Half of my problems are solved

I know it’s soon, but I’ve met someone, you guys — and she’s fantastic. (Aaand that’s how you get record blog hits for the month of October. That, and picking up your mess of a life for all the world to see, moving it to unfamiliar territory and promptly whining about how hard it is).

Last night, after my now standard six-to-eight hour shift of bumming Starbucks wifi and job hunting, I met up with a woman who’d replied to me via Craigslist about a room in her home she’s renting. She asked that we meet up somewhere in public before I see the place, and I agreed. She gave me an address for a bar called Tuman’s and we met up around 4:30. I can’t tell you why, but I liked her right away. She figured out within minutes that, a, I had only been in town for a few days, b, I was unemployed but stupidly optimistic, and c, had no clue where I was.

She was very easy to talk to. She has a glowing sense of humor, admittedly sardonic at times, and full of wit. And when she asked why I decided to move to Chicago, I hesitated, but ended up telling her about breaking up with Brandon and basically going against everything I thought I knew about my life. It turns out she is going through kind of a rough time right now too, so we could really relate to each other on that level. Before long, we were talking about growing up in small towns, getting out of said small towns, our oldest friends, music, even our dead parents.

She told me she had been reluctant to email me back about the place because I am a few years younger than she is. “But it’s weird, even though you’re 24, you don’t annoy me at all,” she said. I thanked her. I told her even if I didn’t end up living at her house, I was really glad I met her.

We ended up talking for three hours last night, and we are meeting up again tonight. I get to see the house (and Roscoe Village, yay!) and meet her other roommate and some of her friends. It turns out she knows a couple people in both TV/film and public relations, which is random and awesome.

We really hit it off, and she ended up offering me the vacant spot. I think I’ll be moving there soon, which is a crazy relief and something I am really pumped about. I have an appointment Saturday morning to see a house with that middle-aged couple, but I am thinking about canceling. If I already know I want to live elsewhere, it’s probably a waste of their time.

Tomorrow night, I am going to an OSU bar with Liz, a mutual friend of Eileen and me. She lives and works in Evanston, but she told me about this bar months ago. I must be just homesick enough that this sounds like a great idea. I guess enough people have migrated from Columbus to here, and you can go there on game days and it’s just like Lane Avenue. This is ironic on many levels, since I never once went to Lane Avenue on game day when I lived blocks away, and now here I am acting like an OSU bar is some kind of home away from home. It should be fun, though.

Anyway, I’ve got agonizing job applications to fill out. But things is looking up.

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Less exploring. More screen time.

Today has been a million times better than yesterday. I stopped by some places on State Street and instead of being discouraged by the now typical “apply online” routine, I dealt with it and sat in a Starbucks for several hours. I have applied at many jobs at Macy’s, Old Navy and Gap and one hotel. The new Trump hotel has a very, very easy application process, to its credit. Mariott, however, does not. I have yet to pick back up last night’s browser-crashing application.

Macy’s is already partially decorated for Christmas. I think it would be nice to work at a place where it is Christmas time for a quarter of the year. Or at least, it would be nice to be a seasonal worker during that time.

Update: I’ve already been rejected for one of the Macy’s jobs! Let the tallying begin.

I e-mailed some people my uncle knows in the area as well as the man who interviewed me for the TV job last month. While he didn’t hire me, he told me to look him up once I was living in the city and settled to see if there was an opening at that time. That time is now, so we’ll see. That TV show’s supposed to start in a little over two weeks, and I doubt there’s an opening, but we’ll see. He seemed like a really interesting person.

I have an apt. appt. Saturday morning for a room in a Roscoe Village house owned by a middle-aged couple who has a couple rooms they like to rent out. It sounds like people who have stayed in the past are usually only there for a few months for various reasons, whether they’re foreign exchange students, people working temporary jobs in Chicago and don’t want to move permanently, etc. Best of all, the woman I spoke to didn’t run away when I said I’d been in town two days and don’t have a job.

Yesterday was a bit of a hurdle, but also I was feeling pitiful and sorry for myself. So, even though it’s over and done, here are some good things about yesterday:

  • It wasn’t raining.
  • I saw a group of filmmakers shooting something elaborate looking by the river. “Transformers 3”? I doubt it. But still.
  • I did not get run over by a bus.
  • Two people asked me for directions. Too bad for them I was utterly useless, but at least I looked like a native?
  • I discovered I like Einstein Bros. Bagels and there are lots of those here.

