Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chicago in White 2012

I am a little late getting this post up. I have found that when I am feeling good I do not have the urge to write. I need to find a way to stay motivated to write even when I am happily busy with life.

Back in August a friend and I went to the "Chicago in White" event. This is actually the second time I participated, but last year it was called Diner in Blanc. Apparently there was a small matter about whether this event was affiliated with the original Diner in Blanc that started in Paris, and the Chicago organizers changed their name. Whatevs. It's a lot of fun albeit a little bit of hard work.

If you've never heard of either of these events, I describe it as a flash mob picnic. You sign up and get assigned to a "Head of Table." This person is your coordinator of sorts. You get to pick a meeting spot, you meet up with all your wares and your date. Then after everyone gets together they announce the location. Back in 2011 it was in the Daley Plaza

This year it was overlooking the Chicago River at the Merchandise Mart.

The hard work comes in where you have to bring everything. I mean everything - table, chairs, tablesetting and of course, your meal and beverage.

That also means you have to carry it to your meeting spot, ride the CTA to your destination and set everything up.

That's my date, Jyothi, holding the flowers for our table decor.

But I find that's part of the charm of this event. Everyone comes with their goodies, sets up, they have a lovely dinner and then they disappear without leaving a trace. Allegedly. The rules are you take your garbage with you and dispose of it at home. But as we were leaving (both years) many a trash bag could be found overflowing the public sidewalk trash cans. Some people just can't follow the rules...well me included. Oh, I bring my trash home with me, I just break the rule that says no alcohol. I mean, come on. This is a French-inspired event. They invented having a little wine with your picnic, right? "Keep it classy, San Diego" is my motto when drinking at this event.

Just a little spread - figs and cheeses, nuts, a spinach souffle...

The signaling of the start of dinner - waving your white napkin.

Oh, did I mention everyone wears all white and the tablesetting should be all white? Hence the name...

Me and Jyothi, along with a couple of girlfriends I met from last year's DeB.

It truly is a lovely evening. I think everyone should try it once. These events can be found in other major cities. Check one out!

The lesson from last year was to simplify everything from the meal to the tablesetting. There was just too much stuff. They now offer catered everything - from table and chair rental to restaurants packing up a picnic for you, but where's the fun in that?

The only food I prepared this year was the phyllo wrapped asparagus, a recipe I found on pinterest! The rest was very easy to set up -cheeses, fruits and veggies.

I changed up the recipe a bit, as I tend to do to suit my likings. I did not prepare the mayo dipping sauce and I used a parmesan inside the wrap and then spread a dill goat cheese on top.

My first time using phyllo dough - I didn't need it to look perfect so I guess that's a good thing.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Decisions, decisions, part 2

Ok, it has been awhile since I've written, but there have been a lot of things happening in my life. Small things, small changes. Most of them are on the inside, how I think, how I am trying to change the way I view my life. These small changes are adding up.

The first thing that happened was I made a choice. I've said it before. I wake up every day and decide to be happy and decide to have peace in my life. I (try) to think positive thoughts and act in positive ways and as a result I am attracting positive things. I am also trying to be as grateful as I can  for who and what I have in my life. This is a change in the way I used to think, which was a focus on what I thought I lacked in life: a better career, financial ability to buy a house and start a family. Instead I am thankful for steady, temporary work, our awesome apartment and the family and friends that are in my life right now. Right now, all I ask for is for happiness and prosperity.

We are still very much in debt and probably always will be due to my student loans. I used to worry that we would never be able to afford a house or a family or to travel the world like we want to. What silliness to worry over. What a waste of my energy. I have asked for prosperity and slowly but surely we have found financial stability. Bit by bit, we are paying off some of the debt that we recently incurred over the past few years. I just crossed off a huge debt from my "owe" column and it felt awesome. This was a debt that I had been worrying about for about 6 months. But since my change in attitude, I found ways to save up and last week I wrote that check. The funny thing is, neither me or my hubby have been working extra to save up and we weren't going without anything either. The money just seemed to be in our account after about six weeks. I asked for prosperity and we are being given what we ask for.

