The Five-Year Plan

I’ll never forget something an old friend said nearly four years ago while we were studying abroad in Costa Rica (has it really been that long?!). We were in Tortuguero, this lovely little town on the Caribbean coast. In fact, the “hotel” we stayed at was so isolated, we had to take little boats to get there and at night on the beach everything would look nearly pitch black because there was just NOTHING else around. Except for the massive sea turtles that would come in from the ocean to lay their eggs. But that’s another story.

Shortly after witnessing said spectacle of turtle nesting, a couple of friends and I were lounging on the beach, sitting on logs, drinking, and enjoying the night. I still remember the moon shining so brightly, you didn’t need lights or electricity around to make you feel alive. Those were the days before smartphones too, and none of us had brought any such devices to the beach that night. That’s when someone said, “Hey guys…so, like, what’s your five-year plan?”

We all stared at him in amusement. Five years? As in…the next five years? (Remember that we were broke college students spending a semester in a completely foreign country, with no desire to even look past the next five months!) “Uh, well, I’m already almost done with my five-year plan,” said one girl, who was in her fifth and final year at the university.

“Do you mean like, for life?” I said (or maybe someone else did).

“Yeah. Like, last summer before this I worked at this one hospital and they said when I come back if I want to work for them again I like, totally can,” he said. “Might go start with them after graduation.”

I remember feeling aghast at this statement. Jobs after school? I mean, yeah we go into college with the full intentions of obtaining such jobs, but who was thinking about things like that when salsa dancing was to be had, and yummy rice and beans to be eaten, and NESTING SEA TURTLES TO WATCH AND PLAY WITH. I certainly wasn’t.

But ever since then I always think of that one friend with the five-year plan whenever I have to think about my own. Does anyone else ever find five-year life plans to be useless, pointless maybe? I love them and I hate them. They always seem to change on me every single year, making the subsequent planned five years invalid and having to make room for a different set of plans. Hell, at this rate they’re changing every five months.

Before this month I had formulated a solid plan: I was going to rethink all my finances and get my money savings habits in order. I was done traveling—after all, I’d just been to Germany, France, Morocco, Spain, England, and wherever else before. I had hit off the major places on my bucket list, so there was no need to be hasty and jet off somewhere I have no intense, burning desire to go to. I was going to get back to this blogging/website business again, and build things up so they can get going properly once more. I was trying to be more active—this year I started rock climbing again and doing all sorts of exercises that the boyfriend (old manfriend? ex-person? I’ve no words to label him at the moment) had taught me. I had all these bloody plans in mind.

Sadly, admittedly, I feel they’ve all gone out the window once I got dumped. I hate to be one of those girls, one of those sappy depressing girls, but I have to admit that I feel a little thrown off. While my five-year plan certainly did not involve marriage or kids or any of those freaky grown-up things that many people on my Facebook feed appear to be engaging in a lot lately, it did kind of hinge on the idea that he would be a steady presence in my life and for that I wanted to say home, here in Chicago. And now that he no longer is such a steady presence in my life, I all of a sudden feel ungrounded, loose, and without true ambition. I honestly have no idea what to work toward right now. Nothing is coming out on top, telling me to “FOLLOW THIS PATH!!”

Is this what they call that quarter-life crisis?

A letter to the one I thought ruined my life forever

(Note: This letter was written in a moment of pure catharsis yesterday that my friend encouraged me to write in order to finally obtain closure over this one stupid boy that I’m sure I’ve mentioned countless times on this blog. I think it worked. Maybe one of you will take more away from it that I can. Oh, and I’m too lazy to change names, locations, etc., so there is a frighteningly realistic chance that the one to whom this letter is addressed may one day come across it.)

So. Today is Valentine’s Day.

I remember bumping into you in the main stairwell at BHS on Valentine’s Day. That was six years ago. At the time, things had cooled off between us since that night at the park and I realized there was no way in hell my dad would let me date you, and we hadn’t really talked in a while. But we greeted each other. I remember wishing we were Valentines that day.

I remember bumping into you at a frat party Valentine’s Day weekend during our freshman year at U of I. That was five years ago. Things got steamy on that couch. Then somehow you got into a fight with one of my friends, and her cousin threatened to beat the shit out of you. I called you at 3 in the morning to see if you were OK and you said it wasn’t a big deal. But I was concerned. I cared. Thinking about it now, I should’ve stopped myself then. Stopped that caring before it ever started.

Read more…

Arise, Golden Gabby

My earliest memory of the Olympics was the 1996 Atlanta Games. I was 5 years old. Kerri Strug had just limped off after doing her second vault (back when it looked like a pommel horse!) and the U.S. women had just won gold for the very first time. All I remember thinking at the time was Ouch, that looks like it hurts.

