All that jazz

I had one of the best weekend I’ve had in Michigan in a very long time! Following my last post, I’m actively working on cherishing the friends in front of me instead of feeling pain from past relationships. Two of my closest friends made my weekend in two of my favorite Michigan cities so special.

On Saturday, Emily and I visited some cool spots in Detroit: Two James distillery, a bar across the street and Cliff Bells jazz club. We laughed, vented about work and had deep conversation about life, love and relationships. It’s fulfilling to have such a mature, “adult”-like friendship with someone you can laugh the night away with at the same time! I look forward to making more memories with Emily.

“You are what you drink” haha!

Yesterday was a lovely Mother’s Day—although it was different than it has been in the past. I drove from Emily’s to see my friend Crystal, who lives in Grand Rapids (on the west side of Michigan). We had a lovely afternoon strolling through the botanical garden, admiring all the flowers and poking fun at some of the more obscure sculptures.

Crystal and I admired the Amway hotel and ate at a southern restaurant before we parted ways. 💛

Media taken May 13 and 14, 2023

Ballin’ Out in Boston!

One of my closest friends and I spent the weekend together in Boston—which was much needed and long overdue for both of us. Carolina lives in North Carolina (ironic, haha!) and I hadn’t seen her since August. Her first time in Boston and my second return treated both of us well!

We met in the early afternoon on Friday and wandered around East Boston. After exchanging hugs, laughs, hilarious tee shirts and stories over a classic Italian lunch, we made our way to our charming Airbnb in Somerville—and the neighborhood was full of cute bunnies. Carolina and I had no idea how much fun we were about to have that evening!

Carolina and I are both huge fans of Troy Bond, an up-and-coming New York-based comedian who does modern day Seinfeld bits and really pushes the envelope with heckling and crowd work. Not only did we get to enjoy such comedy gold, but we were able to meet him after the show!

After the show we strolled around the area and ate dinner at Gather, a cute restaurant with the best oysters. The people-watching was prime as several people were either on dates or watching the game—a very weird juxtaposition haha. We headed back to our Airbnb and before bed, someone dear to me called me and it meant the world to me. What a perfect way to end a wonderful day with one of my closest friends!

On Saturday morning, Carolina and I grabbed breakfast with one of her closest friends who lives in the city, Steph. It was a treat to finally meet her, share some more laughs and eat excellent food at Rosebud Cafe. After we couldn’t laugh or eat anymore, Carolina and I parted ways with Steph (boo!) and spent the afternoon strolling around Harvard Square and Back Bay. We enjoyed more people-watching, window shopping and sh*t talking per usual haha! It was such a breath of fresh air to be with such an amazing friend!

Saturday evening was also super fun as we met up with my friend Katie, who’s one of my best friend’s sister in law. I haven’t seen her since Carolyn’s baby shower in October, so it was great to see her again, too! Unfortunately, Steph wasn’t able to join us, but Carolina, Katie and I enjoyed a seafood dinner at Beehive and drinks at a nearby dive bar with the coolest decorations and lights. We even met a random Australian dude as we took photos outside!

May is feeling less lonely than April did, but I’m still recovering from some fears of loneliness and wondering what’s next. Cheers to whatever adventures may come next, and I’m incredibly grateful for Carolina, Katie and meeting Steph. Carolina even sent me some wonderful quotes prior to us parting ways on Sunday morning. 💚

Photos taken Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6, 2023.

April 2023 Progress & Gratitude

The bookends of last month were the highlights: super fun weekends in Nashville and Dallas! But before I share what I’m grateful for, I wanted to give you all a sneak peak into the journey April had been.

Fun with Alex, Alvin and Vicky on Broadway Street!
More good reads! (Although no one should stay out of New Orleans haha)

This month has felt incredibly lonely day-to-day. I’m beginning to feel impatient about when and where to move, how to navigate through changes at home and work, and so on. The friends I’d thought I had when I moved back to Michigan haven’t been as active in my life – or at least not in the capacity I thought they would have been – so it’s saddening at times. Even writing about it here has me feeling emotional, and I have had to push through a lot of really challenging days.

With that said, I’ve received support and love from newer friends and others I deeply care about recently—in ways I hadn’t expected. I’m really hoping that things continue to progress with these newer relationships in my life because I don’t think I would be able to get through these tough times without them (and they’re making the good times even better!).

As down as I’ve felt collectively this month, I’m also happy I’ve been getting back into the piano—slowly but surely. I’d missed playing music for myself and look forward to learning more songs. And of course I’m anxious amidst uncertainty, but I’m beyond happy about the way my present – and hopefully near future – is unfolding.

