Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

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My Nickname Should Be Breadcrumbs

Have you ever thought about giving yourself a nickname? If you could choose one, would it focus on your best qualities? Would it be funny? Clever? Revealing?

Yeah… the name I came up with for myself is none of those really. It’s blunt, if whimsical. Remember Hansel and Gretel? They tried to find their way home using a trail of breadcrumbs. Usually a trail of breadcrumbs can be followed.

My breadcrumbs are a little different. They are scattered all over, in no particular order. They simply leave a path of where I’ve been. You could literally track my physical location through history if you had some sort of way of tracking my possessions.

I’m not joking when I say I leave all my shit everywhere all the time.

It’s a bad habit I cannot break, no matter how hard I try. I’ve done a better job at keeping up with possessions over the years. For instance, no house keys have been lost in years and years. Misplaced, of course, but always eventually found.

Essential home items aside, lots of other things are left as an accidental reminder of my presence. I try not to think about to monetary value of things I’ve left that can’t be retrieved. Instead I focus on the things I’ve mislaid that can be retrieved, even if it takes a while.

Since I’m on the subject, here are five examples of things I’ve left behind.

  1. This past Thanksgiving, I spent the night at a my friend Sara’s house after eating soooo much pie. I worked Thanksgiving and the day after. It was not until I got back to work that I noticed I had left my watch (aka the Samsung Gear Fit 2) and three rings. I’d placed them on her bathroom floor when I showered in the morning so as to not lose them down a drain or mix them up with her stuff on her dresser. And of course, I walked right out the apartment without them. I had to head back there Friday night after work to pick them up.
  2. A couple of years after college, I was back visiting with my friend David. We were there for a huge part his fraternity used to throw every year, and it was a nice reunion. I had a ton of toiletries with me (as I usually do when I travel). After I got back from the weekend, I realized I’d left brand new bottle of an entire line of hair care and face care products. Seeing as how I only visited Tallahassee once a year, I knew there was no way to get them back. That was a particularly expensive fuckup.
  3. This is not a specific time, but a specific item: eye glasses. I swear I leave them anywhere not at home where I remove them. I wish I could say I was one of those people who look for glasses sitting atop their head. Nope, mine are found such interesting places as on top of the toilet tank in a jazz club bathroom, in a seat I’ve just left on the subway, in between the couch cushions at the house of a friend of a friend, and inside someone else’s jacket pocket.
  4. Another item: earrings. I lose and leave them everywhere. Most incriminatingly (is that word?), at every home I’ve visited of every guy I never should’ve dated. I also leave one earring behind at work, in the collar of shirts and jackets, hooked into sweaters of people who hug me, and some black hole where I assume they adorn the lost socks of the world. I have a medium sized box in my bedroom that holds all the single earrings I still own. I threw one out once last year. Before my parents moved, the other earring went missing one fateful afternoon in which I’d spent time in every fucking room in the house, which never happens in one afternoon. After my parents moved, I gave the earring up for lost, so I tossed the other one in the pair. Wouldn’t you know that I found the earring in a corner of a drawer in the bedroom set they’d moved from my old bedroom. The lost earring survived the move, and I threw out its match for no reason! Needless to say, the other earrings may stay in that box for eternity, in case their match resurfaces.
  5. This last one is a doozy. I got a free tablet with an old phone, I’m thinking it was my Note 5. I happily used this tablet to play all the games I used to play on my cell, but stopped when I realized how much battery they drained. One visit to Chicago, I got off the plane in Chicago, only to realize I’d left my tablet on the plane. Instead of having my parents drive back to the airport, I asked my husband, who felw in the next day, to check with lost and found to see about the table. Turns out Delta Airlines has a bullshit lost and found system. I filled out the appropriate online forms, got some terrible customer service and runaround, then accepted my tablet was lost forever. When I got my new Note 7 (I miss my beloved phone), I got a new tablet with it. I was able to play my games, so I had less overall ire towards Delta even though I just knew one of their staff members was living it up with my old tablet. Then my mother asked if either Chris or I had lost an iPad. Chris’s iPad was on our kitchen counter, where it always it. Luckily, I was headed back to Chicago for  a visit. When I got there, I saw the tablet. And, you guessed it, it was my old Samsung tablet. Not an iPad, not stolen by some wayward Delta employee. I felt so foolish. That whole situation was peak breadcrumbs.