I will also say that both hubby and I are on a bit of a spiritual journey. This past year was a tough year for us. I had a job that I absolutely loathed and it took me a while to have the courage to leave. Right after I made that choice, my grandmother passed away. Both of us have sisters who are very ill. All of this culminated with us having a lot of questions about what do we believe about life, who are we as human beings and questioning what we believe about God. We decided to attend a Buddhist temple in our neighborhood and on Saturday mornings I am taking an introductory class. I am also reading a lot of different material on living a simple life, including a book a friend gave me as a birthday gift, Choosing Simplicity. I feel at peace and most days I have an inner joy that I haven't had in a very long time. That being said, I acknowledge that my spiritual journey is just beginning and the path is narrow.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

s'more cupcakes, please!

I love to bake. I call myself "bed head betty crocker" because sometimes I wake and bake on the weekends.
Me and my beloved KitchenAid

 A few weekends ago it was my birthday and I baked myself some yummy cupcakes I found on pinterest.

Although, mine turned out a bit different from the recipe that Martha featured because I didn't use as much of the graham cracker topping on the cupcakes. The original recipe calls for the graham cracker mix on the bottom and on top of the cupcake. I eliminated the topping.

I only added the graham cracker to the bottom of the cupcake liners; not as a topping like the recipe calls for.

With half my batch I tried the cupcakes without adding chocolate on top of the graham cracker; I prefer it without the chocolate. It's not as crispy/hard on the bottom and allows for more cupcake in the liner.

Also, I don't have one of those kitchen torches so I used a different frosting that turned out similar to that "fluff" you can find in the store.
I am still very much a novice baker. I didn't get super stiff peaks with my frosting and it took longer than 7 minutes as the recipe calls for.

But I thought they tasted awesome all around. 

The recipe yielded 28 cupcakes. While I would have enjoyed eating all 28, I took them to my workplace and they disappeared almost instantaneously. Enjoy a s'mores cupcake before the summer is out! Have a great weekend! xoxo

Friday, July 20, 2012


What girl doesn't dream of Paris and the romance the city promises to bring? I have been a Paris dreamer for a very long time. I bumbled my way through 2 semesters of community college French courses where my teacher dared us to make our dreams come true. She dutifully taught us the importance of, at the very least, attempting to speak the native language wherever your travels may take you. In 2007, my dreams came true when my hubby and I spent 12 days in the city of lights. It has been my dream ever since to see and eat the rest of our way through the French countryside. A few years ago, I happily found out by looking at a picture from the family Bible (on my pop's side) that my Great-great-great-grandfather was born in France! le sigh!

To my great surprise, my hubby found this wonderful little event for us to go to on Bastille Day last weekend and we had the sweetest time.

 It is the little things in life that make me happy and hubby was so thoughtful to suggest spending our Saturday night at the Bastille Day celebration.

Of course, I had to take a pic of the one of the French Bulldogs who came to partake in the festivities.

AND! I ate my first ever (and second) macaron. YUM!

I had a pistachio and raspberry. Someday soon when the blazes of summer have cooled off a bit I would like to try my hand at this difficult yet delicate petit biscuit.

Until then, I will happily dream my way to France on Pinterest. Bon nuit mes amies! xx

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

slightly introverted

This past year has caused me to look inside and ask who am I and what do I have to offer, in terms of both being a professional and in terms of the relationships I have with those around me. I have high standards for what I want, again, both professionally and from my friends and family. But do I always deliver to those same standards?

I admit I am human, I have flaws, so I know I do not ALWAYS live up to the highest of standards. But I certainly try and when I know I have faulted I try to make things right.

I am currently trying to improve on certain skills. Recently in an interview I was asked the dreaded question, "What sets you apart from the many others who have applied for this position?" I hate that question. I do not puff myself up well. I hate talking about how allegedly awesome I am, how I am allegedly better than anyone else. But I know where I need to improve. For one, my writing. I know that to become a better writer it is important to read.

I am not necessarily talking about becoming a better legal writer. That is its own beast that yes, I need to improve. One of the reasons I write this blog is to improve my writing. I do not know where I will end up professionally. I often wonder if I will ever be that courtroom trial lawyer that I dream about. But in the meantime, I can at least read more often, think about styles of writing and try to become a better writer.

I recently picked up a book I haven't read since high school: Fahrenheit 451. This book reminded me the importance of reading and seeking out new ideas, new points of view. To think for ourselves is to survive in this world of instant information and entertainment.

