One week. (aka let the chaos begin)

You knew this was coming. 1 week until classes start. ROUGHLY 28 HOURS UNTIL I LOAD UP ALL MY STUFF. Though, still a couple days until the cats and I officially move to Indiana (Thursday).

» Attend orientation and advising
» Register for classes
» Find an apartment

» Apply for jobs – Still needs to happen. Going to start with on-campus jobs.

» Pack – …. PACKING FRENZY STARTS NOW.

» Find my bed – DONE. It was at my dad’s the whole time. Just like my mom and I both thought. I also found an awesome hanging chair for my porch that my dad is going to let me have.

» Move – Part 1 starts tomorrow. Still need people to help load the van up, but, it’s happening regardless. Hopefully I won’t have to hire people because I can’t afford that. We’re loading up as much as we can into my dad’s van and a trailer, then he’ll be back on Thursday for me, the cats, and last bit of stuff. Then it’s off to BSU-land where I actually do have help to unload everything into my new place.

» Figure out a car – This is being put in the “after I get settled” category.

» Buy my books – Loan refund dispersement isn’t happening until the 5th.. so… yeah. Not sure how this is going to work for the first day of classes.

» Don’t panic. – HA. I haven’t broken down and bawled yet, but there have been tears already.

MOVING IS SO FUN, GUYS. Thank all that is good that I’m locked into my lease for a year and half. I’m so done with all of this.

Two Weeks

This last week has felt like a full month. So. Much. Has. Happened. If you follow me on other social media, you already know about some of this. But let’s take my list from last week and see how I’m doing…

» Attend orientation and advising – Done and done. Was pretty painless. Even made a friend. (Although, I’ve got to contest some credits that didn’t transfer over.) Also, my advisor was already talking to me about switching my major (to what he did in school).

» Register for classes – Done. Didn’t get everything exactly how I wanted it (aka the two main 100-level Anthropology classes I want and need are completely full and closed), but I’m pretty satisfied with what I’ve got.

» Find an apartment  – DONE. And I’m pretty excited about my new place. I’ll definitely be sharing pictures once I get things settled.

» Apply for jobs – Still needs to happen. Going to start with on-campus jobs.

» Pack – Yes. Though I’m starting to realize I don’t know when that’s all going to happen between Christmas and work. I guess I really don’t need to sleep.

» Find my bed – Still searching for this. I’m still convinced it’s at my dad’s. The scavenger hunt will happen on Christmas.

» Move – I’m hoping to have this all figured out and planned by Christmas.

» Figure out a car – I’m keeping an eye for what’s on the market online…  Slipping it in to every conversation with my brother, since I’ve tasked him with helping on this mission. I’ll deal with this more after I move. Really I need to figure out the local bus schedule. (Also, I had to laugh at some of the leasing people talking about driving 2-3 minutes to the commuter lot just to catch a shuttle. No thanks, I’ll walk.)

» Buy my books – I signed up for Amazon Student, so I’ll get the 2-day shipping. I’m going to put this off for a week so I can shop around.

» Don’t panic. – Hasn’t happened yet. After this weekend, I think I’m too tired to go crazy.

Farwell

Farwell Pier

“… and said he never knew where else was next, but that sooner or later staying in one place reminded him that where he belonged no longer existed. He’d lived on Farwell, a street whose name sounded almost like saying goodbye.” – Stuart Dybek’s Farwell.

That picture is the Farwell Pier, just a small part of Dybek’s story. It’s one of my favorite places in my neighborhood. From its place you can not only see all the way down to the Loop — downtown Chicago — but north you can see Northwestern’s campus up in Evanston. It made me feel like I was a part of the whole city all at once. Of course, that wasn’t really true. I was only seeing a small part of the city; none of the south or west sides.

But that pier still holds a large piece of my heart. It’s a place to get away from the city without actually losing the energy of the city. It’s my calm place. My place where anything can happen. A bittersweet, but somehow romantic place. And yes, it’s fun feeling like I’m part of Dybek’s story — that we have a shared Chicago.

I think I just needed that reminder today. One to stop and take things in. To let go of everything that’s been pulling me down. A reminder that I still have a place to belong, even if I don’t know where that is.

A reminder of hope.

