Weekend in Chicago

I’ve completely dropped the blogging ball, I know, I know. And I’ve been thinking about it lately too. I wanted to catch you all up on my trips, all three of them, before getting into what is going on right now. But then what is going on right now started going on a little too much and I stopped blogging again. I did get to post the Ireland and the Venezuela trip posts (see bellow). The only trip I’m missing here is the weekend trip I took to Chicago for a much needed apartment hunt. Actually Chicago and all it implies in my life right now (i.e. new job, new place to live, new friends) and the logistics to make all that possible have practically taken over my days and nights lately. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Let me tell you about what happened after I got back from Venezuela.

I flew back from Caracas on a Thursday and the following Friday morning I was set to fly to Chicago for an HHRR orientation session that afternoon, and then apartment hunting Saturday and Sunday. This started off roughly when I had to wait over 35 minutes for a cab to La Guardia and got into the airport a little too late to catch my flight. Fortunately, there was another flight to Chicago just an hour after this one, so they booked me on that one. I almost missed that one too, well because, for some reason I was slow that day. Although, I think the exhaustion from the back to back trips and the bug I caught in Caracas had something to do with it too.

I went directly from the airport into town, to the DePaul building. I had a quick pizza lunch, snapped some pictures because the weather was stunning and off to the orientation session I went with my carry-on in tow.
The session was quick and packed with information. The people both participating and running the session were very nice. I went away ratifying the impression I have of this university so far, “people here are awesome.”

Off to the hotel I went, to drop off my things and make some calls. My friend Roberto and his Latin Jazz band were playing at a Latin Jazz Festival that night and I wanted to go see them. Two other bands played as well and it was a very entertaining, upbeat concert, filled with a lively public. A couple of old timers set the right tone and danced the night away.

(This is Roberto on the Congas)

After the show, Roberto took me to a bar in Wicker Park. This part of town seems to attract the young and partying crowd. It was a great place to have a drink and catch up. You see, Roberto and I went to high school together in Caracas, but probably hadn’t seen each other since. Twenty years people, there was a lot of talking to be done.

I went to bed pretty late that night and was feeling the cold, or whatever it was I had, make its way and drain me a bit. But I couldn’t afford to lay in bed sick, I had apartment to see! The next day I had an appointment with a broker who had been helping me find places. He took me around to see some of the ones selected in my price range. They were terrible. Run down, ugly places. the buildings and neighborhoods weren’t bad, but the apartments themselves were really, really bad.

We decided to regroup in his office and see if we could find some more. I had started out wanting a two bedroom, because I wanted to have a guest room, an incentive for people to come visit me now that I would be living in the “middle of nowhere” (no offense Chicago, I know you are not in the middle of nowhere… it just kinda feels that way sometimes). But the two bedrooms in my price range seemed like places I wouldn’t be caught dead in, much less be living in. So we looked for one bedrooms and started getting some prettier, livable places.

The broker made some calls and set some visits and off we went again to see them. These I liked, they were very similar to where I live in now in NYC. High-rise buildings, with doormen, pools, gyms, nice amenities all around. But they were on the small side, one even seemed smaller than the place I have now and the other one had close to no closet space at all, which does not work for a non-minimalist like me.

I went back to the hotel very frustrated and worried. The broker wasn’t available on Sunday and I had seen nothing I wanted to sign on. What was I going to do? This was my “find-a-place-to-live-in” weekend. I had no plans to return to Chicago before my move, I needed a place now. But I was also starved, out of energy and feeling crappy because of the cold. I went to Chipottle, because when in doubt comfort food is my best bet.

After dinner I made a quick stop by Walgreens on my way to the hotel and stocked up on NyQuil and cough drops. I went back to my room and started desperately looking online for apartments to rent. I got some very helpful suggestions on Twitter and FB, thank you cyber friends! But since I was computer-less and only had my iPhone to navigate on, I started getting pretty frustrated, pretty quickly.

