Tag Archives: north carolina

One Year & Counting

Almost a year ago, I packed up my apartment, shared bittersweet goodbyes with friends and colleagues, and moved back to North Carolina.

A four-year relationship with a city I loved quickly became part of my past. I was relieved to move forward, but I was anxious to move towards whatever those next steps would reveal.

Without a job at the time or an idea of when I’d be able to get settled on my own, I threw up my hands to the uncertainty that wrapped around me. Everything that had become familiar was swept from under me. Cary, NC, may have been my hometown, but I found myself feeling a bit lost, trying to find my footing again. Trying to rediscover a home for myself.

Life is graceful, patient, and understanding. I frequently forget all of those things. I forget how forgiving life can be and how it moves at a pace outside of us yet utterly integral to each of us. It moves us, shakes us, and wakes us up when it’s ready–not when we think we are.

When I think back to where I was then and where I am now–the difference is startling. My life has such a different pace and my lifestyle feels so, so different from the one I had in Chicago, but everything evolved in its own time, and I am happy with where I am, happy to finally feel settled. The change is good, natural; I’ve managed to create a life for myself that I couldn’t have imagined yet feel thankful for every single day.

This is my last week at Fuqua, Duke’s School of Business. Although my RA position was set to wrap up at the end of September, I got an excellent job offer and jumped on the opportunity to finally start my publishing career. As of August, I will be an Editorial Associate at Duke University Press. For so many reasons, I am very thrilled about the position and, on some days, I can’t believe I’ll finally be doing the kind of work at the kind of company I’ve wanted to work for; it seems like such a rare thing these days.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been at Duke for ten months already, but I’m ready for the change. And emotionally, I’ve been anxious about getting to this week because I know it’s the end of one big thing and the beginning of another. Anyone that knows me knows that my job has never defined who I am, nor have I wanted it to. However, over the past year, I have had a growing desire to be doing work that excites me and motivates me more. There needs to be more than just a paycheck that keeps you in the game. And I’m so ready for August.

The new job will also be a considerable change in my routine and a change for Theo and me. It’ll take a while for us to feel comfortable and set in our ways with my new schedule, but we’re ready–I’m ready.

I don’t feel like I’ve necessarily arrived, but I’m writing to say that I’m proud of how far I’ve been able to come in a year. And I’m lucky to have so many wonderful people who have supported me over the months and several other extraordinary people that I’ve also met in that time.

I haven’t been updating this blog as much as I’d like, and with the looming transition ahead of me, I’ve decided to end “Four and a Half and Counting.”

My blog had a modest run for over a year and a half; it’s time. And it’s only natural that the end of one thing marks the beginning of something else. With August right around the corner, I’m ready to wrap up loose ties and prepare for a new chapter. Ready myself to start something else, start something new.

Clean slate, open heart. Renewed perspective.

“Four and a Half and Counting” was an excellent way to chronicle my thoughts and anxieties about graduation, job hunting, and the big what-ifs that followed. Now, however, I need a new voice. And although I haven’t quite figured out what that voice will be, I know it won’t be this one.

I’m in the process of working on a new project (ASK THEO CASANOVA) as well as starting a photo blog, so those are a couple things to look forward to from this corner of the world.

For anyone who has kept up with my entries since last year–thank you so much! And to my friends and family, please know that I wouldn’t be doing so well today if it wasn’t for all the encouragement, criticism, and love that I’ve received from you. You challenge me and push me and help me grow in ways you don’t even realize. And that kind of friendship and support is incredibly priceless.

“Life is too short to be little.”  -Benjamin Disraeli

Make the most of it, my friends. Stay well. And thank you for reading :)



“the camera just rolls”

On a daily basis, I make excuses for why I didn’t have enough time to finish that project, didn’t find the time to help with that thing, can’t remember the last time I went to that place or visited that person–we all do this.

We over-think, or rather, over-burden ourselves with feelings of obligation and criticism, whether the sentiments emerge from our own psyche or are influenced by other people in our lives.

