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Neurotic As Hell

Choosing Figs Blog

My family celebrated Christmas yesterday. It makes sense, really. We have such a small family and we all live somewhere in Chicago or the suburbs that we see each other often enough. And there are so few of us that it's a little repetitive to do both Christmas end Christmas Eve. And so I will spend Christmas getting coffee at Dunkin Donuts (it was much closer than the nearest open Starbucks), seeing Into the Woods, and then getting Chinese food for dinner. A nice, quiet, peaceful day....

Heather and I moved in together when we were both going through some of the toughest times in our lives. It occasionally made for a pretty depressing (and very messy) apartment, but it was good for us both. We needed each other. We understood when one of us needed to talk or to drink or to stare blankly at a television. I didn't judge when she'd eat Mexican food in the bathtub. She didn't judge when I'd go through a box of cookies in one sitting. We helped each other get through. Though we had gone to college together, we didn't...

Other people do fancy things. Other people go to those kind of parties that cost $50 to get in. Other people get gussied up to go to a museum event, like the Last Speakeasy Chicago prohibition party, on a Thursday night. Other people. I don't. I am the kind of person who sees people doing fancy things, who sees people spend $50 on a party, who sees people getting gussied up for a museum event on a Thursday night and thinks, "other people do that." Other people. So, even though the CTA was plastered with ads for the Chicago History Museum's "Last Speakeasy...

It's been over a month since I left Athens. Stopped traveling. It's been over a month since I came back home to Chicago, since I started back at my new old job. And it's been over three years since I've been back in Chicago and working "permanently." The transition back into work has been easy. Too easy. I went back to a position I held for five years, so I already knew it inside and out. There was no grace period, no training period, no adjustment period, I was just thrown in. So much so that no one even bothered to re-teach...

Last year I went to TBEX Dublin and left with more inspiration, more motivation, to take my blog where I wanted it to go than I had ever had before. And then my laptop got stolen a week later and I couldn't do anything for nearly two months. This year I went to TBEX Athens and left with more inspiration, more motivation, to take my blog where I wanted it to go than I had ever had before. And then I came home a few days later and threw myself into jet lag and my new old job....

Athens, Greece, is one of those cities, like Santiago, where most people only spend a night, maybe two, or skip it altogether, and say it's not worth going. They say it's just another big city, they say it's boring or dangerous or lame. It's one of those cities people write off. I had a week to spend in Athens and everyone asked why I was going. And then everyone asked if I was going to the islands. For a conference. And no....

In my travel plan, that one I made in June and almost immediately abandoned, I had thought to return to Spain after three months in South America. I wanted to spend some time there. At least a month, hopefully three, longer if that damned visa didn't exist. I first went to Spain in 2011, a month into what turned into my 15-month, or three year, depending on how you look at it, 'round the world trip. Spain was a turning point. ...

"Santiago is just another big city." That's what everyone would tell me when they said they went for just a night or two before moving on or skipped it altogether. "It's just another big city," they'd say. "It's boring," they'd say. But I had already decided that Santiago would be where I'd spend my last ten days in Chile, in South America. I was nervous. People made me nervous. Everyone had me thinking that I was making the wrong choice. Maybe I should have decided to spend more time in Valle de Elqui. Maybe I should have decided to go down south....

Every time I was buzzed into my hostel in Valparaiso, Chile, the woman at the front desk would ask me, "A dónde fuiste?": "Where did you go?" "Solo caminar," I'd say. "Just for a walk."* Because that's what I did in Valparaiso: I walked. I walked on my own. I walked on an official walking tour. I walked on an unofficial, impromptu, walking tour with my hostelmates. I walked. Valparaiso is a walking city, and there's one thing to see while walking: The street art. The street art in Valparaiso, Chile, covers most of the edifices, every inch of blank space. Around every corner...

I was taking the photos above when a man tapped my shoulder and pointed across the plaza. A parade of people were walking by, clapping, singing, followed by three cars decorated in orange balloons. I moved away to be closer and, as they walked by, saw that the first of the cars was carrying a coffin. A funeral procession was leading its way through Plaza de Armas. The parade stopped in front of the sculpture I had just been taking photos of. The cars stopped. People gathered around to remove the coffin and set it up. ...