Photos taken April 1 through April 30, 2023.

Easter weekend shenanigans

I had a wonderful weekend with my parents, and old friend and another work friend who is becoming closer by the day. On Friday evening, I grabbed dinner and drinks with my coworker-turned-friend Emily, starting in my favorite Ferndale, Michigan and ending the night in Hamtramck (our Polish city within the city of Detroit!). We talked about our families, guys and shared plenty of laughs along the way. It’s been great growing a beautiful friendship with Emily!

Saturday was a lazy day at home with my parents, but wasn’t so lazy for Linley! We dressed him up in his bunny costume for a little Easter egg hunt in the backyard. He hated the costume, but loved the treats!

Sunday itself may not have “felt” like Easter, which was perfectly okay by me; my friend Crystal (who I hadn’t seen since December) and I needed a beach day on Lake Michigan, and of course Linley is always our plus one. The three of us enjoyed some hiking, lounging on the warm sand, walking along the water and some good snacks. I needed my much needed Crystal time!

Media taken Friday, April 7 through Sunday, April 9, 2023.

Rain to Sunshine

Holiday weekends are hard for me but I’m happy to be spending Easter with my pup and good friend on the west side of Michigan. We’ll be doing some hiking and much needed catching up!

I’m getting really excited for some exciting upcoming plans, while reflecting on some past ones.

Last April, Linley and I drove from Chicago to Asheville, and then Chicago to Seattle! He’s the best road-trip buddy around. I wanted to share some of my favorite memories from last year’s adventures.

Asheville, North Carolina
Visiting Grams and Gramps in Michigan
Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota
Glacier National Park, Montana
Seattle, Washington
North Dakota

Photos taken April 2022.

My weekend in Nashville

Last weekend, I finally met one of my favorite coworkers-turned-friends in person! Alvin and I have been working together for almost a year now, and we became close after one of our first projects together. Alvin and his wife Alex were the best hosts and friends I could’ve shared my first (but certainly not last!) Nashville experience with.

On Thursday after work, they picked me up and we headed to a beautiful winery with an awesome view. It was surreal finally being in someone’s presence who you’ve felt like you’ve known for so long! Alex and Alvin were a riot, and talking with them flew by. It was also great to enjoy some wine, snacks and sunshine on my shoulders. We grabbed dinner and another drink at a local restaurant before heading back to the city.

Our hearts were set on shopping, sushi and ice cream before hitting Friday’s improv show. It’d been since leaving Chicago that I’d had Jeni’s ice cream, so that was a must! The comedy show was hysterical and the three of us were laughing the entire time (not that that wasn’t already happening, haha!). We ended the night with a breathtaking 360° view of the city at a sky bar, accompanied by great drinks and live music, and a quick Assembly Hall visit.

Saturday was a random assortment of fun, which started with an amazing brunch and ended with seeing drunken shenanigans on Broadway Street. Alex and I spent the morning together at Snooze, the coolest, most retro brunch spot I’ve been to (which resulted in some buzzed shopping!). Speaking of shopping, the majority of our afternoon was spent in Alabama at Buc-ee’s… the pups joined us and everything!

It was a wild, wild place where anything and everything is possible. Now I can say I’ve been. 😂

Saturday flew by too fast, but our last evening together was well-spent. We saw Lecrae in concert with one of their friends, Vicky, who was an absolute sweetheart. We also saw some live music at Acme, a popular bar with a great view on Broadway Street. Kendall Street Company was great and had the best outfits on… as well as song lyrics.

Although my time in Nashville (and Alabama!) went by too fast, I’m looking forward to more adventures with Alvin and Alex! ☺️

March 2023 Progress & Gratitude

March felt like a month of setbacks, irritability and challenges. But when I reflect on the good moments, I still made progress and have so much to be thankful for. Sure, I felt – and still feel – easily annoyed at times, but I’m continuing to work through hardship, set and adhere to my boundaries, and am grateful for the adventures that March brought me. I’ve been keeping up with reading, am learning to play the harmonica, am getting new ink and am creating more space for positive friendships and opportunities. ❤️

MSU vs. OSU basketball game with dad!
Meeting baby Lily in D.C.!
Treating my parents to a lovely dinner and show at Cliff Bell’s jazz club in Detroit!
Learning Black Betty on the harmonica
Getting matching tattoos with my Little Sister of nearly nine years!
Happy hour with the work ladies!
Brought Lin into the office again!
More outdoor time with my best bud
“Pupdates” from mom while I’m away

Photos taken March 2023.

Falling for Philly… & Lily!

