Chicago

library“By its nature, the metropolis provides what could otherwise be given only by traveling; namely, the strange.”
- Jane Jacobs

Last week, I was visited by a peeping tom. I had just gotten out of the shower and walked over to my bed, where my laptop was sitting, so that I could turn on the next episode of Orphan Black. I just happened to look up at the window that was directly across from where I was standing — ‘Why? Did you feel like someone was looking at you?’ the police officer would later ask me — and I saw the silhouette of a man staring at me.

My first thought: that must be my reflection, right? I mean, why would anyone actually stare at anyone else through a window? And two, the person had short hair, and I have short hair, and obviously I am the only person on earth with short hair so that must be my own reflection, right?

I moved to the side to see if the silhouette would move with me. It didn’t. I stood straight up. The man stood straight up. I stared for a second, suddenly became furious, considered grabbing something heavy as a weapon and running outside and yelling WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING INTRUDING ON MY BEAUTIFUL PERFECT APARTMENT WHERE UNTIL NOW I HAVE ALWAYS FELT COMPLETELY SAFE (or something more brilliant, terrifying, and full of swear words, ideally) — but then I turned and ran back into my bathroom and sat on my pink toilet, instead.

After about ten minutes and several pep talks, I forced myself to go back out into the apartment, cover the window with a massive picture frame, and call the police. When the police arrived they confirmed that they had seen the man looking in someone else’s window on the way over and that he’d fled, so that was that — I hadn’t imagined it. There had really been a peeping tom at my window.

When I was living in Chicago, there was this free daily newspaper that mostly covered pop culture, random news, horoscopes, trends — mostly mindless things. My favorite page, however, was what I called the “murder page.” It listed all of the murders that had occurred in Chicago that week and it would tell you where they had happened, what kind of weapon had been used, and how long it had been since another murder had occurred in that same part of town.

I would always expect it to say something like, “This is the most amount of murders that has occurred in this part of the city since 1983,” or some far off year like that, but the time frame was always more like, “This is the most amount of murders that has occurred in this part of the city since last Thursday.” Visit Chicago, everyone!

In June I am moving to New York City. It will be the third major US city that I call home — Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, the three big ones. A few people have mentioned dangerous neighborhoods to avoid and others have told me to be careful on the subways, and it almost makes me want to laugh — as dangerous as big cities are, they are the places I feel safest.

I grew up in a big city and although I am introverted, shy, and love a quiet night in at home as much as a fun night out, loud massive cities are where I am most comfortable. In fact, I will go so far as to say that wide open rural spaces kind of scare me, particularly at night. I know the rhythms and noises of a big city, but I haven’t spent enough time out in quiet towns or rural spaces to feel completely at ease there. Also, I’ve read In True Blood and NO THANKS, small town Kansas.

Every woman who’s ever traveled anywhere by herself has probably had someone tell her to be careful as a woman traveling alone. While I do believe that anyone, male or female, should be careful when traveling solo, it baffles me to think that we can so easily ignore the dangers that come with staying at home, dangers that we are far more likely to experience at one point or another, especially if we live in a big city.

The peeping tom thing was scary. The murder page in Chicago was scary. The rents in New York are looking pretty scary. But the fear has never ruined the city for me and I don’t plan to let it start now.

I love the noise of cars on the freeway at night and the view of the skyline from the top of the John Hancock building. I love the subway, or the El, or the metro, or whatever it’s called in whatever city I’m in. I love tiny apartments and rooftop bars.

And I hope the peeping tom ends up on Chicago’s murder page.

Well that ended on a high note! Just want to take a moment to say that everyone should look up the non-emergency police phone number for their city if they haven’t already, and program it into your phone. I didn’t have mine programmed so I had to look it up, and the police could have gotten to me even sooner if I’d had it ready. Also, if you call and they answer like “Hello, this is the police non-emergency line,” and you yell “IS THIS THE POLICE?!” like I did, you will scare them. The more you know.

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Jackie Buys Some Happiness

by Jackie D on February 1, 2014

happiness

We’ve had some real talk about money here before. Most of it centered around the fact that I don’t have much, but that when I do have it, I tend to spend it. I’ve always preferred having things or experiences to having money, but I do realize that this comes with a risk: what if something happened to me — what if I got injured and suddenly had medical bills to pay, or if something happened to my car and I had to pay for the damages or, God forbid, an entirely new car?

