Friday, December 24, 2010

Leaving Chicago

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!


  1. I think look at other possibilties and examining options is a great way to keep your spirits up with what you need to deal with in the present - I hope that makes sense...

    Anyway, hope you're enjoying the holidays.

  2. I laughed at your reference to Single White Female as that's 1 scary movie!

    You're fortunate that you can move wherever you want & whatever climate you prefer. Do you prefer a smaller, quieter city or even a town?

    It may be scary but moving does involve a lot of material to write about! :)

  3. Hi Talli,
    Thanks! I hope you've been enjoying the good holiday too. I am trying to be optimistic about the possibility of a move, especially because I'd be really sad about leaving Chicago. I think I feel more attached to this city than I do to my hometown.

    Hi notesfromnadir,
    I think I'd like to live in a college town, because then there'd probably be bookstores and cafes there (at least I hope there would be). I didn't realize that moving could give me some material, but that's a good point! Thanks!

  4. Thanks for the plug!

    You're not the first friend of mine to mention the possibility of leaving Chicago. Sometimes you just need a change. I went to graduate school in a college town and I hated it, but that's me, not you. College towns can be awesome and often do have a lot to offer in the way of coffee shops, bookstores and culture. And if it's a big school, there's often a lot going on.

    Keep us posted!

  5. Hi No Way Cupid,
    I wouldn't mind living in a college town, as long as I get to teach at a good school. If the school wasn't a good one, then it wouldn't matter if it was a college town or a big city.

  6. Good luck! I am always a big fan of changing things up. If we're going to live in a world where everything is so mobile and the sense of community is all but lost, we might as well take advantage and keep things exciting! :)

  7. Hi FreeFlying,
    Thanks! I think it will be interesting to move somewhere new. I think that's also what I'm scared of, because I've been in Chicago for so long and everything's so familiar now. But hopefully if I do move somewhere else, eventually it will become familiar too.

  8. You're a Winner!
    Just wanted to let you know that you've won a Kindle copy of NOTES FROM NADIR!
    Thank you so much for entering the Better Than Chocolate Kindle E-book Contest!
    All the best,

  9. Hi Lisa,
    Thank you! It's always good to win stuff (not that it happens often for me), especially if it's a free book!

  10. Ever thought about teaching in Asia?

    At least the students are more hardworking and you won't see that many who sleep in class.

  11. Hi Anonymous,
    I have thought about it, but those jobs often involve teaching English as a second language and you don't have to have a PhD for that. They're good opportunities, but I'm looking for jobs that do require master's degrees or PhDs. I did find a few job opportunities in Asia, but they're mainly for people who have already completed their degrees.

  12. Yep. I'm from Singapore. Our universities should have opportunities.

    Places like hong kong, Korea, etc..more developed countries should have opportunities for you.

    But I guess you might have to bite the bullet and finish your dissertation asap. Hope you see the end of the tunnel soon.