Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day

It's been a long time! I know! I just haven't felt like writing at all. And I know if I don't feel like writing my posts will be very uninspired. 

The weather has been mostly great here. It's humid and somedays it has been so hot that it was almost impossible to do anything outside. But luckily we have many beautiful beaches, only about a 10 minute bike ride away.

It is quite amazing how the city changes with the weather. The one thing people often tell me they like about Chicago is how unique the different quarters of the city are and this is definitely much more noticeable now that the weather is more pleasant. There is Lakeview - where 
we live which in itself has like three different sides to it. We live all the way in West Lakeview, almost North Center. It's all families and cute neighborhood cafes here. But Boystown (the gay neighborhood) and Wrigleyville (the frat boy and sorority girl party neighborhood) are also part of Lakeview. A bit more South you have Lincoln Park and Wicker Park - full of expensive shops, fancy bars and rich girls wearing tiny sundresses and oversized bags and designer sunglasses. Even more South (but still North of the Loop - downtown) there is Old Town which is more urban and funky. It reminds me a bit of the Village in New York.
Downtown is downtown. Busy, bustling, crawling with corporate workers and tourists during the day - dead at night.
And then you have the whole South side. I honestly haven't seen much of the South side as it's supposed to be the "Bad neighborhood", dangerous after dark, don't go there wearing your expensive jewelry, don't look too white. Bladibla. But there are definitely parts of the South side that I am interested in getting to know better. Pilsen for example. A good friend of mine lives there. It's a poor neighborhood but also an artsy neighborhood full of galleries and street art. According to my friend Pilsen is not dangerous at all but the people who live there don't want their area to be turned into the hip new neighborhood. Because that has happened to a lot of parts of Chicago. Yuppies discover the area, move there and soon the area is so expensive that people who originally lived there can't afford it anymore. Apparently the gang signs on the street corners and people running around with knives in  their pocket are mostly there to scare the yuppie-crowd off. 
I personally can't confirm if this is true but it does make sense.

I also got to experience my first 4th of July celebrations this weekend. Strangely the big party was happening on the 3rd. 
We started the day (the 3rd) cycling down to Grant Park to visit the "Taste of Chicago" festival. This is a yearly food festival where restaurants sell small "taste" amounts of their food for very high prices. 
Later we were invited to a BBQ party, close to the lake. According to what I have heard there were about 1 million people BBQing and waiting for the fireworks that day. We were right next to Lake Shore drive - which is a 3 or 4-laned Autobahn - usually closed off even for cyclists. Well, at around 5pm they closed it off and people were allowed to walk on it, play on it, cycle, whatever you want (except driving). It was a strangely liberating feeling to stand in the middle of an Autobahn.

Kids playing on Lake Shore Drive

Our bike ride home on Lake Shore Drive

The fireworks weren't bad either. 

My life here has been an up and down. I have good weeks and I have bad weeks. I am glad to say that it's mostly good weeks at this point. I noticed that there are mainly two things which turn a bad week into a good week - sunshine and good company. If I have a week were I am out a lot, spending time with my new friends I feel very much in love with the city of Chicago.
If the weather is bad and my friends don't feel like leaving the house, I usually get really homesick (to Holland). 

And then of course there is the whole career thing which also depresses me. I am still looking for jobs every day. But I'll talk about that some other time.

1 comment:

bubbly said...

Glad you had a great 4th (or 3rd ;). And that things are more win than lose.

Portland has also had yuppification of one neighbourhood after another. I think a lot of cities have that though.