anti-schadenfreude

I don’t take enjoyment in watching other people in pain – physically, psychologically, or otherwise. I don’t think the Jackass movies are funny, nor the countless “It’s just a prank, bro!” YouTube videos. Sometimes a little petty justice/revenge or instant karma can be a bit funny, maybe more so with a guarantee that there aren’t any long-lasting effects, but I tend to still feel guilty.
Right now, I’m seeing so many people gloat and experience a sort-of ecstasy at the expense of other people’s fears that I can’t trust myself on social media. I tried to use a trending hashtag on Twitter the day after the election, only to find myself being threatened by a handful of angry white men within moments of posting about my lesbian and my African American co-workers’ concerns for their families.
Whether one feels the terror is perceived or real, the reaction to that pain is so depressing to me. When Obama won in 2008, I saw joy and celebration. People were crying happily and hugging one another. Then the racists started crawling out of the woodwork. And as the so-called “respect for the office” has dwindled, so has their courage deepened and become emboldened by the nasty rhetoric online and in the media.
In the past few days, I’ve seen a disturbing amount of internet comments calling people names, sharing clearly incorrect information to support their own worldview, and a lot of negativity. I’ve seen more than one Facebook friend post “Get it over it. Move on. It’s over.”
I don’t think a lot of people understand what was at stake for almost every minority in the US. Even if you’ve believed all along that the Republican who was running is a joke, never took himself seriously, and wasn’t taken seriously by the party, there are a great many people who believed what he said and plenty who barely waited a few hours to come out from behind the curtain and take over. And if you speak up or complain, you risk being threatened, harassed, and/or doxxed by the angry white people who just want you to shut up.
The whole “anti-PC backlash” doesn’t make a lot of sense to me since I think of “politically correct” as “trying to understand others and not be an asshole.” Yet, being an asshole is SUPER popular right now. You can’t turn around with out someone saying NO THIS IS MY OPINION AND YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO IT, even when it’s just an animated gif of a puppy taking his first bath. Someone will make it political or shit all over it.
I am glad to have more people than not in my life who are trying to find a way to work together and remain positive and provide help to those who feel under-served or fearful of their, their families’, and their kids’ futures. It probably won’t happen with safety pins or Facebook status updates. And it isn’t really about Trump so much as the anger he incited in others and his subsequent complete lack of interest in doing the job he was elected for. But there is something deeply disturbing about seeing a fellow human in tears while someone shouts to “Suck it up, buttercup” and spits in their face.

Homesick

So here we are, entering our fourth month as Indiana residents. Again. I’ve gone back to the coffee shop on the weekends, we’re back in the old neighborhood. It’s like nothing has changed.

My diplomas sit neatly in their frames, doing nothing more than reminding me of my student loans accumulating interest.

It dawned on me today that, though I don’t regret much in my life, I do regret leaving Chicago. As I lay in bed, exhausted and feeling run down from lack of sleep and hours on my feet for the first time in a couple of years, I found myself ruminating. Playing the What If game.

What if we’d negotiated lower rent with the landlord? What if we’d really stretched out our savings. What if, instead of a couple grand in rent, deposit, and truck rental, we had just paid our rent in Chicago in advance? What if we’d started a garden and eaten from that, made a strict budget, and taken Bea to summer classes at the parks instead of paying for her preschool there? What if we’d sold a couple things to get by while I applied for full-time jobs on campus, and if I’d gotten one, Charlie could stay home? What if I’d made a lot more money than him? What if I’d taken those job offers and just asked to start a few weeks after the baby was born?

I don’t play What If with the baby. I don’t regret or resent her. She didn’t ask to be born.

I can’t stop thinking that we made the wrong decision moving back, though. I can’t help but feel more alone in Indy, a city supposedly filled with family and friends who were dying to help out with the baby, most of whom I haven’t seen more than twice since we moved back. We’re more sedentary, bored, overweight, and disappointed.

I have applied for more jobs, but each one leaves me feeling like I’d be settling. I feel like we settled for this house, for that job, for this neighborhood, for this city. I feel like I didn’t get a chance to put down roots in Chicago and every day, my heart aches a little bit for what we left behind.

