Life as a Twenty-Something in San Francisco

30 Jul

My Life as a Twenty-Something summer series ends today back in San Francisco. Thank you for following along all summer and sharing your thoughts!

Sarah, a friend I met through my studying abroad program, moved here last summer from Boston for a job. It’s been such a trip and blast having her in my everyday life again after not thinking that’d be the case again after we parted ways in Sydney five years ago. What a treat! Here’s Sarah’s post on settling into her new city — San Francisco! life-as-a-twenty-something-in-sf.png I had no plans to move to San Francisco. I lived in Boston, working a deadend job, applying to new positions in Boston, but also applying to jobs in other cities. Somewhere along the line of applications, I had gotten in touch with my old coworker who had moved to the Bay Area. She told me there was an opening at the company she worked at that I would be qualified for, and that if I was interested, she would put in a good word.

As one who never shies away from at least TRYING, I sent over my resume and materials and got an interview soon after. A phone interview turned into a few Skype interviews, and before I knew it I had a job offer to move to San Francisco. Somewhere during the application process, I called Kate to tell her I was interviewing. I think we both sincerely thought it was too good to be true. (I was careful not to get too excited but had my fingers crossed! – K) I had applied to (and gotten rejected from) a lot of jobs. Were they really going to hire me all the way from Boston?

As I said: my goal was never to move to San Francisco; it just happened. The first and best job opportunity I considered was here – so I came. In fact, I hadn’t been to this fine city until I stepped off the plane and called it home. What brought me here will probably be the thing that keeps me here: the job opportunities. There are so many companies doing big things based in the Bay Area – including the one I work for now. I’m not saying these companies don’t exist in other places – but the tech scene I know and love thrives here more than any other place I’ve ever been. the office

The view from my office. Ironically, (since we work for the same company) it’s the San Francisco version of Meg’s view in NYC.

Though Boston was the original Melting pot, I think of San Francisco as the Melting Pot of the current era. One story I like to tell is how, as an avid sports fan, I venture out at 10 a.m. on Sundays by myself during the fall to watch Patriots games. I don’t go to one of the New England bars (though I could), but instead go to one of the few hole in the walls in my neighborhood that play every game. The first time I found this, I thought it was just because the 49ers weren’t on yet, but indeed, there are a lot of bars that play more than one game at once. I’ve never been to a bar in Boston that played anything but the Patriots if they were on.

Another one of the big benefits of living in SF are the other young professionals that are here. As Steph previously said, Boston is full of college kids. In San Francisco, it is a beautiful thing to go to a bar in any neighborhood and know that the guys I’m talking to have graduated from college. But the best part of living in San Francisco as a native New Englander is the weather. If you have never experienced it, God bless you, but seasonal winter depression is a very real thing. In winter states, from November to February, you don’t go out, you get pale, and you probably gain some weight because you don’t want to don your snow pants just to make it to the gym. While there are certainly times I miss that weather, my jaunts to the park all winter long have me saying otherwise. Marina in January

A walk through the Marina in JANUARY.

Speaking of jaunts to the park, my most treasured San Francisco thing to do is called Off the Grid — a touring army of delicious food trucks — that stops Sunday afternoons not too far from my apartment. The best way to describe it is a picnic where you can buy any type of food that you want and legally have an open container of booze. I try to dedicate a few hours every Sunday when I’m around to walk over and plop myself on my park blanket for some sunshine and some fried chicken or a taco. Often I’ll go alone with my book and a few beers, or I’ll text a few people to see if they want to come by. It’s tucked into a section of town called the Presidio so you feel like you’ve turned the corner on some secret surprise party that you are actually cool enough to go to. off the grid

Fried chicken and macaroni salad

There are many, many other things I have found in SF to be lovable: Karl the fog, the proximity to Napa, hikes urban and otherwise, not to mention the awesome food and sights to see. I’m happy to be in San Francisco for the time being – and I think it’s pretty happy to have me.

I am so glad you’re here, Sarah! Stay forever!

That wraps the Life as a Twenty-Something series. Over the last 10 weeks we’ve covered Los Angeles (part 1 and part 2), D.C., New York (part 1 and part 2), Boston, Austin, Chicago, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco. Thank you to Taylor, Michelle, Becca, Steph, Jorie, Veronica, Caitlin, Meg, Sophie and Sarah for taking the time to reflect on your awesome lives and show us around. You all are dolls.

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 Sarah and me making an “SF” sparkler gram on the Fourth of July.

