Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunday Funday

One of my favorite lines recently has been, "When you're funemployed, every day is a day off!" It takes the bite out of thinking about endless boring days and answers the question, "When do you have a free day to hang out?" for my friends. The more I experience funemployment, though, I realize every day is also a day on.

Take Sunday: rainy, chilly, the city was busy sleeping or buying groceries for football parties to take place later in the afternoon. I had been to a housewarming party the night before. Ideally I'd be sleeping off a hangover, at the very least just sleeping in. Instead I was up at 8, gauging my adrenaline level so I didn't overdo it on coffee. Interviews always make me anxious, but it takes me a while to wake up in the morning. Too much coffee and I'd be super buzzing, words crashing out of my mouth and hands unable to stay still; too little and I'd still be asleep even after the bus ride to Andersonville, where I was headed to meet a family for a possible nanny position.

I erred on the side of too much coffee: for me it's usually better to weaken the brain-to-mouth filter than to have it on high alert. When I don't talk people say I look sad or angry. I headed out, even bringing an umbrella. I never bring umbrellas. They're too much trouble I think. But umbrellas make people look mature and prepared, like someone you'd trust your child with.

I don't believe in jinxing, but I'm going to refrain from describing the interview at this point. Until further notice, let's just say I'm still working odd jobs and doing support at Mercy. I did somehow manage to construct a fairly busy week, though. A few extra shifts, then leaving on Friday for Madison/home!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's My Roommate!

Check out this blog post all about my roommate and Partner In Crime, Britney!

My own post is also on this blog.

At Least It's Not Winter. Yet.

When my tan fades and the motivation to shave my legs wanes, I know it's fall. I don't mind fall in and of itself, but it lives so close to winter. As much as I hoped summer would help me forget what winter is like in Chicago, I can't shake it. I truly enjoy scarf and sweater season, but I know it's only a matter of time before it's parka and boot season. And no daylight ever season.

So, in an effort to look on the bright side and embrace the present season, here is a list of things to love about fall from

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chicago Personality Quiz

I found this gem the other day. What's intriguing is, while I'm technically a Transplant, I tend to align more with the "Wontcha Be My Neighbor" category. PS: I saw this after my recent blog post with the same title. Also, I think the reason I feel more like a local than a tourist is because of how intentional my community was at Chicago-immersion.


Guess what happened today!?!?!? The 'Naw got internet. After a frustrating evening spent doing more electrical work that I should be trusted with, Frank came over this morning and fixed us up real nice. I can't get the wireless to work on my hp, which means I have to stay connected to the modem, but I crafted myself a makeshift office in the living room annex area. (This area also turns into my second bedroom when my room smells like fresh paint. So versatile!)

In life updates, I'm pretty solidly unemployed. I pick up odd shifts at Mercy when they need support, but that's not guaranteed. I've had a few interviews for full-time nanny positions, so hopefully I'm working again before too long.

But until then, I'm enjoying the shit out of funemployment. I figure there's no point moping around lamenting the fact that despite a year of pro bono service, no one is jumping to hire me...I might as well take advantage of this forced vacation. Here are things I do in my obnoxiously abundant spare time:

-look for and apply to jobs/go on interviews (I'm not just lounging around, I promise! Why do I feel like a few of you are wondering that...)
-run (No kidding. Who the heck am I? Nearly 3 miles daily. wtf?!)
-organize/rearrange things in my apartment (No one is surprised by this, I'm sure.)
-grocery shop
-brainstorm inventive tweets
-mod podge/make collages
-hang out in the Bucktown/Wicker Park library
-write (Probably the best part: all this time to write stuff...if I could only find someone to subsidize my life expenses so I could continue this lifestyle.)
-make food
-eat food
-ride my bike around Chicago, but mostly to the Charleston
-ChaCha all my life questions since (until today) internet was scarce
-blast music

As you can see, I keep myself fairly busy. Miss and love you all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Here is a brief introduction to my neighbors, or at least the ones I see all the time and who inspire me to write short stories. Before you judge me as a creep, Peeping Tom, Nosy Nora, or any other number of harmful names, let me remind you I don't have TV or internet at my apartment, and many of my neighbors don't have curtains...or these activities occur on the balconies three feet from my bedroom window. All I have to do is sit back and observe.

