Finding (and Forcing) Humanity during an Election Season

The polarizing climate of this election cycle isn’t lost on anyone. Every four years we encounter a strange and finite period of time when social media posts cause in-depth arguments, family dinners turn even more hostile, and a third of the office stops socializing with Jerry from two cubes down until after the holidays. This year, the force feels stronger. The tension is palpable, figurative and literal political correctness has been tossed aside, and our imperfections as humans have reared their ugly heads.

We all have our beliefs; America was founded on them. Living in a country rooted in disagreement and fighting for what we believe in, we have tenacity in our blood. As a nation, this made us free. As people, this makes us passionate. But deep down, every person who has ever existed, from Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, is filled with both passions and faults, which is important to keep top of mind.

Our life experiences alter our views on humanity. Taught to forgive, but not forget, we bring these experiences — dressed as memories or ghosts — with us on our journey. Edmund Wilson once said, “No two persons ever read the same book,” because as humans with unique pasts, we interpret words, ideas and behaviors quite differently. It’s a simple enough perspective, but often not at the forefront of our minds — especially when engaging in the often-frustrating conversations that come to light in a high-anxiety environment like an election year.

With varying religious beliefs, levels of education, races, sexes, and economic classes (amongst others) dividing us, it makes sense that we have different values. We live differently, receive different treatment, and like different things. But what makes us different also makes us great. After all, the freedom to live and love and express ourselves how we want is something to be celebrated.

That said, it can be hard. Logging on to Facebook and seeing someone you love spreading ignorance is hard. Reading an uneducated retweet by a person you professionally respect is hard. And have you ever read a comment section that didn’t make you want to throw your phone out of a window? It’s easier to perpetuate hate behind the security of a screen, but often, it gets even more personal. Engaging in debates can be eye-opening, but only if both sides truly express a certain level of open-mindedness. Taking the form of awkward conversations, hateful speech and/or protests, it can be tough to move past these experiences, especially when it involves someone you like outside of a political context.

The bottom line is — we are imperfect people living in a world of gray. The blacks and whites live only in our minds, and as much as it’s in our nature to fight, it is also in our nature to love.

So, as a friendly reminder as we enter this last week of polarizing campaigns and overall political chaos (it’s probably far from over, but we can hope), love your neighbor — whoever he is — even if it’s hard. Remember that we have more in common than we have different. As Michael Che brilliantly said on last night’s SNL, “No matter who wins this election, we can’t let political parties and the media divide us, okay? We’re not different; we’re all the same….We all own a sweater that we never wear but we’ll never throw away. We all have that one line of a dumb song we don’t even like stuck in our heads for days at a time. We all say, ‘You too!’ when our deli guy says, ‘Have a good show, man’ and then walk away mumbling to ourselves like, ‘Why am I so stupid?’ It’s because we’re all the same. Who cares if we can’t agree on global warming or religion? It doesn’t matter, because someday, we’re all going to drown and burn in hell together.”

As essential as it is to vote (It’s important! Do it!), it’s more essential to be nice. Going into this week, please remember Ellen’s infamous phrase, “Be kind to one another.” We are all imperfect humans, the world will continue to turn after Tuesday, and as a country — a United one— we’ll figure the rest out when it comes.

Initially posted on Medium.

A Summer in Chicago

So – I guess I get why they say Chicago summers are the best. I moved here at the end of June, life unfolded almost instantly, and here I am, mid-October, feeling perhaps the most settled I’ve felt since my junior year of high school (which was over A DECADE ago, by the way. Where has the time gone?). While saying I don’t miss New York would be a lie, my time in Chicago feels very purposeful on a personal level, and now that I’ve had a chance to get my bearings in this new-to-me city, I’m excited to dive in, do work, and see where I land. All of that, and then also visit New York the first chance I get (see you next weekend, NY pals!).

Since we haven’t caught up in a while (How are YOU? Coffee soon!), here’s a visual peek at some of the things I’ve been up to over the past few months, in my life back in the Midwest.