Life as a Twenty-Something in Santa Barbara

23 Jul

I am so excited to have Sophie here today sharing her story of life as a twenty-something in Santa Barbara as a new mom. Sophie and I met through a mutual friend and hit it off right away soon before I moved to Santa Barbara four years ago. She was my first friend after I moved there, and we’ve been dear friends ever since. In that time, she also met her darling husband, and they recently made a darling baby. But I’ll let her get into that in her own words. Here’s Sophie’s story on life as a twenty-something in Santa Barbara.

santa-barbara

I am lucky enough to be able to say that I was born and raised here in sunny Santa Barbara. I am actually a 4th generation Santa Barbarian. My maternal grandmother’s family settled here and owned a lemon orchard in the 1920s.

Growing up here was wonderful but I never really appreciated it until I left for college. I only moved a few hours away to Orange County (where I attended UC Irvine) but there I realized pretty quickly that I definitely took SB for granted…so it was no surprise to me or my family that I moved back the second I finished my last college final. Literally I finished my last final packed up my car and drove home to SB never looking back!

Later that year I met my future husband, Alex, also a local, who grew up in the Santa Ynez valley. We met at a music venue in town, and a few nights later Kate was my wing woman as we ventured to the bar where he worked and put in some face time. :) Whatever I did worked and we got married a year later in Alex’s parents backyard on New Years Eve!

I knew I always wanted to settle down close to my family and I am fortunate enough to have them just a few miles away.

Enjoying Santa Barbara as a young couple was very fun, going to concerts at the Santa Barbara Bowl, wine tasting in the funk zone, late nights dancing in the windows of bars on State Street, and being able to jump in the car for a quick road trip to any beach city along the California coast.

Alex and I both really wanted to start a family, so the real exciting news came August of last year when we found out we were expecting a baby boy! After 9 months of growing a huge baby (and belly) we welcomed Emmitt Joseph Jones on April 27, 2014.

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24 hours later…

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It’s true what people say about not remembering what life was like before having a baby…but in a good way. It’s been such an exciting and exhausting time that you really do forget what the previous week or even day was like.

Alex works for Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. as the Sales Manager and I am blessed to currently be a stay-at-home mom. I will start nursing school fall of next year at Santa Barbara City College.

Our days begin between 7 and 8 a.m. when Emmitt wakes up. He is happiest in the morning. He eats, hangs out with us for an hour and then naps. We follow this pattern over and over all day until its 7 p.m. bath time and bed. Sad truth is I am still getting in bed not far behind him to keep up on my sleep, but I think as he gets older it will be easier.

Kate visited just two weeks ago and can testify that all Emmitt does is eat, poop and sleep!

Kate-and-emmitt

During the day, my mom usually comes over to hang out and some of our favorite places to venture are restaurants — namely the Savoy Deli and Crushcakes Cafe. I highly recommend both if you’re here for a visit.

Taking long walks are also on the agenda most days, just to get out of the house and get some fresh air. We live really close to the beach/harbor area of Santa Barbara so we have awesome views.

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My sister in law (Alex’s sister) also just had a baby 5 weeks after me so we spend a lot of time at their house letting the baby cousins hang out!

cousins harper-emmitt

Summer has also brought all the fun local activities. On Thursdays if everyone is in a good mood, we venture to Chase Palm Park for concerts in the park, where there’s live music and a grass field full of families picnicking and dancing to a Beatles cover band or something along those lines. It’s the perfect place to take Emmitt because he can’t run around yet and if he’s crying no one can hear because of the music. ;) The adults get to sit and chat, drink beers and feel like the normal “party animals” that we are.

Concerts-in-the-parkAlthough life has changed quite a bit with a baby, I wouldn’t change it for the world! It is truly all I have ever wanted, and I am just trying to soak up every day (good and bad).

 

Let me testify to how sweet of a baby Sophie and Alex made. Emmitt is absolutely the most engaged and content 3–month-old I’ve ever known. I couldn’t be happier for you, Soph! Thank you for finding the time between feedings and naps to write this post (and for answering all my invasive birth and motherhood questions without hesitation). You’re already the super mom I always knew you’d be. xo

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Sophie and me on my 23rd birthday in Santa Barbara. 

Life as a Twenty-Something in L.A., Part 2

16 Jul

You still with me? I hope so, because my friend and name twin Caitlin is here today to tell us about her experience moving to L.A. post college as part of my Life as a Twenty-Something series. Caitlin and I have a long history of being neighbors that started in the dorms, extended to our study abroad semester in Sydney and continued post-college when we both moved to Southern California. Like my sister, Caitlin set up shop in Santa Monica, where the weather is always fine, the food and shopping extensive, and the views and sunsets gorgeous and constant. I miss being able to drive the 90 minutes from my house to hers, but I don’t complain since we’re still in the same state and that’s more than I can say for the majority of my college friends. Here’s Cait’s story on life as an Angelino.