While this post may not make the most sense (again, I am trying to improve on writing!!!) what I'm trying to say is, I've been thinking a lot about a lot of different things. I am looking for ways to improve and the first place I am going to start is by simply taking a step back and taking an objective look at myself. I want to improve my mind and I know reading and writing are good exercises. Everything else will come with time.

Thanks for reading. xoxo

Saturday, July 7, 2012

playing catch up

Weekends tend to be either super busy for us or really tame. A few weekends ago we had a wedding on Friday and Sunday I went to the Pride parade with my friend.

Pride weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the summer in Chicago, which consists of a street fest, lots of events and a parade on Sunday. We used to live right next to "Boystown" where the street fest and parade are held. It was inevitable that we would hit up the street fest every year, and I always managed to make it to the parade, even if it was by myself for a little bit. But this year I was able to meet up with a friend to check out the spectacle.
Thanks to my friend Katie for letting me use her photos from the parade.

Afterwards we had an adult beverage and a feast of hummus at George Street Pub. They have an awesome patio.
Mmm. Hummus.

 One of my hot-button issues lately has been marriage equality. I am all for it. I am a straight ally, 100% supporter of gay marriage. I firmly believe that marriage equality is a civil rights issue. Our country is discriminating against an entire class of people by denying their right to marry simply because their partner is of the same sex. Talk to me all you want about beliefs and definitions of marriage. I've heard it all and I'm not impressed. This country is discriminating, and we need to stop. Period.

This past week was Independence Day. Typically we end up celebrating most "American" holidays in some fashion or another, but there is always something about them, the 4th, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, that make me a little sad or mad. What do I as a Native American have to celebrate on these holidays? They are subtle reminders that an entire population was decimated, and Natives continue to suffer the consequence of "independence" or the Americas being "discovered." This year we did not celebrate at all. I wasn't raised to feel negative about these holidays, in fact we celebrated them like most American families, but through my life experiences and education, I have certainly had a change of heart. Sometimes I wonder what I will tell my children about these holidays.

Enough serious talk. I've been practicing yoga everyday now and have never felt better about myself. And I am still on the smoothie kick. This morning I switched it up a bit after I was inspired a recipe I found on Pinterest. I didn't have a whole lot of strawberries left, so I adapted it with what I had on hand.

Sweet and Tart Start to the Morning
-one half ripe peach
-handful of frozen strawberries
-about 3 or 4 ounces of coconut milk
-2 heaping spoonfuls of greek yogurt
-2 counts pour of OJ*

pulse and blend. Enjoy!

*as you know by now, I don't measure. But I used to bartend. When you pour a liquid and count "one-one thousand," you pour an ounce, or so damn close to one you'll be impressed. Go try it!

Have a great weekend! xoxo

Thursday, July 5, 2012

decisions, decisions, part 1

I've been busy the last week or so working a short term project. One of the tough things about working these projects is we literally sit and stare at the computer for 8+ hours a day. Rough on the body, eyes and mind. By the time I get home I have no desire to jump on the computer for anything such as looking for a full time position, much less blogging. But that job finished up on Tuesday and yesterday was a holiday (that I didn't really celebrate, more on that later), and today I had an interview.

You know that saying, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it? Well, hello, smack on the forehead, it's true. One time on our walk in the park, I told hubby, "I just want to be on a long term project, at least 3 or 4 months, so I can have some stability."

On some off chance that I'd be even considered for this job, I applied for a document review project out in Denver, CO that is slated to go for about 9-12 months. Well, guess what? I was offered the job. So now we have this huge decision to make. Part of me says, "go for it." Part of me says, "it'll be too hard to move across the country with little to no planning, or money for that matter."

The part of me that says, "go for it" is the same part that uttered the words, "I'm fed up with the job market here in Chicago." And to be true to myself, I am. I started looking for another job before the holidays last year, long before the shit hit the fan and I ended up in my current situation. I've had a steady flow of interviews, but never an offer. I've also had a small amount of experience in document review - 3 total projects. And I've hustled my way into having 2 of my own clients. Yet we live paycheck to paycheck and I am nowhere closer to finding a permanent position.

There's also a part of me that is totally enamored with the idea of moving out west. I see this as an opportunity explore the region, network and at least be geographically in the area where there are opportunities to practice Indian Law. My hubby is all for the move. I was telling my friend about my opportunity and said, "He's all heart and I'm all brain." We've made big moves before, once from Tennessee to Orlando, then from Orlando to Chicago. But those moves were well thought out and planned for, months in advance.  I am very uncertain of how this move would occur, logistically speaking. I'm just terrified of making the wrong decision.

