My Chicago

As I walk through the city of Chicago, I always admire the towering giants that touch the clouds and sing of human ingenuity, achievement, and a constant stride towards the sky. I love the city. I know without a doubt that this is the world in which I belong. I love that you can travel the length a breadth of it on established transit. I love that a bus is rarely more than a twenty minute wait to go wherever your heart carries you. A train no more than ten. Getting where you are going is never a problem. Choosing where to go offers seemingly infinite possibility.

Chicago holds an intoxicating blend of old world grace and craftsmanship with the new, bold, and practical. On the block where I walk from the bus stop into work there is a building that practically shouts, “I was cutting edge in the sixties.” standing next to it, a building that quietly says, “Al Capone once met a girl for drinks in my lobby.” Then as you cross the street there is another building that may have once been a factory, but now houses students whose parents pay their tuition. To get to the park across the street from my apartment, you pass through a concrete tunnel under the expressway. It sounds like it should be a dull walk, but there are beautiful murals painted by a local art studio, all of which have mosaic tiles woven into each unique piece. There is a stream of flowers caught in the air, followed by an octopus, followed by a proud eagle, finished by a 1920’s style painting of people in a park. When you emerge from the tunnel, you see a fountain-empty now for the winter, but I imagine flowing and graceful when the garden thaws. This is the peace garden, which is connected to a lovely nature path that leads to the marina. It’s name does it justice. I find it very peaceful to walk here, and often do.

Lately I’ve been feeling rather cut off from the world though. It’s amazing how a place so filled with people can be so alarmingly lonely. I find I have nobody to talk to when things don’t go as planned-as lately they really haven’t. When my work life makes me crazy and I want to vent, there is nobody to listen, save my cat, and I’d rather not dive down that particular rabbit hole just yet.

In these moments, I wonder if I made a mistake moving so far from everything familiar. It isn’t that I want to go home exactly; it’s that a wish a bit of the home feeling had come here with me. I want this place that seems to mesh so well with who I am to be somewhere I feel I can hang my hat and stay. I know I ought to have more patience, as I have only lived here 5 months. Already I have an apartment, a job, and tentatively a writing group- though I haven’t been able to go in some time due to work. My schedule will be freed up a bit in March (so I’ve been promised) and maybe then I won’t feel so melancholy. Until then, I’m going to do my best to keep my chin up. That’s all anyone can ever ask, right?

New Schedule

I have been working strange and varied hours lately, which has made blogging a bit of a challenge. I have decided my new post days will be Sundays. I know it is less often than I was posting before (not counting the missed weeks of posts since I arrived in Chicago) but it is a schedule I may have an easier time adhering to.

As far as Chicago goes, I am settling in. I have learned which trains to take, which areas to avoid, and where the best shopping is. I am earning a regular paycheck-something I have not had in several years- and am enjoying life in the city.

I have had adventures that I would not have had back home, such as apple picking, shopping in the loop,

Seeing random, beautiful sights while wandering the city, and of course a brand new experience for this SoCal native: living in the snow.

The first snow was quite an experience for me. It is so beautiful, and I seem a bit touched in the head when it falls, because I can’t resist stomping through it to leave my footprints, all the while giggling uncontrollably. My roommate is also from Cali, and so we share this ridiculous and childish desire to play in the stuff. His boyfriend thinks we are very strange, and tells us so, which leads to the inevitable snow fight. I say “snow” and not “snowball”, because we just scoop up handfuls and fling it at one another. We end up wet and freezing, but somehow it still makes me happy.

I thought Christmas would be a sad day for me, but my mother, in her infinite motherly wisdom, knew I would have a rough time my first Christmas alone and sent me a box of Christmas cheer. She sent a miniature tree, a strand of lights, and some stockings along with a box of presents. It warmed my heart and made me feel so very loved, even from so far away.

Though I worked on Christmas day, I put a pot roast in the slow cooker, and had a wonderful Christmas dinner with my roommate and his boyfriend. It was the first time that Chicago felt like home.

Now, as the snow sticks to the ground, and I finally have a day off, I am catching myself daydreaming about Jeremy, Fairies, and what is in store for Sidhee.

Like any storm that catches us unaware, my writing block is passing, and I find myself ready to open the shutters, pick up the pieces, and rekindle my literary efforts.

Happy writing.

apples

Apple Picking in the orchard

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Inside the Macy’s that used to be Marshall Fields. Quite a bone of contention between Macy’s and Chicago natives. Still, it is beautiful.

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A dramatized image of my first snow day. I took this with my cell phone on the corner of my street at the bus stop.

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The Gluten, corn, and soy free Christmas dinner I made for my Chicago family.

my buidling

The view of my building from the street. I never though I would live somewhere so tall.

my view

Just across the street from my apartment is a walking path that leads here. It is one of the best views of the city I have seen so far.

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!