What I’m Watching: ’16-17

I’m jumping on board a little later in the game this year, but fellow television addicts, we’ve arrived! With the first day of autumn also comes booties, leather jackets, “harvest” scented candles (whatever that’s supposed to smell like), PSL overload, college football, and network premiere week 2016! We’re already fairly deep into this season’s pilots and returning series’ premieres, but like I’ve discussed before, in today’s state of television, there are no hard starts and stops of a traditional TV season. Traditional doesn’t really even exist any more. Things that used to be unicorns (good summer shows, binge releases, online-only content, etc.) are now common place in the landscape of surplus programming as we’ve come to know it. Sunday’s Emmys even delivered! Who knew!

fall tv lineup

Traditionally for this post, I’ve written a small blurb about each new show I’m excited about, and then catalog each returning show I regularly watch. But because I like keeping my readers on their toes (and I watch entirely too much television), we’re going to try something new this year. By network, I’ve assembled a list of everything I am currently watching/trying to keep up with/excited to begin watching this year. For distinction, I’m bolding the few new shows I think are worth giving a shot. As long as times permits, I plan to give a mini-review a few episodes in of each new program I watch, so stay tuned for that. But for now, behold my 2016-17 television to-do list:


  • Designated Survivor: New series, premiered Wednesday, September 21
  • Modern Family: Season 8 premiered Wednesday, September 21


  • Transparent: Season 3 premieres Friday, September 23


  • Better Call Saul: Season 3 premiere TBD Spring 2017


  • Broad City: Season 4 premiere TBD Spring 2017
  • Drunk History: Season 4 premieres Tuesday, September 27
  • Inside Amy Schumer: Season 5 premiere TBD Spring 2017


  • Jane the Virgin: Season 3 premieres Monday, October 17


  • Girl Meets World: Season 3 currently airing


  • The Last Man on Earth: Season 3 premieres Sunday, September 25
  • Making History: New series, premiere TBD 2017
  • New Girl: Season 6 premiered Tuesday, September 20


  • The Fosters: Season 4B premiere TBD


  • The Americans: Season 5 premiere TBD Spring 2017
  • Atlanta: New series, premiered Tuesday, September 6
  • Better Things: New series, premiered Thursday, September 8


  • Casual: Season 3 premiere TBD Spring 2017
  • Difficult People: Season 2 just wrapped
  • The Mindy Project: Season 5 premieres on Tuesday, October 4


  • Girls: Season 6 (final season) premiere TBD Spring 2017
  • Divorce: New series, premieres Wednesday, October 9
  • High Maintenance: New to HBO, premiered Friday, September 16
  • Last Week Tonight: Season 3 currently airing
  • The Leftovers: Season 3 (final season) premiere TBD Spring 2017
  • Veep: Season 6 premiere TBD Spring 2017


  • This is Us: New series, premiered Tuesday, September 20


  • Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life: four new telefilms premieres Friday, November 25
  • Grace and Frankie: Season 3 premiere TBD Spring 2017
  • Jessica Jones: Season 2 premieres Friday, September 30
  • Master of None: Season 2 premiere TBD April 2017
  • Narcos: Season 2 premiered Friday, September 2
  • Orange is the New Black: Season 5 premiere TBD Summer 2017
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Season 3 premiere TBD Spring 2017


  • Masters of Sex: Season 4 premiered Sunday, September 11


  • Full Frontal: Season 1B premiered Monday, September 12


To summarize:

A) I watch and/or attempt to keep up with a lot of television, I know.

B) There’s a lot more I am interested in watching (i.e. Viceland shows, more late night and news programs, etc.), and there are likely some shows I’m committed to watching that in good faith I should weed out (i.e. Modern Family, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Girl Meets World, etc.) — but a huge part of what I love about television is the seriality of it. It’s a commitment, and I try my best to honor that, especially when beginning a new program.