Discouraging Day 1

I went to the city this morning to apply for jobs; the apartment guy never e-mailed me back, so that got cancelled, and the businesses I stopped in to fill out an application all told me to apply online. I didn’t bring my laptop, so I wasn’t making the best of my time just walking around Chicago being told to visit corporate websites. I got lost for nearly an hour trying to find Union Station, but that was mostly my own fault because I was feeling cranky and almost looking for things to go wrong at that point. The weather was supposed to be horrific, but it was only freakishly windy. I know what you are thinking, it’s Chicago, it’s supposed to be windy, but trust me, the news was saying it was windier than it had been in years. I heard our weird weather led to a crazy storm across Ohio.

When I got back to Glenview around 2 I went over to the coffee shop to job hunt. I spent a long time applying to a hotel web site and my browser crashed. So then I spent another hour applying for a slew of jobs at CVS Pharmacy, which was successful, but only so much because I have no retail experience.

I am feeling really bad about myself, unproductive, freaked out and wondering when the rest of the money from my old job is going to come in because at this rate, I’ll be applying for maybe three or four jobs a day with hour-long, intensive applications.

Poop.

Just poop.

Tomorrow’s got to be loads better because today has blown. Literally and figuartively.

On the plus side:

Maria Taylor, “Clean Getaway”

I made my place by the door.
I didn’t know what I was waiting for.
Felt just like home.
Except no grass, no yard, no pictures on the wall.

I could see across to the park.
And there were friends, they were laughing hard.
They looked just like my own.
With no face, no name, no voice I’d know.

I finally made it.
I made a clean getaway.
I finally made it.
I made a clean getaway.

I met someone at the bar.
He had a great smile and a great heart.
He felt just like love.
Except no fear of losing, and it wasn’t tough.

I finally made it.
I made a clean getaway.
I finally made it.
I made a clean getaway.
And I miss you,
I miss you every single day.

Musical Mystery Tour

I got to my aunt’s mom’s house safely earlier today. I lucked out in a big way; I have the upstairs of her home to myself, my own bathroom and cable in the room. As my aunt said, it’s probably the best living accommodations I’ve had all year. But it still means I am essentially a hobo. I am feeling pretty blessed and, for the moment, too comfortable to be scared to death by what I’ve done. I’m now at a Caribou in the neighborhood, emailing to confirm a time to see a Roscoe Village apartment tomorrow and looking at the latest job listings.

On my drive up I listened to seven of my nearly a dozen CDs, all of which were different from the next and equally amazing. Each one really took me by surprise in its own way, and I loved them all. A few people commented when they gave me their contribution that making me a mix had been harder than they thought it would be; some told me they spent a really long time on their choices and I think their efforts really showed. The mixes are thoughtful, poignant, emotional, humorous, diverse.

In the order I listened to them:

My best friend’s mother, Lorie, has known me since I was six and joked that she was just going to make me a mix of Rod Stewart songs since we used to tease her about her high school obsession with “The Bod”. While she did include some of his, she also picked a wide variety of 80s power ballads and a couple songs I could tell reminded her of me when she heard them. For example, her inclusion of “Imagine” leads me to believe she recalls MY high school obsession with John Lennon.

Dennis and I are on a pretty similar musical wave length and he always has some band I have heard a little of but not enough, and he’s willing to share. He unintentionally put a couple really sad songs back to back and told me if I wasn’t sobbing by the end of the second I had no heart, ha. He was right, they were extremely sad.

My friend Rebekah’s was a complete shock because I had no idea what kind of music she liked, which turns out to be everything; she certainly wins the prize for most eclectic, including a country song, the Indigo Girls, “Float On” by Modest Mouse, that theme song from “Dirty Dancing” and much more. Hers also had a gem I instantly fell in love with: “The Guy That Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind,” by Griffin House. Find it! Listen to it. Love it.

Christina’s was a surprise in the emotion it evoked; when I read the track list I remember thinking it would be a fun, girl-oriented mix, ranging from childhood revered Disney songs to favorite selections from Glee. However, a song from Wicked had me in tears as I thought about our friendship as if we were the ones singing “Defying Gravity”. Granted, this scenario made me the Wicked Witch of the West, but it was endearing all the same. Crying at the end, I had to laugh out loud when it was followed immediately by the Spice Girls.

