Monday, October 19, 2009

Moving Out, Growing Up

When I was 18 years old I moved out of my parents house and into my own apartment. I loved home but I wanted to be on my own. I rented an apartment with two girlfriends in the Pocket Area, and I remember loving every minute of it. I felt grown up and independent, and I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Then within a year, I had the opportunity and the financial assistance from my parents to invest in a house. This made me feel a little more independent, but also opened my eyes to the expense and the responsibility that comes with owning a home. Fast forward a couple years, I have lived back at home with my parents, moved three quarters of the way across the country and now live in a charming shoebox. When I came to Chicago I moved in to a home with two roommates. It was big, clean and comfortable. It was just what I needed to get acclimated to my new city. But time had passed and I was ready and in need of my own space. The search was on for a place I could make my own. Now as a preface, living in a big city... location is everything, and it seems that as the location gets better the apartments get smaller! :) But I was determined to find something in a safe and lively area so that I could walk out my door and find something to do. I didn’t need a whole lot of space, it just needed to feel like home. I looked at about 10 places, which might not seem so bad except for the fact that it was all via bus or train or taxi. It was the first time since I moved to Chicago that i REALLY. MISSED. MY. CAR. Not only that but all the studios were extremely small, with few windows, and I felt claustrophobic even without any furniture. I thought I would never find something that fit, and so I kind of gave up. That day as I sat at my desk, I felt stressed and anxious... my boss came out of his office and said... “remember that paper I told you about?... Check their classifieds. You’ll find something” So I did, and the first place I saw, looked like the best thing yet. I went after work that night to look at the place, and as the taxi dropped me off, it felt more like a delivery into a new world. The houses were quaint, their were people my age walking around, the park was close by, restaurants, shops, grocery stores... looked good already! I looked at the apartment which was by far the cutest and most charming. Their were surrounding patios, laundry on site, a fitness room, and sweet little old man who would soon be my landlord. He is probably in his early 70’s and reminds me of my grandfather. Kind and hardworking, and very wise. It felt like home instantly. As we were sitting signing the paperwork, he told me... “I can see in your eyes that you are not happy. This place, this neighborhood... the people, it will be a new life for you Amy. A new page.” I had maybe known this man a total of 20 minutes and he was already consoling me. I guess it’s true that I’m an open book. After I handed over the lease and the check to secure my spot, he walked me around the complex and introduced me to several of my new neighbors. All of who were extremely nice and more welcoming than one could expect. I was feeling more at ease, very relieved that the search was finally over. Now my only challenge would be finding and affording the furniture that I didn’t have, and actually moving my belongings from one place to another. Without access to a car. I went round and round trying to decide how I would make it all work, and it became more obvious than ever that I do not like to be in that “unsure” place in life. I also do not like asking for help or letting on that I might not know what the hell I’m doing! I made lists and budgets, and made a calendar mapping out my schedule and the orchestration of what would end up being the hardest move, and most challenging two weeks of my life. Moving? What could be so bad about that?” I know what you’re thinking... it can be done. But when you factor in the following; no car, no furniture, no bed, and MOST importantly, no parents... you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Needless to say I am not going to go into all the details, it would be a book in itself, and a lot of complaining that no one needs or wants to hear. But, looking back and reflecting on this time has really made me realize that this time, this move, I did on my own. Save for my dear friend Zach, THANK GOD was conveniently visiting that week, I was at it alone. I was forced to make my own decisions, and deal with them. I was forced to ask for help, even though it makes me extremely uncomfortable (that I will leave to the shrink!) Ha! I have also learned that what I thought was independence before, was really just a cushioned existence that my parents afforded me. I have always been thankful for their help. But now, I am more in awe of their generosity. Until they are not around to bail us out, and drive over to help, we’re never really alone. Here in Chicago... I am alone. I think the reality of it is most of the time when we make decisions we are thinking only about the obvious. “I’ll move away, take a good job to make money and advance my career.” What I didn’t consider is what that really meant. What I didn’t realize is that what I was really here for was to change, to deal with uncomfortable things. To grow up.
And so I’m here now, in my little shoebox with my little refrigerator and little stove, and it feels nice. I can walk just about anywhere, I can see my bed from my couch :) and I feel so much better. I feel settled and independent. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a whole new shade of lonely sometimes, but it’s those moments that I seem to learn and grow the most. Fall is in full bloom here in Chicago. The leaves are changing the air is cool and crisp, and it feels amazing. I will be sure to post some photos soon. My dear sweet mother is coming to Chicago next week, and I know she will help me nest and make it feel simply perfectly like home. Until then my friends... lots of love and cozy fall wishes from a semi grown-up girl in the Chi!


