Favorite spots in Chicago

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Favorite museum: Outside of the Smithsonian Museums, I would have to say that The Art Institute of Chicago was the by far the best museum that I’ve been to! The artists that were represented were incredible and I actually felt like I learned a lot. Especially, of all places, the armor section! I’m not ashamed to admit that I started sobbing when I got a chance to see the Vincent Van Gogh self portrait. Unfortunately I was so overwhelmed and so many people wanted to get close, that I didn’t even really get a good look, just a couple photos. We had already done a lot of walking that day and we were so tired (I think we clocked 10 miles by the end of the day) but if we ever go back I’d definitely go back to see everything that we missed!

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Favorite breakfast: We loved all three of our breakfast spots, for very different reasons. If you’re looking for a low key, hearty breakfast (and maybe love diners as much as I do) try Lou Mitchells for an incredible omelette or waffle. If you’re looking for a cute, hipster-ish spot, stop by Dove’s Luncheonette for fried chicken and grits. If you want adorable decor and classic breakfast mixed with Jewish staples, stop by Eleven City Diner. All three offered attentive service, were super clean, and the other diners were really diverse.

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Favorite lunch: We basically struck out on all our lunch spots. At one Chinese restaurant the waiters acted rude and wouldn’t serve us. At a Vietnamese restaurant we ate amazing food and received great service from the owner, but other diners were making fun of how I ate. (WHO DOES THAT??) Another day we didn’t even eat lunch because we couldn’t find a place to eat breakfast for hours! Regardless of me dying to eat there for years, I would have to say that undeniably my favorite lunch was Shake Shack. The burgers and fries were amazing and inexpensive and the decor was super cute. I kind of regret not eating there every day… and I can’t wait till it comes to Seattle!

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Favorite dinner: I did a lot of research when it came to dinner and even made some reservations in advance! My favorite picks were Little Goat (adorable decor, BEST burger, great wine, but crazy busy) and Mindys Hot Chocolate (Great chicken, yummy hot chocolate and was busy too, but it still intimate) but we actually really loved the Berghoff too (decidedly un-cool, good German food, great people watching).

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Favorite hotel: I really wanted to love the Chicago Athletic Association, and you really can’t beat the location and adorable decor, but the lobby, bars and restaurants were packed with VERY LOUD people at almost all hours of the day. John and I basically shoved our way through the crowds and took a deeeeep breath as soon as we were inside. I’d have to say that I liked the Chicago Ace Hotel better. Though it was a bit loud and the people probably weren’t our type of people (where were my fellow introverts staying??) our room was a great size with a king size bed and cute decor. Plus, the service was so much better.

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Favorite shop: I had a feeling that John would appreciate a stop in Chicago Comics and I was right! We went separate ways when we entered the store and after about a half an hour or so I found him bent over and flipping through comic books in a drawer like a little squirrel! He said that he was happy to have found some hard-to-find comic books. For me, Eataly Chicago was my favorite store. John dutifully followed me around as I pinged around the store like a manic. I didn’t buy a single thing, and I really regret not stoping in for a meal or a drink. I’ve always wanted to live near a grocery store like this!

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Favorite tourist activities: I insisted on us taking pictures at The Bean. I know it’s cliche, but we managed to find an early morning time to go with minimal crowds. Bonus: it was sunny and only slightly chilly! John had really wanted to go to the top of Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower). I have an intense fear of heights, so I wasn’t super excited to go… plus it’s crazy expensive! Luckily we got there just as it opened, so we only had to wait 15-20 minutes in line. Once we got to the top, I ended up having fun. The views really are very cool, and you get such a better perspective of how HUGE this city is, and how beautiful the architecture in the city is.

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Favorite architecture: I admit it, sometimes I will walk a ridiculous number of blocks out of the way to look at pretty buildings. I was bummed that Union Station was under so much construction, but the Harold Washington Library and the Chicago Cultural Center were worth the extra blocks, just trust me!

