Fly it high

I’ve cried more since the early morning hours of November 3, 2016 than in the collective years since that was my only form of communication.

That’s probably an exaggeration, but anyone who knows me knows my hyperbolic use of the phrase “I’m crying.” But, finally, it’s been used correctly whenever I have typed that since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series that early Thursday morning.

To many of my friends, especially those I met in college, they probably find it strange that I almost exclusively save tears for sporting events (well, and maybe a few to stupid boys who don’t deserve them and sleepless nights fretting over making a magazine). You are right; it is weird because they are literally super publicized games that can also be played by children (or by an infamous Backyard Baseball player named Pablo Sanchez).

 

This was more than a game, though. Not just in the sense that it was a championship because I’ve seen a couple of those brought home to Chicago (thanks Blackhawks). There were droughts that needed quenching on both sides, though the Cubs’ was the most notorious. There were loyal fanbases on both sides who knew what it was like to push through seasons upon seasons of sad scores.

Being a fan of the Chicago Cubs isn’t typically just a fair weather or bandwagon situation. It’s been instilled in you that you will toil season after season with not a lot to show for it, while your White Sox friends might laugh or heckle you on sports jersey day in elementary through high school. For me, it meant going to Mizzou and being surrounded by die-hard Cardinals fans who never let me forget just how many rings they had in comparison to our win not long after the turn of the 20th century. For me, it was memories of attending games with my dad, grandpa and brothers (me in my pink Cubs visor and pink-accented jersey) and eating frozen chocolate malts in the stands. For me, it was memories of watching the sunset over the ivy or getting nearly caught in tornadoes on our way out of storm-delayed games.

For most of us, it’s not just fandom. It’s heritage. It’s love. It’s family.

That’s what made me collapse sobbing on the floor of my apartment around 1 a.m. after having to leave the Chicago bar here in Atlanta because I was so nauseous with nerves that I literally puked outside of the door. That’s what made me text my grandfather “I haven’t stopped crying yet. GO CUBS” because I knew that this meant even more to him than to me. That’s what made me cry thinking about the people that didn’t make it to see this win, like my Papa Giggy and my Grandma Virg who loved the Cubbies because they were cute. That’s what made me tear up in a Starbucks watching the parade and rally livestream because I just wanted so badly to be surrounded by people who all were connected by this same type of love.

Being the true journonerd that I am, I had to live vicariously through the quality media that was being put out after this historic win. I also had to spam my FB feed with all of it whilst crying again. I miss my favorite city so much, even though it has been raw, broken and seemingly numb to the violence and hurt. But this win means that for once the city could just be full of joy. The city can just love its inhabitants purely.

But it wasn’t just the city that needed this win, the nation did. Sure, a baseball game can’t solve everything. It doesn’t have to, but it can let us find peace and happiness and avoid the politics that have been plaguing us for months upon months (P.S. Make sure you vote; it’s almost over, folks). And it’s OK to allow ourselves to be consumed by baseball emotion for a little while.

Although it’s been an emotional journey (I was sobbing again yesterday), it’s one I wouldn’t trade for the world. I would just trade where I was living right now to be amongst the Cubbie fray. Thank god I didn’t need to be somewhere specific to watch Anthony Rizzo sing and twerk on SNL, though. That just added to the buckets of tears with some laughing tears. Now if I could only I could trade places with Rizzo’s girlfriend…

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On your marks…

It’s been nearly two months.

It’s been nearly two months since I walked across the stage to a chorus of cheering and vuvuzelas (courtesy of Naif Bartlett), giggled at Dean Kurpius and promptly returned to the mini Prosecco bottle under my chair that I smuggled into Hearnes between my boobs.

It’s been nearly two months of waking up in my pink and paisley patterned walls of my room in my family home, always slightly confused that my bed is the same from my East Campus apartment.

Trying to figure out what light I am supposed to bear.

Trying to figure out what light I am supposed to bear, tbh. I don’t know if I am part of “the wise.”

For someone who uses the phrase “I’m crying” as often as I do, it takes unexpected timing and random things to actually make me shed tears. I didn’t cry during or after either of my graduation ceremonies (my makeup looked to good to do that, honestly). I didn’t cry when hugging the best friends I made and the ladies that lived with me for the crazy school year (we had our apartment pet dildo sign a travel journal and danced to One Direction’s “Drag Me Down” instead). I even held it (mostly) together when I drove home alone in my stuffed car when sad or overly reminiscent songs popped up on my mix CDs.

A T-shirt made me cry.

An oversized, disgusting neon Mizzou Student Health T-shirt that I was pulling out for my pajamas my first night home made me sob. Classic.

Pretty accurate description of me before gathering my Tiger's Lair troops on game days.

Pretty accurate description of me before gathering my Tiger’s Lair troops on game days.