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Los Angeles Caitlin

Santa Monica in January. Suck it, East Coast. 

Much like Taylor, I never thought I would live in Los Angeles. To me, L.A. was just a collection of freeways with some houses shoved in between. So how did I get here? (spoiler alert: a boy was involved).

Los Angeles Caitlin
Bryan is a native Angeleno who was set on moving back to his hometown once I was done at Boston University. Luckily for him, I had procrastinated my job search so I had no post-grad plans. L.A. it was!

My Neighborhood

As soon as I visited Santa Monica I remember thinking “please let it be affordable.” I had to live there. Almost 4 years later I am still living in Santa Monica and loving it. My weekday life is pretty standard – drive to work, go to the gym, eat dinner, watch tv, repeat. But my weekends are like mini vacations filled with beachtime and friends. Since the weather is consistently awesome, these beach trips are year round. (I think the first year I moved here I went to the beach at least one time every single month.)
Los Angeles Caitlin

Lifestyle

I would describe the lifestyle of a Santa Monican is active/laidback. I joke that the weekend uniform is workout wear because everyone is constantly clad in spandex. I’m not complaining though. Any excuse to wear turquoise running capris while downing french toast is welcomed in my world. Since people are committed to living a healthy lifestyle, most of the restaurants are pretty health conscious as well. For someone who grew up as a carbohydrarian (a vegetarian who only ate bagels and pasta) the ability to grab a easy, healthy, yummy vegetarian dinner has been really nice.

Driving & Traffic

I will admit that I was not thrilled about driving in L.A. In fact, I didn’t even have my own car for the first year I lived here. My first job here was just a mile from my apartment, so I either walked or biked. It wasn’t until I got a job in the Valley (aka where Cher goes to a party and then gets held up at gunpoint) that I had to get myself a whip.
Los Angeles Caitlin

Yes, L.A. traffic is bad, but you learn to live with it/avoid it at all costs. Not going somewhere because of traffic is a real thing. I work fairly close to my apartment, so I am not one of those suckers who spends 2 hours a day in their car. I am also livevery close to my friends. I am not kidding when I tell you that almost all of my friends live within a one mile radius. If you don’t live on the West Side, we’re in a long distance relationship.

Settling In

Like Taylor mentioned, feeling comfortable in L.A. takes some time. I didn’t feel like a local for over a year, and a big part of that had to do with finding a friend group. Through friends of friends of friends (seriously, don’t ask us how we know each other), I have found an amazing group of ladies who are as fun as they are inspiring.
Los Angeles Caitlin

I know L.A. doesn’t have the culture of NYC or the history of Boston, but we have a laidback lifestyle with a butt-load of sunshine. For a twenty-something like me, that is good enough.

L.A. is still one of my favorite places to escape to for a weekend, now that I’m in SF. It’s always warm and between Taylor and Caitlin, I always have fun plans. Thanks for showing us around your great life, Cait! We’ve got two more posts left in the series, so stay with me!
Caitlin Vegas
Caitlin and me playing the slots in Vegas, as you do.

Life as a Twenty-Something in New York City, Part 2

10 Jul

Nope we’re not done, we’re just a day late! My Life as a Twenty-Something series continues today with a unique post. We’re calling it Life as a Twenty-Something in New York City, Part 2, since we’ve ventured to The Big Apple once already via Becca. Today another one of my dear friends and former college roommates (and Becca’s current roommate!), Meg, is here to show us her take on life in NYC. Meg and I used to see a lot of each other, because she lived in L.A. when I was in Santa Barbara. Now we’re back to the once a year schedule. Booo! On the upside, Becca and Meg live together in Brooklyn, and I imagine their lives there are just like the ones we’d see in “Girls” if J.Crew took over wardrobe and any of the characters actually had a job they could live off of. I’m visiting them in October. (GET HERE OCTOBER). Until then, this.

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Growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, attending college in Boston, and even post-college living in Northern Virginia then Los Angeles, I never really dreamt up a life of myself living in New York a la “Friends” or “Sex & the City.”  Sometimes I even feel as though I’m a bit of a fraud for having so seemingly easily fell into a life in the City.  New York City just always seemed to be there.

While I didn’t necessarily foresee myself in New York (with the exception of a quick stint in 6th grade when I envisioned myself as the CEO of Avon living in a brownstone on the Upper West Side with my husband, Conan O’Brien), it has never been a stranger.

