I'm thinking about leaving Chicago.
When I first moved here, I thought I wanted to live here forever. I loved the museums, the shopping, the theatre, the food, and the lake. I loved being able to walk down the street and hear at least five different languages being spoken. I loved seeing all the people on the sidewalks and the streets as they headed for their different destinations.
I still love all of those things. But now that I've spent more years than I care to count living here, I've found that I don't love telling random strangers, "No thank you, I'd really rather NOT convert to your religion where people can become aliens once they give up their earthly possessions." I don't love yelling, "For Pete's sake, TURN IT DOWN! I do NOT want to hear Justin Bieber at 3 A.M.!" I don't love pushing my way through crowds, so focused on getting to where I need to go, that I barely look up anymore and I hardly notice the seasons changing.
When I enrolled in graduate school, I knew that I probably wouldn't be living in Chicago permanently. The thing about academia is that there are many, many more Ph.D.s than jobs, so you have to be willing to move wherever the jobs are. That means that you could end up at some Ivy League research university in Boston, or a small liberal arts college in Tulsa.
I just want to teach at a good school where I don't have to remind students twenty times a week that class time is not nap time. I also would like to teach at a school where I'd get to teach more than one type of class and still have time left over to do research and write academic books and articles. I also want to earn enough money so that I only have to work one job, instead of two or three. The prospect of living in a college town rather than a big city doesn't bother me, because I didn't grow up in a big city anyway.
Technically, I'm supposed to stay in Chicago until I finish my dissertation. That makes it easier to meet with my dissertation committee to discuss my progress, and I get free tuition and a stipend for teaching undergrads. But I can't keep working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. I've been working two or three jobs for several years now, and I'm burned out. I want to be able to help my family with the money I earn.
The prospect of moving somewhere else, especially to a place that I've never been to before, is kind of scary. What if I end up living in an apartment with a roommate who starts dressing like me and copies my haircut? And then what if my puppy mysteriously disappears and my roommate attacks my boyfriend with a stiletto heel and -- wait. That's the plot to Single White Female.
So I've started looking around for teaching jobs that are available for people with my qualifications. It's quite possible that I'll still be here in Chicago a year from now, especially if I don't find anything. And it's okay if I don't, since most of the good jobs are for people who have already completed their dissertations. But it's also possible that a year from now I'll be in a completely different place, starting a new phase in my life.
Check out this video by the Plain White T's. I like it not just because it includes cute anecdotes of how couples met, but also because it's set in Chicago in the winter. (So many movies and TV shows that are set in Chicago take place during the summer. I guess that makes sense production wise, but summer only lasts, like, five seconds here.) I like to think that the song (and the video) is a love song to Chicago, too.
Side note: Check out No Way, Cupid, a cool new blog written by fellow bloggers Rock and Doris. They write about relationships, online dating, and life in Chicago.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
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