Life has moved so quickly here that I can’t believe we’ve already been in Chicago for CORRECTION: 4 months, not six. We’ve been in the United States for 6 months. It truly feels that we were meant to be here.
With working over 60 hours a week at two positions and building up my social media profile, as well as writing and finding other people jobs, life is full.
Jock and I have successfully filled the apartment with new pieces of furniture.
I have passed many milestones this move – first new television over 20″ and under 40″ wide (this one is 47″ and thin!), first new couch, new bed and stainless steel appliances. First time living in a high rise. Somehow at 28, I feel a little behind, but oh well. I’ve lived my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
We found our local – Jake Melnick’s. Love that place and can’t get enough of their Pulled Pork Nachos. I dream about swimming through BBQ sauce.
I bought my first pair of snow boots since I was at least 10 years old.
Also, I’m an aunt once again! Beautiful Xavi Andres was born today after just a few hours. When my sister sets her goals on something, there is no stopping her. Out he came with a full head of hair, and I can’t wait to see the little guy.
Heading home tomorrow for Christmas and have a car booked just in case the plane doesn’t want to take off due to snow. Come snow or ice, I will make it back to Baltimore.
Jock is still healing from his knee injury, but walks most days without a limp now. I still forget and sometimes knock it the wrong way.
Our little lives are coming together.
Also, you may have noticed that the new website is www.meaganadelelopez.com/blog – Lady Who Lunches still works, but I am slowly transitioning to my new image. Stay tuned for the makeover!
This phrase has come up a lot in my life. First of all, it was aptly the title of the final play I performed two years ago in LA right before my departure to England. My Dad brought it up this week when showing me his framed picture of the postcards.
I’m actually physically moving today – which is another clear point. Although it’s just down the street, the place is bigger, badder and cleaner. Oh, and it’s got amenities like a pool, a sundeck, a balcony, a library and a business center where you get free coffee in the mornings. Incredible. And it’s a far cry from the furnished studio we’re in now that smells of smoke and poo.
I went back to my high school over Thanksgiving break to introduce myself to the two heads of the Alumni committee. Because Baltimore School for the Arts is such a small school, this is the first year in its 30 years that we officially have an alumni committee. I felt very honored to be nominated to be a part of it and after attending the conference call a few weeks back, I am on the Nominating Committee as well.
Whenever anyone mentions their high school, I tend to squirm. It just feels tacky for someone to speak fondly about their days in high school because, I don’t know, it’s cliche and during such young years. Except of course, for mine. BSA is and continues to be a hallowed ground for students who go there – it inspires, it accepts students completely based on their artistic talents, without looking at their academic scores and yet boasts a 99% college attendance rate. It’s in Baltimore City – one of the worst school systems in the country, and yet we are the only one without a metal detector because well, everyone just gets along. Theater changed my life. I love to refer to those years as like my teenage therapy. Those 18 people that were in my ensemble are still my family – we go to each others weddings, send presents for births of children and touch base every Christmas. I love them.
The day I left BSA was the day my eyes opened to the real world – all of the racism, hatred and negativity. It was also when I went to college at USC. It took me many years to be able to get back that innocence and trust and love for humanity that I felt everyday while going to BSA.
Moving Day 3,000 miles away from home was a big one in 2000 heading to college. It taught me that I’m not as big and bad as I thought I was. Now? Yeah, obviously. Then? At 18? – not so much.
Moving Days are vital in my life. They trigger change, growth and most importantly, opportunities to see myself in a new life (and light, that was actually a Freudian slip with “life” but I’ll go with it). Of course, I recognize you can’t go on living your life moving all the time to experience those things or else you lose trust in other places. For now, after today, I’m focusing on having Moving Days in my life without physically having to move. That’s the real trick, I feel – keeping that momentum that moving brings you to your everyday life. Seeing things in a new light when you’ve walked down that same street, that same hallway, brewed that same mug of coffee and eaten that same bowl of oatmeal every morning is something to strive for.
There are so many exciting things happening – INTERVIEWS – an interview with Helena Bonham Carter will be published next week, Dee Wallace (the mom from ET) and also my interviews with various CEOs and Founders at the tops of their fields in the world of technology and Chicago startups. You can read some of my articles on that here at midVentures.
I just got interviewed for the leading business newspaper in Chicago – Crain’s Chicago Business about my supposed expertise in Social Media as the Social Media Director for midVentures. I’m starting to believe that I might just know a thing or two about this field.
I’m now with alumni committees for both USC and BSA.
And that’s all – tired of talking about myself now.
Anyway, it’s snowing hard in Chicago. The ground is covered – a perfect introduction to our new home.
It’s amazing how quickly deep thoughts dissipate as soon as things begin to get busy. As a lady who lunches, I had all the time in the world to ponder humankind’s most intricate details, sweeping myself away with notions of – well, with just notions in general. I can’t even remember what kind of notions I mused upon. It seems so far gone – those days of sipping Lahloo tea in England, waking up at 9 in the morning or not at all, jogging on the Downs and penning my novel that is sinking its 100,000 word paper cuts into American literary agents fingers as we speak.
