An Open Letter to Myself

illustration of a love note sealed with a pink heart.

Dear Future Me:

If right now you’re tired. And feeling a little lost. It’s OK. The real world is sometimes a scary place and entirely overwhelming — and sometimes its entirely underwhelming. It’s OK. You’ll make it. Being a grown up isn’t always perfect, but what is?

If right now you’re a little lonely. It’s OK. If you’re wondering when you will find your people, remember you already have once. And you will find more. If you see families out and about and wonder when you will get your chance. It’s OK. You will. Stop worrying about it. Continue reading

Millennials. Extraordinary?

Participation Trophy

Millennials are confident. We’ve been told that we are winners just for showing up. We get prizes and trophies for participating. We are told that we are special and different and wonderful. We are told this is a bad thing. We are told that these are lies. We are told we can’t all be extraordinary. But let me say this:

Even the word “extraordinary” has ordinary within it. Each individual essentially begins the same. A babbling, buoyant, but uneducated baby: raw potential. What sets an individual apart is not an inherent difference, but rather the way their raw potential is cultivated. It is this cultivation of youth that allows our society to advance and individuals to attain remarkable success and achieve extraordinary accomplishments. Therefore, it is logical that to realize Continue reading

Power Posse

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This is what my celeb power posse is like in my imagination

Traveling for work means that I am sorely lacking a posse. I hang out at the office, and spend a lot of time in a hotel room by myself. And when I do venture down to the hotel bar for a glass or two of wine, I’m surrounded almost exclusively by men my dad’s age in suits. Thankfully I have some great friends who are always willing to chat when I’m feeling lonely, but I still have a lot of time to day dream.

In some of this free time I’ve been thinking about  which celebrities (or pseudo-celebrities) I would want to be best friends with and have around to hang out. Who knows, maybe if this goes viral I’ll actually be able to hang out with one (or all?!) of them. Continue reading

Play Like a Champion

Six months ago, I was devastated to find out that the most formidable woman I have ever met had unexpectedly passed away.

I’ve been thinking for a while about how to approach writing this post and I’m still not sure that I can do it justice, but it feels appropriate to try.

Six months ago, I, no, the world, lost Cathy.

I’m not even sure how to put into words what Cathy was to me. Our relationship was complicated. And tense at times.

She didn’t accept incompetence, and she never once let me off the hook. Cathy didn’t take crap from anyone, ever. Nothing made her angrier that a student walking into her office and spinning some bullsh*t tale about why they just couldn’t be an engineer. Cathy respected hard work. Plain and simple, in her eyes, it seemed nothing worth doing was simple. Continue reading

Six of Hearts.

Myself and a few co-workers went out to dinner to celebrate someone’s birthday. Our reservations weren’t until 8:30 and as such, by the time we finished we were one of the last remaining tables. At the end of the meal the waiter spent a few minutes chatting with us.

He explained that he has worked as a waiter in that particular restaurant for 11 years and served over 500,000 people. (“Half a million if you didn’t know what that means.”) At this point, he’s developed the skills to understand his customer and what it will take to “elevate their dining experience two or three octaves.”

As a table we remarked on how impressive it was, and I blurted that it would be a great skill to have in sales.

He scoffed. “Sales. Let me tell you something about sales”

He pulled out a piece of paper and a pen and scrawled something on it. He put the paper face down on the table and put a plate on top of it.

“Think about a deck of cards…. there are four suits: hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades, two colors: red and black, numbers and face cards.”

“Choose a color, black? Right, and that leaves red? Yes?” Yes. “And there are two red suits. Hearts and Diamonds. Choose one. Hearts? OK. Now there are face cards and numbers. Pick one. Numbers? OK. High or low? Low. Got it. SO, six or eight. Eight? So that leaves six of hearts right?”

The waiter moved the plate and I flipped over the piece of paper revealing a 6 scrawled inside of a lopsided heart.

“Now see, I can sell you anything if I can lead you to it and make you think that its what you chose.”

