Friday, August 14, 2009

Away I Go: Chicago

Welcome to my first of a to-be-multi-part series of posts in which I muse, fantasize about, rip on, and hopefully help myself decide upon which of the potential cities in which I'm applying to grad school (in one short year!) should be my new home. I have about six in mind as of right now and have already researched and selected schools in them. It's a huge decision because, although in the end I may just end up packing up and moving along to whichever city the best school to which I'm accepted is located, I know that I need to find a city with an energy that makes me feel at home. After all, it is for the next four-to-six years, or possibly for the rest of my life. The first city up: Chicago.

I've got to admit, a small part of Record Campus Athletics Editor Michelle has always wanted to pack up, move to Wrigleyville, and spend my days freelance writing and one day editing sports articles while living in a fantastic apartment and going out to meet my sports-oriented guy friends for drinks after work. Okay, well that's actually the synopsis of the TBS show My Boys, but you've got to admit that the fictional P.J. has the life that non-fictional me wants! She's cute, funny, self-assured, has an enviable job at the Chicago Sun Times, and lives in a great neighborhood with great friends. What else could anyone want?

It's funny that the sports-lover in me feels that Chicago is the place to be to pursue that interest, considering the biggest con of moving there would be that it's the home of two of the most insuffrable sports franchises in existance: the Cubs and the Bears.
I'm not as big on baseball as I am football, but since L. was born and raised in neighboring St. Louis, MO and took me to my first MLB game at Busch Stadium, home of his (and now my!) Cardinals, I've learned a thing or two. #1, for example: C.U.B.S.= Come Undone By September. It could be a travesty to move to the city that houses the two main rivals to my teams (the Green Bay Packers are my NFL, in case you couldn't tell from the Bears animosity). On the other hand, it could be great fun. I'd get to see my teams play often, and I'd get to be the dissenting Chicago-ian (Chicagoite? I should learn this) rooting for my team at Wrigley Field and Soldier Field. This seems like a silver lining if I've ever seen one. And the Cardinals-Cubs rivalry is just so much more easygoing and amusing than, say, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry of my native Boston suburbs. I don't know if I could handle that for another 4-6 years, as New York and Boston are up-and-coming potential cities to be profiled.

One foreseeable flaw of living in the Windy City would be the landlocked claustrophobia that very well could result of someone who grew up bi-coastally and has never lived more than 30 miles from the ocean. I don't even really like the beach that much; I enjoy the beach at dusk in summer or a fall afternoon, but I really dislike the crowded, hot, miserable experience that is the beach mid-day at the peak of summer. Would I miss it that much? I'm definitely an options person; that is, even if I don't think I'll do, use, want, need, etc. something, I don't like when it gets taken off the table, either. When L. and I stayed in St. Louis for a week at the beginning of the summer, it was my first time in the midwest and I definitely felt the difference of not living near an ocean, in the sedentary humidity. But I don't think it would be a dealbreaker.

A really attractive aspect of Chicago is the nightlife, and the hip vibe I get from it. I feel like it's so much more cool than other cities! While other cities can seem either grimy or, on the other-hand, infested with young professionals and I-Bankers, Chicago seems to have that perfect mix of history and modernity. My Chicago-obsession may have started with the 2004 movie Wicker Park, which is not only one of the most suspenseful and touching (you never get those together!) movies I've ever seen, but also has a cinematography that gives Chicago a lot of credit. The real Wicker Park, located in West Town, is apparently the place to be if you're young and like music, art, and nightlife. And for someone who loves hot dogs as much as I do, it seems like Chicago would be the place to get them. Although, apparently "true Chicagoans [yes!] never put ketchup on a hot dog." Uh-oh.Another drawback: snow. I'm so over snow. After the 11-day-power-outage of last Christmas and my subsequent departure to Santa Barbara, I decided as soon as I graduated Williams I was off to a city where snow would never find me. Snow is okay for the three or four times a year I go snowboarding, and that one magical ice-skating, hot-chocolate-drinking, nose-nipping night. Otherwise, it's hazardous, cold, and infringes on my fashion choices. But it is pretty at Christmas. And as much as I hate it, I don't remember a time in my [semi-recent] life where I didn't live in it four months of the year. Does the end of fall even feel the same without that winter air coming in?

Other alluring tidbits:
Chicago may be hosting the 2016 Olympics! And I would be there for it!
The Magnificent Mile. Need I say more?
Hyde Park
Coast of Lake Michigan

Any Chicagoans want to contribute thoughts/persuasive arguments/insider tips?

[Images from PlaneBuzz, Desination 360, Skyline Pictures]

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