The Frozen North is not done with us yet

Polar vortex? Alberta Clipper? It’s been cold in Cook County this month. I’m delighted that we have a high of 32F for today, when earlier this week we were comfortably back in negative double digits and dangerous wind chills. The difference between this round of terrible temperatures and the last one is that I’m not hiding in my apartment as much. I’m pretty sure I have this XKCD comic to thank for that, along with a memory of an elementary school friend who’d grown up in Edmonton, Alberta, gleefully bragging about Halloween in weather like this.

Number of hours. NUMBER. But I like your message.
Number of hours. NUMBER. But I like your message.

I’m sure you’ll have noticed that this weekly check-in is not occurring on a Monday, and especially not this past Monday. I fell into a couple of traps on this front, mostly having to do with believing I had nothing to say. January is a really easy month to want to hide and hibernate through, especially when you feel like everyone else has their act together but you. But the thing about hibernation, to get all Advice Columnist-y on us, is that often you’re doing a lot of work that you don’t necessarily see, but that comes to mean a lot when you get going on something else. (As an aside, this week I learned that Andrew W.K. is actually an excellent advice columnist. Who knew?)

Part of that work, for me, has been reframing the way this job hunting thing works. A trio of “Surprise! You really need to hear this” encounters — one from Medill Career Services, one from a former professor over Facebook and one from a cousin at a funeral, of all things — has finally knocked it into my head that “Please, sir, may have I another?” is truly not going to get me far. Some people need to be able to back up their swagger with performance; I need to translate my skills and accomplishments into swagger. (Hi, potential employers who might be reading this! I hope by the time you see this, we’ve gotten to know each other well enough that you’re surprised that I’m in knots about this whole process.)

Another thing that smacked me over the head was a fortuitous trio of links about understanding what goes on in your head when you avoid doing something that you really want to do, like work and earn money.

Luckily the UNC Writing Center has our backs with steps and solutions we can use for real. Another tactic, which I undertook yesterday, is to give yourself an actual break, not just one where you hate yourself for getting off track about your real job, and do something that fills you up, rather than just kills time. I spent the day meeting up with friends, wandering the Art Institute of Chicago and seeing a movie about a 14-year-old who sails around the world. 

I’ve had a membership at the Art Institute for two years, and it’s been one of the best things I could ever have bought for myself. It takes a lot to break that “I grew up in a small town, so when I get to a museum in a city, I have to see the WHOLE THING because WHO KNOWS when I’ll be back?” mentality, but being able to just stop in and visit my favorite painting is just the nicest thing. My membership is also expiring tomorrow, and I… don’t know how long I’ll be living in this city, so I decided to make the most of this visit and just wander.

Guys, I fell into sections of the museum I’d never even seen before. I had a great time collecting faces of Women Who Know What Is Up (apologies for my terrible phone camera, which has no reliable stabilization or image quality at all), and drained my phone battery pretty thoroughly snapping other pieces that caught my eye.

At the beginning of the month, I saw an excerpt of Maidentrip, a documentary about Dutch teenager Laura Dekker, who sets out to become the youngest person to sail around the world. It ends its Chicago run tonight, but I got a chance to see it last night, and — oh wow, talk about impressive. You can watch the trailer, but I’d recommend this clip from Laura’s stop in French Polynesia to get a real feel for the film. You’ll want to fullscreen this if you can.

Not only do I more desperately want to see the South Pacific for myself than ever, but how can you not be inspired by someone so together and so willing to take chances, at half your own age? The film itself is mostly Laura’s own footage, and it’s striking both how very young she is and how much she grows over the two years she’s sailing. An interview with the documentarian behind the film talks about how they collaborated, but really, Maidentrip is pretty simple at heart, with a sort of surprising ending that makes you feel for Laura and really cheer her on. If you have a chance to see it, it’s 82 minutes well worth your time.

That’s about it for the moment — I’ve mostly said what I want to say, and I’m looking forward to talking about some exciting-to-me computer-y things soon. But I hope these links did something for you, and if you’re stuck in a rut about January and jobs and every other fun thing about winter/the future, then I’m crossing my fingers for us both. We can do it!

Magnificent and brilliant too! I'll take it.
Magnificent and brilliant too! I’ll take it.

I’ll tell you one more fun story about my trip to the museum. At the coat check, when I was picking up my things, the guy at the desk asked me if I was an actress or something, or if he’d seen me before. “Probably not,” I said, “but who do you think I look like?” Eventually he got around to saying he pictured me in a white ’40s dress with flowers, so I’m declaring my celebrity lookalike Hedy Lamarr.

The moral of this story, I guess, is always make small talk with people who work at museums. It can brighten up your day in ways you’d never anticipate.

Happy Thursday, lovelies, and good luck.

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