My Windy City Debut

So I made the big crazy move to Chicago. I got here in one piece, more or less, my poor kitty in tow. He handled the plane better than I thought he would, but I did take him to the vet to get a mild sedative before I left.  It truly is a different world than what I am used to. I’m from a small town with a majority senior citizen population, and everyone drives everywhere. Here everyone walks or rides the transit everywhere, and everything here is big.

I mean, really big. I now live in a 16 story building, and it is dwarfed by the buildings on either side.

Finding my way hasn’t been easy, and my roommate has been really patient with me, guiding me wherever I need to go.  I don’t have a lot of pictures yet, because I haven’t done any sightseeing of any kind. I sometimes wonder if I have done something insane. I probably have, but Eff it! I’m here. I’m going to make it work.

With that in mind, yesterday I joined a new witting group. This was my first time venturing out alone in the big city, unless you count the coffee shop a couple doors down from my building. And of course, I had to go to an evening writing group, because I never make anything easy on myself. Navigating home in the dark, luckily, was not scary at all, since one of the folks in my writing group lives in the same part of town as me, so I walked with him.  I am in a reputable part of town, so it is unlikely I would be mugged, but still. I like the statistics better when I’m not on my own.

Like everything in this foreign time zone, this group operates differently than the ones I have attended in the past. In this group, peer review has nothing to do with it. First they write independently of one another for about two hours give or take, then they gather for a discussion. My writing groups in the past would read six pages of a manuscript, then have a discussion where critique and review was offered, and then we would read the next manuscript. I even had one group that had a writing prompt at the beginning of every session. But hey, new city= new life + new method.

I have to admit, reader, than I have not been inspired to write at all lately. Mostly I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. First with the last minute decision to uproot my whole life and move halfway across the country, and the chaos that ensued in my household. Then, the day after I got here I came down with a stomach flu. YAY. Also, I don’t have internet in my apartment, so I have to go downstairs to the coffee shop. Their Wi-Fi only seems to work in the front half of the building, which is always packed with laptop-mesmerized patrons. I lucked out on Monday and got a spot, but I couldn’t update my blog because I needed to use my precious internet time to apply for jobs. Nobody seems to use paper applications here anymore. So don’t be surprised if there are interruptions in my regular postings. I will try, but life happens.

My friendly editor has the first draft of The Gatestone Chronicles: Fayling. I have some more work to do on the ending, but we are nearly there. Provided, of course, that I can find my way back to the world it takes place in. Hopefully things will settle down soon, and I can get back to my usual groove.

Kristin Swartfager is working on the art for Timmy Tommy Tum, our collaboration project for kids. There have been a few delays with that, but never fear, we are still working at it.

Well, that’s all that’s new in my world.

Happy writing!

Advertisements

Adieu

Goodbye house where I first learned to talk,

And begged, “Read it one more time, Dad!”

Goodbye school where I learned to read clocks,

And grew every year, just a tad.

 

Oh classic theater, I bid thee farewell!

There inside I watched my first toon.

Heartbreaking fire left you a shell;

Restorations came none too soon.

 

Farewell to summer burning my skin

And freckling up my pale face;

I went to work and held up my chin

While my friends all got on my case.

 

Goodbye to the books that filled a store

In the job I held in regard.

Hard casualties of an e-reader war

My love for you never once marred.

 

So long diner where I met with friends

For talking, or crying, or beers.

Over finding true loves, or true lover’s ends

You stood without judgement for years.

 

So long kind critics of written intent

Who taught me for who or for whom.

Your tore me apart, not without consent,

But to see my talent seeds bloom.

 

This town, the place I learned to mature,

Has left it’s strong mark on my past.

But now I am ready, able, and sure

To embark on my journey at last.

 

I’m venturing out, moving along.

I can’t take it all, more’s the pity.

I hope to succeed, hope I’m not wrong

For heading to a big Windy City*.

 

*While this poem auto-posted, I boarded a plane to Chicago with a one-way ticket in hand. I am attempting to make it in the big city. Should I find a job before my savings runs out, I will become a resident of Illinois. Should I run out of money, I will return to California knowing I gave it my best shot. There may be a few interruptions in my blog posts, but for the most part, I will continue to write as usual; I am after all,  a writer first, a human second. That being said, expect pictures.

