Happy Second Anniversary, Chicago

Two years ago today I packed up my stuff and moved to Chicago. I waved goodbye to my uncle as he watched from the second-floor window of his family’s house in Columbus and hit the road, the first time I’d ever made that long a drive by myself. I had left equipped with over a dozen mix CDs made by friends and family and stopped only twice: once to get gas and lunch at a KFC, and once to get lost in Gary, Indiana due to a road closure.

I spent the next two weeks living with my aunt’s mother in the suburbs, commuting via Metra to Union Station every day to essentially job hunt from Starbucks downtown rather than from a Caribou Coffee in Glenview because, well, I don’t know why. I think I just liked being downtown and trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I’d actually moved there.

I was feeling nostalgic this morning, so I re-read some blog posts from the first few weeks of living here. It made me remember how badly I wanted to be here in the first place, and how earnest I was about a big life change. I’m afraid I’m a little jaded now and maybe I take living here a little for-granted at this point, but reading these entries made me re-examine how hard, yet how emboldening, it really was to actually pick up and leave for something completely unknown. I’m so glad I did it.

Whether you read them two years ago following my journey here or you’re a Chicago friend who missed out on these, consider looking back on how scared, homesick, and completely, stupidly brave I was just two years ago.

A re-cap of my first day downtown, an unnaturally windy day in October. I got lost and was unprepared for job-hunting.

Meeting Christina. Re-reading this entry, written the day after we met, I am surprised at how correct our first impressions of each other were. Clearly we are both excellent judges of character.

My first Chicago Halloween, a.k.a., six days after I moved here. It’s so funny to read how excited I was to go to an OSU bar in Lincoln Park. I must have been extremely homesick if being near Buckeyes fans sounded endearing.

Somewhat depressing thoughts on moving, but also some hopeful ones. I’d started at Macy’s by then and had finally learned it’s okay to take yourself to a movie, especially when you know literally three people in the city in which you reside. Homesickness hit hard at this point, so it was lucky my dad came to visit the first time shortly after.

Looking back, I was almost permanently stressed out before getting my current full-time job. My aunt will remember me having a nervous breakdown in her car that January after three months of unemployment. But, even though I was terrified and living on ramen noodles, I’d do it again.

…Okay, not really. I never, ever again plan on quitting my job, moving to a new city without one, and living off savings for an unforeseeable amount of time. But I’m still glad I did it the one time. As I’ve said, if I’d thought about it too much at the time, I never would have done it. So here’s to not thinking things through.

Happy anniversary, Chicago!

Preparing for surgery #2 of 2 for 2012

It’s been a busy few weeks. I started freelancing for a couple local neighborhood papers covering a couple high schools and a general education beat, and my own site has been keeping me busy. Thanks to those of you who provided helpful Kickstarter advice and suggestions; I hope to start my campaign soon.

Although it’s not exactly about to get easier, because I am having my second ear surgery in less than three weeks.

My doctor told me a few weeks ago I’m ready for it, and I kind of have to do it now if I can, because I’ve already hit my insurance deductible. If I got it after January, I’d be buried under another heap of hospital bills.

I am leery of this experience for a lot of reasons. It’s strange because I am the one who picked a two-part surgery, and while I don’t regret it considering the alternative, I don’t think I thought enough about what it was going to mean. But then again, there was no way for me to know how hard it was going to be the first time around.

I had a psuedo-panic attack at the hospital in the minutes before I was anesthetized, and that strong, emotional reaction may have been at the root of the depressed state I was in for the days afterward. Obviously, I wasn’t going to be thrilled about much post-surgery, but there was something weirdly traumatic going on there. I am doing all that I can to avoid the same thing happening this time.

Part of the anxiety I had last time was at least partially due to not knowing which surgery I was going to wake up from, and not knowing whether or not I’d be able to hear after. Luckily, the chances of a hard decision having to be made while I’m under this time are much lower, so I hope that makes a big difference in how I feel.

The recovery was much more difficult than I had expected, so I am not sure what I can do this time around to change that. I do know that this time I will just have to accept that I can’t wear my hearing aid for a very, very long time because every time I wore it last time I set my recovery back a few steps. It’s not fair, but it’s still true. And at least if I wake up unable to taste anything this time I’ll know what happened.

My dad is coming up for my surgery this time, which I think will be better for both of us, since he can’t have felt great getting updates from afar from my roommate, and my roommate felt a little uncomfortable being in that position when my post-surgery recovery took on some complications. Luckily, she said she will stop by the hospital to spend a little time with my dad and Kevin while they wait. Even though I will be unconscious, that makes me happy.

I have to take a week off of work, which is actually more stressful than it should be. It’s been insanely busy there for weeks now, and I hate to put out my teammates like I will for that long. I guess I’ll need to buy them lunch or something when I get back. Kevin is taking Nov. 9, the day of my surgery, off and then working from home for a week to hang out with me. Dad will be here until Sunday or Monday. Last time, Kevin and I just watched guilty pleasure movies with the captions on and, well, I don’t know what else. I’ll have to ask him.

I can’t believe it’s less than three weeks from now, ughhh.