Monday, October 19, 2009

Moving Out, Growing Up

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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!

"O"

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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

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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

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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!"

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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

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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

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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.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Simple Pleasures

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After work today I decided to take advantage of the fact that outside of work I have zero commitments. No one to see, no where to be. I decided to go the gym for a good workout to end the week, and a trip to the sauna which is my way of rewarding myself, not to mention it helps me from getting too sore. I showered got ready and decided to take a bus that I never take to see where I might end up. I found a great bookstore, a really cool salon... (where I happen to be going tomorrow to get my "hair did") and then decided to catch a movie at what would be comparable to the Tower in Sacramento. I secretly love going to movies alone, and it happened to be showing "Away We Go" at the right time. Now let me digress for a moment... as you all know Chicago is fickle about weather. Last night at 3:30 am: Thunderstorm and HARD rain. 7:15 am: Sunshine about 78 degrees, beautiful. 9:00 am: The DARKEST clouds I have ever seen followed by Thunder and lightning, followed by a white out of rain, followed by 20 minutes of hail, followed by more rain. 4:30pm: Bright sunny skies, humid 80 degrees. Are you getting my drift?! There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to this cities weather. So when I emerged from my movie tonight, old man weather had yet again changed his mind... and it was POURING. Luckily I'm catching on to his tricks and had an umbrella handy. So I plugged in my iPod, turned on the new Pete Yorn CD (which is AMAZING) opened my umbrella and headed down the road. Since it was raining a good part of the day, everything was flooded... puddles galore. I'm walking along as graceful as can be, and next thing I know I've lost a flip flop, it slipped right off my foot!... so, backtrack three steps, flip flop back on, keep on walking. Walk a bit more, and all of a sudden, lose my flip flop again... stop, giggle this time, backtrack three steps, flip flop back on. This charade continued about four times... the fifth time I lingered and was really laughing at myself... out loud. Wondering how hard could it be to keep on a flip flop... I turned to look up and this guy was coming towards me laughing. He stopped when he got to me, we were kind of laughing together by that point, and he said... "I saw the whole thing... you keep losing your shoe and you've helped me laugh for the first time today..." We walked the rest of the way together to the bus, still chuckling at my tragic shoe issue, and I did my best to keep my shoe on this time. After we got on our collective buses I sat grinning from ear to ear. I felt so happy, so content. Unlike the weather, things are starting to look brighter for me... I have met some new friends in the past few weeks, gotten into a great workout routine, and started feeling really settled. A month ago I probably would have been annoyed by tonight's wet fiasco but now, it's a different story. It made me realize... sometimes you just have to stop and laugh, even if it's at yourself. Even if it's been raining and you keep losing your shoe, even if someone sees the whole thing and you're a little embarrassed. Life is too precious to take too seriously. So, tonight better than the workout or the movie... I got caught in the rain,... and laughed with a stranger.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cloudy with a chance of clarity

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I know, it's been a while... so many of you wonderful friends and family members have been mentioning the blog and wondering when would be the next... well here it is.

The main reason I haven't blogged in a while, is because I kind of lost my clarity. I had these two really tough weeks, where I questioned what I was in, everything that was Chicago, and the onset of what I now know was a taste of REAL loneliness. I have no idea what brought it on, but I hit a wall. I felt hopeless and sad and just wanted to be with my family and friends. I confided in a friend at work, as the tears were flowing... and she said... "well why don't you go home for a weekend then?" Umm... Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?! I was trying so hard to just get through, and keep on pushing, when really what I was doing was making it worse. Sometimes when you're sad or struggling with something and your mind and heart just can't process anything, you just have to give in. You have to be okay being uncomfortable and unsure for a few minutes, maybe even a few days if that's what it takes, because no matter how big the weight or how uncomfortable the pain... guaranteed it will pass. And it did. As soon as I hit the purchase button on the computer screen, I INSTANTLY felt better. Knowing it wasn't an absolute, or forever like it felt inside. Being home was wonderful, it was like every minute was wonderful. I saw almost all my amazing friends, soaked up many moments with my beautiful, bouncy, adorable niece, and loved on my parents as much as possible! ;) It was the perfect remedy.

When I stepped off the plane back in Chicago, I felt at peace. I know that I will continually miss all the people I love so much, because I am blessed with some pretty amazing "people"... but it will get easier. And for now, this is where I am supposed to be.

