Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back to DC

When I woke this morning around 7, there was already a surprising amount of snow on the ground. I immediately thought that I should implement a plan (and why didn’t I think of this last night?) to get to the airport quickly to catch an earlier flight out of the city. I cleaned the guest bedroom and began packing. Christ, I acquired a bunch more clothes over the break. Bob and Kari dropped me at the Blue Line and by 9:15 I was on a train heading to O’Hare.

When the train emerged from underground after the Division stop, the white sky and snow were almost blinding. I looked out on Milwaukee Ave., peering at all the familiar shops, restaurants that I used to pass by all summer long. And then before that, on my bicycle every day when I lived in Logan Square. I hadn’t walked down this street once in the 16 days I’d been back, and I wondered what the hell I’d been doing with my time. And I thought about the people here I didn’t see, or the people I barely spent any time with. The Boxer Rebellion’s beautiful “Soviets” played on my iPod, and when the line “And all I can see is that I’m sorry, sorry...” it made me sad. I thought of what a lovely break it has been for me, like a vacuum, but outside of that the world is still turning and time marches on and people get older and relationships fade when you don’t take time to care for them.

And I’m sitting here pondering the next semester of school and the next chapter of my life in DC. I’m excited but also uneasy. I should know what to expect, having survived the first semester, but I feel like maybe up to know has been a fluke and now the real experience begins, which is of course ridiculous. I think this uneasiness stems from the in-between time. I’m not sure I’m so good with life in DC during those rare times when I’m not a student. Because that is what I am – a student; it’s why I’m here. And when school is not in session – well, I’m not really sure what I am.

School just needs to start, I’ve decided.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

An Open Letter to 2010*

Well, we're off to a good start, aren't we? Which is good. I think the events of NYE and yesterday's Polar Plunge bode well for the rest of the year, don’t you?

And before I forget, nice job on the whole Roman Numeral thing - "MMX." That's badass. Also: what exactly are we calling you? I prefer "twenty-ten" - I think it is concise and clean. Not a fan of "two thousand ten" - I think that's kinda lame.

Anyway, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself since we’re going to be spending some time together. I think we’re going to have some fun.

You know, as your predecessors could tell you, I’m usually really big into resolutions for the New Year. They’re a big deal for me. For example, in 2007 I made some resolutions to try to get my life back on track (after a few years of setbacks); in 2008 I resolved to study my ass off to get good grades in my pre-req nursing classes; and then last year I had two main ones – choose I good nursing school and live less inside my own head (something I tended to do) – and happily I met those goals.

You’ll be relieved to know that this year, for probably the first time in as long as I can remember, I don’t have any resolutions. So you’re off the hook.

I bet you’re thinking. Seriously. I thought about it for a long time and I’m actually quite content with my life right now, so I’m not making any resolutions. There’s not much I’m trying to change about my life or self this year. I feel like I spent the last few years changing things around, and I’m pretty happy with the results. So I’m taking a break from all that.

That’s not to say that you get to coast through. O no. In fact, There will be some big happenings I need your help with. Like: I graduate this year, thankfully; and I’m really hoping to get a trip to Europe in – either London or Spain – before the year is over. And there will be other, smaller things: Portland in April; a few jaunts up to NYC; forging ahead with new friendships while also doing a better job of strengthening existing ones; keeping disciplined in my studies.

But for the most part, my year is pretty much mapped out, thanks to school. For example, I know what I need to accomplish in February, what will be happening in July, what needs to get done in October. In a few ways, it will be a year of Auto Pilot, which I’m quite OK with.

So let’s agree to play it Cool for the duration, alright? You know, keep things slow and steady along the course. No big surprises. No games. No bullshit. Let’s just keep it nice and easy.

Remember these things, and I think we’ll get along just fine.

* With thanks to GFC, who I stole this post idea from.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Ice Ice Baby

[That's my knee, right after the Plunge.]

As is becoming tradition, this morning I joined a couple friends for the annual New Year's Day Polar Plunge in Lake Michigan. And I have the battle scars to prove it.

When we arrived at noon, I was feeling really nervous, like suddenly I no longer wanted to do it. See, the Plunge is a crazy thing. There's really nothing else in my life I've ever done is messed up as this is. There's no other situation in which I completely force my body to do something it does not want to do. It was 17 degrees, and the water temp was 35. There were 4-foot waves with large chunks of ice floating through it. It was pretty much hell on Earth.

I've figured out that the Plunge is kinda like dying: you may enter the water surrounded by friends, but in the end, it is you and you alone. Mark, Katie and I waded into the water, dodging ice flows and waves, and went down on the count of three. But in the moment, when you say "three" there's nobody dropping you to your knees. It's only you and the big, cold abyss. Death is like that, I suppose.

Anyway, after climbing out of the water onto and over the ice to get back to our clothes and towels, we were all scraped up, bloody and bruised. As my friend Colleen, who was there to take pictures of the whole incident, commented afterwards, "There's a lot of blood on this beach."

Did I mention that it was 17 degrees and the water temp was 35? At this point, as I sit here much warmer but physically exhausted, it was totally worth it. But if the conditions next year are like they were today, I will definitely have to think twice.

But regardless, you never feel more alive then you do once you submerge yourself in near-frozen water, I think. It is perhaps the best possible way to start the New Year.

Which, btw, Happy 2010 bitches!