My brother Owen’s was a collection of songs about travel, being on the road and on your own (“like a rolling stone”), and mostly classic rock. He mixed it up with a couple voice tracks, including his intro choice: “Some Words From the Bride,” the famous monologue from “Kill Bill”. Listening to it, I knew he wishes me the best and he hopes I find what I am looking for in Chicago. It was really nice. Owen also designed a piece of art for me, a poster for “The Royal Tenenbaums,” one of my favorite movies he introduced me to. I had to leave it in Columbus because I was afraid it would get damaged, but I can’t wait to display it.

Stacey’s mix was a collection of songs I knew, but didn’t know I knew, which is awesome. She also put a few techno songs on there that I ended up liking. She and I both like Regina Spektor a bunch so she included a couple of hers and some by similar artists.

The last one I listened to was a CD by a band called Ratatat that my friend Brad gave me while I was home in Caldwell. They are pretty awesome and I would definitely say they are a band I never would have heard of otherwise. Additionally, he gave me a CD by an artist name Jay May, who also kind of fits in the Regina Spektor type category, but stands out on her own with her lyrics and a common theme throughout the CD. I love me a good concept album now and then.

Listening to these mixes made the trip absolutely fly by and I am so happy so many people contributed to this. I made the request on a whim and the results were better than I would have ever expected. My friends have pretty awesome taste in music and I appreciate them giving me new stuff I hadn’t heard before. I’ll always think of them when I hear it again, and that’s one of the most incredible things about music: its ability to take us back, or to invoke some kind of memory, whether it’s a specific moment or a vague feeling. There’s nothing like it and I welcome it.

Thanks to everyone who gave me a CD and if you didn’t, don’t feel bad. I still have plenty to listen to that I didn’t have time to get to today.

It’s not you, it’s me

Dear Columbus,

We have to talk. Don’t get me wrong, the last three years have been great. We’ve shared some good times and some even better food. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Northstar Cafe! Anyway. The thing is, I think I should be seeing other cities. There’s somewhere else: Chicago. Now I know what you’re thinking — so maybe it’s the third biggest city in the country instead of #16, but trust me, it’s not stuck up about it. It’s cool. Really cool. Freezing, actually.

You’re going to be fine without me; there will be other unemployed journalism majors! Lots of them, probably. You’ll find someone else to explore Clintonville and the Short North, and try out all the OSU campus pizza places. I’ll never forget all the times we had together, or the baked goods from Mozart’s. And tomorrow morning before I leave you, I’m stopping at Spinelli’s on my way out the door.

I’m not sure how much I’ll miss OSU game days. I’m sure you understand. And if it’s any consolation, I am told Chicago has zero good college teams.

I still love you like a mid-sized city in the midwest. And don’t worry, we’ll always have Surly Girl. Hugs,

-Meryl

No good at goodbyes

This week I’m saying goodbye to people I love in Caldwell and Columbus, and it’s not been easy. I pretty much got to see most of the people I’d hoped, and this past week was amazing. I’m a little scared, but I’m also feeling really supported and lifted up by all the people I’ve been lucky enough to know during my life so far in Ohio.

I suspect an entire movie could be made about what has happened and been said to me in the last week, but I have to keep telling myself the adventure is just getting started. The warm feelings for my hometown I’d been writing about continued, if not increased, as the week went on. And maybe I’m just on a southeastern Ohio high (a common affliction, I’m sure), but I’ve found myself thinking that once all this Chicago business is done, maybe Caldwell wouldn’t be such a bad place to settle down. I can hear my Columbus friends and family dropping their jaws in horror. Anyway, it would really depend on what kind of job prospects I’d find and that is yet to be determined by how I spend my time in Chicago. A lot of decisions depend on events that haven’t taken place yet, which I guess is true of anyone else’s life.

All I know is, Caldwell is not a normal town. When you make friends there, you make friends for life, whether you like it or not. I still see my three closest friends from school on a regular basis, and even though that won’t be the case for the foreseeable future, I know I’ll still be in touch with them. I’ll always care about what’s going on in their lives, their children and their marriages, their dreams for the future. My dad has always had a knack for keeping in touch with old friends from grade school, and I remember thinking as a kid I hoped I’d be so lucky. I’m not sure if that’s an inherited trait or a learned practice, but in any event, I think my wish came true on that one.

This is the cheesiest post I’ve had in a long while. But since I’m moving out of the state for the first time in my life, I hope you’ll forgive a little excessive nostalgia.

Blogging from the home of the golden arches

So far today, I’ve gone through boxes, applied for a few new video production jobs and e-mailed a handful of potential new Roscoe Village roommates. I’ve made an office out of Caldwell’s one wifi hot spot (to my knowledge): McDonald’s. I feel like a mooch, getting a medium coffee and sitting in the same booth for a couple hours, but what can I do?

