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 The bike ride was leisurely, yet long, and filled with idle chatter in between historical references.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!