Finally processing C2E2

So now that it’s been just over a week since C2E2, I figure I should probably share a little bit about my experience. I got home, and thought that I just needed to process it. But really, there wasn’t much for me to process. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great weekend of nerdy fun… But that was about it. (And sorry this is long, but I hope to make up for it with pictures…)

I was only able to go for Saturday and Sunday. And I spent most of Saturday wandering around by myself. I saw CB for maybe an hour before he had to get to his photo shoots. We talked art and caught up a little bit, he took candids of a few cosplayers… And it was nice. Just short.

I made a few rounds through the expo hall. Wound my way around artist alley. Mostly just strolling through and soaking it in. I knew Rider Strong was going to be there, and had hoped to get an autograph — but didn’t want to wait in line. So I settled for just creeping in the crowd and “sneaking” some shots.

C2E2 2014 Rider Strong

Speaking of autographs, I did get a couple. I went through artist alley, and actually had to go through again because I missed his booth… But I wanted to say hi to Jen and Kyle. (As in Kyle Higgins, writer for DC among other things.) Jen used to live in Chicago and we share some mutual friends. I had issue 19 of Nightwing, so I had Kyle sign it for me.

The main autographs I was hoping to get were from Gail Simone — the absolutely amazing writer who’s work in Birds of Prey not only started my interest in Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), but got me to really consider (and like) superhero comics. She’s an absolutely amazing writer, and I highly suggest getting all of her books. I only had volumes 1 & 2 of Batgirl, but picked up volume 3 (for half off!) at one of the vendors. She gladly signed all three for me and was really kind as I stammered together some form of verbal appreciation of her work.

One of the things I was worried about this year was just blowing my budget buying every nerdy thing I could get my hands on. I was incredibly picky about things. I knew I wanted vinyl, but there wasn’t anything that just screamed “RINI TAKE ME HOME!” for the most part. Instead, I bought some art. Now, I also don’t have much space at home to display much more art… but if I can support some of the amazing talent who took the time to come out (or create books I love), then I will.

I found an incredible watercolor print of Batman. I wish I remembered the name of the artist. I should have taken his card. (Actually, I might have.) If anyone recognizes this work, PLEASE let me know the artist’s name! I would love to get more prints of his. Anyway. It was the amazing red that just drips through…. It’s a great and vibrant piece.

Batman watercolor print

And then, I had to also get a sad Batman print. It was $5 and well, apparently I am a terrible person because I love sad Batman. (I almost got a print that had sad Batman with the caption of “my parents are dead.”As I said, terrible.) Again, I should have remembered to put his card with the print.

Sad Batman

And then I finally got a few pieces from an artist I’d been eyeing for a while. Jenny Parks is awesome. I’ve loved her Doctor Mew series, but then she started doing Catvengers and other superheroes. Batcat and Bane Cat are my absolute favorites. And then I got Hawkeye and Thor Kitty because I love the Hawkeye books and Thor’s one of my favorites in the movies. I really wish I would have grabbed Captain AmeriCat and Iron Cat. Next time. (Or really, birthday.)

Batcat, Bane Cat, Catvengers

I topped off Saturday by attending some panels. By that time, 6 hours of walking the floor, I was ready to sit and change into my flip flops. I had dressed in my casual Batgirl outfit, and no one noticed. I got a couple compliments on the necklace, but well, casual cosplay is just way too subtle in a place like a comic convention. (Though one dude on the bus asked if I made my hoodie, and I got to beam and brag a little.)

I waited an hour to get into the Game of Thrones fan panel. I could have gone into the panel before it, but frankly, I attended it last year and was not impressed — and one of the speakers just irritates me. I’d rather risk it and sit in line in the hall. But I was second in line and easily got in. It was just supposed to me Kristian Nairn (HODOR!), but Aflie Allen (Theon) missed the first day, so he joined. And not to be left out, Natalia Tena (Osha) joined in too. It was pretty great.

C2E2_GoT

Kristian is huge. He just towers above everyone. All of them were great, and the panel was a lot of fun. Lots of giggles and laughter. And you know, despite not being caught up on the show, it was perfectly ok — mainly because I’ve read the books. I will be happy to finally get to see last season and catch up on the current one. Eventually.

C2E2_Hodor

C2E2_Osha

C2E2_Theon

I ended the day in the Hobbit panel. Which was just a lot of fandom nerdery. And it really got to me that I hadn’t seen the second movie, so I bought the SD version on iTunes while sitting in the panel. (Actually, I really ended the night on the bus ride home — where an attractive Captain America sat next to me. Call me.)