I was inspired by a site that I came across yesterday called oneword.com. In the help section, founder Brian Kessler states the following:

oneword™ is a simple writing exercise.

it is not about learning new words.
nor is it about defining words. [….]

the real purpose of this exercise is to alleviate
our natural tendency to edit everything—and learn
to flow.

an analogy would be a film camera:
when a film is shot, the camera just rolls and captures
everything—good and bad. [….]

the camera operator doesn’t keep stopping the camera and
rewinding and editing on-the-fly—the camera just rolls.
if it were to stop, some of the best performances
and spontaneous moments might be missed.

be the camera. well, that’s a stupid saying, but
you get the idea. in writing—just flow. go back later
and edit.

I tried the one-minute exrcise, and prompted by the word propel, here’s what I wrote:

Propel // April 2010

In an effort to “be the camera,” here’s my ten-months-out-of-college update. Things are still going well with my job, and my position has been extended, so I will be at Duke through the end of September. I am in the midst of looking for new job openings in the area since I want to have another full-time position lined up for the fall. I’ve recently come to the realization that–ideally–a job that involves some creative component would be particularly fulfilling and meaningful for me. How that creativity actually transpires within an organization or company is still up in the air, but it is something I value more now than before.

In regards to work these days, I am about to get into more of the interview-based research for our NSF project, so it’ll be a nice change of pace to conduct interviews versus continually collect and analyze data through trial and error. At least, I know I’m likely to enjoy it a bit more.

At the beginning of February, I welcomed home an amazing cairn terrier puppy, who traveled to North Carolina all the way from a breeder in Missouri!

Fun Fact: Toto from The Wizard of Oz was a cairn terrier.

Theo (short for Theodore) is the sweetest, handsomest, and smartest dog ever–though I am a smidge biased. He has been an incredible addition to my life, and although puppy motherhood has completed revamped my lifestyle and routine, I have never looked back. Theo was only about 11 weeks and 3.5 lbs when he got here, and he will be five months old next week. He hasn’t been to the vet for a little while, so I’m not sure about his “official” weight, but he’s probably somewhere around 7+ lbs now. He’s a small guy, but he has a HUGE personality, and everyone in my life has fallen in love with him :)

Theo @ the Park // March 2010

I traveled to Washington, D.C. the other week for a work meeting as well as to attend the National Association for Ethnic Studies (NAES) Annual Conference. I presented my undergraduate thesis research on a panel at the conference, which was a very exciting opportunity. Even though I work in academia, it is easy to forget how it feels to invest in your own research (since my current job delves into a completely different discipline). My research topic was very well-received, and it was really rewarding to attend my first official academic conference–and be a presenter in the program! I attended some really interesting talks, had remarkably helpful conversations with fellow attendees, grad students, and faculty members, and met a lot of great, new contacts.

All in all, the trip was a success, and I had a(n almost unexpectedly) wonderful time enjoying D.C. on my own. Between Dupont Circle and L’Enfant Plaza, I finally had a proper chance to experience more of the city, including the nightlife–I was even able to meet up with a few friends and relatives who live in the area. My past trips have been very touristy or were clouded by the memorable yet en masse congestion of the inauguration. This time around, however, I got a much better feel for the character and vibe of Washington, D.C.–and it is definitely still on the top of my “places I’d like to live in 2-3 years” list.

In the spirit of making April my big traveling month, I am flying out to Chicago later this week for work and vacation. I haven’t been back up there since I moved in August, so I am really looking forward to catching up with friends and seeing them after all these months; it has proven to be difficult to stay in touch with everybody that I used to see on a regular basis, but it’s trips like these that give us an opportunity to reconnect. After visiting D.C., I was vividly reminded of how much I love and miss the pace and energy of city life. That said, I can’t wait to be standing back on the streets of Downtown Chicago, taking in the charm of a place I fell in love with many years ago–and still adore.

I am acutely aware of the fact that I self-edit more than I should (it’s probably the reason why time never seems to be on my side when it comes to my writing). While I value my self-revisionist approach at points, coming across Kessler’s website did remind me that sometimes we have to stop making excuses, stop revising, editing, thinking, or reworking–and just allow it to flow, let it roll.

