Adventures of a Midwest Transplant

Posts tagged “Chicago

Climate Change, Panty Raids, and Toddlers (not all at once, that’d be gross)

So apparently there’s this ice shelf in Antarctica that’s about to break off and fuck us all up. It’s “hanging on by a thread” according to climate scientists. When this happens, sea levels will raise 4-ish inches. Goodbye Boston. Goodbye Venice. Good riddance most of Florida.

I don’t know about you, but that definitely reorients my travelling priorities. I’m really glad that after we go to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in October, we’re heading to Malaga, Spain after that for a week trip with my mother-in-law in her time share. I’m hoping to pop across the Strait of Gibraltar (technically the Alboran Sea) to visit Morocco as well.

Based on their coastal locations, I can assume these cities will be altered if a giant ice shelf raises water levels by inches all over the planet.

Thinking about all of that (and puppy mills, ugh, thanks Rolling Stone), I started to consider other places I want to visit. I have the plan to visit all 50 states at some point before age 50. But I also want to go to Italy and visit Venice and Naples. I want to visit Mubmai in India and Osaka in Japan. And I still haven’t been to Boston. I really love New Orleans, and I’m looking forward to visiting again. But these cities are fucked.

I’m glad that 21 people under the age of 21 filed a suit to stop this shit. And I’m really glad this district judge has this to say:

“Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.” –U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken

Things like this give me hope. Hope for these folks born after 1990 who I rarely time the time to acknowledge as useful. Hope for my future travel. Hope that though the immediate present ain’t great, the future is salvageable.

On another note, I was in Chicago this past weekend. I visited my family for my mother’s 60th birthday. Here’s what I learned.

  • My grandmother is refusing to do what she said she’d do when starting this experimental treatment, so she’s getting worse while she’s getting better.
  • My parents’ college friends are even better than I remember. They are hilarious. And panty raids in college are a real thing, not just in movies.
    • I’m thinking I really really want to name names for who participated in these panty raids, but all the guilty parties are not yet retired, so I’ll wait for now…
  • Living in New York turns you, and people you know from back in Chicago, into whiskey drinkers.
  • Bridesmaid dresses were not created to look good on anyone.
  • My mother has chosen a theme for her sixties. She turned “50 with a snap.” But her sixties are all about being cool. There’s a hand gesture that goes along with it. I made it up, my mother is now to cool to have done something like that.
  • My entire family need to start going for walks. We are NOT maintaining a basic standard of health, myself included.

And lastly, I’m considering what drastic measures to take in preparation of my friend LaToya’s wedding in May. Is vegan too far? It probably is. I mean, I had a terrible experience with some beef lasagna that I assume was delicious but couldn’t put in my mouth in Paris that made me think vegetarianism isn’t too far off in my future.

I just can’t help thinking of 2010 me. I was unemployed, which wasn’t great, but I went no carb, hardly-no-sugar and had just discovered hot yoga. Maaaaaaan, let me tell you, I was in the best shape of my life that year. But that level of time and diet commitment is just… hard. I probably could’ve maintained it had I kept one of the two going.

I dunno. But I tell you what I do know. I’m not about to go through what bridesmaids all over the world go through. I will make sure that I can fit into the dress I ordered. I decided to order a size that will fit me today instead of some aspirational size. Hopefully I’ll have the problem of needing to have it taken in…

Switching gears again. Do you play the Sims 4? I do, and I’m losing my mind that I won’t be able to play with the toddlers until Thursday night of this week! I’ve downloaded the update, but between visiting Chicago, my work-volunteer-yoga schedule, and going to see a taping of the Harry Connick, Jr. show, there just won’t be time before then.

Seriously, how freaking cute are these toddlers?

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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!


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.


Putting in More… Everything

More of the same from me. My bad for not writing a new post in months, yada yada, will do better in the future… Wish I could figure out a better schedule to make time to post, etc. etc.

So I’m putting in more work. Trying to be more consistent

In my last post that wasn’t about Grey’s Anatomy, waaaay back in January I think, I discussed what my goals were for this year. I didn’t look to see if those goals were for 2016 or age 31, but at this point, it’s not important.

