Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “family

Working on Living My Truth

This blog is supposed to be a personal blog where I share things about myself, and my experiences as I explore the world around me. Feeling like a city girl, born and raised in Chicago, there are some Midwestern mores I’ve struggled to let go of.

You want to live out and proud? Eh, sure, but not so loud. The people who chose to do that when I was growing up were always looked at as weird and odd and not the type of people you want to be too close to.

But my parents raised me to be weird, to let my freak flag fly. They never encouraged me to seek out oddities simply for the sake of uniqueness, but they taught me to embrace the things that made me stand out and to take pride in the ways I wasn’t like everyone else.

I’m sure these days, when I’m fussing at them about toxic masculinity (which neither of them fully understand their complicit roles in) and the shortcomings of affirmative action (which several family members dedicated their careers to enacting and supporting), they are wondering where they went wrong.

My mother even jokes that she advises her friends to give their kids less choices. Choices is where she went wrong with my brother and me. I think we turned out just fine, better than fine either. But there is the evidence: the amount of illicit substances we consume (mostly alcohol, calm down), the fact that neither of us is happily married (more on that later), and the fact that only one of my seven first cousins of childbearing age have or even seem to want a child.

I’d like to think my parents are satisfied with us. I’m satisfied with them. Actually, that’s an understatement. Like any good Libra child, I’m obsessed with them. I intended on writing about trying to stand more in my truth, but yet I’m talking about what my parents opinion of that might be.

They’ve had to deal with a lot from me in the last year. They’ve heard about my plans for grad school. They’ve heard about the dissolution of my marriage (sorry if you actually know me and this is how you’re hearing about it). They’ve heard about polyamory (more on that later). They’ve taken it all in stride, certainly better than they did when I gave them unasked for progress reports on how well they’re doing at fixing their inherent racial prejudices.

I’m one of the lucky ones. My parents try to hard to let me be me, and tried to teach me to let me be myself. Ever the aging millennial, I cannot possibly move forward with confidence without rooting around for parental support. But I have it, so I should probably move on to step two, right?

So what is step two? Am I such a Libra cliche that I must spend time every few years “finding myself?” Here’s what I know. The only constant in life is change. If you’re exactly who you were five years ago, you’re doing something wrong.

This was me around five years ago.

I am pretty sure I took that picture at work, some night shift I was working when I still lived in Chicago. I was coming up on my first wedding anniversary and feeling myself because my locs had just about reached my shoulders. I knew my husband wanted to move to New York, but I had no idea what it would look like to live anywhere else other than Chicago. I was just as proud of my eyebrows then, which I didn’t have to do anything to for them to look like that.

This is me just a couple of months ago.

I like this picture enough that it’s currently my profile picture. I could talk for another 500 words about the process of eradicating my marriage from all my profile pics and blurbs, but I’d rather talk about this picture. My vision makes it so that I now have to wear my glasses all the time. I’m no longer afraid of a bright red lip. Too much hair dye means my locs aren’t as long as they should be at this point, but I’m working on it. Oh, and I’m wearing a Slytherin scarf that was my actual winter scarf. My husband and work husband both worked hard to make sure I didn’t lose that thing by retrieving it when I drunkenly left it behind at all the bars. I’ve learned this half smile thing (don’t know that it qualifies as a whole smize) that does a nice job at camouflaging the lines around my eyes. And I still have wonderful eyebrows with very little effort.

I’ve worked hard to stay happy with myself, and I’m proud of it because self-confidence is not a given. I think step two isn’t so much about finding myself, but more about authentically expressing myself. I’ve always been the girl with an opinion on everything, whether someone asked me or not. Hopefully I can take those skills and apply them to this.


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?

ts4_toddlers_thumbnail_v1


Fifty by Age 50: Bienvenue en Europe

If you follow me on Instagram, you know Chris and I had a great time in Europe!

I feel good about the pictures/videos I posted. I took over 1000 photos while I was there, but I only posted 29 smooshed into 12 different posts. I’m thinking of doing one more that shows all the different bands Chris ended up playing with while we were there. Don’t worry. he was just sitting in with the bands, we did NOT go and make money while on vacation because that would be a violation of their tourist visa laws.

In case you missed me talking about it in literally every blog post leading up to the trip, my husband Chris and I went to Paris and Brussels from Dec 27 – Jan 5. We flew into Paris, stayed there through New Year’s, then went to Brussels for a few days before heading back to the states.

It was a great trip for Chris and I; I feel like we really reconnected on this trip. I feel like I learned quite a bit about myself on this trip, as well as some cool stuff about Europe and travelling.

What I Learned About Myself

  • I have a hard time being around anyone for that many days in a row. I never got sick of Chris, but I got… weary. I need alone time in my life and there wasn’t much of it unless Chris was showering.
  • My body refuses to adjust to changes in time zone. I’ve noticed it when travelling to other time zones in the US, but I thought after a few days in Europe, I’d get to it. But nope, I was up until 6am, waking up at 3pm damn near every day we were there.
  • I freaking love staying in an airbnb. Being able to cook a couple of my own meals and having that “home” feeling while on vacation is great for me.
  • I’m not as out of the box with food as I’d like. I am more adventurous than a lot of people, and I will try almost anything twice (in case it wasn’t prepared properly the first time). But while in Paris, I literally had to drag myself past this one bar/restaurant that has this amazing Chanterelle mushroom penne. My thirst for trying new things was easily outweighed by my desire to keep eating what I knew I’d like. I wanted to eat it ever day, but in the spirit of exploring, we tried a new restaurant every day. I wish we had stopped there once more though before leaving Paris…

What I Learned About Europe/Travelling

  • Those Europeans are stingy with surprising things (because they’re not wasteful Americans): paper napkins, bottle of water, personal space
  • Every single person except one that we spoke to spoke English. Some not fluently, but with my leftover (never-conversational) French we were able to make it work.
  • I need to go thank my middle school and high school French teachers because I was all over those signs that were in French, and I was correctly conjugating words. They’d be proud.
  • Springing for the international data plan was sooooooo worth it. Being able to keep my pictures backed up just in case and having constant access to Google maps was essential to our spontaneous exploring.
  • Booking everything all at once up front is pointless, you book when you get that perfect combination of exchange rate and price.

I was thinking about writing some more posts, getting specific about some of the things that we did. But I may not feel like it. The story of that woman kissing me full on the mouth shortly after midnight on New Year’s is worth telling. Chris getting held up in customs at JFK airport is also a sitcommy tale. The adventures of our flask trough Paris is also nice (I wouldn’t let Chris take a swig at Notre Dame). Eh, it depends on if I’ve got good pictures to go with the stories I think.

I still have to sort through all our pictures. Finding a back door into using the Aura Frame when I have no iPad, iPod, or iPhone took some time, but soon I’ll share all my pics with my family. My parents got a frame for themselves, for my brother, and for me and Chris. I think it’ll be kinda cool to have three households worth of pictures shuffling through our frame.


I Enjoy Less Because Feminism

The patriarchal cisgendered norms of my worldview have been buffeted by intersectional feminism.

In case that sentence was gibberish to you, let me break it down.

Patriarchal: When I use this term, I’m referring to the second definition, which refers to a society controlled by men.

Cisgendered: When I use this term, I’m referring to people who identify as being the same gender they were assigned at birth.

Intersectional: When I use this term, I’m referring to the concept that the problems of marginalized communities are interconnected, and cannot be separated.

Feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to the belief in and fight for the rights of women based on the belief in their equality to men.

Intersectional feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to an idea that the fight for equality for women is a fight for all women and femmes, crossing racial and social and economic and age and gender lines.

Having defined those terms as I am currently using them, let’s say that first sentence again using a lot more words.

The world defaults to the best interest of men, particularly those who were assigned the male gender at birth, and I was raised with those same patterns of behavior and views. In learning more about the world around me, particularly as it relates to the equality of all people, and the way all marginalized communities are connected, I no longer view the world that way.

I notice this in ways small and large. It has affected the way I see things, and changed the things I used to take for granted. I count myself lucky because I was raised by parents who taught me to be independent and decide for myself how I view the world. They taught me that even if I disagree with everyone I love, I must think, feel, and do what I think is right.

Some examples:

  • I can no longer watch TGIT with my mother because she and I disagree on the normalcy of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve been visiting Chicago a lot recently for my mother because my grandmother is sick. This last visit, I watched Grey’s Anatomy, Notorious, and How to Get Away with Murder with my mom. Every show that night featured characters engaging in homosexual behavior. Each time my mother would say something along the lines of, “they’re so gay.” Her tone and redundancy bugged me, and I expressed my dissatisfaction. But aside from learning to not voice certain things, I don’t think much can be done to fix this situation. I no longer enjoy watching television with my mother. I am no fan of Raven-Symone, but I was so irritated when over the summer my mother spoke of her sexuality while we watched an eipsode of The View.
  • I can no longer attend church services at the church where I grew up. The last sermon I sat through there was a ranting mess about how gays and Muslim immigrants and bankers were responsible for the economic hardships. I was completely fucking floored and done with the church after that. The pastor of the church wasn’t there that day. The preacher who gave that awful ass sermon is now the pastor of another church, thank God. But his departure doesn’t change the reaction of the congregation during the sermon. I was horrified, openly horrified at that sermon, and I seemed to be the only one. The people who were actually listening, and who managed to follow his bullshit line of reasoning were responding as if it were any other barely mediocre sermon. I cannnot attend a church where they think blaming marginilized communities for our community’s problems is okay.
  • The song Hallelujah is one I have always loved. That mournful tone and the way the music swells as it builds to its peak have always been so beautiful to me. But the lyrics maaaaaan… The second verse is all biblical references normalizing a lot of crap towards women. It gets real rapey and hateful in just five lines. Pretty much the only version of the song I can listen to these days is the one by Pentatonix. I can easily listen to the beauty of their voices without the lyrics penetrating.
  • Eminem, who I would call one of my favorite rappers, says some awful things about women, homosexuals, etc. I don’t really love rap to begin with, and that is now tested even more. His song Rap God, which I used to listen to on repeat, now is like a slap across the face every time he uses the word faggot. It’s just not the same now that I no longer make excuses for the use of that word in music.

