Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Goodbye, Chicago

In about two days, I'll be leaving Chicago for another adventure in Cincy/Covington, KY. KY will be the fourth state I've lived in, but since it's a stones throw from OH, it really doesn't count. I have mixed emotions about leaving a place I've called home for 7 years. Geez, has it really been that long? I only lasted in L.A for 5 and that seemed like an eternity. I find parallels between the two cities and my current mentality. I left L.A to run away from things. I met my first real boyfriend out there, then followed him to Chicago only to have that relationship go down in a ball of flames. I also decided L.A was too stressful, expensive, and that I'd accomplished everything I was going to out there. I was ready to shift gears, and those gears was towards a journalism career. I moved home for 8 months, which wouldn't have been so bad except for the constant brow beating between me and the boyfriend. Living at home gave me a chance to collect myself and move to a new city: Chicago. I never thought I'd last more than a couple of months in the Windy City. I actually planned on going to N.Y soon after the move but life has a funny way of not giving you what you want, or at least steering you in a completely different direction. 7 years ago if you told me I wouldn't end up in NY, I would've cried. Today, I'm glad I never made the move, but who knows. It could still happen. I think when you're in your 20s, there's a certain allure of the big city, which is why I was attracted to L.A then Chicago. But now I'm heading into my mid-30s and I gasp at the idea of continuing to live in an overpriced, overcrowded, overwhelming city. I want stability. I want a real home and I feel like I can't get that here. My current apartment is dirt cheap but I have no amenities. I don't own a couch or a bed and there isn't a dishwasher or central air or laundry in this building. There are bugs. Flying and crawling ones that I can't get rid of. I'm tired of living like a college kid. I need a place where I won't be embarrassed to invite people over. I need to be an adult, and it's quite difficult to be an adult in a city where if you don't make oodles of money, you can't afford to live like one. Sure, there are things I'll miss about Chi-town. I'll miss the free public pools, the lakefront, my few friends, the skyline, music venues and shows galore and saying I live in Chicago because that sounds better than saying you live in KY. I won't miss the high taxes and the cold weather and all the people and the sports teams and the neighbor upstairs who won't quit stomping around and I won't miss the winters or the overabundance of sushi restaurants or the overwhelming feelings I constantly have. I could go on but I'm being negative. No matter what, the music scene and John Hughes will always epitomize the city for me (heck, I've even been on the unofficial John Hughes tour). When I moved to Chicago almost exactly 7 years ago, I moved here on a whim with a boyfriend. He had told his family we were moving up here before he even told me. Bad sign. I didn't get a say in the place we lived. I didn't get a say in much. I just was a hanger-on. We lived in a studio (!) apt. It was very small and cramped and wasn't designed for two people to live together. A few months into it, we broke up. It was horrible. I was homeless the first of two times. Yes, I was "homeless" twice. I never was homeless in L.A or OH. A lot of horrible things happened to me while living in Chicago (like losing my dad and being so poor I had to pay a cover with change), but I like to think it helped me build character and become independent. Living in L.A, I was also forced to be independent and not rely on others. After the breakup, I could've easily moved back to OH, but I decided to stick it out. I had a couple of jobs. I didn't like them but they paid the bills. Then I really started writing. I wrote a lot for various local and national publications. I found my voice, so to speak. I became a real journalist. I started going to concerts. I interviewed bands. I went to Sundance. I became that kid from the movie Almost Famous. It was amazing. Between 2006-2008, I was single. It pretty much sucked. I met a lot of interesting men, but they all turned out to be duds in their own way. I quickly realized I wasn't good at being single. Then one spring day four years ago I met someone who changed my life. He was good. Really good. And we became good friends. Then we became more than friends. And now we're moving to KY together. I guess that saying about one door closing and another one opening rings true -- it's like I lost the first boyfriend but then I gained another, better one. It's almost like he was the reason for me to move here. If I hadn't, maybe I never would've met him. Let's just hope things won't go awry for us once we move to a new place. I'm scared to move but also excited. I haven't moved in three years, which has been kind of nice. I really hate moving but at least I won't have to do it alone like I did when I left L.A. I know this won't be the end with my relationship with Chicago. I know I'll be back. I'll miss my friends but I don't see most of them on a regular basis, anyway. I've seen a lot of good friends come and go, which has been pretty hard, especially when you feel like they're leaving you behind. I've always felt Chicago was a transient city, where people come for a short while then move on. It seems like it's a mandatory destination for a lot of people, especially creative ones. There have been so many actors who've lived in Chicago before they springboarded into something better. I'm hoping that holds true for me. I also was thinking how there really aren't places I'll want to return to when I visit the city. It's not like I have my fave bar or restaurant. I think the only things I'll ever want to do are return to the music venues I once frequented, but the way things are going, I may phase out concerts completely. I'll have to find a new career in KY. Maybe I'll keep writing about the same things or maybe I'll venture into something else. What I really want to do is write that book, which maybe I'll finally get around to doing soon. I know people think it's weird why I want to leave Chicago, but I have my reasons. There are hills in Cincy/KY! Rolling hills. There's a lookout where you can see the entire city from a park! Food trucks are legal! And so is happy hour. Chicago is the only major U.S city that doesn't allow happy hour. WTF? Living there won't be a permanent thing (I think), it's just a brief stop along the way to something else. I miss my family a lot. They're getting older and I need to be closer to them. I need to take my nephew to Kings Island. I need him to come visit me for the weekend. I need to go to Cedar Point. I need to go back to Athens, OH. I desperately need to get a cat because the kitty I brought from L.A passed away recently and that confirmed to me my childhood is really over. I need to fill that void with another kitty. I also need to figure out a way to become rich because I'm sick of not being rich or just scrapping by.