Not that I meant for this to go linearly, but let’s just continue on to Sunday. Thanks to Facebook, I was able to make plans with my friend Tabitha who I haven’t seen since my WiiU party over a year ago. We met up and immediately hit the panels. Namely, the Thrilling Adventure Hour panel. I knew Rider Strong would be there (no, I’m not stalking him), and Peter Sagal was supposed to be there. But apparently the Wait Wait host skipped out on C2E2 entirely. But to my surprise, there was an amazing cast in attendance.

C2E2 Thrilling Adventure Hour panel

Beyond Rider Strong, there was also Kevin Murphey (MST3K), Janet Varney (The Legend of Korra), Molly Quinn (Castle), Tim Omundson (Psych/Supernatural), and Richard Speight Jr (Supernatural).

Richard Speight Jr

Rider Strong and Kevin Murphy

Molly Quinn and Tim Omundson

It was by far the best panel. (Don’t get me wrong, the GoT was fun too.) But these guys and gals are absolutely hilarious. And the fan questions really just topped it. I’m really sad I missed their Saturday night show at DePaul. (But it was an extra cost, and that wasn’t happening.)

Afterward, we hit the floor and Tabitha went shopping. I was almost talked into getting a pretty sweet mint green and pink and lilac wig, but it was out of the budget. However, the two Game of Throne mini figure blind box figures weren’t. I’d eyed these for a while. But wasn’t sure the risk was worth it. I mean, that’s part of why I love blind box figures. But when I looked at the odds and all, there were only maybe 2 I didn’t really want to get… so I gambled and bought two boxes.

Funko Game of Thrones blind box

And… the risk sort of paid off…

Funko Game of Thrones minifigures Joffrey and Arya

My face matched Joffrey’s as I opened his up first. I did not want Joffrey. And I quickly worried, did I just waste money? What if both boxes are Joffrey? Is my luck that bad? But alas! No! I got the main one I wanted, and had been willing to buy specifically on eBay — Arya. As you can see, she’s not too happy about being paired up with Joffrey.

All-in-all, I feel ok about my only two vinyl purchases. And about all of my purchases. I had wanted to get some awesome Batgirl stuff… but really couldn’t find any. I mean, I found one, but the artist was too busy chatting with someone else that I just walked away from the booth. But other than that, there really wasn’t much.

The last panel I went to really wasn’t what I was hoping it would be. Other career options than artists. But really, other than the retail side, nothing else but creative and “just keep working” was covered. I wanted to hear about editors, publishers, marketing, R&D… anything. But nope. I did at least introduce myself to a local comic book store owner, and hopefully some cool things will come from that… but yeah. Sort of a soft ending to a good weekend.

I missed the big cosplay contest — but apparently there was much room for all the fans to attend. I missed meeting up with the IGGPPC group. I didn’t take any pictures of cosplayers. (Something I hope I get over and actually do next year.) Next year I’d like to maybe go with a small group. Maybe even do cosplay for the first time. Maybe. We’ll see. But I look forward to getting more involved in this sort of community. And buying more artwork.

Leaving Chicago, if only I knew how…

Despite some last bit of snow that came through last week, Spring’s finally arrived in Chicago. Robins are hopping around in puddles, bunnies are running around, and people are coming out finally ready to ditch their cabin fever. Baseball season has started, and soon they’re be block parties and concerts in the park… It’s Chicago at it’s best.

Yet, as much as I love all of these things, my heart’s just not in it. I hate admitting it, but I think I’d ready to leave Chicago. At least for a bit.

Paige wrote about this recently, and she sort of sums up my own thoughts much more eloquently than I could. I love Chicago. This is exactly where I thought I’d plant my roots and settle down. And if you would have asked me last year, I would have told you with confidence that Chicago is my home and will always be my home.

On some levels, I think Chicago really does appeal to my Finnish side. It’s got sisu. It’s a Finnish term that generally gets translated as pride. But it’s more than pride; it’s a deep love and respect. There are times when this city makes me feel so alive. When I can’t imagine living anywhere else. When I feel so grateful to be a part of it. But when I start thinking about what I want to wake up to every morning and where I want to be… I don’t know if Chicago’s it any more. My heart is miles and miles away.

