31 December 2014

On 2014 Pt. 1

2014 flew by with such rapid succession, I'm finding it hard to believe that tomorrow is the new year. So much has happened, so many major life changes, so much of which I am grateful for and let's be real, proud of. At the end of December 2013, I took a good hard look at myself (my career path too), and determined something big: never do it for the money. I began working a job that paid me a considerable amount more than I was making at the Art Institute, but at the cost of losing sight of my passions, trading in a healthy work community for one that had some major respect issues, and found myself bored at my 40+ hours of work, confused at my own decision. How did I, this creative, energetic, passionate, art-lover end up in a cubicle with a great view, and an athletic trainer whipping me into shape? I lost myself for a few months there.

But then I woke up. I decided to apply to graduate school in Museum and Exhibition Studies. I used that hot new bod to run an 8K. I read a bunch of books. I taught myself to make soap. I made meaningful new friendships. I discovered lavender oil. I feel like I'm a new version of myself, one who is capable of keeping secrets, taking risks, using essential oils regularly, and admitting that I don't like my job, so I'm quitting. 2014 was a trying year, but it did me good.

Here's a reflection on the first six months:

+ I traveled to San Diego and Los Angeles, visited LACMA for the first time, took a drive on Mullholland Drive, and saw ASSSSCAT at UCB

+ I discovered the work of Michael Rakowitz at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, a show that has stuck with me this entire year. Little did I know that eight months later, his wife (Lori Waxman) would visit my writing class and continue to inspire me.

+ There was this awful and amazing thing called the Polar Vortex. I admit I was totally resentful that I had to go into work that day, but gearing up to walk through an empty downtown Chicago in very very sub-zero temps gave me major street cred. Or so I tell myself.

+ I applied to and was accepted by UIC's MUSE (Museum and Exhibitions Studies Program). I attended the open house in the middle of the month, and met three like-minded museum-loving ladies who would become my friends in August (Andie, Alice, and Lena!). Though I was accepted into the program in February, I decided to keep my job until the end of July (a girl has to eat and needs healthcare). Keeping this seven month secret was immensely difficult.
My first of many many visits to the Jane Addams Hull House Museum at UIC
+ I saw Neutral Milk Hotel in concert for the first time. This has been something I've wanted to do since I started listening to NMH a decade ago. Seeing them literally brought tears to my eyes. No photographic evidence of this exists because Jeff Mangum requested we live in the moment sans phones and camera. I really dug that mentality.

+ For our two-year anniversary, Andrew and I taught ourselves how to make Bon Appetit's Chicken Pot Pie. It was epic, delicious, easy, and easily one of my favorite recipes of the year. Also, two years with Andrew! What the what?!
Image via Bon Appetit
+ I began interning with Herb Nolan. Every Saturday for nearly a year, I've been archiving his photography collection. Those Saturdays catching up and talking about everything and anything over coffee and the Velvet Underground were the highlight of my year.

+ I kicked off the month of March waiting in line (in Chicago winter) for upwards of two hours for an advance screening of the Grand Budapest Hotel with Andrew. Wes Anderson was there, and I swear, at the end of the movie he was standing five feet away from us. I melted. Also, the Music Box will forever be my favorite film venue.
Image via Calvin.edu

+ I spontaneously decided to see Islands at SPACE, and it was a really amazing concert. Sometimes you just have to say, "I'm going to this concert!" And then go. I don't really think I've ever regretted attending performing arts events, so maybe more of that in 2015... I also really love that venue!!

+ My grandmother moved into an assisted living facility, and her beautiful condo full of mid-century modern furniture, books, and world treasures was packed up. This is a bittersweet memory from the year, but I'm glad I visited the apartment one last time before it was disbanded.

+ I participated in the Shamrock Shuffle. I completed it. I ran an 8K. Who am I even?

+ I read Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. Sometimes it's fun to read the book that EVERYONE is reading. Also, this book is about art, art theft, art history, and Dutch Baroque painting (something I discovered I loved my freshman year of college). It made me want to drop everything and maybe, just maybe, move to New York.

+ I turned 26 in style. That is, in a car road tripping to Nashville with Andrew to spend my birthday with Lexie & Kathryn! We had dinner at Rolf and Daughters and ran into one of my favorite authors, Emma Straub, who wished me a happy birthday. AMEN. Also, we sang karaoke at a place called Santa's Pub. It's in a trailer, you can smoke inside, and it's Christmas year-round. Need I say more? Also hot chicken. We went to Las Paletas which marked the defining moment when Lexie and I made the ever-so adult decision to eat two-popsicles in a row, because when in Rome Nashville.

