What I’m Working On in 2017


I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of resolutions, at least in the strictest sense of the word. But I do believe in setting out a road map of what I hope to accomplish and focus on in the next year. If we’re all still here. And the Great American Experiment hasn’t been burned to a pile of ashes. Whatever the case, and however awful the Trumpocalypse may be, these are the projects I have my eyes on in 2017.


  • Take a Slow Food Movement approach to my manuscripts: I’ve always seen myself as a novelist but the last few years have proven that I’m essentially more promiscuous than that as a writer. And, like the good former Catholic School Girl that I am, it left me racked with guilt. This year, I’m simply going to accept that long form takes time and that it’s ok to do it little by little while I work on other immediate needs. Plus, I want to dabble in other genres that aren’t YA like literary fiction, short stories and essay collections.
  • Jump into the abyss and build my freelance writing portfolio: Long gone are the days when I would question my ability to write. This, however, has not automatically resulted in me being fearless in the face of pitching. I’m still lost, terrified and defeatist. I have to get over it and I’ve vowed myself to do it by aiming for 100 rejections a year. See? I want you to say ‘No.’ Every ‘no’ will give me a sweet taste of success. This is how I need to trick my brain. On the other hand, if you are aware of my writing abilities and want to help me, please hit me up! Give me assignments, tasks, homework. I’m totally ok with letting myself down but I work hard for everyone else. I will not disappoint.
  • Be methodical about Live Lit: The Live Lit frenzy I’ve been into these past couple of years has been amazing, rewarding and so instructive. But preparing and writing for a show obviously takes time and effort. Balancing all my different goals has become pretty hard, so I’ve decided that I need to cut back a bit. Not completely. Just to 1 show a month.
  • Reconnect with friends and family through my writing: I remember when I used to enjoy sending emails to my friends abroad. Then, when email became intrinsically intertwined with work and obligations, I stopped. It’s fair to say that I’m terrible about responding to people in a timely manner and I think it’s because my rebellious subconscience doesn’t want to waste time writing emails when it could be writing other things. I’ve seen the rising trend in TinyLetters and have decided to start one at some point this year, mostly as a personal newsletter that I can send out to my loved ones outside of Chicago. I don’t want to be a mysterious figure that sweeps into their life every few years only to offer scraps of information. As sexy as that sounds. I want them to at least feel like I’m close. And if internet strangers sign up, then that’s cool too!


  • XX, Will Travel is coming for you: Hey, did you know I have a podcast? I do! It’s geared toward independent women travelers though everyone can learn something from it. My friend Kathy and I have been dropping episodes for over a year now and we’ve decided that 2017 is when we take the world by storm. I won’t reveal our plans and secrets, but subscribe over on iTunes or follow us on Podbean to get our latest news.
  • Root for the local, indie community: On a more selfless note, I have some idealist, hippie idea that I can help nurture and grow the Chicago podcasting community. How? For starters, I’ve been running the Chicago Podcasters Unite! group since March and, though small, I want to help it get offline and into the real world. This means meet ups, info sessions, events. If you’re in Chicago and have/like podcasts, please join!


  • Resist, resist, resist: I am horrified by the Trump phenomena and everything that surrounds it. My political activity, which has been dormant and complacent for way too long, has woken up like an angry dragon with way too many critical thinking skills. If you too are ready to fight what is shaping up to be the most backwards, extremist regime this country has seen in a while, you can sign up for Derek Nelson’s newsletter, which lists concrete actions you can take on a weekly basis. If you’re in the Chicago area, consider joining Indivisible Chicago.
  • Human interaction, Like, in real life: It’s a sad state of affairs when face-to-face conversations are positioned as some quirky notion, but here we are folks. Social media has lost a lot of its luster for me, and it’s not necessarily due to trolls and Facebook fighting. It’s because of how easy it is to interact only with the perfectly curated personal brand of someone you only kind of know, who is also only interacting with the version of your best self on Instagram. I fear the echo chamber, the false perception, the perverted illusions of life. No more bubbles.



  • Take my savings seriously: I already made great strides in 2016 by funding the IRA that I’ve been ignoring since 2011. My next step is to get one of those fancy savings investment accounts. My second step is to ask some pagan saint that it protect the stock exchange during the next 4 years and maybe do some voodoo magic to stave off a Great Depression.



  • iPhone: I don’t even have enough storage for Whatsapp and apparently that’s the only thing my Latin American friends use. Blerg.
  • Bed: The one I have now is only good for a State of Emergency. The State of Emergency is over. I would like to sleep without feeling the cheap wooden Ikea bars on my back.
  • I’m running away from home: More on that later. Way later.


What are your goals this year? Want to help me achieve mine? Want me to help you achieve yours? I’m all about kindness this year, a rarity. Take advantage of it.


Year In Review: 2016


Total Books Read: 28 (weak sauce)

% Written by Women: 67% (nice)

% Written by POC: 10% (could be way better)

% Written by International Authors: 21% (also some room for improvement)

Favorite Book of the Year: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel



Total Number of Performances: 15

Favorite Live Lit Piece: It’s a toss-up between my thoughts on avocado toast or a brief overview of my family history.

Favorite XX, Will Travel Blog Post: Coming to America

Favorite BookRiot Post: How Age-Inappropriate Reading Was Appropriate for Me



Albums On Repeat:

Nothing’s Real by Shura


Emotion by Carly Rae Jepsen




White Women by Chromeo


Kick by INXS


Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper


Favorite Live Show: LCD Soundsystem at Lollapalooza was worth wading through the masses of alcohol-poisoned teens.



Character I Will Channel as I Fight the Trumpocracy: Furiosa

Quote that Best Describes 2016: “Your 20s are all about like hope, and then your 30s are all about realizing how dumb it was to hope” from the movie Don’t Think Twice

Scene I Will One Day Reenact with a Boyfriend/Lover/Sad Sack Friend: 


TV Show that I Need People to Get On Board With: Lady Dynamite. I don’t understand why this is difficult.

TV Show that Feels Like Homework: Game of Thrones. Just create a collage of Tyrion’s best lines, please. It’s all I care about.



Total Number of Trips: 8

Favorite Destination: Detroit. (You can fight me on this.)

Travel Anecdote for the Ages: That one time I went to Costa Rica and a freaking hurricane chased me.

Favorite XX, Will Travel Episode: Travel Epiphanies with Jessica Kent



Celebrity Death that Finally Brought Me to Tears: Carrie Fischer, mostly because I can’t imagine what Gary, her French Bulldog, is going through.

Alter Ego that Has Come to Light: Turns out I still have my revolutionary political spirit intact. Bring it, Trump.





I Want the Delusional Confidence I Had at 15


There are a few things you should know about me as a 15-year-old. First, I had super-thick glasses that would only become hip in the early aughts. My braces, acne-prone skin and combination hair didn’t help. Are you shocked that I didn’t have a gang of strapping young men at my door? Yeah, I thought so. I had enough friends to know I wasn’t universally rejected, but when it came to the social ladder of high school life, I was definitely in the bottom half. My interests were strange, I was too nerdy for my own good, and I had the sensation that I was for sure missing out on something cooler. Needless to say, I felt on constant shaky ground, second-guessing almost everything except for one thing: I was a really good writer.

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A Month in Obsession: April 2016

This spring is killing me in ways our mild winter never did. Where art thou, sunshine? I can’t keep wearing the same old pair of pants for another 30 days and the rest of my jeans all have some wear and tear in them. Anywho, clearly my sartorial choices have not been part of my monthly obsession. What has?

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