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.

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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.)

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Monday:

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

 

Tuesday:

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

 

Wednesday:

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

 

Thursday:

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

 

Friday

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

 

Saturday

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

 

Sunday

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.

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:

Currently: a Monday evening perspective

HI THERE, HOW ARE THINGS? Life lately = yeeesh. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these (or one of anything on here) so let’s touch base. Regroup. Circle back. Er, I mean catch up. It’s only Monday evening (when I wrote this) and I’m already exhausted. I’d say “what a week!” but it’s been a day. I DIGRESS.

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Currently, (as I navigate my at Monday evening), I am…

Listening to: A Spotify playlist I made featuring all the songs on Will Arnett’s horrible Netflix original series called Flaked. The show will make you upset with Venice and friendship and humanity (in a totally not worth it way) but the music will make you moody and solemn and deep (in the best way!), so do that instead.

Eating: I just finished an “open-faced grilled cheese sandwich.” AKA I microwaved a slab of brie on an english muffin, and I’m trying to make myself feel okay about it. Other people my age have families of five and I’m still cooking at a junior-high level but THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

Sipping on: A glass of pinot noir. Always. I mean obviously not always, but you know, sometimes. We’re getting into the most uncomfortable time of the year for red-wine connoisseurs, btw – when the rising outside temperatures make ordering a malbec or shiraz socially uncomfortable. But be bold, lovers of the dark-colored grape, and do not let those rosé or *shivers* chardonnay drinkers cramp your style. For if it truly gets too warm out to think about sipping on a red, there’s always our good friend whiskey on the rocks.

Feeling good about: This past weekend. I helped coordinate an alumni happy hour AND I organized a donut crawl, which is exactly what it sounds like (a bar crawl of donut shops). Both were occasions to catch up with people who I’ve spent too long not seeing, and it was so good to socialize and spend some time exploring new places in the city which I too often (literally daily) take for granted.

Reading: Finishing up Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance and starting Pamela Ryckman’s Stiletto Network for book club (#oneNewYearsResolutiondown).

Missing: My long-distance family and friends. And Whitney Houston, always.

Terrified of: Spiders. Job stuff. Strangers/being followed. Walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you. You know, the normal things to be terrified of.

Excited about: OH I REBRANDED MY WEBSITE. In a time when I actually have 1,000,000+ other things I should be working on in my spare time, I decided to move full speed ahead with the website rebrand I’ve been thinking about for a year on the blog I update maybe once every other month at most. Anyways, it’s still a bit of a work in progress, but I chose the name Uptown Moxie because:

a) I’m no longer the little girl I was when I moved to the big apple five years ago, and even though ‘uptown’ is specific to where I live curently, I like being a little more expansive with my geo-referencing. Just perhaps I won’t live in New York for the rest of my blogging days. Just perhaps.

b) I have always lived Uptown, and I’m basically Christie Brinkley

c) I liked and have used the word Moxie plenty of times before Allison Williams named her dog. But for the record I died a million times when she got/named that adorable pup.

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With that, I’m at the end of my feelings and also at the end of my wine glass. I hope you like the rebrand and that you’ll stick around to hear my ramblings, however many months apart I may post them. Xo.

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In the grasp of dusk and summer

With summer winding down (or “over,” if you view the world from the Labor Day = autumn calendar), I thought I’d catch us all up to speed from the past season. Real talk: the past few months been challenging, to say the least. Things happened: amazing things, utterly terrifying things, I-have-to-nurse-myself-to-sleep-with-a-bottle-of-wine-if-I-want-to-get-any-shut-eye-tonight type of things. All of them. But we’ve (almost) made it to a new season, so you know it couldn’t have ended up all that bad.

For myself and strangely enough a number of my very close friends, seismically insane occurrences happened in the recent months. But I choose no longer to dwell on the happenings-that-must-not-be-named. Perseverance, determination and plain old instincts of survival got us (mostly) through. I’d like to instead reflect on some of the good things that happened over the course of my summer in the city. As it’s easy to forget the simple pleasures of day-to-day life when you’re going through a tough time, it’s so important to not. Often it’s the little things that add up to the big things, and I personally think those are what ultimately save you. So without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite things I did over the past few months that helped me rise above the hellstorm that was the summer of 2015. (Note: I’m focusing on events that happened in the city, even though my real favorite moments were likely any time I got away. New York, I love you, but summers are tough.)

My top 10 favorite happenings from the summer of 2015 in the city:

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10. The first GOP Debate on Fox. I couldn’t not include the most tuned-in election event that’s ever been. Not to mention this week’s workout schedule has been meticulously planned around debate numero dos. (Tonight on CNN for any interested parties, Happy hour at 6/Trump-show at 8 ET)

9. Finally catching a Yankees game. It had been a long time coming, so I was thrilled to finally cross this off my bucket list this summer. Also: the ticket was only $13. PLUS they happened to be playing the Cleveland WINdians. And Cle won. Winning all around!

8. Any time spent at the beach. Because summer without a beach is no summer at all.

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7. Finally paying attention to The Cloisters. At long last, I ventured up to the castle filled with art residing in my backyard! And regardless of where you live in this city, you too should make the trek; it’s worth at least one visit.