+ Passover happened. I don't even remember what we ate, but we had new prayer books,  here's a photo:

+ Nick and I threw a joint birthday party with the glamorous theme of "FART SOUNDS." I can't explain it to you now, but it made perfect sense then, I swear. Also, I bought a deviled egg tray explicitly for the occasion and have not used it since the party. Looks like deviled eggs are in our future...

This was also the first time I had a really major baking-brain-fart. I made the world's lumpiest, ugliest, chocolate cake. It looked like a garbage heap. But then one of my wonderful guests showed up with a pineapple upside down cake and all was right with the world.

+ The band OWLS decided to reunite, release a new album, and somehow Andrew and I ended up at their first show in a decade. For free. In a little bar I grew to love this year called Punch House. They make punch. They have an aquarium behind the bar. There is lots of wood panelling. Little did I know I'd be seeing OWLS three times this year.

We created a new tradition too: every time we see OWLS, we eat dumplings. We've eaten dumplings at Joe's in Chinatown in NYC before seeing them at the Bowery, we've eaten dumplings in Bridgeport at Ed's, and at Mott Street in Chicago. OWLS and dumplings go together.

Andrew Outside of Ed's Potsticker House
+ I learned how to make chocolate donuts. NBD.

+ I participated in Make Month (copyright Emma Martin) in which I made myself do or make something everyday for an entire month. It was very productive.
That time I finally put my laundry away.
+ I taught myself how to make soap. Spoiler alert: it's really easy.

+ I saw the Dodos and Neko Case,  Cousins, and Angel Olsen. It was a busy month for live music.

+ My dad and brother shared a birthday. We went to Sox Park and had a really nice family dinner. I took photos and ate steak.

+ I went on my first (and last) party bus.

+ Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's announced he would be closing in October, so we went and we ate, and we cried.

+ The hospital where I was born was demolished. RIP Betrand Goldberg Women's Hospital.

+ I got a new tooth installed (is that the word for it?) and a new pair of glasses. Robot Sandy!

+ My mom came to visit and we had an epic catch-up sesh over fresh catches at Nico. I gave her homemade soap and some other goodies, wrapped up in a special gift bag.

+ I went camping for the first time and was a helpful human. I made breakfast in a skillet over a fire, and Andrew and I were rained in our tent for an entire night. It was both exhilarating and terrifying.

+ I finally found out who owns the Magic Milk painted van. He did not disappoint.

+ I mentally prepped for my pal Ben to move to Virginia. I miss him every single day. He has the best collection of tiny art history trinkets I have ever seen.

+ Popsicle season came on hard.

+ Gay Pride Parade was excellent. It was so sweaty hot out, but I befriended a dog and actually let him lick my face!

05 December 2014

Life As of Late

To answer a few questions about the cricket chirps that equate to my blog these days:

No, I'm not quite done with finals.
Yes, I'm planning on reflecting on my first semester of grad school, just give me a weekend and I should be ready to contemplate (post one more paper).

Here are some images that sum up my life, as of late. Upon reflection, sometimes it's easier to pick a photo here and there. I always love scrolling through my older posts to remember what exactly was going on in my life. Things I'm into right now include:

- Obsessively checking the CPL website to see if my copies of "Not That Kind of Girl" and "It Starts With Food" have become available.
- Serial, because... Serial.
- Sneaking in a page or two of "reading for pleasure" books. I'm reading "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" but please don't tell my homework...
- Butternut squash soup / sweet potato soup
- Making my own mint and eucalyptus shower and room spray
- The Carrie Diaries. I know, I know. I am crazy.

Mari and I in the kitchen. Confession: Thanksgiving was all of the meltdowns rolled into a day full of meltdowns. In retrospect, I'm grateful for a whole lot - I just had a really hard time showing it. Here's to continuing to try to be grateful and mindful, but also expressing myself in meaningful and productive ways. 
Still archiving Herb's collection. We are knee deep in negatives! And he's even started enlarging some of our unearthings!!
That time I had a "boys night" that ended with us grabbing drinks at the 95th. Best $8 cider I've had in a while.
#babylostandfound my "side project" of collecting lost items belonging to children is in full force.

Working at Gallery 400 continues to be illuminating and gratifying for me. I helped a great deal with our current show.

Studio visit last night was pretty fun, also PBR. Also, why am I not in the MFA program??