Paper Anniversary: Chicago

One. Whole. Year. In Chicago.

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What happened?

  • Got rehired at a great job; free transit, great co-workers and tolerable dad jokes.
  • Started classes at Xavier’s School For Clowns Who Think They Funny
  • Found legit big apartment with 2 roommates who were equally legit and has affordable rent in a safe and cute neighborhood.
  • Discovered 7-Eleven’s rewards program where they give me a free soda after I buy 7 and 7 is God’s number…so…7-Eleven is now the church of Diet Coke.
  • Began attending a Krav Maga gym full of loony characters and lovable idiots. I even voluntarily went camping with them in June.
  • Joined a survey through Northwestern University to kick my own butt about being healthier: it’s just tracking food and tracking activity. That’s it (30lbs down)!
  • Got new roommate that has a BEER FRIDGE and seriously, if that’s not enough she’s the only person who asked me about my life in the interview. #numbah1draftpick
  • Graduated from Second City’s A-E Improv Program after a first-day-of-class fire happened.
  • Ran in the Color Run for the 2nd time, got 2x as much powder and was a magical unicorn.
  • Saw so many ridiculously good sketch shows and improv sets and women being bold as all hell in their comedy. Inspiring and challenging.
  • Took a Korean class and surprisingly, got an award for being the top student in our class. Also won a pound of coffee for making a shoddy keynote, but caffeine addicts such as myself refuse to recheck the numbers.
  • Helped write a Second City Student Revue with 6 of my favorite classmates of the aforementioned Xavier’s School FCWTTF.
    • Shows will be August 26, September 2, 9, 16 and 23rd (more info to follow)
  • Went home to Washington State and was invited to perform at the Upfront Theatre in Bellingham. My family and friends (all 15 of you!) got to see what I’ve chosen to move halfway around the world for…and I got to perform with their incredibly welcoming MainStage team, including the OG himself, Ryan Stiles.
  • Eaten 4 deep dish pizzas, 2 Chicago hot dogs (sans ketchup, natch), 1 Italian beef (dipped) and 1 Old Style Beer.
  • Created a 90s-themed improv show “And A Bag Of Chips” with my babes from Coached Ensemble and we SOLD OUT THE THEATER.
  • Purchased 1 Cubs hat and 0 Bulls, Bears or Blackhawks gear; attended 0 professional sports games.
  • Complained about “Lolla” approximately 4x this weekend and took a picture of 2 17-year olds sitting shirtless on the floor of my Brown line train. Fools! *shakes grandma fist*

It’s been a great year, y’all. It’s not all sunshine and Sears Tower ledges and Aidy Bryant sightings and there’s sometimes more loneliness and tears than I’d like to admit, but overall this still feels like the right place for right now. I’m learning and growing. Plus, most of the people I’ve met are pretty darn great. I’m proud of doing this so far.

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To us, Chicago. Get me a good gift. Preferably one with cheese on it.

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Yes, and watch me now.

I’ve graduated from several things. High school, college, CELTA, potty training (debatable)–and today, I graduated from Second City’s Improv Program.

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10 months ago I moved to Chicago. I had no long-term housing, only 10 hangers, and didn’t know anyone. On a muggy Wednesday last August, I sat in a room with 19 strangers and wondered if this would be my tribe.

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Was I right in having moved halfway around the world from Korea for this? Would they get me? When would I eat Korean BBQ again (still unanswered, which is unacceptable)?

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Then…a woman with a foreign accent slammed open the door and shouted “You must get out of building, the roof is on fire!”

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And ever since then, we’ve been stuck with each other. Sure, we’ve subtracted and added some members as the months went on; scheduling and life and new jobs and such, but overall, these people were my lifeline.

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I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to Wednesdays so much. From 11am-2pm I got to see these stone-cold weirdos, then eat lunch and frantically scribble nonsense for my 4-7pm Writing class, which will continue until August.

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It feels pretty unreal to think that next Wednesday morning I won’t see them. Not Jolie’s I-just-came-from-the-gym-but-I-probably-look-better-than-you-did-at-prom stylings, nor Scott’s this-is-just-improv-but-I’m-singing-this-operatic-scene-like-the-pro-I-am and Patrick’s I-broke-my-kid’s-ankle-beating-him-in-capture-the-flag moves.

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These people have supported me, loved me, encouraged me, let me cry on them (even ugly cry) and championed me in ways I haven’t deserved. We were all just a group of strangers trying to follow our fear or defeat our anxiety or live our dream and our willingness to be open on this journey and love each other has changed my life. Not a joke.

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I promised myself (and my family and friends and the rest of y’all) that I was going to give this comedy thing at least a year. I owed it to myself to try it. To see if it’s a real thing, a true thing, or if it’s a fling.

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I think it’s a thing, guys. And I’m not going anywhere yet.

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Hello, Chicago.

I’m sitting in a Starbucks on Irving Park. In Chicago. I live here now.

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No, really! I do. I am.

I came home from Korea on July 1 and spent 3 jet-lagged, laughing, warm/hot/muggy weeks with my family. I got to meet my giggly poundcake niece, Olivia, take Zoe on a walk to the park, eat green beans right off the vine from my Nana’s garden, have sweaty grass hugs from my Papa, listen to Brianna rap in the car, shoot some jugs full of water in the backyard with Dad, cook all my favorite foods with Mom, watch Em drive and start basketball games and come home from a One Direction concert like me after BigBang’s. It was wonderful.

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Then I flew to Tulsa, hugged a lot of people, ate some real barbecue (MY GAWWWWWWWD YES), and went to Little Rock. Where I then proceeded to hug even *more* people, ate more real barbecue and other assorted favorite foods. Someone tell me why my pants are tighter… And then Michael and I drove me up to Chicago (with a pitstop in BFE Missouri to see Casey & Steven, my favorites), dragging a beached whale of a U-Haul trailer halfway across the country to start my new life.

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So, I’m here. And in less than a month, I’m starting classes at the Second City Training Center. The home of comedy legends. And here I am, a 27-year old woman who majored in Broadcast Journalism at a small Christian college, who worked for the retail arm of the #1 company in the world, who just spent 2 years teaching in Korea and traveling in Asia…jumping off of a cliff. A metaphorical cliff.

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Except I am. At least a little. Right now, I’m walking around my neighborhood, Albany Park (unofficial Koreatown, which is kind of hilarious in the context of my life); learning a new bus system, carrying pepper spray (yes, Dad, its in my bag now). And I’m not scared of Chicago–not smart–thanks to 2 years of super safe life in Korea. I’m scared that I’m going to be bad at this–that I will have romanticized comedy and my role in that world.

I like comedy. A lot. I like performing it. A lot. I love when something I’ve said or done can make someone laugh, in any language. And I don’t know if Second City and improv and sketch writing is my niche. But I feel like it’s now or it’s never for this step–before I don’t have the funds or the ability to go, before I have another person’s dreams to consider or tiny humans who look half like me run around–I want to try.

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So I’m here. And I’m about to try. And I’m looking forward to where this next step in my life is going. I know a lot of you are as well–your texts, messages, calls and prayers are all balm to my heart. They are tamping down the doubt and insecurity that threaten to overwhelm me in a gas station bathroom in rural Lick Creek, Illinois and every time I look at Amy Schumer sketches and think “could I do that?”

So, to parallel how I began this blog over 2 years ago, the night before I left for Korea, I’m taking a deep breath and thinking:

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