Big news, big choices. How a spur of the moment decision might actually turn into a major change.

Ok. So. If you follow me on twitter, you might have noticed a couple of vague tweets over the past couple of weeks. Stuff about big decisions, and, um, mountains.

Let’s go back a bit first… It all sort of started on a lark…

I’ve had the idea to leave Chicago for a while now. Not because I hate it or anything, it’s just some inner sense of longing and such. So, as part of this desire, I sometimes get on PadMapper and scope out apartments in various parts of the country. A lot of it is to see how the cost of living differs — if I could even afford to move there. Most of it’s all just daydreaming stuff. Lots of What ifs that will lead to no where.

But then this happened…

Somehow through my random searches, I found this nice little log cabin out in Montana– 1 bedroom, 2 stories, a wood burning stove, with spectacular mountain views. And, the kicker, the rent was less than my tiny study here in Chicago. That cabin, and subsequently a few others that I found, created a sort of heartbreak for me. And I wasn’t really sure why. I’d never been to Montana. And honestly, I didn’t really know much about Montana other than it was north and it was sort of a popular place for Scandinavian immigrants.

But with that first cabin… something struck me… I needed to check out Montana.

I’m in the market for a job anyway, and I’ve been open to the idea of applying out of state. So, why not Montana? I mean, what harm could it do to just put out a couple feelers and just check it out?

I have the most experience with academic administration. And really, it’s a field I actually really enjoy as well. So, I started looking into various schools and universities.

But then I found something else… And this happened…


Yes. You’re reading that right. I’ve been accepted to Montana State University.

When I found jobs at MSU, I started just checking out their programs. I was bored and curious to see what they offered. And then I started looking into their admission requirements… and noticed they actually talk about post-baccalaureate degrees… And then I decided to check out the application itself. And the next thing I knew I was requesting to have my transcripts from my first BA sent over.

It was just one of those “just go for it and see what happens” moments.

And that’s when I received my acceptance letter.

I’ve been trying to take time to soak this all in and figure everything out. I definitely am excited, and I want to be overjoyed with this decision… But there’s just a lot that would need to happen. I’d need to get a car (which my brother is totally on board for helping). Need to figure out housing, because even though they have student housing for people like me, they don’t allow pets and the cats are definitely coming with me. I also need to figure out tuition, because yeah, that’s a thing. Whether or not I should just go for it now, or look into deferring until next Fall. It’s just… a lot.

That’s my big news. My big choice. I wasn’t really planning on this, but after years of dreaming and letting goals just fade into the background… It feels really good to actually make a step towards something. Like I might actually get another chance; that I might find some direction.

Project Leave Chicago: a tiny little dream home in the mountains…

So, work has picked up like crazy. And I thought being so busy would distract me from wanting to leave this place. It hasn’t. I still think about it. A lot.

I mean, yes, I do love this place and being busy makes it easier to continue being here. But…  as I’ve mentioned before. I just need something more.

I fell asleep recently watching a documentary on Tiny Houses on Netflix. I mean, it’d be a huge adjustment… But… There’s something sort of beautiful about this way of living.

tiny house in the woodvia

But after living in a couple studios, I think I could handle small spaces. (Though yes, some of these are smaller than my current studio.) I even think the cats would be ok — for the most part. Yes, there would be times when they’d drive me crazy with all the running around in a tight space. But, well, we’re dealing with that now.

I just love picturing this large area of land, meadows and mountains… some woods… and a small home. Maybe there’s a barn or something. A yurt for guests or vintage trailer for guests. A little doggy friend for the cats and I. A nice outdoor living room space… Maybe some chickens…

I don’t know. With all the stress and complications you deal with every day… I guess it’s not really that far-fetched that I would dream of a simpler life. Maybe it’s running away from it all. But at this point I don’t care any more. I just want to feel free.

I have no concrete plans for this. I sometimes go on PadMapper and look at apartments in various cities. Trying to plan out my new life in a new home. Figuring out how far I am from mountains or rivers or lakes. Even just seeing if the rent is even feasible there. But honestly, I’m still at square one… or really square zero (just day dreaming). I have no idea how to get there.

Project Leave Chicago: updates

Ok, so I mention how I’ve felt this desire to take a break from my beloved city of Chicago. And rather than just let this be daydreams and idle talk, I want to take some action to even see if this could be a possibility.

Once I realized this was something I wanted to do, it sort of triggered this unexpected (but should have been expected) questioning of “what the heck do I want to do with my life, for reals.” I bounced from MFA to MA in Secondary Education to… this hazy area I’m in now where I’m still sorting it out. It’s just more, I know sort of where I’d like to be… but I don’t know what I want to do.

But in some of the random searching and questioning that I’ve done.. this is where I’ve gotten thus far:

Tempe, AZ – I’d looked into Arizona State University before, which lead me to researching the area. It’s affordable, from what I’ve seen online, and there are Friends Meetings there that look good. And the university too. Downside is that I don’t generally agree with a lot of the politics coming out of Arizona.

Albuquerque, NM –  Not sure I would have considered ABQ until doing just random internet searches about places in New Mexico. It’s more liberal in this area. There seems to be a lot going on here, and it’s got a university too. Rental prices seem to be in an affordable range too — though a lot of places have pet fees. Good hiking and mountain access here too.

Portland, OR – Actually, it’s more a suburb of Portland… But there’s a job at a particular company up there that seems interesting. I’m not quite sure how qualified I am though. And, well, though I’ve heard good things about the city, there’s something in particular that keeps me from the pacific northwest. And there’s no deserts. But I honestly do not mind snow and cold at all, so that part I could get used to.

Connecticut – I can’t remember the actual city, but this one is also tied to a specific job with a specific company. And this one I do feel qualified for. So it’s just a matter of getting all of my application materials sorted out and cleaned up, and then just going for it. It’s not necessarily where I want to be geographically, but hey, the job seems great.

Museum Studies – Not a physical place, but well, another career area I’m considering. So far I’ve only looked at UIC and ASU’s MA programs. I love the idea of researching every sort of topic, designing and building different exhibitions, sharing that education with others… It’s so exciting. I did however look at a certificate program as well. But it would mean staying where I’m at now and doing courses in the evenings for a year… for a certificate… But you know, a good way to test the waters, right?

And that’s where I’m at… 4 cities and two job possibilities. And of course even more questions than when I started.

I sort of miss how right after college I just up and decided it would be Chicago. I had no job (or interviews) lined up, no clue what I’d be doing. I just moved. And my parents were ok with that. Now, at very just shy of 30, I know my parents would highly disprove of me just up and moving to a new city without any sort of plans. (Not that they could really stop me, I am an adult after all — but it’d be nice to have their help and support for such a move.)

As much as I don’t want to plot and plan and toil away at this… I do need to put a little thought in this.

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.