Monday, July 4, 2016

I never thought I could feel so free.


Given the recent turn of events, I scrambled to find someplace new to live.

I sifted through countless rental listings to no avail.

But last week I visited several condos for sale instead. I found one I really liked and, well, I bought it!

While the buying process has several more weeks--and steps to go, the initial contracts were signed over the weekend.

If the loan comes through, I should be good to go.

It's a one-bedroom in the same neighborhood I'm in now. Fully renovated with hardwood floors and the loveliest views of the lake.

The best part is the monthly mortgage payment (including taxes and fees) comes close to what I'm paying now each month in rent for my current studio.

It's all so sudden and scary and exciting at the same time.

I love how my landlord refusing to clean the radiators led to me finding something much better. I went from being frustrated and angry at the situation, then fearful, to now feeling empowered and free.

By the end of next month I'll be a property owner. Me! How cool is that!!

The lyrics to this classic TV show are exactly how I feel right now.

Perhaps this is so significant because buying a condo on a whim is so unlike me. Normally I take very safe, calculated risks...if at all. Maybe it was like me all along, I just never knew it until now.

How fitting to share this news on our nation's day of independence.

Happy 4th of July, everyone!! Here's to freedom!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"You'll just have to live with it."


I didn't expect to have this news so early on when I just signed my lease late last year.

I'm going to have to find a new place to live! 

It all started last month when my building shut the heat off for the year. It seemed the airflow change caused a lot of loose dust particles to kick up into the air. So much so, that my throat felt like it was closing up when I tried sleeping at night. 

It was coming from the radiators, so I vacuumed and wiped down its coils. Chunks of dust came out and there was black soot throughout its metal undersides. 

I've always had a hard time breathing in my apartment but just shrugged it off as me living in an old building. 

Some of my houseplants sitting on the radiator covers. 

The radiators are enclosed in a metal box...which is sealed shut. I had no way of cleaning them from the inside where a lot of dust and debris could still be seen remaining. 

I called my landlord and informed her of the situation. Long story short, she said nothing was wrong and that it'd be too expensive to have the radiators cleaned. 

"You'll just have to live with it," she told me. 

WTF!?! 

Then she said, "You sound really unhappy now. Just let me know because I can rent that unit within a week." 

At that point, I no longer felt comfortable and decided it's best to cut my losses and find someplace else. 

My lease is up in September anyway. 

It's just very disappointing and saddening to have to move so soon. 

A part of me feels like I failed. That I couldn't make my first time living on my own work. 

I'm also afraid I won't find something comparable for the price. I may have to lower my standard of living (not counting the breathing issue) if I want to live in the same area. 

In about two months, I'll have to pack up everything and start again. 

I pray to God come this September, I'm living someplace safe, affordable, and where I can enjoy myself in.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Two-weeks notice…almost!


The letter was carefully typed and phrased as professionally as possible. I thanked the crafts store for the opportunity but told them it was time for me to finally move on. 

It was my two-weeks notice!


When I got to work that morning, I didn't have the heart to give my resignation letter.

Our store manager of three years got transferred to another location last month. The replacement store manager is relatively new and the assistant store manager (whom I really enjoy working with) joined our team last year. 

I didn't want to leave them both hanging. The girl covering my position during the week is on medical leave until the summer. 

*sigh* 

I told the new store manager I intended to leave last year when I got the call center (university) job but ended up staying (something always seemed to come up). The new store manager understood and said he'd start looking for my replacement so that I could be "set free". 

While I'll be sad to leave my coworkers, it would be nice--no wonderful--to have my weekends completely free (I've worked just about every Sunday for almost six years). 

Come this July, I should be done with the arts-and-crafts store once and for all!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Finally!!!!!


Finally adv. After considerable delay; eventually; at last.

I went home to be with my family over the weekend for my birthday.

Look what was waiting for me when I returned back to my apartment...


A bouquet of flowers. From. A. Man.

Can I get a "finally!" up in here?

****F-I-N-A-L-L-Y!-!-!-!-!****

I have waited years for this (and this and this and this and this
and this and this and this and this and this and this and this).

This is the first time a man has gotten me flowers. Ever.

Love those masculine blues and gentle whites.

Flowers can turn your day around and make you feel special...and loved.

Finally a man that gets it.

Thank you for the beautiful bouquet, chapin.

