Read my recent work for the Chicago Tribune

Read an assortment of my stories from the Chicago Tribune’s Life+Style and Dining sections:

How to say ‘I’m sorry’ — and mean it
The art of apologizing: What you should say, how you should say it and when

‘Digital’ friends no replacement for the personal touch
Technology may make us feel more connected than ever, but does this actually make us closer?

Rethinking narcissism: Feeling extra-special may not be so bad after all
A Q&A interview with the author of the book, “Rethinking Narcissism: The Bad — and Surprising Good — About Feeling Special”

Elope: Pros and cons of skipping the wedding
So you don’t want a wedding. Or do you? Reading this could help you decide.

Floral cocktails offer a taste of spring

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Goodbye, Something Brewing

A cup of the Sumatran coffee and a blueberry muffin. Or the blueberry cobbler coffee when they had it on tap. Or the raspberry white chocolate latte when I felt like slurping down the sugar. Those crispy, crinkled french fries. The pepperoni panini (sans pepperoni when I was in my vegetarian phase) with the marinara dipping sauce. 

something-brewing-goodbye

It never really mattered what I ordered at Something Brewing; the food and drinks always hit the spot. What mattered most were the countless hours I spent at the coffee house engaged in intimate conversations with close friends or those many moments I was alone, thinking and writing.

When I started to crave independence at age 15, Something Brewing was my oasis. It was the one place I could act like the adult I so desperately wanted to be. Nearly every day after school, I would walk — or drive, once I got my car — the six blocks from my house, always armed with either a book, newspaper, laptop or my diary, depending on my mood. Some days, all four when I expected to camp out for a while.

Something Brewing is where I filled out all 13 of my college applications. Where I decided to attend Loyola. Where I researched the first candidate for whom I ever voted. Where I once broke up with a boyfriend, on the phone — screaming. Where I decided high school was the absolute worst. Where I spilled lots of ink in my diary over petty problems I can’t even recall today. Where I learned to love the written word.

I still remember the first time I visited after leaving for college in Chicago. I felt slightly self-conscious stepping inside, like somehow being away for two months had turned me into an outsider. But that anxiety quickly transformed into elation when Larry, the owner, came to the front cash register and immediately recognized me.

Larry kept recognizing me, even when I’d be absent three months… six months… a year. He’d ask me about Chicago, how I liked it. He told me he and his wife, Liz, had visited a few years ago. They loved it. I told him I shared that sentiment.

I always made a point to schedule a visit to Something Brewing when I went home, even if I was only in town for 48 hours. That charming coffee house, devoid of any pretension, was an extension of my family — my happy place.

I now live somewhere and in circumstances for which I am incredibly thankful. Back then, that wasn’t the case, even though in retrospect, it probably should have been. In high school, I viewed each day as nothing more than one fewer until I could move far away and never look back. Something Brewing was where I opined and whined. It was the backdrop of my fond memories from those dreadful teenage years. It was my first true love.

After phoning Something Brewing incessantly the past few days, without ever getting an answer, I texted my dad and asked him to stop by the coffee house to confirm the nasty rumor I’d read on Facebook about its close.

He confirmed. “After 14 yrs no more SB,” he texted. “They really missed your business.”

I missed them too.

I just hope future generations of angst-ridden teenage girls from Conway, Ark., who are desperate to escape their hometown, can find a similar place that makes them feel at home.

Il mio ritorno a Roma

A popular legend claims a visitor who flips a coin into the Trevi Foundation is destined to return to Rome someday.

Well, I flipped a few euro while studying there and yielded a satisfactory return on my investment. Domani, sono volerà a Roma dopo due anni of being apart from la Città Eterna. Containing my excitement is nearly impossible as I’ve dreamt about returning to Rome for at least 10 minutes each day, since I waved “ciao” to the Zone Hotel of Monte Mario in May 2010.

I’m interested to see how Romans have been affected by the eurozone crisis. Have businesses closed? Are restaurants less busy? Are the people downtrodden? What perceptions do Italians have of Mario Monti? And is the freedom of the Italian press progressing?

Rome is an ideal tourist destination, but I’m returning as a former resident. I look forward to strolling the graffitied streets of the less populated neighborhoods and practicing my Italianglish with workers at stores rarely frequented by other Americans.

Recently, I applied for an internship with the Associated Press Bureau in Rome, Italy. Of course this is my fairytale internship and likely one of the most competitive, but regardless, I’ll strive to combine my adorations of journalism and Italy until I reach the crossroads.

Ciao a tutti!