At the very least, I'm going to sleep on it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The lady I miss.

Yesterday I began writing my post about all the fun I had over the weekend. But I didn't finish it. I had to run to the bank to deposit a check and close out an account. This made me sad. It was an account that my brother and I had opened to help collect donations to pay for my grandmother's funeral. So when I got back home I didn't feel like finishing writing about fun times. But I didn't cry too much either. I just looked at some recent pictures of my grandma and shed a few tears. I know that she is on her journey. She is pain free. She is in a better place.

This was taken back in November 2011. At that time we thought Grandma might have lung cancer. My hubs and I drove down to see her to bring her some cheer. This picture is just before we were going to drive back home, so we had been saying our good byes and crying a bit. We later found out it wasn't cancer.

I love you, Grandma. I do miss you. But I know that you are with me always in my heart.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A tiny seed.

Not every day on the road to happiness is easy. Choosing to be happy isn't as easy as it sounds. Yes, I wake up and say to myself, "Self, today I choose to be happy." And maybe I start the day out happy. Maybe I am happy the whole morning. I do yoga, I make my banana smoothie, I water my plants. I am happy. But then I get a phone call from a recruiter about a potential project. But, no, I am not a good fit for this client since I have my own practice. Ok, thank you very much. Disappointment.

That tiny seed of disappointment can grow into something that eventually leads to me and hubby arguing yesterday afternoon and once again, my happiness is brought into question.

The answer, yes, I am happy. I am happy in my marriage. I am happy in my life, in general. Am I happy with my current employment situation? A resounding "no." But the thing is, I have never believed my work makes up who I am. Who I am will determine what kind of attorney I will be, but not the other way around.

Yesterday had its ups and downs. But today is a new day. Guess what? Today I choose to be happy.  xoxo

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sum-sum-summer time!

Summer is here and we like to hang out at our beach on the weekends. I love to people watch and am intrigued by all of the vendors.

I think the cotton candy is absolutely perfect. Fluffy, colorful and each one is perfectly sized.

The guys and girls that sell the beach toys amaze me, too. They wear their wares as they walk amongst the beach-goers. It's gotta be so hot underneath all that plastic!

Chicago in the summer time is the best time of the year, just ask any native Chicagoan.  There is so much to do with all of the street festivals, music festivals and awesome events. I think today we might get out into one of the street fests. One of our favorites is Taste of Randolph. What are you getting into this weekend?? Have fun! xoxo

P.S. this was my first attempt at making some collages. I think I did ok. . .

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

doc review down time

Document review? Trying to explain to my non-lawyer friends and family what exactly is doc review has proven difficult, BUT I finally found a pop-culture example to help me out. You know that scene in Clueless where Cher and Josh are helping her Dad (i.e. flirting) and Cher is still looking for the September 3rd phone call, but the young lawyer associate gets pissed because they're supposed to be looking for the August 28th phone call? That's kinda like doc review. Except not.

Anyway, I'm in between doc review projects which means I'm currently unemployed. I've chosen to get caught up on some of my own work in my down time. Today, I knocked a couple of things of my ever-growing "to-do" list and decided to do one of the longer yoga videos I don't normally have time for in the morning. I immediately felt famished after I was done and made myself one of my fave smoothies. I gulped it down so I don't have a pic, but looks don't matter with this yummy pick-me-up.

"Elvis" smoothie

-pour enough soy milk in blender so it covers the blades* (about 4 or 5 ounces)
-one whole ripe banana (this is a great way to use up browning bananas)
-2 big scoops of peanut butter
-2 ice cubes
-just a tiny squeeze of simple syrup (recipe in my previous post)

pulse and blend and enjoy!!!

*a note about my smoothies, since I don't provide measurements. I use this blender which is the perfect size for a single smoothie. Feel free to adapt my "recipes" to your size blender. Mine comes with a lid, and I've made smoothies the night before and had it ready to go on mornings I knew I'd be rushed. Perfect!

