Category Archives: experience

Hello, 2011

The new year is upon us, my friends. It seems like just hours ago that I was bidding farewell to 2009, and here I am doing the same exact thing to 2010.

New Year’s has always held a bittersweet feeling for me. It’s kind of like straddling two different chapters of your life in only one night. It reminds me of standing at the state line, one of my feet in Pennsylvania while the other one rests in New York.

2010 was a pivotal year for me. Friendships were made and broken. I lost a very close friend to a deadly illness. I lost my job and moved back home. I went to Europe and also started freelancing full time.

I feel like 2011 is going to be infinitely cooler than 2010. This time last year all I wanted to do was leave the country. I still want to travel and see the world, but my resolution for 2011 is simply to be okay. I want to become at peace with myself and accept myself for who I am, regardless of what I have or what I lack.

What’re your resolutions? What do you hope 2011 holds?

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I’m like a cat. Sorta.

Did you ever get the feeling that you’ve lived many different lives? I think I’ve had about five so far, each complete with its own tiny tragedy and death. My different lives are usually built around new places or people. And when I change cities or relationships, I have to bulldoze over everything I’ve built and start from scratch.

My third life orbited around a guy named Ben. I was 22 at the time, still in college, and worked part-time at an independent bookstore. I had recently moved back to Pennsylvania after spending three years in Vermont and had lost contact with almost everybody I knew from my home state. Ben was a godsend and the gateway drug to the archetype of man that I now prefer. He was the typical tattooed, hardworking, blue collared, beer guzzling, I-can-fix-everything-in-your-kitchen-and-on-your-car-and-I-can-even-sew type of guy. Ours was a love measured in mileage. He lived an hour away in South Jersey and every day one of us took up the task of rounding up the dogs and making the commute across the river to the other’s apartment. I created an adorable life when I moved back to PA, filled to the brim with feminist theory seminars, Ikea futons, laid back, easy part-time work, dog walks, and punk rock shows. I had literally no responsibilities other than keeping my GPA up and paying the cable bill.

That life came to an end shortly after I graduated. Ben wanted kids and I wanted a career so we parted ways. Life Number Four started the day I moved to Philly and revolved heavily around poverty, fear, career changes, and another relationship. I laid Life Number Four to rest two years later, after two apartments, four jobs, the worst break-up that I’ve ever been through to date, and the adoption of another dog.

 Life Number 5 is the first life I’ve had that has been primarily about me. It’s about self-improvement, self-realization, and self-acceptance. I’ve made tons of mistakes already and have hurt a lot of people in the process, but something has woken up inside of me.

All through high school and college, some ingrained thing in me was growing and feeding on snowstorms and Catholicism. It made me bite my nails at 60 miles per hour and it made me sad in the winter and it made me stay up all night stressing about where all of this was going, and when I moved to the city, I shut it down. Hey there, painful thing. Chill out for a couple years. So there we sat, in a posh apartment with a job in journalism.

But lately, it’s been moving around again, this enormous monster in the soupy lake of my subconscious. It’s gnawing at me and punching at me and I feel like I have to suffer a bit more to grow up. Life Number Five is about feeding my painful thing, allowing it to grow and working my butt off so that I can feel fulfilled with the one real life that I have. Does that make sense?

The world is vast and I am young.

1876984873_2a026900d4One of the things I never got the chance to do while I was still in college was study abroad. I had the chance to go to Venice one summer but I was too lazy to get all of the information together and thus I spent my summer break waitressing at the Jersey shore. Exotic, isn’t it? 

One of the things that I think everybody should do when they are still in their twenties is live somewhere entirely foreign to them. And I’m not talking about moving to Maryland if you’re from New Jersey. I’m talking about foreign as in a completely different city on a completely different continent where you do not know the language and you cannot stomach the local cuisine. 

Philadelphia is a beautiful, gritty city and I absolutely love it here. But I need room to stretch my legs a bit. I need to test my abilities and see what I’m made of. 

People get so caught up in their own lives that they forget that there is an entire world out there with millions of people they haven’t danced with yet and millions of more people they haven’t yet met. It’s staggering to think how much is out there, how much I still need to see and hear and taste, how many other cities I might possibly fall in love with. There is just so much opportunity out there. It’s a bit staggering, when you think about it. 

The goal is to move to another country when my lease is up. This gives me an entire year to plan and prepare. I am thinking about either applying for a working visa in Australia or teaching English in eastern Asia. I also have some friends in Wales who I could stay with. 

I’ve been a lot of places, but that was mostly family trips with my parents and little brother. I want to go on an adventure by myself, to experience as much as I can before I get locked down in a career or a marriage or a mortgage. Now is the time. I am 25 years old and the world is my oyster. I just need to harvest the pearls.