But where do I go from here? Up I hope. I need to find a part-time job in my new city. I need to make more money. I'm looking forward to decorating my own goddamn home to my liking. This will be the first time since college I get to live in my own home that I picked out that wasn't previously inhabited with a roommate/stranger. When I move in, the place will be completely empty, and I'm looking forward to that. Finally, a real home. This also will be the first time I've lived within driving distance of my mom. Before, I've lived way to far away to make a day trip or I've lived with her under the same roof. I'll be far enough to have my own life but close enough to pop in for dinner. And to me, that sounds pretty great.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Closed for the Summer



Seeing as I haven't updated this thing in a couple of weeks and seeing I have no intention to, now would be a good time to mention my hiatus from this blog. I've been steadily ranting and raving for the past 2 1/2 years, but I just don't have it in me anymore. That's not to say I don't have things to rant about, it's just that I really think I should keep certain things to myself. I've had to learn this the hard way of the past couple of years. So, from now on, if you want to know what I've been up, contact me the old fashioned way: send me a message. Yup, it's that easy. Hope everyone's summer is going well. I can't believe it's August already! So much to do, so little time. Maybe I'll eventually return to this format, but for now, happy trails fellow readers (those of you who still frequently read my dribble).

Monday, July 13, 2009

Saugatuck, MI



From Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon, the boyfriend and I spent some quality beach time in Saugatuck, MI. It was about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Chicago. The weather was simply great -- low 80s and lots of sunshine. Saugatuck is definitely a summer beach town, the kind of place either the affluent own a home or visit for a few days. Of course I don't fall into either category, but I can at least pretend. It's really the closet thing I'll get to a real beach in the mundanity of the Midwest. Whereas Chicago's lakefront is littered with lifeguards and tourists, Saugatuck (or the nearby town of Douglas where we actually stayed)is isolated, lifeguardless, and quaint. You don't have to pay for parking, and the beach is pretty close by. The town has a lot of family and retired people there. We stayed at a bed and breakfast a block from the beach. This was my first bed and breakfast experience, and I found it to be a good one. The innkeeper and his wife were personable and told us what sites to see. They had a nice breakfast waiting for us in the morning. I wonder what it's like to have to cook breakfast for complete strangers every morning. What if one day you woke up and didn't feel like cooking? Could you get away with just setting out a box of cereal and store bought donuts? Probably not. The boyfriend and I joked we would be the anti-friendly bed and breakfast kind of people. Being rude and anti-social would be our shtick. The b&b even had a private pool out back with a cool ocean reef mural painted on the bottom.