The Hoarder
One of the more interesting neighbors. Not only is her apartment swimming in piles of random things - a giant kimono on the wall, a collection of scales above the cupboard, papers, dishes, vases - but her outdoor patio is also a mess of plants, furniture, and kitschy statues. As far as I've seen, it's just her and the dog (who shall remain nameless for its privacy). Because we have an unobstructed view of her kitchen and living room, she provides the most convenient entertainment for our apartment.

The TV Junkie
Probably the most mysterious neighbor, s/he/they literally keep the TV on 24/7. In the week and a half we've been here, I think I've seen it off once. Otherwise I get to see pieces of America's Got Talent, CSI, Dora, Judge Judy...all closed captioned, all the time. But I never see any people. One night I was convinced Extreme Hoarders was on and I about peed myself. The TV Junkie and the Hoarder live right next to each other. True love?

The Exotic Gardener
I don't see these neighbors often, but they must go out on their balcony sometime to tend to the exotic garden growing there. They have patio furniture too, but its hard to spot among the bamboo shoots and blossoming vines all over.

The Honeymooners
I recently discovered these neighbors, despite their location directly across from my bedroom. I first assumed it was a guy, maybe several, since they seemed to be having a typical Chicago bro party the night we moved in (drinking beer on a balcony with a bunch of dudes = Chicago), and I began wondering how to make friends with them in time for football season. I found out the other day this may not be the case. I came home to find a guy sitting on his balcony underneath a woman, who was straddling him. They were making out pretty passionately until they realized I was in my bedroom literally three feet away. Then they went inside. It happened again last night--they were laughing and talking on the balcony, then it got quiet and I looked out to see him standing, holding her. She had her legs wrapped around him...and again, it wasn't long before they went inside. I guess I would feel less like a creep if I knew their names, but then again, if they are comfortable, who am I to feel weird? Human connection is a basic need.

The Circus Troupe
These people live on the south side of us, in a 3-story building set back from our street to give them a front yard complete with a pine tree and a small flowering garden. There is also a patch of yard that is more dirt than grass, and this is where one of the tenants practices his flaming baton routing. He keeps the batons unlit and goes over his routine several times each day. Okay, so that doesn't make all the tenants (or even him) part of a traveling circus, but I have also seen a girl wearing a dress and hat with feathers on it, so it could be true.

The Hipsters
This group lives directly below us, on the first and garden levels of our building. Technically they are two groups, but I have yet to fully delineate who lives on which level. My biggest interaction with any of them is if they are on the front porch when I leave or come home. They are either sketching, smoking, or just porch sitting.

And those are my neighbors. These observations make me wonder what they think of our apartment. Are we just the new girls right now? The crazy Germans? We don't have curtains either, so I'm sure they've seen/heard some interesting things.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eternal City, Second City

Remember how obsessed I was with ancient Roman history when I studied abroad? (Refresh your memory in my archived posts.) Brit is probably just as obsessed with Chicago history and has quickly turned me on to it. She's got me reading books like Sin in the Second City by Karen Abbott and it's uncanny how similar the cities actually are.

Chicago is notorious for its crime and corruption, and much like Rome it has many mob connections. Both cities have rich traditions of underworlds, secret groups, and dark sides exploited in books and movies. In Rome, "que bordello!" is uttered to comment on something being wild (literally, a whorehouse). Chicago was home to one of the most illustrious bordellos in America at one point.

The Eternal City and the Second City of course share less corrupt things in common as well: an intense passion for food, varied and diverse neighborhoods, sports rivalries (Lazio v Roma soccer/Cubs v White Sox baseball), and funky street smells (hot garbage, piss, dog) for example.

My apartment reminds me of living in Rome as well. I stand on my front porch and watch traffic on my one-way street, I hear many conversations from the building next to me through my window, my downstairs neighbors are always smoking, and I'm only a little way from the train into or out of the city. My neighborhood is residential and has an old working-class feel. It makes me want to write a lot.

The biggest difference between my two lives is most likely having fairly efficient public transportation and streets on the grid. It's far less difficult to get lost or be late here. Sad day.