Looking for a common thread in these scenarios, and the only one I can see is that I’m usually in a state of fight or flight when something is left behind. Not necessarily immediate fight or flight, but definitely that’s my overall feeling. Leaving the house of a guy I never intend to see again would help explain why I wouldn’t be in the right mind to itemize my belongings.

Although… if I really wanted to go and have no reason for return, you’d think I’d do a better job of collecting my stuff, right? It’s happened to me more than once that I dealt with guys assuming I wanted them to chase me with the old left-the-earring-routine. How I have pined for the lost costume jewelry as I ignored smug text messages offering to return my item. So many ransom notices, lol. Excuse my hyperbole, but you know by now I’m contractually obligated to speak in hyperbole every so often.

There is, of course, a silver lining. Because of my tendency to leave bits of myself behind everywhere I go, I have learned what I truly value and what I don’t. I lost a new cardigan I deeply loved at a restaurant, and as a result, I only take pashminas out with me in the summer to do the battle against unreasonable air conditioning. And some of my jewelry, particularly the gifts from my parents and husband, are really important to me. I don’t want to lose them, so I only wear them when I’m in a good mood and travelling to trusted establishments.

Other than my rings I left at Sara’s, pretty much the only jewelry I wear these days is the costume jewelry. Trump and all the heavy bigoted bullshit that comes with his election has me in a semi-permanent state of fight or flight, so yeah… leaving the diamonds and pearls at home for now. Lab created gemstones only!

Everything Is Awful! A Song That Definitely Wouldn’t Make The Oscars

If you have small children or great whimsy in your life, you know about the song Everything is Awesome. It was liked so much, it was used as one of the performances for the 2015 Academy Awards.

I think about this song because it mostly makes me feel happy/amused/smiley, but the song itself is represents a way to fool the masses into falling in line and distracting them so they don’t question authority. I wonder if a song about fighting the power would make it to the Oscars.

For the past several posts, there hasn’t been much happy in my life, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. I will say that the title of this post is hyperbole. Everything is not awful. Just a lot of things are.

So what awful thing am I talking about today?

I was walking in to work this morning, checking notifications that came up on my phone when I saw the news that Florence Henderson had died. This made me really sad; I immediately thought of her on Dancing with the Stars, and when she visited this past season for Maureen McCormick.

I will never get tired of seeing celebrities break out of their molds on this show.

I will never get tired of seeing celebrities break out of their molds on this show.

These days, I have very little patience for white-washed TV shows like the Brady Bunch. But this show came out before I was even born, so I was watching reruns on Nick at Nite as a child before I knew better.

I remember a holiday episode where she sang O Come All Ye Faithful, which for years I wrongly remembered as her singing O Holy Night. It’s an absolutely absurd plot, but I loved it. The kids contemplating cancelling Christmas because their mom couldn’t sing is likely a contributing factor to why I don’t want kids, lol.

I wonder about Florence Henderson’s political beliefs. Is that weird? I’m not sure if she’s on record having voiced an opinion about women’s rights or race relations or LGBTQ+ equality or the Dakota pipeline/Flint water crisis or any of today’s pressing issues that I care strongly about.

I’ve been keeping a running tally in my head for a few different lists:

  1. Wholly Against Us
  2. Suspiciously Quiet When It Matters
  3. Too Little Too Late
  4. Oh, Now You Wanna Speak Up When It Affects You and Yours
  5. I See You Making Efforts, But It’s Not Good Enough
  6. Social Media Warrior, Okay, Okay, But What Are Your Actions?
  7. I See You Speaking AND Acting, You’re Down for the Cause
  8. You Should Definitely Be Considered a Leader of the Movement
  9. It’s Like This Isn’t Even Happening In Your World

Florence would definitely go on list #9. Most people seem to speak highly of her, she was an amazing woman by all accounts. My perception of what makes a person amazing, however, is evolving. I don’t know that I can consider someone “amazing” who isn’t helping the fight for equality move forward.

