Archive for February, 2013

Twenty-something questions for another winter day

Why does it seem like it only snows in February? And why can’t snow be fun anymore?

Why is it so darn appealing to procrastinate the hard work by doing the easy work first?

Will science ever really know why people yawn?  Will texting ever go out of style?

Why can’t we all just join together and ban parking tickets? And while we’re at it, why can’t we raise the low interest rates for savings accounts? Oh yeah, why is the rent TOO DAMN HIGH?

Who, other than our moms, will never forget to call us on our birthday?

What’s up with the weather? Why are tornado warnings so scary to kids who watched “Twister” too young, even though they’re usually all bark and no bite? For that matter, why is it impossible to tell from appearances which dogs will bark obnoxiously and which won’t?

Why can’t there be more hours in the day? Or why can’t I at least be a morning person?

What’s the best way to eat a Reese’s?

Will dusting always be the worst chore ever?

Why is the stupid feeling of forgetting sunscreen more painful than the sunburn itself? Why can’t it be summer? Who can resist the enchanting crash of waves and a sunset over the ocean?

Why can’t the work day include breaks for music, art, gym and recess? Who are the great teachers you’ll always remember?

Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it?

When’s the last time you cried?  Swore? Sent a real thank-you note?

Who are the friends you’ll always remember? And how do you let them know they’re important in your life?

Got answers? Or questions of your own? Feel free to share.

Happy last week of February! Here hoping for a real spring sooner rather than later.

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An open letter to … Chicago renters seeking roommates

Dear renters in need of roommates,

Stop having weird animals!

I’m not an animal lover (never grew up with pets except for a few turtles and fish, which I’ll explain later, so I’m just not used to your typical dogs or cats being around).

I have allergies, although not necessarily to animals themselves, but I bet having more living things around would lead to more of the stuff I am allergic to – dust, mold, kiwi and some types of adhesive tapes. And I’m a little bit lazy when it comes to taking care of other people/things. I’ve got enough responsibilities just taking care of myself, so I don’t want to deal with something that needs to be walked, fed, cleaned up after and occasionally taken to the vet for shots. Not to mention all the money I’d waste on that kind of stuff.

So as you can see, I’d love to say “Stop having animals at all,” but I know that’s asking a lot, and I don’t want to be unreasonable. I can understand that people who grow up with dogs, cats or other pets really love them and see them as a member of the family, making all the work and expenses I just mentioned not really work or expensive – just fun and a sign of true caring.

I can understand that with dogs, cats, maybe gerbils, hamsters, other relatively normal pets.

But pigs, on the other hand? Now that’s crazy.

That was my reaction when I literally saw a Craigslist ad written by a fellow twenty-something whose landlord apparently said no dogs allowed, but cats are OK. The landlord must have said nothing about pigs.

This girl took that to mean she could have a pig.

So she got one, in addition to her cats. First, she said it was small, probably trying not to scare off every prospective third roommate for the upcoming vacancy in her place.

Then she tried to describe it in weight or inches of height or some other pig measurement I don’t understand because I grew up in the suburbs, not on a farm.

I was tempted to stop reading right then and there.

After all, I wasn’t browsing Craigslist apartment ads for the fun of it; I was in the midst of my first Chicago apartment search, and finding it to be an emotional roller coaster something like finding a job, a bit like looking for a boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, mixing in elements of excitement, rejection, compromise and desperation.

Still, I was drawn to the eccentricity of a person who chose to live with a pig.

Why couldn’t she just pick a normal pet? Plenty of people are used to living with dogs and cats; having one or two of those doesn’t really narrow your potential roommate pool.

And turtles? They can be cute (when they’re little and if they don’t bite – I had three from that category while growing up). Or how about some simple fish? I had a tank full of those for a while in my childhood, too. Buy a fish tank, pick up some of that pellet-like food and sprinkle it into the water every once in a while and you’ve got a nice, living, somewhat interactive decoration and conversation piece.

But pigs? Again, it’s just over the top.

I know urban agriculture is all the rage right now as municipalities like Chicago itself and a few suburbs begin allowing people to keep chickens in their yards for the fresh eggs and whatever.

But pigs don’t lay eggs. And they aren’t good for food unless you kill them, which I’m highly doubting Miss twenty-something pig-keeper would want to do anytime soon.

So please, roommate seekers of the young-adult friendly Chicago neighborhoods, I beg of you, stop having weird pets! You’ll fill your vacant room, make some apartment seeker extremely happy, and do your part toward making the world a better place.

Thanks!

~ Twenty-something Times

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Love, when you’re least expecting it?

For all my optimism about relationships and love, here’s a generally optimistic statement often said to single people that I completely disagree with:

“You’ll meet someone when you’re least expecting to,” or when you’re “not trying to.”

Thanks for the “advice,” people, but I call bullshit.

I’ll say it again, I think that whole premise – of meeting someone perfect when you’re not trying to, and when you, and your actions and talents and attractiveness, have nothing to do with it – is bullshit.

In my experience, I don’t get anything without working for it, without trying, without being prepared as if I’m “expecting” it to happen. And I bet a lot of other people – single and in relationships – are the same way.

Believing things just came to us out of the blue – when we’re least expecting them, when they’re not even a goal we’re working toward – would take away all our agency as people.