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Favorite surprise: I had seen photos of the Ukrainian Village neighborhood and thought it looked a lot like Brooklyn. I was really intrigued by this close knit, slightly remote part of the city, so I dragged John a mile and a half away from all his beloved tall buildings to take peeks into the truly gorgeous churches and explore the tiny Ukrainian museum. It wasn’t something that most people would want to do, but I had a lot of fun and learned a lot about the Ukrainian history and culture that I didn’t know before.

 

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Employed!

In the two months that I was unemployed, I applied to 169 jobs. 15 companies were interested in speaking with me, and 49 let me know that they definitely weren’t interested in speaking with me. In the end, I had 14 interviews. I tried my best to space them out, but for about two weeks I had an interview every day. It was exhausting, and truly overwhelming at times, but I’m happy to report that I received a job offer just after the start of the new year and I accepted!

I told someone recently that I don’t like change, but that I’m constantly experiencing change. Whether it’s a new job, or a new apartment, I struggle with all the change involved. She told me that in times of transition (say, like losing a job?), that’s when we experience the most personal growth. So I’ve been thinking about how I’ve grown in this experience. Have I changed?

In a lot of ways, I’d have to say… no. I’m still the same person and if anything this experience has made me more ME.

I’ve always been very disciplined. I like structure, routine, and I have always liked being busy. I remember a summer when I was growing up where I had the house to myself during the day. I woke up at the same time everyday. I did my chores at the same time everyday. I ate lunch (the same thing of course) at the same time everyday. I watched the same two shows at the same time everyday. Even as a kid, I realized this behavior was a little odd. Why didn’t I sleep in? Switch things up a bit? But I remember those days of summer solitude so clearly because I was so happy with my weird routine.

I think this experience took this part of me to a new level. I created a detailed weekly schedule of chores, gym classes, job applications and job interviews. But I also tried to be gentle with myself. I allowed myself to sleep in until I naturally woke up. I took Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years off from job hunting. I got myself out of the house with walks, three trips to museums, one movie, one Hillary Clinton book signing, and shopping. I read tons of books during long hot baths. I tried 5 new classes at the gym. I even tried a handful of new recipes and some of them turned out pretty great!

Though I treated myself with grace, it still never felt like a vacation. I was very stressed. There were nights where I couldn’t sleep. There were days where I needed a lot of extra attention and comfort from John. Those days were days when I second guessed everything and experienced debilitating self doubt.

I think more than anything else, this experience forced me to take a look at my life from a different perspective. Before getting let go, I was so exhausted from my work day that all I had energy to do was sit on the couch at night and “watch” TV like a zombie. I couldn’t read books or watch movies because I was so stressed and distracted all the time. I must’ve been a super fun parter to John! I had gone from one stressful job to another and had been wound so tight for such a long time that I didn’t even think twice about it. I like to be busy, but this was an unhealthy amount of stress for just about anyone!

At the end of the day, I thought losing my job was a blow to my confidence, but I’ve also realized that my last position was basically a blow to my confidence every day. As my responsibilities were handed off to other people, and I was chastised again and again for minuscule things, I was actually told “We want you to seem more confident to the rest of the company.” Um, OK. I’m so lucky to be away from an environment like that, but I also know that I’m basically like a bruised peach right now. I’m going to be extra sensitive to criticism and very afraid of losing my job again. I need to be aware of this, lick my wounds when I need to, and be able to push through. Just like I know there are things that I’m good at, there are things that I am not good at. Instead of focusing on the negative, I need to remember that there are so many things that I am good at!

Hopes and Dreams for 2018

I’ve done a pretty good job of tracking my resolutions each year on this blog. They’ve ranged from the reasonably attainable (-2015– Take the cats to the vet –2014– Get a passport), to the goals that I failed miserably at (-2016– Floss –2013– Learn how to knit and crochet). There have been some positive trends, especially around travel (-2013- Go on a vacation -2015- Plan a big trip) and some sad trends, especially around friendships and family (-2013- Make a couple new, good friends –2017– Make a new friend).