Today is particularly rough at work too. A lot of the deaths we’re getting in are under suspicious circumstances, very sad, and hard for even the doctors and medical examiners to deal with.

I’ve got a lot of conflicted feelings. For instance, there’s this article in the NY Daily News: NY Daily News: Sorry, America, but ‘The Brady Bunch’ was a lousy show. The tweet for this article was even worse:

twitter-brady-bunch

 

It feels a bit disrespectful, no? It’s not so much the sentiment because I was basically just saying above how a show like this would do nothing but piss me off were they making new episodes today.

For me, it’s the language. “No disrespect…but..” I mean, come on. Only dedicated assholes say things like that. And yes, maybe the show does suck, and maybe that’s been this journalists opinion since he was a little kid. But to decide that today is the day he must share his opinion with the world is a bit tone deaf.

Florence Henderson spent a lot of time defending the show from critics with very real and accurate criticism of the bubble in which the show existed. So confronting her stance on the show is… I guess… fair game. Kinda like when you review someone’s legacy after death, it’s usually okay to point out the parts you specifically agree with.

But the article didn’t address anything she’d ever said about the show. It was just an opportunity to crap all over a show he clearly never liked. This was in poor taste.

I was genuinely sad at the news of her passing this morning, but I think focusing on it today is helping me cope with some personal issues, as well as the continued craptastic current events (Jill Stein getting hinky with the recount money, Dakota Access Pipeline injuries and assaults at the hands of police continuing, more black folks dead at the hands of hateful white people, more minorities assaulted by Trump supporters).

Seriously y’all, how fucking long until 2016 is over? I swear something moderately bad could happen 1/1/17 and I will be less bogged down by it that if it happens on New Year’s Eve.

When You Forget How To Enjoy Life

Do you ever forget how to enjoy life? I don’t mean sinking into a full depression where nothing holds the same joy. I’m referring more to when responsibilities and relationships and work and bills and politics and injustice take over most of your brain power, and you forget to make time for things that suddenly feel a bit trivial.

I wasn’t even sure what I was thinking or how to articulate it, but then Twitter came through for me. A write for The Establishment, Ijeoma Oluo posted a piece today that targets a lot of what I’m feeling. If you’re not familiar with her, Google her, she’s got a lot of great things to say.

ijeoma

Her piece today is called, “What I’m Doing To Get My Black Ass Ready For The Next 4 Years.” I read it and so much of it resonated with me. In it was a call to action, and a reminder for self-love. Seeking out community as well as allies is essential.

In case you don’t understand, the worry of the next four years is almost entirely about Trump. In just the two weeks since he was elected, the ugly underbelly of America has shown it’s ass. A lot of people aren’t sure how to respond.

Here’s what I’ve personally been doing:

  1. Putting my money where my mouth is. I make monthly contributions to Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood. I also have donated money on different fundraising sites to help different causes such as Get Rodricus Crawford Home! and Baton Rouge Legal Defense Fund. And I’ve taken out a subscription for Mother Jones, independent news outlets will likely be our only hope in the coming years.
  2. Adding my name to the roll. I’ve signed a number of online petitions, and I’ve made a number of phone calls to elected officials to make sure they know at least one additional person cares about what bills and policies they support.
  3. Reaffirming for myself what’s most important. I have to be in a position to protect and support those I care about. Making sure my priorities are in order a useful bit of self-care so I won’t have to make hard choices later.
  4. Maintaining my health and wellness. Continuing to try and live healthy and happy will keep my body and mind fortified for what’s coming. And I signed up for more volunteer work, it benefits me just like it benefits others.

When Trump is sworn in, will the sky fall? Maybe not for all of us, but definitely for some of us. In just the month of November, he’s both promised to indict Clinton and backed off from that. He’s promised to build the wall between USA and Mexico and later spent a lot of time talking about everything but. He’s completely full of crap in almost every way possible. The only thing he’s been clear on is his business interests and his need for constant praise.

