My triumphant return to Chicago

Greetings, from your favorite newly minted Chicago resident. So much is new.

not my neighborhood, but a damn good view

My neighborhood is great, and surprisingly walkable once I remember to leave my building and walk. The last time I could actually walk places from my house I was at VCU. 

Still, I need to drive, and I broke my side view mirror and dented my car on the garage alley from hell. This garage was designed by a sadist who loves the sound of metal scraping on metal and I really hope my dad never has to see what I’ve done to this vehicle. 

I have, however, successfully parallel parked multiple times despite never actually learning the skill in Driver’s Ed. (I got u, Olivia Rodrigo.) My most successful attempt was in vain though, as I learned once I completed parking that the spot was only empty because it was in front of a fire hydrant.

Lyndsi is my new date to all of my outings. We saw Hasan Minhaj and went to Jukebox the Ghost doing Halloqueen, something I’ve wanted to see for years. At Halloqueen, I told her I wasn’t feeling well, she disappeared, and 3 minutes later we had amazing seats with a great view provided by my new favorite House of Blues employee.

I made up a song for Max. I don’t think you could even say it’s a song, it’s just a chant I do while hugging him. He loves it. Eats it up. It makes me think, “oh wow this kid loves me! I’m totally in control!” And yet he’s the one calling the shots, jumping on me deciding when I sing the song, how long I sing it… he’s the ringmaster. He’s a damn genius. I’m his clown.

I’m holding my own pretty well at Jeopardy against Andy. He’s hard to beat, but I clean up decently in the art categories. 

My room has zero natural light. And it turns out, I thrive on natural light. My bedroom looks out onto a very dark alley with a grey building. The good news is that none of my neighbors open their blinds. The bad news is, I have no one to creep on or recreate “You Belong With Me” with. There is hope though—the guy who lives a floor above me keeps his blinds open at night and has light shows with his Hue lights… so there’s promise.

The good thing about the alley is that is backs up to the L and I can hear the train all day. I feel so cozy as I have either lived directly next to an airport and/or a major freeway since I was 13. 

My food cravings in Chicago are highly specific. For lunch, I only want cheese and crackers. For dinner, I only want take out from midwest specific chain restaurants (Portillo’s, Culver’s, any of the Chicago deep dish chains), or steak fajitas. And cotton candy Go-Gurt. I’m 29 and I’m eating Go-Gurt on a regular basis.

I turned 29. This is the last year of my roaring 20s and the last year I’ll be able to call it my roaring 20s. It’s also the first year I even thought to use the reference, which is a tragedy in and of itself. I’m really enjoying reaching my prime though, I feel like I can truly embrace what it means to be a millennial woman and watch my fridge organizing Tik Toks without shame.

Tori came to visit! Tori is also the fastest walker in the damn world because she lives in Colorado where she functions at altitude compared to us plebs at sea level. It’s fine, I wasn’t following her like a baby duckling. It’s fine. But seriously, we had a great weekend with the basic Chicago tourist things, the river architecture cruise, the pizza. 

I finally got to visit one of the stores I’ve been following on Instagram for months when I was planning my new Chicago life and it was disappointing—one of those “don’t meet your heroes” moments. I didn’t even needlessly drop money there. Is this… growth?

No. It’s not growth. I have been needlessly dropping money everywhere else. My credit card companies haven’t even reached out to me in concern, and that’s proof that capitalism is everything that Squid Games told us it was.

Do not send me anything via USPS. Yesterday a prescription mailed on September 29 arrived. It took 3 weeks for Emily’s birthday card to arrive to me. I set up mail forwarding for my old address and nothing has come yet. I’ve given up on it. It’s fine. Lance DeJoy has done his dirty work. UPS, FedEx, and Amazon, however, are still working, so please! If you’re so inclined. 

I’m in a full on 90s kick (I wrote while wearing mom jeans and a flannel) and I’d like to say it’s because I’m living in the land I originally lived in during the 90s, but I think it’s just because Gen-Z decided it’s the 90s again. I’m very obsessed with Pavement after hearing their song that’s viral on TikTok and binging their discography after remembering that I used to cry to “Spit on a Stranger” in high school. Is it a crying song? No. Was it on my “crying music” playlist anyway junior year? Yes.

my current favorite Pavement song

I got my booster shot, and it was miserable for a couple of days, but I’m fully back to normal. Go get yours. (By the way, having depression now qualifies as a complex health condition that qualifies you for a COVID booster. I hang out with a lot of depressed people so if you’re reading this, you likely qualify. Go get the damn booster.)

I miss my parents. And my brother. And my dogs. And my friends. I miss Wegman’s, and the Super Target in Leesburg, and hills—it’s SO flat here. Why is no one else talking about how flat it is here? I even found myself missing Tyson’s Corner the other day—I was walking out of a shopping mall and was filled with a Tyson’s Corner Superiority Complex even though I hate Tyson’s Corner. 

But there’s a lot on the horizon.

This outrageously flat horizon.


  1. Congrats on your homecoming Shan ! It’s always a delight to read your well articulated and heart felt stories! I remember visiting Chicago as a total MJ fan at his prime ?. Please say hi to Max, Lyndsi & Andy for me – love y’all ??

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