The history major within me always thought it was retty cool that my grandmom, Annamay Clancy King, was born in Manhattan amidst the Great Depression to her Irish immigrant parents, Anna Bella Devlin and John Clancy.  Anna Bella had made her way from Ireland in 1924 through Ellis Island, while John slipped his way around the “Irish quota” by coming in through Canada.  Shortly after Annamay’s birth they made their way down to Philadelphia and grew their family there.

Ellis Island 1998

 Ellis Island, 1998John and Bella

John and BellaEllis Island 2014

Ellis Island, 2014

Being just two hours south of NYC in Philly, as a kid I would take day trips with my family to march in the Manhattan St. Patrick’s Day parade or head to Gaelic Park in the Bronx on summer Sundays for Gaelic football.  Eventually I felt comfortable enough marching up and down 5th Avenue that my high school girlfriends and I would take the train up for our own daytime adventures.  It wasn’t until college that I discovered there was a New York below 34th Street.

Post graduation from Boston University, I settled for some time in Northern Virginia before making my way 3,000 miles to Los Angeles, California.  El Lay seemed to have everything – beautiful beaches, mountains, good friends from college, Disneyland, and IT. NEVER. RAINED.  But after a full year I found myself missing the East Coast, and mostly my family in Philly.  It was over my Thanksgiving vacation home in 2012 that I decided to take the train up to New York for a couple nights to visit some of my best friends from college, and I knew from then that I needed to make my way back to the East Coast, to New York City.  I seemed to have gained an appreciation for New York in those two days that I had never experienced before.

NYC group

Thanksgiving vacation in Manhattan, 2012.  Hi Kate!

Fast forward 10 months, a 7-day cross-country trip, and a few emails to friends living and working in New York, and I found myself working for the largest PR agency in the world located in the heart of “Hudson Square,” an up-and-coming neighborhood bordering SoHo, and living with one of my best friends from BU, Becca, in Brooklyn.

Now that you know how I landed here, in the words of Maria von Trapp, here are a few of my favorite thingssssss:

“No one comes to New York to make it to the middle.”

I hear this phrase tossed around at work every once in a while, and couldn’t agree more. New York is filled with bright, diverse, creative, and extremely driven individuals. And I love it.

Public transportation

As someone who managed to forgo getting a license or buying a car until the age of 22, I’m a big fan of public transportation.  $3.79 a gallon for gas?  No thank you!

c train

The glorious C train subway party

Ain’t no party like a subway party.

Food

Whether you are looking for a $1.25 egg and cheese breakfast sandwich, a $4 falafel platter, or a $50 steak, you can find it – most likely in walking distance or deliverable directly to your 4th floor walkup’s door.

The View

Specifically, the view from my office.

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And when it comes down to it, the East Coast is the best coast.

east coast girls

So is New York City my forever city?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But for now it feels right, and that’s just fine by me.

 

I for one am so glad you ended up in New York, Meg. Two best friends in one apartment in my favorite city? I hope ya got room for one more. ‘Cause I’m moving in. Thanks for the tour, Meg! Next week, L.A. part two! Stay tuned for Caitlin’s story.

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Becca, me and Meg drinking wine in Santa Barbara in 2012. 

Life as a Twenty-Something in Austin

2 Jul

Y’all, we’re in Austin today, with another post for my Life as a Twenty-Something series. Our author and Austinite today is my coworker and friend, Veronica (who we all call V), a Texas gal by birth but also someone who’s lived all over. I was lucky enough last March to get a real-life tour of Veronica’s life in Austin, and I was in love right away. Austin’s got this funky, retro vibe going that feels less like the south and more like the 1950s and 1970s mashed up. Veronica and her husband took me in like a stray and showed me all the best that Austin offers. I ate two donuts — one for dinner, one for dessert — biked along the “lake,” and overall really enjoyed my time in Austin. Here’s Veronica’s post on living the good life in Austin, Texas. (And, for the record, she does pronounce tomay-toes, tomay-tuhs, like a proper southern gal.)

Austin

I was born in San Antonio, Texas and lived in various cities across the state until I was 16 and my family moved to Denver, Colorado. But it didn’t matter where I lived, Texas is in my blood and I will always call it home. My family homesteaded Texas just east of Dallas in the mid 1840’s and I grew surrounded but the state’s rich history, independent mindset and southern hospitality. So even though “you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl,” when it came time for my husband and I to move from Boston there was only one place I wanted to be: home.

I’d lived in most of the major cities of eastern/central Texas growing up but never in Austin so we decided that we would make it our destination. My husband is also a musician, so it seemed an appropriate place to be. We had just spent the last three years living in a city whose inhabitants are not known to be warm and fuzzy, so when on our first night in town our neighbor showed up with a home cooked meal and beers for us, we both had a very welcome culture shock.