Those are just a few, but there are many more. Obviously, a lot of the issues I have come as a consumer. Music, television, even news articles just fall flat to me when they aren’t doing enough to fight for progress.

Several articles in the Washington Post recently address feminism, but they do it in such an incomplete way, that without a good knowledge base, you’d think they hate feminism and have never heard the word intersectional. I know feminism has a lot of problems, mostly that it tend to leave out those are aren’t white, cis, middle class, career-focused, American women. But these articles, which you can read here, here, and here, seem so limited in their scope. They seemed to make the point that there is feminism and there is black/poor/non-white feminism. In my opinion, they are not helping the cause.

The unity that is essential to resisting future overlord DJT feels like it’s being attacked from all sides. For any Harry Potter fans out there, remember that sucky speech Dolores Umbridge gave at the start of year feast when she was Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher? Basically she spoke a lot about preserving some traditions and pruning others. Just like DJT’s narcissistic ass, she sought to only keep the “traditions” that forwarded her and the Ministry’s selfish aims, damn those who are hurt in the wake.

If we are going to properly resist what’s coming (and already happening), we can’t let mainstream media twist and/or make light of important movements. And you can’t let the constant stream of music, online videos, television and movies (white-washed Dr. Strange, I’m looking at you… “Celtic” my ass…) shape and re-shape your perception of what’s normal–and what isn’t.

If you believe in equality, if you believe in progress, then pay attention. Learn their code words, and learn your code words. When I hear the word urban come up in politics, I know what they mean. It catches my ear and puts me on alert because what follows the use of that word is almost always some bullshit, and almost always is an attempt to harm my community.

I’m paying attention. And when the time comes, I’ll be ready.

Listen. Progress. Resist. Thrive.


2016 Still Isn’t Over Yet? Okay… Fine

If you’re an social media where the written word is included, you’ve seen statements both clever and blunt decrying 2016 as an entire year.

Most recently, the focus is Trump’s election or Obama’s nearing exit from the White House. According to lots of Chicagoans from the South Side, the Cubs winning the world series this year is evidence of 2016’s suckiness. Those with doomed relationships and lost job prospects say the same of this year.

My suckiest happenings of 2016: My father-in-law died. The everyday structure of my job stresses me out. The best phone I’ve ever had, the Note 7 catches fire and is banned on all aircraft. Trump won the most pledged electoral college votes last week.

2016 sucks

One common meme I see is a focus on all the deaths this year, and there have been a lot. Wikipedia has an entire section dedicated to all who have died this year, and the entertainment, journalistic, literary, etc. industries are worse off for the losses. Personally, I think of Alan Rickman, Natalie Cole and Prince.

Today, I’m not thinking about the whole world though. I’m thinking about my family. My husband’s father died in February of this year. He had some heart issues that led to his death and he ended up becoming an organ & tissue donor. We had a beautiful memorial service for him in March. There were hundreds of friends and family members there to celebrate his life.

2016 sucks.

His loss was and is hard for the family.

My dad sent this picture to us today. It really made me smile. It’s from my wedding day.

my-men

After I typed that last sentence, I couldn’t think of what to say next. I usually write an entire post in one sitting, pausing only if I get interrupted by something else.

But today is different. Today I feel more thoughtful, less wordy. I’m concerned for my husband, even though I know he’s strong. He’s grown so much since we’ve known each other and he is doing amazing self-care, especially today.

He made plans for us and a friend to hang out tonight, surrounding himself with good company and sympathetic ears. I’m looking forward to being there for him.

2016 sucks.

This whole day is serving a microcosm of this year for me.

Were there good points to this year? Well, yes, there were… I think. I can think of some things that count, but it just feels like even the good things have an edge of crappiness to them.

That being said, there is a lot of good in life, in my life in particular. I am in good health, I have a lot of loving relationships. I have the freedom to express myself when and how I choose. Most of the ways I choose to spend my time bring me great joy. We’re in a new golden age of television.

I don’t have much of a sum up point today. Something like: 2016 sucks, there’s some good in it, now leave me be while I go make sure my husband is okay today and pray that the next 46 days fly past.


I’m Officially in the Second Stage of Grief

There are 5 stages of grief.

Starting pretty much from 10pm Tuesday night, I was in stage one. Full blown denial and isolation. As it became increasingly clear that Clinton was not going to be our next president, I folded in on myself.

My husband was so upset and wanted to talk about his feelings, as usual. The folded-in-on-myself version of me listened, but not really, as usual. I had empathy for what he was going through, but I had trouble getting out of my own head. I fell asleep on the couch with CNN loud enough to wake me up every time they played their Breaking News ominous music. He finally went to bed around 2am. Neither of us slept well.

I didn’t get much consistent sleep as I watched headline after headline say in different ways the Trump was going to be the next president. It was a dark night.

At work yesterday, everyone was commiserating, some people joking to get through the day. I was sitting quietly at my desk for most of the day, and people kept noting that I didn’t look okay. Some even asked, “are you okay?” With a firm answer of no, the conversation didn’t go much further than that. People aren’t used to someone claiming something other than being “okay.” But yesterday, I gave zero fucks.

I was in full blown isolation + denial. But the events of the rest of night helped push me into the next stage.

My husband Chris and I went to the Knicks game last night. We bought those tickets a while ago, excited for the chance to see the Knicks play the Nets, some new version of a cross-town rivalry for us I guess. I decided to root for the Nets because I love Jeremy Lin, but unfortunately he was out with an injury, and also Derrick Rose and his poor understanding of consent made it hard for me to root for the Knicks.

Neither of us paid close attention to the game. I fell down the rabbit hole that is Twitter. I was reading account after account of people being harassed, threatened, and menaced by Trump supporters. These people were female, trans, black, Muslim, Hispanic, Latinx, Asian, immigrants, Jewish, or some combination of those identifiers. And they were terrified. Their accounts terrified me.

If you have some time to read what happened, you can check out Shaun King’s twitter timeline, he’s done a pretty good job of tweeting and retweeting accounts of what’s happened in just the first 24 hours after Trump was elected. He’s also tweeted messages of hope as maligned communities and allies posted messages of support and reassurance to those feeling fear.

Chris was in a text message discussion with a woman he’s close to. They were in a disagreement about the appropriate reaction to someone who’s voted for Trump. To Chris, a vote for Trump was an unequivocal vote for his bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic positions. A person who’s voted for Trump gets no benefit of the doubt, no olive branch extended.

I’m sure I know a bunch of people who voted for Trump, they just aren’t saying it. Those are people I have to deal with professionally and where I do volunteer work, likely even where I go for yoga. But I sure as hell am not going to be friends with anyone I know voted for Trump, nor anyone I know doesn’t vehemently rebuke those who have voted for him.

This woman felt like Chris wasn’t being understanding of how difficult it is to have one set of beliefs, but then to make compromises to that for the sake of peace in the family. Right as he was relaying her statement to me, I came across this on Twitter.

twitter-bad-allies

He tried explaining to her that she was being an inconsistent ally, choosing her comfort over the struggle of the communities she claims she supports. In that moment, he realized that she ain’t really down for the cause. She’s not where she needs to be yet if she’s going to be a real ally. Their conversation is still ongoing with no resolution in sight.

The game ended with the Knicks winning by a bunch of points. I headed home to get some sleep before work today. Chris headed to Trump Tower to join the protest. I was so proud of him in that moment. I made sure he unlocked his phone, and my info in his phone could be searched by looking for the word wife, just in case.

He came home safely, and now he’s messaging me to tell me about how the protest was. I didn’t expect to move past denial so quickly, and there are moments where I flicker back to that stage and think: is this really life?

But for the most part, I’m in full blown anger right now. Every time I read about some poor woman who’s accosted by someone trying to rip off her hijab, I get angrier. Every time I see some member of the liberal establishment tell me we need to “unify” and “give Trump a chance to lead,” I get angrier. Every time I read the word nigger in some tweet from someone with an egg or a frog for a face on Twitter, I get angrier.

Supposedly this anger is healthy. I wonder how long I’ll feel this way before moving on to bargaining.


Numb Is the Best Word Here

I’ve been barely paying attention to social media. I’ve learned that Clinton is probably going to win the popular vote. I’ve learned that white women are to blame for Trump’s win. I’ve learned that I don’t really care about everyone’s anguish right now.

I’m numb. I’m at work, and dealing with a lot of crazies. It’s like a full moon out with all the weirdness abounding here.

And my mom is texting me about what I’m thinking. And my husband is messaging me about how I feel.

I feel meh.

I’m numb. And I think the only thing that might make me feel better again is finding a school to go to for my MBA, a school outside of this country. So I don’t have to be here for a Trump presidency.

Maybe if I can make that happen, the pollsters will have learned how to properly poll Latinos and the Rust Belt by the time I get back.


