail job and two grad courses, I also have plans to step up my photography assignments this semester. I have a lot of traveling planned, at least tentatively, and I'm hoping that I can balance everything.

Tonight, I'll begin a course on Ecoliterature. I'm kind of terrified, because I don't especially like nature or reading things that require me to form opinions. I do like pretty descriptions and interesting facts, though, so I'm hoping I can find some common ground. I'm also hoping that no one makes me argue in this course. I hate arguing.

Tomorrow night, I'll switch gears for Creative Nonfiction Writing II. This will be my fourth writing workshop (I'm required to take six for my degree), but my first with this instructor, so I'm not sure what to expect. My emphasis in the program is creative nonfiction, so I'm hoping that I'll feel more comfortable in this class, but I have to admit...I haven't done much writing in the CNF genre since last semester's CNF course which was discouraging at best. I hope I can step up my motivation.

And because I can blog about whatever I want to blog about, since I chose not to go with a theme for this blog, I'm planning to write about Canadian ice dance in my next entry. Shooting events in Ottawa and Lake Placid means that I've seen most of Canada's dance teams for the season, and I feel like sharing my opinions. Plus, I just really like writing about figure skating.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Billy Joel and Elton John

Last Thursday night, I went to the first of two concerts that Billy Joel & Elton John did this month at Wrigley Field in Chicago. As primarily a Sox fan, it was only my third trip to Wrigley, but easily the most memorable. The field provided the perfect backdrop to a fantastic concert—certainly one of the best I have ever attended!

I'd heard people say in the past that Elton and Billy are getting up in years and don't sing as well as they used to, but I didn't find that to be the case at all. Sure, I could hardly understand a word that Elton sang, but I think his lack of enunciation is a stylistic concern, not an aging problem. Both of them sounded strong, spectacularly on-pitch, and their piano playing was just incredible. In a world when live performances on television are often not even in tune (I'm talking about you, So You Think You Can Dance), it's incredible to attend a concert featuring two musicians as talented as these two.

The show was kind of epic, and well worth the price of nosebleed seats! First, Elton and Billy sang and played together, alternating between some of their biggest hits, then Elton did a full set, Billy did a full set, and they closed the show playing together. I only have a few complaints about the set list: Elton didn't play "Something About the Way You Look Tonight" and Billy didn't do "For the Longest Time." "For the Longest Time" is maybe one of my favourite songs in the entire world, and one of his extremely popular ones, so I was surprised that he didn't include it.

I forgave him, though, because his performance of "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me" was completely unexpected in the most awesome way. For that classic, the piano was lowered back under the stage and Billy performed with just the microphone and his band. The energy was incredible, and he even pulled off a few mic tricks! I think it was my favourite solo performance of the show, followed closely by Elton's "Tiny Dancer."

There were some other great moments from their solo sets: Elton's "Crocodile Rock" and "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" and Billy's "Only the Good Die Young" and "She's Always a Woman to Me," to name a few. However, the best moments of the show were the songs that they performed together, including "Your Song" (which opened the show), "Candle in the Wind," "Uptown Girl," and "Piano Man," the concert's fitting finale.

I knew it would be a fantastic experience, but I don't think I anticipated how incredible it would feel to be part of a crowd of 40,000 people, singing along to some of the best songs of the past thirty years.

As far as where this concert ranks among all that I've attended, I think it's a very, very close second. Seeing Céline Dion last December was a moment that was so many years in the making, and she didn't disappoint at all. I'm not sure anything will ever top that. But in terms of production value, I think Billy & Elton was a slightly better show. Céline's show was performed in the round, which meant she could really pack the United Centre, but it was a little distancing at times. Even though my seats were just as bad at Billy & Elton, I never felt as far from the stage as I really was, and something about enjoying their music outdoors on a beautiful summer night was just so magical.

