I cannot tell you how long I have waited to write a new post - I've missed you all so very much! Getting back to regular posts has been a challenge in the past several weeks as we moved cities, and went through quite a phase full of uncertainties, temporary addresses, and so on and so forth. For all creative endeavors, one needs a space and an atmosphere that inspires creativity, and our circumstances were such in the past month, that I could hardly concentrate on the necessary aspects of settling in! But it's so very good to be back. I have so much to share - and I won't do it all in one post, or it'll go on forever! Grab a drink, settle in, and let's you and me have a proper catch up, eh?!
First of all - important things first - I just renewed this domain name until the end of next year, yesterday afternoon. Mrinhearts.com had been mine for over a year before I started writing seriously, and I had grossly neglected it. However, the encouragement, the love, and the personal fulfillment that I've experienced in the past few months have truly been a blessing! I knew this was no time to risk losing something that's come to mean so much to me. So, yeah - even though it was expensive, we're here to stay!
Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the transition. In three words: it was tough. For us, being in a central location in Chicago was absolutely non-negotiable. Both Deep and I completely rely on public transportation, and being close to everything was crucial. Plus, I really enjoy being in the middle of all the hustle-bustle that Chicago has to offer! After looking through dozens of apartments in the Loop, Gold Coast, Streeterville, and South Loop neighborhoods, I'd pretty much given up hope. The options I was finding were all ill-suited to our needs - either cheap, old, and dinky, or swanky, gorgeous, and ridiculously expensive. Haha! So, I started looking slightly outside this zone, when out of nowhere I saw a listing for the apartment building we finally decided on. This is an old building, but it's going through a gorgeous face-lift: the price is stellar for the location, the amenities are exactly what we needed, and it was just perfection! So, we booked it, and settled on a move-in date for August 10th (the renovations meant that our apartment wouldn't be ready until two weeks after we arrived in Chicago). As luck would have it, the renovations got pushed further back due to city permits for constructions (blah, blah, blah), and our stay at my best friend's, Ewa, extended from two to three weeks. Much as we didn't like camping out at a friend's place for that long, Ewa and I are so close, and her kids are like my babies - we did manage to have a blast together! Here are some pictures from our times together in those first few weeks ...
Back to the apartment business, then. On August 16th, we decided to move into our apartment even though it wasn't renovated yet, mostly because as much as we were loving our time at Ewa's, we didn't want to stay there indefinitely. Who knows how much time these renovations would take anyway?! I should have done a before and after segment on our apartment - you could see the change from the dinky old 60s appliances, horrible carpeting, old fixtures, to the classic, modern finishes that we'll have in just a couple of weeks. Both Deep and my cousin, Rono, insisted on a before and after, but I'll be honest. That apartment depressed me to an extent that I didn't feel like even cooking in or settling into that space. It's hard to describe, actually. When so many hopes and expectations are attached to something, and you are seeing your plans getting completely jeopardized in front of your eyes, it can be quite tough to plaster that smile on your face and pretend like it's all hunky-dory. It wasn't. Anyhow, my persistence and negotiation abilities led to the fact that we only stayed in that horrid apartment for a week! It's being renovated as I write this, and we should finally be settled in by the first week of September! An awfully long time to get settled in, but I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Ha! At the moment, we're in a studio identical to how ours will be, so it feels like we're already home. I'll show you a few snippets of the neighborhood, and a tiny peek into my kitchen. Nothing is done up yet, but I was making myself breakfast this morning, and thought: "Why not?". It's amazing how much a space can inspire you to do what you love, what you know you must do.
Today is also the first day of classes for me. It's quite nerve-racking, to be honest. I've already met my future (hopefully) advisor/mentor and my lab mates for the next several months, and they're all wonderful and very welcoming. Being back to student mode after a good two and a half years will be something, and graduate school is a very different ball game to college - I could already feel a difference with the materials I've started reading through. But I'm excited at the same time. This is a major reason for the move to Chicago - a successful graduate career in a department that will hopefully be a crucible for fulfilling academic achievements for me.
So, I'll leave you with a few pictures from our neighborhood. It's truly a most beautiful little corner, tucked away just a block from the hustle-bustle of Michigan Ave. We could walk that block and step right into the best shopping district in the city, and yet, just a block the other way is the gorgeous Lake Michigan, if we feel like putting some distance between us and the city of two million. The tall black building you see in the picture is the Hancock Tower - an iconic building in Chicago's skyline - and you could say our building is kind of in the shadow of the Hancock, sitting just a block behind it.