Mucca Tour - 2012 out west

It started slowly. Every time we’d drive out west for tour. There’s that stretch between eastern California through New Mexico and Colorado. It has always been my favorite part of the trip. It was absolutely beautiful. And the images and the escalation I felt kept lingering in me. So when I see friends out west posting all these amazing pictures, it almost hits like a homesickness for a place that I’ve never lived.

I want to go hiking. I want an easy escape from all the buildings and concrete and noise. I want nature. I want that blend of desert and mountains. And I have absolutely no idea how to get there. (Metaphorically of course.) It’s hard to get a job in another state when you have no connections — even hard to just up and move when you have no savings.

But this is something I really want to do, and I don’t want to look back and regret not giving it a chance. Now is sort of the perfect time too. I’m single and I have no established career. I’m also adult enough to be able to manage on my own far, far away from my family. I know I’ll miss them. I know I’ll grumble about having to get and deal with a car again. I know I’ll miss Chicago. But… It’s just not enough for me any more.

Now if only I could figure out the how in all of this…

AND THEN… in a wonder play in timing from the universe, I read this post from Abby. (Yes, I wrote this post over the weekend and then scheduled it for today.) She didn’t plan and plot and toil away for months or years wondering how to make something like this happen. She just up and did it. She put herself out there, got a job, and is busy packing up. This is exactly the sort of inspirational kick in the butt I needed. So if you don’t mind, I’m going take a closer look at my goals and begin researching possibilities in the area I want to soon call home.

Planning out C2E2: How to do a con while broke

So, C2E2 is right around the corner — Friday! — and I’m slowly, finally, getting ready for it.

Last year, I didn’t really have a game plan for it. I knew I’d be meeting my friend and we’d be walking around a lot. And it was a lot of fun! I think my only real goal was to meet Felicia Day. Which happened and was awesome — and I got an awkward photo to commemorate it.

This year, since I’m attempting to save money — or rather, not spend money I don’t have — I need to plan out my days a little more so I’m not spending all of my time on the expo hall floor, tempted by all the amazing nerdy things for sale. (Seriously, I should have worked on some sort of side hustle last month so I could have some spending money.*)

So, here’s my pseudo-plan/things I’m interested in for this year’s C2E2:

Friday
I’m working, so I won’t be able to make anything until the evening. But, depending on whether I can trek all the way down there in time do to anything…
» Mark Waid, Comics Retailer vs. Mark Waid, Digital Publisher (5:15-6:15) – It’s unlikely I’ll make this one, but it’s an interesting topic!
» How to Be a Nerd for a Living: Careers Within Nerd Culture for Everyone (5:30-6:30) – Seeing as I’ll be job searching again in September, any extra ideas are very much welcomed.
» Game of Thrones (6-7) – I haven’t kept up with the show, but I’ve read all the books thus far. Also, I’ve never been to a celebrity panel before.
» The Thrilling Adventure Hour Improv Experience (7:15-8:15) – Just a chance for a good show.
» Comedy Mutant’s Brian Posehn and Kyle Kinane (8:30-10) – Again, entertainment.

Saturday
» Whose Doctor Is it Anyway? (11:45-12:45) – A discussion on an amazing show!
» Self-Publishing for Comic Creators (12:15-1:15) – This one is sponsored by a particular software/brand/publishing tool… Which means it’ll be slanted. And filled with beginner questions (yes, I kind of am snob with some of these, but I’ve heard these questions for years now at every single panel like this).
» DC Comics – Batman (2:45-3:45) – I mean, Batman.
» Glass Ceilings, Missing Stairs & Gatekeepers: Geeks Still Deal with Sexism (2:45-3:45) – An important topic which sadly has to keep coming up.
» Aw Yeah, Dark Horse! (3-4) – I really like what the Aw Yeah guys have done thus far, so I’m curious to see what they’re thinking next. And hearing others pitch their ideas too.
» The Moving Target: What Publishers Want and How to Give it to Them (3-4) – Again, while these titles intrigue me, I sort of know how to do this. It’s more of getting me to dedicate more of myself to doing the work.
» Fierce Females of Comics (4:14-5:15) – Again, interesting topic.
» Game of Thrones Fan Forum (5:15-6:15) – Hosted by Hodor! Hodor hodor hodor.
» Dark Horse Builds Characters (5:30-6:30) – This could be great if it goes beyond basics you learn in writing programs.
» The Hobbit: There and Back Again – Spoilers and Speculation! (6:45-7:45) – Though, no, I haven’t seen the second movie yet… I’ve read the books. Just sad none of the cast will be there.
» C2E2 Crown Championship of Cosplay (7:30-9:30) – This should be absolutely amazing and will also be livestreamed.
» “Of Dice and Men” – A Play by Cameron McNary (8-9:30) – Entertainment!