Until we (finally) meet again.....

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Not worth celebrating.


This day always brings me down.

Another year older and still not where I want to be in life.

Growing up, I'd dream of drawing and painting and writing for a living. Being successful at it and traveling the world because of it.

I'm not even close to having that. At all.

I have to work all the time, I'm worn out every day, and more often than not, I'm unhappy.

So turning 37 today doesn't seem all that exciting to me.


I decided to go home to my family because I didn't want to be alone today.

My mom had gotten me a cake and even though I don't celebrate my birthdays, I see the importance of it to my family, so I fake a smile here and there and go with the flow. It'll be over soon enough.

One day I hope to have a life worth celebrating. 

Happy Birthday anyway, dear Dean.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Nominated!


I kept smiling the rest of the day when I found out the news. 

Last week, one of my student workers at the university I work for nominated me for supervisor of the year!! 


Here's an excerpt from her submission: 

"I began working with Dean in early September 2015 and felt a bit overwhelmed by all I needed to learn. I remember my first day in this position quite vividly for the fact that Dean went out of his way to make me feel comfortable and welcome.

He goes above and beyond in everything he does and I can honestly say Dean is dedicated to this institution. 

Even though he holds a higher position than his student workers, he never makes us feel as such. Throughout my time working with Dean, I have come to realize what a caring person he is. He takes leadership in planning events such as our annual potluck and ensures that everyone is included in these celebrations. 

It's due to these meaningful actions that Dean is the ideal candidate for the Supervisor of the Year award." 

Out of all the departments within the university, only 27 supervisors were chosen (me being one of them). 

Although I didn't win, it felt great to be nominated and represent my department. 

After (almost) five years of working there, I admit to feeling a bit disconnected and unappreciated at times. 

This welcome news has helped recharge my spirits and show me that I do have an impact at work, even if I don't always think so. 

So thank you for nominating me, Araceli! You ROCK!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Opening Night!


It all goes downhill from here. 

Drunkenness, debauchery, defeat--spreading across the North Side like a red and blue plague. 

Today is doomsday a.k.a. the home opener for the Chicago Cubs! 

I live about five blocks away from enemy territory (Wrigley Field). Originally from the South Side, I moved to Lakeview last fall. By that point though, the Cubs were losing the tail-end of the baseball season (naturally). 

Now I'll be experiencing all of it right from the start of the this year's season...and I'm not happy about it. 

I'll have to plan my errands and grocery trips and commutes around game days to avoid the DCF's (Drunk Cubs Fans) as best as possible. 


I walked over to Wrigley Field last night, taking pictures of its imposing stadium all aglow. 

Even though there were a couple of drunks being belligerent outside a bar right across the street (again, naturally), there was no denying the energy there. 

There's something exciting being so close to the action. It's going to be a very long and painful six months for me but I look forward to watching the Cubs lose practically from my doorstep. 

:)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A year on the phones.


It doesn't feel like twelve months have gone by. Time really flew!

Today marks my one-year anniversary working at the university call center!

Perhaps it's because I had such a long training period that it doesn't seem like a full year. And maybe it's just the repetitive nature of the job itself.

I've never talked about this particular part-time position all that much. Answering phone calls everyday about the same things and working with the same group of people. There's really not much to tell.

But the job itself is relatively relaxed, not too difficult, and my coworkers and I get along well.

The most notable part of working in the call center is that I have my first ever cubicle!

I remember when I first started, the lead agent told me I could decorate my space any way I wanted.

So on this milestone, I thought it'd be cute to show you my little home away from home.

As you can see, my cubicle is filled with color and plants and things that make me smile...









It may not be art-related but I'm still grateful to have this job and to be working for this department.

Happy Anniversary, University Call Center job!!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Keeping up!


It started out innocently enough.

An episode here. An episode there.

It annoyed me at first. What a staged show with stupid, vapid girls, I thought.

But after one evening of binge-watching almost an entire season, I was hooked. I was changed forever…in ways I can’t describe and probably don’t even understand.

And it’s all because of one famous family.

The Kardashians!


My family never had cable in the later years of me living at home. I missed out on many shows (like this one) that weren’t on regular TV. But now that I moved into my own place last fall, cable was included in the internet package.