I really should be over this by now, but I can’t believe it’s been so many months since I graduated and moved back to North Carolina. And I can’t believe we’re pretty much on the cusp of summer. Soon it’ll be May, but maybe—

Sometimes we have to accept the time that’s passed and just let it be, let it roll.

Never Out of Season

Kure Beach, NC // Sept 2009

What I’m Learning About Patience, (In)Decision, and Home Cooking

It appears I’ve been on a slight hiatus.

To be honest, time moves very strangely these days. Things are fairly uneventful, yet everything moves so quickly. I sometimes feel as if I just packed up my apartment on Maple Avenue and said my final goodbyes to Evanston; it has already been about five weeks now.

The adjustment to living in North Carolina—and living back at home with my parents—has proven to be a stressful process. I knew that leaving Chicago would be a bittersweet change, but I didn’t anticipate all of the new challenges that would appear. As days turned into weeks, I found myself grappling with new stresses about “being a college grad living at home with her parents,” adjusting to my “new” environment, struggling to establish some sense of routine (I have yet to feel settled in that aspect…), and acknowledging the shift in my social circles. I have been fortunate enough to spend time with a few of my friends in the area, but I certainly have days where I miss the friendship and company I had up in Evanston.

Nevertheless, I should have known that this period of my life would have its share of ups and downs. Just as college is a time for us to explore who we are, I have come to realize that the time after graduation is similarly significant for us—we are pushed out into the world to test our comforts, priorities, and perceptions of ourselves and others.

Let me confess three things: I have been terrible about regularly communicating with friends back in Chicago. I watch far too much television these days. And for the first time in about six years, I have no form of income.

I didn’t say I was proud of any of these things, but they’re all true.

On a daily basis, I remind myself that this is all just a transition. Soon enough, I’ll have a job, and yes, a salary—both of which will allow me to get an apartment, to redeem the independence and sense of selfhood that were somewhat diminished when I moved back into the bedroom that nurtured me from elementary to high school. I am not that same person and the visceral interaction of being back in that room often dampens the parts of me that I have come to adore and cherish over these transformative few years.

That said, it’s been difficult to live at home, but I know it is a necessary step. And yes, things are in flux because they need to be right now, and while a part of me is dissatisfied, I am also content; content that I have a supportive family, friends to reconnect with, and many other invaluable support systems, all of whom I’d be quite lost without.


Remember how I told you being out of college has its similarities to life during college? Well, I still stand by that point; however, the biggest difference seems to be a matter of time. And I quickly realized that out of anything these days, my patience is always being tested.

In college, things seemed to always be happening. Today? Things seem slow, uneventful. I want things to move at a quicker pace than they do, and as a result, I experience a lot of disappointment or dissatisfaction. I have to (constantly) remind myself to be patient. Things are unfolding. Perhaps not at the speed I’d like them to but they are. They’re moving, shifting, changing. Whether I’m trying to be patient about my job search, my friendships, or my living situation, I’m realizing that I can’t let unmet expectations get the best of me. I wasn’t going to get my dream job and live a life of extravagance, but I will do great things and make a small name for myself; it’ll just take a little time. Give me time, and I will get there.


Graduation instills a sense of accomplishment, excitement, uncertainty, and bewilderment about the steps ahead. More so than four years ago, I am well-aware of what is important to me. Getting a job and having an apartment ranked near the top of my list. And as a new grad, it was easy to optimistically seek out these results. I mean, I am still optimistic, but graduation has come and gone. I have been out of college for over three months now. My “new” status as a grad has become worn and dated. Along with patience is a growing sense of tenacity. I have to keep looking ahead.

But what about those steadfast ideas about what I wanted to be doing? Where I wanted to be?

They still exist. However, I have come to accept that there are really just circumstances outside of my control that fundamentally effect this process. Jobs are a two-way street. You have to be qualified, someone has to value your qualifications, want to talk to you; someone else has to make the move.

I’m not living in my own apartment. I don’t wake up and go to work. And on some days, all of these things contribute to my lack of motivation. But I have to keep looking ahead. Be persistent, you know?