The waiter went on to say, “Now ladies, I have a daughter just about your age, and I’ve told her time and time again, if I can make you believe you chose the six of hearts, a guy can make you believe that you chose to go home with him.”

Whoa. That got really real, really fast. But he was right, if you don’t know what you want, if you haven’t made a choice, someone else will choose for you. And they will lead you straight to the Six of Hearts.

Dear Gentlemen

Dear Gentleman,

Being back at Notre Dame this weekend was amazing. I saw so many friends and had so much fun tailgating. We got to our seats, so very far away from the field. And I sat down. Next to you.

Trying to be friendly to fellow Notre Dame fans, at half time I made conversation with you. And I told you about my blog. Partly because you seemed like nice people, partly because I want people to read what I have to say. You asked me the name of it and I was happy to give it to you. I enjoy having a public forum, I’m aware that strangers can read what I post on here. I’m careful about what I say for that very reason.

I was flattered that you were willing to at least take the time to check it out. And thanks to modern technology you were immediately able to navigate to my blog page.

Not more than 5 minutes later you get my attention to show me an image, ripped from my About page that, again thanks to modern technology, you were able to edit is a sexually graphic manner. I was appalled, and as I was recoiling in mild horror, you sniggered to your selves. You sneered and told me that anyone could access what I post on the internet. Thanks for the newsflash, no one has ever told me that before. And maybe I should vet my readers.

You threatened to post this image on Google.

You fundamentally violated my dignity and disrespected me. It was entirely unnecessary to edit my photo in that manner.

You made me consider taking down my blog. But I decided otherwise. Even if its silly, this blog is important to be me and will remain intact.

You made me realize again, that no matter how intelligent, or well spoken, or dignified I feel in the eyes of some I can be so easily reduced to a sexual object.

And I’m not OK with that.

Sincerely,
Marge

Shout out to Table 7

On my first day of my real adult career (today for those keeping track), I wore a kelly green dress. I realized as I got off the train (well, really as soon as I left my apartment) that I was surrounded by dozens of very professional, very serious, very adult looking people all in hues of black, white or grey. The adventurous were wearing navy or tan.

“Crap.” I thought, “My zaney green dress sticks out.”

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The requisite first day mirror selfie to send to mom

At this point, I had two choices. Stand out as the uncomfortable looking girl in the green dress, or stand out as the confident, outgoing girl in the green dress. I tried to choose option 2.

I arrived at orientation and was given a name tag and assigned to a table. I spent the day at table 7 (this is the shout out I promised), awkwardly at first but more fun as the day wore on.

New hire orientation is a lot like the first day of school. Everyone wants to belong. Everyone is checking each other out, sizing each other up, trying to determine who our new friends will be.  Honestly, I was intimidated as I sat down at my table. Those at my table looked much more sophisticated and adult than I felt.

But soon we were talking and laughing together. I talked probably too much (sorry). But hopefully my nervous chatter made those at my table feel more at ease. Maybe tomorrow I will come armed with a mental list of questions get to know what everyone else is about.

Truthfully, I couldn’t have asked for a better first day. In a lot of ways, my first day of work reminded me a lot of my first day at Notre Dame. I’m not entirely sure what the future will bring, but I’m happy (although tired), I’m excited, and I’m sure that I made the right choice.

Right now, this is where I belong.

A Tale of Two Cities

How do you keep from comparing yourself to other people? Everyone around us is so successful? It seems near impossible to feel you are measuring up.

Look around. I bet someone else got the job you want, has a higher salary, is going to a better school, has a higher GPA, is going to be a doctor, is prettier, is  funnier, has a better car, or purse, or phone, or boyfriend… AND you are lucky enough to have Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Snapchat to keep you constantly reminded of all the fabulous things that everyone else is doing.

How do you keep from comparing?

Well first of all. I don’t keep from comparing. I can’t. If anyone has the secret of how to completely avoid comparing yourself to those around you. By all means, please speak up. I am going to go ahead and speak for everyone and say we would all like to be let in on that secret.

But let’s say, for just a minute, that instead of comparing ourselves to everyone around us using the totem pole method, we  compared ourselves to those around us like we compare cities.

