The first day of my adult life


Jonny, Juanita and me during my last week at Northwestern.

In the four months since my last post, I have finished my last semester at Northwestern, gotten my first paid job at SKDKnickerbocker, become an uncle, turned 22, volunteered at two Human Rights Campaign galas, moved twice, obsessed over Beyoncé’s new self-titled album (oh my god Microsoft Word corrects Beyoncé to add the accent!), contributed to marriage equality in Illinois and closed out one of the most important years of my life.


Me and my adorable newborn niece, Vivian Yee Suen!

Maybe I’ll have time to reflect back on some of these events in blog form, maybe not. Today, however, is a day that screams “BLOG ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS.”

Today marks my first day living in DC as a college graduated, employed adult. It feels weird – a combination of curious, excited, nervous, “happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time” (I hate to say it, but the anthem “22” describes my life just six days after my 22nd birthday down to the T-Swift).

I got out of bed at 2:30 today. I start work on Monday, and I wanted to enjoy having nothing to do before I start working 47.5 hours a week. I explored my new neighborhood, called Eastern Market, which I think will be a perfect place to start out my new life. It’s rainy outside, but I didn’t mind. I ate at this nice diner I had heard of called Ted’s Bulletin – grilled cheese and tomato soup – and checked out a few of the other restaurants I’m sure I will be tired of in six months. The food and flea market that Eastern Market was named for was a little bare bones today, probably because of the weather or the later afternoon hours in which I explored it. It’s going to be nice to be able to get up early and buy fresh produce on the weekends.

I’m not quite sure what my living situation is right now. I’ve got a room in what I believe is a law firm operating out of a house, and I think that my landlord, who is a lawyer at the firm, lives somewhere in the house or in an addition to the house. I should have three other roommates, but only one is here and I haven’t met him yet. The room is pretty big, with two closets, a desk and plenty of drawer space. I’ve got a comfy queen bed that I am lounging on as I type this. I’ve got two big windows facing a street filled with row houses, trees and a couple of small but pretty churches, and I’ve been enjoying watching the passersby with their umbrellas in the light drizzle. Vampire Weekend is playing on shuffle, as it has been for the past week since my friend made me get their CDs.

I am anxious about living in DC without knowing many people. I am starting a whole new life here, and that is intimidating. I am most afraid of loneliness; it would be too easy to just work and go home, occasionally seeing the few familiar faces I know here and never meeting new ones. It’s going to take a lot of energy and effort to meet people, and I’m not sure how to get started. At least once work starts on Monday, I will be busy and hopefully meeting some people through that.

Hopefully, three months from now, I can look back on this and think, “wow – I had no idea how many great people and what an awesome time I was going to be having!” It’s always scariest at the beginning of a new chapter, when you don’t know what to expect, which people are going to become your friends or what your routine is going to be. I look back on college and think about how I met the people that ended up being my best friends, how I never would have imagined the impact they would make on me the first time we hung out. How I met my friend Jonny on Facebook before college even started or Juanita walking on the stairs of our student center or Kate on my pre-orientation backpacking trip or Britt in the hallway outside of a friend’s dorm room or Jacob at a party for a student production I had worked on.

First year of college with my best friend, Jonny.

I will admit that it does feel much scarier than when I first started college. College is built for you to make friends, with clubs and class and dorms and events. Aside from work, I am going to have to seek out those things on my own. I’m always open to advice if you’re one of my friends who have already started adulthood.

Here’s to beginning my new life. 

Forever visiting

Today is a big day for me; my friends from home are coming to visit!

393995_1454827043783_973997250_nHarriett, me, Jodi and Laura Ann over Christmas break.

I’ve been really lucky to have some incredible friends from home that I have stayed close to through the almost three years since I’ve moved to college. We talk every day; I come to visit them; they come to visit me. It’s not easy knowing that we’re going to spend the rest of our lives having to make visits to see each other rather than being in the same place, but it’s what we’ve got to do. 

This week is one of those visits, and I couldn’t be more excited! It’s a rare occurrence for them to get to come visit me in Evanston, although a few have gotten to make the trek up here at one point or another.

Christa and Laura Ann came to visit last year and met my best friend here, Jonny.