In Chicago-land as of recent... the grass is green, the trees are full and bushy, and the air is getting warmer with promises that soon it will be summer. (I have my doubts thanks to lots of rain and THUNDER storms... but we'll see). I met some great people last weekend, a few friends of friends one of which is actually from the Chi and now lives in Sac, and a boy... well actually a MAN, but that will have to wait. It's soon to tell, and I don't want to jinx anything ;) This weekend is the first major festivals of the season... the Art festival and the Gospel festival in Millennium park. I plan on going to both and spending as much time possible OUTSIDE!! If the sun is shining that's where I'll be. I signed up for tennis lessons which don't actually start until July, but I am SO EXCITED! They are held at the Irving Park courts which border the Lake... how much better can it get?! Which reminds me... I have fallen in love with walks/ jogs along the lake. It helps me breath and relax, and running (which I have been strongly against since 7th grade, and having to run the dreaded mile) is actually not so bad. It's kind of great. I NEVER thought I would say that, and I am not claiming to fast or even good... but I am slowly "trying" it out. About two miles from my house is this area with this big cement steps that sit right on the water... you can stretch and relax and enjoy the sunshine before heading back home. I like it. A lot.

My goal is to eventually be able to get to the end of Lakeshore drive. Note to self: that is a total of 6.3 miles... that might not be for a LONG while so don't be getting your hopes up.

So... for now, that is all I can muster. It's been a busy week. Work is getting really crazy and I like it. The days fly by and before I know it, it's quitting time. I've been going to the gym in the AM, which let me tell you... no cup of tea! But it's nice to be really DONE at the end of the day, and it really makes sleep so much more worth it.

I hope to have some great stories and pictures of the weekend, and weekends to come. Thanks to all of you for being patient with me while I settled, and found my footing. Hopefully, it's only clear skies from here.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Friday Night fun

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You might recall in one of my previous posts, the story of Mr Peter Decadeur from the Pump House. We had dinner together and a few drinks, he was a friendly old man... he even invited me to his 80th birthday party and advised me to dress up. Well... last night after many reminders from my mother, I got all dressed up, put on some makeup and some fancy heals, and went to his Birthday.

The only problem was, he VAGUELY remembered me. Now I know he probably suffers from a little dementia, being 80 and all, but I thought we connected! HA! It was really cute, I went up and said hello... he said "oh, it's so good to see you again, have some cake, it's chocolate, my favorite" The he turned to the next person waiting to say hello and said the exact same thing. So cute. I think the most comical part of the event, was that Mr. Decaduer had either been bathing in self tanner, or spending several of his quiet nights in a tanning booth preparing for his big party. He w
as as orange and crispy as fried chicken. I actually made the picture I took of he and I, black and white because in color he looks slightly terrifying.

I took my roommate and a friend with me, (THANK GOD!)... They were in shock when we arrived. I told them we were going to a birthday party... I think I
failed to tell them it was for an 80 year old! LOL. We looked like outsiders (considering we were at least 50-60 years younger than everyone else) but we had lots of laughs in the midst of it all and, after two cocktails said goodnight to Peter, and headed to a more age appropriate event.

Above: Peter and one of his ladies in his younger days. Below: Peter and I (thank me for the color editing)



Since I arrived in Chicago, I have been in search of a good blues club. One of the elders at Peter's birthday party recommended a place called "Blue Chicago"... a bit of a hike in heels from where we were, but after arriving, it was well worth the trip! The music was amazing, and the singers so sassy and entertaining! The group did four sets lasting into the wee hours of the morning, and could have kept the attention of the audience for hours more. They played old classics, and group originals. The beers were cheap, and the atmosphere was what you would picture in a Blues club; dark, loud, full of character AND characters ;)

Part of the wonder of living in a big city is having all the best of the arts at your fingertips. Music, museums, theater, food. I have been so consumed with getting settled and making this town feel like home, that I kind of forgot how lucky I am to be so close to all of these amazing things.

Tonight we're staying in, a little tired and hung over from last night... tomorrow, MORE rain! :(

PS: Thank you all for your sweet comments, I have such fun recording my adventures, and it is so amazing to have so many wonderful people to share with!

So until next time...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rain, Rain, go away...

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It's been raining non-stop now since Saturday...