Later, I'm meeting up with some very lovely ladies for a GNO.  Happy hump day! xoxo

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Healthy = Happy

Lately I've been focusing on eating more healthy and trying to squeeze in some exercise. I was concerned that returning to running wouldn't help my weight loss problem, so instead I returned to yoga. I took yoga classes years ago but since then found plenty of excuses not to have time to practice yoga. Until now. Someone told me once that you'll never have time for anything unless you make time for it. So true. I MADE time. I found free videos online and I practice every other day during the week and both days on the weekends. This has really helped me get my stress level under control and I feel so much happier already.

As far as eating healthy, I've always tried to eat healthy. I don't eat red meat and rarely eat pork, fish or chicken. So I guess that kinda means I'm a vegetarian. But I put the emphasis on try to eat healthy, because like anyone else, I love junk food.

Lately I've been on a smoothie kick. I buy whatever fruit is fresh and that's what I use to make smoothies for breakfast.

I don't really follow a recipe to make my smoothies, but here's how I make 'em:

Pour enough soy milk in the blender to cover the blades and just a bit more.
2 heaping spoonfuls of plain greek yogurt. (I've tried them all and my favorite is Fage!)
a handful of fresh fruits (the smoothie pictured was made with raspberries and a small peach)
a hearty squirt of honey

Pulse and blend until well mixed!

I find this a healthy way to start out the day, as opposed to the lonely cup of coffee I used to call breakfast.

Have I mentioned that my hubby is a trained chef? Well, he is. And he does most of the cooking. But check out the gourmet baked potatoes I made for dinner last week.
I followed this recipe from America's Test Kitchen after watching the show. They turned out super creamy! I love to eat the skins too, and these skins were crispy and flavorful.

And finally, last week there was a full moon. If you've read my earlier posts, you know that I like to check out the fun and free things to do in this great city. One of the coolest monthly events we've found right in our neighborhood is the Full Moon Fire Jam. It's a super hippie gathering where there are fire dancers and a drum circle and plenty of people watching.  Here are a few shots I took of the full moon on our walk home.

Hope you all have a fabulous week. Start it off right with a healthy breakfast! xoxo

Friday, June 1, 2012

me time!

Hubby's having a late night band practice so that means . . . me time! He hates it when I paint my nails because of the smell, so I took full advantage of him being outta the house.

Inspired by what I hope to be a fun and fab summer, I painted my nails in watermelon shades: Essie's Bachelorette Bash and Navigate Her. I love the trends in manicures with accent nails and nail art. Any favorite trends you are trying?? Have a great weekend! xoxo

Monday, May 28, 2012

I confess

Here's my confession: I DO need money to celebrate my most special love's birthday. Some people are so creative and they can make really cool stuff out of trash and can come up with amazing ideas. I usually take their ideas and do something similar. But here was my dilemma. I had absolutely no money at all. Not even a few dollars to put on my bus card so we could GO somewhere where there was a free event. So I was limited to within walking distance of our house.

Babe, the neighbor! 

 We did our usual Saturday routine but we tried to change it up a bit. We walked our dog AND took along the neighbor dog, Babe. We are looking after our neighbor's dog and cat while they are out of town. Our neighbor is a bit elderly and she doesn't really walk the dog so we thought it couldn't hurt to get the dog out for some exercise. The change in routine was good for both of us and Babe.

 Cheeto wasn't too keen on the idea, but he's spoiled; it was good for him, too.

Cheeto played nice for the most part.

I confess I had a melt down when I checked the mail and found no paycheck. I couldn't even take my baby out for a birthday dinner, or buy any groceries, for that matter. The thing is, this man has been amazing the last seven months. He has been my cornerstone, my source of strength and stability through it all: the shitty job, my sister getting sick, my grandmother passing. All I wanted to do was take him to his favorite taco joint. *Sigh* Now get this, on his birthday, the one day of the year it should be all about him, he calms me down and tells me we should be thankful for what we do have. Clearly, I am lacking in the gratitude and patience departments. We counted our blessings for the roof over our head, the jobs we both have, and for our health. You see, we have many family members who are fighting for their lives. I often take for granted that I am healthy. We live down the street from a church where there is a shelter and every morning I walk past the men who sleep there. They tell me "good morning" on my way to work. How easy it is to forget that I have it WAY better than they do. I could keep going. You get my point.

