Saturday, August 25, 2007

10 things I like about living in Chicago

Today I was on my way to work and observed something interesting which I have now forgotten. However, I had a decent day (not hard in comparison to the rest of the week...) and thought of a few other random things I like. Coming up with 10 will be an interesting exercise in positive thinking.

1. Michigan Avenue "characters." I went down to the "Mag Mile" today to find some home furnishing sales and instead observed some interesting people on the streets. My favorite was the tourist (you can just tell who they are...) with the purple metallic ballet slipper style shoes, still sporting the price tag sticker on the bottom. There were also a few ladies in really outrageous dresses (think neon animal print dresses and high heels) and I couldn't tell if they were drag queens or just more tourists...They were carrying Saks Fifth Ave bags so it was hard to tell... The six foot tall lady in four inch heels in H&M was pretty funny too.

2. Going to Michigan Ave to shop for a few essential items now only takes 15-20 minute, the same amount of time it would take to drive to the mall in Charlotte! Instead it is a major shopping STREET instead of just a piddly little mall...

3. I can go to H&M, an outrageous fashion store from Sweden, and buy the most plan black long sleeve shirt possible and still be really happy (work clothes, you know...). People go to H&M to look fashionable. I go to H&M to get a nice shirt to wear to work that lacks embellishment, low necklines, and short sleeves...

4. There are lots of theaters.

5. The people on the El. Yesterday as I was riding home, a middle-aged woman sat down across the train from me with two purses - one a normal leather purse and the other canvas hippy type purse with a beautiful lotus flower patch/pattern on the front. I was instantly intrigued so I watched her a little while listening to my ipod. While we were stopped behind another train at one point, she closed her eyes and I realized she was probably the calmest, most serene person I had seen in a really long time. Due to her apparent inner peace and the presence of the lotus flower on her bag, i almost asked her if she is a regular yoga practitioner. However, I decided this might make her self-conscious and I would much rather make up a story for her in my head.

6. There is an African-American/African diaspora theater group and I am their ASM! Congo Square Theatre is amazing and after only two or so weeks of rehearsal, I am highly impressed by the dedication the company members show to this specific group of theater literature. As always I am a little saddened that there has to be a group like this to fill the void found in other Chicago theaters but the work is so impressive, it does not bother me too much. Even if the other major theaters showed more dedication to producing works that showcase diversity, having Congo Square would still be an important asset to the community!

7. It snows here. Obviously I am not basing this item on recent incidents like the previous numbers, but snow is so important to my love for Chicago, I can't really leave it out.

8. A lot of NU grads stay here. Thus, I have a lot of amazing friends here!

9. It is a really fun place for OTHER people to visit and therefore I get a lot of visitors! Since I may not always be enough of a draw for people to come visit Chicago, the zoo, museums, culture, etc do a lot for my social life. I also get people visiting who are actually in Chicago for other purposes such as business trips, college visits, and conferences.

10. Wrigley Field and the Cubs. Need I say more? In case I do, let me say that I love the fact that I can see the lights and upper seats of Wrigley Field from my bedroom window. My roommate is currently sitting on the other side of this huge mound of boxes watching the Cubs away game on one of the few set up items in our apartment. Since I ride the El to work now, and live North of the Wrigley Field stop, I am often crowded on the train with copious amounts of Cubs fans, turning the major colors on the El from dull silver to brilliant red and blue! Of course I usually have to stand up more when there are Cubs games but the excited spirit of the fans makes up for a lot of that.

Well, I am feeling much more cheerful now that I have written this! Only a few of the things were things I thought of throughout today but all of them are things I think about at least once a week (yes, even snow).

Friday, August 24, 2007

guess what. It's not funny anymore...

I am having a bad couple of days. I am tired of having bad days. It is a miracle I could even connect to the internet tonight to write this blog post!

Let me start at the "beginning." I am very happy to say I have now moved into my new Chicago apartment where I will be living for at least the next year. The move went well, no one got injured, and I've set up the kitchen already. Now for the bad news - we were not alone when we moved in. After we had hauled everything from the sublet to the truck then from the truck to the new apartment, we noticed we had some friendly visitors - small bugs about an eighth of an inch long, shaped like tear drops and very flat... This was not pleasant. Luckily there were not a great many of them and so far they had done no harm... However, Eva decided, wisely, that it would be a good idea to contact the exterminators who presumably had come through and done stuff less than a week prior to our move-in!! We obviously weren't around but there was a nice memo under the door informing us that they were expected to come to our floor on the 15th...

In any case, Eva got us an appointment with the bug guys on Thursday, as in yesterday as in the day from hell...or purgatory - not sure which would be more appropriate...I do feel like I am doing penance for something...