I have found that just as we are tested to reevaluate our priorities now, it is very easy for disappointment to diminish or deface our goals and priorities. That’s to say, as enthusiastic and determined as I was in June, my share of frustrations over these months have sometimes left me lackluster, unsure, and doubtful. Dissatisfaction creates indecision, and I sometimes forget how I got to North Carolina, what factors so strongly prompted my choice, and why I am here versus some other “there.”

Although things have not panned out in the way that I would have desired, I have learned to bend to the present. Bend to the situation at hand in the hopes that doing so will positively render a better future. I am not where I want to be, but give me time, and I will get there.

We can’t let our priorities waver due to the confusion or discontent of the moment.

Home Cooking.

I am in a period of transition. I live at home with my parents. I don’t have a job yet.

I graduated from an exceptional university. I have friends in Illinois, friends in North Carolina, and many others scattered in other great places. My family supports me, and home will always be home.

I don’t have it too bad.

Without classes or a job to occupy my time on a regular basis, I often sit around worrying or thinking about the state of things. Where I am, where I’m not, where I’d like to be. I guess when you’re so busy you rarely have the time to stop and think about everything. In that sense, then, I’m glad that I’ve been able to take time to reflect.

Despite everything I’ve mentioned to you, though, I know that I am very blessed and lucky. And I remind myself to be patient, keep my priorities in view, and enjoy the downtime I have at the moment. This is all a transition.

I don’t know how many other college grads are feeling the way that I do, but I suspect they are many of us; each wondering when we’ll get our break. Until then, we need to make the most of the moment because otherwise, we’ll fall into a trap of always living at home and never making a name for ourselves.

I don’t want to get too comfortable because I know that I’m not quite where I want to be. But until I get there, I will enjoy the free rent and the home cooking.

Definitely let me know how things are going in your corner of the world, and stay well, friends.

My Life at the Moment

Evanston, IL // August 2009

Evanston, IL // August 2009

After working out some logistical plans, I decided this week that I will actually be moving back to North Carolina at the end of NEXT week. My parents are driving up to Chicago, and all of my things will be packed up by Friday morning (August 14th), and we’ll then be on the road to head home. That said, this week has been hectic! Starting to pack, trying to sell furniture, and making time to see friends has made for an interesting few days. I’m also going out of town from Sunday through Tuesday to visit Parv in Wisconsin, so that doesn’t leave much time for all these preparations!

I’ll try and update you when I can, but given the last-minuteness of my plans, the next week will be busy. In fact, by this time next week I will be moved back home. What next? Continuing my job search around Raleigh/Durham, networking with contacts, and getting settled back in NC–and reconnecting with friends and family! Saying goodbye to Evanston, Chicago, and all my favorite people around here will be bittersweet, but I know this is a step towards something good, whatever that ends up being. Stay well, friends.

You Can’t Avoid Mondays

I just got in from a short walk around town. I had a few errands to run and a frozen bubble tea from Joy Yee’s seemed like the best accompaniment, so I walked a little out of the way to get one. On my walk back, I realized that I have a tendency to craft letters in my head. Or maybe just different writing projects? I play with the words in my mind, moving them around as if they were blocks on a table; in some order they would best convey how I was feeling or what I wanted to say. Sometimes I revise one sentence, over and over again.

As I sat down to start this post, I realized that I’ve been avoiding this update. I have struggled to craft these words in my head, perhaps a little worried of how it would feel to read it all.

Over the past week, my mind has been clouded with thoughts, questions, ideas, hopes, anxieties, concerns, and moments of sadness.

Last Monday, Northwestern University lost a vibrant member of its community; Corrie Lazar was a Weinberg senior, and I was lucky to have known her from the American Studies Program. The program is pretty small, and even though I wasn’t close to Corrie, I did know her; we were in the same major, I saw her at events, and I even hung out with her some during our trip to D.C. And I spent the week recalling her laugh, her smile, and her warmth–she had so much ahead of her, and all I could think when I heard the news was, “Wow, she had so much more living to do…” The news sat with me for a couple days before I finally felt the deep sadness of it all. As many have mentioned, though, she was a very positive person. And we will probably never understand why tragic things happen, but we have to take these experiences as steps to gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for our lives and the people in our lives.

