Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Acknowledgement

Stacy Says It - Acknowledgment - Stacy SnyderI had been silently crying at my desk at work for weeks.

What had started as an unexpected shower of tears while riding my bike to work one morning soon blossomed into a daily ritual of grieving openly during both my morning and afternoon commutes, which expounded into unwelcome solitary tears rolling down my cheeks to finally full-on watersheds while bean counting at my job on any given day.

I work in an office with ten guys in various degrees of their 20's, 30's, and 40's who wear jeans and hoody's, sneakers, and oversized headphones to listen to their music and Youtube videos while their eyes are drawn to one of the two or three monitors that sits atop each desk.  They don't pay much attention to anything outside of the design they create in their big boxes.  They fart, joke, burp, and lament loudly on life behind their wall-divider-sized computer screens, all without apology, in between hours of silence.  I love them.

Stacy Says It - Acknowledgment - Stacy Snyder
They also provide the perfect backdrop and shelter to my unfamiliar despair.  I'm typically a work-it-out sort of gal when it comes to life challenges: there's no problem, business or personal, that doesn't have a myriad of solutions worth vetting, especially if you come at it from a non-emotional perspective.  But riding out the emotional tidal waves of an unexpected divorce has brought me to my rational knees.  The overwhelming sadness, loneliness, and isolation is almost more than I can bear at any given moment, yet I don't need to worry about causing a scene with my distress because everyone's in their own world.

I work in a man-cave of a studio.  We have tools and high-tech gadgets and games, virtual reality and 3D printers, cool beers in the fridge and an ultra modern design concept coupled with impeccable functionality.  But we don't have things of comfort, like coffee or closets or tampons or Kleenex.  So I had retrieved a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom to keep at my desk to wipe away the evidence and blow away the excess of tears.  The ultra-soft roll decreased in size rapidly as the hardest days hit me as I hid behind my screen.

One morning I arrived at the office to find a new box of tissues sitting on my desk.  One of my co-workers had noticed I was suffering and provided solace.

That seemingly small act of humanity means more to me than he'll ever know.  It said to me, "I see you; you matter."  In turn that opened the door for me to acknowledge my own pain, which is truly the only way to start healing.

Acknowledgement is everything.  I am so grateful to find it in the most unexpected of places.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

I Am Your Neighbor Episode 7 - Midnight Bike Ride



I'm one of those nerds that reads my college alumni rags. Since I shuffled through three institutions before graduating, I have multiple periodicals to choose from the basket next to the toilet in the "reading room" whenever I decide to go rogue and read an actual magazine instead of scrolling through the highlights online.

Leafing through an old Loyola Magazine last year, a reference to Professor Timothy Gilfoyle's Midnight Bike Ride stood out among the glossy pages of articles and snippets dedicated to service, social change and education. Turns out this cool cat has been illuminating history, urban planning, and architecture through a nighttime lens for this students and friends since he joined the institution in 1989, where he still teaches history.
I Am Your Neighbor Midnight Bike Ride - StacySaysIt - Stacy Snyder
My "buddy" Chaya

I added the biannual ride (April and September) to my bucket list and by the time I looked up the specifics, the next ride was scheduled for the following week, just enough time for me to order my helmet camera equipment, air up my tires, and clear my schedule for the night!

I Am Your Neighbor Midnight Bike Ride - StacySaysIt - Stacy Snyder
Me and my head gear
Meeting at 9pm on the Lake Shore Campus, we all chose a buddy to keep track of, learned the route for the late night ride, and headed off on a two-wheel adventure! Over the next hours I met loads of students (whom I learned accumulated extra credit in Professor Gilfoyle's class for attending the ride), teachers, and community members, ranging from first timers to annual participants. We hit 20-ish spots across the city where we heard stories about folklore, politics, and the future of Chicago. The bike ride was leisurely, yet long, and filled with idle chatter in between historical references. The 70+ riders that started with us at the beginning of the ride, dwindled down to around 20 by the time I begged off at 5am.