I’ve got to see a lot of people this week, including an old high school friend who now lives in Zanesville and works at a TV station, and another high school buddy who is now on his way to becoming a physician’s assistant. It’s great to catch up with people and it occurs to me not everyone still has this kind of network with people they went to school with more than six years after graduation. Maybe Caldwell High School did us more favors than I suspected?

It’s funny I spent my whole life trying to get out of this town and now that I’m leaving the state, I’m feeling all mushy and doe-eyed about the place.

I stopped by a hotel I used to work at and asked for my old boss, the head of housekeeping. She’s not there anymore, but the assistant general manager agreed to give me a reference for when I start applying at hotels. She also suggested I check out job listings on hotels.com and see if there are any marketing gigs open, which sure hadn’t occured to me. I am not sure how I feel about marketing or if I am qualified for the field, but I am in no position to be picky.

Tomorrow my dad and I are going to visit my grandpa and attend a meeting of my dad’s writers’ group. On Friday I might be going to get more stuff from Columbus, but I also really want to spend time with Caldwell folks. Saturday’s my going away party, and I’m staying Sunday night at my aunt’s before heading out. FOREVER. Just kidding.

I’ll be back.

A week back in Caldwell

I’ve been unemployed for all of two days and I’m already losing track of what day of the week it is. Today I got to go to my best friend Brittany’s daughter’s second birthday party, which I sure wouldn’t have normally been able to do on a Tuesday night. It’s Tuesday, right? Everyone around here is happy I’m here for the week but they are also sad I’m leaving the state Monday.

Being in Caldwell has been pretty great; I never really thought of it like this before, but it’s a little like the fictional Connecticut town Stars Hallow in “Gilmore Girls”. The town’s one mechanic this morning knew I was “Gary’s daughter” and a bank I went to to make a donation to a local woman with cancer knew all about how the benefactor’s family was doing. Facebook is also making the impending separation easier for a lot of people, myself included, which is kind of nice.

I’ve thought about this before, and if one of my Columbus friends could see our local grocery store (one of two in Noble County) they’d think we were nuts. It has this whole back area that is a mishmash of products for sale, from mailing supplies and batteries to helium-filled birthday balloons and wedding decorations. They also have a bigger scrapbooking section than any Walmart or Target, which was helpful when I was in high school. Food Center has a surprisingly wide selection of movie rentals, including most indie flicks that never come near theaters in the tri-county area. As a result, most Caldwellians have a wide range of movie viewing habits. They may not have liked them, but by God they saw them.

Brittany and her husband are throwing a going away party for me Saturday. I can’t wait to see everyone, even if we know it’ll be the last time for a while. I’m feeling really nostalgic already, so leaving is going to be tough.

Meryl’s Chicago Playlist

This is the playlist I made for my friends who burned me mix CDs for my trip. It’s the songs I’ve been listening to now as I get ready for this big step. It’s full of songs about heart break but also about new beginnings and starting over, moving on. The CDs keep coming in and I now am sure I have more music to listen to than I have hours on the road to Chicago. A dilemma! But rest assured, all will be listened to, over and over.

The thing I love about these mix CDs is that almost all of them are comprised of half songs I already know and half I’ve never heard of. Which is about all I could hope for. I like the familiarity of the song choices, but I like the “new to me” quality of some of them, as well.

  1. “Chicago,” Sufjan Stevens
  2. “Fresh Feeling,” the Eels
  3. “Clean Getaway,” Maria Taylor
  4. “For No One,” the Beatles
  5. “Unwritten,” Natasha Bedingfield
  6. “Motorcycle Drive By,” Third Eye Blind
  7. “Boston,” Augustana
  8. “Homesick,” Kings of Convenience
  9. “One Fast Move Or I’m Gone,” Ben Gibbard & Jay Farrar
  10. “Your Next Bold Move,” Ani DiFranco
  11. “Welcome Home,” Radical Face
  12. “Pictures of Success,” Rilo Kiley
  13. “Come Downstairs and Say Hello,” Guster
  14. “Brothers on a Hotel Bed,” Death Cab for Cutie
  15. “America,” Simon & Garfunkel
  16. “Can’t Go Back Now,” the Weepies
  17. “Long Time Traveler,” the Wailin’ Jennies
  18. “Across the Universe,” Rufus Wainwright