It doesn’t feel so far gone that I can’t imagine going back there. No, that’s not true at all. One day, I’m sure I will go back there – but I will never go back there under those same circumstances and for that I am two things – 1. Grateful and 2. Pleased I got to experience what I did when I did, but I will never wish I could go back.
That time period of my life is over.
I am invigorated with what life has to offer me right now. I am not, however, pleased for poor Jock who has to sit home in our tiny studio apartment with his leg up because he has torn ligaments in both ankle and knee. That I am not invigorated by. I hope he gets better soon.
But at least the Bloke Who Brunches has a woman who can officially say she’s employed! In three jobs! (more on that in a few)
The reason I have been so negligent to my blog – the blog that gave me sustenance for nearly 18 months – my excuse is my new life. My new job. My new city.
While all of these things should ignite the creativity and make words flow, they are doing the opposite. I can’t think of anything to say that doesn’t have to do with – “OK, so I responded to that email, the dishes are done, God, I really want that peacoat, I need to paint my fingernails a cool color so that when I’m typing at work they look professional, did I call my Grandmother? I wonder if that book club will mind if I make notes and bring them to the meeting, did that bum just tell me I should ‘work it’? why is the weather still so warm?”
You get the picture. Being in my own country, I find it hard to find anything interesting to speak about besides my daily routine – and I don’t think hard enough about that topic to lend any interest to the public. I wish I could. I wish I could make that seem fascinating like the greatest writers of our time. But the truth is, if I don’t find it compelling, then certainly no one else will.
I almost wish I didn’t adapt so quickly back into the culture because then I could reiterate what it is I am feeling.
I’m not really feeling. But in a good way.
I’m not waxing nostalgic at all. I’m not philosophizing. I’m not curious.
I’m just happy being busy. Am I making any sense?
I’m enjoying my busy life – while I run from my job as a Staffing Supervisor (yes, you heard me correctly) to my job as the Social Media Director to giving out free shots of Guinness at bars during my job as a “Promotional Model.” Then back to Jock where we idly chitchat about nothing in particular but everything of interest to us.
OK, let me pause before I go any further. I am officially working full time as a person who finds other people full time jobs. How ironic is that!? (On top of my other jobs). And, I’m loving it. I will dedicate a blog post to my new job at some point (and how I got it, how it turned out, etc.)
In the meantime, this is just to say that: “Excuse me while I live my life for a while and don’t think too hard about it.”
Although Chicago is still in the same nation I grew up, it may as well be in a foreign country.
I’m moved enough times, that I know you gotta have a plan of action when it comes to meeting new friends, getting jobs – setting up shop. (I didn’t realize I actually had a plan of action until now. A month into my move and the plan that I’ve always incorporated is somehow starting to pan out. I can see the connections coming to life.)
My approach to Chicago is the same as how I approached living in Los Angeles, Bristol and New York – find connections however and wherever possible.
First, I narrow down my interests, my history, my friends and my relatives.
For example, I know that I love reading and socializing. As some of you know, I began a Book Club for Women when I lived in Bristol called “The Ladies Who…” Obviously, I wouldn’t have been able to do it with just me sitting there, so it was a success because of the people who were involved. Had I not known a few women in Bristol, I would have set up one with a Meetup.com club. For me, this killed two birds with one stone – one, we created a theme once a month for the fun, social part and two, we read a book to discuss. This fulfilled my love for reading.
There is a book club in Chicago that I’ve joined – our first meeting is at the end of the month. Very excited to meet new ladies!
I also love speaking French – so I join a French club. In Bristol, I was never able to get up and go to one. I joined one, but I never once attended. I think a part of me was scared that I wouldn’t be able to speak as well as I used to and I convinced myself that there was no point. I have now joined one in Chicago - here’s to me getting off my ass and doing what I’m saying I’m going to do. (Side note: working at a temp job right now, meeting is taking place with the European staff and I spoke French! I was even told my French was excellent. Get that? Excellent. Or, J’ai un bon accent! Merci bien, mais ca fais longtemps que j’ai pas parle. Il faut pratiquer!)
Next, I reach out to alumni groups. My mother reminded me of the Trojan Family that I belong to, and why I didn’t think to hit them up before, I have no idea. USC is a massive school with an amazing alumni group.
I have gone to one USC Football game so far in the Chicago area, and I met some of the nicest people. Sure, our rally cries each time the team scores a touchdown can be a bit, how do I say this? …Exuberant, at times, but it gets us all united (annoys the hell out of the rest of the bar), but makes us feel every bit the University of Spoiled Children that we are.
Lead guy stands up, revs up the alums with a hand dig/fist pump and a bellowing out of “OHHHHHHHHHH” starts us off. That’s our cue to spell out “S-O-U-T-H-E-R-N-C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A” in an upward escalating, fashion to a rhythm created by our drunken, sweater-wearing forefathers. Remembering how to spell “Southern California” is part of the testing that’s involved with initiation and acceptance into our fine university. Then, to make sure the rest of the bar knows what we’ve spelled, we scream as loud as we possibly can “SOUTHERN CAL-I-FORRRRRRNIA!”