Austin is a beautiful and exciting city but not necessarily indicative of the rest of Texas. It’s a blue dot within a red sea and many of the inhabitants are transplants from California and Colorado. But Austin is the place to be if you love music, food, outdoors and a general southern attitude.

Barton Springs

Austin can get a bit hot during the summer, so when it’s 110 degrees outside there’s really only one place you want to be…Barton Springs! Barton Springs Pool is fed by an underground spring (the fourth largest in Texas) and stays at a constant temperature of about 68-71 degrees year round, which makes it nature’s air conditioning. This may not sound cold, but it is, very much so. That’s why it’s best to go there when the temperature gets into the triple digits. Barton Springs Pool is also home to fish, turtles and an endangered species of salamander.

Barton-springs

(Photo credit: Nathan Jongewaard via Compfight cc)

When you’ve worked up an appetite, you can just walk over to the Barton Springs Picnic where you’ll find about 8 food trailers that’ll cover any craving you have. My favorite though is “Hey!…You Gunna Eat or What?” Their turkey sandwich with fried green tomatoes and jalapeno jelly is probably the best sandwich I have ever had.

The Salt Lick

When Saturday afternoon rolls around and I get the craving for BBQ there’s only one place I want to be, The Salt Lick. Always featured on the Food Network, The Salt Lick is a staple of Texas BBQ. Located about 20 minutes outside of Austin, The Salt Lick is a cash only, BYOB, BBQ masterpiece. Expect about a 1-2 hour wait but that’s part of the fun. People show up with beer coolers in tow and gather around the various picnic tables and fences listening to live music and enjoying the outdoors.

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(Photo credit: The Democratic Travelers)

My husband and I always bring cards and spend the time drinking and battling each other in gin rummy. When the buzzer goes off I’m almost sad to go inside, expect I know that the best BBQ on earth is waiting for me. You’re served fast, food is inhaled and then we waddle home.

Eating in General

You’ll have to try very hard to get a bad meal in Austin. There are so mnay fantastic spots to dine and so much variety it’s astounding. Often times I’ll see many of the restaurants in Austin featured as best restaurants in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Uchi and its sister restaurant Uchiko are hands down the best sushi restaurants I have ever been to. You can’t go wrong with their creative works of edible art.

I love all food and in general will try anything once. One of my favorite spots to test our my adventurous taste buds is at Contigo. This restaurants takes game eating to an elevated state. My favorite dishes are the rabbit and dumplings and the ox tongue sliders. The artisan cocktails are also a must.

Another staple that I can’t seem to stay away from, despite my protesting wallet is Perlas. This beautiful and fresh seafood restaurant is situated in prime real-estate on south congress. Go there for cocktails, oysters and the best hush puppies around.

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Perla’s Seafood — a must in Austin. 

“Lakes” and Tacos

It’s funny that so many of my friends stereotype Texas as dry dessert with tumble weed and horses. This is actually true of West Texas (would not recommend a visit) but Austin is hill country. Think lush rolling hills and rivers. I’ll give them horses as I usually see a few of them around town from time to time.

Austin is situated right beside one such river. But don’t call it a river; it’s not. It’s a lake…technically. This “lake” winds through the heart of Austin and is home to a beautiful lakeside trail. Every Saturday my husband and I have a tradition. We wake up and run around Town Lake (or Lady Byrd Lake depending on how long you’ve lived in Austin) and inevitably always find our way to a spot that serves breakfast tacos (which is not hard to do in this town).  We then grab some iced coffee for him and iced tea for me and leisurely waddle back home.

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(Technically this is Hamilton Pool, and not Town Lake just outside of town. Check out the story behind this spot here)

Breakfast tacos. That’s another thing I will always crave. In Austin, almost every breakfast establishment will feature at least one variation of the breakfast taco. To be fair, most Austinites will inevitably try and transition most meals into a taco form.

tacos

And finally…

As a woman in her early twenties, I occasionally crave a night out on the town. Although most college students and newbies will tell you to peruse “dirty sixth” I highly suggest you avoid that area of downtown and instead make your way to Rainey Street.

This once unassuming street of cottage houses has been transformed into a gem of a destination. While retaining the cottage feel, these houses have been transformed into restaurants and bars serving up the customary Moscow Mule (Ginger beer, vodka and lime juice) and of course, tacos.

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Lustre Pearl: a bar, not a house party. 

There is usually a live band in the back yard along with the ever-present food trailer. Don’t plan on driving though as you won’t be able to park anywhere.

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So what’s it like as a twenty-something living in Austin, Texas? Absolutely amazing.