Trump settled the Trump University lawsuit for $25 million and has an upcoming rape trial. A lot of that is too hard to even process for most people still in election shock. This is all just what’s happening now, while the executive branch is still in transition. No one knows what policy positions he’ll actually land on for anything.

We must remain vigilant because there is no telling what he will do.

I have a lot going on in my personal life, so focusing on both the big and small pictures will be hard for me. Worrying about myself and those closest with me will not always line up with worrying about the world around me. But I’m not going to stop trying to do both.

fist-lead

I borrowed this image from Ijeoma Oluo’s article. It’s such a powerful image, and it strengthens my resolve every time I look at it.

Thoughts On Finishing Another Visit To Chicago

On my last day here in Chicago before heading back to Brooklyn, I’m thinking a few things:

  1. I don’t love the suburbs
  2. I really love my family
  3. There are not enough hours in the day
  4. 2017 can’t come soon enough

Let’s talk about the suburbs. That part of the world between the city and the farms/woods/country is the part I like the least. The only thing worse than a suburb is a small city, only a couple hundred thousand citizens (I’m looking at you Rockford).

Out here, where in a quarter mile there’s only three businesses, and everyone swears everything is 10 min from everything else. Spoiler alert, it’s not. You can’t drive 19 miles at 45 mph in 10 min. That’s not how math or suburban traffic lights work.

Luckily my best friend lives in the city. I escaped away for a couple of days to get out the suburbs, thanks to her. And being in her apartment is like a lovely dip into a world traveled, afrocentric haven, amplified with Prince on the record player.

But my family pretty much all live in the suburbs now…

So I spent most of my trip to Chicago in the south suburbs. There are so few people. I miss Brooklyn, but I’ll be back tonight.

I got to spend some time with my parents and my grandmother. Also, I got to spend time with mother- and sisters-in-law. Bonding while running errands is real people. My mother-in-law found the bowls she needed for her party. I finally found the Maybelline blue lipstick that’s been out of stock at so many stores I’ve searched in the last few months.

Back at their house, I helped them get ready for a family party they had last night in honor of my deceased father-in-law. Chopping vegetables is another way to bond with your in-laws. One of my sisters-in-law is always substituting one type of food for a healthier alternative.

The menu last night included chili and taco fixings, so sour cream was needed as a topping option. I decided to help and setup the toppings. After searching the fridge for sour cream, I finally had to interrupt her shower for help.

It turns out she had purchased plain greek yogurt as a substitute. My other sister-in-law and me had several doubts about the effectiveness of the replacement, but I decided to roll with it and hope it worked out.

When I’m serving sour cream, I usually don’t leave it plain. You’ve gotta jazz it up and add layers of flavor when you can. So I added some paprika, fresh cracked black pepper, and fresh minced cilantro. I thought it tasted great, and when it was cold, you couldn’t even tell that it wasn’t real sour cream.

The real test came with my nieces though. One of them is an adventurous, but will quickly tell you if the food is unsatisfactory. The other is a picky eater who is hesitant to try anything that “looks” or “smells” weird.

They both took a look at the “sour cream” and were excited to try it. They loved it and the picky eater dished out some extra on top of her nachos.

I helped with prep for the party, but I wasn’t able to stay for the whole party because I had already scheduled time with my other Chicago people before I knew about it. The best parts of it are those little moments like helping undo the dog’s training for not jumping into people’s laps and watching my sister-in-law teach my niece to make lemon pound cake.

This last day, I wanted to help hang up curtains in my grandmother’s room. After doing her nails, helping my mom give her a bath, shopping for extra chairs for Thanksgiving, etc., there wasn’t enough time. There never seemed to be enough time this whole weekend.

I’d look at the clock, think about how I had three hours when I really wanted six. Then what felt like 20 minutes later, it’d be time to go again. Five days is a medium length visit for me, but it still felt too short. There are a lot of people I wanted to see that I didn’t.

And also, all the crap is spectacularly craptastic. One specific example, they are considering treatment options for my grandmother because what they were doing isn’t working. Both options have a 10-20% success rate for her. That fucking sucks.

I can’t wait for 2016 to be over. There will still be awfulness in 2017, but at least it will get filed under a different memory folder in my brain.

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