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.


Stop Asking Me if I’m A Mother

Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers! And people who are acting mothers! And people who have a deep attachment to their pets!

In spite of the title of this post, I don’t mind when people ask if I’m a mother. It’s the follow up questions after that that usually piss me off.

“Are you a mother?”

“No.”

“Well, why not? Don’t you want kids? How old are you? Shouldn’t you be a mother by now?”

It takes all of my self-control not to snap when this happens. Full disclosure, I have snapped on a few people, but mostly I keep my angry responses to myself.

But to the point of I want to snap:

  1. Why the fuck is it your business why I don’t have children?
  2. I could have fertility issues and the assumptions could be breaking my heart.
  3. If we were close enough, you’d already know the answer to that question, and Mother’s Day is not the appropriate time to ask.
  4. I don’t want kids, why is that up for judgement?

When I calmly (or not-so-calmly) explain why I have no desire to be a mother, I get looks of either confusion, judgement, or pity.

The confusion confuses me. Do some people really know no women except me who are willing to stand up say, “at this point in my life, I have no desire to be a mother.”?

The judgement pisses me off because I am horrified to think of that person doing the same thing to a woman who’s only child was murdered. Or who has had multiple miscarriages. Or who is infertile. Or who also just doesn’t want kids but is emotionally affected by the judgement of strangers.

And the pity saddens me. There is so much is this world to feel badly about: climate change, poverty, childhood obesity, refugee safety, people constantly doing harm to the world in their god’s name. Being sad for me just seems like a waste of time and energy.

Knowing me, I will likely wake up one day and decide I must have children. As it stands right now, if I had a 2 bedroom apartment, I’d be filling out an application to be a foster mom. But raising a child from start to finish it outside of what I want right now.

I’ll just be happy with my own mom. And my grandmother. And my mother-in-law. And my godmother. And all the other women in my life who are like second mothers to me.

So feel free to ask me if I’m a mother, just keep the follow up questions to yourself. Thanks!


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.


Starting Off 2016, I’m Still Me!

Happy New Year!!!

I’ve got no resolutions, just more of continuing to be myself. As my husband Chris says during every conversation we’ve had for the last 48 hours, 2015 was a year of big changes. He’s all about reflection. And speeches. And other people listening to his reflective speeches.

For Christmas, we were in Chicago with our families.

planeMy mother and his mother combined the Savage and McBride Christmases and we filled up my parents’ new house. I didn’t think we could fill up their big ass house, but we did it. And because Chris is Chris, he had to give a speech prior to grace. It was heartfelt and wonderful and made everyone go awwwwwww.

tree

We were in Chicago forever, almost 2 weeks (is that hyperbole? Literary purists, help me out!). That meant lots of time for other activities. There were several dinner parties, a slumber party, a couple of date nights, Chris had a gig, and there was lots of sleeping late.

bullsnets3 bullsnets2 bullsnets1

I was, however, bamboozled! I was told we’d need to help move my grandmother into my parents’ house on moving day. but I spent hours at her house the first day. Then there were more hours at her house the next day. Then there were more hours at her house the next week.

What is family for if not to help you move, literally, piece by piece? She had 30 years of stuff to sort into keep, garbage, and giveaway piles. That took a lot of hands and a lot of time.

moving

I’m pretty sure my mother purposely undersold the time commitment. She knows that I would’ve had no problem saying no ahead of time, but that there was no way I’d say no when the rest of the family was headed over to do hard work. I just can’t not help people (sorry literary purists whose attention I’ve specifically requested), not when it’s so obvious my help would make things go better for everyone.

There is one caveat, I can’t feel like I’m being taken advantage of. And my parents never make me feel that way. So it was settled, I got easily pimped out for manual labor on the big move to get my grandmother to my parents’ house.

Then there was waiting for the delivery of Christmas presents. I just bought everything online and had it shipped there rather than bring all those gifts with us. See the start and ending pics. Shit got real. That chair got added to my room when I salvaged it from the give away pile at my grandmother’s house.

presents 2 presents

There was also a funeral. The last of my great-grandmother’s siblings died. She was #16 of 16. It’s crazy to think that entire generation is now gone. I went to the funeral with my parents, and as much as the circumstances weren’t great, I was really happy to see so many family members from that branch of the family tree. After we left her burial, my daddy and I visited my Papa’s grave, who’s funeral I went to the last time I was in Chicago.

papa's grave

So after all the holiday parties, a new tattoo (more on that later), and hanging with friends I only see when in Chicago (if that often)…

paint & drink momma tattoo martinis

…it was time for New Year’s Eve!

I spent the holiday in St. Louis with my best friend David. We went to a nice dinner then a party at Ballpark Village. That party was so much fun and that DJ was everything. He was mixing songs based on: tempo, key, genre, lyrics, and theme. That’s right, lyrics and theme! Who does that?

Our tickets got us in all the 327 bars inside the village (more hyperbole! (I think…)), free drinks until midnight, free champagne toast at midnight, and endless dancing. We shut that party down like we have shut down several parties over the years.

me and david

My fancy sparkly shoes made it through the night, but barely got me back to my hotel. What should’ve been a 5 minute walk took almost 15! I wish I could blame it on being drunk, but I was happy champagne drunk, not old-school falling down vodka-and-tequila drunk. Nope, it was just a lot of dancing on concrete floors.

sparkly shoes

I got back to New York last night, and I was of course greeted by the cats who were looking at me like I was the biggest traitor for leaving them for so long. Our friend who lives around the corner watered, fed, and cleaned for the cats. So they were fine, they just have so much personality, so they had to let me know everything they were feeling.

Belle Jan 2016 2 Belle Jan 2016

I ended 2015 exactly the way I wanted to. I’m looking forward to 2016 being a great year. I’ve got hopes for this year, but there are some specific things I’d like to see happen:

  • 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

Let me reiterate that those are not resolutions, but more of a way to focus my view of the year. It’s gonna be a great year! Did I say that already?


I Won’t Paint My Home, But Can I Paint Yours?

I can’t even say why, but I really love talking about the weather y’all. It’s finally over 60 degrees in New York now. And that makes me very happy. And the forecast is holding. It’s not supposed to go any lower than 38 for the next 10 days.

You know it’s been a brutal winter when you’re happy for a low of 38 in April.

In celebration of Spring, there will be pastel nail polish, there will be spring cleaning, and there might be packing away winter clothes.

Now that I live in NYC, and there are pretty distinct seasons, I feel like I should put away the sweaters and heavy boots until November. But now that I live in NYC, I don’t have any freaking room for extra storage. I know, I know, first world problems.

But I really want to put away the clothes. I want to put some lavender potpourri in with the clothes so they smell good when unearthed in 6-7 months. And I would love being a size too small to fit some of the clothes at that time.

A girl can dream.

Pinterest isn’t helping. I dream of amazing storage solutions and a multi-tasking armoire, and basically just other ways to spend up all the money. Thank God I married a man who likes to save.

It’s nice to add things to my apartment to make it feel more at home. Brooklyn still doesn’t feel like home to me, but that apartment is feeling more like home.

We’ve been in the apartment since July 2013, which is quite a while for me. So. Much. Moving.

In all that time, it always felt like this super temporary place, and even unpacking the suitcases seems extra. But everything changed when my parents came to visit.

My mother and father came for New Year’s, and it was amazing. We didn’t really even do much of anything. But on New Year’s Eve, it was perfect. I came home from work, my dad made steaks, we popped some champagne.

We watched the New Year’s Eve programming on ABC, flipping back and forth between that and a Law & Order marathon. At one point my mother fell asleep, and then Belle took a nap of her head. My dad and I were the only ones awake in the house, just bantering back and forth about whatever was on the screen, and I’m pretty sure we went through almost 3 full bottles of champagne.

It was like someone picked out my favorite New Year’s Eve moments from the last 30 years and smushed them all into one evening. Having that time, just on the couch with my parents, finally made that apartment feel like home.

Since their visit, I’ve been doing more decorating and organizing. Knowing our 3-ish year plan, it just makes sense. Why feel temporary in a place for 3 years if you don’t have to?

But there are certain things I just can’t bring myself to do until I’m in my permanent home. I won’t paint the rooms any color. I won’t get any more custom shelves made. I won’t buy curtains that cost more than $25. And I’m not buying my dream couch.

Something like this is what I’d love. To be able to lay down in front of the TV also facing the TV… that’s the dream…

It would suck so bad to have this amazing couch and then have to get rid of it because it doesn’t fit in a new place. Ditto for those custom-made shelving solutions I’ve seen at the Container Store. And on Instagram. And Pinterest.

Pinterest really isn’t helping.

I take it as a sign of growing up that I’m having this desire to set up a more permanent home. That, and I watch a lot of HGTV. I would be falling over myself to get on one of those shows if they filmed in New York.

I would love to go on Property Brothers. If not them, then Fixer Upper. Worst case scenario, I’d buy a crap place with a lot of space, then go on Love It or List It. But none of these shows are in New York. Why?! It’s just not fair.

In the mean time, I’m living vicariously through my parents. They just bought a new house. I’m trying to work out my schedule so I can go visit and see it in person sooner rather than later. I am not painting my apartment, but I can certainly paint in their new place.

Yes, a bit of a nesting fix is exactly what I need.

I’m off to check ticket prices on expedia.com.


This Chicago-Style Girl is Home

I had a great time in Chicago. Dinner with my girls was so much fun. The Memorial Day barbecue with my family was also a blast. Hanging out with my best friend in my parents’ kitchen like we used to when we were 14 was so great. And hanging with all the jazz musician etc. folk in Chicago the night before we left was the cherry on top.

