There’s always a good story behind the dates I plan with one of my college best friends/roomies, Susan. Whether it’s something as simple as “I’m craving a margarita” or “I need to run an errand in Lincoln Park, come with and get dinner with me after,” I’ll use anything as an excuse to catch up with my personal ray of sunshine over good drinks and good food.
This past February, Susan and I were wandering around Lincoln Park (one of our favorite Chicago neighborhoods) in the freezing cold and stumbled across a very inviting restaurant called Summer House Santa Monica. From the outside, it was glowing a summery yellow, had lights strung across the pitched ceiling, and worn-looking wood details. It was like Southern California landed in Chicago. We were drawn in immediately. Unfortunately, the place was packed and we weren’t looking to wait, so we searched elsewhere.
Fast-forward to July; last night, to be exact. Susan and I made plans to finally have dinner at Summer House. This time, we thought ahead and made a reservation (we can’t blame the place, it’s clearly a popular spot for couples, singles, and groups of friends). Here’s what you need to know: five months was 100% worth the wait.
We started with cocktails. For Susan, a Palm Fizz (aromatized wine, apple, lemon, prosecco, rosemary). For myself, a Monte Cali (bourbon, benedictine, angostura bitters). A+ start to the evening. Our waiter, Erik, walked us through the menu, pointing out his favorites and dishes that have become guest favorites. Susan ordered a lobster pasta and I ordered a wood-grilled burger. We were loving the atmosphere, our food/drinks, and our waiter so much that we decided to stick around for desert. Erik’s recommendation was the Trifecta Fudge Cake, complete with peanut butter fudge, hot fudge, and salted bittersweet chocolate. (Is there even a way to say no to that combination?)
Long story short, if you’re looking for a restaurant with a great vibe, great service, and an even better menu, you need to check out Summer House Santa Monica in Lincoln Park. Personally, I love California and summer (I’m a Cali baby born in July), but don’t want to leave Chicago quite yet, so this restaurant was pretty much made for me. And, because we’re cute-like-that, Susan and I already have plans to make it back there before the end of summer. Whether that’s to try more cocktails or to see Erik again, we won’t say… but yeah, it’s both.
That’s it! I’m officially 24 as of today *insert belated July 4th fireworks here* (well, technically I have until this evening, but let’s not get that technical for the sake of simplicity, which I’m becoming a fan of more and more these days). Here’s where my “23” bucket list stands on it’s last day:
1. Leave my job at IB 2. Get a new job (and love it) — I got a new job and I wouldn’t go so far as to say I love it. It’s not what I had in mind when I wrote this list, but it’s a new job nonetheless. And I’m using it as motivation to continue looking for the job that I’ll be proud to say I love. 3. Go back to Australia (to study, work, or take a vacation) — I DID IT. I MADE IT BACK TO AUSTRALIA, TOOK A MONTH-LONG DREAM VACATION AND MANAGED TO CROSS OFF A LOT OF THIS LIST. I’M STILL IN DISBELIEF, BUT IT HAPPENED AND IT WAS AMAZING!
4. Meet and hang out with Blake — This might be the one thing on my list I’m more excited about than the fact that I actually was in Australia. I’ve known Blake for a couple of years now and in that time, he’s become one of my best friends. We met on tumblr, so it’s been a dream of mine to meet my best-friend-across-the-world. We met and then eventually, we hung out— it was the best. Highlight of my week in Sydney, hands down.
5. Get my first tattoo — I’ve at least picked what I’d like my first one to be (officially)
6. Hang out with Jessica (in NYC, NJ, or Chicago) again, without the anxiety this time
7. Visit California (esp. San Clemente & Kristen Stewart’s handprints @ TCL) — Ok, this one’s a stretch, but I did make it to Cali. Granted, it was just a layover at LAX. But I paid for the flights and I was there, so…. the “esp.” will just have to make it onto my next bucket list.
8. Get paid to write
9. Go on vacation with Amanda — Our New Years Eve trip turned into a bit of a vacation… it’s a stretch, but we did spend 5 days together + 7 hours driving!
10. Run a 5K (with a few stops at most) — I did the Color Run in Chicago on June 8th and even though we technically walked the entire thing (with a few bursts of running at most), it was the most fun I’ve had at a 5K and that’s an accomplishment itself.
11. Do/try something new/spontaneous. Anything. — I went scuba diving on a total whim and it was the most unreal, thrilling 45 minutes of my life.
12. Learn something new — So far: calligraphy and how to make guacamole. And guess what? I’ve had so much fun with both of these things that I was reminded of how great it feels to learn something new.
13. Meet someone famous (actor/musician/writer/athlete) — I met Sophia Bush on November 6th!
14. Meet someone that impacts my life in a positive way — I’ve been waiting to cross this one off, because it’s a big one. But between the people I met in Australia, my dear friend Blake, and the guy I dated for a few months, my life has been impacted in a positive way.
15. Impact someone’s life in a positive way — I talked to Amanda about this one back in March(ish) when she asked what I had left on my list. This was one of them. It took her maybe half a second to say, “Are you crazy? Of course you’ve impacted someone’s life in a positive way!” And because of that, I’m crossing this one off.
16. Fall in love (with a person, place, or hobby) — Get this: triple whammy. I fell in love with my dive instructor in the Great Barrier Reef while scuba diving with him. Ok, mostly joking about that. But I did manage to fall in love with a place on my trip: Sydney. This city is beautiful and it was ridiculously hard to say goodbye.
