Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

Volunteer

Thoughts All Over The Place

I have started three different posts in the last month, and I just can’t. I don’t quite have Trump fatigue yet, but what I can I say that isn’t already being said? Not much. On Twitter and Instagram, I like and repost a lot of stuff that I think others need to see. I DVR and eventually watch every episode of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It’s good for my soul, like chicken soup.

I thought about something the other night. I was out with my husband and some of our best friends in New York. We were, of course, at a jazz club. In the middle of our friend’s set, playing some amazing music, we were conversing about Trump. One of our friends and his wife are Canadian, and they are worried about a number of things: visa renewals, NAFTA, whether a quick visit home could turn them into illegal immigrants. Shit is bananas. Then another of our friends started speaking about the rise in anti-Semitic attacks and threats. Shit is bananas.

It hit me that at this moment in life, I kind of feel the least under attack, at least compared to some others.

I’m worried as shit about what Trump is doing and how many people I know and don’t know that it will affect. But in terms of my body and life, there isn’t much he can do to me. I look at my husband and I worry about Trump reducing funding for arts and possible re-instating Stop & Frisk. I look at my in-laws and worry about Trump’s immigration policies. I look at my friends we’ve met since moving here and I worry about anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, hell I worry about generalized xenophobia.

I’m not trying to have any babies, but if I did get pregnant, my husband and I would roll with it, and I’d do my best to match the enthusiasm he and our parents would have. My healthcare comes through my job and is not at the mercy of stock markets and whatnot. People are always going to need/get organ & tissue transplants. My pension also goes through my job. My husband and I have really good healthcare (medical, dental, eye, & pet insurance) through my job.

I’m American born and raised, and I live in a city that’s very multicultural, and people look at me and assume I’m from here. I occasionally have people assume my parents are from whatever country they’ve come from, but they always assume my parents came from said country to America, then had me. They’d be wrong because my parents, and their parents, and their parents, etc. are all American born, but that’s not really important.

My point I’m finally circling back to is that Trump can sign into law that will mess me up any more than I currently am. I live in Brooklyn, where all the cops don’t yet have body cameras, but they can somehow afford to have those airport do-you-have-a-bomb scanners. I got stopped on my way to the A train so they could swab my bookbag-style purse and lunch tote. I had the thickest attitude about it, and the cops were all don’t-hate-me-I’m-just-doing-my-job. And I was all fuck-you-and-your-job-aren’t-you-the-same-ones-who-are-going-to-be-harassing-one-of-my-neighbors-for-being-male-and-black-and-outside-in-a-few-hours?

Ugh, I’m so irritated at everything right now.

Well, not everything. There are moments of wonderfulness. Nights at Smalls Jazz Club are my favorite. That place is like home to me. Literally, I walk in and I feel as comfortable as I do in my favorite places on this planet. Obviously, there’s the caveat that I have to wear pants, but still. And including tonight, I’ll have gone to to Smalls three times in 8 days, so that always gives me happy vibes.

And then there’s the Sims 4. I love me some video games in general, and the Sims in particular. I’ve made time to play more in recent weeks, and that has led to more writing and reading SimsLit. I’m telling you, these little computer generated people & aliens provide a great escape from everyday life. One of my sims fell in love with a man who was young enough to be her son, but she gave him a chance because he’d had a crush on her since he was in high school. They hit it off and she got pregnant. When she told him, he confessed that their child would have a sibling the exact same age. He’d slept with his sister’s fiancee on the night before their wedding, and she got pregnant too. The family’s plan was to raise the children as cousins, not siblings. I promise you that the only thing I had a hand in was letting my Sim sleep with the guy who’d loved her forever. The rest happened on it’s own (with the help of a story progression mod).