Later on, I took a look in our fridge and found a frozen pizza for dinner and one beer. I also found an old bottle of a liqueur I bought many months ago and a half carton of fresh raspberries. Hubby had the beer and I mixed up a little daiquiri of sorts for myself. We watched the rerun of SNL and said good night. Oh, and we had birthday sex. What else was I going to give him????

Below is my recipe for the daiquiri. Enjoy!

2 ounces St. Germain liqueur
1 1/2 ounces simple syrup*
4 large ice cubes
a handful of fresh raspberries

I put the ice cubes in the blender by themselves and pulse to start breaking up the ice. Then add the liquids and the raspberries on top. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

*Simple syrup is easy to make and great to have on hand for all kinds of drinks such as iced coffees, smoothies and last minute daiquiris. Simply bring a cup of water to a boil then add 2 cups of sugar. Stir, remove from heat and continue stirring until all the sugar is melted. After it is cooled store it in a bottle of your choice in the refrigerator.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, baby

Today should be interesting. It is hubby's birthday. I am hoping my first paycheck will come in the mail and the day will be saved. Not that one needs money to celebrate the day of birth of one's most special loved one. But we've been on such a budget crunch that I've got nothing. Aside from finding something free to do and making a pb&j picnic . . .

Monday, May 21, 2012

crafting back my happy

This weekend was the first busy weekend we've had since we've been back to Chicago. Friday night hubby had a show. He is a drummer and one of his bands had a gig playing at an art show opening. It was super hipster but fun, since we hadn't been out for one of his shows in a while. Saturday night was one of our friend's birthday so we went down to Bridgeport to celebrate. That was awesome because I hadn't seen that group of friends in a very long time, and I love them and miss them so much. THEN on Sunday was one of my girlfriend's bridal shower. That is why I was crafty. We were supposed to wear a hat or a fascinator and since I'm budget-conscious I chose to make my fascinator.

I love Pinterest. Don't you? I used Pinterest to scope out lots of DIY fascinator ideas and check out plenty of instructions. This is one of the websites that I used to help me make my headband. Here are a few shots of the fascinator I made.

The great thing is I made my fascinator out of materials that I already had:
-thin metal headband
-wired ribbon (I save all my ribbon from gift packages)
-dried flowers
-butterfly embellishment

I cut out a base using thin cardboard (from an old folder that I was saving to reuse/recycle). I actually sewed the cardboard onto the headband. This did cause the base to slide up and down the headband, but I used a bobby-pin to secure the base in my hair once I decided where I liked it.

Yay for craftiness! It makes me happy. The other thing that makes me happy is just enjoying what my neighborhood has to offer. There was a kite festival at the Montrose Harbor which is where we normally walk our chihuahua, Cheeto. We took an extra long stroll and did some people and kite watching. It was a lovely Saturday afternoon.

All in all, I had a great weekend. I hope you did too! xoxo

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tough love

I've been told more than once that sometimes my tough love is too tough and I need to be more comforting. I try to remember that. But it's hard for me. Tough love is what I used to get myself through the hardest times in my life. I had to pick myself up and dust off and get back out there, more than once. It's what I'm doing right now.

I believe that it's not "going to be ok." You have to make it be ok. Making it all be ok is hard. Nothing in my life has come easy. Maybe for some people things come easy. But not for this brown girl. And there seems to be a misperception about that. For example, this week has been a week of getting to know my new co-workers. During one conversation I told them I was Native American and one guy said, "Oh, you must've had your pick of schools to go to." Um, no. Don't get me wrong, I played the "race card" and got no where. Nor did I get a full scholarship to anywhere. And I've been asked that my whole life. Why do people think that because I'm Native American, I was handed a free education? And when I correct them, there is always the follow up story of the "buddy who is 1/10th Native American that got a full ride scholarship." Yay. Great for him.  I don't know how mathematically one gets to be 1/10th. You're full-blood, 1/2, 1/4 and so on. But then again, I'm a lawyer, I don't do math.

I don't want to sound bitter. I'm not. But I do have to work at living my life for me and being happy for me. I have a bad habit of comparing my life to others around me. If that's something you do too, stop it. It is unfair to yourself and your significant other. If you don't like something about your life or you want something, develop a plan. Work on it everyday. If you fall down, don't let it break you. Get up. Try again.