I thought I had been adequately preparing myself for the big rip of the Band-Aid. I had been slowly becoming more and more “irrelevant” in the Mizzou world. I finished out my last season in charge of the football spirit section, Tiger’s Lair, and picked my new successor. I had already split from live-in ResLife duties, said goodbye to my favorite rickety hall, Jones, and was finishing up my duties of giving tours through Defoe-Graham (partially in an ankle brace). I welcomed the new class of Summer Welcome Leaders and did my crying about missing those times last summer. Except for being honored as a member of the 2016 class of Mizzou ’39, I was successfully starting to fade into the black and gold background. I thought that made me ready.

Shoutout to the legacy of ladies that make up one of my favorite traditions.

Shoutout to the Dobbs area and the legacy of ladies that make up one of my favorite traditions.

But, in actuality, that was my least favorite question to answer. I could easily converse with people that asked “What are you doing after you graduate?” and tell them how I wasn’t exactly sure but applying to this and that and had confidence that I would figure it out. I would always fumble when asked “Are you ready to graduate?” Of course, I was ready to leave the stress and schedule of classes and extracurriculars. I’ve always been slightly apprehensive of approaching change, but this was one I knew was coming and was too busy to even fully worry about it. So, instead of letting myself even contemplate that question more, I just ripped the Band-Aid off by leaving behind a lifestyle I was comfortable with less than 12 hours after receiving my diploma cover.

Although I would spend some days at home shaking and slightly holding my breath to try to stifle a panic attack or hopping on my bike to ride miles away from job applications, I don’t think I could’ve done it a different way. I’ve been trying to write this post for a couple weeks now, but there have been times where I couldn’t really grasp what all the different transitionary feelings meant. I wasn’t always sure what I was scared, excited, anxious or ready for. I just knew I felt different.

But, I’ve been lucky to have such a supportive family that let me come back home and gave me time to figure things out. I’ve been lucky to have friends who sent me job postings and wished me luck for interviews. I’ve been lucky to land a job only a couple months after graduating.

Looking at my little magazine children.

Looking lovingly at my little magazine children.

But, even when that landed in my lap I didn’t know exactly what to do with it. It’s a job, I should just want that, right? The people were cool and the company vibe seemed right, but it was different than what I thought people thought I should be doing and in a place I had only spent a maximum of a week in. Part of me didn’t think I deserved the offer and that I wouldn’t be good enough. It took two days of walking around Columbus, Ohio, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for me to really listen to my gut and accept the job.

Completing my education has taught me a lot more in the past couple months than probably my last month of college. Things don’t always have to be exactly what you imagined to be right. And I’ll always be kind of scared of change, but I know that in the end it will all work out. I didn’t work my butt off for four years to not feel like I deserve this. So, whether I am completely ready or not, I’m going to start this new race.

Lively words

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“I lived a world of words long before I knew it,” said acclaimed Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert.

I was going to write a mostly angsty #FreeWriteFriday about the power of words such as bitch and tease that have slighted me (and many others), but Ebert’s diction power was all I could think about today.

Today, sitting in squishy, slightly squeaky theater chair in the Lake Street Screening Room on the 16th floor of 70 E. Lake, I entered an atmosphere that mixed memorial with networking as women spoke of their red carpet run-ins and exchanged cards, and with a film critic powwow that I was most definitely not invited to. I was there to see a screening of “Life Itself,” Steve James’ documentary on Roger Ebert for a section dedicated to him in the Sun-Times that I am helping with as part of my internship.

Being the modern journalist-in-training that I am, I sent off a quick tweet before the movie started:

My tweet ended up seeming quite juvenile compared to the crop of critics I was rubbing headrests with. Some of their tweets got retweeted by the “Life Itself” account and mentioned the air of melancholy that accompanied seeing this great film and some explained sentimental gestures:

I felt an air of responsibility weigh down on my neck in the “Chicago Sun-Times” embossed in white ink around my press badge lanyard. There I was, little ole intern me, representing Ebert’s home base among people that probably were learning from his work when I was still reading about how Kirsten, the American Girl Doll, survived the tough prairie winters.

The slight panic-induced claustrophobia inching in on me was relinquished when Ebert said at the beginning of the documentary, “The movies are a machine that generates empathy.”

Empathy. Togetherness. Words that emitted warmth, the warmth and shared energy that I was seemingly immersed in. All of us laughed and stifled sobs (not as hard for me as for others) whether they were a veteran or rookie.

Ebert had been using his words to change the landscape of film reviews and the film industry in general. He was doing the pre-internet equivalent of live-posts with his constant writing of reviews and hosting of his special segment of the “Sneak Previews”  show during Cannes. When he had no voice due to the removal of his jaw as part of his battle against cancer, he had words. And even some of his final interview responses to Steve James were extremely poignant just because of the desperation of the text whimpering, “I can’t… I’m fading.”

But, he is far from faded. Even me, a newbie to Ebert’s extensive history, sensed a palpable presence of him that will live on in Steve James’ moving documentary, roses placed in back aisle seats and Pulitzer-prize winning words published under the Chicago Sun-Times masthead and on his blog up until the day he died.

Everlasting word.