But the moment of the weekend was the wedding we went to. Most of you all are probably unaware of this, but Easy and I met at a wedding. Quick synopsis: we met at a wedding 4th of July weekend 2010. We got engaged Memorial Day weekend 2011. We got married Valentine’s Day weekend 2012. Since that time, we’ve been to a buttload of weddings.

There are a lot of things that happen at weddings, but the drinking and dancing part is what we excel at. It’s what led to us being married in the first place. So each wedding we’ve been to (except the cheap, dry, or uber-religious ones) have all been great experiences for us.

The other memorable thing that happens at weddings are the toasts. The most memorable toasts from weddings I’ve attended are:

1) The wedding Easy and I met at. The maid of honor cried through her entire toast, and the only thing I heard was, “you guys… have shoooooown me… the reeeeeeeal meaning of loooooove.” The best man said something like, “man, I never thought [groom] would be the first one to get married. NEVER…. [more random accidentally anti-marriage stuff]… and remember that time with Shelly in the basement?” The bride’s name was not Shelly.

2) The wedding from this past weekend. The maid of honor gave a nice speech. I don’t remember any of it because wine & beer. But the best man was more memorable. He spoke of how much the groom has matured and how he felt lucky to have witnessed watching him “really grow up in the time he’s been with Stephanie.” The bride’s name was not Stephanie.

3) My wedding where we had 4 people giving toasts. The wedding guests heard none of the amazing toasts because their cell phones were vibrating with breaking news updates confirming the untimely death of Whitney Houston.

4) The wedding of one of my best friend’s other best friend. He was their best man as well. Unlike my wedding, at this one, everyone heard his speech. It’s the one he and I had many a phone conference to work on in the months preceding the wedding. Anyway, this speech was so funny, heartfelt, and crowd-winning, that to this day the bride and groom don’t believe he was sober while giving the speech. He was totally sober, but they refuse to believe him.

Moving on from memorable toasts. Let’s talk about family portraits. For some reason, it didn’t occur to us to use the portrait as an opportunity to get head shots done for Easy. He is a musician after all and people are always requesting a shot of him for TV-type stuff. After we were all done with our pictures, it occurred to us.

Luckily, his horn is never far away. He ran across the street to my parents’ house and grabbed the horn. Because we want to reproduce the photos whenever we need, we purchased the photo CD that comes with it. As soon as it arrives, I’m adding the photos to my phone, Easy’s phone, my dropbox, and sending it to our e-mails. The Walgreens app is great for ordering pictures on the fly. I can order prints directly from my phone and they’ll be ready in a half hour at the Duane Reade store up the street from my office. New York is the best.

Speaking of New York being the best, I was so happy to arrive home yesterday. I don’t know why it took me so long to learn that I need a day off when I first get back from travelling. I can work right up until it’s time to leave for the airport before a trip, but after, I need some time to unwind. Our flight landed in the early afternoon, and I was so happy to just lay on the couch and watch the midseason finale of Mad Men and do nothing else.

There are some things better in New York, and others better in Chicago. Here is a short list based on my weekend travels.

Barbecue: Chicago wins this hands down! I shouldn’t have to travel to Williamsburg and wait in line for 2 hours to get good BBQ.

Navigating my way home: New York wins this. A taxi ride home from the airport was right around $30 and took less than 30 minutes. Chicago cabs can suck it.

Buying liquor: Chicago wins this. For Memorial Day, we spent about $200 on drinks for the BBQ. The same stuff would’ve cost $100 more in New York.

Getting great food close to home: New York kicks Chicago’s butt on this one. Chicago really has some amazing food, but it’s not accessible everywhere. But there is great food everywhere in New York. You may not get the cuisine you’d prefer right in that moment, but if you’re not too picky, you’ll never have to leave your neighborhood to get affordable, healthy, tasty food. AND most places deliver.

Crime: New York wins again. In New York, you can fall asleep on the subway at 2 am with earbuds in both ears and a laptop on your lap, and you’ll likely make it home safe. In Chicago, you don’t even want to leave the house after midnight, even if you’re carrying a knife in open view. This is because in Chicago, you’re just bringing a knife to the gunfight. Do better Chicago.

Lastly, is skylines, but I refuse to compare the skylines of the two cities. I love a good skyline, no matter where it is.

Previously, on flights to Chicago, I would feel this surge of love for my city as the skyline came into view out my window. I would suddenly feel this longing for the city, embracing everything it has to offer, and I would cringe at the thought of having to leave again, even if only for that moment.

This past Friday, I didn’t feel any of that. I felt happy to arrive for a visit, but no emotional swell happened. On the return trip to New York, I was too sleepy to notice anything on the landing. But on the ride home, I felt that same, “I live here, I LIVE HERE” moment when I saw the Manhattan skyline across the East River.

It’s not quite the same old-timey, returning-home feel I used to get with Chicago.

It’s newer. Less familiar. But more hopeful of treasures still uncovered and neighborhoods still undiscovered.

But still, when I saw the Empire State Building, I knew I was home.

Where is home for you?


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


On Hanging With My Family

My family is pretty great. I say this referring to both my parents, etc. and also my in-laws. I genuinely enjoy the company of most people I am related to by blood or marriage.

But since we’ve moved to New York City, I just don’t get to spend time with them. Obviously, I don’t see them as much, but also my work schedule makes speaking with them hard.

When everyone else is getting off of work, I’m just going in to work, and who would want to chat and catch up when I get off and get home at 1 o’clock in the morning?

Because we’re not having dinner and hanging out watching tv together in the evenings anymore, we spend our time planning visits. Easy and I are going to the Midwest for a wedding at the end of the month, so we’ll squeeze a lot of visits in there.

This weekend, my parents, grandfather, and I are all descending on North Carolina for my cousin’s college graduation. This particular combination of family includes my father, his sister, his father, his wife, his niece, and his daughter. So far, Easy and my brother aren’t usually there.

We get together every couple of years for graduations, weddings, and funerals. It’s because we’re spread all across the country, but I know it’s going to be so great once we get together.

There will be good food, an inevitable debate about the state of black America, and a nice amount of drinking. I’m looking forward to having a nice drink with my cousin because I haven’t hung out with her where she could legally drink yet. It’s kind of a rite of passage in my family.

My parents offered to get me my own hotel room for the purposes of freedom to wildly party with my college graduating cousin, but I kind of chuckled at the idea. I turn 30 this year, and while that’s nowhere near being old, it might be too old to hang with the coeds.

I love hanging out with my people, no matter their age. My mom was at my bachelorette party, and I would’ve been pissed had she been unable to make it. But I know that I am in the minority compared to others my age.

If my cousin wants me to go party with her, I’ll grab a cup of coffee and join in, which means I have to take some sort of club-y outfit I guess. But I didn’t think I needed an extra room for it.

I’ll just bunk with my parents like I did when we all went to South Carolina for this same cousin’s high school graduation.

I do wish Easy were coming with me. We’ve never been one of those couples who can’t go anywhere alone, but we’re usually there for the big family things. This is likely the last first cousin graduating from college for a while, so it sucks that he is unable to come.

That makes me think of another post that I’m going to call, “On Being A Musician’s Wife” where I will discuss how awesome it is to hang out with artsy types all the time now. But it will also talk about how Easy cancels our anniversary every year.

But back to my family. My cousin and I have something pretty cool planned for our moms since we’ll be together on Mother’s Day. I have no idea if my parents read this blog, so I’m not going to talk about what we’re doing. I’ll gladly talk about it after Sunday though.

When I get back from North Carolina. Where it is warmer that New York. Which is really what’s most important–the weather.

Eh, it is second most important. Most important is having a weekend-long slumber party with my parents.


Why Is It Not Warmer Outside Yet?

I’m feeling ranty and bitchy and several other things right now. I need Spring. I neeed it. I must have it.

And because it is something that is natural and all that, I have no control over it. So I continue to wear my should’ve-been-Haz-Mat-ed by now scarf to combat the cold air. And I continue to sweat it out in my radiator-heated apartment because I don’t want the landlord to do what he’s been doing all winter and come over and turn down the heat just in time for it to get really cold outside again.

When I was in Chicago the first weekend of March for a wedding, I got sick with what may have been the flu. But it was totally worth it because I wouldn’t have missed this wedding for anything. This woman has been like a little sister to me for 7 years, and I was so pleased to attend her wedding. She made such a beautiful bride.

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The bride and groom with her parent’s. I wish I had a picture of the whole sanctuary because of the hours of hard work we put into decorating for the wedding the night before!

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Totally random selfie wearing my mom’s hat in my old bedroom in Chicago. This is what I’d look like as a hipster, y’all.

And because I’m a crazy person obsessed with organ and tissue donation, I didn’t go to the doctor even though I might’ve had the flu.

Because what if I tested positive for the flu, then accidentally got hit by a bus two days later? I wouldn’t be able to be a donor because of the confirmed flu. But if I was just sick, and the sickness was resolved, but never confirmed flu, because of my age and overall health, they probably would let me be a donor. I would make a great donor, should I not live to the age of 75. And now you all have a glimpse of just how deep my crazy goes.

Do you know why I got so sick? Because Chicago is even colder than New York right now. Today it finally felt a bit like spring, but it’s going away again. It’s supposed to snow on Thursday, then again on Monday. I just can’t.