 

Change of Pace

This week I rode the train to visit my brother. My schedule lately has been pretty hectic, and I haven’t had much time to sit and relax. When the opportunity to take a break presented itself, I jumped on board. The first two hour train ride was extremely relaxing, and I saw lovely landscapes along the way. Switching trains was a little overwhelming; the train station where I swapped is a hub for several different lines. But with the help of a friendly random passerby, I found the train I was supposed to be on, and made my way safely to my brother’s house. We didn’t do anything particularly special, but it was wonderful to visit, and the change of scenery inspired some writing. Today I head home (as of writing this post I am still at his house), and I take my inspiration with me. It’s funny, but even the smallest change of pace can stir the imaginative writer in me. I wrote an entire chapter while everyone else here was sleeping yesterday morning. I am happy to report that Fayling is roughly half done, and I am aiming at a summer release.

So my point today (if I really have one) is to encourage you to take a trip, even if it is only for the day. You never know when some tiny little change is going to inspire you. Life is so full of possibility, isn’t it?

Anyway, have a great weekend, and happy writing!

Chicago Part 4

 

Half way through my visit I had the immeasurable pleasure of visiting the Chicago Art institute. It is an enormous museum that houses amazing pieces from all over the world, from Africa, to Europe, to Japan. Sadly the Egyptian exhibit was not open yet, but I honestly wouldn’t have had time to see it all anyway; Partially because I lingered at the impressionists, but mostly because the renaissance art nearly took my breath away. I actually had to sit in the room with the Italian renaissance art. It overpowered me. Just thinking of the mastery that these artists must have to create such exquisite, lifelike portraits staggers me.

 

Some of my pictures are below. Robbie limited me to two pictures per room, because he wanted me to see as much as possible and he knew I would spend three hours per room trying to catalog it all. In the end it was wise, given that the pictures do not begin to do any of it justice. To get the true experience, you have to be standing before these pieces in person. Nothing else will do.

 

229 228 227 224 216 - Copy 217 221 223 214 - Copy 213 - Copy 212 - Copy 210 - Copy 204 - Copy 207 - Copy 209 - Copy 206 - Copy 201 - Copy 200 - Copy 202 - Copy 203 - Copy 197 - Copy 196 - Copy 194 - Copy 193 - Copy 187 - Copy 188 - Copy 191 - Copy 192 - Copy 184 - Copy 182 - Copy 183 - Copy 181 - Copy 175 - Copy - Copy 177 - Copy 178 - Copy 179 - Copy - Copy 174 - Copy (2)

 

There was a park outside the Museum, called Millennium Park,  that was nearly as stunning as the inside.

110 111 112 113 115 119 120 121 122 124 142 144 156

 

Chicago has this huge landmark that I will not pretend to understand. I am not a modern art person. But I was there, so what the heck, I took a picture of it.

145

That night I got to tour the bars.  The first bar we went to was having a throwback to the early 90’s night. Barf. I despise 80’s and early 90’s music, with very few exceptions. But in the spirit of being somewhere new, I danced. After a couple hours, we walked to a new bar. It was a cute little dive bar with a seaside theme that I unfortunately don’t remember the name of,  and sang karaoke. This bar I loved. I am not ashamed to say I rock out, karaoke style. I got to hang out with a bunch of Robbie’s friends, who welcomed me and made me feel at home. I don’t really remember getting back to Robbie’s house. I vaguely remember a cab. You know why.

On my Second to last night one of Robbie’s friends was having a surprise birthday party for another friend, so Robbie brought me along. I felt a bit awkward at first, since Robbie was really the only person I knew. But again the good people of Chicago folded me into the conversation like I knew them for years, making me feel right at home. We ate at an Italian restaurant, then we went to a couple bars in Boys town. This is the primarily gay district of Chicago. I had a blast! I don’t remember the name of the first club, but it had loud dance music and the accompanying music videos on the walls. Nothing I’m used to, but I found it entertaining. I love how open and proud the gay community is. There are a lot of places in this country where being who you are is still not okay. I was pleased to find that Chicago is not one of those places.