ANYWAYS, let me tell you about yesterday. The badness started early on my way to work. I take public transportation to the theater, consisting of a short train ride followed by a short bus ride. Usually there is not much lag between the two since both routes run very often... The bus I take is supposed to arrive every 5 to 8 minutes. I waited at the bus stop for half an hour. By the time the bus arrived, I was supposed to be at work. It is extremely embaressing as a stage manager to be late, especially to the theater... Luckily I'm only an assistant stage manager this time so it is not QUITE as bad (other than my need to make a good impression...) I could have caught a cab or something sooner but when you are waiting for the bus, the main thought you have is "oh, it will be here any second. As soon as I hail a cab and spend my paycheck, the bus will arrive..."

So its noon (the time I'm supposed to be at work) and I finally get on a bus. It was very crowded since no bus had come by for the past half hour... Halfway to my final destination, THE BUS BREAKS DOWN!! Luckily, by this point I am half a mile away from the theater. The bus driver tells us to go get on the bus behind us and I decide it would be much better to walk. The bus was almost full and all those people were going to get on another mostly full bus. Sound like a good idea to you? I walk the rest of the way in the scorching humidity, very embaressed and very late. I did manage to make it before rehearsal started but that was still 25 minutes late for me.

Rehearsal goes pretty well. I have been a little bored this week since we have been doing artistic-y stuff. Since I don't have to take down blocking changes, there is not a lot for me to do except to make note of the small changes in props. I got out a few minutes early and was ecstatic at the thought of getting to Evanston for a very important meeting EARLY so I could actually EAT A MEAL! I decided to get the Purple Express from Chicago Ave, since my theater is on Chicago and it is the closest El stop. Now it is important to note that in the middle of rehearsal, the sky turned black and the heavens broke loose for a couple hours. The rain had stopped by the end, however, and it was looking to be a smooth trip. WRONG!! I wait on the El platform for the EXPRESS for HALF AN HOUR!! By this time I am wondering if I will be able to make it to Evanston at all! Eva has called to see I was okay at this point since she knew I was going to Evanston and she heard there was a severe storm headed that way. Right about at that moment I looked out over the River North area to the west (the Chicago Ave El stop has a beautiful unobstructed view of that direction) and I saw the black clouds rolling in... It became a race against time, since I was standing on an uncovered El track next to some metal poles and had yet to see a Purple train... Just when I am about to give up, my train arrives. Howeever, even with the express it is doubtful I can make it to my appointment. Then the sky opens up.

Now you may have heard about these "little" storms we had yesterday, the ones with the flooding, high winds, dangerous lightening, hail, etc? At that point I realized that if I got to Evanston I would a) be soaking wet and b) probably not make it home because of probable power outages or other bad karmic things that were due to happen to me based on the rest of my day... My goal became making it back to my cozy apartment. This required switching to the Red line, since the Purple bypasses my stop entirely... I got off at one of the transfer spots (still elevated) and run under the useless "roof." The wind picked up right at that moment, pushing all the rain I was trying to avoid onto my back and chilling me to the bone. After about 10 minutes of this, my train finally arrives and I board with a bunch of fellow sponges, soaked despite coats, shelter, and umbrellas. When I got off at my stop, there was no point in avoiding the rain. Turns out the flooding had started too! At the bottom of the stairs in the El station, there was at least and inch or two of water throughout. I put an extra plastic bag around my laptop (luckily my backpack is VERY waterproof it turns out...) and decided to just trudge home because there was no telling how long the storm would last. I called Eva and had her take some towels to the front door and turn of the A/C.

Cross the street in flipflops was extremely difficult since there was ankle deep water. I saw a bus coming that would take me a few blocks closer to home and hopped on, since at least I couldn't get struck by lightening on a bus... Did I mention the thunder and lightening? I'm sure it was stupid for me to try to walk home but I was so wet and cold, all I could think of was getting home. The bus dropped me off a few blocks from the apartment and I managed to make it back okay. On those last few blocks, I just kept praying to God to just let me get to the front door safely. I have not been that scared of weather in a really long time but there was certainly more water than rainwater running down my cheeks by the time I made it upstairs. Eva had towels and a bathrobe waiting and I was soon cuddled up in my papasan chair covered in towels and blankets (don't worry, I took of the wet stuff at the door), eating black bean chili prepared (from a can) by Eva. She is already a wonderful roommate!

So you may remember that this post started out with talk of small flat bugs in our apartment. You may be wondering, "what happened to Emily's story-telling ability! She forgot to finish telling us about the bugs! What happened when the exterminator visited???" Don't worry, the end is in sight...