I regret that I didn’t know Corrie better because as one of my friends said, once a person leaves, there’s just no chance of running into them on the street. No possibility of revisiting that connection, you know? That reality sits with me.

I remember being so tired on the Washington, D.C. trip. We had just gotten off the bus, and we had some free time to walk around a mall before our group dinner. I didn’t really care about walking around, so I found a comfy chair at a nearby Starbucks and just rested. If I remember correctly, Professor Beisel (one of the faculty members on the trip) sat in a chair across from me. My friend Meaghan was also there, and Corrie, too. We just sat, rested, and Corrie and Professor Beisel briefly chatted about an assignment that was due after the trip (Corrie was taking one of Prof. Beisel’s classes that quarter; she was told she could have some more time before she had to turn it in–it was an unexpected yet nice break). The memory is faint and seems all too common and ordinary.

When we were all sitting on the bus, I remember Corrie talking to a bunch of people about the meaning of “dating” in college. People chimed in with their own opinions, and it was just one of those things that was interesting enough to help pass the time. You could tell Corrie had some spunk, an opinionated and spirited person. The kind of person that makes you stop and think twice.

I kept running these memories in my head all week. And as I felt a weight in my throat about the entire situation, I couldn’t help but step back and reflect on my life. The news of Corrie’s death was a sobering reminder that life is precious–and it can be swept up in half a second.

My life has felt in flux these days, and I know my recent posts have rummaged through my different feelings about this stage, this seemingly ambivalent and unresolved phase of my life. I understand that I can’t anticipate what the next few months will be like, but I also can’t ignore my feelings of dissatisfaction. Today? Today, I feel deflated. Deflated about my future employment prospects, my relationships with people, my place in life at this moment in time.

We are constantly experiencing change, so I realize that’s not new; it’s the rate and frequency of that change–and it’s been alarming. I know that I have so many things to be grateful for and as I reflect on Corrie’s death, I am trying to grapple on to the things that really sustain a person.

I am thankful for getting through four challenging yet enriching years at Northwestern. I am thankful for the amazing, incredible, and loving friends I have met in that time. I am thankful for the friends who I have stayed close to over these years apart. And I am thankful for my family and their constant patience and support.

I will be packing up and leaving Evanston in about three weeks. I will be the first to admit that I have so many reasons for leaving and being excited about my move to North Carolina, but I hate goodbyes–and I will shift and feel the unease of saying goodbye to some of my favorite people; it will leave me with a mix of emotions because I’m tearing up thinking about it now. I am not the same person I was when I first got to Northwestern, but I am grateful to the amazing people who have helped me through these years, ups and downs and all. Gracie, Fran, Angela and Parv–I will miss you so much. And as my parents have said, you are always welcome in our home :)

I know that saying goodbye to these people and this place is not an end; it my be an end to this chapter of my life, but it’s just another step closer to getting where I need to be, and I recognize that reality; we’re all growing up. I have three weeks to spend time with my favorite people, and then, the world.

Please think of Corrie, her family, her friends, and the many people in the Northwestern community who are grieving the loss of such a vibrant young lady. Always let the people in your life know how you feel about them, and live boldly for each day, my friends.

In a flash, it could all change.

Summer Fridays

Where have I been lately? Well, I was in North Carolina for a week, so my whole routine was tossed in the air a bit. That said, I am now catching up on things, including the blog. The past week has been interesting for several reasons. First, I flew home last Thursday, which was actually my mom’s birthday. She thought I was coming in on Friday, but I wanted to surprise her, so with the help of my dad and my good friend Stacy, I got into RDU under the radar and surprised my mom at her birthday lunch. She was so shocked that she kept repeating, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” haha. The whole plan was a success! Above all, it was nice to spend time with my mom since I’ve been away for the past few years on her birthday.