After we checked in on Sunday, we headed straight for the beach. There were a lot of people there, but it wasn't overcrowded. The water was surprisingly warm. In the past few days, I've become fascinated with surfing. I lived in L.A for five years, but for some reason never considered surfing (I did own a boogie board and would occasionally use it). I think my new obsession stems from having just watched the classic, 1960s surf movie The Endless Summer (where two young surfers embark on a surfing adventure around the world). I also just read that you can surf Lake Michigan in Chicago in a couple of spots, but if you really want to learn how to surf in the Midwest, you can take lessons at a surf shop in MI. I figure, why not learn how to surf on the Lake? In MI, I saw kids with boogie boards and some guy do some sort of shore surfing. I have no idea what that's called. After we were done splashing in the water, we cleaned up and went to dinner at a nice French restaurant. The food in town was good with a lot of diversity, but I found the clothing shops to be rather lame.

One thing about transitioning from the big city to a small town is everything becomes rather quiet. Almost too quiet to the point you can actually hear crickets. I like the tranquility a beach town brings, but I think after a few days, I'd get really bored and anxious. I do love the idea of renting a beach house for the summer, maybe somewhere on the East Coast, but I would need to be somewhere with an active nightlife like in the Hamptons. Despite the lack of nightlife (then again, I was there on a Sunday not a proper weekend), I consider Saugatuck to be the Midwest's version of the Hamptons (we even spotted a Ferrari, a Bentley, and a Rolls Royce in MI)or the Midwest's version of Laguna Beach (there are a ton of art galleries in the town).

On Monday, we got up just before breakfast ended, ate, and then immediately hit the beach again. Since it was a weekday, the beach and town were less crowded than the day before. I ventured out pretty far into the lake to the point where the boyfriend felt the need to monitor me. Good thing he's a trained SCUBA diver. One nice thing about swimming in freshwater is you don't have to deal with your eyes burning from salt water or the danger of getting eaten by a shark. This lack of worry is fine, but I think I prefer the peril and smell of the ocean. After swimming, we went into town and had lunch at a bar and grill. Then we walked around the town some more, then we went back to the beach one last time.

I think being in Saugatuck made time stop for a day. I feel like I've been gone for days. Hopefully we can go back there before the end of summer and have more beach time. But, now I have stuff to do this week, especially in preparing for the big Pitchfork weekend ahead. Maybe someday I'll be able to retire on the beach, but until then, I can cherish brief summer respites in Saugatuck.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Festivals Galore

This time next week, I'll be embedded in the mayhem known at Pitchfork Fest. Last year I didn't go at all, so this year I'm making up for it by doing double duty. I'm helping Saucony out for a few hours each day, then I'm making use of my press pass. It's going to be a looonng weekend, but hopefully a lot of fun. I'll need to take a lot of photos, shoot some videos, and try to interview bands all the while trying to keep my wits (and sunscreen) about me. Then of course I'll have to quickly turn everything into some awesome blog posts. That'll be the challenge, but I'm always up for a challenge. I know by the end of the weekend I'll be pretty exhausted and sunburnt, but I think it'll be worth it. I'm still waiting to see if I'm getting a press pass to Lolla. That'll be the ultimate reward and yet another exhausting good time. I'm also getting two press passes to that festival in Portland I mentioned in my last post. The boyfriend is going to my "photographer." We have yet to book the trip, so I really want to do that soon.