C) Almost half of what I’m looking forward to watching doesn’t even premiere until Spring 2017 – which just further enforces the lack of timeliness in television release timelines. I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll have enough on my plate up until then.

On second thought, rumor has it these Chicago winters are BAD. What do you think – did I leave anything out? What do you have on your TV must watch list this year?


Money Diary: a week in the life of Funemployment

A new friend and I were recently bonding over our obsession with Refinery29’s Money Diary series, which chronicles the a week in the life of different people with various jobs on a specified salary. It’s an slice of life view on spending habits from a variety of budgets (or lack thereof).

As I’m currently living the #funemployed life (in Chicago – remember, I moved!), I thought it could be a fun (and completely terrifying) way to give a little more insight (than I usually like to give on a public domain) about how I’ve been spending my time money here so far. Keep in mind, Chicago summers are allegedly the most fun season in the city/it’s a brand new place for me/this includes a holiday/any other disclaimers that I should be naming to give me a little break of the judgement I feel forthcoming. Cool? Cool. So – here’s a week in the life, according to my bank account. (Also, I rounded. Sue me.)



This happened to be a Monday which was also the fourth of July. Being new to the city, I justified spending a little more than I should have would have normally on a Groupon for unlimited food and beverages on a rooftop overlooking a Cubs game with new friends. No regrets. – $69

And then there were further post-game drinks. Mild regrets. – $12



Real talk: I woke up considering placing a $25 Postmates order for McDonalds breakfast (the delivery would have been $8 so I had to make it worth it), but my roommate was kind enough to bring me an Egg McMuffin meal on her way back to the apartment in the morning. – $6 (which I still owe her)

I finally called one of the companies I have student loans with and paid an upfront forbearance fee to postpone payments for a few months while I work out this I-have-no-income situation. – $50

Met up with new friends for dinner and a drink at an (obviously) new-to-me seafood joint in our neighborhood.-  $35



Ate all meals at home and no money was spent, much to my bank account’s delight. – $0



I traveled downtown for a networking coffee meet-up. I bought both of our drinks and it cost probably half of what it would have been in New York. Minor win. – $6



Our wifi at the apartment went out, and since this week wasn’t as productive as I would have liked on the job-hunt scene, I planted myself at a coffee shop for three hours, slowly sipped at an iced Americano and applied to jobs like it was no one’s business. – $5

After the coffee-shop, I hauled myself over to a grocery store and purchased groceries and other necessary items for the next two weeks. (Can we all say a quick prayer for these groceries to last two weeks? After all, a self-actualized grocery addict is still an addict.) – $70



A large iced coffee from Dunkin was necessary in the late morning/early afternoon, as the following activity required some brainpower. – $1

A few months ago, a friend purchased a Groupon for a group of four’s admission into PanIQ room – which is a live escape game where your teammates have an hour to solve puzzles where the ultimate idea is to escape the room. Ours happened to be mob themed, and it was absolutely a blast. – $0, as it was c/o a friend

After we escaped the room (we escaped!), we deemed celebratory margaritas and insanely delicious nachos were in order. – $35

A few drinks later, we decided to walk up from West Loop to River North, where a friend of a friend was with was hosting a wine & snacks night at her apartment. I picked up a bottle of red (I don’t drink white) on the way. – $10

The night ended at a River North club with a glass of water because #fiscallyresponsible, or at least, I’m trying. A friend and I split an Uber home. I told her to split it with me but she didn’t. – $0



This afternoon was spent checking out the Lincoln Park Zoo and a nearby rooftop with a killer view the park, lake and skyline. The zoo was free and I was treated to the post-zoo snacks. – $0

After receiving a notification that my Ventra card funds were low, I reloaded some money onto it for transportation home and hopefully covering the next week or two. – $20


Weekly total: $319

Verdict: Man am I enjoying Chicago.

The one where I leave NYC

Two weeks ago, I formalized my decision. Tonight, I lie in a king bed in Ohio, with everything I’ve accumulated over the past 5 years crammed ever-most strategically inside an SUV in my parents’ garage. Next stop: Chicago.

