Monthly Archives: June 2010

Flutterbyes

So I realized something random and kind of remarkable today while I was walking to the bus stop. I’m fairly sure that besides the one day I didn’t leave my apartment, I have seen at least one butterfly every single day that I have been in Chicago. That has to be some kind of a good omen for my life, right?

I mean, butterflies are pretty remarkable creatures in and of themselves.

There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly.  ~Richard Buckminster Fuller

Think about it…in a span of about a month, these creatures go through a physical (and I suppose mental) transformation that is so powerful that, when everything is said and done, they are unrecognizable as their former selves. Almost every culture throughout history has attributed powers of change to the butterfly, and many believed they represented the soul and all that is good and light. 
And I can totally understand that, because every time I see a butterfly fluttering over trash and broken glass on the sidewalk or dodging cars on the busy highway, there is a small moment of joy in the midst of my hectic day as I stop to say “Hello butterfly.”

I think what I’m supposed to take out of this is that no matter where I am, even if it’s the dead of winter, I should find something to be my day’s butterfly.

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3 of my greatest fears

I’m a better artist with a pencil and paper, I promise. But I think this kind of explains the current problems in my life. I realized that I have this tendency to bounce back and forth between guys, pining wholeheartedly over a certain guy for a few weeks, and then all of a sudden being “kinda over it” and sometimes very quickly moving on to a different guy. It’s generally three guys in rotation. And just last night I realized that this rotation is really my weird manifestation of a fear of commitment: I play around with the idea of these guys being more than just my friends, but at the first sign that something could happen, I usually run as soon as my ponderings move from fantasy to reality. 
I can give myself totally to my friends. I can give myself totally to my schoolwork. I can give myself totally to whatever projects I take on. I can give myself totally to a job. I guess I’m really an all-or-nothing kind of girl, in a quirky and particular way, and the power this gives everything else in my life over me actually terrifies me. I’m kind of a control freak who never ever really feels like she’s in control. But if I can give all these other things so much power over me, despite it being terrifying and nauseating and stressful, why does the idea of giving myself totally to someone romantically make me want to stick my head under the sand til I’m 90? When did love get put into the “not-worth-it” bin?
And more importantly, how can I get it out?