My cousin is in town visiting, but she was sick too. I felt so badly that we didn’t do more while she was here, especially after the year she’s had. In fact, the day we flew here was the one year anniversary of the day she got her diagnosis of lymphoma.

It’s not lucky to get cancer, but she was lucky. Lymphoma usually has no outwards symptoms until it’s too late. But the lymph nodes in her jaw swelled up something horrible and they caught her cancer super early. She got chemo and knocked cancer on it’s ass.

Since that time, we have both agreed that breast cancer gets so much play and the leukemia and lymphoma cancer society needs better PR. And we agreed to she needed to step outside of her comfort zone and live more. So she got on a plane for the first time and flew with me and Easy from Chicago to NYC.

Considering that exactly 365 days ago, I was holding her hand while her doctor drilled a hole in her hip to extract bone marrow, we could’ve been doing literally anything and it would have improved the memories associated with that date. She leaves back to Chicago today, and I’m crossing my fingers that she keeps trying new experiences and embracing life.

In completely unrelated news, I finally read another romantic comedy-type novel recently. I’d been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, but a boring-as-hell book about Rastafarianism (which is a religion with a nothing-boring-about-it history) curbed that urge for a bit. I read a book recommended by a blog I love, Single Infertile Female. The book is Party Girl: A Modern Fairy Tale.

As a new New Yorker, this book had it all for me. I found myself wishing for two things: 1) the book had a happily-ever-after ending and not a realistic-for-the-millenials-who-are-craving-this-type-of-relatability ending and 2) that I had the main character’s ability to make friends. I’m not saying any more than that because I want you to go read this book for a fun 20-something-in-NYC read. I promise you’ll enjoy yourself.

While we’re on the topic, I feel the need to say, yet again, how unsuccessful I am at making new friends. Out of all the people I’ve met since I’ve moved to New York, I’ve managed to schedule four outings total, only three of which actually went somewhat according to plan. These people are funny, sweet, clever, good-looking, and genuinely nice folks. That’s everything I want in a friend. Maybe they’re just ALL not that into me.

Two of the outings were for Restaurant Week. I went to Delmonico’s Kitchen and Nobu. My mouth still waters in memory. I forgot to record anything at Delmonico’s, but I did get some amazing pictures of my good at Nobu.

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The tiny bit of Spring weather I was given today has given me renewed interest. I think I’m gonna try one more time each with all the people I’ve met, then after that I’m moving on and trying to meet even more new people.

At least I still have my volunteer work. Oh, that reminds me! I do have one friend. We met at the soup kitchen I volunteer at. But his home life is super crazy and it’s been hard for us to be real friends outside of just grabbing a drink after the soup kitchen. But still, we actually talk on the phone and I even know the names of people is his life.

Because of my awful memory when it comes to names, I really consider someone a friend when I can start naming names of people who are important to them. Not the best measuring tool, but it’s accurate.

Today is the day I start volunteering with The Reciprocity Foundation. I’m very glad I’ll be able to get this started after having such a great experience the other week. They do such amazing things, and I cannot wait to be a part of it. I’m diving right in helping with resumes and college applications. It’ll be nice to keep those skills sharp for some point in the future when I apply for grad school and when I apply for a promotion at work.

Speaking of volunteering, the woman I work with at the home for new mothers is finally getting all the pieces into place. She has steady hours for her new job, she found a 24 hour day care that will work with her as her work schedule changes, and the baby is doing well. She’s finally ready to start looking for apartments. It’s heart-warming to see people whose lives have actually improved from help given by others.

Some of her help is from private citizens, like the program that allows her to stay at the home. But she also gets government assistance that helps her buy food for her daughter that she chose to give birth to rather than abort. I’m about as pro-choice as they come (meaning I have no issues with late-term abortions), but I know that choice means respecting someone’s choice even when they have no way to take care of the baby they have decided to bring into the world.

This woman sought out all the help she could and put in a lot of hard work to make a life for herself to support her child. In a few years, she’ll have a degree, years of work experience that she can springboard into a real career, and a stable home for her daughter. That’s something to be proud of, and it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside, since the weather won’t cooperate to keep me that was on the outside.

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Accidental selfie taken while trying to use my phone to check my lipstick on the way to work. Beautiful sky, but will it stay that way? Will it?!


Husbands and Birthdays

My daddy came into town this past weekend. My parents came to visit for Thanksgiving, along with some family friends from church. There were five of them total; the couple has a 10-year-old son.

Once we realized we could comfortable fit 6 adults and one kid into the apartment, a whole world of opportunity opened up. That’s why we keep doing musician’s dinners, and we’ll probably do a Super Bowl party this weekend.

But this post isn’t about Thanksgiving or the Super Bowl, it’s about my daddy’s trip. When they were here for Thanksgiving, my daddy and the husband of the family friend couple decided they loved New York City so much that they were coming back– with or without their wives.

The timing ended up working out so they could come at the end of January. The husband had a pretty big couple of gigs with Winard Harper at Smalls Jazz Club. Plus it was my daddy’s birthday.

Is it weird that my daddy took a birthday trip out-of-town for his birthday without my mom? Honestly, it’s not. My parents are cool like that. They do their own thing from time to time and I think it’s great. Plus, he came to see his daughter, so it’s not exactly like he was running off.

That didn’t stop me from making many wife-centered jokes for the weekend. The one I really ran into the ground was when I kept checking to make sure it was fine I was there seeing as how they uninvited all the wives for the weekend. But spending time with the husband, my daddy, and our good family friend was a lot of fun.

They came to the Brooklyn brownstone for dinner with some of the members of Winard’s band before the gig on Friday.

There is this scene in the Temptations movie that shows the guys sitting around the dinner table eating dinner after one of their gigs. They’re just bonding and eating home-made good food and becoming even more themselves because of the time spent.

At some point, one of these musicians is going to get a movie made about them, and I need a scene with me serving these guys dinner.

And I need the actress who plays me to look like Lela Rochon.

Lela Rochon with her husband from Wikipedia

But anyway. My daddy and our family friend are just so much fun. Cooking dinner for the guys as we’re all laughing, talking, drinking, and listening to music before the gig was so much fun. Socializing is so much easier in the comfort of my home.

After dinner, we headed out to the gig and the music was amazing. I’ve never heard Winard Harper play before, but I immediately understood why he’s famous. He’s Wikipedia-paging, Lincoln Center-gigging, Google update-requesting famous.

And he’s so nice and gregarious and funny. That man knows how to command a microphone in between songs.

The fact that we’re barely six months in to our lives here in New York and the husband is already doing these things is freaking amazing.

winard smalls 1 winard smalls 2

The first picture is from the last song they played Friday night. If you look on the right side of the picture, you’ll see a line of horns reflecting the soft lighting.

Winard Harper announced they were going to finish it out with a short song, and they would just take one chorus each. If you know anything about jazz, you know that means shorter solos and a (possibly) shorter song.

Then he invited all the horn guys he saw in the back to “come up and get some of this.” If you know anything about jazz, you know that means that even though they were only playing one solo each, he’d just invited an additional 3-6 guys to each take a solo, thus lengthening the song even further.

But man, if you could’ve been there, you would’ve been glad for it. They played the hell out of that song. Because there were so many playing, they kept building and building and by the time they got to the end, the whole crowd was screaming in approval.

Fast forward 20 or so minutes, and we were all sad for them to finally stop playing.

My daddy, who loves live music had an amazing time. I don’t think he could’ve had a better birthday in Chicago this year.

He ended up going to the 9/11 Memorial early Saturday with the family friend. They found it really interesting. I can totally see why as my daddy is a fan of history and America and tourism.

After they finished with that, the four of us went to dinner. I was so tired at this point, I went to their hotel room to take a nap while the three men went back to Smalls for another gig.

I of course cracked some more jokes about how they finally got rid of the last wife.

My daddy and our family friend headed back to Chicago on Sunday evening. They had a really great weekend hanging out in New York.

I feel like a need to get a testimonial posted somewhere that a quick celebratory trip to NYC is great. Especially if you get your hotel room. Please tell my friends and family that so more of them can come visit us.

So far, I’ve had 7 of the 10 people who stood up with me at my wedding come visit me, which is actually pretty amazing. I love my friends. I’m trying to get a perfect 10 before our one year anniversary here in NYC, but it probably won’t happen since one of my girls had a baby a few days ago.

Poor thing was in labor for two days.

Two days.

Think on that for a minute. I’m personally making a note to postpone having children for at least a few more months.

And I’m also making a note so that whenever I do have children, my daughter will know I’m making a birthday trip to come visit her without the husband in 30 years, and she better show me a good time.

Super random, I wasn’t the only one tuckered out this weekend.

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That’s our cat Jazz giving me the eye for daring to photograph her while she’s trying to sleep


Signing On the Dotted Line

After we saw the fake one bed-room that’s perfect for a single girl’s first NYC apartment, we moved on. The assistant’s assistant broker pulled out his phone and sets up a walking GPS to direct us to the next apartment.

He should’ve given us the rundown of where we were going so we could mentally prepare. But instead, he gave us step by step instructions. When he said, “it’s just around the corner,” that translated to “many many more steps after we turn this corner, the first of which is pure hell.”

After walking from 190th to 188th, we turn the corner and see the tallest hill I’ve ever been forced to climb. The incline was so steep, so damn steep, that I could hold my head level and see the ground ahead of me only a few yards away.

My best friend and I were pissed.

So the three of us are walking up this awful hill, sweating and cursing under our breath. After about 100 steps, we were only halfway there. At this point, the cursing starts being out loud.