Especially for my twenty-something gals out there, believing prince charming will sweep you away without you doing a darn thing even more strongly takes away our agency as women, because historically, we’re not expected to be the ones taking the initiative and doing the simple things to get a relationship started, like asking a guy out on a date.

If I believed a great guy would just find me when I was “least expecting” it, I’d be living in a fairy tale world, and soon, I’d be playing a damsel in distress, dangling my long locks out my apartment window and waiting to be rescued. Fuck that.

Believing that would mean I could never ask a guy out if I wanted to – that’d be messing with fate, because fate says I can only meet a guy when I’m not planning on it or when I don’t put any effort into it.

I know the core of the mentality that “women must wait for men to ask them out” (or woo them, if you want to be super old-school) has at least somewhat faded into sexism antiquity, but its harmful effects linger when women reinforce the idea that we don’t have to do anything to find true love. It’s worse when women share “advice” saying not only should we not take any action, but actually, it’s best if we don’t, because “when we’re least expecting it” is when true love will pop up.

I’ll admit, part of my disbelief stems from the fact I was always waiting or wanting or hoping or maybe even expecting to meet someone. It was too engrained in my single-girl mentality, and maybe that was a bad thing.

And maybe you completely disagree with me here. Maybe you have a story of how you met your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner when you were wearing sweats in the grocery store, or when you were filling in on your office’s softball team, or when you otherwise had anything your mind on but dating and soulmates and all that mushy stuff. And if you’ve got a story like that, great.

Still, I’m too much of a realist to advise anyone to depend on that moment when you’re least expecting to meet a great guy or girl, but suddenly do. Because no matter how much we all pace around and wait for it, that moment might never arrive.

I don’t think believing in our ability to meet someone worthwhile on our own terms – instead of when we’re “least expecting to” – will cause any harmful effects in our dating lives.

In my own life, the belief never has caused me to think I have to be dressed to the nines every time I go out. But I have taken it to mean I’ve always got to turn on my charm and be the best version of myself, personality-wise – outgoing, intelligent and a good storyteller (or at least so I think).

There’s nothing wrong with all of that. That’s just me being me.

If I’ve stolen your optimism for a “magic moment” bringing love into your life, I apologize.

So if I may, I offer a suggestion:

Replace your blind faith in a serendipitous moment when you’ll meet your match with a more thought-out belief in yourself. Then take that confidence, run with it, and do what you love. People who will love you for you, will know just where (and when) to find you.

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The roommate search and the importance of being yourself

I’m not usually one to get all dolled up and overdo it for a date – if the guy doesn’t like me the way I am, then what’s the point?

But meeting a prospective roommate? Now that’s important and nerve-wracking enough to get me to put in some real effort.

Before going out to dinner with my first potential post college roommate, I actually got a bit nervous.

I knew his name, knew that he’s been friends with the girl who connected us basically his entire life, that he loves the Bulls and that he’s been looking for a roommate and a Chicago apartment for quite a while.

Knowing all that, he sounded like the perfect roommate. And facing perfection makes me nervous.

Because I was nervous – and really wanted the guy to like me so we could just get a place in the city already, so I could move out of my parents’ house already, so I could be close to bars and cool cafes and a walkable atmosphere already, so I could meet guys and live the city life already – in nervous hopes for all of that, I went a little overboard and …

  • Plucked my eyebrows.
  • Carefully sorted through all my shirts before choosing a suitable one for the occasion: a fitted, teal-greenish patterned shirt with a v-neck, paired with dark blue flared jeans.
  • Made sure to completely blow dry my hair so it wouldn’t get strange, uneven waves (like it almost always manages to do, especially when it’s humid).
  • Considered using concealer to cover up my zit-of-the-month. Decided against it.
  • Similarly considered applying mascara for no good reason. (I usually only wear mascara on my occasional Sunday TV appearances, when I get to be interviewed about a story I wrote.) Decided against the black, gloppy stuff.

I felt a little crazy putting more effort into getting ready to see a possible roommate guy than I ever put into getting ready to meet possible boyfriend guys.

Yet somehow, I feel I’m not the only one swept away by the pressure and emotion of the apartment hunt, not the only one who responds to that pressure by wanting to seem perfect and accidentally forgetting to be myself.

That’s exactly what I did. Because I wanted so badly for my first prospective roommate to be the perfect roommate, I temporarily forgot to be myself.

Luckily, once I got to the restaurant where I was actually meeting the dude, I remembered to be myself again.

We talked about when we stated loving the Bulls, what sports we played growing up, college intramurals, nights at the college bars with our best friends and worst influences, and only a little about the possibility of actually living together. But we decided to go ahead with it and planned to tour a place later that week.

The result of the tour: Possible roommate guy No. 1, who still seemed perfect after our dinner meeting, didn’t like the place. He ended up backing out of being roommates, saying he wasn’t sure if he wanted a one-bedroom or a roommate, and moving out in my two-month timeframe was too rushed. He said he wanted to be picky and wait to find the perfect place.

Can’t fault him for any of that. I did wish he would have told me earlier. But maybe he, too, for some reason was forgetting to be himself and to be honest about his apartment search for a while. Can’t fault him for that, either, because that’s exactly what I did.

So I placed no blame. After a couple days of being uncharacteristically disappointed, I became myself again – optimistic as always, and ready to keep looking for real roommate possibilities who will be able to put up with me – and maybe even like me – just the way I am.

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