Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Soy Un Chicagoista

I spent a gorgeous day in my favorite city this past Saturday.  And, being summer, things were in full swing.  Pride Fest, Puerto Rican Fest, Cubs games and concerts were on the menu.  I had an incredibly booked day, with a first meeting with my colleagues at Third Coast Review, who I just started writing for, an amazing opportunity to interview Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm at the Cards Against Humanity office on the north side, the Garfield Park Conservatory's corpse flower, which had decided to bloom after a brief fakeout during the week, and the JoCo and crew concert at the Vic that night. It was writing, photography and nerdish glee for me, but in doing it all, I also found a moment of my own pride. Or a few.

The first time it hit me, it was when I had successfully navigated Broadway in Lakeview during prime brunching hours DURING Pride Fest. After a few circles, I found a teeny tiny spot in front of Intelligentsia, where I a)really, really needed to sit down and polish my interview questions and get prepared and b) really, really wanted my most favorite coffee drink in the entire world, which is their Black Cat iced latte. Seriously, it makes every other iced coffee seem like a watery mess. There's a reason why Intelligentsia is such a sought after coffee brand, and they extrapolate that out to the people and techniques at their cafes.

So, without a second thought, I parallel parked perfectly in a tight spot on a busy street.

Maybe you don't drive. Maybe you were born with the parallel parking gene. Maybe you never got sideswiped on another busy city street because a bus didn't see you and forced you to move a lane or risk a crushing death. I don't know.

What I do know, is this was a combination of things I couldn't do and was afraid to do, and I didn't even blink. Once the interview questions were calmly, cleanly typed out and I was on latte #1, I had a chance to reflect, and in that moment, I was proud to overcome a fear.

Next on my agenda was the interview.  And what didn't start off well turned out to be fantastic. When I got to the CAH offices, all the doors were locked. It was really hot out, and the doorbell wasn't bringing anyone to let us in.  I was early, but my earliness was slowly becoming "on time/lateness."

Luckily, the awesome PR person I'd been working with let me know things were fine, and someone would be right down. And oh, by the way, Jonathan Coulton is stuck outside too and should be coming along soon.

Now...if you know me the way I know me, and the way some of my closest friends know me, you know one thing that racks me right up with fear are interviews. From day one with Chicagoist, whenever I had an interview, I was excited to get the opportunity and terrified in equal measures. Some know me as the awkward turtle, and even if that's going too far, what I *am* is certainly an introvert, which makes breaking the ice....well....dreadful. But it turns out that, when you're stuck outside on a muggy Chicago day waiting for a door to open...you have a mutual, shared pain. It also turns out that Jonathan Coulton is extremely nice, and of a kindred nerdy spirit, and by the time we got in, the interview seemed, as good interviews should, in my opinion, more like two people having a casual conversation.  I listened back over to it just tonight, and both his segment and the simultaneous one surprised me. I've had some pretty awkward interview moments, where I got caught off guard by an answer (or no answer) or lost my place and panicked...and...this wasn't that.  And because it wasn't, it's going to turn into something neat that I've never been a part of before, which I'm incredibly excited about.

After that, I got a chance to check out Persephone, the newest corpse flower on the scene. When a staff member asked me about myself and what I did...I actually mentioned that I was a writer and I'd written the piece about Persephone for Chicagoist. Turns out I was talking to the director of the conservatory, who I'd recently interviewed on the phone, and got a chance to have a one on one talk with her and network a little bit more for future stories. Had I been a wuss like normal and not said much...I'd have missed out on a great face to face and some great stories, including the dilemma they were facing about getting persephone OFF display.

And last? I met up with one of my more recent friends, and a former colleague at Chicagoist who I both admire and relate to a hell of a lot.  She's been where I've been and beyond, and we talked relationships, writing, food and family, and it was fantastic.

Lately, I've been a lot about what I'm not, and a lot about what I need to be, and a lot about what I've been in the past that I'm not measuring up to now.  It's some of the rocks I mentioned in the last entry. I just haven't felt like me is much, you know? Or that I've made progress and become something different and better than I was.

But tonight, in reliving my Saturday, I see a more organized version of my younger self.  One who is still awkward and introverted sometimes, but can also speak intelligently with heart.  I saw a person who didn't let herself be defined by past injuries and didn't give a second thought to the things that used to scare her, and I saw someone who was actively pursuing something that she didn't (and sometimes still doesn't) think she's capable of or worthy of.  I saw someone who knew herself, spaced out her day well, and treated herself without breaking the bank....and I felt good.

An old blog of mine was called non sum qualis eram- I am not what I once was. I picked that for motivation to become more than I was then.  Today, I can confidently say that is the case.  I'm nowhere near done, and it's likely that will be a motto I take with me my whole life...but I'm glad that today, I can see more than what I fail to do.