I feel like I get to do a lot of cool things through my writing, but the downside is, I'm not making a lot of money through it. That's why I have to pick up gigs like working for Saucony and the t-shirt company to help pay my bills. The thing is, I'm not in it for the money, per se. I just love being able to cover cool events and then write about them. I keep hoping I can take my clips and use them to build more clout for myself. Inevitably, I'd love to have more high profile gigs and get paid a shitload for them, but we're also in a recession and most publications can't afford to pay a lot. I'm trying to hit up the New York Times about writing for them. The boyfriend's cousin works for them and provided me with a contact. We'll see what happens. The other night the boyfriend mentioned I should do something with all of the interviews I've done over the years. I have probably written over 100 articles on various bands from all over the world, artists, people, etc over the past five years. I keep thinking I should turn them into a book or at least integrate them into that book I've been supposedly writing for the past four years. But, I don't have any contacts with publishers and thus don't want to go through this whole thing and have it not get published, yunno? Or maybe I should just do it for myself, just to have a huge portfolio to sift through. Either way, I've definitely accomplished a lot with my writing, but sadly, I could always accomplish so much more.

Besides the constant flow of writing, I'm still trying to get Myopenbar off the ground. We're still trying to throw parties to no avail. We have three business partners now who I think can help us throw some cool parties. I just like the idea of saying "business partners." It's been harder to get liquor sponsorship than I thought, but there's definitely a lot of interest. It's nice to know we have fans and that there are a lot of people willing to work for us.

Sunday morning, the boyfriend and I are driving up to Saugatuck, MI for the night. I've never really been to MI (unless you count the time I drove through Detroit 10 years ago), so I'm looking forward to it. We're staying one night at a bed and breakfast located near the lake. I'm hoping for some quality beach time. Tonight I'm going to an open bar thing where one of the NY Housewives will be making an appearance, and then I'm off to a friend's b-day party. The weather here continues to be so erratic. It'll either be cold one day, then rain the next. This is seriously cutting into my pool/sunbathing time! Speaking of pools, I wanted to start swimming laps, but then I found out it costs $22 for the adult lap session at the public pool. Screw that! I wish I had my own private pool to do laps in. Oh well. I've decided to stick to jogging for the meantime. I really want to get into shape.

Friday, June 26, 2009

News of the Strange

This week has been one of the strangest in recent memory. Like I expected, the weather jumped from spring-y to blazing hot. It's been well into the '90s here with humidity added for extra scorch. I wouldn't mind it so much except I don't have central air in my apartment. This is the first place I've lived (besides a college dorm) that doesn't have central air. We installed a couple of a/c units in the windows, but the other night one of them blew out a circuit. My apartment is weird in that the circuit box is locked away somewhere in the basement and the landlady only has access to it. So, this involved braving the dark and contacting the landlady in the morning. So now we're only using one a/c, which means only one room in the house is cool.

I worked a little this week at the t-shirt place. It's fine and everything, but they kept cutting our hours. Yesterday I worked for two hours and then they set us home. Apparently all of us are working too fast and are getting the work done much quicker than anticipated. Yeah, that's good, but then that means I don't get paid. I guess I shouldn't complain much since it frees my day up a little more. On the days I'm free, I've been trying to hit the pool. The only thing is there's a Pool Nazi. He controls who can and can't have entrance to the pool. He'll tell people it's at capacity when it's clearly not. After making me wait outside the gate for a few minutes, he finally let me in. Going to the pool enables me to get a tan and get some reading done. I've really been trying to read more, but it's hard for me to concentrate sometimes.

To make things even weirder, I'm stunned about Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. I really can't believe MJ is gone. It seems so surreal. I wasn't his biggest fan or anything, but it still saddens me. It's like a chunk of my childhood just died. He was an icon, a musical genius (albeit sorta strange). It's tragic he never got that comeback he was due for. I'm astounded at how much social media has been all over these news items. People on Facebook and Twitter keep posting links to MJ's videos and such. It's getting to the point where if someone posts a non-MJ item, I get irritated because I think everyone should be discussing what happened, not something unrelated.

This week has seen a plethora of open bars. There were like three last night and at least two tonight. It's definitely open bar season. I went to a 3-hour whiskey event last night. Tonight I went to a Red Stripe event. The cool thing was I walked away with free t-shirts and other swag. I finally scored some free t-shirts from work, too. Now I have t-shirts galore! And all for free.

