Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Five years going on strong.


It's hard to believe it's been five years yet it does feel like a good chunk of time already. 

Today marks my fifth year working at the university night job! 

The students and staff continue to be so nice to me and my student workers have been a joy to work with...as always. 

And we organize the BEST potlucks here. There's always something to eat! 

It really does feel like a second home and my coworkers are like extended family. 

Even though the position has nothing to do with the arts, I'm honored and grateful to have it. 

Happy Anniversary, night-time university job!!

Me behind the front desk yesterday.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Red, Gold, and Green.


When I was in the process of looking for a condo and eventually buying one, my real estate agent helped me every step of the way.

His name is David and he ROCKS!!

David explained the home-buying process so it wasn't so overwhelming to me. He kept me on schedule, made sure every line was signed, and all documents were in place (and sooooo much more).

It was such an exhausting and at times stressful past two months. I truly couldn't have done it without his help and know-how.

To show my appreciation, I gave David this painting the day my condo closed

"Red, Gold, and Green" - Acrylic on canvas - 18" x 24" (NFS)

The artwork was inspired by the classic Boy George song Karma Chameleon which has the line "Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dream--red, gold, and green--red, gold, and green."


I like the restrictive nature of just using those three colors. It kept things simple.

::: Close-up detail :::

Texture medium was mixed into the paint and then applied straight onto the canvas.

::: Close-up detail :::

This is the only painting I've done all year. It felt so freeing creating it. Hopefully I can do more down the road (time permitting). For now, I'm just glad I was able to give this as a gift.

Enjoy the art, David! Thank you again for everything!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

One last time...


As I type this, I'm currently sitting in my studio apartment...one last time.

Even though I successfully moved into my new condo over the weekend, my apartment's lease isn't up until tomorrow. I spent the last several days cleaning and wiping down the unit and moving any remaining items.

Now it's just a plain, empty space. Just like when I got here a year ago. I guess I really did make it my own during that time, with all my plants and things.

Even though I had the terrible dust issue to deal with, I will miss this place. It kept me safe and was somewhere I could come home to after long workdays. And the view was just lovely (though the new place has a lovely view too!).

I'm grateful and thankful to have had it but am looking forward to growing into my new place (I fall in love with it more and more each day).

In honor of my one-year anniversary, here's some pics of my quaint but cozy studio I lived in for the past twelve months!

The main living room space.

I snuck plants into EVERY corner I could.

I sat at this table every day.

Interior of my retro kitchen cabinets (notice the turquoise metal).

 Wonder Woman always watched out for me!

Bathroom shot!

My small little hallway area leading into the main living space.

I'm going to miss the views from my window. A lot.

Did I mention my amazing view?

At least I'll have the memories to look back on.

The great news is my new place is colorful and interesting and better than what I had. Everything happens for a reason.

So...onto bigger and better things!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Not going anywhere!


I must be crazy. There's no other explanation.

I gave my two-weeks notice to the art-and-crafts store several months back, then said I'd stay for a couple months beyond that, and just recently I asked for an extension.

Even though my position has been filled, the store manger asked if I'd like to keep working just on Sundays doing the same tasks as usual.

Doesn't that defeat the whole point of me leaving though?

"Maybe you want this to be the next chapter in your life," the store manager debated, "and you want to be set free."

That sounds wonderful!!! I thought.

But I could tell he didn't want to lose me and that things would be a whole lot easier for him if I were there on the weekends to do the deposit, process rtv's (return to vendor), and finalize payroll.

He also kept my original pay rate intact, even though technically I was demoted (by giving up the position).

All that to keep me around. How could I say anything but yes?

And with my newly purchased condoit just seemed wise to retain that extra bit of income a little while longer, until I get a sense of my new monthly expenses.

At least it'll be easy to leave at any time now that my replacements are there. It'd just be a matter of one of them absorbing that Sunday shift when I'm finally gone.

Why do I keep staying? Maybe because it's familiar to me and I've known my coworkers it seems like forever. That or the glitter keeps luring me back.


Today marks six years of me working at the crafts store and for the first time EVER, I actually feel good about that.

Happy Anniversary, arts-and-crafts store!!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Property Owner!!


After two months of signing, initialing, submitting payments, scanning financial records, and everything else I had to do, the time has finally arrived.

Today's the day my condo closes!

I dropped off the down payment and claimed my keys this morning.

I'm officially a property owner!!


My new keys!

What a journey. There were literally two or three steps I had to take every week for the past several weeks. A very exhausting, overwhelming, and frustrating process--but totally worth it in the end.

Thankfully my real estate agent was there every step of the way. His referrals (attorney, lender, insurance agent) helped me as well. They became part of my team, instructing me what to do week after week. I truly couldn't have done it without them.

Thanks to them, my monthly expenses will now go towards something I'll eventually own outright instead of paying a landlord.

A place I can be proud of and enjoy for years to come.

I feel very accomplished and excited and powerful in this moment.

Go, Dean, go!!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Lost love.


It's been over four weeks since we last spoke yet it feels like an eternity.

He flew out to Chicago for a surprise visit back in June but after that he told me he didn't want to pursue a long-distance relationship anymore. That it had become too painful to see each other, only to be separated afterwards.

I think he was being realistic. With him being from a Latin country, his chances of relocating here were next to none. I guess I was the hopeful one. I thought we'd find a way down the road.

Maybe I was naïve in thinking love would've been enough--that I would've been enough--to keep him around. Because if I were truly someone special, he wouldn't want to let me go. 

In any case, I have to give him the space and time he asked for. 

We ended things on a very caring and loving note and I'm certain we'll always be in each other's lives in some form or another. 

For now--to help me cope--I try to pretend the last several months were just a dream. 

Here's a piece of Mail Art I made for him just after his last visit. He has a very strong connection to nature and plants (like myself). Dried leaves from my collection were the inspiration for this piece.

Leaves on backing board - 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" (Assumed LOST) 

The address side (lined with origami paper)

Close-up glitter shot! 

He seemed to be having a hard time back home and I wanted to show my support overseas and send him some love. Literally. 

Last I heard, the Mail Art never arrived. Fitting, I think, and perhaps for the best. 

Some things just aren't meant to be. 

*sigh*

Thank you for everything, chapin. It was nice being loved...even if for a little while.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Two-weeks notice almost...extended!!


Today should have been my last day at the arts-and-crafts store.

But. It's. Not.

I'm in the process of buying my first-ever condo and the mortgage lender said NOT to alter my employment status during this approval time (even though I only work there on Sundays) until after closing...which is the end of next month.

*sigh*

Thankfully the store manager agreed to let me continue working for the next four weeks even though my replacement already took over the position. The store manager said I stayed and helped out far longer than I planned and he wanted to "do right by me".

So the last Sunday in August should be my new last day!

*fingers crossed*

In the meantime, here's a song currently playing at the store:

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!!**