I recently discovered Keeping up with the Kardashians and began watching the latest season first (since that’s what was being shown) but now they’ve been rerunning the first season as well so I’ve been watching it all from the beginning.

I’ve become obsessed. Addicted.

It’s a drug that won’t let me be, like cocaine…or rather, Kim-caine.

When Kim hurts, I hurt.

The more episodes I watch, the more I get sucked in, and the more questions I have.

Why did Kourtney have three children with Scott when he’s caused so much chaos in their lives?

Will Khloé ever get back with Lamar?

How does DASH stay in business when it never has a customer in its store? Ever.

Why are the girls always so mean to Kris?

This is what consumes my long workdays and my dateless nights.

I’ve even watched few of Kylie’s make-up tutorials on YouTube when I need a quick "K-fix".

And now there’s this little voice in my head that says, “You look gorge” when seeing someone fashionable and “Bible” when I’m telling the truth.

I don’t know what to do. I think I need rehab… I mean, K-hab!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

One day.


People need other people.

It's human nature to pair up and want to be with someone.

To ignore that truth is to deny a part of your heart.

The longing is there because something is missing.

So for all of those who have someone they love and are in love with, I envy you. You are truly blessed and I hope to have it for myself one day.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Asha's art.


I almost stepped on it while walking back to my place the other day.

Warped, wrinkled, and torn. It looked like a piece of trash.

Then I saw the color--and found this...

Notice the handprint at the top-right corner.

A toddler's artwork, brought to life with blue and purple fingerpaints. There's even a hint of glitter on it!

The other side (12" x 17").

It had been trampled on and God knows what else but I felt compelled to take it with me. To save it from the elements. To give it a home.

There's a child named Asha and their art now hangs on my wall.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Celebrate!!


This date always creeps up on me but I never forget it.

Today my Exploding Doughnut blog turns seven!

Visions on how to celebrate danced in my head.

Buy a designer doughnut or get a cake. A layered cake! (Chocolate of course).

But in the end I went and bought myself a ticket to see Beautiful, The Carole King Musical. So good!!!


What better way to celebrate this blog, all of your support, and the future than with a story about love, creativity, and finding your way in the world.

**Happy Birthday/Anniversary, Exploding Doughnut!!**

Friday, January 15, 2016

The end of an era.


Oh how I look forward to this. This time of year means breaking/keeping New Year's resolutions, embracing winter, and cats with mustaches.

Yes. Cats. With. Mustaches.

It's now become a tradition at the crafts store I work at to "decorate" the yearly cat calendar that hangs in my workspace.

Here's the best sharpie embellishments of 2015...

Growing it all out.

Work it, girl.

Beard.

Breezy.

Romance.

Lovely.

Pouty.

If only I could find a job that pays me to do this. So fun!!

Sadly though, by the time I went to "store-use" a cat calendar for the coming year, all the feline-themed ones were already sold.

I'm now using a Zen-inspired calendar with inspirational quotes on it. Can't draw mustaches on a quote. Sigh.

It's the end of an era. Perhaps a bit symbolic too as I planned on finally leaving the arts-and-crafts store once-and-for-all at the start of the new year.

So for 2016, the cats are spared!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

(You're) so far away.


This song and its lyrics accurately convey where my head...and heart are at right now.

*sigh*


"So far away
Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door
Doesn't help to know you're just time away.

Long ago I reached for you and there you stood
Holding you again could only do me good
How I wish I could
But you're so far away.

One more song about movin' along the highway
Can't say much of anything that's new
If I could only work this life out my way
I'd rather spend it being close to you.

But you're so far away
Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door
Doesn't help to know you're so far away.

Yeah, you're so far away.

Traveling around sure gets me down and lonely
Nothing else to do but close my mind
I sure hope the road don't come to own me
There's so many dreams I've yet to find.

But you're so far away
Doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door
And it doesn't help to know you're so far away.

Yeah, you're so far away.

Hey, you're so far away."

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Looking back.


It's the last day of the year.

You know what that means?

The annual year-in-review is here!

Every single post from 2015 has been carefully listed right for your viewing pleasure.

A perfect way to "catch-up" and for newbies to see what I was up to this year.

Let's go!

January:

(1-5-15) Tagging cats!
(1-10-15) Married Engagement.
(1-17-15) Shake-up at the university.
(1-22-15) Six!
(1-24-15) Mr. Gordon.

