Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I live in Chicago now...

I have officially been an adult Chicago resident for a full week now and am loving every second of it. Running along the lake. Going to the beach. Seeing the gorillas at the zoo whenever I want. Being so close to my parents. Having a "big" apartment. So far, so good ChiTown.

Okay, so even though I live here now, it still feels like I'm here on vacation and just staying at an Airbnb (which I've never even done before) and not here permanently. I always come home for about two weeks this time every summer so this just seems like instead of staying at my parents house, I am at an awesome apartment in the city. I am exploring the neighborhood and trying to just enjoy myself as much as I can. I don't think it will truly hit me that this is my new home until my NYC friends all start going back to work and Labor Day comes and goes.

 I'm settling in just fine and trying to create a new life here. It's not going to be super easy or totally seamless, but I'm taking it one step at a time. When one picks up their life and takes it in a totally different direction literally and figuratively, there are a lot of changes. NYC is no longer my home. I live in Chicago now and am starting fresh.

So let's talk about my apartment a bit...
First of all, my mom found this place for me and she did good! I couldn't be more grateful for that because she put in the time and the work to go to quite a few places with appointments that I set up and then with a realtor she was connected with. I had a few requirements (within a mile of the lake, a mile of Soulcycle, close to an L line, laundry in the building, elevator, roof deck and/or pool, and not too young of people in the people...to name a few) and a price point that would work if I didn't get job right away. Finding a place that met all of these wasn't super difficult, but after looking at about ten places, she found one that she thought would be perfect. She sent me pictures and videos, but both of us were nervous if I'd like it or not so when move-in day rolled around I finally got to see where I'd be living. When I first walked in the apartment, as it usually does, it looked smaller without anything in it.  I was even nervous that all my stuff would fit in the new place (even though it's almost more than double my NYC apartment), and that if it did, it would actually look good. Luckily everything fit and there was plenty of room to spare. It's a studio apartment, but is easily the size of a one-bedroom that doesn't have a wall.

By the end of day one, I was about 98% moved-in. Typical type-A me. I didn't want to go to bed that first night with boxes unpacked and shit all over the place. I wanted to feel settled my first night in, and luckily I did. All my furniture was where it needed to be, 32 out of my 35 boxes were unpacked and organized, my fridge was stocked, the cable guy came and set everything up, and I was ready to live here. The only thing that needed to be done was get some shoe racks (which I got two days later...thank mom!) for all of my shoes (There's A LOT of them) and fold and put away my t-shirts (There's A LOT of those too). And then hang the wall stuff. Other than that, the place looked like it had been mine for a long time. I had settled in quite easy and it looked good. I really couldn't believe (and still can't believe) this apartment is mine right now.
 
Now about my neighborhood...

I am living on the Gold Coast in Chicago. I am also right on the border of Lincoln Park and Old Town which is perfect to be so close to two other fantastic neighborhoods. The Gold Coast is a really nice neighborhood (kind of UES-ish) with some amazing single family homes and apartment buildings. A requirement of mine was that I be within a mile of the lake shore running path since running is such a huge part of my life. I wanted easy access to the path and also be within walking distance to the beach. Well, I got that. Again, my mom nailed it. I am 3 blocks from Lake Shore Drive and then another two blocks, in each direction to underpasses to the lake.  If I want to go to North Avenue Beach, I go north on LSD and take the Lasalle underpass. If I want to go to Oak Street Beach, I go south on LSD and take the Division underpass. Easy peasy. I am like right in the middle of the two beaches and entries to the path, and I still can't believe how close I am and how perfect it is. In fact, I have been on the path running or walking every single day I've been here so far and I've gone to each beach during the day once and even made it out to Oak Street beach at sunset too just to stroll and people watch. Oh yeah, and I've been to the Lincoln Park zoo about three times already too. My close proximity to the zoo, one of my favorite places ever, has been so great. I ran through it twice and then just went the other day while wandering because I could. One of the reasons I wanted to move Chicago mid-summer and not at the end was so I could enjoy summer time in Chicago. It's really a unique experience (there's a very California vibe I feel) and one that I knew would pull me right in and make me love this city even more.

Even though the block I live on is super residential, if you walk two blocks, there is pretty much everything you need: A Walgreens, CVS, Chipotle, Lou Malnatis (!!!) Starbucks, grocery store, and then bars on bars on bars, and also tons of nice trendy restaurants. Just to name a few things. I am within a ten-minute walk of Target, a five-minute walk to the train, an eight-minute walk to SoulCycle, and about a 30-ish-minute walk to the Bean. I really couldn't ask for a better location. And yesterday I found out I'm about an eight-minute walk to the running store and the juice shop. Some of my favorite New York things right here in my neighborhood. Super score.

And my social life...
Well, it's pretty non-existent thus far and I've been a little bored at night because of it. During the day I've been keeping busy exploring my new neighborhood, going to the beach, running errands, having my mom come into the city to hang, and just straight-up relaxing. At night, I am getting a little bored. Thank god for the Olympics, but there is only so much of those I can watch before I need a little break. It's summer, it's nice out, and I don't have a job, so of course I want to go out. However, right now I really don't have anyone to do that stuff with. Even though I grew up here, almost all of my friends are married with kids and are back in the suburbs. I have some childhood friends I still speak with and will meet-up for lunch or dinner with when they have time and/or are in the city, but everyone has their own lives here and I'm not about to barge into them. I have been gone for twelve years doing my own thing in NYC and certainly don't expect anyone to make room for me back here like I never left. And frankly, we live very different lives with me being the single girl ready to go out and meet new people and them all settled in with their families. (Full admission though, I have been using Tinder a little and plan to keep doing so until I get annoyed with the usual flakes and assholes that the site seems to be overwhelmed with. Until I get totally annoyed and/or discouraged with it, I will keep swiping and trying to meet someone I connect with and at least try to get out and be social a bit.) I do hope once I find a job and start working, I'll start to make friends, but until then, it looks like I'll be doing a lot of things solo.

Speaking of a job...
My resum├ęs and cover letters are all printed and ready to be hand-delivered to certain places. I want them to be able to put a face to the name and see that I have the initiative to personally deliver my goods. Ultimately, I would love to teach a few spin classes a week and also work at Lululemon. I may try to see if I can get a substitute teaching job but I also need to transfer my New York teaching certs over to Illinois. There is reciprocity but there is still some paperwork that I have to fill out (and of course some fees to pay). 

I am still getting paid right now until the end of the month, but once September 1 rolls around, I am on my own and will have to start using my savings. My goal is to have a job by mid-Sept at the latest. Not only do I obviously want to have an income, but I want to be doing something. As nice as it is to live a jobless, leisurely life, it's not really my style. I need to be doing something. And hopefully it will be something I enjoy. That was the biggest reason I left teaching; I wasn't enjoying it anymore. I was bored and overworked and underappreciated and besides my interactions with my students (well most of them), I was just not happy.

So there you have it, one week in Chicago is down. There have been many miles run along the lakefront. Lots of Soulcycle classes taken. Plenty of zoo trips made. Tons of beach days had. Quite a few Tinder dates gone on. Hours of roof top relaxing. And oh yeah, so much fun grocery shopping at Jewel. All great things!! With about three weeks left of summer, I know there is still a lot of be done. I want to get to a Cubs game, see the Air and Water show, get on a boat in the PlayPen, stroll through a street festival, have an actual good date that leads to a second, eat some Lou's and some Merkt's cheddar fries, and just have a little fun before real life has to start again. And although I've said I still feel like I'm on vacation, I know real life is right around corner, but if the last week is any indication of how I'll like it, I'm excited for where that turn takes me.

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