09.21.21 – 11:46 am
My stay in Chicago has come to an end, but I will be returning much sooner than expected. My original plan for the fall and winter of 2021 consisted of three different cities… Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York. But after a couple weeks in Chicago, I decided one month was simply not enough. So my scheduled six weeks in NYC were replaced with six more weeks in the windy city. One explanation for my decision is that Chicago and New York are remarkably similar. They both have beautiful buildings, bustling traffic, plenty of people, access to the water, delightful parks, and flocks of pigeons. But simply put, my desire to live in New York was outweighed by my desire to spend more time with my friends.
My previous journal entry detailed just how much I enjoy the company of my SAIC tribe, but I have grown even closer to them since then. We created an awesome film collaboratively, and we have come together for dozens of other meaningful activities and conversations. Some stand-outs have been touring Shedd Aquarium, biking along Lake Michigan, celebrating Mexican Independence Day, eating lots of banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery, enjoying movies at the dine-in theater, watching the Navy Pier fireworks from afar, and throwing a music-listening party.
I have also had the joy of making Chicago memories with my family and girlfriend. My parents visited for a weekend, during which we attended a vegan food festival, dined at Giordano’s, stayed in the Omni Hotel, walked my dog through the city streets, and explored all the other classic Chicago attractions. My girlfriend, Camille, joined me a week later to celebrate our monumental five-year anniversary. She and I stopped by all the famous locations as well, and we spent lots of time playing games and watching TV in my apartment before I had to bid it farewell.
But as I say “see you later” to Chicago, I am greeted by the wonderful city of Milwaukee. Camille has been going to college here for the last three semesters, and I have visited her three times in total. I’ve already experienced just how lovely this city can be, but I am thrilled to experience it for a longer period of time. It’s a bit chillier than Chicago, which is ideal for me, as I prefer cold over heat any day. It’s also notably smaller than Chicago, which is a refreshing change of pace. Driving my car in Chicago (the third most populated city in the country) gave me quite a bit of anxiety. The Chicago drivers are aggressive and impatient. In fact, I was hit by a car while walking home from the grocery store just a couple weeks ago, but that’s a separate story entirely.
Carrying on, Milwaukee is large enough to have all the attractions, restaurants, and stores I might need, but small enough that I can have solitary walks and a bit of space on the road when driving. It is much like my hometown of St Louis in that regard, but with the added feature of Lake Michigan, which I absolutely love. If I have failed to express it in my works of writing and film over the years, I adore the water. Living near a large body of water has always been a dream of mine. I see myself, in the semi-distant future, writing in a cozy house by the North Sea. But for the time being, I am writing in a cozy house just a three-minute walk from Lake Michigan. And that is more than enough to make me smile.
The quietness of Milwaukee and the absence of my friend group also afford me the ability to dedicate larger blocks of time to my work. I am juggling several major films, a novel, and other creative projects currently, so I look forward to sitting down and giving them proper attention. I also want to carve out a concrete marketing strategy for KM Productions. I have a published book, a website, several hundred films/videos, and six active social media pages… yet I feel like my audience has barely begun to shape up. I’m hoping to truly nail down how I can attract an awesome community of thoughtful people to enjoy and support my creations, so I can turn my personal brand into a business that will support my lifestyle.
But in addition to focusing on my work, I want to read and write simply for fun. I believe I am closer than ever to reigniting the passion I had as a young child. During my early youth, I would carry around notebooks literally everywhere. I would sprawl across the floor and write all day long. If given ten minutes of free time, I would undoubtedly spend them writing. Not out of obligation, or in an attempt to grow my catalogue, but simply because I loved creating imaginary worlds. And I still do.
Camille recently asked me why I love storytelling so much. I told her that, as a child, I found the real world somewhat restrictive. I felt fairly limited by being one single person in one single life. I wanted to be infinite people, and explore infinite worlds. So I created countless characters and stories as a means of exploring all the possibilities of existence. But in recent years, I’ve put that excessive world-creating to the side, and found joy in the actual world around me. I have realized that places like Chicago may not be as inherently fantastic as outer space or alternate dimensions, but I can still find amazement there. My time in Chicago, or anywhere else, is still an incredibly interesting chapter in my life story. However, I now seek to combine these mindsets. I want to continue seeing beauty in the physical world, but also stay driven to write what I cannot experience in this lifetime. And Milwaukee is the perfect place for me to unlock that balance. Some of my best creations are closer than ever… I know it.