Chicago, and so the blog begins

Ah dear, after three days pushing myself to the extreme to get settled into Chicago, today the Goddess decided to remind me who’s in charge. Sigh, laugh, take a bite of berry cheesecake from the recently discovered patisserie. Yes, a food related reward for retaining my sense of humour, humility, heat. Dripping hot heat.

Pretty much everything’s going really well. It is so hot! I arrived as did all my luggage and we were all intact: bonus. My apartment was here, the keys mine. It’s smaller than memory exaggerated, but it’s lovely. The building is called The Piccadilly and was constructed 1926-27 as a cinema with a hotel above: the hotel is now converted student accommodation. It looks scrappy from the outside and in the common areas, but there’s a development application for a roof top area with lake views that will make it divine. So there’s no picture of my scrappy building (those shown are in my street), but the view of the lake is from my roof top. My apartment’s exactly what I need. And yes there are Emergency alert buttons on every corner for our safety.


Days 1 to 3 were a total bustle, rushing about with my new friend V in the hot weather. We scoured the paltry local shops, finding or not finding household necessities, making multiple trips because really who would think shower curtains would come with shower hooks? Or that there would be no knives available in any stores? Forks yes, Spoons yes, but no knives. Generally doing tens of thousands of steps, laughing a lot and spending a lot of money, because really if you’re only going to have one piece of furniture until your ship comes in, then it should be a modern designer chair (Gus) with a triumvirate of ottomans. I bought that one morning before meeting V, and had to get chair and ottomans 3 ½ blocks home and into the freight elevator on a borrowed wonky trolley. It was a hoot, people laughing along with me laughing at myself, and two lovely gentlemen offering to help. It was only after everything fell off the trolley for a second time that I regretted my independence and thought that maybe fish do need bicycles.


But today nearly brought me undone. Up at 830 for delivery of my bed between 9 and 12. YES I finally have a bed and won’t be sleeping on the floor any longer. Praise deity, that counts as a big tick for the day. While I’d been waiting for the delivery men I’d given up on local shopping and resorted to online, but that big company named for Wonder Woman’s matrilineality didn’t play nicely with my Aussie cards. After the bed delivery dudes left I dashed back down to 53rd to the internet company who assured me that I have the correct cables and “just” need to connect my modem to a hidden optical cable outlet. Mam there is one, the previous tenant had a connection through us. Mmm. Exhibiting unusual faith I left, and V and I decided to walk to the stationery outlet. Did I mention it’s hot? Yay, I was in heaven, biggest post-its you’ve ever seen, and yes Miss B they have color pens too, and staplers and tape. As I was trying to choose a printer my local phone rang, yep I got one yesterday, big tick. A perfectly innocent delivery man was trying to reach me as he had a delivery at my building for me. No I said, I’m not expecting a delivery today. Oh I re-joined, is it from Australia? I was thinking of the 40 kg I posted myself when I couldn’t close my 3 suitcases. No it’s from right here in the ‘hood, Innocent delivery man said, can you be here by 3? So, dumping printer decisions and dealing with a call from a collection agency looking for the previous holder of my new phone number and a very rude register-person, my post-its, color pens and I dashed into a U-car and raced home. While waiting for Innocent delivery man I re-joined my battle with the modem and the connection in the cupboard. Nope. Modem two, Wendy nil. After 1 hour on the phone to support, thank goodness for that local phone and it’s calls and sms alerts for Kimberley, they’re sending a man. I guess at that time, like a fish with a bicycle, I’ll be sorted.

Some hours after 3, Innocent delivery man had girded his loins and returned with a beautiful floral arrangement for Miss Wendy. I’ve long abjured Miss Wendy as an appellation, but from the mouth of an African American Gentleman of a certain generation exuding calm and bearing flowers it is redeemed. Ah flowers. Thanks Cuz.


Feeling it was safe to leave my apartment I ventured to the building’s laundry. I had spent the time post-modem pre-flowers downloading the relevant laundry app, creating an account and loading it with money to do my washing. The two above photos showing lighting and cornice detail – yep, my laundry circa 1927. Two loads of new sheets and towels on, then my next error, I combined the two wash loads in one drier load.

img_1882Naively leaving my damp clothes to tumble intermingled I decided on a walk around the ‘hood. Exercise, air, a quick pop into Bonne Santé for face wash, buy dinner (I’d forgotten lunch and coffee in my rush) then back to close out the evening. Good plan. Exercise, tick. Air, tick. Dinner, tick, a very nice chicken pita 350 cal. I then experimented with a different route home, hmm new patisserie and berry cheesecake, and a (thankfully closed) bagel shop. I returned to my room, had half my cheesecake and decided it was time for bed. Mrs J will have realised the bedding was still in the drier and that I hadn’t thought of that until I was on my way into my nightie. She will have already giggled because this is a regular occurrence for us both, but sadly tonight my drier is on the 2nd floor and I’m on the 11th. Throwing myself back into public clothes I headed for the elevator. Hello again, I said to my neighbour who lives between me and the elevator and that I’ve bumped into at least half a dozen times since moving in. Are you stalking me, he asked? Really? Last time I saw you, you were trailing a snotty child, I thought silently. Really? So I’m back in the laundry to retrieve my blue sheets and cream towels… and you guessed it the towels have lost their new fluff and it’s all over my blue sheets. Really!

While I was failing to buy my face wash, I saw to my total astonishment a box of my favourite incense. I last bought it over 10 years ago and only have one box left which is on my slow boat. I hope my boat’s not being further delayed by hurricanes. Sigh. Yet here in a health food shop in Chicago at the end of a day of chaos, is another full box of Darshan. I stopped in the laundry hugging fluff covered sheets and thanked the Goddess in whom I don’t really believe. I’m reminded by another Goddess that I don’t have to do everything in one day. And besides, who can say it was a bad day when I got a bed, flowers, incense and have a vacuum coming that will get its first work out collecting towel fluff.

Author: Wendy's Out of Station

I write as a way of processing and reflecting on experience, and as a way of sharing that experience. When I travel I used to write email journals back to friends, family, anyone who’d read and risk immersing themselves in my reality for a while: writing for them was a way of writing for me. Borrowing from Graham Greene in a flip of Travels with my Aunt, I imagined writing letters to my nieces, as their travelling aunt. Crafting the sentences became a way of extruding the experience, giving it birth, drawing its meaning from my soul, nurturing it into something tangible with a life of its own. The aim of my blog is to open the world to my thought-children, to let them out of the safety of my friends and family and let them experience the world. And in the process I get the honour of taking a larger group with me when I’m wandering around India and beyond, or just reflecting on parallel truths, thinking thoughts that take me to new places new beginnings. Please journey with me

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