I shouldn't be complaining because rain is no where near as bad as trudging through snow, but come on... pleeeease let it be spring already. All of my friends in Sacramento have been wearing short sleeve shirts and flip flops already, and I am still wearing scarves and rain boots and my coat...


My co-workers (long time residents and friends of this weather) even think this is lasting longer than normal, so it's not just me!


On the bright side, it's a great excuse to do some museum hopping which is exactly what my friend Karin and I are doing tonight... Thursdays are free from 5-8 so we'll trudge through rain and wind into a nice, warm, DRY museum for now... but please rain, GO AWAY!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jersey, NY and everywhere in between

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For the better part of this week, I was in New Jersey and New York for training. The training portion was actually better than I could have hoped for, and really helped me get a feel for the big picture of my new job. The free time outside of training was even better. I met two new friends, who work in our New Jersey office, both of which also came from Sacramento, and I got to reconnect with my darling cousin and my best friend Matt, who both live in Brooklyn. Believe it or not, going into the trip I wasn't really all that thrilled or excited not knowing how much free time I would have, etc... but the trip was better than I expected with new and old friends; a wonderful treat!

In New Jersey, I met Liz and Rudy. Not only do they both
have the same position I have but they were both also born and raised in Sacramento. It was so nice to visit and talk through the trials and the excitement of just packing up and heading out. We bonded instantly. They took me to all their favorite bars, and New Jersey hang outs, and we also planned trips to visit each other in the coming months. It was so nice to be in the midst of others who are living the same experiences I am, and because of that I know we'll be friends for a long time!!

On Wednesday, we finished our training very early and headed into New York for the day. While in the city, a coworker and I got to go to a Broadway show; "Exit the King" staring Susan Sarandon and Geoffery Rush. I was an odd play, very thought provoking, but to see both of those actors on stage was priceless. We also spotted Geena Davis and her beau, who sat two rows in front of us... it was quite a fun experience!





After the show I met up with my sweet cousin Erin, and headed to Brooklyn to have some drinks and a visit. My long time friend Matt, who also lives in Brooklyn met up with us as well. It was so refreshing to see friendly faces and hang in their neck of the woods. We laughed, had great drinks, and took lots of pictures. At one point when I was sitting there it occurred to me that I could visit New York a lot more often now, only being about an hour and a half away, and that made me really happy. Knowing that I have family so close by is really a comfort. In fact we are already planning to spend and orphan Thanksgiving together this year since none of us will be able to make it home. Can't wait for that!


Today I am back in Chicago, very happy to be home, and sleepy from my early flight. Tomorrow it's going to be 80 degrees here WOO HOO!!!! I might not know how to act, or what to wear! ;) This weekend I hope to soak up lots of sun, and take lots and lots of pictures of the spring that has FINALLY sprung all around me... and yes Mom and Dad, there will be LOTS of pictures of the Tulips as promised! ;)



Happy almost Friday everyone... Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Craving

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Now that I live away from home and all the familiar people I love so much...

I am craving... and would give anything... for a BIG, Warm, familiar



HUG!!

Just one of those days...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Last weekend

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I have been so preoccupied with training this week, the gym, catching up on sleep, hanging with the roomies... that I have failed to write anything about my date last weekend. The date was okay, nothing to write home about (literally) but it was fun to get out in the City and see some of the sights that everyone's been talking about. We went to the Frank Lloyd Wright museum, which was amazing, it made me think of home, and my parents who would have loved all the rooms and clean simple lines of his style. After the museum we went to a restaurant on Belmont called Joey's Brick House. In Chicago there is a progressive radio show that airs on Sundays called "Family Values with an Oy Vey." The people who are on the air own the Brick House and Dan (my date and avid listener) had been wanting to go there, so I obliged. The restaurant and all the characters I met there turned out to be so much more fun than my actual date! I met the owners who were so nice and so funny, the place reminded me of my parents, family owned an operated... everyone taking part. I also met a really fascinating woman from France, a hot bartender who looked to be my age but turned out to be several years younger, and a VERY loud, very rich Jewish Attorney. I felt like I was on a TV show, and I was meeting all these fake characters. They all had such rich stories to share, and pasts that only Hollywood could dream up. I was having such a good time that after saying goodbye to Dan, and watching him catch his bus downtown, I hightailed it back to the bar... for just one more! (I'm sure by now you have guessed the date was less than memorable). But I am so glad he took me there, because had it not been for him I would have never found my neighborhood hangout, and all my new friends; The radio hosts, who actually mentioned me and Louise from France on their show Sunday morning. The Attorney, who wants me to help him find a screenplay writer (when you say your from California, everyone thinks you mean L.A.), and the adorable YOUNG bartender, who was so nice, I actually got up the courage to give him my number!