I also scored a gig working Pitchfork. I'm going to help Saucony with some fun stuff. I think I'm also getting a press pass for the fest, so it'll be a busy weekend. I'm beginning to think we're never going to be able to throw parties with Myopenbar. Things keep falling through. It's been much harder to get a liquor sponsor and things keep getting delayed. I'm still trying, though.

This weekend I think I'm going to see Vanilla Ice in concert. For real. He's performing at a bar for only $5! I have to experience the train wreck first hand. I'm also seriously considering going to Portland in Sept. for my b-day and a big music fest. I also need to make definite plans to go to MI for a weekend soon. Until I have to really work again, I think I'm just going to read, go to the pool, write, jog, watch movies, go to shows, and attempt to get things done.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summers in Chicago

Tonight, I went on what I call a booze cruise around the lakefront. For $25, you get unlimited cocktails, food, and beautiful water scenery. Luckily the rain staved off and it ended up being a warm, summer night. Up until tonight, it didn't feel like summer. It's been rainy and cold here, but summer finally popped tonight. Close to where the cruise was, the red carpet premiere of the Johnny Depp film Public Enemies was being held. It made me think of all the times I'd run into movie premieres in L.A. I guess I wasn't too impressed with the Enemies premiere going on, but we rarely see those in Chicago.

Today I was writing a "where are they now?" piece for the year 1999 and it made me a little nostalgic. During that summer, I was living in L.A. I'd just finished up an internship, was taking summer school, and couldn't find a job to save my life. Despite the frustrations and depression I suffered, I had a lot of fun hanging out with my friends. But, that was ages ago. 10 years, in fact.

This is my sixth summer in Chicago. I never thought I'd live through one of them, let alone six of them. Chicago is so alive in the summer, it almost makes up for the harsh winters. Being on the lake tonight reminded me how beautiful the city can truly be.

Summmer of 2004

I had just moved to Chicago in June. I moved here with the ex-boyfriend and I didn't know a soul. He was busy working all the time, so I spent most of my afternoons discovering the city and writing. The city was so new to me and at times felt overwhelming. It took me a long time to get acclimated to the city and to make friends. In July, I interviewed my first band, Black Dice. I saw Animal Collective open for them at the Empty Bottle (Animal Collective has become so huge. It was then I realized I could see shows for free.

Summer of 2005

Unbeknownst to me at the time, this would become a life-changing summer. At the beginning of the summer, I decided to change jobs. I quit the only salaried and benefitted job I'd ever had to work for a dot.com company. I felt the need to be in a less suppressive environment and around people my own age. It was at this company when I started to make more friends. That summer, the ex-boyfriend and I were going through a rough patch, so we spent a lot of time trying to make our relationship work. Even though I was living with a 40-year-old lesbian, living "on my own" enabled me to work through some of my issues. By the end of the summer, the ex and I got back together, but the ramifications had become too great.

Summer of 2006
This was my first official summer in being single in the city. I'd scored an internship with The Onion and somehow managed to get on unemployment. I begrudgingly moved back in with the lesbian, but I hated living there so much that I spent hours wandering around the city just to avoid her. It's strange to think I lived without a computer and internet. I don't think I could manage to live like that ever again. Once again, my time alone was good for soul searching. I'd go to the beach and sit there staring at the water while listening to my Ipod. For some reason, I didn't have a lot of people to hang out with that summer. In August, I went to my first Lolla ever. Of course that entailed forging my own wristband to gain free entry. Lolla simply blew my mind. The beginning of summer began with the death of a relationship and ended with the death of my father.

Summer of 2007
Two summers ago was probably the most active summer I can recall. I was pretty much unemployed until July when I started working a two month temp job. In August, I started interning at TOC. But in between my work days, I went to my fair share of open bars and parties. I hung out with my friend Theresa a lot. We saw each other practically day and joked that even spending a day a part was too long. That summer, there wasn't a dearth of boys. I found myself entangled in some complicated situations that became quite amusing to me. Once again, I acquired free entry to Lolla and had a blast.

