True Confessions

True Confessions of a Chicago Girl's Homecoming

Fight it if you must, but here's a couple of the things that I've found to be unavoidable. 
Maybe it's just me?

1. You will visit your parents house in the burbs and you will hit traffic coming from O'Hare.
2. You will bump into people from high school who suddenly speak to you because you "work in fashion" now. Um hi?
3. You will find your local Target not up to speed with the Super Target you frequent in the new city you live in.
4. You will wear supersize sunglasses on Wacker Dr. just to see if someone mistakes you for a celebrity. Futile but fun.
5. You will walk into a bar and see several of your ex boyfriends. They will look the same way you left them.
6. You will decide karaoke is a great idea on a Wednesday night after dabbling in sangria.
7. You will debate running for Mayor for a solid 48 hours. I mean-- who'd be the competition?
8. You friends will ask you if certain blog posts are about this person or that one.
9. You will deny all of #8's accusations.
10. You will revel in the joy of NOT having to use GPS everywhere you go. You know the backroads for a change.
11. You will go to brunch and be oddly insulted that here it only lasts an hour. Brunch is all day affair.
12. You get tired of explaining what exactly you do for a living so you just start making stuff up. Commercial airline pilot? Sure. Future Mayor? Please read #7.
13. You'll wish you could take Lake Shore Drive home with you. Best running path around.
14. You will get told that there's a two hour wait at your favorite restaurant until--oh wait--your ex boyfriend is the manager? Make that two minutes.
15. You'll make a tiny schedule so you can see all the people you love. Some people you see may even surprise you.
16. You will just show up at your best friend's house when she doesn't answer your texts in a timely manner. Now she has to decide on a coffee date time.
17. You will regale the town of Chicago with tales of your early twenties. They won't listen but you and your friends will fancy yourselves legends in your own right.
18. You will yell "Go Pack Go" to every yellow and green comrade you find on the streets.
19. This will embarrass all your friends who cheer for the Bears. Which is everyone you know.
20. You will wear your pink Rodgers Jersey to Sunday's game and repeat #18.

Go Pack Go. It's good to be home.




Let it Byrne

"Jesus Christ! Do you even know when Christ comes?!"

Welcome to my family.

When people ask me why I am how I am-- cool and calm one minute and then full of fiery passion the next-- I point to the city of Manhattan. I was raised by an irish clan of dysfunction, excess, perseverance, and unconditional love. I was raised by New Yorkers. For better or worse, I am the direct descendant of a legacy that began long ago in a high rise on a tiny island. It is funny how a stroll down memory lane can give you a new perspective on the future.

Walking down city sidewalks the morning of Christmas Eve, my father began to show me the intricacies of the buildings he built with his hands, the beautiful marriage of construction and architecture. His skyscrapers are my new line of sunglasses. For the first time, I looked at his passion with genuine curiosity instead of the rolling of my green eyes.  For the first time I saw the great strides a couple of siblings took from the projects of Manhattan. You don't get to where they are by being nice--you get there by a determination that burns blood. 

During dinner one of my uncles turned to me and said, "We have the best family in the world. Because of this..." he stated as he motioned to the twenty people surrounding the dinner table. 

"We keep it together, we stay grounded. And once a year we don't make excuses. We come together."

That hit something in me that I locked up a while ago. I looked around the table to the people who have helped raise me. And I say people, because when you're irish the people who raise you are not excluded to just the parents. When you're irish you're raised by a community, a small town that can't be found on a map. You're raised by uncles, aunts, best friends, older cousins, and of course the wisest of Grandparents. You're raised by a proud history that you won't find in any book. You're raised off of a family crest and what your last name stands for. 

In a world and a season where material objects become so sought after, it was refreshing to drink a glass of humility this Christmas. God knows I need it once in a while. On Christmas Eve, as I held my little cousin (who was delighted with my new nail polish), I realized I had graduated to the teaching generation who would help raise the future generations in my family. You come to realize that you're part of a new community--you're no longer at the kids table. You've been invited to the adult room, and if there's a spot, you might even be offered a seat. 

No family is perfect. But if once a year you make no excuses and you come together-- you'll be surprised what you'll learn about yourself sitting around the table. Because when the room is full of laughter, shouting, and celebratory toasts, this girl knows she's finally home. Who knew that after a year of traveling the world, the thing I was looking for could be found at the corner of 3rd Ave & 64th St.

Merry Christmas friends.




My December Diary

The holidays come with a list of questions you'd rather not answer. Your family and friends mean well, but without a doubt these have been a few of my former favorites...