Ever since the news started to get around, I’ve encountered a lot of “I’m so sorry New York didn’t work out” and “I really hope you don’t think of yourself as a failure.” It may not be necessary to defend my reactions of “I’m not” and “I don’t,” but just so we are all on the same page…

FullSizeRender (5).jpg

I didn’t decide I was done with New York when I got a staph infection from lifting weights at the cheapest, most convenient gym in my neighborhood. When I medicated myself with an expired antibiotic I was prescribed over a year prior, because my contractor insurance was terrible and I couldn’t afford a real doctor or for that matter, a real diagnosis.

I didn’t decide I was done with New York when a week after the staph infection, I contracted the worst illness I’ve had since living on my own. When a stomach virus shut my body down for an entire week — extracting every remnant of liquid or solid in my digestion system, as if my body only wanted to operate on gases from there on out. When I dropped a repulsive amount of money to see a shitty doctor in my shitty neighborhood, who only agreed to see me, three hours after I checked into the urgent care, because I cried and threatened that if I didn’t drink something soon I was going to pass out, and if I did drink something soon, my bodily fluids would rapidly exit my body all over their waiting room floor. When after receiving a shot, being locked in a room to nap and regain strength for 30 minutes, and finally getting a half-full bathroom-sized miniature glasses of water, the nurse asked for what seemed like the millionth time “are you SURE you don’t have ANYONE who could pick you up?” (Those urgent care nurses sure knew how to make a single lady in an inconvenient neighborhood feel good after 14 hours of nonstop puking.)

I didn’t decide I was done with New York when a week after the stomach virus, I was punched in the back of the head by a complete stranger at the Port Authority subway stop. When I was followed by a man, and hit so hard that I blacked out. When I was asked to watch the attack several times later on security cameras, and then spent the next 5 hours of that evening reliving the event to several police offers, medics, and ER doctors. When the next morning, unable to move my neck, I still went into work on time.

I didn’t decide I was done with New York when I found out my boss was quitting, thus causing formal staffing of contract workers (aka me) in our department to be frozen.

I didn’t decide I was done with New York when we experienced a second bed bug scare.

I didn’t decide I was done with New York when the bills from my assault incident started to accrue.

I decided I was done with New York much earlier. When right after I came back to the city after spending time in Ohio for the holidays, a point when I’m usually very ready to get back to the NYC grind, I was en route to meeting up with a friend for dinner and almost got mauled by a biker. When my subconscious reaction to an fast-paced oncoming bike was, “let him run you over.” I laughed it off that night, but that was the moment when I realized I was mentally checked out of the city’s rat race. At that point, I loved my job, but I knew it would be ending. I had freshly given up on a “will they or won’t they” relationship I had been flirting with for four years, and the city was at the onset of the coldest season of social hibernation. I didn’t want to be there, and something inside me knew the feeling wasn’t temporary this time. I had more bike encounters over the next few months, and my knee-jerk reaction never changed. “Don’t. Move. Let it happen.”

After that, the city seemed to pepper me with little gifts of hell on the reg. I admire New York so much, but I’ve always known that if you let it, it’ll drag you down until you are living with the sewer rats. At both at my four and four and a half year marks in NYC, I said I truly didn’t think I’d make it to five. And here I am, lying in my Ohio bed, with exactly two months until I would have reached that milestone.

Realizing your environment changed from a place that drives and inspires you to one you resent is a tough pill to swallow. For me, New York became a place where I felt myself becoming more impatient and insecure each day. Walk faster. Work longer. Trust less. Dress better. Speak louder. Love harder. Grit is at the core of New York City. It’s beautiful and powerful, but tough to settle into.

