I talked about moving to Chicago for years before I actually did it. Every time I visited the city, I loved the energy. I loved the radio stations. I loved everything about the city. I told myself I would line up a job before I moved there, but when a friend said she needed a roommate, I took the leap. I spent 4 months trying to find a job, most of which was spent losing my mind looking through thousands of listings on Monster, Careerbuilder, Indeed, Craigslist, and numerous other job search engines. Ultimately, approximately 400 hours of searching job listings lead to two interviews, both were commission only sales jobs in a down economy. The only reason I got a job is because a friend needed someone to start right away because he had a coworker quit without notice. That was a sign of things to come.
Ultimately, everything that could go wrong did. My expenses exceeded my income, the job that I had certainly had no security, I gained 30 pounds in 9 months primarily from stress eating, and I was robbed at gunpoint at 7:30 PM on a Monday on the El (pink line between Damen and Western) on my way home from work, a week after my birthday. I had never needed my friends more, and the friends I needed the most were 6 hours away. It was the most alone I had ever felt. I also thought music would take a bigger role in my life, as Chicago has such a vibrant music scene. Unfortunately, between the commute and the job itself, I stopped having the energy to go to open mikes, or doing anything else to establish myself musically.
Luckily, I knew it wasn’t working out, and that staying in Chicago under those circumstances would have left me in a situation that would have been too much for me to overcome. So, after my first overseas vacation (Tokyo!), I chose to be homeless, living out of my car, performing as much as I could as part of the “Do What You Love” tour. It was an unbelievably amazing 3 months, from March 31st-late June. Sometimes my friends and family gave me a place to stay. Thank you to everyone who did. Sometimes I was in a city where I didn’t know anyone, so I slept in my car.
I learned a ton through my Chicago experience, and even though it took a long time to recover from it, I am better for it now. It really reinforced what was truly important in my life: family, friends, music and love. Money is not on that list.
I have not returned to Chicago since leaving in the spring of 2009, and I have not had a full show in Chicago since March of 2007 (the year before I moved to Chicago). Coming back to the city on my terms, doing what I love, is a chance to redeem myself for my failure there the first time. I know I failed in Chicago, and I’m alright with it because I didn’t fail at life, just at that particular experience. This is why my show there March 8th has extra special meaning for me. I’m glad it’s not part of the “liberty island” CD release tour because it works much better for me on its own.