Without preamble or excuse: I’m back!
In the interest of everyone’s sanity I will not try to break down the last ten months in detail, but I’m going to attempt an overview.
I can now say, “We’ve made it.” Not just to the city, but IN the city.
Blunt truth: Although, of course, I love the Chicago, (who wouldn’t?) but part of my motivation in moving here was to see if we could cut it in the big city. (I know it’s not New York, but I went in with the mentality, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.”) Would we find jobs? Would we find jobs that we liked, where we excelled? How would I stack up against more and inevitably better competition in the job market? Would our apartment hold us, Ferg, and all of our stuff? Would Ferguson make friends and enjoy city living? Would we make friends? Not just, “Would we land on our feet?” I knew we could do that, but would we land on our feet with fresh kicks on?
Here are a few things I’ve learned over the last year:
1. I’m not as awesome as I thought I was. I meet new, awesome, unique, and intelligent people constantly. This has slightly altered my opinion of myself as the most interesting person I know, now I’m just one of them. (In my mind, if nowhere else.)
3. I’m awesome enough. I can still get by and communicate with the awesome people I meet, even if they may be more interesting than I am. Fake it till you make it.
2. Getting a book club off of the ground without the loyalty of childhood friends or the tenacity of Liznifer (I gave you guys a celebrity couple name!) is really hard. Turns out, even if it has a really cool name. The Republic of Foster had three meetings, with extremely limited participation. It’s hard enough to meet new people, and extra awkward when the first question I ask people is “Do you read?” And after their stumbled, surprised response. I follow up with a quick “Are you interested in joining a book club?” Might not the best way to screen potential members.
4. I’m a good enough worker (smart, efficient, fast) to still be recognized as such, even at bigger companies. When last blogging, I was employed by/in indentured servitude of Apartment People. I worked for nine hours a day, without a lunch break, and no overtime. I know what you’re thinking here, “Liz, you must be exaggerating, we know who much you like hyperbole. . .” Though I do love hyperbole, I am not exaggerating at all. It was brutal, and within a month of taking the job I knew I wouldn’t last a year. To be fair to them, I stayed through the busy season, and then started to look for work in the fall. I interviewed with two law firms for Tech Support positions, and was hired for the second one. They said they had been searching for a good candidate for a while, and instead of hiring me as a temp worked (as they always do) they decided to make it official. I started at the firm in November. It’s a large firm, comprised of about 800 people. I’m learning policies and procedures. I got MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) certified in Word, and I hope to get the rest of the Office certifications done before the end of the summer since the firm is paying! There have been some rocky days, and transitioning isn’t the easiest, but I much happier now. And I’m working in my Tower!
5. I can be alone. Sidney’s schedule for our first year here was late evenings, and I work days. It took time to get used to being alone at night. But as the evenings lengthened I got used to it, built up a routine. . .and then I met someone! (See item 9) Last month Sidney’s schedule changed to 9-5:30. And now I feel like he can fully love and appreciate Chicago the way I’ve been.
6. Being alone sucks most of the time. Sometimes, in the era before Tristan and before Sidney’s schedule change, and I would talk to the other side of the couch, and Sidney wouldn’t be there to respond. If I was lucky at least Ferguson would be there to tilt his head at me so that I felt slightly less cray.
7. Being with loved ones is better. Evenings are the best time of day, and it’s shame to be stuck working, or to be alone. To have loved ones to go to monthly fire dances at the beach with, go sit on patios with, talk for hours about things that have us fired up, or, really, everything is the best possible way to spend your time.
8. It’s hard to make new friends. It takes time to meet people, to see if they like you and enjoy your company, and to see if you like and enjoy their company as well. This is specifically hard for someone who notoriously hates people.
9. It’s not impossible to make new friends. I met Tristan within a week of moving in, but never got to know her other than to say “Hi” when I ran into her with her dogs. I asked her pretty quickly my standard questions:
L: “Do you read?”
L: “Sorry I meant for fun. . .”
L: “Would you be interested in joining a book club?”
T: “I’ve never been in one before; it sounds fun!”
About five months later when I finally had my mind together enough to start the book club, we had our first meeting. In attendance: Caitlin, Tristan, and me. We bounded immediately when I told her I was from Oklahoma and she told me her “Oklahoma story” about a crazy late-night traffic stop in some podunk county I had never heard of. She helped Caitlin and I celebrate my 29th birthday two days later, and we’ve been together ever since! She is now like a member of the family, referred to by some as the “other spouse.” (But obviously not in a polygamous, Sister-Wives-kind-of way! Although, there have been the mandatory jokes.)
10. I’m not as old as I thought I was. I’ve had more late-club-nights, gone to more parties, and done more dancing than I have in ten years. The last time I felt this young, I was that young, and I was living in Stillwater or Tulsa. Chicago is a much better place to do young things, and it makes me feel younger, despite the ticking time-clock. I just hope the 20-year-olds now aren’t as snarky about “more mature” people as I was then.