I love getting to show them a slice of my Northwestern life, even if it is glorified (I definitely don’t go into Chicago as often as we’re about to), and introduce them to all of my friends here. It’s really cool seeing my worlds collide. My friend Jonny even came to visit me in Little Rock this summer and got to see what my home life was like (again glorified – we went to the lake!). He has really connected with my friends from home, and they’re excited to see each other!

ImageHarriett, Addi and I stayed in Evanston last summer to go to Lollapalooza.

These visits make me feel like an adult and a teenager at the same time. We’re having a blast and acting like we always have around each other, but the circumstances are much more “grown-up.” One day, this is what we’re going to be doing with our kids!

If I know anything about this week, it’s that it will go too fast. Before we know it, they’ll be packing their bags and leaving for the next big break between seeing each other. It’s the nature of visits. But I also know that there will be more to come. Although the gaps between seeing each other can drag on, the trips themselves are some of the best days of our lives.

I can’t wait to see you guys.

Three weeks back at NU + Chicago excursions

I’ve been back at Northwestern for almost three weeks now and have done quite a lot!

First and foremost, I got the internship I wanted for the summer! I will be interning in the Youth and Campus Outreach department at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in Washington, D.C.! The HRC is the largest LGBT advocacy organization in the nation; you may know it as the = sign.


I can’t wait to live in our nation’s capital this summer and work on projects helping LGBT youth around the country! I really feel like this is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Aside from that big news, I’ve been able to go into Chicago a lot more than I did last quarter. During my first week back, my friend Kristin and I saw the world premiere (literally the first performance in front of an audience) of the Big Fish musical starring Norbert Leo Butz. Honestly, I think it needs some work and am not a big fan of the music, but it was still fun to see!


I went to a really cool coffee shop in Chicago with some friends called Metropolis Coffee to do work. It’s right off the Granville stop on the Red line and worth checking out if you’re in the area.


It had one of the best chai lattes I’ve ever had! They also serve cupcakes from Maddiebird Bakery – my peanut butter and chocolate one was super tasty.

555844_1897906880508_627744624_nI finished an internship grant proposal for Northwestern that would really help cut some of the costs of living in D.C. this summer. It was great getting outside of Evanston to do some work and a really conducive work environment. Hopefully I’ll go back again soon!

I’ve gotten to go out a couple of times besides the usual World of Beer excursion. I went to a sorority date night (ZTA) at Linkin House last week, and last weekend was my friend Kate’s 21st birthday. She was pretty much my first friend at NU, and she, her roommate Sarah and I have stayed close since freshman year. We went with our friends Emily and Leesha to Andersonville to go bar hopping, which I have only gotten to do once in Chicago. We went to two places called Atmosphere and Hopleaf that were both really fun. We might even go back this weekend.

I also went to a Cubs game against the Giants with my housemates. It was a really nice time, and it would have been even nicer if the sun wasn’t blocked out! It was a lovely day, so I left early to go for a run. I’m one of the most unathletic people I know and am trying to do better about staying in shape. I love being outside when it’s nice anyways, so it works out pretty well. I might be dead after a run, but ultimately it feels really great.

chicago-cubs-logoI’m going home next weekend, and I’m really excited about that. I haven’t been home in almost four months and won’t be going home again until September. It’s going to be great seeing my friends and family for the weekend, and then a few of my friends have booked Megabus tickets to visit me in May!

Aside from all of that, I love my classes this quarter. I’m taking Marketing Research, Marketing Strategy, Public Relations and a really easy math class. I’m also taking a Graphic Design mini-course, which is going to be a really helpful skill to have moving forward in my career.

This weekend should be pretty exciting too; I’m going to a 21st birthday on a party yacht at Navy Pier! Crazy. And I’m seeing American Idiot in Broadway Chicago tomorrow, which stars an NU student. It’s been a pretty packed and fun few weeks!