"So have you finally gotten a real job?"
"So, he still didn't propose...." 
"So, you live at home still?"
"So, you stopped going to the gym?

Or you're at Target and the sales associate asks you where your boyfriend is so he can help you carry your new tree to the cashier. Sorry Sean, but you see this red shopping cart here? This is my boyfriend. I'm wearing Under Armor sneakers here buddy--a woman on a mission.

Full disclosure, I was tempted to grab the closest male to me, smile and say, "Oh honey can you grab this?" in a ridiculous effort to avoid the judgmental look I got from Sean. My reply of naming my shopping cart as my significant other didn't sit well with him as he went on to ask,

"You gonna kiss that under the mistletoe?"

I'm sorry are you a Target employee or a life coach? I need a pre lit Christmas tree not a life lesson. Needless to say I booked it out of there after my jaw dropped to the floor. But of course, Sean's words were set in my mind. The holidays are, after all, a time for love to be celebrated. But what happens when that love is on a shelf for a later date? Or the love you had has faded? Or you don't really know what's going on, but you're getting by day by day? This is my first Christmas as a single woman in seven years and I don't have the answers to these questions. I thought I did. I once fancied myself to be wise. And yet this year I'm looking up to the big guy with a smile, "Touche God. Touche." He sure knows how to ground me.

When my friends and I were young girls, I was constantly voted most likely to be the first to get engaged. It helped that I also dated men for what seemed like eons. I was a serial monogamous dater. My first dates always turned into four years. Or at least that's what my friends will tell you.

Having a breakup, or "going on a break" is interesting for lack of a better word. Having a breakup, dealing with judgey Target employees, and feeling like you fucked up your life plan? Even more interesting.

My favorite is when people just come out and say,

"Oh so your relationship isn't on Facebook anymore...why is that? Sorry just happened to notice."

Oh did you? Because when you say that I hear,

"So I heard a rumor about you guys breaking up, stalked your Facebook and 
came up with nothing. Care to share?"

This usually gives me a good laugh because I'm a blogger. I'm the one person that if I cared to share, I assure you, I would. If I thought you had a right to know, you would have been the first phone call. And yet you weren't. So doesn't that say something without coming out and stating the obvious?

It's none (and by none I mean a grand total of ZERO) of your business. Same goes for you Sean.

I love the people I love and for me that is enough. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise this holiday season. Don't let anyone (not even the Seans of the world) make you feel less important because you aren't in love, engaged, or in a relationship. Because come NYE if you're laughing with your friends and spilling champagne all over your dress...you're right where you should be. You're with the people who love you no matter what, and that's what matters this holiday season. Celebrating the love you were given.

We need to stop applying childish timelines to our adult lives. I promise you, it will never match up. What we need is to push our shopping carts proudly to the check out aisle. Pre-lit trees and all. If we need to get a little creative getting it up the stairs to our walkup apartment- so be it. Because I'm working with the life and the love I was given, not the one out of a fairytale. 

I share tidbits of my life because I believe there is someone out there feeling the same way, but afraid to give mere thoughts a platform. This is why I blog. I blog to say, hey--me too. 

You're not alone. And you're going to be just fine.

Let's celebrate December.




Flipped: A Six Month Update

"...just know you're not alone, 
cause I'm gonna make this place your home..."

Six months ago I packed my bags and moved to a new part of the country. I didn't know anyone where I was going (for the most part) and I had taken a new job with an even newer company. Writing this I'm like wow this sounds horrifying. And yet....It has been the best decision I've ever made.

Of course I've had nights where I cried for the comforts of an old friend, familiar roads, and the beautiful little town that raised me. But moving away from the unknown, especially when you're a twenty-something, is something I would tell everyone to try. I know home is warm and snug--but there's a whole world out there just waiting for you. 

Moving to my new city has made me grow in ways I didn't even know needed a growth spurt. But they did. I did. My life now is a complete flip from what it was six months ago. And that's ok. When we resist change (for better or worse) we're refusing to turn to the next page. So how can we ever read the next chapter? 

Six months ago I didn't know the value in having new friends around my table, how to bake, or the patience required when building new furniture. It takes awhile for a place to become a home, which can be hard. I'm someone who wants to walk in the room already having friends, or at least I was six months ago. I've never minded making new friends, but it requires a lot of work. When I first moved here I'd joke with my Chicago friends that I was going on more friend "first dates" than I ever have in my life. But let me tell you--these days I'm a first date champ. The hard work eventually pays off.