Billy & Elton packed Wrigley Field again tonight, and I happened to be in Wrigleyville/Boystown for a theatre performance this evening. I took the red line home and as I waited for the train at Addison, just half a block from the stadium, Billy was closing his set with "Only the Good Die Young." People on the platform were singing along and two guys standing near me were saying that even though it wasn't their favourite type of music, Billy and Elton really have made some classic songs. Absolutely, I wanted to turn around and say, but I know better than to talk to strange people on the El.

Special thanks to my mom for funding our evening at the concert! I couldn't have gone if she hadn't paid, and I was happy to share the experience with her.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

On Surprises

I have this incredible group of friends. There are five of us in the core group: Jules, Christina, Jen, Chele, and me. We sometimes refer to ourselves as "THOSE girls," which is a joke with a complicated backstory that I won't try to explain. But as "THOSE girls," we travel together (often to skating events, but not always), we celebrate birthdays, and we laugh...a lot.

The tradition of surprises began between Jules and Christina, before either of them knew Jen or Chele or me. I think my first surprise was in summer 2005. Jen, Christina, Jules, and I had planned to spend a weekend together in Michigan, where Jules lives, but at the last minute, Chele decided to join us. We surprised Jules with her in the middle of the Gap in Ann Arbor. And so annual birthday weekend began.

Surprising people is so addicting. Over the past few years, Jules and I have surprised Jen and Christina a few times in Toronto, and once, Jen and Christina surprised both of us while I was also living in Michigan. It had been a while since our last surprise, though, and I don't know why I didn't expect something when we weren't busily trying to make plans for a birthday weekend in June.

Jules and I have the same birthday, and since 2003, the first year that we knew each other, we've always managed to celebrate it together within two weeks of June 9. So this year, since she couldn't come for our actual birthday weekend, we settled on June 19-22. I requested time off of work, and since I also just moved into a new condo, I planned a casual wine & cheese party to housewarm the new place, have Jules meet some of my friends here, and celebrate our birthdays.

On that Friday, she was set to arrive at about 9. I was at a concert in Millenium Park with Jamie and Adam, but when it started to rain, we headed back to my place to hang out for a while. And when Jules was about an hour late, I texted her and told her that we were grabbing a bite to eat in the bar at the end of the street, and for her to call when she got here. So Adam, Jamie, and I grabbed some dinner, and we waited. And waited. Two hours late, and I still didn't suspect anything, although I was worried that she'd gotten in an accident or something, so I called to make sure she was okay. She said she was almost there, so we paid our bills and started walking back to my condo.

Jules was turning the corner right in front of the bar and I saw that she was heading for a parking space, so I ran after her car, just because I was excited to see her...not because I'd noticed that there were three other people in the car. And when I got to the car, I've been informed that the look on my face was "priceless." The girls spilled out of the car and into a group hug, and I've never felt quite as speechless as I did in that moment. After about 30 seconds, it started to sink in, and I sat down on the sidewalk and cried.

I've been going through a rough time in the past few months. My job situation isn't what it needs to be, and I've been frustrated and angry and hopeless, at times. I don't let it consume me, and there are just as many laughs as there are days of frustration, but in June, I was really starting to need a pick-me-up.

And of course, the girls came through. They'd planned for a month before they showed up, and I had never guessed they were up to anything. I don't think anything cheers me up like a good surprise, and no memories lasts longer than the ones I make with good friends.

THOSE girls on the Kinzie Street Bridge

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dreaming of Dancing

I dream a lot, and I think a lot about dreams—my dreams, other people's dreams, what a dream does to a person. Not the kinds of dreams that fill your head while you sleep, but the active sort of dreaming. When you want something so badly that the decisions you make in everyday life point you towards that dream—that's the sort of dream that fascinates me.

Of course, there are the silly dreams, too. I'm an only child, and I think that's made me exceptionally imaginative. I was a quiet kid, and I hated playing outside, so when I got tired of Barbies or playing against myself in Monopoly, I read. I read like crazy as a kid, and I read fast. And when I finished a book (usually about an hour after I began), I'd stretch out on my bed and stare up at the ceiling and put myself in the life of the main character. I could stay like that for an hour, just laying on my bed and dreaming about being in someone else's life.