I guess what they say is true, everything happens for a reason. When I arrived home, I sat for a moment just reflecting on my night and all the fun I had had. I realized that this was only the beginning. I opened my e-mail to find a new message from my Mom and Dad;

Subject: WHERE ARE YOU?????!!!!!!...

It read;
What the heck, its Saturday night you had a date with practically a stranger, and you said you would call us when you got home. Its 11:15 our time which means its 1:15 in chi town, where are you !!!!!!!!!!! Please call us just to let us know you are alive. Love marmee and dad

Aren't they so cute. Just as I read their worried e-mail the phone rang and it was them, just making sure I was alive. Have I mentioned that I love my parents!? I got to
re-hash the whole night with them before bed, and then passed out, full. Full of wine, full of happy thoughts, and full of hope. The night although not what I expected was perfect.

Sunday morning... I woke up to SNOW... yippee! Needless to say I had a bit of a hangover and didn't leave the house all day! Here is a picture through my bedroom window (obviously I wasn't going out there!)

The good news is, this weekend calls for sunshine the whole way through! A high of 55 degrees, which to me feels like 80 these days! My room mate and I are headed to Aurora tomorrow, a suburb West of Chicago to explore and do some shopping, and Easter I will attend mass at a beautiful Church a mile or so South of my house, and then enjoy cooking a meal and eating with my room mates.

Happy Easter to all of you!




Rare Sighting

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Today on my way to work as I sat on the bus, gazing out into la-la land as I normally do in the morning, something wonderful caught my eye from across the park... something I haven't seen in a while... something beautiful and rare.... GREEN!!!!!


Spring must finally be on it's way... thank goodness.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Pump Room

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Quite an interesting night...

This week at work I've been in training. An Account Manager from our Long Beach office has been here showing me the logistics of my day-to-day work and over the course of the week we have become great friends. Tonight, we planned to have drinks after work and she suggested maybe going to the bar a
t her hotel. You see, she happens to be staying at the Ambassador hotel... which to my generation is no "W" but was quite the swanky place to see and be seen in it's day (the late 30's early 40's.) As we arrived, and made our way through the dark loungey corridors lined with black and white photos of every celebrity under the sun... I knew I was in for a treat. We made ourselves comfortable sinking down into the leather bar stools, and I was instantly in awe of the crowd and the history that lie within the walls. At one time, Bette Davis could be found curled up on the piano bench; Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall celebrated their wedding in "Booth One," as did Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood. And of course, Frank Sinatra was a Pump regular; seated in the corner booth behind the glass window countless occasions. Now, I'm not claiming to be this much of a history buff. The information I just spouted was kindly shared with me by one of the Pump room's regular guests, Mr. Peter Decadeur. Peter as he preferred to be called was perched in his normal spot at the end of the bar, dressed in a evening coat with a pocket square and was as frisky and fun as you could expect an 87 year old man to be. He actually happened to be of average age of the patrons that surrounded me.

I got an ear full, a few dirty martini's and one steak dinner more than I bargained for, (Peter thinks women should eat more beef.) I heard stories and gossip about celebrities of his time that I could only dream of reading about in US weekly. In his hay-day he claims to have rubbed elbows with Judy Garland and to have had countless drinks with Louis Armstrong when he would make it to town. Had I been willing to stay and drink Scotch with him into the wee hours of the night, I may have known his whole life story, but I was kindly released only after promising that I would attend his 88th Birthday party on the first of May. You see, he has been a patron of the Pump house for so long, that they are actually throwing him a Birthday party. He told me he'd be wearing a tux that night, and that I should probably get a dress... (as he glanced down at my jeans and Uggs) the sad thing is I think he would actually notice if I didn't show up! ;) And this my friends is just another example of why Chicago makes me smile: You never know who you'll meet or where you end up. Sometimes I wish I had a tape recorder so that I could write down all the things I hear at the end of the night! The people in Chicago have great stories indeed, and radiate kindness and friendship. They want to show you around and help you find love in their city as if you are family instead of an "out of towner." It makes being away from home, so much easier. I'm not sure if I will actually go to Peter's birthday, but I will without a doubt join him for a drink another time or two. He has helped make me feel at home, and that means a lot!