Since October, I’ve been on an adventure to not only rediscover myself—but find home. I’ve always had a since of home within myself, but it’s time to find that physical place where I feel that sense of community and support that I’ve been longing for since childhood.

I took myself to a comedy show and Larkin Poe concert in Philly last week, and felt nuances of Chicago, Boston, Toronto and other places that once made me feel deeply comforted. I got in late on Wednesday, March 8 and was welcomed by the friendliest Lyft driver I’d had in a long time. We talked about all things Philly, and reassured me that I was scoping out a great city to potentially call home.

Thursday, March 9 was full of work from my Airbnb but I explored Rittenhouse Square and Center City as I was on the hunt for some good sushi prior to seeing Greg Fitzsimmons at Helium Comedy Club. Not only were the rolls and laughs much-needed, but strolling through the city lights and riding the subway again made one thing abundantly clear: I need to be in a larger city again.

Friday was rainy but I had more breaks throughout the day, and was able to take myself on some great walks. I meandered through Old City (which is a contender for where I’ll be heading next!) where I saw Ben Franklin’s grave sight and the Betsy Ross house. Old City had a funky-yet-old school vibe, seemed super dog friendly and was extremely walkable—all things I’m looking for in my next home.

I also loved exploring Washington Square West and Gayborhood in the rain. I felt like I was in Boystown Chicago and downtown Boston at the same time. Everyone was really friendly, yet minded their own business… it was refreshing for a larger city. I’d love to live in a row home in a big city one day. 🥲

The main event (in Philly that is!) was seeing Larkin Poe live. Larkin Poe is a badass sister duo who really helped me fight for my marriage, and subsequently cope with my divorce. Some of their music even helped me put my feelings of moving to and back from Chicago into words I couldn’t – and still can’t – accurately articulate. I highly recommend ‘em if you’re in need of some soulful, kick-ass songs. Seeing Larkin Poe by myself might sound odd to some, but 1) I’ve always loved taking myself on dates, 2) I don’t give a shit what people think of me 😅 and 3) it was cathartic to feel that music around me by myself, because it was a journey I took on my own.

Bolt Cutters & The Family Name – Fighting for what you believe in, no matter the circumstances.

Georgia Off My Mind – Hoping that moving will give you clarity; reminiscing of what you miss and what brought you pain.

Self-Made Man – Being a bad bitch and doing it on your own!

Wanted Woman – Same as Self-Made Man, but also about those who didn’t want you back.

All in all, I believe Philly could be my next home, and I’m grateful that Rebecca and Megan brought me here. ❤️

On Saturday, March 11, I took a train to DC to visit my best friend, her husband and baby girl! Lily was born three and a half months ago, and I’m serious when I say I wanted to steal her! Haha Lily is the happiest, most well-behaved baby I’ve ever held. What a cutie!

Carolyn and I have been best friends since we roomed together in France nine years ago, and seeing her as a mom (well, a human mom; she’s already a badass fur mom!) brings happy tears to my eyes. I f’ing love Carolyn, Ryan, Lily, their families and fur babies more than I can put into words. I’ve been able to share in their milestones: I was one of the first people to know about their engagement, I was the maid of honor in the wedding, I’ve been part of their bridal and baby showers, and was the first of Carolyn’s friends to find out about their pregnancy. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. This is yet another reason why being only two hours away from them would mean so much to me.

We took it easy in DC; We hit up some nice cafes, watched a lot of Ink Master and Inked on YouTube, and laughed a shit ton. Before I knew it, I had to hit the airport and never wanted to leave.

There’s no disputing that quality time will always be my love language—even when I’m taking myself on fun dates!

Photos taken Thursday, March 9 through Sunday, March 12, 2023.

NOLA Round II: Part III

I’m currently at an Airbnb in Washington D.C. writing the final post of KP’s and my New Orleans “trilogy.” It’s been nearly two weeks since we flew back to the Midwest from our vacation, and we’re still laughing and sharing fun memories from our weekend away.

That Sunday, we headed to a cute breakfast spot called Two Chicks Cafe (would highly recommend) and enjoyed some beignets and Bloody Mary’s at the one and only Cafe Beignet. Feeling the warm sunshine on our shoulders and being swept away by jazz music in the late morning was the best way to start our Sunday.

KP’s first beignet experience!

After our drinks and breakfast, we meandered through the French Quarter, soaking in our last full day in the city. We received tarot readings at the only authentic shop in New Orleans (dedicated to the one and only Marie Laveau) where I received the most accurate yet uplifting reading to date. KP was in heaven as she saw typewriters in the street, similar to her business in Chicago (Poems While You Wait; check ‘em out!) and wandered into bookstores, antique shops and lingerie gems. We couldn’t stop laughing in the bookstore and each walked out with a random variety of solid reads! Our favorite moment in the lingerie shop (Trashy Diva!) was seeing this older couple buying new things. All I have to say is… goals!