And there’s my volunteer work. I finally felt useful this past week. I was helping a high school girl with a ridiculous Algebra II project based on Angry Birds. I dug the movie, but does anyone even play angry birds anymore? Fucking parabolas man. I lost 35 minutes of my life because neither she nor I could remember that the vertex of the parabola is halfway between the two x-intercepts. But it’s cool because we figured it out and she got Part 1 of the project done. I don’t often feel useful tutoring those particular kids, but I really felt useful this week.

I wish I had more cohesive thoughts for this post, but I don’t. Sorry, not sorry.

People, at least black people, aren’t outraged because her feet are on the damn couch, even though that is trifling as hell. If you think the outrage is about feet, then you CLEARLY don’t watch porn, didn’t hang out with black guys and white grls in college, are naive about the politics/optics/history of black men/white women and white people/black people as a whole and are unfamiliar with the basic socialization of women and body language. I won’t call her a thot. But is she thotting? Well. 💅🏾 Get ya damn feet off the couch and close your legs, ma’am. At least TRY to look like a professional woman. You’re supposed to lean in, not bust it open. Part of what’s so infuriating of this is her casual comfort like this room of college presidents is the damn help. It’s like, you’re changing and half naked and a servant walks in, no biggie. They’re like living furniture. You’re changing and someone that actual matters to you comes in, you get embarrassed and throw something on. That she can be so casual and without f**ks and sitting in f*** me formation in the presence of White House guests, and guests of such note at that, or even her boss, is mind-blowing. Also, she is absolutely, 💯 percent putting her ***** on Orange’s sideburns. #kellyanneconway #whitehouse #potus

A post shared by Demetria Lucas D’Oyley (@demetrialucasdoyley) on Feb 28, 2017 at 3:10pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Advertisements

Thinking of Oranges, Master’s Degrees, And Someone Other Than Myself

I have found a volunteer opportunity! I’m going to work with a Boys & Girls Club in Manhattan doing tutoring for high school students. It’s a pretty low time commitment and they’ll work with my not-my-choice flexible schedule.

I’m just happy that I’ll be back volunteering again. I’ve missed doing something for people I don’t know. Living in New York can turn you into a self-involved navel gazer for sure. Taking a step outside of the bubble that makes up life can be healthy. In my case, it’s super healthy.

I went for orientation last week, and we start the week after next I believe. These NYC kids are tough, but the kids in the program are there because they signed up, so fingers crossed they actually want to be there and want the help being offered.

Other than getting back into volunteering, there’s still yoga, there’s still work, there’s still supporting my husband’s career. And there’s still lots of family stuff.

My mother and mother-in-law will be here on Wednesday. They’re coming in town for my husband’s recital. All the graduating students have to have a recital, and I’m excited to see what he’s chosen for his part of it. He’s in the middle of midterms now, so we’re on the final downhill slope. In just a handful of weeks, he’ll have his Master’s Degree and never have to be a student again if he doesn’t want to.

I’m so jealous. I’d love to be done with school. Instead I’m ramping up to finally complete an application to get my MBA. I’m kinda glad I waited because I was so sure I wanted to get an MBA with a focus on healthcare. But now, staying in the same industry isn’t so appealing. Getting a less specialized degree seems wise.

Leaving my company for different job isn’t the best idea because of the salary, benefits, and job duties. Not many companies can compare for my current education level and work experience. Getting a Master’s would change a lot in terms of what jobs are available to me.

Instead of standing still, not making any one decision, I need to choose a path. All standing still has got me is three years in the exact same spot I was in when we first moved here. That is a waste of time, and I’m kinda over it. And with my husband wrapping up his degree, it seems like the perfect time to finally move forward.

People usually have introspective moments on their birthday or New Year’s or whatever. I’m having this moment because my grandfather died one year ago today. He turned 90 on October 30, 2015. One can say many things about that man, but I’m thinking about how he squeezed so much life out of 90 years.

I wonder if there are things he wanted to do that he never got a chance to. I bet that list for him was shorter than it was for most people. If I had to pick one of his traits to emulate, I’d like to it be that one. Gonna squeeze more and more out of life, like a particularly juicy citrus fruit.