By the way, I do intend to post something about last weekend... the date, Joey's brick house, the Jewish attorney, and my new favorite streets.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Work and Workout

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The happenings of the day seem quite uneventful compared to the happenings of this evening. At the sound of the 5:00 "time to go home bell" I packed up my things, turned off my computer and headed downstairs to my new gym aka "the resort." I was feeling pretty drained, as learning can be exhausting, but I had an appointment to keep for orientation with a gym trainer. And thank goodness I kept it, for little did I know what was in store...

Before I go any further, let me backtrack for a second... One thing I've failed to mention about this glorious town in my previous posts, is all the beautiful glorious men. They are EVERYWHERE! On the street, in the elevator, in the coffee shops... and in the GYM!!! A single girls paradise! Few of them have rings, (that's the first place I look) and they are all dressed up and look shiny and new!

Okay... sorry, back on track...

After an hour of friendly health talk, lots of small talk, and a work out plan to whip me into shape, the gym membership was proving to be money well spent yet again. You see my friends, this short story has a VERY happy ending. Not only did I get a gym orientation and some cardio fun, but I also got my first Chicago date... with a fine piece of trainer.

Oh yeah, and I had a really good first day at work too.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

First Snow

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So... my room mates are currently gone to Indiana to watch Michigan state basketball at the NCAA Sweet Sixteen. Having the whole house to myself for my first weekend in Chicago, was turning out to be a little too quiet for me and so I decided to pull out the map and venture to a cool neighborhood a little south of where I live, Lincoln Park. The weather man said there was a chance of snow today and tomorrow, but the sun was shining when I woke up, so I figured why not?!

It was especially brisk as I headed to the bus stop and although I invested in the warmest North Face jacket on the market, I failed to get a hat or gloves... (live and learn). A few strong gusts of wind, and a bus transfer or two later, I had arrived. I walked through the neighborhood, window shopped, had some lunch. I met up with a guy who befriended me over the phone during the early stages of looking for a place to live. He pointed out all the most important restaurants, bars and shopping in Lincoln Park, and then we took the train to Wrigleyville to have a drink. Time flew by, and then next thing I knew it was 9:00 and time to get home. I decided that instead of spending my money on a cab ride, which would have been the "Smart" thing to do, I would brave up and take the bus home. After two transfers, I jumped off at the stop close to my neighborhood grocery store, which I think I mentioned in a previous post is 9 blocks from home. I thought I may as well walk and be economical... it was only sprinkling, and everyone walks in the dark around here. A few minutes pass of me walking along, and quite suddenly the sprinkling turns into real rain, and then soon after... a torrential downpour whipping against my face and literally SOAKING my jeans.

It eventually let up a bit, and soon as I watched my feet so to avoid the weather in my face (remember NO HAT, no umbrella) I begin to see dust of white... that's right, SNOW. I should have known, and frankly I kind of deserved it. Here I am, some dumb girl from California, thinking that I was invincible and that the weather man in Chicago didn't know what he was talking about. Let's just say next time, I'll spring for the extra $2.50 bus ride that brings me to my door, and I will never doubt a forecast of a chance of snow again. Although it was so cool to see it snowing, next time I'll make sure to enjoy it from my window.


BTW: I considered taking pictures, and then I quickly reconsidered.

Friday, March 27, 2009

These things I know for sure... about Chicago

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1. The temperature in any given day may fluctuate anywhere between 20 and 30 degrees. They don't call it the windy city for nothing.

2. Forget Starbucks... Argo Tea = love

3. The red line and the 146 bus, are my new favorite forms of transportation

4. If you don't own a North Face jacket you may as well go home.

5. Michigan Avenue is way more fun than old navy or outlets ;)

6. Thanks to my cousin (and former resident of Chi-town), my new favorite website is the CTA trip planner

7. Don't worry... my mom made a crafty little emergency contact list with phone numbers of her and my dad for my co-workers and my room mates. Gotta love protective parents ;)

8. Oprah and I will not become BFF's. She does not eat in any of the normal restaurants or walk on the streets to catch the bus... that's right... she's a billionaire, silly me. AND her show doesn't even come on until 11:00pm... what the heck?!

