Why Chicagoans freak out over every bit of snow…

It may seem crazy that every time you get on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram everyone in the Midwest, namely Chicago, absolutely freaks out every single time there’s any little bit of snow.

I know some people are saying just to get over it, it’s only snow… But you see… We can’t just do that.

Chicagoans will always find something to complain about, that’s just human nature. But there’s this crazy sense of pride that we can stick it out through these harsh, cold, and snowy winters.

Remember the Blizzard of 2011?

I was in Indiana a the time, and I was actually sort of jealous to miss such a massive storm. I mean, thundersnow. It was scary, and yes, people were stranded on Lake Shore Drive before abandoning their vehicles and making a run for it… But Chicagoans went out and we owned this storm, it was ours. People near in the high rises near the drive came out with hot drinks and went out to help those who were stuck.

We were all ready and prepared for another Snowmageddon, survivors of the Snowpocalypse. And you know what, we didn’t even care about another season of parking dibs. But the following winters? Sadly mild. Normally by this time in the season we’ve had 27-inches of snow. This year? Only 14-inches.

We miss snow.

The beautiful, and sometimes bitter, winters help balance out the also beautiful but humid summers. Spring and fall are just rainy, but hey, the temps are perfect. This craziness of random 60-degree weather in the middle of January just doesn’t cut it. Give us our snow!

Chicago has four whole seasons, and we just want our real Chicago winter back.


Forward

Being home with family this week sort of recharged me. It was nice to just get away and rest for a bit—something I really needed. It also gave me time to think about a lot of things…

I think I’m going to start looking for a semi-permanent home here in Chicago in the next 5 years. I love this city, and I love the family of friends I’ve built here. I want to put down some roots and stay for a long time. So I’m going to start researching, but ideally I’ll be looking for a flexible, long term lease (so I can do some renovations/decorating), or possibly some sort of condo.

I still don’t know where I’m going career-wise, but I’m not really worried about it any more. I’m doing well with my job, and I still get to pursue my passions on the side. However, I will be cutting back on some activities yet again to free up even more time for writing.

I’m in an “update your wardrobe” mood. Which means going back to that failed plan of “The Great Wardrobe Purge” and actually following through. Still hoping to get rid of about 40-50% of what I currently own. I’m ready to look like the director at work, yet still fit my own personal style. Things that say “hey, I’m kind of a real adult now with a legit job, and I look good.”

I want to start dating again, but at the same time I’m kind of indifferent about the whole thing. My life’s slightly busy, but not in a bad way. Basically I’m more interested in finding someone to go have fun with, who I can also make out with… otherwise I’d be happy with my current social life with my friends.

I’m re-evaluating my blogging goal and might be refocusing some direction. I don’t want to call it “blogging with purpose”, because seriously, it’s just a blog. But I would like to be a little more focused on a few different areas, all while still keeping this a personal blog. We’ll see.

I’m enjoying being 28 and transitioning further into adulthood. I’ve got a good life, and I’m really thankful for it. It’s time to continue moving forward, and keep having fun.


days like this

It’s been getting a bit rainy here in Chicago. Which means I want nothing more than to curl up at home with the kitties, put on some comfy clothes, and have a hot cider.

But we’ve had some nice days lately, and I’m glad I’ve taken advantage of a few of them.

I can’t say that there’s anything majorly life changing happening right now. I’m just really content and happy. It’s nice. And I’m thankful I’ve had more days like this than not.

Some things I’m looking forward to…

Watching the Bears game with my dad tonight. He’ll still be at home in Indiana, and I’ll be here in Chicago… but thanks to my Dad, I can now watch his cable from the internet.

Rebekah‘s wedding that’s less than two weeks away! And related: a weekend in St. Louis. (I’ve got my dad to thank for getting the hotel for me since I put it off until the last minute.)

Two Mucca shows. Telling myself I will not get fall-down drunk this time at Otto’s this weekend. And super duper stocked for Mucca’s Halloween show and the debute of something amazing.

Getting new glasses. I mean, can ya tell?

Brunch with Courtney at our favorite place.

Love my family. Love my friends. Love my city. Life’s pretty grand.

*Yes, this picture is still of Chicago. I was crossing the North Ave bridge around sunset; just east of Wicker Park. I love my city.


Chicago… a love story.

I make no effort to hide the fact that I love Chicago.

