The Ups and Downs of Being “All In”


I think today was one of those “regular” days that pretty much sums up the constant “ups and downs” of my life right now…

Sunday was a “Sunday Funday” for the books- from the Saints Game with the girls, to Navy Pier, to the Signature Lounge on the 96th floor of the Hancock, to Lou Malnati’s Pizza (and fantastic salad), to a lovely walk on a brisk Fall evening in Chicago with friends… It was a super fun day!

It was also funny because for the first time I was not the Chicago tourist; rather my friend and I were playing tour guide for an out of town friend… I almost died of laughter when our friend said something about how “I know where everything is in Chicago” or “I know everything about Chicago”… Hardly. I have an iPhone and half a brain. But, nice that someone thought I could function like I belong here!

Having consumed enough carbs and bar food to hold me until Spring, I slept like a rock… Who wouldn’t after essentially having a super-fun tourist day? It was like mini-vacation!

But, when I woke up, it was another Monday unemployed.

The good news is, if you read last weeks’ adventures of the banging workmen, I invented a solution that helped… Seeing as I have been less than ‘regular’ with my exercise schedule, I decided to put my Pilates/yoga mat that was gathering dust to good use… I hung it up in front of my window… Classy? Not so much. Genius? Perhaps. Nearly covering the entire window, it blocked out just about all of the morning sun that comes piercing through that window, and the material of the mat absorbs a good bit of sound… While the “banging” is still easily heard, it took the “edge off” in a major way. I slept solidly until my alarm went off.

In true “type A” form, as soon as I turned off my alarm, I reached for my iPhone on the side of my bed to check my e-mails (job 1, You know, us unemployed people get lots of urgent emails, so this is a very logical practice… Hahaha!

HOWEVER… Today actually started with some e-mail excitement!

In my inbox I found two e-mails that held a little glimmer of employment possibility- just the kind of hopeful sign I needed to get my Monday started!

The part-time music job I completed a phone interview for about a week ago that I think I would really like is a step closer to being my job… I had an e-mail informing me that “they continue to be very impressed with me and my professional experience” and that I am “invited for an in-person interview with the Executive Leadership Board”. Granted, the interview is practically 3 weeks away, and a part-time job does NOT solve my employment woes… But I don’t require solutions at 10am- just hopeful signs.

I was pumped.

The next e-mail was almost just as good- my friends’ sister sent me an e-mail just to check in and update me about the temporary work at her company… It looks like I’ll be able to start that very soon! While it’s not a dream job, and it’s not what I want to do for forever, it’s A JOB– I couldn’t be more excited or more appreciative of her helping me get this temporary fix. It’s gonna be so good to be able to get up and go to work- I think that will really change a lot of how I feel.

I was walkin’ on air- and I hadn’t even had my diet coke yet!

Chicago expert last night; getting final interviews; almost going to work- Yeah, Chicago- I gotcha… TM is catchin’ her groove so I hope you’re ready, Windy City!

Except, I find for me, during this transition time, whenever I’m having this “Hell yeah, I’m catchin’ my stride” moment, that’s generally my warning that I’m about to have an “Oh god, I miss home! What did I leave? What the hell is my life right now?!?” moment…

…And, that’s what happened about an hour later.

A music friend in New Orleans called to catch up and pick my brain about music and choir stuff/ working with an age group I have more experience with than she does. It was awesome. We talked for almost an hour- I get so freakin’ nerdy excited talking about that stuff- from rep to pedagogy- and it was good to chat with her and catch up… But then when I got off the phone? Ouch.

I am in my PJ’s, on my sofa, at almost 12 noon. She’s going to rehearsal.  I may have this knowledge, but I have NO JOB and NO KIDS and NO CHOIR… How is this possible? Geez, this sucks.

Another friend sends me the sweetest text message congratulating me about the interview, and says how just last night they were telling another friend just how much they miss me- “Like really, so, so much.”

All I think is, “Me, too, buddy… Me too.” Ugh… I love my friends back home. I miss my housemates soooo much! Damn it, I want visitors!!

I get a text from a student, and respond to that.

Realization: It actually isn’t a student anymore (for you at least).

Another friend sends me a text that says, “I don’t want to bring up a sore subject or make you feel bad- thrilled about your interview, but do you have any source of income right now? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

Kinda thought I might punch a wall. Was actually glad to be 1,000 mi. away (for like 5 minutes).

Feeling kinda crummy, I procrastinate for about 2 hours before finally heading out for the run I SWORE to myself that I’d do today… I thought the “my tennis shoes are in my car” excuse was pretty good, just sayin’.

As I get downstairs, I notice a package by the mailboxes with my name on it- in my mom’s handwriting. So, I grab it and head out the door towards my car. I open it, sitting in the backseat of my car while I put on my tennis shoes.

A cute New Orleans card with a note from my parents. A New Fleur-de-lis t-shirt from Drew Brees’ company with a cool quote on it. Tights from J-Crew (because she knows I love them and it’s getting cold). And, a check for $75 (not because you need it or because you can’t handle it, but because we just wanted to and could).

…And that’s it. The moment that’s been building for the past few hours has arrived. Yep, pathetic but true, TM is crying in the backseat of her Accord. Classy.

I pull it together, and have an excellent run. I jammed out to Rebirth Brass Band the whole way- with a grin literally plastered across my face, enjoying some New Orleans funk as I ran down Sheffield and through DePaul’s campus… I may or may not have sung “do whatcha wanna” out loud a few times by accident. It was exactly what I needed.

I came home and knew the mediocre, northern versions of NOLA food I had during the Saints game did NOT fill the void… I grab a recipe and head down the street to Trader Joe’s and Milk & More for the ingredients needed to whip up a “from scratch” jambalaya…

I get home, unpack my stuff, get my Pandora rockin’ on my TV with a “Dirty Dozen Brass Band” channel. I chop and sauté and measure and throw stuff in my stock pot until all is right with the world.

At about 9:30, I had some delicious jambalaya with a lovely glass of red wine, while wearing my new fleur-de-lis shirt from Mom and Dad.

I have leftovers in the fridge and a large portion in the freezer for a cold day (which there is sure to be plenty of).

….And here, at the end of the day, it’s a good day.

It’s just all part of the ups and downs of being new and getting settled.

Despite the fact I thought it would be before I got here, life is nowhere near boring.

Tomorrow is a new day… and I’ll open a bank account here in Chicago! …Another step towards being “settled”.

When I was running today, I came across a magnet on the ground that said ‘emergency happiness’… Naturally, that got shoved in a sports bra and is now on my fridge… Sister girl needed that emergency happiness today… it found me & cured me. It continued in the form of Brass Bands and Spices and Brown Rice.

I’m happy to be a NOLA Girl and a Chicago girl… and to close out today, I’ll leave you with the Drew Brees quote on my new t-shirt… It echoes a lot of what I like from Brene Brown’s writings, and was a perfect little message for today:

Challenges and adversity confront us every day. They motivate and inspire us to always find a way. Sometimes it is the hand we’re dealt or just the circumstance. But together we can rest assured we always stand a chance. Our attitude and courage are as strong as they have been, and once again we’ll rise up to proclaim that we’re ALL IN.”  -Drew Brees

I have my ups and downs, but I’m all in- with my past work, with my present work, with my future. That’s what makes it hard sometimes… But it’s also what makes it all awesome and amazing and worth it.

I’m all in, Chicago. Hope you’re ready for that… I’m a little spicy, too…. just to warn you.




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