This new adventure has inspired me to keep up my newness momentum. In October I made a promise to myself. From now till I'm merely words on a page, I'm going to travel somewhere I've never been before. I'm going to keep on exploring, learning and growing. In the words of Miley, I simple can't stop nor won't stop.

Friends ask me all the time when I'll move back home and I say, "What's the rush?" 

This life is not about having the same people to dinner every night. It's about learning a new someone's story and sharing your own. Even better...it's about creating your own. What stories will you have to tell the next generation? What wisdom? I have become a firm advocate in nights with only the radio on, good food, and plenty of laughter. This is the chapter of my life where I'm on an endless adventure, making new friends and forging new paths along the way. 

A good friend asked me this past week, "How do you stay so motivated and upbeat all the time?"

I almost replied with, "Well I'm a really good actress. Surprise!" But his question got me thinking. What keeps me going? What's made me stay in a new place and not pack up my bags for home? Then, out of nowhere--I found it. 

"I try not to give myself any other option."

And this is no solo effort. I'm as good as the people I surround myself with. Their inspiration sparks mine and together we push one another along. Being a twenty-something in a new city is not easy. But being a twenty-something with great friends in a new place? Well that's pretty damn manageable.

So as the new year approaches us, think about your greatest moments of the one that just passed. What was your favorite day? Who did you love? When did you suddenly see an adult in the mirror looking back at you? Where did you go? Where did you not go, forget to say, or pushed off doing? Because it's about to be a brand new year. And if you ask me, I say go and do it all. 
Don't give yourself any other option.




24 Beliefs

I was asked the other day what I believed in these days. Although I am not a devoted religious person, I welcomed the question. And so, during a long walk down Lakeshore Drive I began to think about what I have come to truly value in my few years on earth. What made my heart glow? What made me genuinely smile? What have I learned, most likely the hard way? Well here's what I've found.

1. I believe in dinner parties. 
2. I believe in candles at the dinner table and meals full of little plates for tasting and sharing. 
3. I believe in lights that flicker because those have always resonated with me. 
4. I believe the best conversations happen during car rides or walks, preferably on Lakeshore Drive.  
5. I believe in finding the quiet moments when it's me, a notebook, and some strong espresso. 
6. I believe in waking up with the sun... see #5.
7. I believe that if I can't feel the music then it isn't loud enough. 
8. I believe in the colors tiffany blue and silver because it reminds me that the clouds that darken a blue sky can offer a silver lining.
9. I believe in running in the rain after a night of drinking. You'd be surprised how often this happens. Apparently I only drink when it's about to storm.
10. I believe in offering to pay. We all work hard for our money. Being entitled because you feel it's old fashion is just that....old fashioned. It's 2013.
11. I believe in looking at the person you're talking to. I love looking into the eyes of friends, both new and old. That's where our narratives are--where the true text is.
12. I believe in calling people. Texting is great but there's no mistaking someone's tone when you listen rather than read.
13. I believe in throwing your front door open. Unplanned nights where you meet the dawn because you couldn't stop sharing your story or listening to theirs is why we're here. 
14. I believe that if you're a writer, you should read the works of writers who are better than you. Don't have time? See #6.
15. I believe in marathons, triathlons, and pushing the limits on the mind. Anyone who has accomplished these feats will be the first to tell you, it's an obstacle of mental state, not physical health.
16. I believe in paying it forward. Or at least trying to. For a literal perspective see #10.
17. I believe that when I have something to say to you, I'm going to say it. For better or worse, I'm going to just say it. I may or may not use a hash-tag. #dealwithit
18. I believe in random texts that make me smile. These are my favorite. Keep 'em coming.
19. I believe in writing to music. I usually have my hair in a crazy state and pretend to be a linguistic Beethoven. Which leads to....
20. I believe in myself. I can and will get what I want out of life. All of us will. I don't believe in holding back. Games are for players--and I dislike both.
21. I believe in awkward moments where we are vulnerable. I have these multiples times a week. I like to think it builds character, or teaches me what not to do next time. Sometimes I take #17 very literal.
22. I believe in social media. Say what you want, but this platform is going to change the world. There are a TON of #20-ers that use this channel to their advantage.
23. I believe in brunch on Sundays with bottomless mimosas. I believe in staying there all day sharing stories and laughing with friends over the past week. This is where I reboot.
24. I believe in having a home. Everyone should have a place or a spot where the world stops. My spot is Wacker Dr. Some people go to church, temple, or whatever your fancy may be. When I want to feel my feet planted on the earth and feel like I belong...this is where you'll find me. On a bridge in the middle of a great city. Because lastly... I believe in building bridges.