For the month of December, every couple and family in Chicago flocks to the Lincoln Park Zoo for Zoo Lights. It is an amazing display, capable of putting a smile on the grumpiest of Grinches faces. A million colorful lights are strung on every tree, fence and lamp post. There is music, and mulled wine, and all those other festive fixtures. On top of it all there are some very sleepy animals, wondering what all these crazy people are doing wandering around a frozen zoo when it is past their bed times. Obviously, to see this:
A strange thing happened to me the other night. I was sitting at home, watching the Chicago Bears blow another game, when I heard a knock on the door. I put down my beer, holstered my frustration, and answered to find my upstairs neighbor waiting. Then she handed me a plate of fresh-baked cake and brownies, wished me a happy holidays and walked away. I stood there a minute, baked goods in hand, processing the ritual I had just participated in.
I didn’t realize that the Pillsbury commercials were based on fact – that neighbors really do go out of their way to spread holiday spirit. I don’t have a job, so I figured, if you can’t understand them, why not join them?
I had been wanting to test out this recipe ever since I tried one in London. Guinness is one of my favorite beers (due to the whole living in Ireland and secretly wanting to be Irish thing) and who doesn’t love chocolate? The beer flavor is very subtle but adds to the richness of the chocolate flavor. It also makes them like a cake-brownie hybrid. If you want to get super fancy throw on some Bailey’s or Jameson fronting, and enjoy a super-alcoholic treat.
Allow me to present to you Guinness brownies! Trust me, they were a huge hit with the neighbors. Happy Holidays.
I read this article yesterday about how traditional jobs are being replaced with contract work (or in my case not even contract, but just writing in exchange for money, like literary prostitution) and it made me think.
I have been uneasy about my employment situation for months. I have been given some amazing opportunities at incredible publications in Chicago. They provide me with the outlets to write about food, drinks and entertainment while exploring the city I love. However, working from coffee shops, or without pants while listening to Bon Iver in my living room, does have it’s downsides. (Note, I am actually listening to Iron & Wine and am also wearing pants). I feel very isolated, which is difficult during this transitional stage in my life when I am away from my friends from college and my childhood friends are all over the country.
I like to break up my days by dragging my butt to the gym, or shopping with money I don’t have, sometime I cook (which also does not involve leaving my apartment), and I go out whenever I can. But at the end of the day, freelancing feels like a constant break, continuous procrastination, and little concrete accomplishments. While my traditionally employed friends may complain about their long days at the office, they get to feel that sense of relief when they make it back to their apartment at 5:30, can kick off their shoes and relax. I am constantly working and not working. I live attached to my computer, plugging sentences into articles, emailing contacts or scheduling tweets. My life lacks balance, consistency and as a result, the satisfaction of putting in a good day’s work.
Freelance may be the new 9 to 5 in difficult economic times, but I worry not only about the economic effects of this trend but also the psychological effects on a society that has a hard time adapting to changes in the norm. Banksy knows what I mean:
I’m living a Chanel life on a Ramen budget
Standing in the corner of the frat party, all I could think about was the hot pink bottom of my floor-length skirt turning brown with mud and beer. A year ago, I would have been scouring the house for a glass of hard alcohol to get my BAC above a point two. Six months ago, I would have been watching my friends snort blue lines of Adderall off the tabletop. This weekend, though, all I could worry about was how much it was going to cost to dry clean my skirt once I got back to Chicago.
I went back to Lehigh for the infamous Lehigh verses Lafayette football game – the most played rivalry in college football (147 meetings to be exact) – the rivalry that landed me in the hospital my senior year. I went back to see my friends, specifically one that spent the last six months on a cruise ship, and walk the tree-lined hills that were my home for three years.
There was a lot of excitement and trepidations surrounding the visit. The day before I left, I was unsure if I wanted to go at all. I had an amazing time in college, some of the best experiences in my life happened on that campus, along with some of the worst. College lasts four years for a reason – to act as a transition for the real world. Graduation is not just about receiving a degree, but about leaving student-life behind and all the drunken drama that came with it.