I have great memories of running around Hyde Park, and exploring things like the Lincoln Park Zoo and Wrigley Field, when I was a small child visiting my Gram. In fact, I think it was the large park near her apartment, the architecture*, and the Middle Eastern restaurant down the street that sparked this love affair. Her neighborhood felt like home. I loved her apartment—the bay windows, the old door handles, the painted white radiators, the back porch overlooking the shared yard…

It’s been over 20 years and that love and excitement hasn’t died at all. I’ve lived here for 5 ½ years now, and though I do have a case of wanderlust and love traveling, this is home. Now, the people here definitely have a large part in that feeling, but it’s more than just my “Chicago Family” that keeps me here.

There is so much history here, and I feel like I’ll never stop learning new things about this city. (In fact, I just spent about half an hour falling through a rabbit hole of my neighborhood’s history…) The number of parks that we have, and the summer concerts and festivals and movies that they hold. The museums, zoo, and aquarium. The theaters. The boat tours. The local music scene. The independent book stores. The transit system. The startup community. The literature that comes from here (seriously, read some Dybek). The arts—especially the outdoor pieces scattered throughout the city. Our sports teams and our city’s pride in them. The neighborhoods and communities. The lake. The architecture. I just cannot get over how much I love about this city.

It’s not perfect, yes there is crime and corruption… and yeah, sometimes the winters can be harsh. But you can always find some fault wherever you are. Though Yorktown will always be my hometown, and Goshen—and even Chengdu—will always hold a special place in my heart and memories, I haven’t felt this same connection to any other city. No other place drew me in to drop anchor. Maybe one day that will change and I’ll pack my bags for the next adventure… but damn it, Chicago, you’re beautiful. You’re where I want to be.

*Yes, even as a little kid I couldn’t get over just how amazing and beautiful all these buildings were/are.
**I’m consciously trying to take more photos of the city on Instagram, showing just the day-to-day of Chicago. They won’t necessarily be typical Chicago pictures, but they’ll be photos of my Chicago. Now if only I could decide on what hashtag I want to use for these…


concerts in the park

Summer in Chicago is great. And though this whole “adult” thing means I’m still working full time, there’s still a whole lot to take advantage of here in the city.

One of the things I love about summertime is our summer concert series downtown at Millennium Park. Free outdoor concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion.

Monday night, as part of the Downtown Sound series, Chico Trujillo was playing and some Muccas just happened to be sitting in on a few songs.* So a small handful of those who weren’t performing and I went to go watch. And you know, because this is what you do at the summer concert series, we brought drinks and drink appropriate snacks (cheese, apples, crackers, meats, chocolates)… a little picnic in the park. Surrounded by a whole lot of people.

It was an absolutely fun, and just sort of relaxed, night. Just hanging out in the grass, listening to music, chatting, and just enjoying the summer night. I’m looking forward to doing it again for a few more concerts this summer.

My anxiety gets the best of me more often than I’ll admit–too often I just go home and crash–but I’m still working on it. I went to the zoo with a friend on Sunday. Then the concert on Monday. I’m hoping to enjoy the beach some this weekend with my brother & his family when they visit. And I’m determined to go see the Lichtenstein exhibit at the Art Institute sometime soon. I don’t care how many times I need to pause and take a deep breath, there’s no reason for me to waste another summer on my couch.

*Chico Trujillo is opening for Mucca Pazza on August 18th at the Bottom Lounge here in Chicago.
**Thanks to J for letting me snag that pic of the stage. 


5 years back

Twenty-Something Bloggers, that massive network of personal bloggers, is turning 5 this week. And as part of the celebration, we’re hosting a blog carnival (sponsored by GlassesUSA.com).

As part of the Executive Board, we shared our carnival letters to ourselves from 5 years ago on the 20sb blog. So, you can read my letter there… However, I do want to share some highlights from the past five years…

I moved to Chicago. Yep. Five years ago this month I moved to Chicago. I had just graduated from college, and was super excited about moving to Chicago with (but not as roommates) my friend Chrissy. Granted, Chrissy moved back home about a month into it… but I stayed and Chicago definitely has become my home now. I absolutely love it here.

I adopted the kittens. Though they’re a handful, I love these little furballs. It’s kind of weird now, because every so often I look at them and go “YOU’RE A CAT!”… I still picture them as my teeny tiny kittens…

I met Mucca Pazza. Four years ago, also this month, my friend Josiah invited me to Andersonville’s Midsommarfest. “There’s this band you’ll love…” A bit of an understatement. You’d have to be absolutely new to my blog to not know that I consider this bunch of band nerds my Chicago Family. (LYA, Muccas!)

I gained another mom. We welcomed Cynthia into our family, and I am so grateful for all that she brings. I know my (half) sisters miss their mom, as I do too, but I do believe that Cynthia has opened them to new worlds and possibilities.