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I love resolutions! I’ve been teased about them before, and I’ll be teased again, but I’m a very goal-oriented person. I’m always striving to be a better human, and I’m always searching for ways to improve. Just in case you aren’t like this, let me tell you… it’s EXHAUSTING. Because when you’re like this, you are always looking for flaws in yourself. But, I can also see myself becoming a person I really like. I eat healthy. I exercise. I’m responsible with money. I’m a hard worker. I’m a loyal and loving girlfriend. I’m an adoring cat mom. My house is cute and clean. I lead a small, quiet life that is filled with good books, tasty food, and the occasional trip. I’m grateful for what I have and can’t imagine needing much more.

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Here’s how my 2017 resolutions played out…

Pay off my school loans.

Done! I officially paid all my loans off in August and I am so, so proud of this accomplishment.

Take myself on a date once a month.

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Though not all dates were equal, I managed to take myself out on some really special occasions. I sometimes felt silly doing this alone, but I’ve realized that I really savor these experiences when I am alone. And it’s pushed me outside my comfort levels in a good way!

Do something politically active once a month.

I definitely accomplished this, though there were months where I felt that I made a bigger difference than others. I helped support companies like Planned Parenthood and Real Change and even marched with thousands of others in January! Though my impact was small, to me it made me feel monumentally better to just do SOMEthing each month.

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Set monthly exercise goals.

Whoop whoop! This year I really started to put exercise and my health in a better perspective. I’ve actually started to look forward to going to the gym and attending classes. I spend my money on new running shoes and workout clothes! I’ve slowly started to minimize my back pain by building muscle in the right places, stretching more frequently and for a while I was getting regular massages. My weight hasn’t exactly taken much notice of all this exercise that I’ve been doing (harrumph) but I have lost a little weight and have toned up much more than I was before.

Do something special for John once a month.

I tried my best with this and even though John says it’s embarrassing, I think he’s appreciated it. I know it sounds terrible, but it was such a great way to remind myself to do something special for him regularly. Not just birthdays and the holidays, but every month I took time to think of doing something that was just for John. And if I’m being honest, I actually really enjoyed our outings… sometimes just as much as him! Mike Birbiglia was hilarious, Bladerunner was mind-boggling, and playing putt putt was so much fun!

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Meditate every day.

I didn’t meditate every day. But, I feel like I’ve made meditation a bigger part of my life, and I consider that a major improvement in my life. There are times where I feel a panic attack coming on and I think to myself, “Morgan, breath. Turn on your meditation app. Listen. It’s going to be ok.” And you know what? It works! It’s not every time, and my life isn’t 100% zen, but it’s getting better and I think that’s what counts.

Make a new friend. 

I have to realize that a lot of my struggle with finding friends isn’t always about me. I can try, I can put myself out there, but at the end of the day I want to find kind, genuine people to spend my time with. I’ve managed to find a lot of acquaintances, and they’re a ball to be around, but I haven’t made many true friends in Seattle. I’ll just say that I’ve met many nice, interesting people this year and I’m lucky for that.

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So, what does 2018 have in store for me? I’ll turn 28, so I’ll officially be in my late-20’s. Otherwise, I expect a lot of things will stay the same. Same boyfriend, same cats, we will likely stay in the same apartment, and we will likely do a lot of the same things… go to the gym, watch movies, read books, cook, travel, and talk. A major thing that will change will be my job… once I get one!

My new year’s resolutions this year will be small, but mighty. Just some tiny tweaks to make my life better.

Live within my means, and save.

Throughout the past 5 years, I’ve learned that I’m a minimalist and the things that I own are the things that I love. I’m not a monk, but I try to not want so many *things*.

In 2018, I would like to finally get a credit card, even though I’m still nervous about it, and start saving airline miles. I also want to start putting together a savings fund that’s just for travel. At this point in my life, exploration is my priority!

Every food in moderation. 

I’m healthy. I don’t smoke or do drugs. I don’t excessively drink. I exercise several times a week. I eat mostly whole foods and have majorly cut back on all junk, like sweets and soda. I have one cup of coffee a day. I take vitamins. I’m obsessed with drinking water. All of these should add up to me being super duper fit, right? Wrong. Like everyone else in the world, I’d love to shed a few more pounds.