After I had warmed up, I timidly asked Eva what had happened when the bug people came by...Well, at least the bugs were not baby roaches, as first suspected. No, they are SO much BETTER (sarcasm sarcasm). Turns out we have bed bugs. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, those little mythical creatures parents warn you about when you go to sleep ("sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite"). Since we didn't have them in the old place and since this apartment has been empty and clean for several weeks, we think we pickedup the bugs on the UHaul. BEWARE! Spray it down before you start loading! Luckily for us we both use air mattresses so they don't have a bed to nest in. However, Eva calmly warned me to shake out my sheets since they had crawled in between her sheets... She is not going to put the sheets back on her bed until the exterminator comes back to spray. I checked my sheets and didn't find any, thank God! My bedding was in a more air tight container for the move which probably helped a lot. However, I keep checking every few hours when I am home and I definately woke up several times in the night, worried about the creepy crawly things. In addition, I have felt like bugs are crawling all over me since we moved in here, even though there is no evidence of bugs actually on my body. No bites and no bugs.

We got a memo this morning about how to prepare for the spraying. We have to put everything we have two feet away from all walls, including closets, so they can spray. We have to wash all linens in hot water and vacuum the apartment. Then we have to get lost for 4-6hours after they spray and later come home to vacuum AGAIN. I wouldn't mind this much if we got to get it over with soon. But no, we are not scheduled until WEDNESDAY! Almost a whole week from now! Frances will be here too, which is probably a bigger blessing than expected since we will have to move everything we own away from their nice new homes on the walls and then attempt to put everything back.

So it's not funny anymore. At first bed bugs seemed like a joke, a funny misfortune. No more. I am sitting in the living room with my computer connected to the cable modem we finally have (the router is in the mail so we don't have wireless yet). I am sitting on a hard wooden kitchen chair with my feet propped up on a mini-fridge, looking at trunks and copious numbers of book boxes piled in the middle of the room. I was hoping to get those boxes unpacked and/or stored so we could actually set up the kitchen table and have a walking path to the A/C and TV. However, since the boxes are in the middle of the room now and will have to be in the middle of the room on Wednesday, what's the point???

It is nice to get this LONG story out of my system. Hopefully my horrible 24 hours+ will keep you amused (don't worry, I won't mind). If I wasn't in this situation, I would probably find it funny myself. Next week after we are allowed back in our apartment, I'm sure I will look back at this first week in my new home as a humorous anecdote to be told at cocktail parties (well, maybe not the bug part...).

Well, it is time to go get laundry and my computer battery is running low. Hopefully I can make it out of this little corner and get to the front door. We can always hope...

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Eat, Pray, Love, and other things...

Sorry its been so long since my last update! I've been working days so I haven't felt like going out to use the internet at my favorite coffee shops lately. However, I will soon be moving into my new apartment and will finally have internet! Hooray! I have done pretty well without it at my fingertips the last month or two but it will be nice to have a little more freedom about when and where I get my internet business done. Also, since I am working on a show now, it is much easier to keep track of what is going on if I can check my email every night. Otherwise I might show up to rehearsal an hour early, which came very close to happening for tomorrow!

Now that the small talk is over, let's talk about books. I am currently reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, recommended to me by my sister. (Btw, if you want to keep track of what I'm reading even more, go sign up with!! It is quite fun and very addictive). It is not what I expected but I couldn't really tell you what it was I did expect... In any case, I love it so far and highly recommend it to anyone but especially my female friends. The book is a first person account of the author's year of travels after going through a terrible divorce and other heartbreak.

I've only finished the first third (in which she travels to Italy in pursuit of pleasure, mostly in the form of Italian food...) but there is so much I can already connect between myself and Ms. Gilbert. Reading Eat, Pray, Love is like having a conversation with a really good friends. Ms. Gilbert writes in a friendly, natural style that is no more formal than a good round of girl gossip. However, she is also capable of eloquent passages examining her spirituality, depression, and the quest for contentment.

I find it interesting that I have connected so much with what she says and who she is, even though I have had a completely different life so far. I am not much liker her personality-wise and I have never been a lover of travel. However, her writing about dealing with depression, for example, is universal. I've always dreamed of becoming a writer but have never been able to find my niche in the writing world. I know what you may be thinking - I'm writing this right now and I am not usually at loss for words on this blog. I have also been called a "good writer" by professors and mentors, but strictly in the academic setting of term papers and short articles. When I say I've dreamed about being a writer, I mean the writer of books that live on people's shelves immortally. Eat, Pray, Love has made me start thinking about it again because the writing style is so natural it makes me feel I could do it as well. Maybe I'll eventually rack up enough funny experiences to make a meaningful book like Elizabeth Gilbert. In the meantime, I'll just keep living and blogging, and writing emails - all in the pursuit of the experiences that will be worthy of my dream book someday

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I've returned home from Baltimore, after a week filled with laughter, fun, good food, and love. I continued to have a lot of fun with the little fish, even after he was moved to a cooler spot away from the counter. In any case, I wished I could stay longer or be closer to my sister and brother-in-law but I just love Chicago too much. In addition, I have all my work connections in this area so it would be silly to walk away now. Later I'll have enough experience to go anywhere I want (hopefully)!