6. Birthday Times Square madness. A few months back I crafted this wild idea about a chain restaurant bar crawl in Times Square, and lucky for me, I have an amazing group of friends who indulged me in this silly endeavor.

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5. Seeing Hamilton. By the grace of The Good Lord Almighty in heaven, I was blessed with a chance to see this force of theatrical magic for less than $500. I’ll just leave you with this for a review: everything the critics say about it is true. Run, don’t walk, to catch Mr. Lin Manuel rock rap your socks off and completely change your perception of what theatre can say and do for a community (hint: it’s much more than entertain).

4. Any time spent on a rooftop. Because summer without a rooftop (many rooftops!) is no summer at all.

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3. The 17th Annual Del Close Marathon. A how-to post is in the works for next year, but this was the year I hardcore DCM’d it up. (DCM is a nonstop weekend-long improv festival, for those who don’t know. I obviously have not and will not pick up long-distance running any time in the near future.) This year’s experience entailed hours (14! 14 hours!) of waiting in the pouring rain with total strangers who – by the end of the weekend – became extensions of myself, some of the best comedy blocks I’ve seen to date in this city, and the most impossible question I’ve ever pondered: Marry, bop, kill: Ben Schwartz, Adam Pally, Zach Woods.

2. Surprise taping(s) of The Ellen Show at 30 Rock. One of the best things about NYC is the randomness that ensues when you let the city take you for a journey. A friend and I went for a late-afternoon walk/break from work and wound up in the audience for two shows (the second in VIP!) of Ellen that were taping in midtown. The whole experience was the best kind of whirlwind (Ellen! Hillary Clinton! A P!nk set!), and a great overall reminder that sometimes in life, the most awesome and random shit is waiting for you – right around the corner.

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1. Accepting The Job. Oh yeah, that little thing that happened at the forefront of the season. Early this summer, I was offered a position with the company I moved to New York (now over 4 years ago) with ambitions of working for. Currently a few months in, I still pinch myself daily. Although I am not yet in my dream role (Do I know my dream role? Does anybody?), this happening was a pretty big deal to me and I am very much looking forward to seeing what can blossom out of this opportunity.

So summer of 2015, I bid adieu to you; you have definitely been one for the books. And fall of 2015, you ain’t seen nothing yet. (You literally ain’t – seven more days!) And I know, at the very least, there’s a handful of us waiting with bated breath.

A DC Independence Day

If your parents aren’t interested in American history, maybe don’t plan a family vacation to Washington DC.

If you hate being amongst huge crowds of humans 24/7, probably don’t travel over the Fourth of July weekend.

If you do not enjoy walking around, sight-seeing AND all of the above things also exist, our nation’s capital over Independence Day is definitely not for you + your family.

But guess what my parents and I did over this year’s holiday weekend!? An expensive monuments cruise which showed us nothing, a three-hour bus tour guided by the world’s least funny non-comedian that was so hot we almost melted, and crowded, expensive brunches filled with annoying tourists (like us) were the highlights. BUT. I did capture a handful of mediocre photos, and, of course, it was nice to spend the holiday with family. Plus: DC, as clean and structured as it is in contrast to NYC, always makes for a nice getaway from the daily grind of a sweaty Manhattan summer. At long last, here are a few photos I managed to shoot during that hot and humid weekend at the beginning of July.

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Smart Starting the Week

Last night’s Junior League workshop at the Covenant House was extra inspiring and truthfully, just what a Monday ordered.

It wasn’t surprising that our speaker, Meagan Hooper, the 33-year-old former hedge fund COO and current CEO and founder of bSmart Guide had some legit advice to hand out. If you didn’t know, bSmart Guide is a community platform that inspires and connects women entrepreneurs with aspiring business ladies. Not only was it inspiring to hear Meagan’s personal story of overcoming [many and very tough] obstacles to get where she is now, but also, her passion is connecting and advocating for powerful and not-quite-yet-powerful women to do the same. And guys, need I remind you: lady power is dope.

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This workshop was meant for the kids, but I definitely got just as much out of it. The most impressive takeaway for me was that Meagan was someone who was behind for a lot of her life, and had to really fight to catch up (and eventually throttle, full speed ahead) to and past her peers. It took a lot of time and a ton of effort, but she was a freakin’ COO at 27. Nutso encouraging, and just when I needed to hear it.

Anyways, instead of just rambling on about how great she is and how much she has accomplished, here are the top 5 lessons I, and even though you weren’t there, you too, can take away from Meagan’s story:

1. When you’re the assistant, play a King. When you’re in charge, play a two. Demeanor matters.

2. Always know your objective. Repeat it like a mantra daily. Why are you doing all of this? There’s a reason, and it’s worth it.

3. If you want your bosses job, start acting like your boss.

4. Everyone’s afraid. Don’t let fear intimate you because everyone else is just as frightened.

5. Don’t let where you come from dictate where you’re going. The two don’t have to share anything in common.

What’s the most inspirational story or saying you’ve heard lately?