Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Celebrities and Insects

So I kept wanting to talk about all the important things that have been happening since we got here, like my job and Sean's job, but I am just so behind that I will never catch up or get to write about anything fun. So I have decided that I will write about that later if I have time and keep you posted with the small things now when I have a minute here and there.

Yesterday I went to the City Clerk's office to get my "city sticker." I had just picked up my Illinois license plates, and before I can drive around with them, I have to have a sticker on the inside of my windshield that gives me permission to park on the streets of Chicago ($75--it's highway robbery, I tell you!!). As I turned the corner onto the street with the building that I needed, I noticed huge white trucks everywhere, no where to park, and a line all the way down the street (which is pretty normal for right now since everyone's stickers expire on July 1st). I had to park two blocks away and walk. As I passed by one of the trucks, I noticed the label of "Universal Studios" on the side. I asked a woman sitting on the street what was going on, and she informed me that they were filming a movie called "Public Enemy" with Johnny the building that I needed to go into, no less.

I had previously heard from a server in a restaurant near Sean's and my place that JD was in town and frequenting a swanky eatery a few blocks away, and here was his actual film set! I tried to act cool, but I was pretty impressed. Stuff like that just doesn't happen in the old M-N. He was not there at the time, but still. That is the closest I have come to a huge celebrity ever.

By the way, I know he wasn't there because the woman sitting in the street, eating Subway and giving me all of my information, informed me that they usually bring "Depp" in later. She commented on how long it took them to get all set up. She had been following the filming all over even to a scene shot in Wisconsin. "Oh my goodness gracious," I thought. "It is a genuine groupie!!" She seemed very proud of her wealth of information on the subject, and I stayed to listen in awe for a few minutes at the lack of a life displayed before me. At the end of the day, I did get my city sticker. Plus I have a way cooler story than most of the other people who have waited in line on other days to get theirs.

Another observation that I made this evening was about how many fireflies there are here in Chicago. Brigita and I went for a walk when I got home from work, and they were all over the place. I can't even remember the last time I saw one in Minnesota. Even if you do see them, it is usually in the country, far off in a swamp somewhere. They are all over the city here!! And there is also a shocking lack of mosquitoes. Very exciting!! The beetles and ants are huge and creepy though, but I guess a trade-off must be made.

Monday, June 16, 2008

First Days in Chicago

After our exhausting first day in the Windy City, Sean, Erin, Chris, Katrina, and I headed out to see the town. We ate brunch at Ann Sather and spent a few hours exploring the Field Museum before dropping Katrina off at the airport (Katrina's post-Chicago experiences left something to be desired, but we are really glad that she came along). Erin and Chris and Sean and I then drove down to Lincoln Park and ate sushi before coming back to Andersonville's Clark Street to explore the neighborhood where Sean and I now call home. On Monday, we drove around a little more, ate at a fabulous little Mediterranean place in Lincoln Park and then took Erin and Chris to the airport around 4 pm for their flight. 

As we drove away from them, I had a nervous feeling that we were "not in Minnesota anymore, Toto." It was an interesting sensation, knowing that you are not really on vacation and are now alone and expected to be grown-ups in a strange place. We started in with the daunting task of unpacking and cleaning. 

Ahh, cleaning... My friends, in Minnesota, you rent an apartment from a large corporation that cleans the place prior to your arrival after also forcing the previous tenants to clean in order to receive their deposit back (and after all of this I always clean again just in case). In Chicago, you rent from the owners of the place that you are living (who have never lived here), and they do not clean prior to your arrival. And in our case, the previous tenants had also not cleaned in years, if ever. We could not even scrub some of the grime off. It is forever stained. Before leaving, Erin found a pair of used surgical gloves in a kitchen drawer (gross!), and I found another pair later in a different drawer. Sean discovered used razors in the bathroom and an old license plate on top of the refrigerator. 

