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Twelve months ago I returned home, to Chicago, after three and a half years of traveling the world. Twelve months ago I returned to my old job, the one I held before I quit to travel, and picked up right back where I was before I left. Twelve months ago I returned, for first time in a long time, with a sense of permanence....

September. In Instagrams.   Goodbye, old friend. I got my first passport in 2006 when I was 25 years old. Now nearly ten years later my passport has seen me through 36 countries. Time to send it off for renewal! #passport #travel A photo posted by Val Bromann (@choosingfigs) on Sep 2, 2015 at 7:40am PDT I was really sad to let me passport go. But I had less than six months validity left and a trip to Thailand in my future. Sigh. I got my first passport in 2006, at age 25 and in that time it saw...

Every so often a dream team comes together. The Million Dollar Quartet. The 1992 United States men's Olympic basketball team. The cast of The Breakfast Club. For all we know the 1945 Chicago Cubs could have been a dream team too. And maybe they could have gone on to be a dream team in 1946 and '47 and '48 or any other of the years in between then and now. And maybe they could have won the World Series that year and the next and the next....

Beer cap wall at Barcade in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. #arcade #bar #brooklyn #newyork #Williamsburg A photo posted by Val Bromann (@choosingfigs) on Jul 3, 2015 at 9:02pm PDT It's almost hard to believe that it was only four weeks ago that I visited New York. It feels like ages ago. Of course, it often feels like I've never left Chicago before at all, so there's that. I'll hopefully have several more chances to travel this year. I should have a car for a week next month and may take an extended-weekend road trip somewhere in Illinois...

Step 1: Don't Sign Up for an Eating Contest The first step to not preparing to compete in an eating contest is to not sign up to compete in an eating contest. I suppose you can apply this logic to most anything you might (not) want to train for: marathons, SATs, dog-obedience. Whatever. Just don't sign up and you don't have to prepare. Easy. For instance, I didn't sign up to compete in the Ribmania ribs eating contest at Ribfest Chicago this past Friday. To be fair, I might have tried to sign up for it if I hadn't have been been in...

It's festival season in Chicago. At least, it is in theory. In reality the weekends have been cold or rainy or both, and every Chicagoan is waiting for consistent sun and consistent warmth. Not warm one day, cold the next. Not sunny all morning with a downpour at noon. Just warm, just sun. Summer. But in a city known to have all four seasons in one day, we might be waiting for a while. Chicago is miserable in the winter, having the kind of weather that merits not-so-cute nicknames such as "snowpocalypse" and "snowmageddon" and "Chiberia." But we brave those...

I still have trouble with balance. Even more so now that I'm home. I have work, my blog, the gym, an apartment to keep clean and to furnish. I have a million other things I want to be doing, a million other things I should be doing. Even in my most productive weeks I'll only check off a third of my to-do list only to add more for the next week. I keep telling myself that soon one thing will be finished and I'll have more free time. But then I make up some new project and am back at...

I've been home for six months. Six months in Chicago. I haven't even taken a vacation in that time. No flights, no weekend getaways, nothing. It's hard to believe, really. Sometimes it feels like I came home ages ago. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday. And, sometimes, it feels like I've never traveled at all. There are a lot of times where I wish I could just pick up again and move to Thailand or Colombia or travel around Africa or road trip the US. But, for now, I'm here. And I'm finally starting to feel "here." I have my apartment that's slowly...