In case you want to watch a live version, here we go:
God, I love College Football. God, I love USC alums.
Anyway, I’ve made some great connections through them, helping me to find jobs, volunteering at high schools to get more Slutty Chicks…erm, I mean, to get more ‘SC students.
Through emails, facebook, blogging, linkedin and twitter, it’s amazing how many connections I’ve found out that I have here. Melissa, a girl who I went to school with during the 2nd Grade in Tennessee is now going to school out here. I missed her awesome Toga party this past weekend because of my sister’s baby shower, but I fully intend on getting together.
And the best part about living here is the amount of help that people want to give out. There has been an endless supply of suggestions, connections, recommendations, referrals. Which is why I haven’t really stopped working in over three weeks now. My dad randomly emails a headhunter on LinkedIn and she gets me a job with midVenturesLAUNCH (it lasted 10 days, but now I’m blogging for them 10 hours a week). Katie, the wife of one of Jock’s friends and now my friend, works for a promotional company on the weekends and now I am set up with them as well.
I have an interview for a restaurant through another connection. A guy I guest-blogged for when I was in England referred me to his company in Chicago. The list goes on.
Then, as for Jock – he just goes to the closest Irish or English pub and he finds people of his kind. Men have it so easy! I swear every English knows each other, and if you disagree, you haven’t met this Englishman named Jock.
Resources, interests and past history is the best source of connections, I’ve found. Technology has made moving so much easier as well. If we can just learn to use it to our benefits, it opens so many doors.
P.S. The Bloke Who Brunches will be back on the next post…
Eight days of solid work. For a startup tech conference – the largest ever – midVenturesLAUNCH – working with guys so impressive, it’s spurred me to continue to take risks with my life and to strive for more.
But also, working in Chicago, it hit me.
How the hell did I end up here?
Not because I don’t like it or I am not enjoying myself – au contraire! I love it here. It has everything one could want in a city – arts, entertainment, crazy taxi cabs, nightlife, hustle and bustle and the extreme focus and drive that it takes to survive in one. But it also has – waterfront, weather (something I missed living in LA and something I got a bit too much of in England) and nice people, beautiful neighborhoods, an international community, big deciduous trees, a subway and nice people.
The thing is – I just can’t figure it out. I can’t pigeon hole this city.
I stop, I look around, I talk to the people in it. It’s so normal, but then again, not.
And it’s in the Midwest.
I go back to my original question. How did I get here?
I can’t explain it more than that – that question has been plaguing me for the past two weeks – in a good way. Like a plague full of skittles and smiles and Modern Family tv shows.
Jock thinks it’s because I can’t fit Chicago into a neat box. Moi? Trying to compartmentalize?? Never!
Then I remember what change is like – finding a spider in your apartment. First step – coming face to face with a disgusting, 8-legged creature building a nasty, invisible web in the corner of your window. You realize it’s tiny, so much smaller than you. You smile because it doesn’t even know what’s coming to it. You feel good about yourself for recognizing how vulnerable and small it is and how much power you wield. This sucker ain’t got nothing on you.
Then – it moves. You scream and jump onto the first safe thing you can find – something familiar and up high. You underestimated its danger. You misjudged your own feelings and capabilities. There is no way in hell you can fight this vicious creature.
The spider pauses for a moment, still poised on all eight legs, ready to attack – but it gives you a moment to recollect yourself. Out of the corner of your eye, you see that this room is filled with your own stuff, your own weapons, weapons that you have been hoarding and storing your entire life – perfect weapons that will crush anything in its path, they just need to be used to the right capacity.
You reach for that shoe/folder/mental and emotional crutch. It starts to walk away, you ease up the tension in your neck, take deep breaths and begin to realize what a fool you are for getting so scared in the first place. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
But, The spider moves again!! This time…in your own direction and it’s MUCH bigger than you anticipated. In fact, it must be poisonous. You are definitely going to die. Thoughts of death, paralyzation and foaming from the mouth occur to you – there is no way you’ll survive and you feel so lonely. Why did you ever get yourself into this situation? In a small apartment, alone and with something so different from you encompassing the same space. You should have stayed living with your mother forever where she could kill the spiders for you.
You panic, jump up and down, reach for your phone – but then it kicks in. Survival instinct. You are a ninja – a spider-killing, change-conquering, death-defying superhero.
The spider is dead. Your hair is sticking straight up. You have goo on your shoe.
You feel elated. You spray spider-killing spray all over your apartment, you are ready for the next attack and you feel stronger than you ever have before. Nothing can take you down. Why aren’t there more spiders to kill everyday? – you think to yourself.
OK, so maybe the spider-killing metaphor went on a bit too long, but you get my point.
I’m expecting highs and lows along the way, and I’m expecting to get hit with something nasty when I least expect it, but I also know how great I will feel once it’s all conquered, my life is on a path and Chicago is where I can call home.
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