I called my sister, got her machine. Waited for my mom to call, nothing. I was about to cry, but decided, that wouldn’t do me any good, it would definitely not find me an apartment. I was tired and decided the best remedy for me was to go to bed, it would at least help the cold. Tomorrow would be another day and something surely would come up, besides all problems lessen in the morning with day light, right? Right.

I had set on Sunday to meet with the leader of my program at DePaul, for brunch. A good thing that was too because at brunch she asked how my apartment hunt was going and once I told her how frustrated I was, she whipped out her iPhone and started calling people and giving me phone numbers of people who could possibly help. A total life saver.

I went back to the hotel to make calls and more calls. I found a broker, friend of this colleague, who thought she had a place I might like. She would find out if I could see it that same day and said she would call me back. This was Sunday the 11th of July, the day of the final game of the World Cup. If you know me at all, you would know I was not about to miss this game. I had set with Roberto to meet him at Old Town Social, where he would be with some friends to see the game. So off I went to meet them there.

With my iPhone, life saver, only link to my possible future home in tow, I went to Old Town Social. Walking from the subway station to the bar though, I got a bit of a Chicago welcome, which I could have done without. I, focused on the phone and the directions it was giving me, and oblivious to my surroundings, did not notice I was walking right pass a water puddle left on the street by last night’s rain. Also oblivious was I to the truck who passed by me at full speed and completely drenched me head to toe. It all happened so fast it took me a minute or two to realize what had actually happened. It wasn’t until I felt all wet, I realized what the jackass had done. And of course, he totally did it on purpose, as the nice Mexican food vendors passing by pointed out. But I couldn’t see their license plates and now it was too late to do anything about it.

I didn’t have the time to go back to the hotel, shower and change. I would totally miss the game. So off I went to the bar, drenched in dirty rain water, wishing that truck driver all the karma he deserved and letting the whole thing go, because what else could I do than laugh it off?

The bar was packed to the gills, the game was lame, Robert and his friends were great, the broker and her coworker called me no less than ten times. So I went in and out of the bar all those times to be able to hear them on the phone, until we finally sorted everything out and settled on a time. She picked me up and took me to see the place. I loved it. You know when you walk in a place and recognize it, even though you’ve never been there before? That’s how this place felt.

I said I would rent it if they were offering it for rent. You see, the owner wanted to sell it, he hadn’t even posted it as a for rent unit yet, but he was considering renting since selling was proving to take a long time. So she would find out for me and let me know in a few days.

Of course, while viewing the apartment, Roberto texts me to say Spain finally scored the only goal of the game in the last minutes of over time. I missed it. But hey, I found a place! I went back to the bar, ate with the group of friends and finally settled in and got to chatting. They were a fun, lively crowd, in a very festive, partying mode. So off we went from the bar to a Street Fest in Old Town to listen to some music, see some street vendors and drink some margaritas.

This is where I got wet for the second time that day, because right after this picture was taken it started to rain and these guys where so into their margaritas, there was no walking away. Fortunately, this water was clean, so I was kinda glad to get the dirty one off me finally. Of course first thing on my to-do list, once I walked into my hotel room, was to take a shower. I even did better than that. I filled the tub, added some shampoo and took a very hot, very well deserved bubble bath. I slept like a baby that night, in the huge, king size, pillow top bed I had all to myself.

The broker had called me to say she just remembered another place she had I might like and we set to meet the next morning and see it before my noon flight. This place was nice too, big, newly done kitchen and bathroom, state of the art, but it had one little inconvenience, the laundry room was in a basement you could only get to walking through an open courtyard. This meant in the winter time I would have to wear a coat to do laundry… I think no is the correct answer to that suggestion.

So off I went, back to NYC, happy that I at least had options I liked, and hoping everything would work out fine at the end. Because, you know, it usually does.

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2 responses to “Weekend in Chicago

  1. I'm so glad you found some place to think about. Especially ones that felt right.

  2. I was so relieved. It was scarry to think I was running out of time and had no where to live.

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