February:

(2-3-15) Shared Journal--the beginning.
(2-4-15) Wordless Wednesday - This week's blizzard!
(2-7-15) "Justin's heart" (Shared Journal - Page 6)
(2-14-15) Vacuuming on Valentine's Day.
(2-28-15) Love is out there.

March:

(3-22-15) Two becomes three...again.

April:

(4-19-15) Update!
(4-30-15) Surprise!!

May:

(5-3-15) Without me there.
(5-10-15) Mom.
(5-17-15) Dancing at the grocery store!
(5-24-15) Buying flowers for work.

June:

(6-6-15) Wearing Jesus.
(6-28-15) Yellow Quarter!

July:

(7-12-15) Getting it all out.
(7-19-15) The games men play.
(7-25-15) Something nice.

August:

(8-12-15) Changing the trajectory of my life.
(8-16-15) That yellow chair.
(8-24-15) Blue Dime!
(8-29-15) August 29th...

September:

(9-7-15) Someplace of my own.
(9-20-15) Four years already.
(9-21-15) Feather heart!

October:

(10-5-15) One month down!
(10-12-15) One man's trash...
(10-19-15) Flower wreath!

November:

(11-5-15) "Blood Butterflies" - W.I.P. Step 3 - Completion!
(11-10-15) Both sides now.
(11-18-15) For my place.
(11-26-15) In my bed.

December:

(12-14-15) The day after.
(12-24-15) Kiss the moonlight.
(12-28-15) Orange Quarter!
(12-31-15) Looking back.

The big things that stood out for me this year were landing my second part-time university job, which in turn afforded me to rent my first-ever apartment.

I hope 2016 will bring as significant changes…for the better.

Happy New Year, everyone!!

Thank YOU for joining me on this journey.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Orange Quarter!


Another one!

While doing the deposit at the crafts store, I came across yet another painted quarter. This time a deep pumpkin orange.


You'll recall I found a yellow quarter and then a blue dime afterwards.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It is a crafts store after all, so that's bound to attract artsy/crafty customers...who obviously have a thing for decorating money.

What color will I find next? Time will tell!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Kiss the moonlight.


The moon locked eyes with mine. Its light called to me the way lovers do. The blackness of the water glittered like a jewel.

How gorgeous.

After running errands this evening, I walked over to the lakefront to escape the commotion of the city (now that I live across the street from the lake).

The (almost) full moon hovered over the water...


These pictures do NOT do it justice!

In my entire neighborhood, I was the only there.

It reminds me that people's priorities are skewed. How sad that no one else cared about something so beautiful.

It also reminded me I had no one to share it with.

As the waves hit the shore in silky laps, I knew I could slip into the water and let the current take me under and no one would know. There's something so lovely about that.

I stayed there a good forty minutes but when the oncoming clouds devoured the moon, I headed back to my apartment.

Even though the moment was tinged with sadness, the beauty of the scene surpassed it. I thanked God as I left for I was truly blessed to kiss the moonlight.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The day after.


I called out his name this morning. There was no reply.

He flew back home last night and my apartment feels terribly empty.

Over three years in the making, it finally culminated into something tangible--something amazing--last week.

I miss him already. A lot.

But better to have had a taste of what could be than nothing at all. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

There must be a way to make it work (there must!) but neither of us knows how just yet. I do fear it may all dissolve into the ether but we'll see what happens.

In the meantime, I hope he remains in my life, and me in his heart.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

In my bed.


The last time I had a bed to sleep in was during my sophomore year of high school.

Ever since then I've slept on a couch, a sofa bed, and yes, on the floor at home. I'd never sleep well under those conditions, often waking up every few hours to change sides--at times getting bruised on my hips.

It's hard to imagine over half of my life sleeping that way but that's the way it was…until now.

I bought myself a queen size bed!

It was delivered to my new apartment over the weekend.

It's one of the things I always longed for when I was finally on my own.

I slept in my bed for the first time the night it was delivered. It felt luxurious and comfortable and dare I say, sensual.


I bought plush pillows and expensive bedsheets. It almost felt too extravagant and I had the notion of sleeping on the floor again.

But as I sunk into the softness, I told myself I was worth it and deserved this bed!

So on this day of giving thanks, I'm grateful to finally have a bed to sleep in. For that I'm truly blessed. May all of you be as blessed as well.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!