Leaving was something I wrestled with time and time again: at the onset of every new job, each time a childhood friend in the Midwest got engaged or married, all the times I second-guessed the cashier at my local grocery store when asked to pay $45 for eggs, hot sauce, cheese and kale (the staples). But I always knew the timing would be right when I felt simultaneously okay with never living in New York again, but also open to the idea that life could bring me back in two or five years, when I’m further into my career and making more money. I didn’t openly cry on public transportation about leaving a single time, but I already have a running list of things I know I’ll miss. Some highlights:

  • Weekly volunteering at The Covenant House with the NYJL
  • Spending weekends being the epitome of lazy in Central Park
  • Excessive Blockheads dinners with Michaela
  • Nightly kitchen chats with Jess (and more recently, Carson)
  • Days spend exploring the Hudson Valley with Jon and Josh
  • Third-wheeling with Mike and Nicole (and more recently, Paige)
  • Nordstrom Rack trips with Mandy
  • Brunching with Joel
  • Shows at UCB
  • Elevator rides with Jimmy Fallon, Willie Geist, et al.
  • Running and biking down Riverside Drive
  • Cheap Broadway tickets
  • Rooftop parties and bars
  • Free access to the city’s museums

I am not sorry “New York didn’t work out,” and I do not think of myself as a “failure.” Quite the opposite. In the past five years: I’ve worked in five jobs at eight locations in three different industries; I’ve moved five times into three apartments with thirteen different roommates; I’ve encountered almost every kind of rodent, coworker, and breakfast cocktail I can think of. My tolerance for crazy has been blown out of the water, along with any type of personal or professional expectation I’ve ever had. New York came through for me time and time again; I realize and acknowledge that. I had the lucky opportunity to live in the city I fantasized about since I was in 7th grade, work for the company of my dreams, and expand my network tenfold with creative, inspiring people who are thought-leaders in their respective industries — and even made a handful of them my best friends.

It’s really challenging to start over in your comfort zone, and even as tough and bizarre as New York City is, it became just that. I know how to survive there, but I no longer want to. Just as buying that one-way ticket to LGA five Augusts ago felt so right to me then, making the decision to bunk up with a college friend in a new-to-me city much closer to home feels right to me now.

I don’t know what this next city will have in store, but taking a risk and starting a new adventure isn’t something that intimidates me any more. New York has been my greatest love/hate relationship, and maybe it always will be. And while I am happy to be moving on, I don’t regret a thing. NYC: until we meet again, thanks for the memories, lylas and never change (even though you will, and probably already have).

Chicago, you’ve got some big Birkenstocks to fill.

Decisions, Decisions

Let’s start by saying “good decision-maker” is something you won’t see listed under the Skills section of my resume any time soon — partly because it’s neither a professional trait nor grammatically advanced enough phrase to use on such a document, but mostly because I’m terrible at it.

In high school, my best friend and I would drive around town for hours on end unable to make a simple choice about where we wanted to eat dinner. A handful of times, I’m pretty sure it ended with her dropping me off at home, an empty stomach intact.

I’ve twice let “signs” from the universe take the wheel at pivotal points in my life.

Once, I had just made the 7th grade cheerleading squad and needed to decide if I wanted to continue dancing in a company where I had been taking lessons since I was three years old, or if I wanted to spend my extra-curricular time at school, chanting and cheering for boys playing sports. For a reason I can no longer fully remember, I wasn’t able to commit to both. Maybe cheer camp conflicted with an important week at the studio? Doesn’t matter. I thought and I over-analyzed and my mom spent hours on the phone with my dance teacher and cheer coach trying to mediate a situation where there simply wasn’t a workaround. So what was a distraught 12-year-old to do? As the young, proud Catholic girl I was, I locked myself in my bedroom, prayed for a sign, and turned on my radio. The song that was playing? Lee Ann Womack’s one hit wonder, “I Hope You Dance.” No shit.