This post reminds me just how cool and unique Austin is and how much I want to go back. I’ve never been to a city like it. Thank you, V, for the tour! I hope you’re staying cool via swims in Barton Springs this summer.

Next week, we’re back in Brooklyn for another look at life in the Big Apple.  See you then, and in the meantime, enjoy your Fourth of July (one of my favorite holidays)!

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V and me in a pedicab at SXSW last March. 

Life as a Twenty-Something in Chicago

25 Jun

Today we’re in Chicago with the fifth post in my Life as a Twenty-Something series. I just love Chicago, so I’m lucky that one of my dearest friends, Jorie, lives there and lets me visit. Jorie is a writer (you might know her from her eclectic and hilarious writing on her blog, The Midwest Maven,), a dog mom, and one of my dearest friends. Lucky for you, she’s here today to give us a virtual tour of her life in Chicago. Spoiler alert: think dogs, pizza, and affordability. Take it away, Jor!

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I grew up 30 miles outside of Chicago, in a small town called Bloomingdale. During my childhood, my family only went to the “city” for special occasions, like a Christmastime performance of the Nutcracker ballet or to swim at the beach during the Air and Water Show. But in early 2012, after a full year of commuting to my downtown office from the burbs, I finally moved into the city of Chicago. The Windy City. The City of Big Shoulders. Chi-town. (Insider tip: don’t call it Chi-town).

1 Skyline Pic

Now I live in a neighborhood called Logan Square with my fiance, and I really love it. I’ll walk you through a typical day in the life and share a few things I’ve learned about the city over the past few years.

On a typical day: Mike and I wake up to the whines of our six-month-old puppy, Winnie, alerting us that she has to do her business and stat, you lazy bums.

2. Winnie

Then it’s off to work. About a year ago, I discovered free street parking about a half-mile from my office building; my excitement was on par as if I had won the Powerball Jackpot. Smell ya never, CTA. I typically work from about 9:30 or 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Then, about three nights a week, I take a cardio dance or boot camp class at my gym, which is around the corner from my office. Mike and I make dinner, take Winnie for an evening stroll around the block and attempt to coax her into howling at passing ambulances, and then we’ll usually catch up on some of our TV shows. Thrilling stuff. On Wednesdays, we play in a 16-inch softball league; the games are a ton of fun and a great way to break up the workweek. We always go out for beers and pub food as a team afterward. Last year, we were surprisingly competitive and wound up winning our league.

The weekends usually involve eating at a restaurant or two, maybe swinging by our neighborhood farmer’s market, or hanging out with friends somewhere outside in the evenings. Doing something near the lake—be it bike riding or dining with a view—is always a treat.

3. Parsons

One of my favorite outdoor patios at Parson’s Chicken and Fish

On my specific neighborhood: Logan Square has really grown on me. It’s this up-and-coming, self-sufficient little enclave. There are two movie theaters we can walk to (one is old-timey and adorable), dozens of trendy restaurants and bars, and lots of hidden gems, like this one mom-and-pop Italian ice stand we found tucked away on a residential street. I also love Logan Boulevard itself, which is lined with historic homes and wide green spaces.

4. Logan Blvd winter

Here’s the boulevard covered in snow.

On things I really love about Chicago: The diversity of the neighborhoods. Hanging out on outdoor patios on warm and sticky summer nights. The vibrant, creative community of writers, photographers, actors, and musicians. Sunset bike rides along the lakefront path. Kick-ass dive bars. Never running out of interesting exhibits to see at the museum campus. The Loop at twilight, when everyone’s headed home from work and the city feels so energetic and full of possibilities. Strolling neighborhoods and peeping at gorgeous homes and wondering what it would be like to live there. Summer, with its street festivals, movies in the park, and daylight until 9 p.m.-ness. And also: all of downtown smells like warm brownies, especially in the summer, thanks to Blommer’s chocolate factory.

5. bike riding

Bike riding in Lincoln Park

6. Kayaking

Kayaking the Chicago River

On things that bug the hell outta me about Chicago: There is probably one garbage can per every 10 city blocks in Logan Square, or at least that’s how it feels. The sidewalk near my apartment is often littered with such treasures as empty bags of Flaming Hot Cheetos and receipts for cigarettes purchased at Walgreen’s three days ago. I recently yelled out the window of my moving car at a dude who dropped his water bottle on the ground. I’m not above public shaming in my one-woman crusade to clean up the streets. #JorieForAlderman

Also, the lack of parks is a huge bummer to me; other cities have integrated green spaces way better into their city grids, in my humble opinion. Sometimes, I get down on the midwest in general for its lack of snow-capped mountains and scenic national parks. Chicago is pretty in its own way, but I’d love if it had more green space baked right into it.