Mom’s visit

My mom just left yesterday from a four-day visit, allowing me to get to do a lot of the things I normally wouldn’t, like eating at Friends Sushi and seeing Book of Mormon! And, of course, I got to spend time with my mom and pretend like I didn’t have a ton of work to get done… Work that I should be doing right now…

Anyways here’s a rundown of some of the stuff we did:

Day 1: Downtown

Pretty much the second mom got here, we headed downtown to eat at our all-time favorite restaurant, Friends Sushi. If you haven’t been there before, you haven’t been living. Their fusion sushi rolls are extremely creative and flavorful. The first time I had their Friends Maki, I tasted a familiar yet mysterious tartness only to realize that there was thinly sliced green apple in it. Hopefully that gives you an idea of the kind of sushi you can expect to enjoy here. 

We tried the Fire Cracker appetizer, which were basically Asian-fusion nachos. Raw tuna and salmon, avocado, red tobiko (fish eggs), and creamy wasabi sauce on shrimp crackers. Also known as RIDICULOUS.

We ordered the Fujiyama Maki for the first and definitely not last time. Crab meat, imitation crab, shrimp, and spicy mayo topped with king crab, red tobiko, and tempura crumbs. Totally decadent.

We made our way to go shopping, because what else is there to do downtown when it’s freezing? Oh yeah – I forgot to mention that after a nice, 50° Monday, it decided to drop to 15° when mom came. So of course she vowed never to come back in February. It’s definitely the month in Chicago to skip if there is one. The stores had some good sales, but it didn’t take a lot of un-layering and relayering and carrying huge coats around before we were ready to head back to Evanston.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then went to see Argo, which was as good as I expected it to be. Ben Affleck was snubbed from the Oscar nom AND WE ALL KNOW IT!


I had class all day on Wednesday, so we were only able to grab breakfast at Le Peep during the day. After class ended, mom and I headed downtown again to see Book of Mormon. I made my mom take the el there and back so she would see how we cheap college students do it (and save like $100). 

Book of Mormon was the best musical I have ever seen (well maybe tied with Avenue Q). I was thrashing with laughter the entire time. It was so funny that halfway through the first act, I stopped laughing because literally everything was funny. I’d actually become habituated to the humor – and then it got funnier. Performances, script, and production were all top notch. Definitely go see it. It’s a blast.

Day 3: Pajama Game

Mom and I had lunch at Bat 17 before I went off to class until 5. We had dinner at Bravo and then went to see Jonny’s show, The Pajama Game. I’m always so impressed with how talented the students at our school are!

Day 4: Saying goodbye

Friday was short and sweet. We had lunch at Chipotle and then said our goodbyes. I’m hopefully going home in April to visit again and see everyone, because I probably won’t get to go home this summer. It’s always nice to see my mom, but it was time for me to get back to work – homework and more internship applications are on the horizon!

Smooth(ie) moves

I had two midterms yesterday, so the entire last five days have actually consisted of nothing but me studying. I’ve never studied so much in my life, but it was definitely worth it. Gotta keep up that GPA if I wanna go to grad school!

Aside from studying, well, I haven’t done really anything outside of my normal routine. So I’m gonna talk about part of that!

I make at least one smoothie every day because 1. they’re delicious and 2. they’re cheap and 3. they make me feel healthy. So here are some pictures of one of them. This one has frozen mango, frozen berry blend, a banana, and yogurt. I also really like one with OJ, banana, and frozen mango in it. You don’t ever have to add ice, just buy frozen fruit (or freeze your own). I use a hand blender because it’s easy to clean and really quick.

Experimenting with new flavors is always fun too. Woo!

Putting in the fruit.

Adding in some yogurt.

My favorite college purchase – a Cuisinart hand blender!

Pure deliciousness.

Those people you don’t know but probably met once

So I’m sitting in Norris trying to come up with something to blog about (there’s been a lack of excitement in my life just studying and trying to stay warm) when I see this girl sit down a few tables away from me. Now she can’t see me — huddled behind a large support pillar at my two-top — which is probably good because she’d probably find it weird that I’m writing this.

This girl is one of those people. 

I see this girl at least three times a week. We have classes together; we both frequent Norris. Even though our paths cross often, under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t have any idea who she was — except for the fact that at the beginning of the quarter, as she walked past my seat in class, she gave me a recognizing wave and a “Hey! How ya doing?”

Oh no.