I love that pleasant surprise when your lemonade (made with fresh lemons) or your margarita (made with fresh limes) or you mimosa (made with fresh oranges or blood oranges) uses less fruit than average. You get a workout from really squeezing the fruit, you feel like the world gave you a little bit extra that day. And I swear it makes your beverage that much better.

I should probably buy some oranges. My mother and mother-in-law love mimosas. Plus it’s cold and flu season and I ride the subway to and from work.


My Schedule is Full, But I Have So Much Free Time

A conversation with my husband Chris recently got me thinking about my schedule. I feel like I have a lot of time on my hands, but I’m always busy.

I only work 3 days a week, but I work at least 12 hours each work day. After work, I’m usually cooking dinner, or going out with friends.

On my off days, I’m at yoga, or simming, or blogging, or catching up on TV, or catching up with friends, or cooking, or going to one of my husband’s gigs.

That’s a long list of things, so maybe that’s why I always feel busy. Taking hobbies very seriously is my jam. The way I spend my free time is important to me.

I wish I volunteered more. I volunteered like twice a week when I first moved to New York. But the places I volunteered at didn’t pan out over time.

The soup kitchen I was at had some hinky financial things going on, and I didn’t want any part of that. The home for unwed mothers took a left turn I couldn’t be a part of either.

One day I was there, watching a baby and tutoring the mother, and my time ran over into the weekly prayer circle. They invited me to stay and I agreed. This prayer started with talking about dreams and setbacks, following God’s plan and whatnot.

Then it took a left turn into praying for gays and the hellbounded-ness. My eyes shot open, and I knew in that moment I was done.

I finished my work helping that particular mother for the duration of her stay at the home. I never went back after that though.

I’ve ended relationships over someone’s stance on homosexuality, and a place I volunteer is no different. I can’t support the views they’re pushing, so I moved on.

I think what I’m stream-of-consciousness-getting-to is that while my non-working time is spent in ways that are very fulfilling to me, the time isn’t being spent in way that is fulfilling to others.

I’m sure Chris, and our friends who happen to be at the brownstone when I’m cooking, are all appreciative of the increased amount of home cooked meals. Each new successful recipe certainly fulfills my husband.

But I’ve got to start finding another place I can volunteer. Helping people is my jam, and it’s something that’s missing.

I’ve been patting myself on the back a lot recently for taking better care of myself inside and out. I think I can extend that even further and start taking care of the world around me again.

I’m going to look for a tutoring opportunity. Or something with kids. or something with the homeless. I’ve got a lot of interest in that, so we’ll see where it goes.


A Chicago-Style Girl Goes Home

As soon as I wrote this post title, I started thinking, “what is home?” I thought that and other existentialist things that I won’t share because those thoughts make me sound even weirder than I normally do.

But seriously, When I think of home now, I think of three things:

1) Our apartment in a brownstone in Brooklyn

2) The soup kitchen I volunteer at in The West Village

3) The dining room table at my parents’ house

The fact that 2 of my 3 “homes” focuses around food may help explain why my weight is hovering around 15lb heavier than a healthy BMI.

But anyway…

Only a tiny bit of Chicago feels like home to me now. I’ve been talking about this trip a lot. A family portait (yuck, but also kind of cool), another wedding (blech, but also kind of cool), and Memorial Day with my family and Easy’s family (completely cool, only positive feelings towards that one–see Christmas 2013 in Gramercy Park) add up to a great weekend getaway. Throw in a thrice rescheduled dinner with one of my best friends and a double birthday dinner with my girls and you’ve got an action packed weekend.

So why am I not super excited for this trip?

Eh, a big part of me would just rather stay home. Which is New York City. I’m will always be a Chicago-style girl. Big city + Midwestern sensibilities – red state restrictions = me. But New York is home.