Never Let Them See You Cry

About half an hour ago I had the second breakdown of my lifeS that originated in an elevator. (The first of which occurred when I was trapped inside an elevator alone in Maryland…another story for another time.) Today, I got out of my co-worker’s car, rushed into my building, smiled weakly at the cute guy at the front desk who always buzzes me in instead of making me use my keys, got in the elevator, and literally fell back against the wall as all the fight went out of me and the front I’d been putting up for the last few hours of my (TWELVE FUCKING HOUR) workday fell to pieces.
So the founder and CEO of my company picked me up for work this morning, which kind of made me feel like she valued my presence enough to personally ensure that I safely got to this morning’s 8:00 meeting at one of our partner schools, but my value in terms of human capital evidently ended there (i.e. in my head) today for both her and my supervisor. As soon as we got there, suddenly I was just the person to carry things and set things up and pass things out and collect them. (They sent me over to the group they weren’t leading to “observe” and I actually kind of supervised and facilitated a little bit…but shhh don’t tell them. I’ll be slapped on the wrist or something.) I was that person at our 11:30 meeting at another partner school as well, but these strategic planning sessions are really kind of just selling our company to teachers (who are pretty reluctant as they end their school years and have summer on the brain), so I can see how that would really be a job for just the founder/CEO and my supervisor, the director of our summer program for teachers and administrators. What I don’t understand is why I need to be present at these sessions if I’m not doing anything productive…but that’s not even my issue. 
My issue stems from what happened when we got back to the office. Since I’d been out and about accompanying the two of them to four meetings in the previous 24 hours, I had about 30 unread emails and two missed phone calls and just…a lot of shit of my own to handle. Then my supervisor laid a bunch of shit in my lap with total disregard for the fact that I have projects of my own that she’s unrelated to entirely that I needed to work on–granted, what she needed me to do had a more immediate need, but still…I hate the way she says “we” need to do this and “we” need to do that when she really means me–and then kept making it seem like it was my fault we were running around til the last second trying to get stuff done. Like, I’m sorry I didn’t have the powerpoints printed, but you didn’t even have them finalized til 25 minutes before the meeting was supposed to start, at which time I was outside carrying in all the food from the caterer.  God. 
But again, this is just setting the stage…my real problem happened at the facilitator’s meeting. After she made me literally run through the hallways of Manley high school like a crazy woman in my heels getting everything ready, my supervisor made me leave during introductions to go get more soda so I didn’t even get to introduce myself to the group. After a whole day of print these, copy these, put folders together, go put tape in the hallway for the Icebreaker Activity, go around and collect the journals, go to the cafeteria to put ice in the cooler to chill the drinks, go go go go go I felt like such a “gopher”. (Go-for this, go-for that. Gopher.) I felt like there could be a machine that did for them the things I’d done all day, and that is not what they told me this internship would be. In fact, it is what they vehemently swore this internship would not be. I was told I would be a trusted and valued member of a core team, with real responsibilities that would have a lasting impact on this company…
…And what finally pushed me over the edge into the massive sobfest I had earlier and the angry rant I’m writing now proved to me that there’s a chance I may never actually become a valued member of this team, because my supervisor basically told me today that my opinions are not worthy of being heard. This isn’t the first time she’s said this, but before it was my first day and she phrased it as if it was just too early for me to speak up in important meetings because I wasn’t yet familiar with what was going on, which at the time was entirely true so I didn’t question it. But today…
So the founder/CEO asked the group for ideas regarding items that would universally help the facilitators of the school team planning sessions at this giant teacher’s conference I’m working to plan, a toolkit of sorts that we could equip each facilitator with relating to the school they’re working with to help them get in the zone. People were tossing out ideas back and forth, and being ever so careful not to step on anyone’s toes by talking over them, I raised a finger and opened my mouth, waiting for a lull in the conversation to put forth my idea. After having attended and taken notes on every single strategic planning session with the school teams over the course of the last three weeks, I’d developed a pretty good idea of what each school team is looking for during the conference and what programs they have that are and aren’t working, as well as the specific areas in which they need the most help. I’d say, in fact, that it is part of my JOB to know these things about these schools…or so I have been led to believe. 
I had a really great idea. A lot of the schools we’d been in over the past few weeks had mentioned how difficult it is to coordinate among the various different programs and committees and organizations that work within each school, despite the fact that they’re all supposedly working towards the same goals. Even in the group discussion I’d (secretly) helped to facilitate that morning, the principal of the school we were in kept dismissing goals the teachers wanted to meet as the responsibility of so-and-so-other-group, highlighting the lack of both communication and positive reinforcement between these groups. So I thought that one tool that would be great for facilitators would be a list of the other various groups and programs that exist within the school they’re working with, complete with a description of the specific ways in which those groups can assist in the meeting of the school team’s goals and the contact information for the leader of each group. And just as I was about to say this…
…my supervisor shot me a look of death and shook her head, ‘No,’ silently telling me I was not allowed to speak. That it was an inappropriate time for my opinions to be expressed. That my contributions were so entirely devalued in this situation that I might as well save my breath. And I must have given her a look like wtf do you mean no, woman? because she pantomimed writing something, so I wrote down my idea and passed it across the table to her. She wrote back that that was something we should include…and yet I hadn’t been allowed to say it. The hierarchy within a corporation that swears up and down that it abhors “adultism” and exalts the expression and incorporation of “youth voice” would not allow me, the youngest person in the room with the freshest eyes on the situations at hand, speak my mind, regardless of how credible my ideas were. That’s not only hypocritical, in the context of the work my company tries to do, it’s just plain wrong.
And THEN. About five minutes later, the woman sitting to my right speaks up and says, Hey, wouldn’t it be nice if we could  get a list of all the other things going on within our schools that relates to Student Development? And a woman on the other side of the room agrees that that’s a great idea, and a guy says that it would be a lot of work but could we include blurbs, and our CEO raves about how great an idea that is and it is all I can do to hold my jaw from dropping to the floor. That was my idea first! And I knew it was a great idea, and my supervisor knew it was a great idea, and I’m supposed to be the valued team-member Princeton intern who is respected and appreciated, but I was silenced and those other people got credit for my idea. I could have been the one getting cool points with the CEO. This could have been my chance to prove that Hey look, I belong at this table. Because I do, and they told me I would. But my supervisor’s actions today made me feel like I didn’t belong at the table, and if I can’t belong at the table, then their whole spheel about student involvement and youth voice and bringing high school kids to the table is a total and complete load of bullshit. 
I sat there through the rest of the meeting silently fuming and controlling my desire to walk out and never look back. And as the meeting was wrapping up, my supervisor whispered to me asking me to start cleaning up the food and taking everything back down to the office…back to my role of gopher/maid/my-supervisor’s-personal-bitch…
I want to remind them that this is not what I signed up for. I want to take the internship description they wrote out and gave me and staple it to their foreheads. I want to say HEY LOOK, YOU ASKED ME TO COME HERE, SO ACT LIKE I MATTER, KTHNX. I want to play the Princeton card, and the in-less-years-than-there-are-fingers-on-my-hand-my-credentials-will-be-higher-than-yours-ever-will card. I want to feel like I have some merit…they didn’t hire me because I was some little wimp who would lie down and take whatever people deigned to throw me–anybody who has ever met me knows I ain’t down with shit like that. They didn’t hire me because I begged and pleaded for their sympathy; I had other offers I turned down to come here. I want to tell them that I won’t stand for this, but I signed a contract so I don’t think I’m allowed to leave…and what force do I have if all I can make is empty threats? But I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all, and unless I get a dramatic apology tomorrow (which I highly doubt), then I don’t know if I can continue to have faith in my own company. And once you lose that…then what’s the point? I’m too young to hate what I do!