Monday, September 5, 2011


The best part about living in SoLoNoHum so far: walking distance to so many things. Like my friends, mostly. But also the Blue Line...I hope to rarely, if ever, ride the 49 all the way up and down Western again. Back to living in a neighborhood where my friends also live: it is one of the most awesome things to walk a few blocks to see people.

Yesterday I was feeling sad and lonely and codependent because Brit was at work and Brooke is still gone, then I remembered my coworker was having a party. Suddenly I had so many friends! All I had to do was cross Western and bam! Not so lonely anymore.

And today, even though I'm mostly just trying to clean up my life and organize things and be an adult, I also found time to one-on-one with Becca and Kate. It doesn't hurt that they have wireless at their place. (I tried to hack into my neighbors for a while the other day, to no avail.) It's really a win-win, because I get to use them for their Internet AND be friends with them...and they get to do the same to me when they want to do laundry. (Did I mention I have an in-unit front-load washer/dryer? Spoiled.)

The apartment is really coming together quite nicely - we have things in our hutch, we found some actual silverware, we bought toilet paper - so hopefully we can have a housewarming before too long. I've really enjoyed rearranging my room several times. Yes, even though my room is an 8x8 square, I somehow have had a couple different arrangements. I'm a master.

We haven't had a chance to do any real grocery shopping yet, which means we've had bisonburgers for breakfast the past few days. And Aldi is closed today for Labor Day, so it'll probably be chips and salsa tomorrow. We do have a fresh basil plant, so once we get food it will be mighty flavorful.

Another thing we acquired: a shopping cart. A baby one at that. It was sitting on the sidewalk the other night and we decided to rescue it. Well, I convinced my friends we should. Not everyone understands the inner workings of shopping carts or why I have such a deep connection to them. I'm sure we looked strange dragging a shopping cart onto the train, but sometimes you need to do these things. It now sits on our front porch holding our firewood and basil plant. That was the final touch in the apartment, when I knew this was home.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Washing Machine? Washington? Wash Your Face?

After what seemed like 12 hours, but was actually 15, Brit, Brooke & I are now successfully living in our very own apartment. Located on Washtenaw Ave, our second story walk-up has all the modern conveniences one would hope for coupled with the old world charm of the Chicago of yesteryear. AKA, we have a dishwasher, but also an old school pulley system for bringing up bags of groceries.

Let me tell you how fun it is to move the belongings of three people from both deep central Wisconsin and the North Side. It's not.

But if you have the help of parents and nephews, it's not so bad. We enjoyed teaching Adam how to say "Washtenaw," a fairly confusing street name we are pretty sure is Native American for "too cool for school," while we hauled up three mattresses/box springs/bed frames. We only had to take the door off once to fit our monster of a couch, and Brit and I learned to just trust Joe. (Her Dad. Master of angles and leverage. Somehow knew exactly how to arrange every piece of furniture to maximize space in the van.) We have pots and pans and plastic utensils, along with a freezer full of bison meat and a pound of cheese in the fridge. (From my parents. I somehow went from a vegetarian to having a fully stocked freezer. Gotta love ethically-treated animals.) The giant margarita glass has already found a prime position in our hutch, alongside the beer stein and the five sets of salt & pepper shakers we somehow accumulated.

Because I'm the baby of the apartment, I have the closet-under-the-stairs bedroom. (Not literally, I think the closet under the stairs actually belongs to the tenants below us.) My view is of the swanky apartment complex next to us, or rather the balconies of the swanky apartment complex, filled with exotic plants and Weber grills and all-weather patio furniture. (Trying to make friends, don't worry.)

My favorite apartment feature is the front porch. Right now it is home to the basil plant and my TOMS, which are super smelly and aren't allowed inside. It's the perfect space for neighbor-watching (besides the bougie people on one side, we are also neighbors to what appears to be a traveling troupe of circus performers). We can also watch all the traffic on the bustling one-way below. There's not much, but let me tell you, what traffic lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. I'm talking Astro vans with 22" rims and Bikers Who Take Themselves Seriously.

It may be a while until all of our possessions find their places in the apartment, so if you see me wearing the same two or three outfits in the next couple of weeks, have no worries. Contrary to popular belief, I shower, and we also have our very own front-loading washer/dryer, so the limited wardrobe I have access to at the moment is clean.