We wanted Bea and Ellie to grow up around their cousins, and the kids our friends have. But it feels as if no one has the time and I’m left struggling to fill up our weekdays with mindless activities in the house. I’m spending all my mornings biding my time before Bea goes to her measly two-hour preschool program when what we could be doing is getting on the brown line and hitting the Lincoln Park Zoo, the beach, going for walks, taking a bus to the Shedd or a museum on the free days.

I missed Indy and people for a while after we’d moved. But it didn’t take long to find myself busy and happy and loving Chicago. Leaving felt like the “right” choice when we made it, but now I just don’t know. Was it the “only” one?

Today my heart told me it’s never too late to move back. It’s going to take something big to fill this windy-city-sized emptiness.

Singularly Happy

About a year ago, I was invited to what I call a “secret lady group” on Facebook, prior to which I did not know these things existed. It has proven to be cathartic for me, though. Many of the women involved were members of the Unitarian church I attended in Indianapolis years ago. There are probably only half a dozen who post questions/comments/concerns with any regularity, and about twice that who comment frequently. They all tend to have pretty excellent advice, are really supportive and positive, and share a common bond — besides being women, we all seem to come from rather dysfunctional families.

I’m beginning to get the impression that “functional families” are much fewer and farther between than I may have otherwise thought.

Last week, I posted some concerns I have about pressure to expand our family. I’m quite satisfied with the way things are: me, Charlie, and Bea. In fact, if we had no other children, even adopting, I would be fine with that. I feel like the only person who is fine with a family of three.

At Christmas, I was asked multiple times if we were planning to have another child. On the way to Indy for our last two trips, Charlie mentioned how much larger a vehicle we would need “if we had another one.” He then began daydreaming about his ideal family-of-four car. He’s mentioned to me that Bea would be a good big sister, and that she would be helpful. When I balked at this talk, he mentioned his employer’s outstanding adoption benefits.

I feel guilty complaining about my pregnancy. Compared to other friends’ and women I know, mine was actually quite easy. Yet I was miserable. I was huge, bloated, sweaty, uncomfortable. I had sciatica, kidney stones, and my back hurt from Day One. I was and, even after going through it, still am scared of labor, delivery, hurting a fetus, or having a child with health problems. I’m terrified of the idea of a difficult birth, a stillbirth, a miscarriage. I’m worried that we can’t take care of the child we have, let alone a second one.

I also worry that, if we “try,” I won’t be able to get pregnant. I know I wouldn’t be the oldest woman in the world to have a baby, but I would be at least 37 years old, and after the age of 35, they start all these additional tests and freaking out. And, to be perfectly honest, I’m not sure I have the energy to do it all over again.

As my friend Annette put it, “What’s wrong with the one you have?” I love Bea. Of course.  She’s amazing and funny and smart and outgoing. It’s not so much that I don’t know if I’d have “enough love” to give a second child, so much as I’m not sure I could handle school, work, toddler, and no sleep for weeks on end. Charlie would have paternity leave, unpaid, but, let’s assume I got pregnant tomorrow. The baby would be born, assuming everything was normal, right in the middle of the first quarter of my second year in grad school. If I could somehow plan it right, then I’d have it right after the quarter was finished, in late November. But babies don’t always work that way. And, after your first pregnancy, they have a tendency to come out sooner.

So I’d posted all these concerns and fears and worries on FB. The women in the secret lady group were predictably supportive. One sent me a link to information on books that promote single-child families. Another suggested surrogacy, a third said adoption might be easier. They all said that if I wasn’t ready, I should be honest with Charlie.  So I was. But now I’m not so sure. After thinking things over for a couple of weeks, I know how much he wants another baby. I’m not worried he’ll leave me for someone younger, to have another kid.  He told me last that week that, on a scale of 1-10, he rates wanting a second child as a 7.5. I said I was about a 2. I guess I might be more like a 4 now?