I'll tell you one little story about that. I was studying for the LSAT, the test that everyone has to take if they want to apply to law school. I had no idea what I was doing. I graduated from college a few years earlier so I didn't have an advisor or counselor to give me advice or suggestions along the way. I self-studied for the LSAT, took the test and got a mediocre score. I learned enough from my online research that I needed a much higher score to get into a really good school, and about 10 more points to get into most good law schools. That was going to be a feat. I applied to schools and been rejected to all but one, and even that one was just a wait list. I was eventually rejected. So then I dropped a couple grand on a prep class. Studied for another summer and took the LSAT again. Well, my score did not improve. Now what do I do? I reevaluated my ability to go to law school and I applied to schools that might consider a score like mine. They are what are called "third-tier law schools." Rankings. Anyways. I worked really hard on writing the best resume and personal statement that I could. That year I received offers from 4 schools with scholarships from 2.

During this whole process, I developed a plan. I reminded myself of it every single day. I wrote it down on a note card. Something simple like, "I will go to law school." I carried that note card in my pocket or in my purse everyday. Reminding yourself of your goal everyday makes you work at it everyday. It changes your behavior and you develop a habit. That is how you achieve what you want.

One more piece of advice for those of you who are thinking about going to law school in this economy. Don't go unless it is truly a passion, truly something you desire to do. If you are thinking about going just because you think you should get a professional degree, think twice, do your research. The costs are sky-high and the market is saturated with lawyers looking for a job. The investment may not pay-off.

That is all.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Third time's a charm.

This is my 3rd attempt at a blog. The first 2 failed because to be frank, I was afraid to say what I really wanted to say and truly be me. But something has happened. My life has been super crazy lately and I have come to realize that life is short. I always knew that life was short, but I didn't believe that certain people would be taken from me before I was "ready."

My grandmother, Leona Faye Falker, passed away on April 10, 2012. She was the only grandparent I really had. I met my grandfather on my dad's side but he passed away when I was young and I didn't really know him when he was on this earth. But my grandma has been a big part of my life. I shared a bedroom with her for a couple of years growing up. She taught me about my people. And now she's gone. Although, not really gone. I believe she is right here with me whenever I want her to be. It's not what my people believe, but it's what makes me feel better about not having her.

So losing a grandparent might not equate to life being crazy for some. But that's not all. Last year I found out my sister was really sick. I'm not going to go into details but she is fighting for her life. On top of that she is a single mom. I went home a few months ago to visit her and help out where I could and I ended up taking her to the ER. No one knew how sick she was and I feel like we almost lost her that night. She's doing a lot better now, but she's still fighting.

My professional life was starting to make me sick too. Literally. I'm a new lawyer. May 2011, I ended up taking a job for the (meager) paycheck as so many young lawyers in Chicago are doing. The ink on my license was barely dry. I knew I didn't want to stay in that firm for very long simply because it was an area of law that I was not interested in. But the job market has struggled to improve and I stayed in that job for about a year, 9 months longer than I originally planned for. I invested myself in the work and actually started to care a lot about some of my clients. But my boss was uninspiring. In fact, he's the kind of person that makes most people hate lawyers. I was so stressed out about my job and everything else going on, that I lost a lot of weight. I'm thin to begin with, but when I went to the doctor he said I was depressed. No shit, Sherlock.

So back on April 3, I decided to take charge of my life and quit my job. I had nothing else lined up. I had a prospect of a temporary job, doing document review. Other than that I would be back on the job hunt. Here is where the climactic turn of events takes place in my 33 years on this earth.

Tuesday I quit. I felt all high about finally doing it. Yeah, fuck you. I get the call that the doc review job starts on Thursday. Sweet. A couple of days off. Nope, email says "not starting until Tuesday, have a nice holiday." So I look at my hubby and say, "Let's drive down to TN and see the fam. We might not be able to see them for another couple of months if this project goes." So we hit the road on Thursday morning, having a leisurely drive. Hell, we stop and see the giant Superman in downstate Illinois. Goofing off is fun. We get there and the next morning I head over to my mom's house where my sister is staying. To my surprise she's up and around, she's got her make-up on and she's looking good. I hang out with her and my grandma for most of the day, just chillin'. Little did I know that would be the last time I'd really spend quality time with my Gram.

