So my sense of time is all disjointed right now due to the ‘everything is new’ feeling, which makes piecing together a blog post about what’s been going on harder than normal. Of course, the working week is still the working week of – y’know – going to work, which is a comforting routine to have. I know some people found the idea of relocating without a resting period strange, but actually it’s been nice to get into ‘normal life’ mode as quickly as possible. And work is cool, anyway.
Some of the highlights beyond that: there having been far too many ‘Dominic celebrations’ recently, birthday drinks on Thursday night consisted of an utterly lovely and relaxed gathering outside Motel Bar. Thanks to those who made it happen, and everyone else for your birthday wishes! I am now 25, which feels imposingly significant, as in ‘halfway to 50’. But at least I have gained 6 extra hours from the timezone switch, which are mine to bank for as long as I’m here.
Nolan took me along to a house party on Friday night, at which I was surprised to learn that ‘naming all 50 states’ is not actually so straightforward for citizens either. (Although props to the girl who could rattle them off in alphabetical order without so much as taking a breath.) And then on Saturday night I was honoured to be invited along to Todd’s birthday – Todd being a beloved Grouponian – which included these very fetching coasters. Not pictured is any drink actually encased in said coaster, because by the time Leah, Alex and I left the second bar my phone was definitely dead. But it was a good night.
There aren’t really many bad points right now, Chicago being a pretty friendly and relaxed city with lots of things going on. It’s been easy enough to catch a train or a bus downtown and enjoy the final day of the Blues Festival, or grab some tasty food, or just wander by the water:
The drawback is really that when it starts to rain, it really rains, so the British ‘oh well, it’s raining, that’s a shame, let’s carry on anyway’ spirit doesn’t work. Having the admin hassle of applying for everything from scratch can be tedious (top candidates for tedium are ‘getting a Social Security number’ and ‘opening an account with T-Mobile’ – the latter in particular has turned into a marathon of phone calls with unhelpful customer service agents). And there’s been a fair bit of turtling*, too. But overall, I am settling in, and the next big challenge will be finding somewhere permanent to live from August. Hello, Craigslist…
*Note: I’m not using this to mean mean any of the things described on Urban Dictionary.
Believe it or not, Chicago is beautiful and sunny right now. Hurray for summer!
Some random thoughts:
- I am living with Nolan and Brett for a couple of months. Nolan and Brett are wonderful, and very tolerant of having to pause the TV every few seconds so some new aspect of Americana can be explained to me. They also showed me Wayne’s World.
- I can literally watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report on TV. In the right timezone. This has been a long time coming.
- Target is great.
- Going to work with a bunch of people you already know makes for a very nice transition. On Friday night, I went to see Benno at the Art of Adaptation Festival in a cool little theatre with Grisel, Shelby, Jonathan and Agata. This was prefaced with Mexican food and followed by beer… so I’m having a good time.
- At the same time, being new and uprooted is a great opportunity to do random things. Last night, I got talking to two random guys sitting outside a bar, and ended up in their back garden round a fire while they practised their country music on the banjo and the guitar. Onward for adventure.
Thank you to everyone who came to my Deportation Party on Sunday night, and/or those who made a fuss at work today for my last day in the London office 🙂 The photos below are only a snapsnot, because so many wonderful people were there!
Let’s see now. I’ve given blood. I’ve packed… ur, mostly. I’ve caught Maya for a long overdue catch-up, had blue cheese pasta in Joshua’s new flat and had my last Indian takeaway tonight. I’ve even stolen some teabags from the kitchen for an emergency supply in case I get tea-withdrawal upon landing.
Time to fly!
My visa is real. I mean, really real. I mean, at the Embassy (after some prodigious queuing) they smiled and said that everything was fine and it was going to be real, but it was only once they’d posted my passport back to me (+$30 delivery fee) could I actually see that it was really real. This has several implications:
- My goodbyes have probably not been premature
- I really need to not lose my passport before Wednesday
- Assuming the above, I’ll be moving country on Wednesday. Eep!
Some more goodbyes, then:
Nice problem to have: at the bottom of a very large pile of paper, I discovered a Watersones gift card. Despite it being 2014, you’re not able to check the balance online, so I duly trooped into Waterstones Piccadilly to check how much was on there. Answer: £50! For books! Ah, but the sting in the tail – obviously I can’t just go around buying heavy books to lug across the Atlantic. Bottom line: if it’s your birthday coming up, I’ve got you a book. Hope that’s OK.
I keep saying goodbye to people! And usually following it up with “you should come to Chicago” – even to people I’ve just met, which is getting a little weird – which if they actually did so should earn me some brownie points from Illinois’s tourist board. Last weekend, for instance, my very favourite people from Groupon Italy were in town, so we went somewhere in Dalston where trendy people buy cold chips for £452.50.
And with spectacular timing, my cousin Julie was also visiting that weekend, so we also got to meet, chat and pledge transatlantic visits. (If you’re wondering why I’m carrying a John Lewis bag, it’s because buying birthday presents for mothers is difficult without one.)
On Tuesday Caroline and Charles came for drinks around Angel, and reminded me how much I am really, really going to miss the politics+alcohol fuelled evenings our group has been having ever since the first year of uni. Especially when I point out that their revolutionary plan for moving Parliament out of London puts them in complete agreement with a certain Ken Livingstone.
The next day, I took advantage of still being in Europe to visit the Groupon France offices in Paris, and finally meet a bunch of people in person. (And, ur, also walk to the wrong address at first. Good job me.)
(Not done yet, sorry.) Next: Melissa for Friday night drinks, which had the added bonus of allowing me to say goodbye to the Corrib. Quite honestly, the truth about Melissa is that I never get tired of her conversation, and it’s been a privilege to have been able to share it even since I worked on School Wars.
Finally (for now) I popped up to Manchester to see Robert and Tash. Curiously, Robert and I chose to spend a fair chunk of this time watching Spy Kids: All the Time in the World which, as no doubt you will be aware, is the fourth film in the venerable Spy Kids franchise. I haven’t actually seen outings one, two or three, but I don’t think it’s strictly necessary to pick up the plot. Also, the final ten minutes feels a bit like a Republican commercial on ‘family values’: “it’s so IMPORTANT to SPEND TIME with your FAMILY” said all of the characters, many times, semi-threateningly.
But I’m safe, because Tash and I spent the rest of the weekend together eating tasty Indian food on the curry mile, feeding croissant to the ducks in the park (yes yes, probably not something you should do) and getting fed an amazing lunch cooked by Tash’s friend Yasmin. Who also threw in a baked Camembert, and conjured up much joy.
Tomorrow morning I pop down to the US Embassy for the next stage of Visa Quest: The Undiscovered Country. Wish me luck.