In 2018, I would like to work on portion sizes. More veggies, less meat and carbs. Less diary, sweets, and sugar. Maybe even throw some fruit in there! I’m never going to be one of those people who has a cheat day, but I also have to realize that I’m an emotional eater, and someone who succumbs to cravings easily. This isn’t a “diet” (bleh), instead I’m looking at this as a lifestyle change!

Build self-confidence and try new things. 

I’m hard on myself. I’m a constant disappointment… to me. I think this is partly because of things that people have said to me, cruel things that I can never seem to forget. But I also have to admit that it’s also who I am. I’ve always been every analytical, very precise, very high-achieving.

I’d like for this to start to change in 2018. I want to be proud of myself. I want to impress myself. I want to look at myself as a person who is good and does good. I want to read books I’ve been meaning to read. Cook recipes that I’ve been meaning to cook. Try dance classes that keep me on my toes. Volunteer for good causes. Kick butt at work. Help people around me feel good about themselves.

This isn’t a quantifiable goal, so that will be endlessly frustrating for me throughout the year, but I think it’s one that is worth reaching for.

 

What are your resolutions? What are your hopes and dreams for this new year?

Twenty-seven and a half

I know that celebrating a half birthday is silly. But I have always marked them in my mind. Not necessarily with celebrations, but I take a moment to reflect every December 11th.

So… I’m halfway between 27 and 28. And I have to say… is this it? I wasn’t expecting a husband and kids and picket fence or anything, but I think I was definitely expecting life to become easier. I described it to John like I’m climbing a mountain. I’m finding these little ledges that make me feel like things are going to be ok, but then the ledges give and I’m grasping onto little cracks until I get to another ledge. It’s pretty damn exhausting and seems like it’ll never end.

If you think about it, I’ve lived in Seattle now for 5 years and 8 months. In that time, I’ve lived in SEVEN different places and had EIGHT jobs. A few guys broke my heart, but I got a boyfriend, and then we broke up, and then we got back together. My mom got cancer. My best friend decided we weren’t best friends anymore. I got two cats, and then Cleo ran away, and then she came back. I had a skin cancer scare. Most recently, I lost my job. I don’t know… maybe that isn’t a lot to deal with? But it sure as heck feels like it.

I was getting down on myself this morning, slipping into a pretty big funk. So I took a step back and thought about what I would have thought of myself as a little girl.

  • She lives in a big city!
  • She knows where all the cutest vintage stores, best bookstores and tastiest restaurants are!
  • She lives in an old, brick building and her apartment is super cute!
  • She has a loving boyfriend with a big nose!
  • She has two really cute cats!
  • She doesn’t own a car and walks everywhere!
  • She’s financially savvy!
  • She reads the newspaper in the morning!
  • In her spare time she cooks, goes to yoga and dance classes, reads books and magazines, and goes to the farmers market!
  • She travels with her boyfriend, and even takes trips on her own!
  • She wears cashmere, lipstick and even gets the occasional manicure and massage!

Overall, I think that little girl would think I was one glamorous lady living her life in a city. And even if I’m a little chubbier than I’d like, at least that terrible acne has vanished!

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I think being unemployed for one month has really started to get to me. And it definitely draws attention to one of the biggest things that I’d like to change… my job. I desperately want to find a company where my worth ethic and dedication is appreciated and understood. And a manager who wants to see me grow. I even considered going back to school and starting a completely new career! I just have to hope that this gets better.

I also want to travel more. Most of the traveling that I’ve done in the past few years has been local, or to see family. I want to see new places, eat new food, try new things! I thought by now I would have at least been to Mexico, or maybe Iceland. I want to make this a bigger priority.

Finding really good friends is really important to me. I have had such a hard time finding good friends in Seattle, and I’m not the only one! John and I have honestly toyed with the idea of moving because we’ve both run into such weird friend traps in this city and we wonder if it’s different in other cities. All we want is a few dinner party friends, people who can come over, have a glass of wine and a good meal and carry on an awesome conversation.

…So 27 1/2 isn’t perfect, and it’s not quite what I thought it would be, but I have hope for the future and hope that things will get easier. Slowly, but surely.

November Goals

Oh my, what a month November was!

