The Cat Just Bit at Me

September 17, 2009

In my new apartment in the West Loop live two cats, and they love to come into my room and bother at me while I’m doing things. I’m not really used to this, having never had cats. But I guess I’m finding them kind of cute.

It’s been a long time since I”ve journaled, but I’m planning on doing it more consistently, and I’d love to receive comments. I’d like this to be a way of staying in contact with friends that I don’t see or hear from as often as I’d like to.

What’s going on now for me? I’m getting my master’s in English literature at UIC–I”m in my second year of a two year program. I’m currently working on my thesis. The topic is the body as a landscape, and it’s going to be a collection of poetry and prose. I haven’t written nearly as much of it as I need to, but I’m getting there.

Other than that, I work two jobs, one at my school and one for the City of Chicago–they have a publishing arts program that I work on. I’d like to go into publishing when I graduate, though we’ll see how that goes. Mostly I’d like to get a job and start paying off my student loans.

I’m also going through a period of re-starting my life from scratch. It’s strange to admit it here, and I don’t plan on talking about it very much, so don’t ask in the comments please, but I just went through something that I found scary and heartbreaking, and I’m trying to move on. I have to re-make my life in this city to a certain extent–I need to make some good friends, I need to work on a few hobbies of my own (I’m thinking ballet, writing, reading, yoga, and whatever else pops up), and I need to, well, find myself again. So be aware that that’s going to taint my entries a bit for a while, but I’m hoping that I’ll soon come out of this weird period and feel a lot more normal.

My roommates are a young couple named Amanda and Devin and they’re really nice accommodating people. The condo is a typical west loop loft with vaulted ceilings (which means that the short drywall walls of my room don’t reach the ceiling.) It’s a lot less private than any other place I’ve lived, but it’s still kinda nice. Due to the short wall situation, I’m listening to their friend Craig on the phone–an out-of-town nomad friend of theirs who’s crashing on their couch for a week while he goes through a period of unemployment. Guess he’s traveling the world and visiting some friends. I don’t really mind him being here because he’s got an inside friend that can get us White Sox tickets. I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I do like going to the games and hanging out with friends, so I think it could be fun.

And that’s about it. Today I only have to go into the cultural center for about three hours to work, but I think I might try to squeeze in my first ballet class tonight before we all go out to dinner (my roommates, craig, and I). And then, I dunno. Home to work on my thesis or poetry for my workshop? We’ll see. I’m just kind of…floating right now. Taking baby steps and getting a grasp on my life again.

I hope you’re all well!


1. You’ve always got to do what’s best for you and your ability to be happy, so long as it isn’t destructive or doesn’t hurt anyone else in the process

2. You’ve got to fight for what’s worth fighting for, even if it hurts.

2a. Things worth fighting for: good friends, relationships that are meaningful, your family, your passions (like writing, dancing, traveling, running, yoga)

3. Be honorable. Making the world a good place to live in starts with your own actions. Don’t waste things. Pay for your friends when you can. Volunteer when and where it would help.

4. Pursue art and the things that you find beautiful and creative.

5. Never let an opportunity pass you by because of fear.

6. Never make decisions out of fear (other than running away from hungry bears/mountain lions/etc.)

7. Keep good company. Keep good friends close.

8. Try to be healthy when you can, but don’t obsess over it to the point of being unhappy. Everyone dies, and stress is much worse for you than a few hamburgers.

9. If you have to break yourself, break yourself.

10. If you’re broken, never stop having faith that life is good, and that good things will come your way as you move along. Do small and easy things. Go for walks. Watch good TV, good movies. Spend time with friends. Allow yourself to fail. Cry as much as you want. Eat as much as you want. But make sure the way you behave is always honorable and in your own best interest. Most breaks will heal, but continual fractures compounded over time won’t ever go back to normal.

11. Believe that you, and everyone around you, is unique and important and should be supported and loved. You are a worthwhile person and deserve to be treated in a way that will make you feel happy and loved, as does everyone around you.

12. If someone is hurting you or your feelings, making your life difficult, or breaking you in a bad way, get away from that person. Revenge has never helped anyone. Show them the right way by example, but keep them at arms length at least.

13. Forever is a very long time, and a very powerful word. When people use it, they often don’t mean it.

14. Be aware of the transience of life.

15. Immerse yourself in the emotions that you are feeling. If you are joyous, celebrate and share that joy. If you are despairing, allow yourself to feel the misery entirely. Allow deaths to take place. Everything in life eventually will die.

16. Fight yourself, but don’t fight yourself too much. Your fist instinct is usually right. Pain indicates that things aren’t right–if you sense pain, don’t fight it, explore it to find what is wrong.

17. People do not always tell the truth in relationships. You will probably end up not telling the truth in relationships. What is true in one moment, for lovers, is often not true in the next. Allow for the gray area in relationships to exist. Don’t be too quick to point fingers. Be as accepting of others as you would like them to be of you. When they ask for it, people often deserve to be forgiven.

18. Don’t hold grudges. Remember grievances and be cautious, but those who ask for second chances often deserve them, especially if they are asked with an apology and a specific plan for change, for how the wrong will not happen again.

19. If you wrong someone, do not just apologize. Apologize first, then tell or show the person how you will not commit the same wrong again.

20. Be aware that people will give back to you the same amount of trust, respect, and love that you give to them.

21. People rarely if ever change who they are underneath the clothes, hair, makeup, and money.

22. Don’t force someone you care about to do something that they don’t want to do, even if you think it would make you happy. Allow others to put their happiness first too.

23. When things are the hardest, take baby steps. Fake it. Walk through life as if things are ok, and eventually the play-acting will become real.

Audrey Niffenegger | Borders Media

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