Sunday
» The Art of Worldbuilding: A Discussion with Charlaine Harris and Jacqueline Carey, Moderated by Chloe Neill (10:45-11:45) – more writing program course…
» Kids Comics Heroes: Raising a Reader (11-12) – Love this topic. Kids lit in any form is something I wish I had stronger skills.
» The Thrilling Adventure Hour (11-12) – Really looking forward to this one because Peter Sagal and Rider Strong.
» Building Fantastical Worlds and Dystopias (12:15-1:15) – writing courses!
» Warehouse 13 (1:15-2:15) – Fun show with a celebrity panel! Pete, Artie, and Claudia will be there.
» Charlaine Harris Spotlight (1:30-2:30) – Eh, I’ve stopped reading her books a while ago… but it’s always interesting to hear other authors talk.
» Diverse Means for Diverse Worlds Moderated by Racebending.com (2:45-3:45) – The Racebending aspect of this intrigues me.
» Creating Great Characters: From Your Brain to the Page! (3:45-4:45) – Again, more writing stuff.
» It’s More than Drawing: Exploring Other Careers in the Comics Industry (4-5) – This one might also bring a lot of interesting people… but any job ideas I can gleam…

People I’m looking forward to seeing
» Gail Simone – Should be obvious. BATGIRL. Getting my trades signed.
» Peter Sagal – I love this Wait, Wait host. Given that I accidentally stalked him through the Art Institute a couple years ago, I’d like a chance to meet him and be less creepy.
» Rider Strong – OMG teenage me is flipping out.
» Kyle Higgins (and Jen) – I met Kyle at a friend‘s wedding, he also happens to be writing Nightwing.

And while I want to search around for Shawnimal’s Chicago Dumpling figure… and find as many amazing Batgirl prints and figures… and get more vinyl figures…. I’m going to have to be really careful when it comes to exploring the hall. My birthday’s in less than 2 months, so I can at least pick up business cards and shop later. But BOY will not shopping this year be super hard and kind of gives me the sads.

*Anyone want to buy a short story? A fun doodle? Yourself as a Nintendo Princess? Or maybe some awesome swag from my newly opened shop?

One Week til C2E2!

It’s sort of hard to believe, yet really exciting that C2E2 is a week away! It really feels like I just bought (and then finally received) my 3-Day badge. Mostly, even as excited as I am, I don’t feel ready for it.

My original goal was to do some casual cosplay. And I was hoping to have some updates on that for you. But, between getting this new job and watching my budget ever so closely… I don’t really have what I want. Also, what I do have, well… isn’t quiet right either.

My Batgirl inspired necklace’s chain is too short. And the nice new black top I got for that outfit (and work too), is also too short despite being the right size. And while normally I’d let that just roll off me, it’s frustrating because I know exactly how tight my budget is. If my new black jeans don’t fit, I’ll probably cry.

But you know, you also make do and I will definitely be trying any little small fix. I’m not going to let some poor wardrobe missteps even attempt to ruin my C2E2 experience!

However, I’ll really only have Batgirl, though. Hawkeye is pretty much complete, minus the accessories… which pretty much make the entire outfit. Really, I just need/want a necklace with an arrow or two. Something long and dangly. Hopefully one of the local shops on my way home from work will have them, but even then it’s got to be under $10.

If I can’t causal cosplay for C2E2, then oh well. I’ve got some other great nerdy outfits I can wear too. And really, I’m building some great foundations for doing causal cosplay in my daily life. Which I cannot wait to incorporate into my work wardrobe.

Anyway, next week — assuming work doesn’t consume my life — I’ll post which guests and panels I’m considering. And afterward, if I can really get my outfits together, I’ll post those. I’m going to be hanging out with my professional photographer friend again, so I’ll see if he can get some good shots for me.

My cozy little nest.

So apparently all it takes is a week with almost no outside-the-house obligations and feeling sick to cause me to be stir-crazy enough to get me to finish setting up my apartment.

