I feel like my life is unduly influenced by two intractable circumstances: my commute and too many cats. Most nights I’m up 2-3 times because a cat wants out of my room, or because a fight is brewing in the hallway, or because someone is meowing for reasons unknown to all but the feline gods. They’re sweet and cute and loving, but they can’t seem to tolerate each other, and I wonder how long we can go on like this.

I wake up exhausted, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, to face a day with 45-60 minutes of commuting on either side of a typical work day. I know this isn’t unreasonable for a city dweller, and that the commute is longer because of my move, but it is a constant source of frustration, though I’m doing my best to ameliorate it now that it’s consistently warm and pleasant enough to bike all or a portion of the 13 miles from home to work. Today I biked for 20 minutes, then took a train for 7 miles and 15 minutes, then biked the last half mile, arriving at work hungry and not inordinately disheveled, and in about the same amount of time that it would’ve taken me to get in my car, sit in traffic, then hunt for parking.

I’m tired all the time, and hungry all the time. My body will get used to this level of activity, but I don’t know if it will get used to the lack of sleep. What to do?

We spent a portion of last weekend in Champaign, walking around campus in the gathering dark, grabbing a drink at a favorite bar downtown, running to the car in the driving rain. Is the heavy nostalgia I feel when I’m there just a remnant of my previous life? Or should it be taken into consideration as we have these conversations about a future together, and where that might take place, and what factors are important to us as we speculate about decisions that are still a long way off? I know that that place is in my blood like no other, not even Chicago, but also that the world has moved on and I with it.

We sat on the lawn at Pritzker Pavilion Monday night with Carl and a bottle of wine and Middle Eastern take-out from a place in Hyde Park. Daniel Lanois opened with The Maker followed by The Messenger, and it was like all of the chattering, oblivious voices faded away and all that was there was me and the clouds and the silver beams overhead and his voice and my two best guys and the goosebumps on my arms and legs bared against the cool evening breeze. Summer in the city.

And don’t get me wrong, dear, in general I’m doing quite fine.

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à bientôt, A2

Good morning

In the next three hours, I’ll leave Ann Arbor for good. Yesterday I felt ready, but today, now that the departure is actually imminent, now that I have a time when I need to be on the road, I’m fighting it.

A2 Bucket List

I have two weeks left in Ann Arbor. Two weeks from today, I should be in Chicago, and a week after that, I’ll be getting ready to start my new job. I asked the internets for recommendations for my last two weeks here, and they responded in great force. I can’t obviously accomplish all of these things in two weeks, but it’s good to have a place to start.

  • Filmfest, foolmoon, festifools
  • Get into that little playground on the roof of the old Mott Children’s Hospital.
  • Coconut cream batido from frita batidos
  • Frita batidos, Sunday brunch at Aut bar
  • Canoe the Huron (if they’re open?) If not open or too cold, go to the DIA. That never gets old.
  • Dunny purchase from Vault of Midnight. Go see Lewis the orange tabby cat at Downtown Home and Garden. Go to Ashleys for beer on the busiest night, take $20 and play the same song (bad or good) over and over again on the internet juke box. Walk in Gallup Park.
  • If the weather is right & you still have your bike, you can take the b2b trail to downtown Ypsilanti.
  • Run through the Arb, brunch at Eastern Market, good beer at Jolly Pumpkin and then a bad beer over at the Eightball and definitely go visit Lewis!
  • Happy Endings at Berkley Front over City Club this Friday.

This is in addition to the list that Shana and I have been compiling:

  • Bell’s bi bim bap with Amanda
  • Nachos somewhere with Shana and Javan
  • Night out in Detroit with housemates
  • Biscuits and chocolate-bacon gravy at the Roadhouse (post-race brunch of dreams
  • Brunch at Raven’s Club
  • One last bakefest (Oreos!)
  • Another Knights of the West Side

Already checked off the list in the last few weeks are:

  • Afternoon Delight, which is hands’ down my favorite breakfast place in town.
  • Taco Tuesday at Sabor Latino
  • Donuts and/or ice cream from Washtenaw Dairy, which has the best donuts on the planet.
  • Plastic Passion at Necto
  • My first and only visit to the Arb
  • A very long walk along Huron River Drive
  • Treasure Mart
  • Zingerman’s

What am I missing?

“Energy is everything,” she says, “not emotion.”