In related news: thank goodness for Lake Michigan.

7. Lake Michigan

On the weather: Someone once told me that we’re the largest population of people living this far north. I don’t know if that’s true and I’m far too lazy to google it, but damn. It feels true. Whenever I’m traveling and I tell someone I’m from Chicago, the next sentence out of their mouth is guaranteed to be about the harsh winters. Before this past one, I’d always smile and politely agree, “They sure are something!” but secretly I’d be thinking, Oh come on, the winters aren’t that bad. Besides, snow is pretty! This past winter, though, we were walloped with multiple polar vortices and temps down to the negative 40s. And it really, really sucked. No two ways about it.

8. skyline in winter

But summer and fall are gorgeous, and then you suddenly remember why you live here again. One of my friends wants to make a T-shirt with the Chicago flag that says, “If you can’t handle me in January, you don’t deserve me in July” as a riff off that ubiquitous (and irksome) Marilyn Monroe quote: “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”

9. Weather.com

I mean, does this seem reasonable to you?

On accessibility and location: I’ll be the very first person to complain about the CTA (and the things I’ve seen passengers do on it) but I do appreciate Chicago’s robust public transportation system. Ugh. It’s surprisingly hard for me to compliment the CTA without rolling my eyes or making a fart noise after.

But it is sorta incredible that in a city that sprawls so far in every direction, you really don’t need a car to get where you need to go, thanks to plenty of buses and L tracks. On a wider scale, I love that Chicago is easy driving distance to a lot of fun spots around the country: Michigan, Wisconsin, Nashville, the Smoky Mountains, most of the east coast, Florida, Colorado, etc. Mike and I are big road-trippers, and we try to take advantage of that. And because we’re in the heartland, it’s a pretty quick flight anywhere in the country, not to mention Mexico. Three-hour flight to Riviera Maya!

On food: Chicago enjoyed a big foodie renaissance a few years ago. I’m no gourmand but I do love food, so this pleases me. I’ll dispel one myth about Chicago’s food scene; locals don’t eat deep dish all the time. I always order it when my friends visit but the Chicago-style pizza I grew up with and still love is a super cheesy, slightly doughy, thin-crust pizza cut into squares. Rosati’s is a local franchise favorite.

On affordability: This was something I totally took for granted until I started talking with my friends in New York, Boston, and San Francisco about cost of living. Chicago is not currently experiencing any type of housing shortage; therefore, rent is comparatively cheap and you can get a pretty good bang for your buck. Mike and I live in a two-bedroom apartment with a bunch of nice amenities: dishwasher, in-unit laundry, free street parking, and a backyard for our dog—and our rent is really affordable. Part of the reason the city attracts so many young people is because you really can score a decent place on an average salary.

10. apartment

Our humble abode

On friendships: I think this can be a hard city to forge adult friendships in. Because a lot of people who grow up in the Chicagoland area stay here, some friend circles are incredibly tight-knit and hard to penetrate. My own included! I count among my closest friends at least four people I’ve known since preschool. In that same circle, my “newest” friend is someone I met freshman year of high school. We’re perfectly friendly but maaaaybe not the most inclusionary. Even transplants to the city often come with a few college or high school friends in tow. Short of turning your co-workers into friends, I think there’s a sort-of, “Thanks, but I’m all set” mentality when it comes to making new friends. Which is not to say it can’t be done; it’s just harder.

On why this is probably my forever city: I have a theory about cities. You stroll their streets, sit in their restaurants, and explore their parks, all the while filtering everything you see through your own expectations and experiences. You’re trying to figure each other out. And each city gives you something back—a vibe, some juju, a gut feeling, whatever you want to call it. Some cities sing an alluring siren song and you desperately want to live there, some you loathe, and some are an adventure that work just fine for a few years but ultimately don’t hold any staying power over you. Chicago has always felt the homiest to me, of any city I’ve visited.

11. Sunset skyline

I walk down these streets and I feel like I’m with my people. Not that I couldn’t love or live anywhere else. Because I do and I have! But to me, Chicago feels like a hug from an old, lovely friend or watching the opening credits of your favorite movie start to scroll. It’s familiar. I don’t have to try to love it, because I just do, and I can’t even remember a time before I loved it. I don’t have a strong tie to my heritage—my ancestors came to Chicago long ago from Scandinavia and no one in my family recites stories about the homeland—but oh, can my family talk about Chicago. And I’m all ears. Even when it’s -40 outside.