I wanted to maintain a professional  demeanor so I would come off like a serious potential renter. But by the time we got to the top of the hill, that demeanor was gone. Everything out my mouth was, “what the hell?!” and “am I being hazed?!”

My two dads were in a nice air conditioned car meeting us there. They didn’t get to see the first apartment, but since it a was a definite no, that was fine. They got the second apartment right after we did.

My father-in-law walked into the apartment building while my dad was looking for parking. He passed my best friend who was posted on a window ledge inside the building foyer. She let him know that the assistant’s assistant broker and I were up on the fourth floor.

As soon as he made it up the steps, he let me know that there was no way his son was going to be okay with staying in a fourth floor walkup. Then he looked out the window and saw the clotheslines strung between the walls. The building was setup with a faux-courtyard in the center, and the residents had set it up for laundry purposes.

My dad arrived just as we were taking a good look at the kitchen. He told me I broke my best friend. Then he took a look around the apartment and didn’t say much else. He took some pictures, but mostly just looked concerned. Then I called him into the kitchen.

I pointed out how there seemed to be a lot of cabinet space. But there was an issue with the cabinets over the kitchen sink. They seemed to slope downward towards the window. The shelves themselves has a slight downward slope.

My dad thought maybe I wasn’t seeing it right. So I closed the cabinet doors and he immediately saw I was correct because the cabinet doors looked like steps. Each door from the left to the right was about an inch lower than the previous one. That meant the left door of each cabinet didn’t cover the bottom and the right door didn’t cover the top. It was terrible.

We moved on.

I’ll skip the next couple of apartments. Just know they were varying versions of bad. They were also several blocks away. There was no way I was walking, so my dad just offered to take us all. So me, my best friend, my two dads, and the assistant’s assistant broker squeezed into the car for another hour and a half.

My best friend sat in the car, in the air conditioning, for the next couple of apartments. It was great for her because she got to feel better after the hell of climbing that hill. It was great for us because we didn’t have to find parking on any of these busy streets.

She joined us for the last apartment. And it was awful.

This apartment was the only one all four of us saw, so of course it had to be the worst by far.

The walls were red. And not like Big’s-bedroom-wall-in-Sex-and-the-City red. It was more like a-virgin-sacrifice-just-happened-here-and-this-was-the-color-of-her-blood red. The floors were jacked.

The windows had layers of dust on it. The closets were nonexistent. The bathroom was no more than 30 square feet.

I walked into the kitchen to check things out. Or rather, I tried to walk into the kitchen. I stepped on something that was blending into the floor and went sliding across the floor on one foot until I could stop myself.

I had stepped on a rack that was supposed to be in the refrigerator. I didn’t even bother looking at the rest of the kitchen. In my memory, I don’t really remember this place being that awful.

That’s probably why the next thing out of my mouth was, “I think we could make this one work!”

Everyone looked at me in disbelief, even the assistant’s assistant broker.

It was probably a combination of heat exhaustion, tiredness, and hunger that made me say that. Or maybe it was the virgin sacrifice apartment beginning to possess my mind and body.

Either way, we cleared out of there pretty quickly and were back in the car, headed toward midtown to drop of the assistant’s assistant broker.

We drove less than a block. Then the cops pulled us over.

None of the five of us in the car on seatbelts. I swear I always wear my seatbelt. I guess now I have to change that to almost always.

My father got a ticket for driving without a seatbelt. When he told them we were there from out of town looking for an apartment for me and we had the broker in the car, they asked who the broker was.

My dad pointed him out and the cop opened the door next to his seat. He said, “we’re going to have to take you in. The rent prices are waay to high!”

The cops laughed. My dads laughed. The broker laughed.

I didn’t fucking laugh.

Maybe I’m just not a fan of cops.

There’s no maybe. I’m not a fan.

I didn’t laugh the last time a cop made a fake arrest joke in front of me either.

Cops seem to only show up when I don’t need them. Where are the cops when people are getting robbed and gunned down in the street? I know where they are. They’re off yelling at people for double parking and giving out seatbelt tickets to a car that hadn’t traveled 500 feet yet.

I got out with the broker for what he called an “exit interview.” It was really just the assistant broker giving me the hard sell.

I sat there, wondering if I should tell him to go suck an egg. I decided to play his game and told him I like the second apartment best. This is the apartment my father-in-law proclaimed the husband wouldn’t be okay living in.

That’s when he told me the apartment was $1450/month. I was furious because I thought I pretty clearly stated there was a $1400 ceiling. I let him know I had to check with my husband and then left. I was so over Manhattan.

When we got back to Staten Island, we had our debriefing. All the things my family thought were bad about the Brooklyn broker applied to the Manhattan people, but I was the only one who witnessed it.

I was just glad to be past it and glad I was certain I was getting the best available apartment for the time I’d spent searching.

Somehow, I managed to get to New York and find a great apartment, sign the lease, and move in with time to get settled before I had to start work.

Literally, I arrived late Sunday night, and I moved into my new apartment on Thursday evening. When the moving was done, I just wanted to chill with a glass of wine and relax.

But I’m not really done yet.

The husband is coming next Thursday with our stuff.

Yup, I’m living with the basics right now. I have clothes, shoes, toiletries, and a very comfortable air mattress.

I can’t wait until next Thursday. I’m over the pitying looks from waiters when they realize I’m dining alone.

And I really miss the husband.


So You Think You Wanna Live Here

I know I’m jumping back and forth here, but as I’ve said many times, I do what I want.

Now that I’ve covered the details of how I put myself in a position of having only three weeks to move to NYC, I’d like to talk about actually getting here.

The initial plan was to have my last day of work in Chicago on July 12th or 13th. Then I would head to New York around the 15th and have a week to find an apartment to start work on July 22nd. Quite the ambitious plan, no?

Before you assume I’m a crazy person, let me tell you that I had it on good authority that it’s an awful idea to rent a New York City apartment sight unseen. There are all types of shitholes and scams that will take all your money and leave you with little or nothing in return.

As I mentioned previously, I had my best friend with me. She lived in New York, so she was a great resource. I also wrangled my father and the husband’s father. The three of us got in the car and drove to New York on Sunday July 14th.

A benefit of marrying into a large family is that these people live everywhere. Some cousins of the husband agreed to let us stay in one of their apartments while we looked for a place.

They live in Staten Island, so we had the additional task of getting back and forth across all the bridges. Those tolls are freaking ridiculous. I know my dads spent at least $100 just getting us from Staten Island to Brooklyn to Manhattan and back again the three days there were here.

Side note. What does the phrase “my dads” mean to you? When you see it, do you think a father and a father-in-law? Do you think a biological father and a stepfather? What about a biological father and an adoptive father?

Maybe your two dads are married to each other (unless you live down south, then they’re still “life partners”). I guess it all depends. I have three grandfathers. One is my dad’s dad. The other two are the biological dad and adoptive/step-dad of my mom.

Blended families really do make for some interesting family trees. The family tree for the husband’s family is really something. Or it would be if someone wrote it down.

Okay, we’re back from the side note. So at this point in the story, I’m in Staten Island with my best friend and my two dads. I was hoping (and my mother was really hoping that I could bring the cats with us. But the cousin giving us a place to stay for free is allergic.

Once we settled in on Sunday night, we relaxed and ate ox tails, salmon, and rice and beans before heading to bed. The plan was to get up Monday morning and go look at apartments in Brooklyn.

Originally, I wanted to live in Manhattan. The husband wanted Brooklyn. After the hatred I felt towards our Hyde Park apartment in Chicago, we agreed that my preference would win for New York. But after looking at apartments on line and really assessing what we could afford, I narrowed down our search to Harlem and Washington Heights in Manhattan and to Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights in Brooklyn.

I’d seen all sorts of apartments online in the weeks preceding the move. The good ones were posted and removed the same day. Apparently that’s now NYC works. I was convinced that I could find a great 1 bedroom apartment in the upper edge of Harlem for less than $1400/month.

Then I stumbled across this wonderful apartment. 1 bedroom, 1 bath, exposed brick, north-facing windows, newly renovated apartment. And it was in a brownstone building. A gorgeous brownstone.

My whole thinking changed. All of a sudden, it was all about Brooklyn. Perhaps it’s because I grew up watching the Cosby Show and feeling like I could totally be one of their kids. But either way, I had a plan.

I spoke with a few brokers and picked two, one for Manhattan and one for Brooklyn. After I saw that amazing apartment, I set the Brooklyn broker appointment for Monday and the Manhattan broker appointment for Tuesday.

The apartment the broker showed us first was pretty good. Turned out she only had the one apartment to show, which sucked. My dads were pissed about that. After she showed us the apartment, she gave me the hard sell. Very aggressive, very put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is-or-else-and-else-means-this-apartment-will-be-gone-in-the-morning.

My dads didn’t like that one bit. They wanted me to keep looking. They wanted to look in Manhattan and maybe find a new broker to keep looking in Brooklyn as well. My best friend asked me how I would feel if the apartment was gone and I missed it. I told her I’d be pissed.

After hearing that, she encouraged me to go ahead and do what I needed to do to take this apartment off the market. That meant filling out the complete application for my husband and myself.

That also meant handing over all of the financial paperwork to prove I could afford the apartment. They require all you information to approve you. You need lots of money, proof of more money, a blood sample, a voucher for your firstborn, and a reference from your priest.

Even if you have all that, it still doesn’t guarantee you the apartment. If you turn in an application, but you don’t put down a deposit to take it off the market, someone else can apply too. Then the landlord can pick which tenant (s)he’d prefer, which is what happened to a friend of mine just last week.