I guess the headline of the month is “Morgan, Fired!”

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It all started on an unsuspecting Thursday. I was planning on going into work later in the morning and staying late for a work event. I sipped coffee, I read the paper, I even made myself breakfast. I met John downtown and we went shopping for gym clothes because we had decided that our shabby, hole-y gym clothes were embarrassing. I even bought a new glittery dress, to wear to my work party and John’s work party.

When I got to work, and was setting my bags of freshly purchased clothes down, I was asked into a meeting. I walked in the meeting room and I suddenly remembered that this was the room that I was interviewed in. But the interview had been in June and it had been sunny outside then. This day was grey, with a light drizzle and you could barely see the shipping containers in the distance. Then I realized that an HR person was in the room. And then everything became fuzzy and moved very slowly.

About a half an hour later I cried in the Lyft home. My driver gave me some really good advice and a long hug. Sometimes humanity can be so cool.

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I was incredibly unhappy there, but I was trying to stick it out and figure out how to make things better. I was exhausted, worn down, and constantly stressed, because deep down, I knew I could get fired. More than any job I’ve ever had, this job was the most tumultuous and baffling. I won’t go into specifics, mostly because I don’t want to be sour grapes about this, but there were things I could have done better, and there were things that were entirely out of my control. I wish almost every person at the company luck, and I’m grateful that I had a chance to work with such a great bunch of people.

More than anything, I felt embarrassed. I had suddenly left my last job in the summer, hoping this new job would be better. I worried if the people I had just worked with wondered if I deserved to be let go. And I was also working one floor above another old job, and the mean people still working there were bound to notice that I was fired. I was also embarrassed because, like always, I had given it my absolute all. And that wasn’t good enough for them.

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And I’m feeling sad. I’m not depressed or dramatic or anything, but there are good days and bad days, kind of like a dark and stormy mood where I think I’m completely horrible, and then a ray of sunshine where I know everything will work out for the best. It doesn’t help that this is the darkest, rainiest month in Seattle! FIRED. It’s a big deal for me. Plus, I was just getting my life together. I had paid off my debt and was planning vacations and bigger monetary splurges I would have never considered before. I had spent the year donating to charity and volunteering. I was a good person! Why did this happen to me?

Somehow, I’ve managed to make the very best of my situation. Those gym classes I’d been dying to try? I’ve tried them all! The stack of books that were collecting dust? I’ve finished 2! The ever-expanding Netflix queue? I’ve really enjoyed some of those movies! I’ve taken long walks, long baths, and met friends for lunch and brunch. I didn’t know how tightly I was wound until I watched myself unwind. I’ve even heard back from a couple job applications already!

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I have a decent rainy day savings, just for something like this. There was a little severance, I get unemployment, and I even got a surprise check in the mail from some concerned grandparents. Even if I don’t find something until after the holidays, I’ll be more than ok. Maybe I even needed this reality check.

Other things that happened this month…

John and I kicked off the month enjoying incredibly gorgeous views while eating super tasty French food.

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As part of John’s monthly treat, we went to see Mike Birbiglia at The Moore. It was my first comedy show and even though we were seated in the nose bleeds, it was so funny and we both had a great time.

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Seattle elected a lesbian mayor! And the world is rising up against disgusting men! And journalists are kicking butt and taking names! Finally, after so many months of torturous news, I feel like we’re getting to a much better place.

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John took me on a date to see the new Thor at the Cinerama!

John and I took a brief detour from picking up the kids to an old, rickety antique mall in the middle of nowhere Washington and I made a great little find that I’m working on and going to sell on Craigslist.

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I’ve been cooking much more than normal and so far nothing has tasted bad!

Gabriel’s 12th birthday weekend involved Katsu burger for lunch, a four course dinner that John prepared, and a puzzle room adventure that we kind of epically failed at. Plus, they discovered the slo mo feature on my iPhone and had hours of fun.

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There are a few things in December that I’m looking forward to, but mostly I’m just taking every day at a time and setting little goals for myself.

The only thing I know right now is that this is a test of my character.

I’m working my hardest to handle the situation with as much grace as I can muster.