Sometimes, I didn't even need a book. From the comfort of my own room, I could transform from an awkward, uncoordinated kid into an Olympic champion on floor exercise, or a world-class pairs skater, being tossed effortlessly into split triple twists by a strong (and attractive) partner. My most vivid daydreams were all about expression, movement, music—dance.

I took dance lessons when I was very young, and then I quit dance for a few years to take gymnastics classes. After three years of trying (and failing) to master a back walkover, I left gymnastics and returned to dance. For six years, until I finished high school, I took classes in ballet, tap, and jazz. I was in the highest class at my studio, and I was decent. I was actually pretty good in tap, but I never had the flexibility or spring in my jumps to stand out in ballet and jazz. I was also constantly intimidated by the other girls in my classes. I may have referred to them as the "spandex queens," and my best performances were usually left at home while practicing, when I didn't have to worry about what the other girls thought of me.

It's summer now, which means that my favourite competitive reality show is back on. Yes, I'm a So You Think You Can Dance junkie. This season hasn't blown me away yet, save for a few performances, but it still has the same effect on me. When I watch the cast of talented dancers try different styles and work with some of the most well-known choreographers in the business, I can only think of how much I wish I could do that. I wish I had more rhythm, was less awkward, could leap higher and stretch further. Most of all, I wish I could afford to take some classes somewhere. If I ever get a real job, that's going to be on my priority list. Until then, let me just tell you that I can dance a mean tango in my head. You'll have to trust me on that.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Blogging, Moving, and Birthdays, oh my!

Well, I clearly didn't take to blogging as well as I did the first time. I started my first blog in 2002, and even though I didn't think anyone was reading, I wrote almost every day. Many of the friends that I made from my first blogging endeavour are still friends today. Maybe I've associated pressure with blogging now, or maybe I'm just more forgetful. I'm 25, after all. I'm getting old.

Yes, yesterday was the inevitable day when I became a quarter-century old. It was less painful than I thought it would be, but it was strange that for the first time I can remember, I was actually facing my birthday with a bit of dread. Life on my 25th birthday is not how I expected it would be ten years ago, even five or six years ago, so during the past few days, I've been wondering if I'm okay with that or not.

The verdict? I'm fine with it. The first two decades of my life were very goal-driven, and I ended them with a broken heart and a crushed spirit. My twenties, thus far, have been much more difficult than my early years, yet more fulfilling. Sure, I sometimes skip meals because I'm broke and I have accrued debt up to my eyeballs pursuing two dreams that will probably never make me rich, but I'm happy. I have wonderful friends and dreams to chase and sometimes, I even feel like my family is supportive of my choices. And I don't have regrets. I'm very anti-regret.

Yesterday, I was surrounded with wonderful new friends that I have during the last year. Lauren, Adam, Jamie, Marynia, Nikki, and Allison all came out to help me ring in my second quarter-century. We had cupcakes at Molly's, one of my favourite places in the city for dessert, and then went to Guthrie's, a delightful neighbourhood bar in Wrigleyville (but not douchey, like the bars closer to the stadium) that has a huge cabinet full of board games. BOARD GAMES! Do you know how much I love board games? Lauren (now called Lo) introduced us to Speed Scrabble, then at my request we played Apples to Apples, and closed the evening with Trivial Pursuit, also at my request. I get a little vicious with Trivial Pursuit. And I advise staying far away from the entertainment category when the game is from approximately 1985.

I promise not to turn this blog into a "this is what happens on every day of my boring life," but I wanted to write about my birthday because I really think there might be something wrong with my memory. I can remember seating arrangements from my fourth grade class, but I can't remember the names of professors I had two years ago, or what I did two weekends ago, or that I have this job for my mom that I'm supposed to be doing this month in my spare time.