The other time was a more recent account I tell fairly often — my moving to New York story. Spoiler alert: you know how it ends. I had been obsessed with New York City for as long as I can remember; I wanted to move here long before I ever visited. I met one of my best college friends working at a coffee shop my sophomore year. We clicked almost immediately, and upon learning our New York fantasies aligned, we planned to be NYC roommates from the get go. I used my senior year spring break to network in the city, meeting with college alumni who worked in fashion, media, and most interesting to me, at NBC, and Ashley spent hers falling in love with a successful man who lived in Los Angeles. We reunited working our first shift together after the break from school, and discussions slowly started to drift westward. The next few months consisted of much deliberation, more reruns of The OC than anyone should watch in their lifetime, and eventually ended with me accepting a job working at my friend’s boyfriend’s LA company upon graduation. Summer began, and a few months passed without much progress. I hadn’t received an official contract or offer letter, we hadn’t secured an apartment, and I was without pay since leaving my coffee shop gig when school let out. So one day, I sent another request up to the gods. As the young twenty-something Catholic school graduate I was, I said “today, I need a sign.” That day, an apartment application in Los Angeles went through — something called “accepted with conditions” where apparently all that was required for our very first apartment was an increased security deposit. “This must be the sign,” I thought. Later that evening, after a family birthday party, a long run and a large glass of wine, I received a phone call from a childhood friend who had recently moved to New York. She just left a dance show, thought of me, and oh yeah, since she knew my feelings about LA were up in the air, she finally received the okay from a friend that she could offer me an open room in Harlem for $400 a month. I bought a one way flight to LaGuardia the next day.

“You can’t fight fate,” Zach, a tertiary character in The OC said in season two. In each circumstance, I asked for a sign, and I received one. My choices to continue dancing and move to New York City, arguably two of the most important parts of my life to date, were both made solely on my inability to make a decision. Or were they?

I was obsessed with New York City — of course I was going to find a way to justify moving here. Los Angeles was scary and hot and three timezones away. I’d like to believe I gave it a fighting chance, but at the time, it just wasn’t meant to be.

If I chose cheerleading, I would have been giving up on nine years of dance lessons at the most prestigious school in my hometown. A lot of money had been spent by my parents, and I would have lost my spot in a company I had worked extremely hard to earn. Granted, there was never a song entitled “I Hope You Cheer,” but I’d like to think, even if the radio had been playing “Mickey” at the moment I turned it on (Bring it On reference), I would have made my way to the dance decision regardless.

I could have easily taken the fact my apartment application was accepted as a sign that I should move to LA. I also could have easily taken the fact that I moved forward with cheerleading tryouts after I knew I was a shoe-in for a Junior Company spot as a sign that I should have been a cheerleader. But in life, I think we make subconscious decisions every day. We exercise the ability to talk ourselves in and out of situations on the reg. I had a glass of wine at happy hour, so now I can’t workout tonight. I told my friend I’d go to a party where I knew my ex would be, I guess I’ll show up…in the short skirt. I took a contract job knowing the possibility of using its end as my NYC out. You get the idea.

“Life is a chain of decisions,” Mandy, a tertiary character in New York City once said in season five. I simultaneously do and don’t know what’s next. In case you haven’t acquainted with my skin and/or liver in the recent months, there’s a lot up in the air right now. Making decisions is by nature a scary business, but I’m hopeful what’s meant to be will be. And as the late twenty-something distanced Catholic girl I am, I welcome prayers and positive vibes more than ever.

Where Everybody Knows your Name

A week ago, my friend and I traveled to Boston for a quick weekend getaway. Neither of us being native New Englanders, we had never visited before and were eager to knock the city off of our bucket lists before the real tourist season starts (it apparently ramps up in May). I tried my hand at airbnb-ing for the first time, sipped beers at the bar my favorite TV show is based on, and channeled my Elle Woods alter ego for a few days. As it always goes for me, it was great to spend a few days in a city less chaotic than NYC, and I especially loved the charm of Cambridge. From Harvard to Fenway, I found Boston delightful and would certainly love to visit again someday – especially as it’s only a four-hour bus trip (or super fast plane ride, if you’re the non-poor type) away. Here’s a few pictorial highlights of our visit: