Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting Serious

I was at a family gathering this weekend, when someone asked me how the blog was going. I sheepishly admitted I hadn't been able to keep up with as much as I would've liked because of the rigors of journalism school. Another family member mentioned she had recently read there were 24 million blogs wasting away on the internet. 24 MILLION.

I'm determined to get back in the saddle and make I Am Chicago the blog I always imagined it could be.

In the coming months it will...

  • move to

  • look like an actual website with hopefully cool design

  • have regular features

  • incorporate the concept behind my class blog By the Bootstraps

... just to start. Let me know if you have any ideas to add to the site's transformation. I hope to unleash it by October, we shall see.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Look Back: Kuma's Block Party

When the weather gods are kind enough to give another glorious summer day in Chicago, it is wise to enjoy the sunshine as best as you can before they change their minds. Keeping this in mind, my boyfriend and I decided to head over to Kuma's Corner for their block party.

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Celebrating its four-year anniversary, Kuma's went all out, closing off a section of Francisco Avenue for over 200 revelers to enjoy music, free food and cheap beer. The restaurant is widely known as serving the best burgers in the city. Kuma's famed burgers are named after rock bands with a dizzying array of toppings, like the Led Zeppelin (10 oz. burger with pulled pork, bacon, cheddar, pickles) or the Lair of Minotaur (same juicy burger with caramelized onions, pancetta, brie, bourbon soaked pears).

We stayed long enough to enjoy the tale end of one band's performance, free pulled pork sandwiches and polish hot dogs, and $3 PBR. The crowd made for some cool people watching - tattoos, stretched earlobes, and big beards were plentiful.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Public Enemies

Photo taken from Public Enemies official website

Public Enemies, aka the movie this summer of lackluster blockbusters has been waiting for, opens today.

"Enemies" recounts the story of Great Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger and the FBI's attempts to capture him, dead or alive.

Many parts of the movie were filmed right here in Chicago during a 36 day long shoot "from late March to late June 2008," according to Metromix. Tell-tale landmarks include Union Station and the legendary Biograph Theater on Lincoln Avenue, where Dillinger was killed in 1934.

The excellent cast (Johnny Depp as Dillinger, Christian Bale as FBI Agent Melvin Pervis and Marion Cotillard as Dillinger's girlfriend Billie Frechette) and parallels to our current economy and public sentiment toward banks makes this movie a must-see in my book.

For history buffs, watch Bryan Burrough (who wrote the book "Public Enemies" the film is based on) discuss if the blockbuster is true to history.

And here's the trailer for those unfamiliar with - or for those who just want to get excited for - the movie:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Have A Little Pride

Advanced Warning: Pictures for this blog post include half dressed men, gyrations, costumes and simulated sexual actions. All photos were taken by Anthonia Akitunde

In the close to five years I have lived in Chicago, I have never been to a Gay Pride Parade, a shameful streak I broke today. One of the many highlights of the season, Pride takes place in Chicago's Boystown neighborhood, a center of gay life in the city.

Gay pride celebrations have occurred since the infamous New York Stonewall riots in 1969. This year's 40th Gay Pride Parade in Chicago saw more than 450,000 participants according to the Sun-Times.

The parade started at noon on the corner of Belmont and Halsted. After making my way through the throngs of people lining Halsted Street in the heart of Boystown, I managed to get a place on the bleachers with my friends to watch the parade unfold. I felt that while people were aware of the weightier issues that inspired Pride festivities - equal rights, not being ashamed of ones' sexuality - Pride was really all about having fun.

And have fun we did. Look through the slideshow below for pictures from this year's Pride Parade.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ruling the Roost

After getting out of class at noon on Tuesday, I decided to stop by a store I saw while gazing out the 22 Clark bus windows.

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All photos were taken by Anthonia Akitunde

Roost (located at 5634 N. Clark), a vintage home decor store, has a hodgepodge of flatware, art, vintage books and oddities scattered throughout the store. With stacks of odd-ball and straight-off-the-farm items at every turn, I had fun poking my nose around the small and tightly packed store, inching around other customers to examine piles of old mason jars and salt shakers.

The store would suit someone who doesn't take design too seriously; someone who favors the kitschy over streamlined modernity. Placed on book shelves, ladders, couches and hutches, each item exuded an earthy whimsy that made me feel like I was inside the pages of "Little House on the Prarie."






For more pictures from Roost, watch the slideshow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My Favorite Verse

I've gone into detail in previous posts about what a fashion fiend I am. When the weather gets as glorious as it has been the last few days, nothing beats window shopping. I came across Verse Chicago (1821 W. North) on one such jaunt in less friendly weather and have been hooked on its interesting mix of budget, yet style conscious local designers and the amazing customer service provided by its owner, Kortnee Doss.

I made a video about the boutique for Honey Magazine, but you can check it out here:

Verse Chicago (1821 W. North) is a must-see for any stylish Chicagoan looking for of the moment, one-of-a-kind designs with stellar customer service.

Credit Cards and Chicago Taxi Cabs, Together At Last

Photo credit: Anthonia Akitunde

While I still think Chicago is the best American city, one thing New York has going for it are the touch screen consoles located in the back of every cab. Passengers can watch local programming, see the route the driver is taking to their destination via Google Maps and, most importantly, pay for their trip with a credit or debit card.

For years many Chicagoans who wanted to pay for a cab ride with a credit card were met with hostility, claims the driver's machine "wasn't working" or plain refusal of service. A report in the Chicago Tribune yesterday said this gap in service was the number three complaint regarding Chicago taxi service and the number one complaint in the taxi industry.

Thankfully plans to install those consoles in up to 2,600 Chicago cabs are underway. Only 30 cabs currently have the technology installed. The article did not say when the installations would begin.

After hearing the news through Chicagoist, I asked my cab driver this morning why drivers were so weary of accepting credit cards (after he initially said he didn't take cards only to change his tune).

"If you give me a credit card, I have to take it," said the driver of Yellow Cab 4378 (his license was covered up).

But, he went on, it can take a while for the cab's credit card reader to authorize a transaction. If the purchase does not go through long after the ride, the driver has to pay for it out of pocket.

Also credit card companies take 5 percent of the fare total whenever a card is used, cutting into the driver's profits, according to the Tribune's report.

While the new technology won't address that concern, drivers will benefit from placing control in the passengers' hands. Officials predict drivers will less likely be targeted for crime since they'll have less money. Because of the gratuity calculator included in the console, drivers saw a 7 percentage point increase in tips, from 15 percent when passengers paid in cash versus 22 percent with their cards.

As for us passengers? The ride back home after a long night just got a hell of a lot easier.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hark! I Hear A Tweet

I have found a solution to my "too busy to blog but willing to procrastinate with Twitter" problem: start a Twitter account for I Am Chicago!

Follow me on Twitter!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Baby

My in depth package for my Urban newswriting class was months in the making. It made me incredibly happy to finally post this article on the funding shortages that may hurt adult education for people with disabilities.

I stumbled upon the story when I was working on a story first quarter about changes in private school enrollment. Gateway to Learning had been listed as a private school in the neighborhood I covered and I called them up. I was embarrassed to find out that while the school was indeed private, it was for a school for students with developmental disabilities.

But, said Cheryl Hennelly, the program's executive director. There is definitely a story here.

We talked on the phone - the first of many phone and in-person conversations - and Cheryl told me that Gateway had not received payments from the state's comptroller's office for the past seven months. This all happened toward the end of last quarter and when I decided I wanted to take Urban reporting, I knew this was a story I wanted to follow up on.

If you don't have enough time to read the article (singlehandedly the best editing and producing experience I've ever had), watch and listen to the audio slide show I created for it as well (singlehandledly the best multimedia production I've created thus far).

I'm ridiculously proud of it. My professor David Nelson made this the best article possible through a long editing process that I crave and hadn't seen in the program until now. This quality is something I now hope to execute in all my writing the first time around.

The quarter is almost over, but I get right back to it again June 22nd. Hopefully I'll find a way to juggle all of it and be a better poster. I've been more absent than I have been Chicago.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What I've Been Up To...

I've been so consumed with journalism school, I haven't had the time I would like to devote to my blogging. Enclosed are some links to stories I've worked on this quarter. I'm covering education in Chicago, a very huge and wily beast to be sure:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Northside College Prep student joins Chicago's all-star spoken word team

My sixth beat story for Newswriting.


A Northside College Prep senior will be one of six Chicago area high school students representing the city in this year's Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival.

Matt Ramir, 18, won the third-place individual speaker award after competing with his school's slam poetry team at Sunday's Louder Than A Bomb Teen Poetry Festival presented by Young Chicago Authors. The top six individual speakers at LTAB were selected to form an all-star spoken word team and compete at Brave New Voices, to be held at the Chicago Theater this summer.

As a first-time LTAB competitor who joined on a whim, Ramir said the win came as a surprise.

“It was amazing, winning third,” Ramir said. “The shock is still setting in. But I'm so glad people heard me.”

The Chicago team will be one of 50 teams at this year's competition, being held from July 14 through July 19. Brave New Voices is a part of Youth Speaks, America's “leading spoken word performance, education and youth development organization.” For a week, teen slam poets from across the country—and parts of Africa and Europe—perform their poetry for audiences reaching upwards of 10,000.

Ramir has been writing since the 8th grade after his father encouraged him to explore poetry. He admits his first attempts at poetry were “horrible,” but he found his footing through practice and performing at an open mic night at Coffee Chicago in the Uptown neighborhood.

“Living,” the poem Ramir performed at Sunday's LTAB finals, reflects his battle for self-acceptance in the face of negativity and a debilitating ailment: Ramir was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that effects voluntary muscle movement.

“Ruptured uterus,” Ramir’s poem begins, “The worst thing a doctor can tell an expecting mother / Disabled / The worst thing a doctor can call her child / Cripple / A word that has tortured me ever since.”

“When I was born, I was cut off [from] my oxygen for a while, and it resulted in damaging the cerebrum,” he said. “[It] means that my brain tells my hand to do something like wave high, but ... my hands don't get the message clearly and do something else.”

Ramir posted a poem inspired by his childhood memories of dealing with his disability on a gaming website. A commenter laughed at him “for being a cripple,” Ramir said.

“I always felt I was laughed at as a child, and hearing it again when I am older was like, 'Oh, crap.' But I decided to write about it instead.”

Ramir was worried the piece would be “cliché,” a big no-no in slam poetry. But Ramir said his coach, Nora Flannagan, assured him otherwise.

“I write whatever is in my heart, but for the LTAB piece Mrs. Flannagan was like, 'No one has ever done a disabled piece,' so I decided to try it and it somehow worked,” Ramir said.

“He found his voice, and it's a voice that the slam needed to hear,” Flannagan said.
“Entire audiences gave him standing ovations every single time he performed, and I was so grateful for that. The response he got showed him that his voice had a place at the slam - a vital place.”

She added that the performance was a tribute, “to the atmosphere that Kevin (Coval, co-founder of LTAB) and LTAB have fostered, where a kid with a disability can go from feeling like a target in everyday life to being literally center stage.”

Ramir, who will be working towards a computer science degree at University of Illinois in Chicago after graduation in June, said despite his hesitation, he's glad he performed the piece.

“Now that I've performed it, I feel much more strongly about it,” Ramir said. “I hope it speaks to future generations to help them understand the struggles you face with a disability, and the things we do to move past them. [For] me, [it's] poetry.”

You can listen to the poem Matt performed that night here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Louder Than A Bomb Erupts Sunday Night

On Sunday night I went to the Vic Theater after hearing word of a must-see event: Louder Than A Bomb, a teen poetry slam so fierce, so inspiring, I would be crazy to miss it. It was monsoon-like weather that afternoon, winds blowing so hard rain drops moved horizontally, making the most sturdy umbrella completely useless. But still, I followed the siren call and was not disappointed.

Named after one of the songs on Public Enemy's "It Takes A Nation To Hold Us Back," Louder Than A Bomb, presented by Young Chicago Authors, provides students from across the Chicago area an outlet for their thoughts. On the stage, they command attention. They have things to say and damn it, you're going to listen to them.

During the five hour competition and festival on Sunday, I was continually awed by how poised they were and their talent. If you look back at my old journals, my teenage angst was embarrassing in its...well...insignificance. But these kids are talking about real issues from domestic violence to living with a disability. Even the more "OMG" aspects of being a teenager take on an ironic spin through the deft pens of these young poets.

Take a multimedia walk through the event with me below.

A slideshow of pictures I took at Sunday's Louder Than A Bomb.


He Still Loves HER from iamchicago on Vimeo.

Gabbi's Ode to Lil' Wayne from iamchicago on Vimeo.

Gabbi's Ode to Lil' Wayne. For a complete listen, click here.

Chicago Public Radio had some of the students record their poems. These poems are posted on their website.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What You Talking About, Willis?

(Photo of the Sears Tower prior to its renaming, taken by me on an architectural boat tour)

First Marshall Fields, now this. Sears Tower, the largest building in America, will be renamed Willis Tower under a leasing agreement with London-based company the Willis Group Holdings Ltd.

I don't care what the Brits want to call it, it will forever be known as the Sears Tower to me and fellow Chicagoans who take up this call to action: Let our children's children know that this great feat in architecture was and forever will be the Sears Tower!

I only have 10 packets of Lipton Tea, but I'm tossing it in Lake Michigan for my own Boston Tea Party. No taxation without representation and no changing names of historic landmarks, either!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Just the Facts, Man

(Image courtesy of Consequence of Sound)

Lollapalooza, one of the most anticipated summer music festivals in Chicago, is beginning to put its feelers out as we inch towards warmer and warmer months. Little info is out right now, but here are the basics:

When: August 7 - 9, 2009
Where: Chicago's favorite playground in the summer, Grant Park
Who: Right now only headliners are confirmed. Depeche Mode, concert founder Perry Farrell's reunited band, Jane's Addiction and the Beastie Boys

For more information in the coming months check out Lollapalooza's Web site here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Chicago

(Editor's Note: I don't need to feel intoxicated to feel incredibly close to Chicago. Chicago intoxicates me. )

Even though I'm going through a private hell of my own making, I still raise a glass to you on your 172nd birthday. You don't look a day over 100!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

St. Matthias hopes new pre-kindergarten classes will keep school solvent

Third beat report. You have no idea how happy I was to file yesterday, I've been having such a hard time keeping up with the assignments and learning how to go out and find a "news" story. I was at my lowest Thursday when a story that took me weeks to confirm contacts was deemed not newsworthy. But, I dusted my shoulders off, pulled it together Friday, and turned in this story and got leads on three others.

Courtesy of State of the School Report and 2009-2010 Tuition Information.

St. Matthias Transfiguration School in Lincoln Square sees increase in enrollment despite overall decline in Catholic schools.

St. Matthias Transfiguration Elementary School in Lincoln Square is moving to secure its financial future by adding a new pre-kindergarten class next school year.

As other area Roman Catholic schools scramble to address stagnant or declining admission numbers and an unsure future, the addition of a new class continues a trend of increasing enrollment at St. Matthias.

“We weren’t able to admit any more people,” said Deborah Bukovy, marketing and admissions director at St. Matthias. “So that’s why we decided to open another class so that we could admit people [within and outside of the St. Matthias] community”

St. Matthias will add a new pre-kindergarten class for three- and four-year-old students for the 2009-2010 academic year, doubling its pre-kindergarten program: two PreK for three year olds (PreK 3) and two PreK classes for four year olds (PreK 4).

The idea to add another class first arose in October as families in the school applied for the following school year. St. Matthias had only one PreK 3 class and 20 children from existing families applied, taking up all the available space.

With the new additions St. Matthias will have two classes instead of one per grade up until 2013, when the school projects it will run out of room. “We’ll either look at doing a capital campaign or we’ll cut back the number of children that we enroll so we can use the space we have in the building,” Bukovy said.

The influx of students, which Bukovy attributed to gentrification in the neighborhood, will put the school on “a more stable economic footing,” she said.

“Since we’re one of the only private schools in our immediate neighborhood, they choose us,” Bukovy said. “What we’re seeing is … young people who have children are staying here longer instead of moving out into the suburbs.”

Parents with children in private schools are facing tough decisions during the recession, with some opting to move their children to less expensive Catholic or public schools. Catholic schools require families to raise $100-$500 for the school on top of tuition and fees, which can reach upwards of $8,550 at Gordon Tech High School, on the city’s Northwest Side.

“Everybody makes a sacrifice when they send their child to private schools,” Bukovy said.

Marie Neis, principal of St. Genevieve School in the Belmont-Cragin community, said financial aid needs have increased in the last three years as parents’ incomes are cut because of “reduction in hours and jobs being cut.”

While Neis said St. Genevieve is “very supportive and [tries] to work with families,” she said she is aware of the possibility her school will close if the Archdiocese of Chicago or donations did not continue to cover operating costs.

“We certainly [wouldn’t] be the only school in that situation if that were to happen,” Neis said.

Despite stagnant enrollments at schools like St. Genevieve, St. Matthias’ has grown considerably: Enrollment has increased 25 percent in the last five years, Bukovy said.

By securing students at a young age, the school is looking to retain students and keep its doors open.

“We want to keep them happy and satisfied,” Bukovy said, “and hope they stick with us through the duration of their elementary [schooling].”

St. Matthias Transfiguration School is committed to providing a well-rounded Catholic educational experience that emphasizes academic achievement and fosters spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical development among its students, thus enabling them to contribute effectively in a constantly changing world where faith in God, respect for self and others, and hope for the future are essential.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Estelle and Solange Rock Chicago


I went to Estelle and Solange's concert Wednesday evening at the House of Blues for Honey Magazine. Read my review on my Honey Magazine blog here.

And here's a video I got from Estelle's set before security kindly asked me to put away my camera...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Logan Square ELL parents address ISAT worries

My third beat report story.


A mother takes notes on reading comprehension for English Language Learners in preparation for the Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT). (Photo credit: Anthonia A./MEDILL)

Parents at seven Logan Square schools gathered Friday morning to voice concern with the upcoming Illinois Standard Achievement Test (ISAT) testing of English Language Learners, saying it places unrealistic expectations on students still learning how to speak, read and write in English.

Over 80 parents, teachers, volunteers and administrators came to the meeting at James Monroe Elementary School to learn more about the test, which is now in its second year for ELL students.

Parents and teachers said students were visibly nervous with the test just a week away.

“They think that [taking the ISAT] is [punishment for] something they did bad so they have to retake it,” said Maria Marquez, a teacher at McAuliffe Elementary. “They’re nervous about not passing [and] going up to the fourth grade.”

Silvia González, resource and parent-mentor coordinator at McAuliffe Elementary School, added: “I see how they struggle, I see their frustration. My heart [breaks] for some of these kids.”

Students in the third to eighth grade will be taking the ISAT between March 2 and March 13. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the ISAT “measures individual student achievement relative to the Illinois Learning Standards,” testing students in reading, mathematics, science and writing. The scores are used to determine a school’s performance and if a student will be promoted to the next grade level. High schools look at a 7th grader’s ISAT scores to determine the student’s chances at enrollment.

Until March of last year, ELL students took the Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English (IMAGE) test and the ACCESS for ELLs to judge their comprehension of the English language in social and educational contexts. ISBE stopped administering IMAGE after the U.S. Department of Education decided in November that the test did not meet No Child Left Behind standards. It was not immediately clear why the ISAT did not meet the standards.

ELL students taking the ISAT are eligible for accommodations such as having directions read to them in their native language and having more time to answer questions.

The change came as a total surprise to parents in the community, said Leticia Barrera, an education organizer for the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA).

“We were receiving phone calls from parents asking us if we [knew what was happening],” Barrera said. She said the ISBE and CPS avoided answering parents’ questions; information of accommodations for ELL students trickled in, but not with the urgency or accuracy LSNA said parents needed.

“We have students here,” Barrera said. “We are in the community and they are over there … implementing all these things without our input.”

Last year LSNA brought the community together to teach parents about the ISAT as ELL students took the test for the first time. This year the meeting was comprised of two seminars led by Reading First reading teachers Maureen Hajduke and Carrie Busse, with volunteers translating for Spanish-speaking parents.

Hajduke and a volunteer translator went over the basics of the ISAT in Monroe’s auditorium, teaching parents how to navigate the Illinois State Board of Education’s Web site, what students will be tested on based on grade level, what the test will look like and how to help students prepare for the two-week long exam.

The importance of parent preparedness was stressed.

“Don’t wait for anyone to tell you [what to do],” Hajduke said. “Prepare them yourself.

During the meeting’s second seminar Busse taught parents how to stop students from “regurgitating” information without processing it. Parents took notes Friday and simulated how they would work with their children in groups, using charts, markers and Post-it notes.

“No matter if they’re an ELL learner or a monolingual student, if they’re not exposed to it, they cannot connect to the text,” Busse said.

Organizers said they felt parents left with a better understanding of the ISAT and their children’s concerns.

“At times parents don’t know the stress that the children are going through,” said González, McAuliffe Elementary School’s resource and parent-mentor coordinator. “They think ‘Oh, it’s just a test.’”

“They were given an idea of how to work with the children and how to help them prepare for this test,” Gonzalez said. “Some of these parents left with a lot of questions being answered.”

Monica Espinoza, a parent-teacher mentor at McAuliffe Elementary, said her son is excited to take the test after being transitioned from ELL to monolingual classes this year.

“He’s like, ‘Mommy, I’m very excited because I know I’m going to do well,’” Espinoza said. “And I’m like, ‘I know you’re going to do well.’ But in the back of my mind I have that concern. [I’m just] trying to help him as much as I can.”

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I Am Chicagoist

My first article for is up. Chicagoist is a very popular local website that covers every nook and cranny of Chicago. I'm honored the editor accepted my submissions. Right now I'm a weekend writer because of my schedule, so check me out every Saturday and Sunday.

New Site Helps Those Jobless In Chicago

Friday, February 13, 2009

That Loving Feeling

My boyfriend and I have been together for close to 5 years. He was my handsome, but awkward, next door neighbor my first year of college. We didn't really talk to each other until a chance meeting a year later at a school event. We've been dating pretty much from that moment on.

We've lived together for almost three years now, and while we have our differences, I still say we make a pretty good pair. In lieu of flowers he sends me cute viral videos because he knows my weakness for all things cute (i.e. children, kittens, hedgehogs). He's really funny, smart and just about the most patient and sympathetic person I've ever met.

With all that said, sometimes I wish I could go back to when we were first getting to know each other. When every discovery about him seemed new, exciting and proof positive that we were in fact made for each other ("Wait, you like Ren & Stimpy? I like Ren & Stimpy!"). When you're in the throes of your first relationship, it's easy to make wide sweeping, Sweet Valley High-backed comments like that.

This song by Lykke Li transports me to that time when we weren't living together, when seeing each other involved planning and walking to and from dorms, and, more specifically, my not wanting to say "I love you" first.

Now the excitement is in the comfort I feel in still knowing those facts I learned while eating Harold's Chicken on his twin-XL bed in Pierce and watching DVDs. But oh, those first weeks before we became the Ottitundes.

Editor's Note: The video is kinda odd, but the song itself is sweet. If the gyrating of Swedes is too much for you, you can scroll down and follow the lyrics or read other entries :)

Lykke Li - "Little bit"
by tkf

hands down
i'm too proud for love
but with eyes shut
it's you i'm thinking of
but how we move from A to B?
it can't be up to me
'cause you don't know
eye to eye
thigh to thigh
i let go

i think i'm..

a little bit, a little bit
a little bit in love with you
but only if you're
a little but, a little bit, a little bit
in lo-lo-lo-lo-love with me


and for you i keep my legs apart
and forget about my tainted heart
and i will never ever be the first
to say it
but still I,
yes you know I..I..I..
i would do it,
push a button
pull a trigger,
climb a mountain
jump off a cliff,
'cause you know baby
i love you love you a little bit
i would do it, i would say it
i would mean it, we could do it
it was you and i and if only i..

i think i'm
a little bit, a little bit
a little bit in love with you
but only if you're
a little but, a little bit, little bit
in lo-lo-lo-lo-love with me

come here, stay with me
stroke me by the hair
'cause i would give anything, anything
to have you as my man (2X)

a little bit, a little bit
a little bit in love with you
but only if you're
a little but, a little bit, little bit
in lo-lo-lo-lo-love with me

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Olympic Hopes

I love Chicago. I love how the nation's eyes have turned towards the city still bathing in a post-Obama election glow (notice how I choose to dismiss Blagojevich just like the Illinois Senate did, hey-o!). I'm not quite sure how I feel about its run for the 2016 Olympics, especially considering the budgetary straits Chicago is in now and the expected costs to get the city Olympics ready.

Still, watching this video got me a little excited about our fair city hosting an event of such global interest.

Friday, February 6, 2009



I have been so swamped with life, school, and learning time management (which has never been my strong suit) that I've fallen behind on updating my blog. What can I say about journalism school, now that I've been at it for five weeks? It's been equal parts exciting and disappointing, for reasons I'll explain on a one--one, not over the internet where teachers/fellow students can read, basis. But here's a quick run down of what I've been up to:

  • I've been assigned the education beat in my newswriting class turned newsroom. Right now I feel like I have to do so much research to even begin to understand the beast that is Chicago Public Schools and their programs, but I have a couple of stories lined up already and I think I'll learn a lot during the next five weeks. After they've run on our interschool website (and if I pitch them to a newspaper/magazine), I'll post them on my blog.
  • I've changed direction. Going into the program I was positive I wanted to get on the magazine journalism track, create a magazine prototype (the main reason I loved Medill's program), and take the optional fifth quarter to study abroad either in Paris or Lagos, Nigeria. Now I'm 90% sure I'm going to switch my major to Interactive Storytelling, which would focus on using text and multimedia to tell stories, skills I think will be invaluable no matter which direction journalism heads. I would still take a class in long-form narrative writing and non-fiction to get a solid foundation in writing, but my interests are definitely taking me toward multimedia. Also, since the optional 5th quarter has a mandatory extra tuition payment, I'll graduate in four quarters. Still deciding what my last project will be: DC, magazine prototype, or Interactive Innovation.
  • I'm a writer for Honey Magazine online! I have a blog on the website that once I get my act together will feature profiles, events, and issues targeted at a multicultural, mostly African American female audience. I'll post a link on here when I put something up.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Days

Friday, January 23, 2009

Playing Journalist

When I was in the 6th grade, we had week of costumed dressing called "Spirit Week." There was twin day (you and a friend had to dress identically), pajama day, and school colors day. The day I was most excited for was Career Day. You see, I always knew I wanted to be a writer and while others were dressed as lawyers in three-piece suits, I came to Lincoln College Preparatory Academy dressed in jeans, a yellow t-shirt and carrying my V-Tech Kids Laptop.

When people asked me what I was supposed to be, I tapped the computer and said, "I'm a journalist." Without the laptop the entire costume was rendered everyday wear.

Flash forward 13 years and I'm still wearing jeans and carrying around my laptop in the hopes of becoming a journalist. But now that I've been out in the field, I think I need another prop to make this iteration of journalist work.



Kimchi Blue Briefcase Bag, $68 at Urban Outfitters.

It is so hard to stay organized when you're doing interviews on the street. Nothing turns people off more than anxious fumbling in too deep pockets and apologies for said anxious fumbling.

I picture myself reaching into this bag to whip out my voice recorder to ask people questions about health policy or gang activity in their neighborhoods; the fact that it can be worn messenger bag style is appealing as well - no straps sliding down my shoulders as I try to write in my note pad.

If you have to dress for the job you want, then this bag would definitely be the finishing touch on my journalist costume.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A New Era

I didn't cry at the rally, but I did today.

Image and "count up" of Obama's presidency available at Is Obama President

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Dream Deferred

I originally saw this on and couldn't think of a more fitting way to begin celebrating two historic men.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Story Telling

I was always a consumer of media before I started journalism school, but now it seems my hunger for news and new media has reached dizzying heights.

As part of the program, lecturers in different fields (i.e. broadcast, radio, etc.) talk to my class about where media is going. In an information heavy age where bloggers can get press passes, what is journalism? Who are journalists?

My definitions seem to be a lot more pliable than some of my fellow classmates. There seems to be a print, hard news bias that I can understand but don't necessarily consider a hard fast rule. One of the things I like most about journalism and new media is the storytelling aspect. You get to hear other people's stories and share them with others; your audience can take that information and apply it to their own lives however they choose, whether as a story to share around a dinner table or as a point of reference for whatever they're experiencing.

With all this in mind, my interests have shifted in the two weeks I've been at Medill. I originally wanted to do long-form features writing. Now I'm hoping to get a foundation in good writing, ethics, and how to find a story, but focus more on how to package information for online audiences. Videography, audio/video slide shows, web development, etc.

Because things like Tumblr version 5.0 get me ridiculously excited (there's that word again) of where journalism can and will go.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Put It On the Refrigerator

I'm going into Week Two at Medill, and it is as hard as everyone said it would be. My first week was a very humbling and eye-opening experience; I'm more excited about going to school and learning than I have been in a really long time. I'll go as far as saying Border Star Elementary was the last time I was this amped to go to class. Despite the weather and other issues I won't blog about, the experience has been great in the "Please sir, may I have another?" kind of way.

I'm getting spanked by AP style and I kinda like it.

Anyway, I have less time to devote to blogging about Chicago but I'm trying to stay disciplined. The blog will more often act as a online refrigerator for me to stick up my work at Medill on. I want my family and friends to see what I'm up to.

So without further ado, I give you a link to my first multimedia project: a 1-min audio track made on Audacity (which I learned in, like, an hour and was expected to create a product shortly after).

I did man on the street interviews in Albany Park last week, asking residents if they thought Gov. Rod Blagojevich should be convicted. Listen to the final (but very rough) cut here.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Who Needs D.C.?

While an estimated 2 million Americans will be making their way to Washington D.C. for the inauguration next week Tuesday, citizens of Chicago have some party plans of their own. Inauguration celebrations ranging from galas to informal gatherings at local bars are popping up all over the city. To see where one is near you, visit's inaugural party finder or check out a few of my picks (courtesy of a post originally found on TimeOut Chicago):

African Harambee (7537 N. Clark) will be offering pan-African food, music, and dancing between 8pm-1am.

Considered the best place to go for Ethiopian in Chicago, Ethiopian Diamond's (6120 N. Broadway) large restaurant will be transformed into a dance hall between 11pm-2:30am.

The first and last time I was at Town Hall Pub (3340 N. Halsted), I was surrounded by hipsters, militant bikers and I was trying to keep a friend from calling an unfaithful ex. This time around, the crowd is sure to stay the same, but with a life-sized cutout of Obama, free Jell-O shots, and drink specials, I might not mind the stink of post-irony irony.

I watched the Vice-Presidential Debates at the Whirlaway Lounge (3224 W. Fullerton) in Logan Square. The bar's affable bartender and owner, flat screen TV, and feel good environment would make for a great place to celebrate the Obama administration's official start.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Will You Be My Boyfriend?

I don't know if you know this about me but I'm kind of obsessed with fashion. Somewhere between my senior year of high school and graduating from the University of Chicago, my knowledge of labels and trends went from nada to damn near obscene in its breadth.

Thankfully I have enough common sense not to send myself into debt over all the swoon-inducing clothes I lust after and stick to consignment stores, Target and sale racks. My graduate student budget will keep my purchases strictly academic or out of necessity (like new snow boots), but that doesn't stop me from looking...


I love the slouchy look that's making the rounds. It exudes this, I'm-too-cool-to-care attitude that renders the wearer incredibly chic. I can picture myself wearing this Topshop Sequin Boyfriend Blazer ($160, so named for its "manly" oversized proportions) with a white v-neck shirt and skinny jeans.


LaRok's clothing toes the line between feminine and hard-edge "rocker" style. I like the fit of their Launch Party Blazer (on "sale" for $188) and the black piping.


I really love dresses and skirts. I like the pleating on the front of this Vanessa Bruno skirt and the bright royal purple color, but not the price tag ($253.50).


This budget friendly option from teen fashion catalog, Delia*s, has a full skirt fun for twirling in and cool beading on the waistband ($38.50).


Vena Cava is a high-end brand designed by Parsons' graduates Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai. The duo creates dream clothing for the urban sophisticate, mixing industrial details like zippers and beading with great silhouettes and prints. This top is on SUPER sale at Hejfina, a boutique in Chicago's Wicker Park ($88).


I tried these Michael Kors' booties ($179) on at a Macy's when I was home in Kansas City and loved them. The shape of this bootie may seem intimidating, but they're incredibly wearable. I haven't reached the point in my life where I'm OK with spending over $50 for shoes but I would definitely cop these on sale.