12. family portrait

 

God, do I love Chicago. You’ve got a good thing going, Jorie. Thanks for giving us the grand tour! And, give Winnie a pat on the head and tell her I’ll be there soon, because this post sold me on another trip to my favorite midwestern destination. Next week, Austin!

P.S. Jorie recently got engaged in quite a unique place. Read that story. You won’t regret it.

Kate and Jorie alcatraz

Jorie and me on an Alcatraz tour a few weeks ago.

Life as a Twenty-Something in Boston

18 Jun

Today’s Life as a Twenty-Something post is written by Steph, who I met when the housing department at our college did us a solid and assigned us to the same floor in the dorms. We were also study abroad partners. Steph is a Massachusetts native that’s lived in that state’s capital since we moved there for college, and she’s one of my few friends that’s still there. I’m so glad to have her here today, so never mind what you heard about the time the two of us boarded a party bus that wasn’t ours and just read Steph’s cute post on life in Boston already.

life-as-twenty-something-boston

I always knew I would end up in Boston. I just didn’t think I would spend quite so long in Boston.

When I was looking at colleges I knew I wanted a large, city school. The day before the big decision was due I narrowed it down to NYU and BU. I loved BU but I was hesitant to go to school just 45 minutes from where I grew up. But in the end the pros outweighed the cons and I obviously ended up at BU. And beyond the great education and friends, I fell in love with Boston.

Boston skyline

When I was driving back into Boston the other day I remembered why I love Boston. I mean c’mon! Look at that skyline. Yes, it isn’t huge and flashy like NYC. But I can pick out every single building. And I can walk from one end to another. Granted I wouldn’t dare do that in the winter. In the winter I basically turn into a bear, hibernate, and curse this city. But summer? Summer in Boston isn’t so bad. Here are a few of my favorite things about Boston in the summer.

My Neighborhood

I live in the North End, which is Boston’s version of “Little Italy.” Aside from having fantastic restaurants every few feet, there are a few hidden gems in the North End. Like…

Mirabella Pool

For a whopping $15 for the season, I can sunbathe and dip in a pool right next to the Harbor. Not only is this a killer deal that people don’t really talk about, but it is easily the best people watching in Boston. I don’t even bring a book to the pool. I just listen to the locals gossip and yell at their kids.

mirabella pool

Bocce Courts

Next to the pool is a playground, sports fields and bocce ball courts. On a nice night you can find us sipping drinks by the court. And if you don’t know the rules the local older men love to teach newbies.

Festivals

I love/hate the North End festivals. Five or six weekends a summer there are parades, games, food and music in the streets of the North End to celebrate various saints. It was exciting the first time I saw a full on marching band go down my street but the next dozen times felt like overkill. And it’s real tacky.

Downside to the North End? I battle hundreds of tourists daily. I live directly on the Freedom Trail and around the corner from the famed Old North Church. When I am sweating and dragging myself home from a long day of work and the gym, the last thing I want to hear is “Where did Paul Revere really live?”

Harbor Islands

spectacle island

Boston has quite a few islands that are just a ferry ride away. Last 4th of July some friends and I headed to Spectacle Island. It is amazing that 20 minutes away is a cool beach and hiking trails. The downside to going to the islands on a beautiful day is that it gets pretty crowded. I would not recommend booking the last ferry ride home. Everyone does that and they do not plan accordingly. We ended up stuck on the island for two hours longer than we anticipated. We were burnt, tired, thirsty, and hungry. It almost turned into the Hunger Games.

Outdoor Restaurants and Bars

I feel like summer is in sight when Tias opens. Tias is a restaurant/bar on the water that is only open for summer. The second it gets warm enough all the bars open their windows and decks. I love being able to sit on a patio or roof deck and enjoy the weather with a cold drink and friends.

Boston is a pretty young city and is home to about 60 colleges. That can be both good and bad. For example, a few weekends ago I was out at a bar and a very nice young gentleman asked me what college I go to. Sorry kid, I’ve been out of school for four years. Way to make me feel old. But summer sends a lot of the college kids away, so you get a chance to see what people your own age look like.

Boston Spirit

Boston Strong

Bostonians have so much pride for this little city. I see this all the time and I think the rest of the world got to see this side of Boston after the Marathon bombings. Bostonians come together for one and other. Boston is an incredibly resilient and proud city. And we’ve got a lot to be proud of. Have you heard of our sports teams? ;)

This made me real nostalgic. Steph and Boston, I miss you both! Thanks for showing what life in Boston is like post keg parties and Sunday nights in the study lounge. Next week we venture to Chicago!

Kate and steph

Me and Steph on the last night of our study abroad program in Sydney.

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