Category Archives: Work

Things the Internet Can Teach You About Yourself

Quote from a book - the lesson you need to know about the Shakers is that they all died out.

In case you were wondering, this is always the lesson. Also they invented the flat broom, the seed packet, and the three-legged stool. Additionally, this has nothing to do with this post AT ALL, but does show that I know a fair bit about the Shakers.

Because I am vain when I meet someone new who I think might google me, I google myself to see what comes up (after internet snooping on them of course).

I’ve worked pretty hard on my Google presence for the last couple of years.  Not because I had done something internet bad that I wanted to hide but because I unfortunately share my name with a woman who was murdered by her husband several years ago.  While I don’t think people will confuse the two of us, it seemed like a prudent move to try to kick the story off the first search page.

A few things I realized/was surprised by in my most recent google-though:

  • While I definitely dominate “Kathryn McLellan”  (sorry other Kathryns!), I lose out on “Kat McLellan” to another Kat, one who unfortunately was a grad student at UIC, also interested in women’s studies and material culture.  She seems pretty cool but this is actually potentially confusion-making.  Sadly, although I go by Kat, I’m thinking I probably need to give up on that one and use Kathryn for all my public online crap.
  • Another issue is that this blog doesn’t show up under my name at all. While I’m not always the proudest of this thing – particularly my inability to hit the publish button on anything – that seems like an oversight.
  • I really, really, really need to update my poor website.
  • The most pleasing realization is that one of my professors in grad school credited some of my work in a footnote in his book (!!!!) This is, sadly, probably my biggest academic “professional” accomplishment.

“Transit Oriented Development:” so not going to fix Chicago’s car problem

This DNAinfo article on “Transit Oriented Development” (and its comments) made me have so many feelings.

I appreciate the comments that say we should focus on making Chicago more pedestrian-friendly, and their frustration that it seems like their opposites are simply pro-driving; some of them are. But some of those comments are also pointing out a fine line – just because we want less driving doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. As much as we want to drop reliance on cars, Chicago is a driving city.

Does Gotham have better public transit than Chicago? Picture of Lawrence red line station transformed to Green River station for Batman vs. Superman filming.

Does Gotham have better public transit than Chicago? (El station transformed for Batman vs. Superman filming)

Having access to a car in Chicago is so helpful. Much of Chicago has crappy public transit and is based on the assumption that you only want to go downtown. My neighborhood has great public transit, but trying to go west instead of north/south? Such a pain in the butt. A car means not having to wait forever for a bus in the cold, not having to juggle groceries on a packed train or buying them at expensive neighborhood stores, or worrying that the bus you depend on will be cut. It means that you can live in those places with crappy public transit, places that often have cheaper living costs.

But more importantly, employers expect to have you to have a car.

I know this because while I live in a household with a car, I don’t drive. I was born without depth perception, which makes city driving a poor idea at best. (I can and do drive in rural areas. Give me a wide-open, curvy New Hampshire road and I’m happy, but anything involving merging or tight parking is just asking for problems.)

I also job searched for a long time before I was lucky enough to be able to freelance fulltime. And not driving? Really screwed my job search.   While there are certainly many jobs downtown, many many jobs are in the suburbs. Even companies downtown often have offices in the suburbs, offices they expect their workers to go to on a regular basis. A lot of companies are even closing up downtown locations or moving most of their workers to suburban offices.

And the assumption is that type of travel isn’t going to be an issue. When I was talking to recruiters or looking at jobs, they’d always look at me funny when I said I couldn’t drive. At best, I’d get the expectation that I didn’t currently have a car but could always get one if I got hired. Explaining that no, really I can’t drive didn’t ever seem to sink in. There wasn’t any awareness that the only way to get to their office was to take a Metra to a Pace bus via walking half a mile along the highway, or that it might be a problem (and again, remember I live someplace with good public transit).

Transit oriented development assumes that people will always have the luxury to work in their neighborhoods or downtown, and that simply making it harder to own a car will make cars less necessary. That is so unrealistic.

Believe me, I am exceptionally pro making Chicago more pedestrian friendly; after all, I am an often-time pedestrian. But building a bunch of apartment buildings without parking near public transit is just building a bunch of apartment buildings near public transit. It won’t solve any of Chicago’s actual public transit issues like access for those who can’t afford to live near good public transit or who have to take whatever job they can get;  it’s a bit dumb and offensive to focus on that instead of actually improving public transit access.

Some Stats on Stats



I wanted to make a scatterplot full of points to represent my confusion, but it always looked too sensical.

Mommy, I want to be a market researcher when I grow up

I don’t remember what I expected my adult life would be like when I was young except that I expected to live in Boston and to have a “normal” 9-5 job. In college I thought I’d be a librarian or an academic or a researcher; jobs that built on what I did everyday. I didn’t know, really, what else to do. That’s what I was good at and I assumed that was what one did, get a job doing what you were good at. When you’re a kid, there’s a limited number of occupations you know about, let alone dream of. Why do you think there are so many future astronauts and ballerinas? We didn’t know any better that there were other jobs and that’s what we would do with our lives. It’s not like we sit young children down and say “This is Excel, you will spend most of your adult life swearing at it.” Weirdly enough, despite the importance of the ‘cel, all I learned in all of my education was how to type into the cells, no formulas, no formatting. Instead, I have a really cool job. And in it, I never use my ability to build on previous literature, or even that much drawn-out analysis. I don’t read and synthesize, I just react and interact. I would have never predicted that, even though looking back my favorite projects involved the same skills. I just didn’t know you could talk to people about their stuff for a living.

Creating Community, excitingly!

My blind proposal (as mentioned here) was successful and I’m in the whirlwind midst of a project on community on web boards.

I’ve always been fascinated by how people create identity, off-line of course, but online as well, where you have full control on how you are, how people see you.  You can be whoever you want to be and while there’s certainly a lot of that, the internet is full of people being, mainly, themselves.  Community seems like a natural offshoot of that, how people create genuine interactions and then relationships.  So excited about this project, plus I’m getting to help a non-profit and it feels like I’ll really be improving something.  Plus it’s great experience for my big project/business model thingie.

Swallowing my heart in my throat and running with it

I am a freelancer.

Specifically, I’m a freelancer who left her job in a crappy economy because it wasn’t right for her.

I know what you’re saying, shaking your head at me. Security is important, a regular pay check is important, being gainfully employed is important.  There may even be some mutterings on being spoiled, those Millennials and their…. expectations.  And those are all valid things to say when you don’t know the full story and maybe someday I’ll share.  But today, today is about the excitement of freelancing, of being my own boss.

Working for myself means that I can go with my gut, write to a stranger and pitch an idea or ask for some mentoring.  People are awesome and giving when you work for yourself, especially when it’s new and you’re so so excited and scared and it’s written all over your face.

I’m getting in some quality coffee shop time today – daydreaming and writing proposals and emails that will probably lead to nothing but may, oh may, lead to something cool and awesome.  I’m terrified and it’s the best feeling in my life, to face my fears and really reach for my goals.

P.s. I believe in sharing!  If there’s anything that I can do for you, any help or mentoring or anything, please contact me.  Good luck should always be shared!