The next place we went is a well known local hot spot called Berlin. There was actually a cover charge, something I have heard about but never experienced. The inside was blaring with techno music, with people of all shapes sizes and genders dancing together. I enjoyed dancing, but I only hung in there until about 2 am. The loud music, drinking and dancing are all not things I typically indulge in, so I was tired. Robbie was a good sport and noticed I was losing steam, so he was the one who suggested we take a cab home.

We crashed out until noon the next day.

Chicago Part 3

006 007 011

The view from Robbie’s rooftop, Pictured above.  Various Buildings and sights I snapped shots of while walking around below.

020 021 023 041 019018017101042

My first couple of days in Chicago were spent exploring the busy, touristy part of Chicago. On the first day we visited Willis Tower, which is more well known by its previous name, the Sears Tower. Interestingly, what it is called depends on who you ask. Robbie’s flight attendant roommate, who is also from England, says that it is the Willis tower. Chicago natives and transplants say vehemently, “I don’t care what it says on the front. It will always be the Sears Tower.”  That attitude seems to be more common than those who accept the skyscrapers re-branding.

049 047 046

I had the pleasure of visiting the Sky deck, on the 103rd floor of the Tower. At $19 a ticket, the price seemed a bit steep. But, this being my first visit to Chicago, it would seem a shame to miss it, so up we went.

The lobby going up to the Skydeck has a lot of fascinating facts, and Robbie filled me in on any that they didn’t have posted on the walls.  For example, The Tower contains 76,000 tons of steel.  There is 44,000 miles of wiring within the Tower. There are 6 robots that wash the window of the tower, which takes weeks to complete. Sears tower was built in 1973, and held the record for the tallest building in the world for almost 25 years. On a clear day you can see for  50 miles out of the window.

The elevators to this deck are extremely fast. It only took about a minute to reach the top. It felt much like it does when an airplane is taking off. As someone who enjoys heights, I loved it.

There are these glass boxes that stick out from the side of the building, allowing tourists a view strait down to the city streets below. Standing in this box unnerved me just a bit. I know that the builders would never risk a lawsuit, so I know that these boxes must be able to take the weight of a an elephant; but the thing is, there were a lot of people piling into them, and I’ve never looked straight down through glass that far.  I have a picture below, But the glair off the glass masks the overwhelming feel of the view.

064

Once I had my feet back on solid steel and concrete, I got some really beautiful pictures of the city out the window.

083 082 081 075 074 070

The writer in me couldn’t resist getting a picture of the Chicago sun times Building.

072

In the gift shop downstairs there were these cool little museum-like displays about different Chicago events. I gravitated to this one about the Great Chicago Fire, history being a favorite subject of mine. The fire burned for roughly two days in 1871. The Windy City unfortunately provided the perfect conditions to fan the flames. The damage spanned across 4 miles and did an estimated 2 million dollars in damage. Roughly 300 people died. Looking at these silver spoons melted together was as eerie to me as seeing images of the Titanic wreckage.

094

I bought a postcard and a magnet, and then we headed out to see more of the Windy City. For dinner, we had to get a Chicago deep dish pizza. Robbie is a vegetarian, so we ordered spinach, artichoke and cheese. Yum!

My impression of the people here was mixed. When walking around or sitting next to someone on the subway, everyone acts like you aren’t there, even though you cannot help physically touching the people next to you. Not in the creepy, “I must touch it!” sort of way. More like, there as so many people next to you that your arm and hers are pressed up against one another. Your other leg is touching the guy on your other side. I am not accustomed to being close to strangers at all, so this was something that took a bit of getting used to. But some people were exceptionally friendly. Throughout the week I was hugged by numerous new acquaintances. More than one person told me they would like it if I stayed in Chicago. A not-so-small part of me really wanted to stay.

By the end of our first day, My legs and feet were killing me. I estimate that we walked at least 7 miles. I don’t even walk to the store where I live. It’s too far away. But Robbie took no pity on me, and rightfully so. I was not about to wuss out on seeing as much of Chicago as I could. The moment I saw the city from the top of the Tower, I was in love. My feet had little choice but to get on board.