I loved The Midnight Bike Ride and would not only do it again, as each ride is different than the last, but I'd also wholeheartedly suggest it to anyone who loves to bike, be alive when everyone else is sleeping, or has an interest in history, architecture, or urban planning. Those of you out there who just like to keep feeding your brain in general will love it too, as I truly can't decide if I got more out of the ride, the tour, or the interaction with the college students!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Seeking Something Different

Seeking Something Different - Stacy Snyder - StacySaysIt
I recently took a girls’ trip to South Beach.  We had a ball!  While the weather was spectacular, the accommodations impeccable, and the leisure level well within my range of expectation, I can’t help but note that the most intriguing part of the trip for me was what is produced by adding a new component into the mix, in this case, a new friend to a group of existing friends.

Of the six gals that traveled to Miami together, five of us live in the same neighborhood, where our kids all attended the same elementary school and now attend the same high school. While those factors led to our initial introduction and laid the groundwork for our subsequent friendships, those same elements sometime keep us from digging deeper for conversation as there’s already so much in common.

Lotus, on the other hand, is easily fifteen years our junior, lives in Indiana, has a young son, and commutes daily to a full-time job in Chicago.  I met her by chance a few years ago when she signed up for a park district volleyball league that I play in.  We invited her for drinks after a game one night and we got along famously.  I off-handedly invited her to travel with me sometime as I like to go somewhere every few months to rejuvenate, and she jumped on board immediately with this Miami trip.  While Lotus has exceptional attributes I could rave about, it’s not her personality that made me enjoy our trip so much.  It was her contrasting perspectives to those of mine and my longtime friends that made such a distinction. 

Seeking Something Different - Stacy Snyder - StacySaysitIt’s just like throwing in one new ingredient to the pot, where the flavor of the entire dish changes, evolves, and morphs into something new.  Lotus changed the dichotomy of the group and of the trip itself with her unique interests, character, and viewpoints.  Unbeknownst to her, she opened up the door of difference that allowed each of us push our routine conversations aside in lieu of new topics where lines of connection grew.  We all stretched outside of our comfort zone and a new best beast was born. I love when that happens!

I’m simply a sponge for variety.  As a young person, I spent tons of energy forcing myself outside the lines of sameness by seeking out uncommon people, typically deemed by appearance or actions.  Often I’d push myself to be the most unusual in a crowd.  Today, I still gravitate toward anyone with a different take on life, but it comes from conversation instead of image.  By surrounding myself with so many different models of life, I am constantly fed new ideas and thoughts and viewpoints that help me constantly hone who and what I want to be when I grow up.  It plays out in my work, relationships, social life, interests, and ideas, where I’m constantly a work in progress.

While I have developed strong values and principles over the years and do tend to also surround myself in a safe community of people who share some of the same standards, I’ve been known to soften, negotiate, and even change my convictions based on information I’ve accumulated from other people’s ideas and experiences.  

Variety is central to my existence.  I truly believe that my identity is a collaboration of characteristics and beliefs of all the people I’ve connected with over the years.  Everyone I know was at one point the difference that I sought out that turned into a piece of my character.  Pretty cool to think that I'm carrying a piece of each of you around with me every day!

Monday, November 27, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor Episode 6 - Paul Nickerson



When my friend Kim of Kim's Welcoming Kitchen first told me about feral cats as a potential solution for rat control in outdoor residential areas a few years ago, I laughed at her.

Stacy Snyder - I Am Your Neighbor - Paul Nickerson
Photo courtesy of Steve Dale Pet World
"Only you would consider such an insane idea to adopt wild cats that live in your back yard!" I scoffed at her, convinced that her modern hippy way of life was behind such a preposterous thought. "You couldn't use your yard because of the cats, the'd jack up the surroundings with their refuse, and it would be expensive as hell to feed them," I taunted. She silently let me grandstand that day while targeting her as the butt of my joke.