  • Chris graduate from grad school
  • More travel around the East Coast and to the West Coast
  • Make some healthy living changes that are sustainable
  • Strengthen the relationships that are truly important to me

  • Chris graduate from grad school

Chris is not going to graduate from grad school this Spring. In life, obstacles come in your way, and you handle them as best you can. Chris had a large obstacle this year. His father died. In less than a month after we found out he had health issues, he was gone.

I’m not going to go into too many details, but it was a devastating loss for the family. We are all still struggling to reach a new normal without him. Chris spent a lot of time in Chicago with his mother when it first happened, and we ultimately decided that withdrawing from classes this semester was wise. He will continue classes in the fall and will finish in December.

There is one more thing about this that I want to say. He became an organ, tissue, and eye donor. Because I work in organ & tissue donation, this was amazing news to hear. It’s not always an easy decision for a family to make, but I’m so happy it’s the decision my family made. Being a donor family adds a new layer to why I do what I do, and it would make it very difficult for me to change and do something else with my career.

 

  • More travel around the East Coast and to the West Coast

In terms of travel, I still have more I want to do. I went to San Diego at the end of January with my best friend David, which was a really great trip. My luck being what it is, it was the coldest it’s been there in years when we went. When I got back, my co-workers were concerned because there was a storm there that made national weather news. I was confused because it only rained one day. Apparently what seemed like a normal rainstorm was the worst they’d had in years.

But I did get to the San Diego Zoo!

2016-02-01 13.12.04

And travelling with David is always fun, I’m hoping we’ll get to do it again soon.

I also have taken quick trips around the East Coast, but unfortunately, nowhere new. Because of gigs that Chris has coming up, we’ll be back and forth to D.C. this summer, maybe we can expand that out… Maybe.

 

  • Make some healthy living changes that are sustainable

I definitely have gone a long way down the path of accomplishing this! One of my co-workers was fussing at us about always complaining about our sedentary lifestyle without doing anything about it. When I tell this story in person, I say she was fat-shaming us, but jokes like that don’t translate well on the internet.

Anyway, several of us were feeling bad for ourselves when she yelled at us to improve our situations and stop complaining. I told her that I would love to go to yoga more regularly. Yoga is my preferred exercise, but the studio closest to my house is 10 min drive plus parking, or a 30 minute walk. So a 1 hour class is practically a 3 hour time investment once you calculate showers and clothes changes.

She called bullshit and told me I hadn’t really looked for a studio and I should do better.

I just re-read that sentence. You should know that’s the nice version of what she said. But I respond very well to brutal honesty. So I searched far and wide to find yoga studios. My goal was to find a studio with multiple locations. One location would be on the way home from work with late night classes I could attend after my shift. The other would be less than a 15 minute walk from my house.

“And then you’ll see, I’ve really been trying!” I told her.

“Yeah, we’ll see,” she replied.

A couple hours later (I was also working, after all), I found out… she was right. There was a yoga studio around the corner from my house, literally. I felt so stupid. Then I got over myself and immediately signed up for a class the next morning.

That was over a month ago, and I’m still going strong. I also found an online on-demand yoga thing for $9.95/month. cancelled that though because I never use it. But I went from exercising hardly ever to exercising 3-4 times a week.

Chris and I went to Chicago for a wedding a couple of weeks ago. I took my mat, and did yoga there too. I haven’t felt this good or slept this well in a while. And in my defense, the studio is only about 9-10 months old. It really wasn’t there the last time I checked!

In addition to working out, I’ve started purchasing groceries more regularly, and cooking at home more. Aside from saving money, it’s healthier. I’m looking forward to seeing the added benefit of healthier food on top of increased exercise.

 

  • Strengthen the relationships that are truly important to me

After doing damage to a very important relationship at the beginning of the year, I think we’ve just about recovered. My other relationships are going pretty well, but I could be doing more.

I don’t call my parents or mother-in-law nearly enough. I communicate with most people via text or instant messaging. And I’m at the point where I really hate talking on the phone. Maybe it’s because I do it all day for work. I’m hoping that’s the reason, and not because I’m becoming anti-social.

I can’t help it if I prefer my own company and I like being left alone most of the time. But I could certainly work hard to find a better balance to makes sure the people who matter to me are getting what they need out of the relationship. Being a better friend, daughter, etc. is important, and I will work harder to make it a bigger priority.