For someone who wears heels as frequently as I do, you would think I would have a nice pair of black closed toed heels. But alas, my shoe rack is lacking in that department. These Calvin Klein black pumps ($98) are interesting as well as functional thanks to their snake skin texture and 1/2 inch platform (which helps when walking in heels higher than 3", in my opinion).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Paris, Je T'Aime

I'm obsessed with the idea of Paris. The insanely chic women, the architecture, the art, the food. I would love to go there some day. I had a really crappy morning (I got two lessons in time management and journalism that left me a shaking, panicky mess from seven this morning until one in the afternoon) so I'm transporting myself to a bright and winsome version of the City of Lights, via this ad for the perfume Miss Dior. (Directed by Sofia Coppola)

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Day in Albany Park


Nanook of the North Side.


Footsteps on the Metra North Line Platform at Ravenswood.


The first people I interviewed today. The question: Do you think Governor Rod Blagojevich should be convicted?


I can't read what this says, but I like how the cracks in the stencil makes the characters look like rib cages and bones.


"Kiss me, I'm Serbian!"


Outside the Kimball Brown line stop.


Dresses at Grisel's Bridal Shop.


This was spinning and colorful in all the gloom.



Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Give Me A Beat!

My Journalism Methods: Newswriting class met for the first time today and I am beyond excited. We were assigned our beat: Chicago's Northwest Side (i.e. Logan Square, West Ridge, etc.) with a focus on stories that will appeal to baby boomers. Our first assignment is to get twelve audio interviews of people reacting to the Blago drama. Along with those interviews, we're expected to get a feel for our assigned neighborhoods (my group of four will be covering Albany Park or Korea Town), taking pictures and jotting down notes for an audience report presentation to be done weeks later.

Can I just say my general anxiety has been replaced with overallexcitement? I'm getting practical journalism training at arguably the best journalism school in the country from professionals who are genuinely passionate about giving us the best and most true to life experience possible. Ah, I can barely contain myself!

Ok. Back to reading about interview techniques and Albany Park. And if anyone out there knows anything about the neighborhood they'd like to share with me, definitely let me know.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

After waking up mid-afternoon from a long night of celebrating, I hopped on Facebook and wrote what I thought would be an all-encompassing resolution to start the New Year with:

I'm pretty proud of my rudimentary Paint skills, lol.

This prompted an emailed response from someone I hadn't heard from in awhile, questioning whether substantial change through "sheer will" was possible. She attached this article from the Times, which cites medical examples of people reverting back to bad habits (i.e. dieters regaining weight) and the opinion of a clinical psychologist named Marian Kramer Jacobs who thinks there are evolutionary reasons as to why change is hard to maintain:
If one believes that human beings are social animals, our hierarchies within families, governments and businesses depend on people who know their roles and perform them dutifully. "We're hard-wired not to change quickly," Dr. Jacobs said. "Think of what chaos would ensue if you could snap your finger and change instantly tomorrow. You would be one person today, someone else tomorrow."

The article goes on to say the belief that change is impossible can seem unpatriotic given America's history of movements and revolutions, our love of rags-to-riches icons, and self-improvement stories, yet numbers show "that after six months, only about 45 percent of the subjects managed to stick to their pledges." It ends noting that resolutions centered on healthy self-acceptance is more realistic than wide-sweeping change.

This all got me thinking whether or not resolutions are a wholly American (or Western) concept. What a luxury it is to consider the evolutionary or psychological reasons why we make resolutions! In societies where the caste you are born into most likely will be the one you die in, is there an urge to make resolutions to better oneself with the coming new year? Or is making resolutions just part of being human, wanting to change for goodness' sake, for the approval of others, or to move up in more fluid social systems, to make something better of yourself? Is there something wrong with looking back on the year as it draws to a close and thinking about ways to improve yourself in the coming year? In evolutionary speak, maybe making resolutions and being part of the 45% who succeed effects genetic fitness and allows successful resolution keepers to send their "quit-smoking-do-pilates-be-kinder" genes into the next generation.

What do you think?

Beginning Half of How I Rang In the New Year

My camera experienced technical difficulties after the first party Derek and I attended (they're all worked out now, apparently slamming it against a hard surface is something recommended by camera professionals), but here's how the first half of my New Year's Eve looked:


Hot sake and sushi at Tokyo Marina (5058 N. Clark), an establishment that comes highly recommended. Good price and a lot of extras (tea, cucumber salad, and miso soup) for free.


Mood lighting at Laura (an old co-worker) and Shelby's apartment, our first stop of the evening before ringing in the new year with champagne cocktail of Cassis, champagne, and strawberries at Derek's cousin's loft.

Photobucket Photobucket

Noisemakers are not fun to be attacked with, boyfriend of mine.