I just don’t know what the immediate future holds for me. I’ve got a year and a half left of graduate school, an internship at the end of which may lead to a full-time, high-paying job. I don’t want to go into a new position pregnant or just getting pregnant, or even with a newborn. We can’t afford daycare, so what would we do with the baby while we were working? Besides which, Bea wouldn’t even be ready for kindergarten.

So I guess what I’m feeling is that it’s one of those now-or-never situations. I don’t particularly like that feeling.

 

Art on the Walls

We’re officially relocated. Pictures are being hung up, rooms are coming together. It feels a lot more like “home” than the basement dump we were in when we moved here.

Of course, I’m less incensed about that situation now that we’re in place and feeling more comfortable. I still get angry if I mull over the situation with Anne because, no matter which way I look at it, she was wrong. I asked for help and she told us to leave. That’s what it all boils down to and no amount of me putting myself in her shoes will change that.

We haven’t spoken to a lawyer — all of my law school friends continue to reiterate that we don’t need to. But I’d at least like to get things in order and have some professional advice before I file any sort of paperwork. For example, when she returned only 40% of our security deposit, she wrote on the check that it was the full deposit being returned. Rather than argue with her about that, we deposited it. We already owed too much money to too many people, and she knew that.

But before we go shelling out money we don’t have to speak with an attorney, we have to pay back those friends who were so generous as to help us with our move. It sucks being back in the situation where we can’t check out a cool restaurant or do some fun shopping for the new place, but I would much rather be broke here than rolling in money in Anne’s basement.

Did I mention I haven’t seen one single bug since moving in? Or a rat? Or mold growing on the walls? It’s weird being on the second floor, and the guys downstairs seem to smoke a lot of pot, but whatever.

Most all of the money we’re able to pay back is coming from my financial aid this quarter. Which is weird. Quarters? It’s going to be difficult getting used to those terms rather than semesters. I’ve got two courses which each meet once per week for 3 hours and 15 minutes, for ten total weeks. Then we have a ridiculous amount of time off for the holidays (which Charlie won’t get to enjoy because he can’t take off too much time around Thanksgiving or Christmas), and the following quarter will start sometime in early January.

If I do well enough, I can apply for a partial tuition remission scholarship. I don’t know exactly how much you can get back, but you have to keep a 3.7 or higher GPA. I’m not sure what the likelihood is of that.

I already have homework in both my courses, and one of them doesn’t meet until Monday. I have 6 books to read for one class (plus the supplemental materials he wants us to read before Monday), an assignment due by Monday at midnight for the other class — an assignment I can’t figure out how to submit because the dropbox for the class does not appear to exist.

As is the case at the start of any new semester, quarter, term, whatever, things seem overwhelming and difficult and challenging. But, before you know it, you’re halfway through and in the swing of things. I’d like to get to that point if only to avoid feeling like I’m in over my head. That would be a nice change.

Rainbows and Candy and Unicorns

Occasionally, I beat myself up a little about the fact that this blog usually defaults to complaining about events in my life. Then I remember that the initial purpose of it, and the reason I called it “MissAnthropy” is because I have a tendency to overreact to minor events in life that I consider the result of other people’s lack of consideration for their brethren.

Occasionally, I wish that I had some major insight or incredible thought to share with the web that might make blogging serve some other, higher purpose. But, really, isn’t it just a public journal? Isn’t a diary just a recounting of events in one’s life? And isn’t it up to the individual blogging to determine the purpose of his or her public journal?

I’ve known my entire life that I’m sarcastic, cynical, sardonic, cranky, and irritable. The only time I didn’t feel this way was when I was self-medicated. Drugs, alcohol, legal or illegal substances. I don’t want to go back to that point and I don’t want to be out of control. But part of accepting my need to control things in my life means understanding that, when I can’t control something, I get irritated and anxious.

What helps, sometimes, is to hash things out here. I think about what happened and my reaction to things, then I talk about it publicly. The few people who regularly comment often have some tremendous insight that helps me to re-think my actions/reactions, and how I might better deal with the same or similar events in the future.

Eventually, I’d like to know that every entry I make is an entertaining account of something that’s happened to me, and that all my readers, friends or not, have an enjoyable experience just coming here.