17. Finally finish my Invisalign treatment
18. Man up and get my wisdom teeth pulled 19. Go on a date (and maybe a second?!) 20. See the Blackhawks play in Nashville OR see the Western Sydney Wanderers play in Melbourne — This item is no longer possible, BUT I’m giving myself another exception here: I saw Hamish Blake IN REAL LIFE perform in a comedy show as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, which, let’s be honest, was way more exciting for me than a soccer game would have been.
21. Do something for myself — I put all of my money into my trip to Australia and while it was a crazy thing to do financially, it was a gift to myself. I’ve been struggling to focus on where I want to head on my career path, so I took a month off to see what else is out there. My month abroad was SO different from the first time I traveled abroad alone. It was a new experience to explore on my own, create my own schedule, take a trip with strangers who became friends, and re-connect with old friends. It’s not about the money at all. It’s about the fact that I went on an actual adventure that has made me appreciate everything I have and everyone I know so much more than I did before. And now I feel more energized to figure out where I need to go from here.
22. Read a total of 23 books
(I read 13.5, which is a big deal for me tbh)
23. Find a new favorite spot in Chicago — I waited til the end of my bucket list time frame to give myself a chance to explore. I thought back to the months I spent interning for The Everygirl and thought of how much I loved Lincoln Park (especially seeing the building where my Grandpa grew up, because the universe does crazy things like that), but my favorite spot was standing on a Brown Line el headed toward the city. It’s not a skyline view you can get unless you’re elevated and I think it’s safe to say that’s my new favorite spot in Chicago.
Total: 18 out of 23
Now before you go, let’s chat.
Looking back at 23, I realize what a great year it was for me: I landed a dream internship, where I got the opportunity to write about music for a huge audience. I pushed my writing boundaries and learned how to write interview questions. I met some really awesome interns who became friends. I saved up enough money to fly myself back to my favorite place in the entire world. I got to visit friends I hadn’t seen in three years and show my sister around where I lived in Melbourne. I got to meet one of my best friends across the world. I met a ton of amazing, inspiring people. I did something that actually still scares the crap out of me and loved every terrifying second of it. I became closer with certain friends. I kept up traditions and made new ones. I went on a date with a guy and ended up dating him for six months. I tried new things, learned new things, ate new things. Generally speaking, I genuinely believe I have grown up a lot over the last 365 days.
Writing this list of things to accomplish in a year not only motivated me to try harder, but also to try new. I like familiar. I tend to stick to things I know, people I know, and places I know. As I go about navigating 24, I plan to do 25 things that will push me to grow even more. Of course, I’ll stick to some familiar things, but I can’t wait to meet more people, date new people, discover new writers and musicians, find a job that makes me feel fulfilled at the end of the day, and hopefully get to know myself better. I always roll my eyes when people say “you need to love yourself before you let someone love you.” And I was always impatient about finding someone to fall in love with. But I’m starting to accept that the universe has a way of doing things that bump you into place, despite the bruises and confusion along the way. I’m learning to love who I am and not roll my eyes when someone compliments me, because guess what? I am pretty awesome.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve already begun writing my “25 by 25” list. It’s in the works, as it likely will continue to be for a couple of months. Even if I don’t finish everything on that list either, I’m excited to see where 24 will take me– or more likely, where I decide to take 24. Despite all of the positivity up there, I had a lot of doubtful, lost moments as a 23-year-old, but I’m actually ready for 24. I’m prepared to have moments of doubt and fear. What I’m finding to be the most important is that I didn’t rush it. Which is why I don’t plan to rush 25 either. After all, I have 25 things I need to accomplish before then!
JUNE WAS SUCH A GREAT MONTH FOR MUSIC THIS YEAR. From Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith to Passenger and Jason Lancaster, let’s call it a music gold mine. This doesn’t happen very often, so I hope you listen with open ears to what I’ve selected—there’s lots to like.
Breaking things down, we start off very mellow, thanks to the phenomenally sad The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack. From there, add a dash of country (Billy Currington), alternative (Young Rising Sons—this might be my song of the summer), and Aussie indie rock (The Cam Nacson band—thanks Blake!). I got a little friendly with top 40 hits this month, thanks to Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea, but you can’t deny it’s catchy. Rounding things out, I picked two of my favorite tracks off Passenger’s new album, a couple other country favorites, and two of my (current) favorite Jason Lancaster songs. Toward the end of the month, I discovered a band from Chicago, Mighty Fox, who will hopefully do big things. Their new EP is worth checking out.
What are you all listening to this month?
Ed Sheeran – All Of The Stars
Birdy – Tee Shirt
M83 – Wait
The Stationary Set – Close Enough
Billy Currington – We Are Tonight
Young Rising Sons – High
The Cam Nacson Band – No Other Plan
SomeKindaWonderful – Reverse
Ariana Grande – Problem
Ed Sheeran – Sing
MAGIC! – Don’t Kill the Magic
Big Data – Dangerous (feat. Joywave)
Passenger – Golden Leaves
Passenger – Riding To New York
Lady Antebellum – Bartender
Lee Brice – I Don’t Dance
Sam Smith – Stay With Me
Rachel Taylor – Porcelain
Jason Lancaster – Change
Jason Lancaster – Hey Jude
Mighty Fox – Wild Ones