Chicago Bucket List

So I’d been here two weeks and I hadn’t gone out to explore the city since my second day when I went with my roommate and her boyfriend to Navy Pier. Unbeknownst to me at the time, my roommate had gone home for the weekend and I had the apartment all to myself on Saturday…which translated into I didn’t see another human being for over 24 hours. 

I got to feeling pretty lonely–go figure–and after a great but unexpected pep talk from a friend who’s probably going to become a lot closer, I decided to make a Chicago Bucket List: a great big list of awesome shit I want to do while I’m here. I’m determined to do all of it. And I’ve already basically wasted 20% of my time here, so it’s time to kick it into high-gear.

I need to stop being a little bitch about doing things by myself; I’m not going to have much fun if I sit around waiting for someone else to want to have fun with me. New motto: make every day an adventure! 

Here’s my list. I’ll probably add to it from time to time, and I’ll be sure to come back and cross things off as they get accomplished. Feel free to comment and suggest other awesome Chicago things to do!

Chicago Bucket List
1.        Write a poem in the Lincoln Park Conservatory
2.      Go to the Lincoln Park Zoo
3.      Go to the DuSable Museum (free July 3)
4.      Visit the Art Institute (free Thurs. 5-8pm)
5.      Eat deep dish pizza
6.      Sears Tower
7.       Take pictures in the Hot Air Balloon at Navy Peir
8.      “Beach”
9.      Record the Buckingham Fountain Show
10.    Swimming at a pool
11.      Water playground
12.    Attend BGLH meetup June 26
13.    Go to a natural hair salon
14.     Adler planetarium
15.    Shedd Aquarium
16.     Field Museum
17.     Museum of Contemporary Art (Free Tuesdays til 8pm)
18.    Museum of Contemporary Photography (free daily, Thurs til 8pm)
19.    Picnic in Millennium Park
20.  Take cool reflection pictures at the Bean
21.    Eat dinner at at least one soul food restaurant
22.  Take a free dance class
23.  Take a free yoga class
24.  Make a midnight donut run
25.  See at least one concert

Pondering the Possibilities of the Possibilities

“Falling in love with love is falling for make-believe. Falling in love with love is playing the fool…”

When I know a guy likes me, I have trouble figuring out if I like him too, or if I just like being liked, you know? Which is a pretty big issue, because I may be a flirt…okay fine I am a flirt, but the guys I really care about I care about deeply. I don’t want to hurt them…and I don’t want to hurt myself by hurting them.
I’m scared that I’m getting too caught up in the possibilities to really think about the person they’re based on. I mean, really think about him; not just about something he said or the way he held me. If I could succeed in shutting out all the circumstances and possible consequences and the inside of my head was just this big empty white room with Me and Him, what would I want?
But is that even the right way to think about his? Maybe my head should be as crowded as the Printer’s Row Literary Fair I went to yesterday, where there are thousands of people milling around. Would he be the one to catch my eye? Would I gravitate towards him in the crowd?
Do I have to know all of this now? I feel like I focus so hard on what could go wrong, like Tantor in Tarzan standing on the edge of the water asking “Is this water sanitary? And what about bacteria?” At this rate I’ll never go swimming, you know? But do swimmers ever wonder how the water they’re pushing out of the way feels? Is getting my feet wet worth possibly murdering scores of animals I can’t even see?
Is wanting to be held the same as wanting him to hold me? Is liking things about him probable cause enough to try? I don’t think it could work…would I be using him? No, I suppose I’d be giving as much as I’d get…I’m not that kind of girl.
Nope, I’m the kind of girl that’s only impulsive when she’s overly emotional…or when she’s drunk…and the rest of the time over-thinks and rationalizes and beats things to a bloody pulp inside her own head…