When I started watching Olympic gymnastics, American women were in the conversation but not in the same fold as, say, Russia or Romania. And then in 2004 Carly Patterson won the individual all-around, the first American woman to win the gold on foreign soil, and in an Olympics that wasn’t boycotted. I was 13 and thought that was pretty rad. Four years later, Nastia Liukin won in Beijing. I was entering my sophomore year of college then. I thought her win was awesome.

Today Gabby Douglas won gold too, the third straight American woman to win an event that was previously out of reach to former U.S. Olympians. She’s the fourth American woman overall, and the first African American to do so. This time, I think it’s absolutely amazing. Watching her right now, on this tape-delayed broadcast, I feel so hearty and proud (have I mentioned this is the first Olympics where I’m feeling really really old, considering a good chunk of the competitors are younger than me and the same age as my baby brother’s?!). She’s also the first American to win both team and individual golds in the same Olympics.

Congrats Gabby!

Overwhelmed with this growing up thing

Sometimes I think I’m so ready to be an adult. Have a job, make money, and not be restrained back by school or homework or assignments. Then there are times, like today, where I want to crawl back to college because I had friends there and ruled the town and didn’t really care much about impressing my superiors or hoping that I really really don’t fuck up at my jobs. (For the most part. I mean, obviously I cared in school, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get my degree.)

I have worked nearly 47 hours in the past seven days in entirely new jobs. And in-between all that I managed to drive down to Champaign for a night and got crazy with the roommates (er, ex-roommates I should say, I guess). I even finished reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez, which I started over a year-and-a-half ago. I feel so grown up! I’m reading for fun, I’m being social, I’m working. Like an adult. But along with that I’m starting to fret over my student loans, paying credit card bills, and finding money for a revamped work wardrobe (that’s another thing…in college all I wore was sweats and t-shirts…or slutty club tops). I miss being innocent and naive about things. I miss having my friends within a 2-mile radius of me, instead of all over the world. Oh well.

On a less whiny note, the first day of my internship today went pretty well. It’s just always awkward being new anywhere, I guess. And seriously, it’s the story of my life and one of the reasons why I hate my birthday. My first day of high school was on my birthday (did I mention I went from a small private grade school to a large public high school where I knew about 0.2% of the population?). Hell, I spent my birthday last year in a foreign country where at the time I knew next to no one. And now I’ve started two brand new jobs where I’m the new kid who doesn’t know anything and is worried about making good impressions.

Ack, okay, okay. I’m going to stop whining and acting like my life is so terrible. Because it really isn’t. Actually, I’m quite content. I’m employed, my home life has been relatively calm this whole summer, and I go out to the city every weekend with friends I’ve managed to surround myself with again. You know that song “Good Life” by OneRepublic? It’s currently my song of the moment, because I’m definitely feeling the message: This could really be a good life.

And while I’m talking about music I’m currently listening to, I must talk about this song:

I freaking love Miguel. He just sounds so soulful and quirky at the same time. Plus in this song he talks about speaking Spanish but then “accidentally” sings in Portuguese instead. You can’t get any more awesome than that.

Hasta luego, Champaign…

Today’s my last day in Champaign. The next time I come here, it’ll be just for a visit and not for another semester. The feeling’s so surreal, and at the same time…not.

Yesterday two tornadoes blew through town. The sirens rang at around 7pm, the television was bleeping, and heavy rains and winds were beating down upon our little apartment. I even stupidly went outside to look at the skies, which sure enough were rotating and looked an eerie green. Scariest 20 minutes of my life. Luckily the tornadoes were somewhere far off campus. Great way to send me off, college.

It’s the fourth time in the past year that I’m packing up all my belongings and heading elsewhere. And this time, I’ll be going back home to the suburbs, where I haven’t “lived” since 2009. I have no friends left, no job. No car either. What I will be doing come June 18 (the day my family and I come back from the Philippines) is beyond me.

This good-bye is a little less epic and exciting than my last few days in Champaign last summer before studying abroad. There seems to be a scant amount of people still on campus this week and last night I merely downed my drinks sorrowfully than the usual socializing with a good crowd. There’s so many things I never got to do, like explore the main stacks at the library or get a salad from Za’s one more time (doesn’t help that it burnt down over spring break!). There’s so many final good-byes I never got to make.

Last night when my roommate and I returned home from the bars, I ended up a crying blubbering mess. I hate that my memories of college will be tainted because of a dumb boy and I hate that this dumb boy is still haunting me even though he doesn’t know it and probably doesn’t care.

And again, I’ll have to explain all this sometime soon…