Rob Brezsny’s Astrology Newsletter – December 14, 2011

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Emotion is the resource we treasure when we’re young, says poet Naomi Shihab Nye, but eventually what we thrive on even more is energy. “Energy is everything,” she says, “not emotion.” And where does energy come from? Often, from juxtaposition, says Nye. “Rubbing happy and sad together creates energy; rubbing one image against another.” That’s what she loves about being a poet. Her specialty is to conjure magic through juxtaposition. “Our brains are desperate for that kind of energy,” she concludes. I mention this, Capricorn, because the coming weeks will be prime time for you to drum up the vigor and vitality that come from mixing and melding and merging, particularly in unexpected or uncommon ways.

This is feeling particularly timely as we approach the end of our time here. My time will continue for a while longer, but our life here as a couple, as a family unit, will end in a little over a week. It feels like every day we’re rubbing happy and sad together: solidifying friendships just in time to leave, revisiting favorite spots that won’t carry the same weight when we come back to visit, one last time for x or y or z.

Keeping Our Wits About Us

This is the obligatory ‘sorry, we’ve been MIA’ post from a neglectful blogger. It’s not that I don’t love you and/or don’t want to share things here. It’s just that it’s the end of the semester and the holiday season and, oh yeah, we’re moving to Chicago in TWO WEEKS. Put all of those things together, and you don’t get a whole lot of coherency out the other side.

On the other hand, we have been cooking: Thanksgiving dinner for friends, lentil stew and other soups with the six quarts of turkey stock, shrimp tacos, and last night’s very passable impression of chicken piccata served on the fine china. And we’re throwing diets out the window and enjoying meals at many of our favorite places. So it’s not that I don’t have things to tell you about – it’s that I don’t have time.

In lieu of actual content, here is a picture of our cats behaving strangely:

Cat Train

We’ll be back soon. Promise.

Moving Forward with Thanks

I’m taking time out before the meal preparations start to tell you more about our big news, presented in brief in my previous post.  Chicago!

ashland

Let me back up.

When we started to talk about leaving DC, we were both unhappy in our jobs.  We were tired of our commutes, tired of living in the suburbs, tired of the cost of living somewhere just a little too expensive.  We had a lease that was ending, and a fabulous job opportunity for Shane.  We were Ready To Go.

We’ve now been  in the mitten for a little over two years, and (in the spirit of the day) have much for which we’re thankful.  We have good jobs and many good friends.  We’ve been able to pursue our interests – beer, mopeds, knitting, running, cooking, records, gardening – and have had storage space to accommodate all of those interests.  We’re healthy, though Shane has been fighting a nasty cold all week, as are our cat friends.  Our families and most of our friends are within half a day’s drive, as are several major cities and lots of gorgeous nature.

Chicago

So why move?

Because we’re craving city life.  Because every time we go to Chicago and see allllllllllllllll of our friends, we feel grumpy that we don’t live closer.  Because having a newish nephew has made us acutely aware of the passage of time and how much we’re missing by only seeing him a few times a year.  Because we’ve only gone to a handful of shows in the time that we’ve lived here.  Because it’s frankly not that much more expensive than Ann Arbor, but offers so much more to a childless couple in their 30s who want to have fun before they’re too old to be fun.  Because we didn’t get the full city experience living in the ‘burbs of DC.  Because it’s a major hub for airlines and a world class destination for good food and coffee.  Because I’m a Cubs fan.  Because so many of the people that made Champaign home are now in Chicago, and because Champaign is 2.5 hours away by train.  Because there’s a lake and beaches in the interminable summer.  Because it’s a city of neighborhoods, each with their distinct identity.  Because it has an established bike (and moped) culture.  And because we’re ready for a change.

wrigley!

After several conversations this summer, we decided that we wanted to focus our energy in this direction.  We weren’t sure if or when it would happen, but we wanted to make it happen.  We started applying for jobs, realizing that if they didn’t happen, we were still in a very good place, and the worst it meant would be that we would be in that good place a while longer.  In October, on the heels of a few weeks of ridiculous travel, Shane interviewed at DePaul, and a few weeks ago, he was offered the job.  Chicago!

So what happens next?  At some point in December, a moving company will pack up our apartment and load it onto a truck and drive it to Chicago.  We’ll go home for Christmas, then come back here to move me into a month-to-month sublet and to load up the van with some cats and the stuff Shane will need until the movers arrive.  I’ll help him get settled so that he can start his new job on January 2, and then we’ll do the back and forth thing until I can find a job.  There will be lots of visits and Skype calls and separation angst, but hopefully it won’t last too long, and by the spring we’ll be together again in our new city.  And we absolutely can’t wait.