Windy Spasms in a Windy City

Wow, I’ve not blogged in nearly a week as I’ve had so much on my plate. Things are now calming down, although I fear that is before the storm… I lie, I don’t fear it at all, it is extremely exciting, and the fever of anticipation is a welcome itch after the past week where the majority of fever was of trepidation.

The past week for me can be split into two manic parts. The first part was the “driving towards a cliff in a car with no brakes” part where I was trying to undo my seat belt in order to jump out before it went over; the second was more the “leap from the cliff” part, safe in the knowledge that I can handle the parachute.

That first part was deeply unpleasant for me. I have spent quite a long time recently, having my paperwork build up to the point that just looking at it was giving me panic attacks. I consider this quite pathetic, however the feelings are very real. Hyperventilation and a sense of doom, like a rabbit caught in the headlights of the modern world. The rabbit is quite a good simile as rabbits are crap at paperwork too.

I am now in Chicago, and will be here for the next three months. The preparation for this trip was a phenomenal opportunity to spring clean my life, and one I took advantage of. I rented out my room in Battersea, thereby giving me some more cash resources to play with and also forcing me to clear the place out. I also cleared out the rest of the house at the same time, not entirely, but enough for it to have felt like a full on house move. I hadn’t realised either that I’d accumulated so much crap, or that moving house was such damned hard work. More interesting will be when I get home and finding that I don’t unpack most of it as I no longer need it.

The whole process also took a lot longer than I had been expecting. I spent Sunday night clearing things out until 6 in the morning, thinking that I would break the back of the main job. After a couple of hours sleep, I started again, hoping I’d be able to leave the house at 5pm to go home for supper in the countryside. That target proved wildly ambitious, I finally got home at 4am the following morning. At least the dogs were pleased to see me.

The following day I did my paperwork, interestingly a very easy job – interestingly because normally I struggle with it, the only thing that had changed was the environment. In future, I will have to try that again!

That night we had a delicious wild sea trout for supper, several glasses of wine and some good chat. The taxi was due to pick me up at 3.30 the following morning, so naturally I waited to go to bed until midnight. On 9 hours sleep over 3 nights, this could so easily have been my way of sleeping on the plane and avoiding jet lag. It wasn’t to be.

I arrived at the airport before the United Airlines desk had even opened, and I am an impatient queuer. My bag weighed a tonne. Well it in fact turned out to weigh 25kg, but the lady let me through rather than having to attempt to wear half my wardrobe onto the plane with me – and at £100 per kilo extra, that is most certainly what I would have done.

The flight was due to be so rammed that there was no seating allocation, we were just going to suck it and see, but when I got on I found that I was in luck, I had emergency exit seats, the flight would not be unpleasant. Maybe I could even sleep. However, the lady sat next to me was a fascinating speech and language therapist, so for the following 8 hours we chatted about everything under the sun. Sleep is for when you are dead…

Chicago arrival was another queue, but once through that, I picked up my bags and headed towards the train to take me into the city. The heat of the place was stifling, very humid, and I could feel the sweat starting to bead. I had a substantial walk to get to the train, and together with my hand luggage I must have been carrying around 35kg. I’d dressed smartly for the trip, but this was no longer the best clothing for the environment.

The train into town was a simple and easy affair. Almost everyone was normal. Apart from one bloke who was talking to himself in a loud voice. No one else was talking to him though, so fair play to him, if you want a conversation, why not chat to someone who agrees with you. I transferred myself to the bus and headed to where I would meet my new landlord.

Looking out of the bus window, the architecture in Chicago is interesting and varied to look as. What is nice is that many of the buildings are of different ages to each other, so that there is variety in what you see. There are also the massive posters of self proclamation, such as one covering the side of a Paediatrician’s surgery shouting out at the world that she was “the best”, or another of an 18ft man with a cheesy grin inviting all and sundry to come in for a chat.

I arrived, was met, and walked to my new abode for the next couple of months. I hope that it will in fact be for the full time I’m here, that would make life much easier.

The street with the house on is pleasant, with trees growing on the grassy verge between road and pavement. With steps leading up to a wooden veranda, the house looks as I imagined an American house would look, and inside, thank god for air-conditioning. Sat with her boyfriend on a sofa, I met one of the girls who lives here.

Hillary is a very pretty 25 year old blonde girl, quite Germanic looking. And with fantastic legs. She may read this. But she does. She works in the Sears Tower, one of Chicago’s main landmarks, and also does improv. The other lovely girl, Amy, who’s extremely bubbly, also does improv, and Mel, who’s room I have taken, not only does improv, but will also be one of my teachers while I am here. This is the right place to be staying.

The house is spacious and has a comfortable layout, with a decent kitchen with a typical enormous fridge, and a powerful shower in the bathroom. The room itself is quite bare, with a comfortable bed and a desk, and air conditioning. Everything I need, I am but a simple boy!

After unpacking, I caught a couple of hours sleep, then headed into town. Mike, the landlord had pointed me in the direction of the shops I needed, and my first purchase was a second hand bike. I am now mobile, in a city that seems very flat, so an easy cycle around. My trip out here is going to be huge fun, I already feel settled.

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