11. Life is good. (I can say that now that it’s officially Spring.)
12. Chicagoans love to talk about weather. Maybe as much as Oklahomans do, maybe more. See?!?
13. I’m me no matter where I live. Moving didn’t change who I am, but it did offer a wider lense for self-inspection. So it has, obviously, changed my perception of myself. (As blogs tend to get, this is becoming rather me-centric, right?!?)
14. I don’t miss Oklahoma anymore and it feels weird. I know geography doesn’t define you, but I was such a part of the state for 27 years, and now I feel entrenched in Chicago. Chicago is very much like an island, especially if you don’t have a car. So I won’t say that I consider myself a part of the State of Illinois, and I don’t think I’m allowed to call myself a Chicagoan, but I will say that Chicago is definitely my city now.
15. I’m not as politically active as I thought I would be when given the opportunity. I always thought that I didn’t stand up for movements and ideas in a public way because I was “never provided with the opportunity.” Not so anymore, there are myriad opportunities to get involved in, in Chicago. We must be the protest and demonstration capital of the country. Now that I work in the Tower, I can experience the crowds and rallies first-hand. Now I don’t participate because “I’m living life.” I’m not sure which excuse for my inaction is worse.
16. I’m still more political than the average bear. Though I’m not joining any demonstrations, I do make the effort to see what their efforts are for. And I almost always get goosebumps and heart string tugs from enthusiasm and compassion for their causes. Because I “support” these causes. . .in my mind and verbally to some of my more patient friends.
17. Chicago is Miami in the Summer and New York in the Winter. This is a famous thing that people say here. I wasn’t sure where it started and if it needs quotes, but it could have easily started with a Facebook meme.
18. The winter is looooonnnnng here. Just when you thought you were getting through it, the temperature drops below zero in March, and you want to cry, but can’t, because your tears are freezing to your eyelashes. I’ve been hesitant to talk about this because I don’t want to hear the “I told you so’s” from the hot-weatherers, but I’m not holding back. Now that it’s 72, I can safely say the winter is worth the fan-freakin’-tabulous Summer!
19. An hour shaved off of the work day makes all of the difference in the world. I almost feel like a kid again; getting off work at 3:30. The sun is out, stores are open, the lakefront is inviting, and dinner can be thought of prior to be shoved in.
20. Working downtown makes me feel like part of the city organism. The city is a vast machine working toward a single goal, and I picture myself like a cog in this machine. I’m not one hundred percent sure of the goal of this behemoth, but it may be economic advancement, it may be the pursuit of a happy life, and maybe it’s not one goal. (But that really takes away from my mixed metaphor.) What I’m really trying to say is that I feel like part of something bigger than myself and my family in Chicago; the opposite of what one would think a huge city would make one feel like: I matter.
21. No holiday should go uncelebrated, ever. From the locally celebrated Pulaski Day to the Chinese New Year, every cultural holiday is celebrated city-wide with gusto, enthusiasm, parades, and heavy drinking regardless of the revelers’ heritage.
22. There is a season here that is called “Patio Season.” And it is my new favorite season. The season is not date specific like the “real seasons.” It is completely dependent on weather. Restaurants’ viability in the Spring is tied to their ability to throw out table and chairs on the first day that it hits 60. For example, Spring was beginning to peek it’s head out from the winter gloom and it hit 70 a couple of weeks ago. Immediately Sidney, Tristan and I decided we had to go patio! (Much like “to stoop,” “to patio” is also a verb.) We went to the Hopleaf, that has a beautiful, enclosed courtyard-type of patio, and they told us, they “could not quote a time” for the wait for patio seating. Seriously. They said people will stay there all night, camped out, ordering drinks. So we moved on, to Acre, but they hadn’t set up their patio yet, and they looked DEAD!! Finally we stopped at Lady Greg’s. We were able to get a patio table
within 15 minutes. The moral of the story is for Andersonville restaurant owners (because I know many follow my blog): Put your table and chairs out immediately.
23. Reading so many books only made me Vicariously Worldly. Though I know about a lot of things this knowledge mostly comes from my love of book-reading and the availability of the World Wide Web, initiated by my inquisitive nature. I haven’t experienced many things first hand, and people here have. I appreciate their experiences, even if they turn me to a green monster on the inside!We went to three restaurants, while we were super hungry, just to sit on a patio. It was, after all, the first day of Patio Season.
24. Ferguson is truly an only child.
He doesn’t interact with dogs like a dog. Despite that, he’s already made two new best friends. Enter K&K Dance Factory, as I call them. Kistan and Kaine are Tristan’s yorkies. They are half-siblings. We call Kistan “Princess Pig” because she’s a greedy runt! Caitlin calls Kaine “Dragon,” which I approve of, but Tristan is still on the fence. We get to dog sit fairly frequently so Ferg gets plenty of bonding time. When K&K play with each other by growling and chasing, Ferguson just stares with his head tilted. He’s confused, but he seems to enjoy their company.
25. Blogs are time-consuming, and writing can be emotionally taxing. I am going to start blogging more regularly, but to share more with my friends, I have started a tumblr. My tumblr “handle” (I apologize if I sound old, I haven’t learned the jargin yet) is lizzieinthebigcity because someone is already using lizzieinthecity. I don’t know who they think they are, but mine is going to be better.