Speaking of my spare time, I'm always setting up house in a new place. My mom has been wanting to buy a condo in the city for a long time, I needed a place to rent, it's a "buyer's market," and she found a great deal on a place we both loved, so she went for it. And now I'm renting it. I'm in the West Loop now, but still completely walkable to work and school on nice days, which is awesome, because I really didn't want to have to start paying for train passes regularly. Anyway, the process has been ongoing, but I have most things in place to finish organizing my things, so I've set a goal of next weekend for a finish date. I work better with deadlines.

Maybe I should start setting blogging deadlines for myself. At any rate, I have a few post topics brewing, so I hope to reappear soon. If you didn't give up on me, thanks.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Actually, I Do Mourn the Wicked

Wicked closed in Chicago today after 1,500 shows. 1,500 shows! In a city that is not exactly known for theatre, although they say that the theatre district is "emerging." We do have some beautiful theatres here, including the Oriental Theatre, where Wicked has lived since July 13, 2005.

I first saw it in summer 2006 with my mom--her traditional birthday present to me. Every summer since 2005, we've seen a show together. In '05, it was Lion King, Wicked in '06, The Color Purple in '07, and Jersey Boys just a few months ago. We've also seen Les Misérables in Chicago within the past 6 or 7 years, and I saw Phantom of the Opera in '04 or '05. So it's not like we see every show that comes to Chicago, but I've seen quite a few, and although Les Mis remains my favourite musical, I think that Wicked is my favourite production.

I had the lucky opportunity to see Wicked twice this month, since my friend Alana came to Chicago for it. She's a big fan. We won the ticket lottery before the show on her first night in town and got to see the show from limited view seats in the front row for just $25 each. For an incredible night of music and theatre, what a deal! I was so impressed with Annaleigh Ashford, who was Chicago's final Glinda, and probably its best. She's hilarious, adorable, and has an incredible range--the most essential qualities for Glinda. Although Kristin Chenoweth, who originated the role, is a sentimental favourite of mine, I think Ashford is a close second. Dee Roscioli carried the role of Elphaba for Chicago for some time through to the closing, and she has such a beautiful voice.

As with all musicals, there's an element of cheesiness and predictability, but I really credit the writers for taking a rather cumbersome and overly political book with a cool concept and turning it into a blockbuster show.

And "For Good" never fails to make me cry.

Good news, though. Wicked is still touring (now on two national tours, plus productions in New York, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, and probably somewhere else I've forgotten), so be sure to catch it if it stops near you. Even though I've seen it three times now, I'd jump at the chance to see it again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Church in the City

I stayed at my parents' house this weekend because the heat in my apartment could not keep up with the windchills downtown, and also so I could use my car on Saturday. Parking in the Chicago Loop is so expensive that my car has to live in the suburbs this year. It's not as frustrating as I thought it would be, and I've really embraced public transportation, but that's a story for another day.

The point of that intro is that on Sunday morning, I was getting ready to go to church with my parents, and an idea struck me. I asked my mom if she was completely committed to going to the church that we've attended since I was 3 that morning, and it turned out that she had the same idea as me. We finished getting ready, packed my bags into her car, and drove into the city to go to the service at the church I've attended a couple of times in the past month.

I'm so glad that we did. I hadn't made it to Park Community Church in the River North neighbourhood of Chicago since before Christmas, so I had no idea that the service would be the final week of a three-week series on racial reconciliation. In the times that I've attended Park before, I've absorbed that they are committed to playing an active role in their interesting community.

For those not familiar with Park, their main campus is now located in a renovated warehouse that's directly across from what used to be the Cabrini Green housing project, which was mostly torn down a few years ago. The neighbourhood is now quite diverse, with some low-income housing remaining, but there are also high-rise condominiums and townhouses.

So this year, timing their series with Martin Luther King Day and the inauguration of American's first African-American president, Park put together a series that implored its members to chip away at the prejudices that lie deep within the hearts of Americans. The message was real and raw, featuring testimonies from people who have seen prejudice at work in the church, and video clips from the fight for Civil Rights in the '60s set to clips from King's most famous speech.