Who was this girl? I knew immediately that I was supposed to know who she was, but I didn’t. Had we met at a party? Was she a friend of a friend? Had I met her sometime last year and the eight months away from NU made me forget?

It’s one of the most shameful, awkward moments you can have as a college student. You try desperately to act normal and pretend that you totally know who that person is. You feel like a total jerk because you’re obviously so self-obsessed that you forgot another human being. Like totally forgot them. But it’s also just a flaw of the human memory — blame psychology, right?

Now, after a month of seeing her so often, I’m often the one initiating the smile, the wave, and the “Hey! How ya doing?” She’s become a regular presence in my life, and even if I have no clue who she is, I actually enjoy running into her. She’s got a contagious smile — and she’s not some ass hole that forgets people she should know…

I think we all have one of these people, or more than one, and after a while it feels like you do know them — that they’re not so much strangers anymore. It’s these people that encourage us to at least try harder to take the time to recognize each other, and not just each other’s faces. I think you probably get what I mean.

It’s time to un-adjust

I’ve been back at NU for enough time to feel like I’ve readjusted to life here. In a weird way, it’s been easy and hard at the same time.

Easy in that I just fell into my new class schedule, re-joined my old extracurriculars (NU Intel, Project SOAR), and slowly and steadily got back in touch with my good friends. Studying for my first test in almost eight months wasn’t even bad, and my Micro problem sets are surprisingly fun to do. 

So it feels like I have it all together, and in a sense, I do. I’ve got a pretty solid two-year plan that ideally involves getting a summer internship at the Human Rights Campaign in D.C., graduating in December with a double major in Theatre and Psychology and my newly declared Integrated Marketing Communication certificate, getting a job somewhere for the first half of 2014, and finally, starting a year of graduate school back in London.

And I guess that’s part of what makes it hard. I’ve got five more months before my next big step (hopefully a summer internship), and that’s a huge gap to just fill with schoolwork (and of course a trip to Portugal, which I am endlessly excited about). Sure, I’ve got work to do, but there’s a lot of time in five months and I want that time to be fun. I’m coming back from a place where I was making huge personal discoveries and growth on what felt like a daily basis, and part of that was rooted in the fun I had – the interpersonal relationships, travel, and overall adventure. If I learned one thing over there, it’s that living in the moment is maybe even more important than living for your goals.

So I guess that is what’s hardest about readjusting, and part of the reason I think it’s time to un-adjust a little bit. I’m too young to get so caught in the motions. 

Workin’ my way back to you (and by you, I mean internships)

Being back at Northwestern, I more than ever feel the need to be a pre-yuppie. I think high school Brennan would be very surprised that I no longer am trying to run around in costumes while singing on stage and instead am fighting hard to end up stuck behind a desk, in a suit, making an intern fetch me coffee —

Okay well that’s not really the goal either, but if you’re reading this future employers, I’m totally willing to get your coffee and think you look great in that suit!

Which brings me to my new favorite pastime: applying for internships for the summer. So far I’ve updated my LinkedIn like 10 times in the last week, got an account on, e-mailed the Equality Federation about internships at Equality IL, and e-mailed a few contacts about possible opportunities for before the summer.

Hearing how accomplished all of my fellow students are and feeling behind from my seven months off-campus makes me feel very idle, which I do not like. I’ve been so used to have stuff to do all the time, and since I can’t casually fly off to Italy to gain some introspective-and-yet-worldly-self-growth, it’s time to buckle down and grow in less-fun-but-equally-important-professional-career-blah-blah-blah ways.

Secretly, I’m really excited about it.

Pack Pack Packin’

I know I haven’t left Little Rock yet, but I’m gonna go ahead and pick up my travel blog instead of dragging my time.

If you didn’t know, I’m studying in London for the next three months. This is going to be my first big bite of the hamburger that is Western Europe, and I’d like to try as many flavors as possible. I tried making a list of all the cities I want to visit, which may end up being an ever-expanding, unreachable lifelong goal, but I’ve got to start somewhere.

These are my big goals:
Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam, the Scottish Highlands, Wales, the French coast, and a weeklong excursion to Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Berlin.

Aside from that, I’ve been trying to assemble my clothes for the next three months.