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Chicago: A Love Story

I am originally from the Chicago area – my parent's still live there – and I am frequently there for visits.

I love Chicago.

The city is big and as with any big city you have access to: art, food, nightlife, shopping, or whatever else you are into.

While the city is not exactly cheap – what big city is – O is so fun. The people are friendly and once you get to know the city you will realize that there are very cool neighborhoods with their own unique identity.

People have told me that they didn't realize Chicago was full of music. But the music scene there is fantastic.

And they have the best art/science museums in the area.

If you want something a little different check out China town for some good ethnic food.

Compared with big cities on the coasts you can get a lot of done fairly cheaply. Though not cheap.

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Home Cooked

Cooking. This is something that I never knew that a) I could do b) would be something I would do c) it would improve my quality of life. I was never big on hobbies. I wouldn't say that I would call it that either since it seems like 99% of the population does it. Daily I might add. But I realized that it makes a big difference in day to day quality of life.

The benefits: Cooking is so much fun and if you do it right you get to eat something really great!

Most people just see it for what it is healthier, or if nothing more as a means to saves money. But it is also rewarding and with a linear learning curve you even get benefits from modest effort. Though they continue to be present even when you get more skilled at it. In other words there is a continued benefit, the more you invest time learning the better you will get. I don't think that there is a limit.

To summarize by cooking you will save you money, improve your health and make you more popular and attractive to anyone. Alright, the last bit was maybe a bit of a stretch. But it is fun! I am surprised that more of my friends don't cook for themselves.

Sure it can become expensive. Cooking utensils cost money. But you don't need them all. And not in the beginning. I’ve bought a lot of things now that I have gotten used to it.

Though it has been an on going process. When you strt you don’t need much, just a cook top and a few pots and pans. You can even find these in usable condition from the thrift store. Throw in a cutting board, a spatula, and a knife. That is about it.

Everyone in the world cooks, not just rich people in America.

Clearly nice gadgets, while nice, are not required.

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Geo What?

It’s called Geocaching. And as you might have guessed it is a website, you can find it under My friends and I play it sometimes. The idea is sort of like treasure hunting. For me the added bonus is that I get to spend time with my friends doing something fun. On top of that I have gotten to see a lot of places that I otherwise wouldn’t have seen. The gist is that people create and hide varying size “caches” and then upload the GPS coordinates to a website. Others than download the coordinates onto a handheld GPS like you phone you don’t need much. Just some time to go out and find it. Sometimes there’s just a log you sign, other times people will leave stuff to take. You can also log your finds on the same website. To date my favorite find was a Backstreet Boys album and a picture of MacGuyver.
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Clack Clack Clack Ting

My creativity seems to be most potent when I have something else to do. To phrase it better, I would say that I am more motivated to write when I am actually not able to write. My brain uses its potential for creative thought, especially when I am not able to sit down any and actually write. I use my phone for shorthand notes. I think we call it procrastination. It’s a productivity technique. One where you get stuff done by procrastinating on something else. I had been holding back on cleaning out the garage it kept going until it was time to do my taxes. What would you know, our garage is now spotless. That sudden cleaning, our spotless garage only really sounded like a good idea when I had more pressing things to take care of. I’ve always felt that it was simply a desire to not be in this situation right now. I think we call it procrastination. I do a lot of writing at work. Writing and my creativity as a whole is more personal for me. I know you may have heard me say it before but it is sort of fantasy, used for escapism. Every book that I write gets my full attention. They could be published today if I were to pursue it. I don’t. Still I enjoy having the idea of publishable work. Something that I could show to people even if I never actually do that. At least not outside of a small group of friends.
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Meditation? It’s great! I’m less anxious, more aware of my bad habits and it gives me a chance to get totally out of my head. Anxiety was my default state but as I meditated more and more anxious thoughts became much less prevalent and even when I do get anxious I can mindfully refocus on whatever I want to. Something common among people with depression/anxiety is repression of emotions via excessive intellectualization. I lived alone and far away from my family and friends and I find I spend way too much time inside my head, ruminating on things. But meditation has helped me to pull away from that and focus on things that are tangible and right in front of me. The biggest thing it has given me is that most of the time I can turn off most thought pretty easily. The peace and quiet is nice, and it helps me think better when I actually need to. The brain is part muscle just like any other body part. It took me a lot of regular meditation to really hone it down. I started mediating two years ago and have been meditating off and on since then. When I first started I couldn’t close my eyes in a dark room for more than a few minutes, I thought something was going to come for me, I was a frightened and very paranoid person. For me this was the manifestation of my anxiety. The distance from my family and friends and the fact that I was alone came out when the lights were off. It’s the first time I’ve ever observed my brain in action. Since that time meditation has helped grow tremendously and made me realize where a lot of my misguided emotions were coming from. It has brought me into a better place in my life. Meditation provides a much needed time for self-reflection. Whether it was always pursuing a romantic relationship in an effort to replace a perceived void left by the absence of a parent’s affection or letting others take advantage of me emotionally. In today’s world where we’re being pulled a hundred different ways, it’s nice to have some time to sit down and listen what’s going on within ourselves. It’s not all peaches and roses though. I have bad days. Even then, the skills you gain through meditation should help you there. Be aware of your emotions and thoughts, but try not to attach to them nor reject them.