We even passed our fav spot from Friday night!

While heading back to the Airbnb to drop off our newly purchased goods from some wholesome retail therapy, we even received a free book about mediation and mindfulness. KP was trying not to laugh because I’d gone on a “rampage” about how people who tell me to “mediate more often” think that’s helpful to my divorce PISS ME OFF haha! Therefore, we left the book in our lobby and continued out for our last evening in NOLA (spoiler alert: the book was still in the lobby on Monday morning when we checked out!).

After some macrons and hazelnut lattes, we visited the oldest bar in the United States and slammed some tequila drinks as we booked our ghost tour. We booked it to our tour with a good buzz going, and thoroughly enjoyed the tour. When I was in New Orleans last year with my friend Jes, we did two tours and one of them didn’t go well (drunk idiots who were interrupting the entire time). This group was awesome, we had the coolest guide and even stopped for tequila shots halfway through (yes, I understand how hypocritical I sound as I just complained about the drunk people from last year haha!).

Is this an orb?!

The tour wrapped up, and KP and I couldn’t leave NOLA without another absinthe drink. We stopped at Pirates Bar for some strong, traditional absinthe drinks—laughing and having the best time!

Buzzed, we strolled through Bourbon Street one last time prior to heading “home,” reminiscing about our weekend that we both so desperately needed. We even saw a street fight! We booked it into a Walgreens, bought some chips, watched some trashy tv shows and went to bed.

The next day, we enjoyed another Two Chicks Cafe breakfast and met some nice Michiganders. It was nice having the extra time with KP at both the New Orleans and Detroit airports—sharing tons of laughs and feeling slaphappy as ever! In Detroit, KP’s flight was delayed so I stayed with her until she boarded her flight to Chicago. For one last laugh, she tried helping me find my Viagra Boys concert goers from the Thursday prior, and almost got locked out of her Facebook account. The weekend couldn’t have been any better. 💛

Thinking about how I jumped out of a plane at this height!
Slaphappy at the Detroit airport!

Media taken Sunday, February 26 and Monday, February 27, 2023.

NOLA Round II: Part II

Saturday morning was a struggle for KP and me, but it was beyond worth it given the fun night we had on Bourbon Street. We napped, popped some Excedrin and moped our way to a breakfast joint with the kindest employees—making great use of the cash KP “found” the night before.

Our afternoon was well-spent strolling through the French Quarter, sharing profound thoughts about our recent relationships ending and reflecting on our vacation shenanigans thus far. We saw local artists, wandered into shops, pet some dogs along the way and soaked up the sun and scenery!

Don and Jennifer deserve an entire post, I swear! Don is a coworker-turned-friend of mine who is originally from New Jersey but visited New Orleans when he was 29, and never turned back (I honestly can’t see the man living anywhere else!). I met him in person for the first time at our company holiday party, but it was great to have more time with him on his turf. I loved spending time with him and his girlfriend, and I adore Jennifer as much as I adore Don! I didn’t think that would be possible.

We met up with them in the French Quarter around 5pm and started at this awesome outdoor bar called Sylvain’s, where we all had a round of Firing Squad cocktails. The four of us shared laughs about my Viagra Boys concert a few days prior (Don introduced me to the band actually!), classic New Orleans phrases like “making groceries” and had really fulfilling conversation about life in general. Friday was the wild, typical night on Bourbon Street but Saturday truly filled my heart with my dearest friends. There are so many one-liners I could write down, especially when Don and I rolled into a fancy wine and cheese spot with our Viagra Boys tee shirts (did I mention Don took his other shirt off in the middle of the bar to change into the one I’d bought him?!).

At the wine bar, KP did her best impression of a wine connoisseur, and from there the phrases could’ve been Don’s new band name or song lyrics! It was great that all four of us could talk together, but Jennifer and KP really hit it off, and Don and I were able to catch up one-on-one. I hadn’t laughed that much and hadn’t been that happy in such a long time—at least not since my day in the office with Giacomo or my time with Andy and Shawn in Atlanta. My heart was – and still is – full.

Don sporting the durag and talking all-things Wu Tang on the way back to his car was the perfect way to end the night. Don and Jennifer were beyond rad and they gave KP and me hope for true love one day. The most beautiful thing is that not only could Don truly be himself, but he was loved and celebrated by Jennifer for who he truly was at his core. As Don would say, “That’s pretty bitchin’!”