Summer of 2008
Last summer was the first summer the boyfriend and I were an official couple. I suppose it was inevitable we'd get together considering the first time we ever kissed was during a drunken night in July '07. My internship ended last July and a couple of weeks after, I started the same temp job I had the previous summer. Funny how things don't really change much. I spent most of the summer going to concerts and developing a relationship with the boyfriend. In August, I subletted a high rise in the South Loop with an amazing view. The place turned out to be very convenient to attend Lolla. In September, I moved into my current place. Once again, I went to Lolla for free, but this time I got paid to work there. At the end of the summer, a good friend moved away with another one following a few weeks after.

Summer of 2009

This will be my first summer without a couple of good friends living in the city. Somehow their absence has left an unfillable social void. The other day, I realized I've never been on a serious summer vacation. Sure, I've traveled the Midwest and East Coast during the summer months, but I've never taken a long vacation in the summer. This depresses me, so I'm hoping this summer I can change this. I've never been to the Pacific NW, and for some reason Portland seems like a cool destination. We'll see if that trip materializes. I want to go to MI, the Dunes, and so many other places. I want to work (I'm back at the t-shirt place next week) and write and get a tan and just enjoy the city I live in. And of course gain free admission to Lolla.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Work-a-Day

In the past week, I've been working non-stop. I go to work, but when I come home, I usually have writing to do. The work load never seems to end. Getting up at 6am has been pretty rough, but I've found myself being more productive. I get off work at 3pm, but instead of coming home and crashing, I try to stay awake and get things done. It's amazing the things you can accomplish if you wake up before noon every day! I had to work yesterday and I am guaranteed work until Wednesday, then who knows what. The job has been fairly easy, but takes some concentration. Basically what I do all day is fill t-shirts orders that are shipped all over the world. I'm always amazed how many shirts are being shipped to Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. How do these countries know about the company? I'm on my feet all day constantly walking around. Sometimes I get to pack the orders, which at least lets me be stationary. The job is exhausting, but it's much better than being chained to a computer all day, and I suppose I'm getting good exercise. I can wear whatever I want to work. They blast decent music all day long. Everyone I work with is either in a band or looks like they should be in a band. I think this job is more tolerable than a lot of gigs I've had, but I don't think I could work the early morning shift full-time. I do hope they'll continue to need me after Weds, even if it's just periodically. If not, it might be time to hit the pool and/or beach and start working on my tan. At least I have that to fall back on. I also hope I can get some free shirts out of the deal. I guess anyone can design and submit a shirt. If they accept it, you get $2,000! If your shirt is voted the best of the year, they give you $20,000! Maybe I should start designing shirts. All day long I rack my brain trying to think of cleaver ideas, but nothing has come to me yet. I know I'll never get around to doing it, though.

On Saturday, I went to see a play called "Rock 'n' Roll" written by Tom Stoppard. It was about how Communism took over the Czech Republic in the '60s and how the main character was censored for his love of rock music. I learned a lot about world history through it. I had no idea events like Prague Spring took place. I thought the play was pretty good. It even had a rock-centric soundtrack. I kept thinking how music today isn't rebellious the way it was back in the '60s or '70s. Punk music was pretty radical, but nowadays, people don't protest anything. Everyone plays it safe and I don't know why this is. Have people just run out of things to say? It's a shame, really. Later that night, I went to an air guitar competition. Yes, this is a real thing, and it was pretty awesome: guys dressed in silly costumes performing to rock songs onstage...um, yeah. It was like "American Idol" except a lot more vulgar. I have a friend who is a national air guitar champion, so that's how I kinda got into it. This was the first time I'd ever seen it live. The national champion gets to go all the way to Finland to compete, so it's serious business.

Last week, myself and some of the other Myopenbar staffers meet with a couple of event promoters who we might throw parties with. I really hope it works out. They're already throwing a bunch of events around town and seem to know what they're doing. Now if only we could secure a liquor sponsorship and some definite ideas, we'll be golden. It's just a matter of wait and see what happens, but I'm confident this will be the beginning of a fruitful friendship. I'm not giving up on this yet.