Honestly, at the moment, that type of thing would almost bankrupt me.

But the other type of lifestyle comes with risks, too — what if you save up all of your money and never dole out for expenses: you rarely go out with friends, don’t take a weekend trip away ever, always buy the least expensive things at the grocery store — not because you have to (and I understand that some people do have to), but because you just want to save up.

But what if you save up and then you still have a medical emergency or need a new car or new place to live, and you have to spend all that money you saved anyway, and you never got to do anything in the mean time? It seems a little strange to me to save up money for your future self while completely ignoring your present self. Where do you draw the line?

One of the things I am trying to do in my twenties is find the balance between investing in things or experiences that I want to have, and saving money for future experiences or things (or, God forbid, for emergencies). Maybe it’s overly optimistic of me, but I do believe that there has to be a happy balance somewhere.

I believe there are purchases that are worth the investment as long as they genuinely improve your present quality of life, even if these things may not last too far into your future, or if they seem like a risk. I firmly believe that — to an extent — it is possible to buy some happiness.

Right now, there are three forms of happiness I’m spending my money on: my apartment, my website, and (SPOILER) traveling. Rent in Los Angeles is twice what I was paying in Chicago, and it’s been a bit of a shock. However, having my own little studio apartment is something that makes me exceptionally happy. I crave my alone-time, and I’m apparently really obsessed with decorating, because I spend most of my free time drooling over every single post on Apartment Therapy and updating my “To Buy” board on Pinterest.

I’ve also just spent some money to have my website professionally designed because, I mean, it’s time. Get with the program, jackie travels.

And traveling. The past few years have all involved travel in one way or another, but no year has looked the same. My idea of travel — the places I want to visit, the experiences I want to have, and the things I want to take away from these new places — has gradually evolved each year. The only thing that doesn’t really change is that travel costs money, even when you’re on a budget.

Investing money in these three things really freaks me out, because these are three expensive things. I have to keep reminding myself thatthanks to an otherwise frugal lifestyle, I can afford it, although just barely. More importantly, these three things greatly improve my life. They make me extremely happy, and they are a means to a very rewarding end: my own apartment gives me enough independence and alone-time to work on my writing (and make it through all 3 seasons of Walking Dead in a week), my website is a productive outlet for the thing I love to do most, and traveling is my sanity.

There are plenty of other things I’d love to add to this list but don’t have the money for right now — eating at new restaurants, buying new furniture for my apartment, adding to my book collection, owning every pair of shoes on the Seychelles website, traveling through Australia for six months, upgrading my camera, upgrading my laptop, and so on.

You can’t have it all, but you should at least allow yourself to have one or two or three things if you have the financial means to do so.

I’m becoming more comfortable with this idea of investing, although it’s a slow process. I’m not sure the creators of Apartment Therapy ever meant for the Therapy part to be taken literally, but if you need me in the next few days, I’ll be calming myself down by adding every page of that website to my Pinterest boards.

(PS: If you want to invest in your business/personal life too, I have discounts for us! “Us” meaning that if you click here and order business cards from this specific link, you get a discount and I also get a discount. We’ll be like drinking buddies, only with cute business cards and zero alcohol, so fewer bad choices will be made. Same amount of networking will result though, probably.

If business cards aren’t your thing, you can also click here to sign up for a class on Skillshare, a website that offers classes on everything from Photoshop to cool typography to building your own website or running a business. It sort of rules.)

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Wherever I Am

by Jackie D on January 2, 2014

“Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.”
- Mary Oliver

palenque

volcano boarding

tikal ruins

1. Palenque, Mexico 2. Leon, Nicaragua 3. Little Corn Island 4. Tikal ruins, Guatemala
Backpacking, January 2013

usa road trip

durango railroad

1. Somewhere in Kansas 2. Durango, Colorado
Moving from Chicago to Los Angeles, February 2013

toronto

Toronto, Canada
TBEX (Travel Blogger Exchange) Conference, May 2013

Santa Barbara, California
Random day trip, June 2013

Jacksonville, Florida
Business conference, July 2013

Kiawah Island and Charleston, South Carolina
Family vacation, August 2013

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California
Night Photography workshop, August 2013

Eastern Sierras region (Mammoth, Mono Lake, Bodie Ghost Town)
Fall color photography workshop, October 2013

Los Angeles, California
Officially home again as of 2013

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