So it has been a while since I’ve blogged. As usual... for all you avid bloggers, I commend you. I don’t see how you find the time. Between work, working out, chores, sleep and some fun, I never find the moments to sit and blog. I will get better... I promise. For now, I sit in the airport eagerly awaiting my flight to good old Sac town realizing this is the most opportune time to BLOG! So here goes. I am starting back as far as i can remember, and that would be the blessed day I say Oprah. When I was celebrating my decision to move to Chicago it seemed like every other person... or should i say most women would say, “Oh how cool... are you going to go to Oprah?!” It was the farthest thing from my mind, but it sounded nice. Being an avid Oprah fan I had tried my hand at getting tickets before, and it was not an easy feat. Well you can imagine my excitement when it was announced in the Chicago Reader (my favorite Chicago paper) that Oprah would be shutting down Michigan Avenue for a FREE show! I went back and forth on whether I would go only because it was a work day, and I knew to get a good spot I would have to go first thing in the morning... I have done my mad fan thing before for concerts etc... and it’s an exhausting job! LOL. But could I really pass up Oprah? The morning came... and I got up resolved that this was not worth the long 8 hour day of standing and waiting to maybe see a pea size Oprah up on a stage... not to mention the weather report called for a chance of rain, and we all know what that means in Chicago. So I got on the bus, and as we crossed over the bridge and onto Wacker drive... the city glistened. Out in the distance I could see the stage... I could see the buses, I could feel the excitement. I literally got chills driving by seeing all the signs and the production that was going on. How could I NOT go?! When I got to work, I continued to go back and forth, back and forth, until I came to the conclusion that 1. Oprah might just be as exciting to me as it gets. I love her show, I love her. 2. If I passed this up, a few years from now I’d be sitting at my desk, doing my job thinking, “why the HELL didn’t I go to Oprah when I had the chance?” So... I jumped in a cab, stood in line and made the trek to see Oprah! When I arrived, I was given a wristband which corresponded to a section. Once I was cozily situated in my “spot” this group of dance instructors made it to our section. They told us we were going to learn this dance for Oprah. It was going to be a surprise and it was really important that we participate. For the best section there would be gift cards... Well that’s about all I needed to hear. Surprise Oprah? Gift Cards? I’m in! We practiced the dance over the course of the next 6 hours about 100 times. I could have taught it to everyone I knew by the end of that day. The song “ I got a feeling” will FOREVER remind me of that day... not because I love it or anything but because I heard it about a 1000 times. Towards the end of the afternoon, and about an hour before show time, the Black Eyed Peas came out to practice with us... I think i had chills for about 45 minutes. They would have us practice, and then show us what it looked like on the screen... it was truly amazing to see 20,000 people doing the same dance... and doing it in sync! In case you didn’t see it... the final product was amazing. Oprah was shocked, and we looked damn good. I had so much fun, and it was so cool to see how it all works off the screen. It wasn’t your typical in studio Oprah experience, but “I’ve got a feeling...” it is a day I will NEVER forget!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bloggers Block

Dear Blog,

So this is simply an SOS... an "I'm sorry" I haven't forgotten about you, I've just been blocked, or should I say busy. This summer has been rumbling by me, with lots of visits from friends and family, a trip home, a new apartment, a new bed, u-haul, rearranging finances to manage all the moving expenses and a partridge and pear tree. As SOON as I am back on my feet and I can manage to get six consecutive hours of sleep, I promise I will return. In the meantime... I am journey-ing along and completely and utterly IN LOVE with my "soon to be" new apartment and new neighborhood. I will post pictures of it all very soon.

Love, Amy

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My #1's

This post is dedicated to my mom and dad. Today is not a momentous occasion or anything, I just felt that they deserved a little praise once and a while. They are simply amazing, and make everyday better... always have.