Now I know that there are about a zillion different lists on the internet that claim to rank the best cities in America. But I would bet, that after a careful statistical analysis of these lists, you would find that every single one is different.

When we compare cities, we compare them based on so SO many factors: size, climate, crime rate, culture, income, cost of living, music scene, sports, food, culture, community…. you get the point.

To illustrate my point I googled “best city in america” (no, I didn’t capitalize America, its Google, it knew what I meant). As you would expect, in only 0.49 seconds google turned out 940 million lists of the best cities in America. Selecting just two of these articles, both San Francisco, CA and Madison, WI are the BEST city in America.

I’ll trust that all of you are smart enough to understand the myriad of ways in which Madison and San Francisco are different. But both have amazing wonderful things to explore. And they are only two of the amazing cities in America.

So what if we compared ourselves to others like we compared cities? Human beings are so complex, why limit ourselves to one simple scale of comparison?

Does every city have things it could improve? Yes. Seriously, I challenge anyone to find a city that is perfect, with nothing to improve. But every single city has amazing, unique, wonderful things about it. And those things we do well: model them, own them, be confident in them. And when we do compare, we can look at the models around us to improve areas that need strengthening, but realize that those weaknesses do not, in any way, invalidate our strengths.

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PS. The Chicago Air and Water Show was tons of fun! We had the chance to watch from a rooftop!!

**For those who are curious, these are the two top city lists I found.
https://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/america-s-best-cities-san-francisco-new-york-dc-top-every-list
http://www.livability.com/best-places/top-100-best-places-to-live/2015

Take Two

Surprise. College was the trial run. Take Two. Start Over. Back to square one.

College was the first time that I was able to construct a life for myself. I learned how to navigate a new environment, built a network of friends, mentors, supporters, and colleagues who became my family. I lived in a world of my own making for the first time ever. I was responsible for getting out of bed (or not). Feeding myself (or not). My days, while guided by those around me, were shaped by my own decisions. But right when I started to get comfortable in this little life of my own making, real life reared its big, ugly, speckled, scaly head.

The life that I constructed with my friends hurtled toward total annihilation (too dramatic?) when in mid May we were all flung to different corners of the world (or the USA) on unique paths.

**This is where it gets cliched.**
**I know these aren’t ground breaking observations but stick with me.**

Never again will we all be living within the same square mile (let alone the same building). Never again will we have a shared community. Never again will we all find the same yaks funny.

Instead, we are each moving in our own directions. Moving to new places and starting new lives with new people. Again.

In some ways the second time around is easier. We’ve already awkwardly gotten lost, asked stupid questions, made friends, and polite frienemies once. Some of the things that were scary the first time around aren’t so bad now. We’ve learned that we can (in fact) feed our selves, and that we can (usually) get out of bed. We’ve learned that we will make mistakes, but we’ve also learned how to deal with consequences.

What hasn’t gotten easier has maybe even gotten harder. When I left high school, I missed my best friends and my family. They were my people. The ones I laughed with, cried with, and told (almost) everything to. Despite making lots of friends early in my freshman year, it took months to start to find new people. In fact, I didn’t settle into friendships with some of my people until late in my college career. But these people, my people, they were not only my friends, they we’re my advisors, roommates, comedians, partners in crime for late night milkshake runs. They are my family.

Moving to a new city is exciting. I get to explore, figure out public transportation, find new favorite bars, and meet dozens and dozens of new people. But its also lonely. I don’t have my people. I know that I will eventually find new people. But for now I miss late nights with one (or 3) too many glasses of wine. I miss pretending to do homework. I miss spontaneous edamame trips. I miss post-bar feminist rants (that we were too hungover to do anything about the next day). I miss glomping. I miss gossiping and ranting and laughing and crying and watching bad tv and sometimes just doing nothing at all.

So. To my people. I miss you. Know that you will always be my people. But I can’t wait until I find someone else who fully embraces and loves all my quirks. And is willing to be seen with me in public in a hot pink princess dress.IMG_30671-1

And to my future people: I can’t wait to find you so we can be weirdos together.