After some grumbling and complaining, we got down to it and cleaned the entire kitchen and bathroom (which took a considerable amount of time). Our unpacking scheme has been foiled by the dirtiness of the place, so we are still living with a few boxes around even two weeks later. We have multiple windows that still need to be cleaned (at 30-45 minutes for each one), but the place is going to be so cool when we are all done!! Staying holed up in our home, cleaning and unpacking, pretty much encompassed all of our time during that first week of being here. I looked for jobs a little, too, but that is for a different post on a different day. Here is a final picture of Sean and Brigita after a long day of work

Moving Days

For our big move, Erin and Chris flew out from Boston to help us, and we were fortunate to have tons of other help as well to load up and clean our old townhome. Sean's brothers Michael and Jamie came out and helped fill the truck, and both Sean's and my mother assisted us with the not-so-fun task of cleaning everything. 

The next day, on May 31st, bright and early at 6 am, Sean and I, along with Brigita, climbed up into the huge moving truck. Chris and Jamie drove Sean's car, and Katrina (our friend from church) and Erin (they were also college roommates) drove my car. With our most valuable breakables in the cars and everything else we owned in the 25-foot Budget truck, we headed out on I-94 to our new home. 
We arrived around 4 pm, after stopping for lunch at the Texas Roadhouse in Rockford where the servers line dance to country music every once in a while, and unloaded the truck into our condo in Chicago. After everything was in, Sean and his friend Joe, who graduated with him and happened to match into the same program as Sean (he drove over to help us unload), took the moving truck back while the rest of us tried to talk ourselves into taking cold showers (Sean and I failed the mission with setting up gas at the new place with everything else going on). After multiple small screams from behind the bathroom door, everyone was showered, tired, and ready to go. We all walked down to the "happening" Clark Street and decided on Italian food for dinner. After a delicious fare and some wonderful conversation, we all dragged our feet back home, made beds for everyone, and crashed for the night. 

Monday, June 9, 2008

Family and Friends

Before moving to Chicago, Sean and I wanted to make sure that we spent time with family and friends who mean a lot to us. We know that we aren't going to be gone forever, but we are even now not exactly sure when we will be able to make it back to Minnesota. A few weeks ago Sean received his general schedule for the first year of his residency!! As exciting as our thoughts and plans surrounding this wonderful revelation are, we found out that we will be unable to return to the Motherland (as Erin and Chris call it) for any holidays this year. This insight made us all the more determined to see our loved ones before we left. Here are some pictures of the whirlwind of visiting that we squeezed in during the last few weeks in Minnesota. 

We went "up north" to my parents' cabin over the weekend of Mother's Day to relax a little bit and hang out with my grandparents on my dad's side. My mom, dad, Sean and I played card games and chatted on Saturday night (even Brigita got in on the action), and we stuffed ourselves with brunch at my uncle's house the next day. My grandparents were able to come out and have brunch as well, and we brought my grandma a guilt-ridden cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory as her Mother's Day gift. 

The next week Sean's old friends Randy and Geneva came over for a night of grilling. Geneva is currently pregnant with their second child, and their son Ronan gave us laughs as we talked the night away. I served watermelon with the meal, and he loved it!! He kept going into the fridge to get more. Then he fell in love with Brigita's lair and would continually go in and out of her cage throughout the night. She really did not know what to think of him and tried to be wherever he wasn't for most of the evening. Sean and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time watching the interaction between the two year-old child and the three month-old puppy. The next day, Randy and Sean played with the pipe band at a Scottish fair. Neither of them had played with their former band in quite a long time, so the time together was all the more special. 

The following two weeks were a flutter of activities as, in the midst of intermittent packing, Sean bade farewell to his good friend Andy (who was also an usher in our wedding) from medical school, I had brunch at the Wayzata Pancake House with my mom (a long-time ritual of ours) and spent time with my good friends Erika and Allison, and Sean and I went to stay with Sean's grandpa and his wife. 
Sean's grandpa has lived in a small town for most of his life, and as this life usually demonstrates, everyone knows everything about everyone. Random people were congratulating Sean about graduating from medical school and asking him questions about our lives and future plans. It was pretty neat. We attended a Memorial Day ceremony while we were there, a tradition of Sean's family to attend, and visited the graveyard where Sean's relatives are buried for quite a few generations back. 

On our last full day in MN, my mom and much of Sean's family helped us load up all of our things, clean our townhouse, and get ready for the grand departure on May 31st. After we finished a long day of packing and cleaning, we all went to dinner and then to see the new Indiana Jones movie.