…and I guess what everyone’s telling me is I should take the chance, if it’s offered.

If we do the unthinkable, would it make us look crazy? Or would it be so beautiful…? Either way I’m sayin, “If you ask me, I’m ready.”

So I Probably Should Have Realized this Sooner…

…but there are hella black people in Chicago! The high school my company is based in is 94% African-American. It kind of just hit me today that every student who wanders into my office during the day is black! As a person who barely even talked to any other black people during high school, this is CRAZY WEIRD. 
You know what else is weird? Catching the bus in the morning alongside little like, 12 year olds on their way to middle school, when they’re soooo much more comfortable and confident in where they’re going than I am.
This kind of makes me wonder who I would be if I’d grown up in a city…and who I’ll be after Chicago leaves its mark on me…
P.S.–Hella black folks includes hella fine-ass black men, at least from what I saw on the train today! I might hafta go out on the prowl, haha!

Lessons Chicago Taught Me…

Check back often, cuz this one will be constantly updated:

  1. Airport shuttles are an epic win over taxis.
  2. Plastic bags were not meant to transport $112 worth of groceries by hand own 5.5 city blocks.
  3. Cities are very lonely places when you don’t know anyone in them yet.
  4. The people who are supposed to give you information you need, won’t; harass them via email.
  5. You will never remember to buy all the things your kitchen needs. Ever.

So Here’s What I Know, Post Hookup…

                I’m totally and completely full of shit. I try to play the jaded sex-is-just-sex card, which is pretty funny for a virgin with first-time standards, but inside I’m probably one of those people for whom even a kiss will  never be just a kiss.
                In absolutely no way was I expecting that night to end up like that. But I guess that’s why they say Life is what happens when you’re busy making your excuses.
                As he was leaning in, it was kind of like watching a movie of my life happening in front of me, but I was only passive for the first 30 seconds or so.
                I opened my eyes once while we were kissing and saw that his eyes were closed too. I wondered who he was pretending I was, then if that meant I was imagining he was someone else.
                I wanted to tell him that it was okay to be rough, but I instantly wondered what that would make him think of me, and remained silent. Then I got angry at myself for falling into gender roles, and actively worked to take more sexual control over our situation after that.
                What the inside of his mouth tastes like, what the muscles on his stomach feel like, and that he snores.
                When I woke him up to say goodnight, I almost called him baby.
                I used to have a pretty big crush on him last summer/at the beginning of the year. But then I woke up and realized that it didn’t have an ice cube’s chance in hell of actually working, and moved on. He hadn’t even been on my romantic radar anymore. …Now I’m wondering if someone ever really leaves your romantic radar.
                Since this happened, I a) have not gone one whole day without thinking about him, and b) still cannot figure out if it was just a hookup or something more, or which I really want it to be.
                I am torn between feeling like I need to talk to him about it and feeling like the social rules of Princeton dictate that these things just happen and are not talked about. I feel like that can’t be healthy.
                I’m scared of how he feels. I’m scared of how I feel, and of how I’ll feel in relation to how he feels. I’m scared I’ll never find out how he feels. I’m scared of whether we could have a future, and also of the idea that twenty years from now I’ll look back and wonder what we could have been.
                I hope he doesn’t think I do this kind of thing often. I almost want to tell him that it had been slightly more than 22 months since the last time I’d kissed a boy.
                Waking up with his arm around me was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever experienced, and if his roommates hadn’t been sleeping in their respective bedrooms, I would have closed my eyes and gone back to sleep, feeling utterly safe and protected. Here in this big city where I’m utterly alone, and even lonelier than usual, I’d give anything to feel that again.