I started my new job this week with a theater company downtown. We were supposed to start rehearsing on Tuesday but due to some delays in casting and the arrival of the playwright, we are starting rehearsals tomorrow instead. I honestly don't know how we could have been ready to start Tuesday! The SM and I have been working all day the past three days on paperwork, supplies, first rehearsal packets, etc. I'm already learning a great deal from her which is exactly what I wanted! It has been a long time since I have been an ASM (assistant stage manager for those of you unfamiliar with the abbreviations) so it is an adjustment. I'm used to deciding how to format and complete my paperwork instead of deferring to someone else about preferences. This is not to say I don't have any input into how I do things, I just have to make sure it is done well for both of us. Its funny since I'm usually on the other end of this relationship - telling someone else how I want things done (although I haven't had an ASM for awhile and the last one I had came in the middle of the process). I think it is a good experience for me to step back and learn some more because there many new ways of doing things that I think I'll steal...

I'm sore and extremely tired at the moment, due to physical therapy followed by a long day of work (12ish to 8ish with no long break). However, I am feeling more content than I have in a few months (other than last week in Baltimore where I felt more like myself than I have before the accident). I think that people who say that everyone should enjoy working are crazy. So are the people who don't understand people who love their work. I had two months with no job and no school and I was miserable! I can't imagine living in a different era as a society wife who's only duty would be to visit other high society wives and go to balls etc. Sure, throughout history women have had to toil alongside their husbands but I have to say I am very happy about Women's Lib. It is really nice to be able to just work! It's not for everyone or at least everyone doesn't place as much value on it, but I hope I don't have such a long period of no jobs again. It has nothing to do with making money, as those of you who I have talked to about SMing should know. It is more to do with being challenged every day and meeting wonderful new people. I have chosen a career where the people I work with change every 2 or 3 months - something else a lot of people would not enjoy. I, however, find it invigorating and fun!

All this is to say that I think people should be content with their preferences about working. I know people who go to work every day just to support themselves or a family and are content in jobs that may not be a passion. I know other people who fill time with volunteer work or other activities. Then there are people like me who are not truly happy unless working 40+ hours a week. People in all of these catagories judge the ones in other catagories (or even themselves) - that is what I am rejecting. There is no equation for happiness or contentment - it is more a matter of discovering where it come from for yourself - personnally.

Okay, this post has ended up sounding like an excerpt from "Chicken Soup for the Soul" but I kind of let these things just come out of me. Sorry! I am still having troubles related to the accident and I'm not happy all the time, I just happen to be more happy with the direction my life is headed now that I am back in the theater.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rats, Fish, Crabs, and Snails OH MY!

I'm going to steal from a comment on one of my brother's posts about his rats to tell you about my sister's killer fishy named BLUE. (I thought Captain Norton or some other sadistic name would have been more fun but the names had been chosen... In any case, Joseph and Lorian's rats are very fun and are the center of many hilarious photos and amusing tales of grandeur, bravery, stupidity, and laziness. Well, the Jonathan/Frances FISH has entered the picture...

(For those of you who don't know, Fran and Jonathan have a small salt water fish tank at the end of the penisula in thier kitchen/living area. It is inhabited by Blue, the Damsel Fish (who happens to be male), Red the Hermit Crab, and two unnamed snails who like eating scum. Some people find the later three creatures more entertaining but I beg to differ!

Although the idea that their new fish is anywhere near as fun as the ratties by seem far fetched, this feisty new fish, Blue, tried to attack me today! I was just mostly minding my own business at the counter, chatting with Frances, and I looked to the left at Blue in his tank and he swam vicisiouly fast towards the side of the tank, directly at me - FIGHT MODE. He doesn't swim into the nose of danger like that for any small reason. This fish is a "shy" of strangers, I discovered. Of course he failed to do any damage to anything other than his nose (which probably hit the glass side of the tank) since I don't live in his tank but it was quite a scary moment for both of us. Later we had a little game of "chicken" with Frances' sewing scissors.... They remained outside the tank but let's just say Blue is a little jumpy... I'd say I won that one. I would have gone on but Frances finally yelled "STOP TORMENTING OUR POOR FISH!," this poor fish that tried very hard to attack me, even if it would have been impossible... Blue is my new best friend now and I think it is cute that he has an earlier bedtime than me...

Fishy stories. Yum.