What makes me sick, and the regret that everyone tells me I shouldn't have, is that Grandma wanted me to stay and have dinner with her. My sister had been picked up by her oldest daughter to go grocery shopping for Easter dinner. My mom works nights so she had already left for work. I didn't stay. I went and picked up some dinner for her but I left to go back and have dinner with my hubby. This is the regret that I will always have. I could have had dinner with her. It would have been no big deal. But I took for granted how short life is. I thought she was going to be with us for another 10, 15 years. It could've been just me and Gram for dinner and I said no. I'll never forgive myself. She ate alone that night. I'll never forgive myself.

But that wasn't the last time I saw her, or the only thing I'll never forgive myself for. My sister got dropped back off at mom's. That wasn't the plan. The plan was for her to go back to her house so she could start cooking for Easter dinner. So early Saturday morning I go to mom's house to pick her up. She's having breakfast, so I sit and wait and help Grandma pick up the blankets and what not. We head out the door, but I forgot something or my sister did, I don't remember. I head back in to pick it up. Grandma's on the phone talking to someone so I just whisper to her I love her and I'm leaving to take sis home. She holds up her finger like "wait a sec" but she's just listening to the phone. I do wait, but for just a second. I'm impatient. I give her a kiss and say good-bye. She nods her head and says something to the person on the phone like "why would they say that? I'm fine." When I heard that I should have known. But I didn't know. I didn't know that would be the last time I saw my Grandma, like Grandma.

I took sis home and hung out. Hung out with the kids, goofed off a little. Then we head out to the grocery store. She forgot some stuff for tomorrow's dinner. So all of us, kids too, hop in the car and head over to the grocery store. Now let me go off on a tangent here.

I grew up in Chattanooga, TN. It's beautiful. It's right on the border of NW Georgia. I grew up driving. We moved to Chicago 4 years ago to go to law school and promptly sold our car and became totally reliant on public transportation. I love it. It's one of the reasons I love Chicago. Don't get me wrong, the CTA has it's faults and "COULD USE MORE FUNDING" (inside joke, I'll tell you later) but it's awesome to get where you wanna go and not have to deal with driving. But we recently bought a car to drive back in forth to TN to help out my sister and the fam. I've been spoiled. I hate driving now. And driving in Chattanooga is a joke. To get anywhere is to drive 20-30 miles. You can't get anywhere fast. One day I drove from my father-in-law's house out to my sister's down to the hospital back to my mom's or sister's and then back out to my FIL's house, and put over 120 miles on my car!!! Ridiculous.

Anyway, so I'm at the grocery store and I'm in the parking lot while sis is inside shopping, because one of the girls has a broken leg. We wait in the car. But I get a call from Mom and she's hysterical. Grandma is in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Suddenly there is a pit in the bottom of my stomach. Grandma has had her bouts with being ill and in and out of the hospital. But this was different. I heard it in Mom's voice. I beg Mom not to drive. She's too upset, it's dangerous for her to drive that way. So now I've gotta rush sis back home and drive to mom's to pick her up. This is where my frustration with driving in Chattanooga/NW Georgia comes into play. A full 40 minutes goes by and Mom is calling me wondering when I'll be there, begging me to just let her drive and I beg her please no. Winding curves, little hills galore. I finally pick her up and drive to the hospital. The lawyer in me (obey all traffic laws) is out the window. I'm speeding and running stop signs and red lights where I can.

Grandma is at one hospital for just a short bit. They transfer her to another because they have a stroke center. We head over there. Mom is still pretty bad. Gram's in the ER for a couple of hours. We meet her doctors and that's when we find out that Grandma most likely will not be getting better. The pit in my stomach grew. That's when I realized I should've never left her. I should've waited like she wanted me to. Who knows what happened between the time I left and the time Mom woke up and found Grandma. Maybe I could've done something, anything.

Grandma passed away on a Tuesday morning. I held her hands throughout the night and promised her I'd take care of Mom and thanked her for teaching me about our people. I watched her take her last breath. I will never forget that feeling I had early that morning.

Needless to say, I didn't make it back to start that job. I came back to Chicago unemployed and broke. Broke in the bank and brokenhearted.

So that's what happened. I've been stripped down. I feared losing everything. I still fear it. Hell, I've only worked one day since quitting my job. We've borrowed money and robbed Peter to pay Paul. But I've learned my lesson. Love the ones you are with every single day. There is no guarantee to tomorrow.