A year later, after having tried everything in the book to try and rid our back yard of rats, Paul Nickerson of TreeHouse Humane Society stood in my back yard and corroborated the benefits of feral cat colonies as a solution to Chicago's residential rat population. Poison, traps, exterminators, steel wool, bait, bb guns, bombs, nor wire mesh worked. The idea of stripping the lush yard of all vegetation and cementing the ground into a patio did not appeal to us, so instead, tail between my legs, our family adopted 3 feral cats to man our abode.
Stacy Snyder - I Am Your Neighbor - Paul Nickerson
Check out Episode 6 of I Am Your Neighbor to learn about the ins and outs of city cat colonies as a means to rid your neighborhood of rodents.

On a side note, I am so pumped with the new intro of I Am Your Neighbor, created by Mike Coleman! I need more faces on this collage, though.  Who should be next? I'd love your input for interesting neighbors to feature. Please post your ideas here or send me your connections via email at stacylsnyder@gmail.com.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor Episode 5 - Candace Jordan



Meeting Candace Jordan was the highlight of my year in 2015. I topped that in 2016 with executing the talk show I'd always dreamed about, I Am Your Neighbor.  This year's a double whammy as I've got Candace on my show! Remember the scene in Annie when Daddy Warbuck's secretary/girlfriend Grace runs through the big house singing WE'VE GOT ANNIE! making it into a number?  That's how I feel right now!  Enjoy this great interview with Chicago Tribune society columnist, Candid Candace blogger, Candid Candace TV creator, and charity spotlight Candace Jordan.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

No Quiero Taco Bell

When I was a teenager, Taco Bell was one of my favorite fast-food restaurants as my friends and I could order tons of food after practice for dirt cheap, and I’d still have enough money from a fiver to order my mom the priciest item on the menu, a taco salad, to take home to her. As a young adult I remember going through the late-night drive through after picking up the girls at the end of their drag shifts and ordering a family-pack of tacos…for just the 2 or 3 of us in the car.  

Living in Wrigleyville in Chicago I lived a mere block 2 blocks from one of the only fast food joints in the ‘hood, The Bell.  After the 4am call had been made at the bars, if my roommate Michael and I hadn’t asked the cab to take us through the drive-through at Checkers on the way home, one of us might suggest, “You fly, I buy,” and the unlucky one got to stagger down the street for nachos and bean burritos to sop up the alcohol from the night before.  

But somewhere along the line, my body started reacting to the food adversely.  A little sour stomach here, a bit of diarrhea there….you get the picture.  Maybe it was after kids or maybe it was when I started to lose weight and eat better and exercise, or possibly even after our family gave up fast food almost entirely, but at one point I started actually rejecting the food altogether and deciding not to eat it, as it more-often-than-not made me drastically ill. 

But every 2-5 years, I get the urge for a Taco Supreme or a Beef Chalupa.  I try to push down the want and I usually slide through the craving unscathed as I remind myself of the nightmare that will ensue after the great taco taste.  Sometimes though, I fall prey.

This past weekend I had my 14-year-old daughter at bay to cheer me on with my hankering, as she loved it too, having only had her first Taco Bell just a few years ago.  Not only did we get Taco Bell after having eaten some snacky stuff as a form of dinner earlier, but we ordered it from a delivery company, as it was 9:30 on Friday night and we were snug as a bug in a rug binge watching Arrested Development.  We had both zonked out on the couch by the time the driver showed up an hour and a half later, but we still managed to throw down a few bites (in my daughter’s case or all 3 of the items ordered in my case) before hitting the sack.

Before I even hit the sheets, I was sick as a dog with massive stomach distress that kept me up all night and lasted through late Sunday morning, which yielded me unable to leave the house all weekend and a 3-lb head-start on next week's diet.

Lesson of the day:  A 'run for the border' is never a good idea in the long run.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I Am Your Neighbor 4 - Bill Brashler




I only knew of Bill Brashler as my neighbor and contractor who pimped out my unfinished basement into what we consider the Taj Mahal.  Who knew he was a critically acclaimed author and journalist with one book made into a major motion picture with Richard Pryor and James Earl Jones?  His 10+ year hiatus from writing is now over and he's back in the saddle researching and writing away!  Find out what he's got in store for us next.