My Mom; (also known as Marmie to me) is the most beautiful and loving soul. She makes me feel calm, and always finds peace and a gift in everything that comes my way. She is my very best friend, and gives the best advice that I always try to take to heart. She is wise, but not judgemental. I can tell her ANYTHING and she won't put on her "mom" hat and scold me. She'll listen, and relate and help me move on. My mom also always makes me smile. She has this quirky fun personality, and does the cutest things without even knowing it. She has an infectious laugh and can be silly when needed. She's also very domestic in an enchanting way, she makes any house or room or space feel comfortable and homey. She is an amazing Grandmother, patient and loving. She has so many things to teach Amelia, and does such a good job doing it. My mom is also extremely creative and artistic. She is getting better about making time for herself to do the things she loves like sewing, painting and playing her Ukulele, and her creations are simply the coolest most beautiful things. Most importantly, my mother has done a great job instilling the importance of being true to myself, and living in the moment... things I try to practice everyday. She has taught me to be kind, and to love with all my heart. She has taught me to be strong, and to stand up for what I want. She's amazing, and I am so lucky she is MY mom!

My Dad; is the strongest most hardworking man I know. He gives me the will to do better, to be better. I always no that he will support me on my path, whatever that may be, and he always is willing to pick me up, lovingly when I might stumble. He is kind to everyone, and does so much for others, wishing nothing in return. Someone once described my dad as a Renaissance man. At the time I had no idea what that meant, but now that I am an adult (and know the definition of the word) ...there is no better way to describe him. I'm totally bragging, but he is good at everything; fixing and constructing things, creating amazing food and recipes, running and managing a business, taking care of his family etc. And the most amazing part is that he does it all with such ease. I have never in my whole life heard my dad complain about his job, or say he didn't want to go to work, something I can only hope to feel someday! I am proud to be his daughter, and blessed that we are so close. He is my heart, and makes that phrase "daddy's girl" make so much sense. He is my best friend, and an amazing teacher. He is also an amazing Grandfather. It is so neat to see him with my niece Amelia, they both light up when they see each other... Amelia LOVES her papa, and giggles ferociously when he is around. And he simply adores her too. I cannot wait to have children of my own that will look up to him like I do. I could never ask for a better dad, for there is no such thing.

Mom, Dad... even though we are far apart, you are here with me everyday. Sometime I will see something and think of you both, wishing you were here to see it too. My heart swells with love for you both, and I hope you know that along with many other things... as parents you most definitely succeeded, I am me because of you!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Win or Lose, We Still Booze!"

I know what your thinking... what the heck could this story be about with a title like that?! Well, don't worry I haven't recently got in touch with my inner alcoholic. Actually I simply attended my first Chicago Cubs Game thanks to a work sponsored event. Technically I was on a private rooftop over looking Wrigley Field for the game but none the less I was still able to get the full, adrenaline pumping, beer guzzling, people swarming Cubs experience!

It was Friday afternoon, and the Good ole' Chicago forecast called for rain. Shocker! Set for a 1:20 game time, the rain decided to grace us about 11:30. It rained, and it rained... and it rained. The game was even delayed. But that didn't stop anybody, in fact based on the hoards of people, you would think it made them even more intent on getting into the park and getting the party started.

The opposing team, and one of the Cubs biggest rivals was the St. Louis Cardinals. First game of the three game series. Once I got out of the way of the crowds, marching like ants all dressed in royal blue and red garb, I was able to comfortably perch myself in the bleachers on the roof top... somewhat peaceful and quiet. However once I felt the energy blowing our way from the stadium, it made me anxious to go down and buy one of the scalpers tickets just to get into the game. It was simply awe inspiring really. I'll be honest, I am not one for baseball games, at least that's what I thought, but seeing all the fans, all dressed up and excited made me remember how fun a good old American Baseball game can be. I've been to little league games and even an occasional Giants game but let me tell you this is a whole different ball game. No pun intended. You see, being a Cubs fan is kind of like being in an organized religion. People miss work for this stuff, they come from miles around... they sit in traffic backed up from downtown. It's an awesome feeling being surrounded by such excitement and true loyalty. Cubs fans truly are faithful followers, and win or loose they sure do booze!

The game itself was very fun to watch. The fans cheering radiated through the streets, the announcers deep and animated voice announcing the next batter, fluctuating with every exciting play. We even had a home run! The whole thing was all quite nostalgic. And of course the outcome didn't come as much of a surprise; the Cubs lost 3-8... Blah! But you could have fooled me! You see, what is sure to hold maybe more excitement than the actual game... is what comes after.
Picture it: Chico. Halloween but during the day. Tons of young people... excited, loud, and DRUNK! Then picture a Major League Baseball field right smack dab in the middle. That my friends is Wrigleyville! I can just hear my brother now... "That'd be AWESOME" and maybe if that's your scene you're good to go, but I'm warning you, be prepared to see it all! People swaying from side to side on the sidewalk, stopping to throw up on the lawn of someones front yard... or people walking barefoot, girls flashing you screaming and yelling rooting for the the cubs... News FLASH girls, the game ended hours ago! It's all quite entertaining, and such an experience. I have to admit, I am actually really excited for the next home series. My good friend Steve Jones will be here, and I am sure we will be going to at least two out of the three games. It's good times, good Ole' American fun... and drunk people or not, it's not about whether you win or loose, it's about how you play the game!... (AND of course how you booze).