9. It is exactly 9 blocks to my neighborhood grocery store, and 9 blocks back. That should be fun next winter.

10. There are only two blocks and one large park between me and the beach. Lake Michigan is more like an ocean, waves and all... I have not been brave enough to bundle up and get anywhere near that icy cold water.

11. Sales tax in Chicago is over 10.25%... that's enough to make a girl want to quit shopping. Well, maybe not.

12. There IS Chipotle in Chicago... yay!!!

13. Spring does not really start until May.

14. The Gym that I joined, FFC is like a fricken resort. I get a permanent locker, they will wash and fold my gym clothes, they have a hot yoga studio, and for your convenience and pleasure there is an in-house day spa. If that doesn't make you want to go to the gym, I don't know what does.

15. DO NOT ever take the Green Line bus, for fear you might get shot... and that's no joke. Luckily I didn't have to find out the hard way

Oh, and the last thing I know for sure so far, is that tomorrow it's going to be snowing. After talking to my friend in California who is wearing flip flops this evening, I am sure snow seams unreal to all of you.


By popular demand... Here are a few pictures of my house. Enjoy!



Third floor loft area

Second Floor loft area (right outside my bedroom)


My bedroom


Kitchen

living room


Thursday, March 26, 2009

A girl in the windy city

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Today is my fourth day in Chicago, and the first day I am officially on my own. I arrived, excited and full of hope for all the great experiences that awaited me and the beautiful city that I was about to become a resident of. I was greeted by two friendly and welcoming room mates, Roger and Anthony, who I already feel like I've known forever. We all hit it off immediately and have over the span of four days had many good laughs and as of today a few cries too!

The first two days in my new city were spent unpacking, shopping for odds and ends, and making my new house feel like my home. My parents and I spent many hours exploring, getting comfortable with the bus and train systems and also getting a feel for the neighborhoods that I would be visiting on a regular basis. We also got a chance to go into my new office and meet my new co-workers, who became more like an instant family than anything. On a whole I was feeling surprisingly comfortable and settled.

About four hours ago, that excitement took on a whole new look. Six o'clock was quickly approaching which meant it was almost time f
or my parents to say goodbye. It seems like from the start we've all been on auto pilot. Acting calm and cool, as if this would be no big deal. So tonight as we walked to the the corner to help catch them a cab, my stomach turned and my heart was in my throat. As the cab driver loaded their bags, I stood there awkwardly, not wanting to utter the "goodbye" word. I kissed my dad first both of us trying not to make eye contact for fear of loosing it. As he got in the cab, I faced my mom and we both grabbed on tight... the tears began to flow and reality set in. The reality that this was not a vacation, and I was not going back with them to Sacramento. It felt so final. For those of you that know me, you know how tight and close I am with my parents. They are both my best friends and for the past year, my room-mates. I never went away to college, I never lived to far away. The longest time I have been away from home was little vacations, summer camp, or when I went to Italy.
BIG
difference.
As we said goodbye tonight I started to realize how much of an adjustment I was really in for. Roger my new room mate shut the door to the cab, assuring them that he would take good care of me, and then kindly walked me back to the house as I tried hard to gather myself, and hold back the sobbing. Fast forward four or five hours and a box of tissues, and
I am doing much better. Mom and Dad should be touching down in Sacramento any minute, and life will go on!
Now, I promise this was not intended to be a sad blog, nor will it be sad in the future... this story does have a happy ending, and that is this:

Many people leave home to start over, to run away or escape something... for me, I am only able to leave home because
I am running from nothing. The two people I said goodbye to tonight, have given me such a strong foundation of love and support, and have made me feel like I can conquer anything, and for that I am so thankful. Although we were sad to say goodbye to each other, I know deep down we are all more excited and looking forward to all of the adventures ahead of me.

And thus begins my journey... After four short days I already love, love, love the city of Chicago. It is big and welcoming, and full of life. I am car-less and will rely on the train, bus and a good pair of walking shoes (non stileto that is.) The building that I'll be working in is right in the heart of the city so I'll get to work in the hustle and bustle of downtown. My new house is big and clean and comfortable. Things fell into place better than I could have ever hoped for, and I'm excited to see what's in store.

More blogs and stories to come so stay tuned... but for now so long and farewell from the girl in the windy city.