welcome back

Thursday, September 15, 2016

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Four and a half years ago, I moved from a small town in Texas to attend graduate school in Chicago. I started a blog for my family and friends to follow my adventure. I was also lonely out of my mind because I had made the brave, yet potentially very stupid decision to move to a big city where I didn't know a single person. So, I wrote more then.

I slightly regret now that I didn't journal the time between my last update and now, but, in the end, it's as it should be - life got too fun and busy. I have tried my best to keep cultivating a happy, fulfilling, successful life for myself. And I'm grateful that I have done so, and will continue to do so. For the few and faraway family and friends who still read here, I thought it would be nice to fill everyone in periodically!

And, selfishly, I've been remiss in my writing. For someone with an advanced degree in writing and pipe dreams of publishing novels, I've been lax in my personal writing. As most people know, this tends to happen when you work a full-time job and have an active social life and Netflix keeps knocking it out of the park with its programming. So. Reviving the blog feels like a step in the right direction. Although I'm a tiny bit frightened at the thought of people I know reading my largely unedited thoughts and words, I'm okay with it. I'll try and leave the neurotic writer's brain for my novel writing.

So, what's new? Since I moved to Chicago, a lot has changed! I was 22 when I moved here, and now I am 27. I started and finished graduate school at DePaul with a Masters of Writing. I loved my experience and I count that time, and that degree, as one of my proudest achievements. I worked extremely hard at a big, childhood dream that brought me a thousand miles north of anything/one I ever loved, all in pursuit of creative writing. 

As part of my "thesis", I wrote and rewrote a novel manuscript. It was one of the more challenging, yet rewarding accomplishments of my life. It's become a running joke that when my friends ask me what it's about, the answer is very top-secret, hush hush, nobody knows. Some friends have even developed a theory that it's a novel about them, with inconspicuous characters whose names all suspiciously rhyme with theirs.

I haven't hit the traditional markers of writing success. I haven't published yet, although I've submitted to literary magazines here and there. And that abandoned novel manuscript? Currently ghosting about the back of my mind and the drives of several computers. But, this is all germane to the process. One doesn't stop being a writer just because of writer's block. Are you kidding? That's probably the only tenet of being a writer. So, rest assured, the lifelong passion persists.

Fortunately, my writing skills have translated over to a great career. Take that, liberal arts naysayers! Just kidding - go study engineering and read novels for fun. Just kidding again. Do what your heart tells you.

But yes, I've been very happy working in arts fundraising. What began as a writing internship at a youth spoken word organization is now how I pay the bills. I currently work at a major cultural institution, doing work that I am good at, all while providing a happy life for myself. 

And what else? In these past years since I've last posted,  I've made interesting and lovely friends, all of whom have shown me beautiful things about life and kinship. I lived with several random roommates, which went as to be expected -- sometimes awesome, sometimes not. 

I did that thing all 20-something, fun-loving women do: date a bunch of challenging men across the spectrum of human attractiveness and intelligence. This is both bad and good. I went on enough crazy dates to fill a small novel (this wasn't my intention...or was it!?). And, then,  I went out with a cute, smart, softspoken guy from Indiana who was into politics, and had the same random job I did. Fast forward a year and some change and now we live together in our tiny Ukrainian Village apartment. Woah. Funny how life works, and how it can be so easily wonderful.

I've gone on trips to parts of the country I never planned on seeing, heard my favorite musicians live in concerts, and spoke as Maid of Honor at one of my best friend's weddings. I've been to funerals and religious rites and a live singalong of the Sound of Music. I've sampled Chicago's finest and most questionable cuisines, got stress pneumonia, and harassed by street creeps. And more.

My life is very different from when I made this inaugural post. I am a very different Jenny today. But, I like to think that at heart I'm the same sort of Jenny I was when I was, say, 7, or 17, or now, 27. I still have the same values and idea for how I would like my life to be. I still get hiccups when I drink soda and wear the same shoe size, basically. And, I'm happy.

Five years ago, I never would have imagined how things would pan out. That I would find an apartment on Craiglist, hitch up a trailer with all my things--too many books, my older brother's hand-me-down furniture, summer clothes--and move 16 hours up north through Middle America to land in the Windy City. If this sounds very brave to you, let me point out that my first night here, I more or less cried on my parents for a straight 24 hours. That was March 1, 2012, and it was snowing the first time I ever saw this city's skyline. I didn't yet own a real winter coat. Now, I do, and am proud to walk Chicago's streets resembling a mobile down blanket.

But my point--and I do have one, on occasion--is that I am happy, and healthy, and very fortunate to live the life I do. It doesn't come without its hardships and challenges, to be sure. But I am thankful to keep up the pursuit, wherever it may lead. Welcome back!

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