The pastor mentioned all kinds of prejudice—not just racial prejudice, which is something that people do not always address. He talked about having prejudice against people who are poor, people with different sexualities, people from social backgrounds, etc. Another pastor took over the second half a message and actually read portions of one of Dr. King's sermons, offering explanations and tie-ins to today's Chicago.

Overall, I was just so impressed that this church was tackling a real issue that many other churches ignore. The second pastor even pointed out that the 11 o'clock hour on Sunday mornings is the most openly segregated hour that remains in America, with most church congregations being almost completely comprised of one race or another. He asked us to look around to verify—yes, Park Community Church was targeting racial reconciliation in a series of messages, but not because it was a battle that they had already won. Over 90% of the people in the auditorium yesterday were white, which is not at all representative of the neighbourhood or the city in general.

Perhaps it is mainly because of the church's location that the pastoral staff decided to bring this issue to light, but my mom and I were talking as we left about how that was never a message that we would have heard at our suburban church. I'm so glad to find a church in the city that appears to exist above the stereotypes that pervade so many evangelical churches. I think I'd like to attend regularly and take advantage of the opportunities to get involved in the community.

Friday, January 16, 2009


I'm not a habitual resolver in honour of the New Year, but I made pact with myself this year on January 1st. I am writer, and in 2009, I will spend at least half an hour each day writing, at least five days per week.

Enter wrist injury.

I'm not sure what I did to it, but several days into the new year, I started experiencing moderate pain in my left wrist. Writing took a back seat for a few days, and I was angry that I was already breaking my resolution.

Enter ACE wrist wrap.

It's not flashy and it was fairly cheap, but it's allowed me to get back to a normal typing schedule. Adam has admonished me (twice) typing with flat wrists, so I'm trying to remember to keep my wrists elevated, at least some of the time. It's difficult with a laptop, though.

Speaking of Adam, he's actually partially responsible for the creation of this blog, with his "all writers should have a blog" mantra. He's a friend of mine in the MFA program.

This is where, if my blog was a movie bursting with clichés, the camera would pan back abruptly and me, as narrator would say, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, I'm getting ahead of myself. I should start at the beginning." Then the shot would fade into a shot of quiet, snowy street, and I'd talk about my childhood.

Now that you're picturing that, I'll just jump on it, but I won't cover childhood. Maybe another time.

I'm a native Chicago suburbanite who has recently returned to the City of Big Shoulders after a 2-1/2-year stint in Central Michigan. While in Michigan, I earned a B.A. in English from the tiny but picturesque Olivet College, and I thought daily about all the reasons why I love Chicago. I moved back to the area in summer 2008, and in fall 2008, I moved downtown and began working on an M.F.A. in creative writing at Roosevelt University. I'm primarily a nonfiction writer, so keeping up with this blog should come naturally for me.

I'm also a musician, though somewhat lapsed. I began my undergraduate studies as a french horn player and music education major, but decided that a life behind the baton ultimately was not for me. I love music, though, especially taking advantage of the great music in a city whose orchestra boasts the best brass section in the world. In my opinion, of course.

Photography has probably eclipsed music on my list of loved art forms, although I am still learning. I shoot figure skating, mainly, and while I readily admit the shortcomings in the rest of my photography, I am very proud of how my skating photography has progressed since August 2007! If you're interested in reading my photoblog, it's here, although I recently forgot to update it for a few months in the midst of computer troubles. I'm getting back on track with it, though.

Since I am a perpetual student, I think of my life in terms of semesters, so I have high hopes for this semester. I plan to take two workshops, so I will spend a lot of time writing and one of the courses will be my first exclusively nonfiction workshop. I'm also looking for a new job--I'm currently slaving away in retail, but I'm hoping to find a position as some type of editor or editorial assistant in Chicago. Feel free to let me know if you have a lead!