Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “like a diary

My Nickname Should Be Breadcrumbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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


To Reunion or Not Reunion

I’ve mentioned once or twice that the exercise plan I’m using to try to get back in shape is Tracy Anderson Metamorphosis. There reviews are bad and good, mostly because she doesn’t give you explicit instructions throughout her videos. I happen to prefer it that way. I hate watching an exercise DVD for a week straight, hearing the same voice telling me the same things that stop being inspirational after day one.

Her methods work great for me, when I”m actually working out. Since I’ve gotten back on track, it’s been just as great as the first time. Her plan is that by the time you reach Day 90 of exercising, you’ll have a whole new body.

Day 90 of exercising is your 90th day of working out, not 90 calendar days after the day you start. I have a countdown widget at the bottom of my blog that I had to reset when I started working out again. That counter happened to land on Day 90 of August 16, 2013. That is the first day of my 10 year high school reunion.

I’ve been thinking about this reunion, especially because the husband’s ten-year reunion was last year. The question is, do I really want to go?

All the movies about reunions show people agonizing over their reunions. How do they look? Are they where they want professionally, romantically, and otherwise?

I don’t want to describe me, but I feel like I might be.

I used to attend medical school. You don’t just leave medical school. Not unless you get kicked out or hauled off to the loony bin. I chose to leave on my own because I wasn’t happy and decided I didn’t want to become a doctor anymore.

Hell, I’m not sure I ever wanted to become a doctor. I just made so much sense. I’m great at math and science. I love helping people. I have no issues with blood or injuries (unless it’s a horror movie or a person coughing near my open mouth). Obviously, I’d become a doctor if I tested and interviewed well enough to get into medical school, right?

Eh, but it wasn’t meant for me. I love what I do now, but I feel like former med student is all people will see.

On top of the not-that-easily-understandable career path, there is only one friend of mine in my graduating class. The people from my high school that are still around are from all different classes except mine. One of the people I mentioned in a previous post who is getting divorced was one of the bridesmen at my wedding. He’s the only one.

I’m not even sure if he’s planning on going or not.

But then again, if I can show up to the reunion with my wonderful husband, a great job that made me supervisor in one year, great hair, great body, and genuinely happy, that’s got be worth something right?

My school has a reputation for being pretentious and a lot of other negative words. It’s full of smart kids that tested to get in who knew  they were smart. I didn’t have trouble making friends, but I definitely wasn’t the most outgoing person. Most of the time when I attracted attention, it was on accident because I can get loud if I get excited.

I suppose there is a part of me wondering what the old choir members, ROTC members, and ex-boyfriends are up to these days. Yup, high school for me mainly consisted of ROTC, choir, and dating. Oh, and taking hella extra science and math classes to prepare for college.

Aren’t reunions these exciting events, setup so you can reconnect with lost friends and catch up on old times? Do I really care to do that?

I don’t know yet.

What I know is I’ve made it past Day 10 on my 90 Day workout plan. That means I have 80 more days to decide.

Probably less. There’s no way my high school would hold these events without some seriously advanced RSVPs.


Just Stop Dogging Me Around

If you love Michael Jackson songs like I do, then you know more about his lyrics than the casual music listener. I lump him in with Mariah Carey, Steven Tyler, and Prince. Not because they are mega stars with hordes of fans. They are all lumped together because I never know what the hell they’re saying in their song lyrics.

But being the Michael Jackson fan I am, I know his lyrics. And in his song Leave Me Alone, he only strings together two full sentences in the whole thing. In spite of not saying much, he’s truly expressing how I feel right now.

Sometimes you just wanna be left alone, you know? You get to feeling under-appreciated. And the same people not appreciating you are constantly asking you for things. It’s hard not to let that feeling take over your whole world.

I’m feeling this way right now because of work. If you read this blog a lot, which I still don’t understand because I’m not that interesting, then you know I waffle back and forth on how I feel about my job.

I love my line of work and I love how I’m able to help people without having to directly deal with them. But I also sometimes hate my job and fantasize about winning the lottery and quitting Dave Chapelle style. I’ve recently realized that my love-hate relationship with my job has more to do with the people I work with than the work I do.

When no one needs me to solve an immediate emergency, I’m good. I churn out my reports and hop on the phone with a sparkling personality. I wow folks at meetings and speed through my to-do list. That scenario is the exception unfortunately.

These last few days, it’s been tough. I’m finally starting to understand why my dad was the way he was when I was growing up. He’s got a lot of difficult people at his job; his workplace has a much higher percentage of those type of people than I do. He would come home from work and not want to talk or do anything really. I remember wondering why he brought stress from work home with him.

But now I get it. It’s just so hard to leave work at work. In an effort to maintain a certain level of professionalism at work, I have to suppress my ire toward certain people and situations. The one outlet I had at work to get that shit out and not keep it bottled has been whisked away from me in the sea of changes implemented in the last few months.

So now I have nothing. I have a terrible poker face, so it’s obvious when I’m upset. In spite of my terrible poker face, my words and actions stay professional. All of that professional crap is draining, and by the time I get home, I just want to do nothing. I want to stare mindlessly at some movie I’ve already seen 100 times and go to bed early and wake up late.

My plan to deal with work is fine because it gets me through until things even back out again. But I don’t really have a good plan for being at home after a difficult time at work. I don’t know how the husband is going to deal with it. So far, it hasn’t been going well. He doesn’t understand why I’m upset and he doesn’t get why I don’t want to talk about it. It just takes so much energy to try and not be a monster at work and to try and not be a monster at home.

At work, things are too busy for someone to bother me for too long. Their phone rings or they have another meeting, so they back off eventually. But at home, there is no reprieve. The husband wants to talk about why I’m upset. And then he wants to talk about why I don’t want to talk about being upset. And then he wants to talk about why I seem irritated at the though of talking about why I don’t want to talk about being upset. I wish I were exaggerating, but this happens at least once a week.

The husband is so much better at letting things roll off his back than I am. Sometime I wish I could take on a bit more of his personality because it’s a lot harder to get him down. I admire him because It has to be difficult for him to be with someone like me who’s default is just to shut down. People, I need some advice.

Does anyone have both a demanding job and a spouse who wants all of your attention when you’re at home? How do you find a balance? How do you stay sane?

This weekend is a birthday party for one of my friends. I’m sure I can rally and be in a good mood after work on Saturday for this party. I can always rally for a holiday or birthday, but there won’t be any more of those until the middle of next month. I guess I’ll just cross my fingers and hope things calm down at the job.