Aside from my mom’s birthday, the other purpose for my trip home was to attend Justin’s wedding. The ceremony and reception were lovely, but it was a little surreal to see such an old friend tie the knot! I know, I know…I should get used to people getting married, ha–but it hits home a little more since it was my first close friend to get married. (I am also still surprised that 10+ plus years have already passed between us! Weren’t we awkward middle schoolers just a few years ago??) I was incredibly happy for Justin and Mary Hannah, though, and everything sat in when I saw Justin walk out to the altar with all his groomsmen. And yes, I even teared up some. After the ceremony, I couldn’t help but wonder how I’ll feel when one of my close girlfriends gets married or better yet–if and when I get married. I really do believe I’ll be one of those excited, emotional brides who tears up saying her vows. I think I’ll be in disbelief that everything is really happening, haha. Oh well, no worries anytime soon. All this to say, I was so glad I could be home for the wedding. I told Justin a long time ago that I wouldn’t miss it for the world! So happy for him and his new wife. Yikes, one of my friends has a wife! Crazy times :)

The downtime at home was good because I also got to catch up with Stacy, who is at home before she moves to Florida for graduate school, and Anne, who lives in Raleigh. Given my job situation, I found myself driving around town and thinking more seriously about how it’ll be to live back around home. With no positive responses yet on the job front, my current plan is to move back home with my parents by the end of August (my lease in Evanston is up at the end of the month). If any job prospects open up and I need to be in NC sooner, I would definitely pack up and go. Right now, it looks like leaving in a month or so will be the best thing. It was a little sobering to realize that even though I graduated, the economy is hugely affecting this “transition period” of my life. A recent news article reported that 80% of college graduates around the nation are moving back home with their parents. 80%?? Tragic. And I realize that moving home was my Plan C or D…but it’s been a difficult reality to swallow. Nonetheless, moving home will allow me to save money and continue to job hunt more rigorously. Coupled with these feelings about moving back with my parents is this bittersweet feeling about leaving Chicago and saying goodbye to my friends here. I mean, I only have a handful of really close friends who are still around, but it will be a jolting reality to leave everything I have built and grown to love about Evanston/Chicago/Northwestern. On the other hand, I think that moving away is part of continuing on with the road in front of me, not behind me.

For many months, I struggled with “where I would be happy living” or “where I should live”…and then just as everything knotted together in confusion, I realized that moving to North Carolina (clarification: moving to NC and having my own place, though living at home will be a transition into that…) put me at ease. For once I realized that that scenario made me happiest, got me most excited. Anyone who knows me well was surprised to hear that I wanted to move to North Carolina, but it’s become increasingly important to me to be around family and friends who will help me grow and love and see that we can’t know where we’re going or what we’re going to do–but we can have relationships that remain constant throughout all that uncertainty. And I guess that realization helped me see that being in an environment where I can experience that with others is important to me right now. Perhaps that is what has become very frustrating about things at the moment. I finally decided that I want to be in North Carolina, but without a job, I can’t entirely plan for everything that I wanted (i.e. a new apartment, a new place of my own). And the job search has entered a new phase. Initially, the process was stressful, then I reached a slight lull after applying for so many positions. After hearing a few “no’s” already or not hearing anything at all, I am rather disappointed and disheartened by it all. I know that given the economy and job market, none of this is a surprise. However, thinking back to the time and energy I invested into internships, job experiences, and getting a stellar education–in the hopes of landing an awesome job right now–has made this process tedious and frustrating. I am trying my very, very best to stay patient. The waiting, though, is what gets to me the most. The not happening-ness of it all, you know?

Anyway, with my plan to move home, at least I know that these next weeks will be working towards “something.” More job hunting, of course, but I’ll also start preparing to pack and move. I’ll clean out old odds and ends, and before I know it, I’ll have to say goodbye to some of my favorite people. That will be the hardest part. To leave a “home” that has shown me a tough love that cannot be replaced or repeated. Four years changes you, and for that, this goodbye will feel strange. Isn’t that funny? The capacity for a place–a space–to take on such meaning and feeling? That when I imagine my life here,  I feel everything and one thing all at once?

Well, friends, that’s the latest from here. I am going to continue applying for jobs, crossing my fingers for good news, and looking ahead.