My town, kinda, Chicago is

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Laura and I were in San Diego a coupla three weeks ago for the World Fantasy Convention. (Yes, it was awesome to see you there too!) When we arrived, she was immediately captivated by the natural beauty of the area, and by the weather. "Ooooh, do you think they have a good business community here?" she asked. "Maybe we can move here."

You have to understand that neither of us is entirely sold on Chicago, still, though it's hard to pin down a precise source of dissatisfaction. We moved here four years ago from New York City. Laura got a great job right off the bat, and recently she started an even better one. We have a great apartment. And, I host a monthly reading series at a nearby bar, which means I meet a lot of local writers.

True, we've been slow to make close friends here, and our close-friend roster is still weighted heavily with New Yorkers, but that's starting to come along. For a while it was the case that we would make a very close friend here and then they would move out of Chicago, very far away, but that trend seems to be reversing. Now people we know are moving to Chicago, which is an encouraging development. And Worldcon is here next year!

Nevertheless, there's some undefinable thing that still nags at us, so I said to Laura, "You should talk to [info]gregvaneekhout this weekend and see what he thinks of living in San Diego."

It so happened that I ran into Greg first that weekend, at a bar (natch). I said to him, "Hey, Laura's thinking San Diego might be a nice place to live. If you see her, she wants to bend your ear about it."

I thought Greg might say something like Hey, that's great or Awesome, man, but instead he looked a little pained. "I don't know," he said. "It's great here, but I see you on Twitter. You guys are always out doing something cool in Chicago. All the time. I honestly don't think there's enough going on here for you."

My first reaction was, hmm, we're not out doing cool stuff that often. But on Monday this week I was thinking about it. On the preceding Tuesday night, I'd gone to the University of Chicago with some friends to see a panel discussion about the place of the Chicago Manual of Style in the internet era, which included two editors of the manual plus Ben Zimmer and Jason Riggle. (I might have annoyed you with all my tweeting that night.) On Wednesday night, I'd gone to a screening of Jodi Lennon's short film Marc Maron: The Voice of Something, about Maron trying to find a way to do worthwhile standup comedy the week after 9/11. On Thursday night, I'd met with my writing group at a local bar and brainstormed ideas for Holly McDowell's novel. On Friday night, Laura and I had gone to a housewarming party at the apartment of some friends who had finally managed to unload their old condo. On Saturday night, Laura and I had gone to the fifth anniversary party for the Writers Workspace, which is where I do a lot of my writing away from home. And on Sunday night we'd gone to Grant Achatz's Aviary, site of our tenth wedding anniversary outing, for a release party for the new cookbook from Eleven Madison Park (my second favorite restaurant in New York, behind only Kabab Cafe). (Chef Daniel Humm personalized our copy!)

Six nights of cool stuff in a row. Hmm. Maybe Greg was right.

Don't worry, Chicago. No matter what happens, we wouldn't be in a position to leave anytime soon. In the meantime, I should probably learn to accept the fact that this really is my kind of town.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/538579.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on November 18, 2011 11:53 AM.

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