I put down a deposit to take the apartment off the market, which really pissed off my father-in-law. I think it was because the money was going toward the broker fee instead of toward rent or deposit. I didn’t care, I just wanted the apartment.

After the application was complete, then it was time to wait. Normally it takes a couple of days to find out if your application is approved. The broker and landlord knew I was what counts as a “motivated renter.” That basically meant I had the money in hand ready to take the first apartment I loved.

The broker promised to get a quick response from the landlord. I think she pushed it even harder once my father announced we were headed to Manhattan the next day to keep looking. We left her office around 4:30 pm or so to head back to Staten Island.

About an hour later, the phone rang. It was the broker calling back. We were expecting a call from her the next day, certainly not so soon. In my next post, I’ll let you know what she said.


How To Leave An Apartment You Hate, Step One

You ever live in a place you thought you’d love but you end up hating? You ask yourself, “how do I escape this hell hole?” Well, I’m not sure I can help you, but I can sure as hell chronicle how I’m getting the hell out.

  1. Make the shit as livable as possible until you can get out.
  2. Give away a bunch of stuff to the salvation army.
  3. Wash all your clothes and throw out the rest.
  4. Be nice to your neighbors so they don’t rob you on moving day.
  5. Don’t forget to turn off the utilities.
  6. Pack your shit over a period of time, really make leaving a celebration.

So, that’s just the basics I think. But really, the first step to leaving an apartment you hate is to not renew your lease. At the end of this month, we’ll be free of the high rent.

We’ll be free of the weed smoking neighbors.

We’ll be free of the loiterers with no better business.

We’ll be free of the lack of parking.

We’ll be free of the cops who were nowhere to be found while our car was stolen but showed up when the husband was changing the plates on the recovered car.

We’ll be free of three flights of steps.

We’ll be free.

Free at last.

Well, we’ll be moving in with our parents until we find somewhere new to live. But I swear we have a really good reason for not finding a new apartment yet. I’m just not ready to share.

But I will be soon.

I suspect it will come as good news too.

Just wait and see.


I Hold In My Hand

An Easter Egg

-Easter was fun this year. My brother’s birthday fell on the day, as it does every handful of years. Making a birthday dinner fitting his tastes while also making our typical Easter food was a fun challenge. Before dinner was a great church service. I had a meeting at work in the morning before church, so I was on time to church for the first time in months. Perhaps if I went to church seven days a week, I’d actually leave work at a reasonable hour.

The praise team and the choir were pretty good. The new drummer at the church does not like to let a song end. He isn’t entirely new, but I work a lot of Sundays, so he’s new to me. But imagine any Tyler Perry movie you’ve seen. We don’t have anyone back-flipping down the aisles like Mr. Brown, but there’s definitely some Holy Ghost party stuff happening when the drummer hits that reprise.

After church was crazy because the Sunday School, of which my mother is superintendent, made Easter baskets for all the children. Imagine over 50 kids age 0-18 running around hopped up on sugar. I was standing in a corner with my fingers crossed as if avoiding a jinx. All those children running around scared me. I felt it might be contagious, so I avoided anyone too young for school and definitely all those with parasites pregnant women. Don’t get me wrong, I love babies and I read all the mommy blogs, I just like to watch from afar and avoid joining the ranks for now.

Your Job

-This weekend was full of meetings and evaluations. I’m still getting adjusted to this part of being a supervisor. Almost everyone who knows me will tell you I’m a bossy person. I like to tell folks what to do. But I’m no Donald Trump. Saying you’re fired doesn’t come easily for me. I haven’t had to fire anyone, but I’ve had some get-it-together-so-you-don’t get-fired talks.

I like people to keep their jobs, so I focus on the meetings where I inform someone they’ve earned a raise. I suppose this part of it will get easier with time, but I was happy to get back to work today and escape to my spreadsheets and reports. The numbers never need to hear “get it together.”

A Glass of Champagne

-As I said earlier, Easter was also my brother’s birthday. It was his 30th birthday. It was nice to have a party with close friends and family there. My brother isn’t really big on family, so it was nice when he wanted to have a party that included family. His godfather came with his family. The older daughter of the family was one of my best friends when we were children. She was there with her husband and son. Even though her son is only 3, I made an exception to my earlier rule and uncrossed my fingers to hang out with him. Although I did have to tell little man to stay away from my husband once the husband hugged him and said, “I want one!”

We had a really enjoyable time, and the drinks were flowing. Mimosa, beers, and champagne gave everyone a happy buzz. Nothing goes with lamb, crab legs, turkey wings, ham, pot roast, and prime rib like champagne. We had a few vegetables as well. But only a very few.

The TV Remote

-I feel like I will never catch up with American Idol. Why they insist on having no way to view episodes after airing other than DVR is beyond me. I have 22 episodes queued up to watch on the DVR at my parents’ house. I only managed to watch one on Sunday after dinner. What crazy person decided they should take up 4-6 hours of television every week. I’ll never catch up. So I’m avoiding all news and media reports of who the Top 10 and Top 8 are and all that. I’ll probably be purchasing the CD of the winner before I even finish watching Hollywood week. There must exist some bootleg website (THAT I WOULD NEVER SUPPORT) that can help me so I can watch this show without taking over my parents’ TV.


Why Is Balance So Hard?

My feet are tiny and I sometimes fall over for no reason at all.

I’m such a classic Libra and I inevitably swing from one extreme to the next in my search for balance.

I can’t decide for certain if I hate or love my new job duties.

And don’t even get me started on the trouble I’ve been having with trying to balance the way I spend my time.

It’s just so hard. And everything pulls me in different directions. And no one seems to care that at the end of the day, I feel like an elastic waistband after a pregnant-with-twins-during-Thanksgiving dinner. I know I’m being dramatic. Just give me a moment and I’ll stop with the incessant self-pity.

Give me another moment.

Okay, so here’s what happened. Once I realized I only had to come into work two days this week, I got super excited. I figured I’d spend time with the husband, sleep a whole lot, play the Sims 3 until my eyeballs got tired, and hang with my girls.

That last one, hang with my girls, was important to me. I honestly can’t even remember the last time I’ve seen one of my bridesmaids. I honestly think it was sometime before Thanksgiving. It’s just shameful because we live in the same city (well, most of us do).

I groaned at the husband about how lucky he is because he has it all. I mean, that man has it ALL. He has a career he loves with flexible work hours. His money concerns apply only to disposable income because he makes enough to cover all the bills. He gets to hang out with his friends all the time pretty much whenever he wants. He has the time to dedicate to his family so they never feel neglected. He’s always feeding his video game addiction.

I will admit that I do have some of those things. I’ve got the same bills thankfully paid that the husband does. And I do indulge in my fair share of video games. But after work, time with the husband, and a smidge of time with family, I’ve got nothing left.

I’m jealous in a way that makes me want to steal all the husband’s left gloves. Nothing is more annoying than getting ready to head out into the cold and you only have one glove. I’d hide around a corner and chuckle to myself at my sweet sweet revenge.

I jest, I jest. I don’t begrudge the husband his lovely life. I just wish mine were a bit more lovely. I miss my girls. And this weekend was going to be my time to hang with them. We didn’t have concrete plans, we were tentatively planning something fun.

And then, dunh dunh dunh. Something came up. One of the husband’s sisters is having a birthday. And with her birthday comes a birthday dinner. That’s Friday night. I don’t miss family birthday celebrations, so of course I’ll be there. Also, the husband has the alumni dinner thing on Saturday night being thrown by a college professor of his. I fully support my husband’s musicaleducationalness, so of course I’ll be there.

There goes my weekend. Perhaps I can get my girls together for a fun Saturday brunch. We’ve joked about brunch, but never done it. Seems to be more of a date or double date kind of activity, but perhaps it can work for a group of girlfriends.

Or maybe we can hang out Sunday after church, since we all go to the same church. And by go to the same church, I mean we’re all members, but not enough of us show up regularly so we all ought to be collectively ashamed of ourselves. I can blame work and sleep and all that, but really I’m just a heathen. I need to do better. And I’ll start with church this Sunday. As long as the husband and I aren’t out too late Saturday night.

If you’re following this rambling stream of consciousness, then you can probably see why balance is so difficult for me. If I’m juggling 5 balls, I simply must add 5 more to balance things out. And then I remember 2 more balls that are actually really important to me as well, and the next thing you know I’ve got a dozen balls in my hands, threatening to hit the floor (that’s what she said. Well, that’s what she said if she’s a huge slut. Twelve balls?! Really?!).

Also at some point this weekend, I need to sleep. I need to cook for the husband. I need to workout. I need to do several other things that I simply don’t have time for. How do other busy people do it? You know, those assholes who never look like they got too little sleep or too much caffeine? Those people make me want to turn stalker mode so I can figure out their secret.

And now that I’ve accomlished the balancing task #6 of publishing another blog post, I’ll return to other balls. Tonight, I must workout and I must sleep. I almost said cook, but then I realized that was never gonna happen. It’s already 8:00pm. I’ll be lucky if I manage to eat anything for dinner tonight. Accidental weight loss, here I come!

Any tips of maintaining balance?

No? I figured.


Christmas Recap And A Plan For The Future

The last post I wrote was all about how I wasn’t feeling Christmas this year. I said how I wanted to just fast forward through to 2013. I must admit that feeling hasn’t gone away. But I have found the need to get some more balance in my life. Blogging is one of the ways I manage to feel balanced, and so I’m back to try not to depress the hell out of everyone in the last couple days of 2012. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas in spite of lack of money, a bit too many national tragedies, and a fiscal cliff threatening to pull all the news stations in with it.