Oh the jobs I’ve had… From working as a nanny, to working in a biological imaging lab with lasers and liquid nitrogen and a 56″ poster printer, to managing a toy store, to running a school… There were ups and downs and some really not pretty moments, but there was some fun times there.

Hello, Endo. Not a happy thing, but still a big part of these five years. It tested me, and still does. I’m learning to adjust not only my diet, but just my regular habits. I still have hard days, painful days, but overall, I’ve pushed through it and I can definitely say my self-esteem is a lot better.

I pursued passions. Summer writing conference. A Stanford writing course. Writing workshop. Portfolio School. The Graham School’s Writer’s Studio. Not to mention all the crazy side projects I’ve started over these 5 years…

I don’t know if I would change much. There were definite not-good moments. But I’m happy. I’ve got some pretty awesome people in my life. I get to do some pretty cool things. Life isn’t that bad.

“These next five years in Chicago are going to be amazing, once you get to look back on them.

Relax, you’re amazing”


Home Sweet… something…

I’ve been in Chicago for almost 5 years now. 5 years this June. I’ve loved exploring the different neighborhoods, and really, there’s no doubt in my mind that for this point in my life, Chicago is my home.

And I just did something I’ve never done… I renewed my lease. I haven’t lived in the same place for more than 14 months since high school when I was living with my mom.* So this is something big for me. In college, the only time I stayed in the same dorm room for the full year was my first year. When I moved to Chicago, I never really made a plan to move every time my lease came up… but that’s what I ended up doing. It’s been fun, mostly. But as birthdays came, I started to realize I wanted to settle in a bit more. That I wanted to find a place and just stay there. To have a real “home base.”

Now, this apartment probably won’t become that place for me. All of my windows look out to an alley. My floor needs to be resealed. The shower sounds like Chewbacca and the water temperature is bipolar. There’s no storage, and my kitchen is small. And yes, I’d like a dishwasher. But it does feel nice to just stay put for once. (And honestly, I think after that whole situation and moving to Indiana, the cats are happy to stay put too.) I’m near the lake. I’m near buses and trains. There’s a little local grocery store down the road. My landlord is super nice. My neighbors aren’t that crazy. My living room is the size of most studios I was looking at, and my bedroom isn’t that much smaller. It’s not perfect, but it’s home for now.

And on the topic of home and home for now…

I’ve been at this web hosting for 4 years-ish. And the past few months have been rocky. I was hacked twice. TWICE. The first time I ended up deleting my entire blog and had to rebuild it. This time I was able to fix everything without deleting my site. All the malware is gone, my site is (in theory) more secure. All it takes is one weak spot and all of my domains became vulnerable (and I’ve got 5 active ones right now).  Everything’s fine now, but I’ll probably be moving to a new hosting provider at the end of the year.**

*I’d say a year, but I stayed in my third apartment a few months after my lease ended.
**In the process of writing this post, the entire site got borked. I realize my host’s support team was just trying to help… but they broke my entire site and that’s just.. THEY BROKE MY ENTIRE SITE. I’m not okay with this. If you see anything messed up with my site in the future, please contact me via twitter or email (dork [at] adorkableme [dot] com)… hopefully all this is done with.


getting ready for awesomeness, the 20sb summit.

The 20sb Summit is inching, no, RUNNING closer and closer. The count down is in days, that I can count on one hand. It’s big. The last time we had a huge group of 20sb bloggers in Chicago was 2009 for the Ultimate Meetup.*

20sb has come a long way since that weekend party. For starters, pretty sure we hadn’t even reached 10,000 members then. Hell, probably not even 7-8,000… We’re over 18,000 now. More every single day–I know, I’m on the admin team and I can see how the application list changes. Also, this is a real summit. We’ve got speakers and panels as well as parties.**

Now, thanks to CPS, I’ve been sort of “on” in terms of readiness to meet new people–what with all the various design events I’ve been going to this summer. So I’m good to go for the summit. It also helps that I know a good handful of the bloggers going. But that first time I met a large group of bloggers, yeah, I was super nervous. I tried to mask it, and I tried liquid confidence (booze, people)… but what really got me through is the simple fact that we’re a group of awesome, open, and inviting people. We’re personal bloggers, it’s in our nature.

I love when conferences and events like this are in Chicago. For one, I’m too poor to travel anywhere–seriously, had Mucca not taken me on tour, I might not have left the city this summer. Also, I love Chicago. This city is awesome. It’s not too hard to get around–though if you need tips, I wrote some for the 20b blog here. There’s always some sort of show/concert going on. And the lake, which truly does make a huge difference. (Hell, I’m a fan of the river… I’ll be even more of one once they clean it up.) So, I’m super excited for a lot of bloggers to come and enjoy my city. Not to mention, August in Chicago is quite nice.

