It's the first day of fall. And I am overjoyed.I'm sitting on the patio of a Starbucks in Roscoe Village, staring up at a cloudless blue sky knowing that in a few hours, I'll be enjoying one of the many perks of being a full-time freelancer: heading to Wrigley Field for a day game, watching the Cubs lose their last home game of 2011. There's a man across the street with a can of spray paint the same color as his city-issued safety vest, blocking traffic and drawing arrows every which way from corner to corner. Sometimes it's best not to ask questions.
I'm shivering in my long-sleeved T-shirt and light scarf but totally unwilling to go inside, breathing in cool air spiked with possibility (and some paint fumes, if I'm lucky, I guess). Wrapped up in this crazy idea that absolutely anything can happen right now. Which is true for every day, every moment, but for now, there's nothing scary about it, nowhere to go but up. And I don't say that because I'm at rock bottom — I'm far from it, actually — but because I choose it. As I sit here sipping my $4 soy chai, it occurs to me that this is goddamn ridiculous. Not the "everything's comin' up Paige" attitude I've adopted, but the fact that I have very little money coming in but still insist on buying this drink nearly every day. At least $100 every month, down the drain with the swipe of a pretty little gold card. My drink orders are not passive transactions like my other — so. many. other. — credit-card purchases: I have to reload the stupid gold card to get my soy upgrade gratis. I know exactly how much I'm spending.
SO, TOMORROW. (Man, I'm terrible at segues from Real Writing to…whatever this is.) Tomorrow night, I will very responsibly take public transportation to the Gold Coast and learn how to slow my roll.
My good friend Nicole, who found herself in a similar self-employed pickle just months after an ill-fated career choice, is the creator of Ms. Career Girl, a fantastic website for young women looking for career and life advice. Nicole is much better than being a grown-up than I am. In addition to the gorgeous website that gives me blog envy every time I visit, she's also started doing live networking events in Chicago. There's another one after work on Thursday evening, Sept. 22 — it starts at 6 p.m. — at Proof. Yes, the nightclub. Yes, I know. Gross.
Here's a look at what to expect at this event, a panel discussion with women who are experts in their fields:
- Home Ownership: How much mortgage can you afford? How much money should you plan on putting down? What if you have a poor credit score?
- Tackling student loans and improving your spending habits
- How to use life insurance as a retirement, college or wedding savings tool (Ed.: I have no idea what this is, this "wedding" you speak of.)
- Owning a home in Chicago: what you need to know about property taxes, special programs and condo associations.
- Why insurance is crucial to long term financial success and building wealth.
- Should you focus on cutting costs or earning more money?
- Why should someone in their twenties have life insurance? What kinds of life insurance are there?
Also, there will be champagne.
Back at Starbucks…I gave up and came inside. I'll tell myself it was because I needed a power outlet. Truthfully, though, hypothermia will not be a good look for me tomorrow night at Proof (though it would seem hyperbole always is). A woman walked in with three little boys, each wearing bicycle helmets and capes. They didn't ride bikes here. Two of them — brothers, I assume — have red and blue vinyl capes and matching bright-green helmets with scales and decals to make them look like dinosaurs; the third has a plain blue helmet, but his cape is made from a silk scarf. He's a paisley superhero. I love them, and I don't even know them. As they stand with their faces pressed to the window, screaming at the top of their little lungs for no good reason, I realize this is a huge part of why I throw money at an automatic espresso machine every morning. Little moments like this. But maybe tonight, I can start to figure out how to balance the moments of people watching and baby dreaming with affording to make those dreams a reality at some point. Reaching? Maybe. But it's true. You should come tomorrow night. We can meet in person. And drink champagne. And learn how to grow up and start saving money. And, you know, buy houses and get married and be successful in the long term. Dear god, the future terrifies me. Even if it is all uphill from here.
Disclosure: Nicole offered me free entry to the event if I wrote about it. So I'm asking you to pay for a ticket, but I'm already going for free. Nyah, nyah, nyah.