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Personal Soundtrack

Do you ever buy an album, and just listen to it non-stop... like it's your own personal soundtrack? Well let me tell you, I know this might be shocking because the album I am about to mention is NOT Dave Matthews Band, but it is seriously amazing. I was introduced to Pete Yorn back in 2001 I think. I has just started driving, and had gotten a job at Ralph Lauren. Martin, who is still a dear friend of mine today told me about this guy he had heard in New York, and he was crazy about the album. So I went to Borders on my lunch break to buy it, and I was hooked. It had this hip cool deep voice feeling, and every song was amazing. Since then, Pete Yorn has released two other albums (not including live concert recordings) neither of which I have cared for much... maybe one or two songs, but overall just not the same as the first. So about a month ago this album was released; titled Back and Fourth, as in the fourth Album, and it is off the charts. Every song is great. And all the lyrics are perfect. I feel like it is the soundtrack to my life. The changes I have made, the adventure I am on.. all the things I leave behind. I have listened to it enough times to have most of the words memorized, just cause I like it that much, and the best part is I am going to see him live here at a small venue in Chicago.

It's not often that we find music that really moves us, let alone provokes a feeling that will never go away. From here until forever, this album will always remind me of my times here in Chicago... the soundtrack to my life as I know it.

Check it out if you dare... go in with an open mind, hopefully you will enjoy it, even if just a little ;)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Route 136

When I moved to Chicago, I left many possessions behind. My furniture, my bed, boxes of personal belongings and my car. Actually I sold my car. I knew that it would be hard to find a place to park it, and didn't see the necessity in having a car in a big city.

Now that I am here, I honestly have MAYBE missed my car about two or three times. It has definitely cut down the number of trips I make to Costco, Target, and Taco Bell, but it has also improved my life in many ways. For one, I have no car payment or Insurance... also, my company actually pays for public transportation (SCORE!!), I walk A LOT, and I get to to take a bus, which believe it or not, I totally enjoy. I get 45 minutes in the morning to wake up, listen to music, and read, and the same time at the end of the day to wind down from work or my workout, and just relax. Also, riding the bus has really assisted me in developing a social life!

I'm sure you all recall the talk of the Dave Matthews look alike I met on a morning ride, who I ended up having a date with (that went to no-where ville BTW), I've met several fashionistas who after short conversations have pointed me into the directions of many great sales... and best of all I've met a few really great, really normal, really fabulous new friends! One of the first friends I made on my bus was actually a 4 year old. She was absolutely adorable and broke the ice by complimenting me on my sparkly flip flops. I thanked her and then day by day she talked to me more and more. One day she asked... "Where do you live?" followed by, "Where does your mom live?" and "Why do you live so far away from your mommy?" (Kid, I ask myself the same question everyday!) But no, really...

Long story short, thanks to McKenzie and her 4 year old curiosity, her mom Shannon and I got to talking and became instant friends. She invited me to game night, which she and some co-workers hold every Thursday. We had lots of laughs, and I got to meet several other cool new friends. We have gotten together since several times and I guess you could call her my first REAL Chicago friend. It's been fun finding out about each others past and stories, and of course little Miss McKenzie... well she is quite a hoot! Most importantly though it's sooo nice to have someone to talk to. Someone who lives here, who is my age, likes the same things I do, and someone to just do things with. You start to realize that it is a lot harder to make friends as an adult than it was as a kid. You have responsibilities and time constraints, and of course no "recess." My new friends make Chicago a lot more fun, and make home seem not so far away. It also however makes me realize how thankful I am for the friendships... I left behind. I realize how lucky I am to have them, and even though for now I miss them terribly I know they'll still be there when I return.

So... while giving up possessions, and familiar things may have seemed impossible to being with, it ended up bringing new and great things into my life.

Thanks to the lack of my car, and the new need for public transportation I have a social life again.

I have some new friends.