KP and I meandered through Bourbon Street after we parted ways with the best couple ever, headed to one of my favorite spots in the Quarter (Mahogany Jazz Hall) to indulge in some absinthe and bubbly, grabbed mediocre appetizers at this place that was way too upscale, and called it an earlier night. ☺️

Photos taken Saturday, February 25, 2023.

NOLA Round II: Part I

I’ve only been to New Orleans twice, and boy was this last time the most fun I’ve had in a while!

I hadn’t seen one of my best friends since I left Chicago in September of last year, and it was great to spend the long weekend with KP. We both landed at the airport around 5:30 in the evening on Friday the 24th—which happened to be her birthday! Hugging her at the airport was one of the best gifts I could’ve received, even though it was her birthday. We got all our catching up out of the way during the taxi ride to our Airbnb, and fully immersed ourselves in the French Quarter as we drove past the spooky sights.

Our evening began with strolling through antique shops and art galleries, and a birthday toast on one of the terraces—hearing accordion music in the backdrop and people watching below. KP and I were in awe of all the sights and sounds around us, and loved that people in the French Quarter could be their true, authentic selves. We also enjoyed a great meal at the Vampire Cafe, where KP and I ordered drinks according to our blood type.

After our dinner and blood bags, we tried finding some good, local live music. We scoped out a few places until finding one that was really fun and had an upstairs balcony (coming from the stormy Midwest, we both wanted to feel the warm evening air!). Our goal was to continue enjoying the backdrop of the city and hear the sounds of Bourbon Street around us.

Once we found the perfect balcony to continue our celebration, we met four grad students from Ohio State who were actually in town for a “fish conference” (I believe it was called Aquaculture 2023 or something like that?). One of the guys named Pete was such a riot and was cracking us up the entire time! Their group left shortly afterward, but we exchanged numbers with Pete after tons of laughs and good conversation.

After Pete and his friends parted ways with us, a bachelor party asked if they could take their table. KP and I were going to hit another bar, but it’s a good thing we didn’t! When I’m drinking I’m even kinder and offered to buy the group a round of shots—to celebrate both the husband-to-be and KP’s birthday. I bought everyone a round of pickle back shots (big mistake, as I’d been drinking gin and tequila already!) but it was super fun nonetheless. The guys invited us to officially be part of their bachelor party (but KP and I like to say that we “crashed,” simply because it sounds more fun!) and continue the night at a strip club. I haven’t been to one since my college days, but when in Rome… plus it was the classiest strip club I’d ever been to. The patrons were well-behaved (rare), the place was extremely clean (rarer) and the women were not only beautiful—but truly treated with respect (rarest!). In classic drunk-Cate fashion, I bought everyone another round of shots and I stole a couple hats along the way. As far as thievery goes, KP was worse as she “found” some cash from one of the guys… I couldn’t believe it! But hey, at least part of our breakfast was paid for the next day. 😅

Photos taken Friday, February 24, 2023.

February 2023 Progress & Gratitude

February, March and April were – and will continue to be – filled with new adventures, travel experience and growth. I can officially cross two more of my 2023 wishes as complete!

I’m still discovering a passion, but I’m making significant strides in healing. I wrote what I call “burn letters” early last month—which really helped me get my feelings out and heal. I wrote letters to friends who haven’t been there for me, Juan and people who have recently hurt me when I trusted them most.

Linley has been a big part of my healing progress. We’ve gone on some familiar trails, he’s been my buddy at work and we’re planning some new adventures together!

The cooking, reading, saying “no” and “yes” at the right times, setting boundaries, creating new adventures… it’s all happening and I’m setting the foundation so it continues to happen. I’m really excited about this—and it’s needed to happen for so long now.

I took myself on a date to the Viagra Boys concert in Detroit on February 23rd!
Reunited with KP in New Orleans for her birthday on February 24!
Had the most uplifting reading yet!

And as far as community goes, I have the best coworkers-turned-friends in my current job. I LOVE IT HERE! There are certainly some difficult days with clients or our partners, but I never expected to “belong” as much as I currently do (I felt like I had to change to “fit in” elsewhere). Don, Giacomo, Baylen, Justin… are all becoming close friends, and Catherine and Veronica already are! KP and I even saw Don and his girlfriend Jennifer in NOLA over the weekend, where the Viagra Boys tee shirts from Thursday evening made an appearance!

Things are difficult and turbulent and hard and beautiful and hopeful and bittersweet, but I’m slowly seeing the clouds parting. I’m seeing who my truest friends are – and were this entire time – and I’m feeling like the best is yet to come. 💛

Media taken January through February 26, 2023.