On to not depressing you. My Christmas was lovely. We spent Christmas Eve night at the husband’s parents’ house just hanging. We spent Christmas Day early at my parents’ house for brunch. Then we all went up to Evanston for a Christmas dinner at the house of one of the husband’s aunts. Well, not all of us. One of the gifts my parents received for Christmas was Bulls tickets, so they went to the game instead of dinner with the rest of us.

I was so full from their Christmas brunch though, I barely had room for dinner. I mostly just ate the pot roast the husband’s mother made. It’s so good. I ate so much of it at Thanksgiving, my stomach was going through withdrawal. So I had my pot roast fix and my stomach is currently devising ways to get her to make more even though we’re past all the major cooking holidays for now.

If you read my last post, you’re probably wondering if I ended up getting potpourri drawer things for all the women in my world. The answer would be no, I did not. The husband and I ultimately decided to get house gifts for everyone. We got a house gift for my parents, his parents, one of his older sisters, and my grandmother.

We got actual gifts for three of our nieces and our one great-niece. Our lives were made easier because most of the adult siblings etc. still live at home for various reasons (read, not because they are going nowhere in life but because life’s circumstances are kicking them), so they got lumped in with the house gifts.

We still went over budget, which sucks, but we got gifts we really felt everyone could really use and love. My two favorite purchases were the area rug for the husband’s parents and the electric carving knife for my parents. No more big open floor space, though I will miss seeing the great expanse of gorgeous hardwood floors. And for my parents, no more questionably carved… everything. I must admit one of daddy’s strong suits isn’t slicing or carving any meat. Hopefully, that will change now.

Even though I wasn’t feeling Christmas, I still had the Christmas I wanted. I forced my Christmas playlist on myself and really found myself enjoying the tunes in the days leading up to Christmas. How many times can you say Christmas in one paragraph? Anyway, I had good food and good company, which was all I wanted. And neither set of parents had any trees or lights up, so I felt right at home. Maybe we’ll all do better next year.

So about this balance I’ve been saying I needed to find. It’s related to work.  Since I got my promotion at work, it’s just been work. Work. WORK. The job requirements are more than any human can accomplish in a work week. There are things I’m expected to do outside of the hours I’m at the building. Donation is a 24 hour business after all. That being sad, I hate being less than adequate at anything, so I was all about work. Then I realized I was getting no sleep, eating no food, having no sex. It’s a real problem. I have since recommitted myself to finding more of a balance.

In my head, I’ll be blogging more frequently, trying to re-focus my blog on the things I think my readers will actually find interesting. I think my life as a newly married woman in Chicago is pretty interesting. I’ve discovered some great places in this city through hunting for good food and music with the husband. I also really love my job and what I do, though I try not to talk too much about work, but maybe I can find something to share that doesn’t violate HIPAA.

Of course, I’d like to get back on the exercise bandwagon. I’m not a fan of my profile and I shudder to think how difficult it will be to get back in shape after kids if I’m out of shape before we even start. And no, that was not a sideways reveal of a plan to start having kids. It was more of a reveal of the true depth of my vanity. I’ve been so busy with work, I haven’t even contemplated doing anything else but sitting on the couch and re-charging after work. But no more! My life will  be more than spreadsheets, and one on one meetings, and auditing phone calls. It will include baking, and exercising, and blogging.The husband has been really patient with this transition. I think I owe it to both of us to turn back into a real person.

I don’t know if I can just wake up tomorrow and be this whole new person, but I’m sure as hell going to try. I know what I need to do, so it’s just a matter of doing it. I’ve tried making new year’s resolutions. I’ve tried scheduling everything in. I’ve tried self-determination. None of that works long-term, so perhaps now I’ll try a combination of them all. I’ve learned I need to gear up slowly.

Have you ever tried to jump in with both feet into something new? Some people can do it, but not me. When I do it, I go strong for a bit, but eventually I fatigue. Whoever said three weeks was enough time to train people to new activity and habit was a liar and a fraud. It takes waaay longer. All I know is I need decompression time if I’m going to sustain an activity that sucks all my energy.

So what’s first up in my plan to re-gain balance? Well, duh, it was blogging. That’s why you’re reading this post. Once I’ve got blogging consistently back in my life, then I’ll add something else. My work out DVDs are calling, but I don’t know if they’ll be it. We’ll see. But you’ll get no new year’s resolution list from me, so stop asking. Oh, well, since you twisted my arm, I’ll at least let you know how I did on my 2012 New Year’s Resolutions.

Just over a year ago, I wrote my new year’s resolutions post. It was full of wonderful things I wanted to focus on for 2012.

1) Cook dinner for the fiancé at least once a week. This is one I came pretty close to accomplishing. On average, I definitely did accomplish this one. Some weeks, I didn’t cook at all. Others, I cooked several times. I’d say this was a mission accomplished.

2) Go to some sort of production/media thingee once a month. This can be as extravagant as the opera, or as simple as a movie theater. Fail. I think I’ve seen three or four movies this year. I’ve been to no plays, no musicals, no orchestra performances, no ballets. It seems now the only live performance I see is when the husband has a gig. Thank God his music is good.

3) Exercise an average of 3 times a week. This can be going jogging or yoga. Fail again. And to think I thought I’d still have time for yoga, or a desire for jogging. I hate running! I did find Tracy Anderson though. She’d be good to me if I ever popped her DVD into the player. But it’s on my to-do list for 2013. I will get back on track.

4) Improve my diet to a point where I’m only eating fried foods once a week. This one is in between. I rarely eat fried foods. I’ve even managed to get more vegetables on the table at big family dinners. But my intake of potato chips and things like that undermines my lessened consumption of fries, fried fish, and fried chicken.

5) Finish unpacking my apartment by April. Major Fail. I just really want to get out of Hyde Park, and I think not unpacking is a symptom of that. Some part of me never wanted this place to feel too home-y because then we’d never fucking leave. I realize that’s irrational now (though we are still here when we should reside in New York by now…), and I plan to ge it done. I have to actually unpack, so I can re-pack whenever we move the hell away from here.

6) Get another cat. This one I actually did! Jazz is a crazy cat, but she fits in perfectly with our family.

7) Use one of my bridal shower gifts at least once a week. Giggity. Eh, except for when I got my promotion, I guess we sort of made this work. There are still a couple of things I haven’t used yet. But I just can’t imagine the cleaning afterward if I put on the candy underwear. I’m not ready for it yet.

So, I didn’t do so hot on my list. I did better than I thought I did though. I’ve learned setting firm deadlines means nothing if you don’t have the time or motivation to make it happen. Maybe I’ll look up motivation techniques to do things you hate the idea of. I’m not referring to exercise, I’m referring to unpacking this apartment. I just really don’t want to do it. This is the only place I’ve ever lived that never felt like home to me. Perhaps we’ll get it right next time, and we’ll live in a place I can’t wait to make home.

How was your Christmas?Any great plans for self-improvement in the new year?


Being A Good Child

The husband and I took a few hours out of our weekend and went to his parents’ house. I told myself it was to get some clothes washed for free. And I did wash clothes for free. But in exchange, we worked so hard raking leaves. We raked the front yard, the side yard, the back yard. It took hours, but we got it done.

Is it really that simple? Of course not. The husband has been intending to get over there to do it since the leaves start falling. And by “intending, ” I really mean, he’s been avoiding it like the plague and trying not to scream out, “I don’t even live here any more, how is this my responsibility?!?!”

There’s not much the husband hates more than raking leaves. Well, there is, but when we’re talking about raking leaves, that becomes the biggest hate. So being the loving wife I am, I suggested we head over there together. My bargain was the two six year olds who live there would help. And I could wash clothes for free.

The husband and I patted ourselves on the back for being the good kids of both sets of parents. This is because the cold made our brains shrink I think. Here are the facts:

  • His sister who still lives at home with her twins does a good amount of cooking and cleaning for the whole house. Granted, she lives there and so helping take care of the house is more her job than the rest of the children who don’t live there. But she still contributes more to housework than the husband ever did (he doesn’t cook).
  • His brother who is from Honduras actually did the first round of leaf raking while he was here visiting. Honduras doesn’t have things like fall leaves and snow and the like, so he really got stuck with manual labor for which he was completely unprepared.
  • His parents need the help. We have the young bodies that can better handle fighting with a rake and tall-ish grass for a few hours.

So perhaps we’re not the last-born saviors our parents were waiting for, and perhaps we aren’t the end all and be all of parental assistance. But those leaves were hard work, made even harder by a frustrated husband who really didn’t want to be out there. Add in two six year olds who are incredibly stubborn and just learning to rake and you have laughter, but also lots of frustration.

I’m just glad no one got sent to time out or spanked, and I’m glad all my clothes got washed. Next time though, we need to factor in time for some hot chocolate. And I don’t mean Swiss Miss. I mean the good stuff from Mindy’s.

The husband thought this post would be about how he is such a baby and procrastinated for weeks until I agreed to join him to rake the leaves. And then how he delayed again until I made cinnamon walnut pancakes. And then again until I’d put a load of clothes in the machine. And then how he took a break while I put in the second load of clothes. But no, only the end of this post is about how 5 bags of leaves turned the husband into a five year old. Mostly, this post is just about how we are awesome kids for our parents… at least in our own heads.