With being in a studio, I was sort of worried about it feeling like a dorm room. As much as I love mid-century design, I can’t afford it. So most of my decor is bright and, well, slightly nerdy. Things I’ve collected over the years from college on.

Now, being in a studio, I wanted to make sure my sleeping area and living area felt like separate places.

Photo Feb 23, 9 50 58 AM

Though it takes up the most space in the apartment, I really like how my living area came together. I don’t have a place for all of my books, but it works. The cats have taken over my filing box of my writing samples — they’re enjoying the increased beds they have in this new place.

Photo Feb 23, 9 49 46 AM

I also took my mom’s advice with the last box I couldn’t find a place for: put a blanket/cloth on it and put a lamp on it. Thankfully I have a lot of lamps. And as you can see, a lot of my nerdy stuff is concentrated here. My vinyl collection, my Nintendo stuff, and my Tolkien prints.

Photo Feb 23, 9 50 36 AM

Off the TV side of the living area is my dressing area. My closet is a lot smaller in this new place. However, I got rid of at least half of my wardrobe, so everything actually fits. I’ve got photos from my semester in China, as well as autograph prints from Tim Gunn and Felicia Day. Also, my two Mucca uniforms I don’t wear often…

Photo Jan 07, 9 55 55 AM

Now, a bathroom is a bathroom. However, I love my shower curtain. I also love the window and window sill inside the shower too.

Photo Feb 20, 9 54 15 AM

Now, switching to a twin bed wasn’t my first choice, but it’s really the only way to make the whole place work. I decided to make the wall along my bed my Mucca wall, and I’ve got sharks above my pillows. (Of which, I have 6 — pillows that is. There are 7 sharks out in the apartment, not including my tattoo.)

Photo Feb 23, 9 49 33 AM

My desk area isn’t used too much right now. It’s mostly a place where I set my mail when I come in. I do a lot of my work at the couch… Behind the couch, I’ve got more storage bins (covered with a cloth and a lamp on top, of course). The cats also have their little cave, and I’ve got a basket full of gaming accessories. The photo of the flower is from my trip to South Africa, and the varsity letters are my mom’s. (Mine are at her house.)

Photo Feb 23, 9 51 23 AM

I’m planning on turning the cabinet near the fridge into a nice tea & cocoa bar. (My wine to be stored inside the cabinet.) But I’ve got a few things I need before I can finish that ikea hack. Originally that was where I was going to hide the litter box, but, well, apparently I mis-measured.

Now. I can’t show you the kitchen as it is now… because I still have a good stack of boxes to finish, as well as general organizing… It’s been hard to get it taken care of since I use it so much. But here are some earlier photos of the kitchen.

Photo Jan 09, 10 47 55 AM

Here’s the ikea hack that did work. Two lack tv stands to make extra shelves and storage for the small appliances.

Photo Dec 09, 11 02 45 AM

And here’s the kitchen from when I did my walk-through. Thankfully they gave me an oven knob, but the numbers are rubbed off, so I have to guess  what temperature it’s at.

And that’s it. That’s my little home, sweet home. It’s cozy, and it definitely feels like home.

Finally all here.

Over a week later than planned, and not without its own hiccups, I’m finally all moved over to my new place. And, furthermore, with the exception of a large futon chair I couldn’t move on my own, I’m all out of my old place too. Keys handed over.

The cats and I are settling in well, even despite the smaller space. I love being so close to the grocery store. It seems like a little thing, but really, it’s nice to be able to make small trips. Granted, of course, I only really moved a few blocks from my old place — so it’s not like I was ever really that far from the store.

The new place does have some things to get used to, though. For one, I have nearly twice the amount of keys for this place. The front door and back door are separate keys, and soon I’ll be getting my copy of the back gate key. And a neighbor informed me that there’s a key for the laundry room too — but I’m hoping maybe one of these other keys will double for that. Oh, and of course there’s my unit and mailbox keys.

Also, though the old place had quirky neighbors, none of them really bothered me much. Even the dude upstairs who blasted his music, I could generally tune that out and he really was never that loud with it. (At least, after I confronted him and asked him to turn it down.) And it wasn’t late at night. Here, though? My new upstairs neighbor has a dog. And they’re active at night. So while I’m trying to go to bed, they’re up there playing fetch. I love hardwood floors, but man does the sound carry.