So this weekend, I’m not going home. I’m going to visit my friends and family. This make my blog’s name all the more appropriate. I’m not a Chicagoan anymore. I’m Chicago-style (Chicago-ish? Chicago-adjacent?).

Easy and I haven’t decided for certain if this NYC thing is permanent. Hell, four years ago, I couldn’t even imagine myself living here. Of course, I blame that on being only exposed to Midtown and Harlem. If I’d gone straight to Chelsea and the Village on my first trip here, I may have never left.

Back to this trip though. I’m packing in an awful lot. First up is a double birthday dinner for my girls. There will be 8 of us dining at Ruth’s Chris in Chicago. One of the birthday girls has never been and really really wants to go. So we’re making it happen. The birthday girls don’t know I’m coming in to town though, so I’m just showing up at dinner as a surprise, which is why this post is publishing almost 24 hours after being written.

Next up is a family portrait. My parents, my brother, Easy, some cousins, and my aunt and uncle are all cramming into one shot. I think it will be one of the few photos we have of members of both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family that’s not at a wedding or funeral. We’ve decided to wear combos of red, navy, and white. Should be fly.

Yup, I just said fly. I’m an 80s baby. Deal with it.

Then I have a dinner with one of my best friends. Seriously, like every time I go to Chicago, we’re unable to hook up. Between my short stays, he work schedule, family obligations, etc. we kept cancelling on each other. But not this time. We have reservations at Cantina Laredo, which is an amazing Latin restaurant in downtown Chicago. Check it out if you’re in the area, totally worth the valet/effort to find parking.

Then Easy and I hop in my mom’s car to drive to St. Louis for a wedding. These are friends from when he lived down there when we started dating. We were considering just staying in St. Louis, and the four of us were going to do this Honeymooners thing. That would’ve made a completely different life for us. The St. Louis version of Easy and myself were interesting people, different from who we are in New York.

Eh, no use wondering what if, right? The NYC versions of us rock, and we have better looking calves from all the walking anyway.

Then back to Chicago for Memorial Day where we will eat BBQ and left over birthday cake from our nieces/cousins. Two words. Atomic cake. Google it if you don’t know. Because you need to know.

I really cannot wait for the BBQ. Can someone explain to me why I have to travel to Williamsburg to get good BBQ? And for that matter, why do I have to travel to Harlem to get good soul food? And to Flatbush to get good jerk chicken? New York is such a melting pot, but they really fuck up food the entire rest of the country has mastered. Excuse my language, but I really feel pretty strongly about it.

And then after lots of good food, we get on a plane back to NYC. That will make 5 days, 4 nights in the Midwest. By Tuesday, I’m going to feel sooo ready to come home. So perhaps I’ll write another post called A Chicago-Style Girl Goes Home. But that one will talk about street food and easy taxi/subway options and volunteer opportunities and lack of allergy sufferers due to the lack of trees and wifi everywhere and people who don’t care if you accidentally step on their foot and a beautiful nighttime where outside of every window looks like Christmas will all the twinkling lights coming from every office window.

That run on sentence (so sorry!) just gave me clarity. NYC is like a new relationship right when you go from limerence to being fully in love. At that moment, their dirty drawers shouldn’t even bother you.

I think NYC’s dirty drawers count at the stinky homeless man who coughs up part of his lung on the subway and you just know he has tuberculosis. I am in love, but I’m not stupid. NYC’s dirty drawers bug the hell out of me. I don’t want TB. You can’t donate your organs and tissues if you’re contracting TB from a random stranger on a train.

That being said, hopefully my love is long-lasting. After all, it’s not blind-to-logic love. It’s just enamored, full-hearted love. A love that says Chicago can suck it. Because you’re #2 now.

Disclaimer: this only applies to the cities, not their sports teams. Bringing Phil Jackson to the Knicks is a step in the right direction, but really it just makes me think of the early 90s and his 3-peat with Jordan & Pippen. Da Bulls Da Bear Da Sox