School’s kept my away from the blogging community. And I cannot wait to spend all weekend immersed completely in it. So, to get ready for that… here’s some visual treats from that epic 2009 meetup…

If you’re going, say hi! I no longer have pink hair (or much hair really), but I’ll be there in all my dorky, awkward glory.

*It was just a long weekend of touring Chicago and drinking. But it was awesome.
**You might be asking why that’s important… It shows that yes, we’re 20-somethings but we also take our blogging lives seriously. 


tough choices: to move or not?

So.  Classes at the Portfolio School start the first week of April.  That’s just a few weeks.  YEAH.

This means trying to figure out whether or not I should move back to Chicago.  There are pros and cons to both — moving and staying.  But well, moving to Chicago will mean having rent to take care of, but less stress with my commute (and figuring out who I could crash with a couple nights a week).  Anyway.  I’m leaning towards moving back, but we’ll see how these things play out.

Moving to Chicago

Pros

  • It’s Chicago.
  • Less of a commute.
  • I have friends here.
  • I don’t have to rely on someone else’s schedule to get to and from work or school.
  • Much easier to balance work & school schedules since I’ll be in the same city.
Cons

  • Rent isn’t cheap
  • I’ll have to pay for food too.

Staying at Home

Pros

  • Free rent & food!
  • (as much as they stress me out) I do love my family
  • Duneland Friends Meeting
  • Free laundry
Cons

  • No privacy.
  • Very stressful
  • Commutes are going to suck balls.
  • I don’t get much, if any, say in the meals.
  • I don’t have a real room.
  • I don’t really have peers here to hang out with.

So, basically, it comes down to Chicago is just awesome, but will be more expensive.  Home is definitely cheaper, but way more stressful and the commuting isn’t ideal at all.  What out weighs what?  If I didn’t have my debt to think about, I’d be back in Chicago in a heart beat.  But I’m going to have to pay for school, rent, and food on top of my cell phone bill, whatever utilities aren’t included, and also credit card & medical debt.  That’s a bunch.  And chances are I’ll be working at Starbucks and Target or whatever place I can find that might have a flexible schedule.

Luckily, I have enough money to cover the first month of school. (THANKS.)  … I’m still not sure how it’s all going to work out.  I would love for school to just be paid for.  Or for my debt to just magically disappear.  Isn’t there some sort of fairy for that?  It’d be nice to have those burdens off my shoulders.  But what it’s going to come down to is a lot of hard work and sacrifice.

Did you know I am only one of two graphic design students admitted this quarter? Yeah, kind of awesome.


a crazy awesome week

This week has been crazy and awesome.  Mostly leaning on the awesome side.

A lot of that is in part to the announcement of the new 20SB Team.  I’d been on the team for a while now, just as one of the community mods.  And now I’ve stepped up and I’m one of the leads for the community mods.  But my little promotion isn’t what’s got me all excited.  It’s the team itself.  These people are awesome.  And crazy.  Crazy awesome.  I cannot wait to get drunk with meet them all.

On top of that, I decided take my Chinese exchange sister out for buffalo wings and go to Chicago for a job interview and date — which is all fodder for its own post.  Oh.  And I saw Chris again.  Which was nice.

But… coming home from the city… that’s when more craziness happened.  As of last night, I’m now working on 4 different design jobs.  3 of which I’m getting paid for.  Granted I suck at this whole “give us an estimate” thing.  Though designing is not new to me, freelancing is.  I don’t want to miss out on money I could be earning — but I also don’t want to seem greedy.  But really, I’m excited and hopeful, because this money is going towards my “move back to Chicago” fund.

I know that despite having three paying gigs, I won’t get the amount of money I need in the time I’d like.  Ideally, I’d like to move next month — which is, what, next week?  Yeah.  But classes start April 4th.  And I’m going to be in Seattle for possibly the week before that.  It would be awesome to be settled before that.  Especially with this whole trying to get a job thing — so much easier when you actually live in the city.

I have no idea what kind or where or how I’m going to find an apartment.  And while I’m hopeful about a job, temp work isn’t a guarantee or anything.  So I’m hoping maybe my dad will step up and help — that’s another issue itself.  But… with so much help from friends and strangers — I’m getting closer and closer to being able to pay for school.  I still have a couple grand to go before my first quarter is paid off, but I can breath easier knowing that I’ve gotten the first month taken care of.  (THANKS.)

One way or another, I will get back to the city.  Hopefully sooner than later.