major life updates, part I

Since many of my readers are bored at home, I thought I would write a post updating everyone on my life. Regular visitors have probably noticed that I moved to Chicago but I have lots of good news that I have never documented outside of my Instagram.

D moved to Chicago at the end of 2017. We drove the cats to Chicago on Christmas day, then did long distance for nine months while I looked for work. I joined Accenture in September 2018 and I can truly say that I have never been happier. It’s an awesome place to work, the people I work with are all incredibly smart and genuinely kind, and I have had opportunities that I couldn’t have even dreamed of. I feel blessed to have new friends all over the world and a role that let me travel and set my own hours.

I’d dreamed of working at Accenture for over ten years, but I never thought it would actually happen unless I got an MBA (or a time machine to go back in time and attend a college where they recruit liberal arts graduates).

Accenture wasn’t the only dream that came true for me in the last three years.  I am honored to share my life with the most wonderful person I know. I had my first date with D in late October of 2014 and I wrote in my diary around Valentine’s Day in 2015 that I expected to be living with my husband in Chicago in five years. Although our wedding has been delayed indefinitely because of coronavirus, pretty much everything else worked out precisely as my 26-year-old self hoped for.

I was so confident of my future with D that I oriented my career around this five-year plan: I accepted my first records management job in August 2015 with the intention of parlaying that experience into a private sector job in Chicago when I eventually moved there with D. D was not speaking to me when I accepted this job offer, and I was dating someone else, but I knew that eventually D and I would get back together, get married, and move to Chicago.

By the summer of 2016, we were getting back on track but things weren’t moving as quickly as I wanted them to, so I bought a house thinking that it would help me move on from D if he didn’t settle down with me. Happily, the house made D settle down. We got a kitten shortly after I closed, got a second cat not long afterwards, and then D finally moved in eight months later and then we got a third cat and became “domestic partners.” This bothered me a bit at the time since I wanted to get married, but now that it has been nearly three years I feel that it is very hip and “queer” that we are not legally married.

I was expecting us to spend longer in DC together, but D’s job became unbearable (discussed at more length in my post about DC toxicity). We briefly considered looking for new work in DC, but a potential opportunity for D in Chicago presented itself in the first half of 2017, and we decided to go for it after my dream job hired a white male candidate who did not meet the position’s minimum qualifications (more on this to come).

I thought that 2017 was a hard year. D’s job in Chicago was delayed, then delayed again, and we didn’t have a firm offer in hand until after Thanksgiving. In the meantime, we were both very unhappy at work. I decided to tough it out at my job given our potential relocation, and D accepted a consulting project with a company that understood that he might relocate after six months. The job finally came through in November, we made some trips to Chicago for job interviews and househunting, and bought a condo in Chicago that we planned to renovate for D’s parents.

2018 was actually the hard year. I interviewed for over ten jobs in Chicago, it took me over a year to find a job*, and I came out of all this hating public libraries, museums, and Chicago’s incestuous hiring tendencies. Through all this, my job in Washington devolved from comically bad to actively hostile. D and I were bleeding money maintaining two households after D took a pay cut to move back to Chicago. I had a tenant in Maryland who offset my expenses by $800/month, but our condo in Chicago was much pricier than my mortgage, D had taken a pay cut, and we were spending tons of money on my job search and on medical expenses. (The medical expenses have yielded one cool thing and that is that our household was selected for the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey! This is a long-term survey where the government sends a very nice researcher to our house every few months to look at our medical bills.)

In August 2018, I finally received the perfect job. A year at a good company has gone a long way to healing my mind, body and soul, despite lingering chaos from our move at the end of 2017. I had trouble leasing my house and only finished moving the rest of my stuff into a storage unit at the end of August 2018. I finally extracted myself from the storage unit in November when my old roommate from DC moved to Chicago and brought my stuff with her.

2019 was eventful, but overall less difficult. Since moving into our condo in September 2018, I remodeled that apartment, leased it (we bought the condo with the understanding that D’s parents would move in the summer of 2019 – instead they held firm on a 2020 relocation and ultimately backed out of the transaction), and moved us again into the Victorian house of my dreams.

I really can’t believe everything that has happened in three years, but the most unbelievable thing is that there was ever a time when our biggest source of stress was the uncertainty of D’s job in Chicago. I hope that I will be able to look back and say that these were some of the hardest years of my life. D said the other day that he had almost forgotten how horrible my job search was. I guess that we have both suppressed a lot about the nine months we were apart. I cried a lot and spent a lot of time in bed. I gained 20 pounds, lost it, then gained it all back. I know that a lot of you relate to my difficulties finding work, and I will try to post about it since I know a lot of you have struggled with this and I am almost ready to talk about it now that I have more perspective on the matter.

At least now I can say there was a light at the end of the tunnel. D is back in a functional work environment with people he respects. We’re out of D.C. and in a functioning labor market that’s grounded in basic reality.

It has cost a lot of money to get here (a subject for the job search post). Most days, I think this money was well spent. Even though things haven’t gone the way we hoped with the condo, we will hopefully turn a small profit if we have a quick sale. I’ve done very well on my house in Maryland (despite Wells Fargo’s bogus valuation of my property).

The job I finally got has exceeded all my expectations. The job was so good that I might have moved here even if I were single. (My single female friends should definitely move here. The dating market is much better for women.)

The house (and our neighborhood) have exceeded not just my expectations, but my wildest dreams.

Best of all, my relationship with D is better than ever after all of this (and maybe because of it). I hope the future will be easier, but knowing that D and I will find a way through whatever lies ahead gives me a lot of peace.

In the end, everything worked out almost precisely according to my five-year plan. Below is a list of the deviations:
– D’s job came a little early
– I didn’t expect to have the financial hiccups that we did
– I thought we’d have a wedding before we moved to Chicago (and maybe we would have if not for the financial difficulties)
– I didn’t expect my job search to be so protracted (although even that worked out in the end, because I got my new job within days of my three-year anniversary with the federal government, which gave me career tenure!)
– I thought we would live in Hyde Park
– Specifically, I thought we would live in Dave’s parents’ house
– I didn’t expect to buy an enormous Victorian house
– I didn’t expect to move to a small town
– I didn’t expect to have three cats (I expected to get a female tuxedo Manx cat with a pink nose to replace my last one – this did come to pass but the two surplus cats were unexpected)
– I thought I would get married in D’s family synagogue, but that place is a disaster and I refuse to set foot there unless we are going with his parents to something
– I also thought that I might get married at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington but for a number of reasons it’s more convenient for me to get married in Chicago

Although I would have preferred a smoother road to getting here, the outcome really is better than I could have planned or predicted. D is my favorite person and I can’t wait to have a real wedding someday so that we can have lots of pictures to enjoy in the future.

* It really should not have taken this long to find a job but for some reason there was not a lot of turnover of records management positions in the first six months that I was looking. Once I started seeing jobs in the private sector that were a strong match, the process went very smoothly. I think it says a lot about libraries and museums that every private sector employer I interviewed with loved me and that libraries and museums apparently…didn’t. I can promise that I did not interview differently in the corporate job interviews…

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