All of this I can get used to. I love having a separate kitchen area. The main living area has off-white walls, and all the doors are white — it just feels fresh and nice. And most of all, I love having a properly functioning bath tub. The old place would never drain properly, no matter how often I used non-draino-like-draino products (because I’d never actually use draino itself because that was forbidden in the lease). If it really was me or the cats clogging that drain, I would have clogged this new one 6 times by now. Anyway, happy to have a tub I can use and that drains properly and quickly. I’ve taken so many bathes here.

Anyway. After nearly two full weeks living here, I’m finally all here. … and now comes the fun part of unpacking everything. Which is a lot different of an experience with a smaller place…

need to unpack

It’s winter in Chicago, of course it’s cold. (and some practical tips for surviving)

I’m always sort of dumbfounded when November and December come around and people are surprised that it’s cold and/or snowy in Chicago. That some how the city and weather are conspiring against them. Maybe the past mild winters have made you forget, but it’s winter in Chicago — of course it’s cold. (And will probably stay cold through March… just sayin’…)

I’ve written on this topic in the past before. (see also: here and here) If it’s your first winter in Chicago, this could be understandable to not really know what you’re in for. For others, well, take the time to prepare. I mean, yes, one things Chicagoans love is to boast that we’re tough and can survive these winters… But there’s being tough and being smart.

So here are some simple, practical tips for helping anyone survive winters in Chicago.*

Protect your body.

bundled up for winter

No, we’re not the Windy City because of the actual winds, but it is decently wind here anyway. 20° F doesn’t seem too terribly bad until you see that the windchill makes it feel like it’s 4°. And yes, it is generally colder by the lake. Make sure you limit the amount of skin exposed. Hat, gloves, scarves. If you can get fleece-lined versions, go for them. Thin knit things won’t keep you too warm, but they’re better than nothing. Just be careful not to get them wet.

Next, because yes, it will stay in the single digits and sometimes dip negative, be sure you dress warm enough for however long you’ll be outside. (And remember, transit runs a little slower in winter.) Layers will be your best friend. Get some thermal baselayers, top and bottom. Or layer shirts and fleece or other sweaters. But don’t be that person who strips down to their tshirt on the bus. Just unzip your coat, undo your scarf, take off hats and gloves — and keep that sh*t contained in your own personal space. If you know you’re going to get overheated on the bus, sit by the back door which will be opening frequently and letting cold air in.

And I highly, highly, highly suggest that you invest in a really good coat. I have a few rules for myself whenever I buy coats: must be warm, must cover my butt, must cover my wrists, must have a hood. Make your own list of musts. And personally, I have a number of coats. My main winter coat is one I can only wear if it’s in the low 30’s or below. (It does much better in the below temperatures…) It’s from Columbia and lined with their omniheat. For me, it works wonders. I have their legging baselayer too and wear them under my jeans. (These are things you can take off once you get to work.)

Lastly, you should also invest in good boots. Good boots will keep your feet warm and most importantly dry. I have Sorel boots and I absolutely love them. Snow drifts by the sidewalks can hide puddles, and I’ve had the misfortune of stepping into one of those without the proper footwear. Rain boots will keep you dry, but they will not keep you warm. If you go this route, get those sherpa liners for them or wear a couple pair of wool socks. (Cotton socks keep moisture near you, so athletic socks are a better option as they’re more likely to wick the sweat away from you. Same with cotton tshirts and such.)

And at some point, you can just forget about trying to be the most fashionable one out there. We don’t see the girls out there in skirts and heels and trendy, but not warm, coats and think “oh, she’s hot”… we think “lordy she is dumb. And cold!” Who cares if you look like Randy from a Christmas Story or if you look like a bear. You’re warm and that’s all that matters.

These are all really common sense, practical things you can do to help you “get through” these tough Chicago winters. And I know, not everyone can afford nice protective things. But do what you can and these investments are (generally) worth the money spent.

Also, if you have old coats or other winter-wear you’re not using any more, please donate them — regardless of whether you’re in Chicago or not, there are always people who could use a good coat.

Ok. So, anything I missed? What’s your favorite way to bundle up? Are you sick of all the “omg why is it so cold” tweets? (Me. Too.) Stay warm out there!

*I’m going to be breaking this up into about 3 posts. In the next post, I’ll help you prepare for winter travel. Later I’ll discuss keeping your home warm and what to do if your apartment is too cold.