The past two years have been the most difficult and challenging of my life. I’d say “except for high school,” but I don’t think I had the tools or resources to deal with anxiety and depression in high school and we’re all a little messed up as teenagers, so I’m not counting that period of time. If what has gone on in the last 36 or so months has taught me anything, it’s that I do possess a greater amount of positivity and compassion for other people than I thought I had.

A few times, I have caught myself just wanting to give up and give in to whatever force in my life was pushing against me, but that was rare. I have, instead, discovered that I think the future still holds some amazing things and these difficult periods are passing. I still have hopes and dreams and goals, just like any person.

Not to sound completely sappy and full of rainbows and bullshit. Because the truth is, I’m still a grouch.

Critter Central

Thanks to the generosity and kindness of two different friends and Charlie’s dad (with the promise to pay them back within the next few weeks), we are able to put a deposit down on a better apartment.

Yesterday we went to look at it, had a “doggie interview” with the landlord, and I got to see the place. It’s big, freshly painted, just professionally cleaned, and has a dishwasher. A dishwasher! The landlord seemed cool. He really liked us, and dug my sense of humor. As cool as he may be, he doesn’t live anywhere near the apartment. So it seems like it’ll be a good fit.

The apartment is on the second floor which, in Chicago, is actually one and a half flights up, because there is a garden apartment partway underground. It’s in an older building, so it’s got its pros and cons, not the least of which is the size, which most likely means more expensive utilities. But whatever.

There’s a Polish woman who lives below, two 20-something guys on the first floor, and we would get the top, complete with 10-foot ceilings, a newer kitchen, and two extra rooms, one of which will be a guest bedroom.

Off the back of the apartment is the kitchen, which you have to pass through to get to the additional room; a sunroom that could also be used for storage. Off there are the many, many stairs that lead down to the basement and the free laundry. That aspect alone is fantastic, except that we’ll be sharing it with three other people. I’m not sure what the deal is with that kind of a situation. I’ve never shared a washer and dryer with other people in an apartment before, so do you work out a schedule with them? Does each person do laundry on certain days? Do you get priority in order of move-in date?

It even has a garbage disposal, which, as a renter of old, old homes for many years, is not something I have had the luxury of using since, probably 2001. I don’t have a habit of stuffing food, willy-nilly, down drains, but being able to grind up anything that might get stuck in there is something I really miss.

We also thought there was a free garage parking spot included, but that does not appear to be the case. However, the neighborhood is not close enough to any of the large Chicago attractions to require permit parking. When you live near Wrigley Field or close to downtown, a museum, or certain parks and restaurants, the city has zoned parking so residents at least stand a chance of getting to park near their place. Tourists have a habit of randomly taking up spots in an effort to avoid the ridiculous charges for garages.

I am really glad we’re going to be above ground because, this morning, Bea woke up with huge, red, hot welts all over her arms and legs. Our first thought was, ohmygod she has to go to the hospital. That initial parent panic faded as I tried to remain calm and assess the situation. Her mood and behavior were exactly the same as they are on any given morning. She didn’t have a fever. Though the swelling and redness was pretty severe when she first got up, it began to fade within a matter of a few minutes. By the time we’d been up for an hour, it wasn’t nearly as freaky.

I did send an email to a friend on Facebook who’s a pediatrician with a photo of a large bite on the back of her thigh, just to see if he thought we needed to take her somewhere. Charlie told me that a guy he works with woke up one morning in a similar situation and thought his daughter had chicken pox. As it turns out, there were baby wolf spiders in his kid’s room that were gnawing on her in her sleep.

So I got out the vacuum and a flashlight and sucked up no less than 8 tiny spiders in her room and closet, plus four or five other unknown bugs from under the bed and dresser. I got several webs and a lot of hair, which I worry speaks more to my lack of housekeeping skills than anything. And last night, I must have smooshed at least four different kinds of beetles and multi-legged creepy-crawlies. Shudder.

All the more reason to get the hell out of here. This place is such a dump. There are holes and crevices and hiding places and cracks for any manner of critters to hang out and reproduce. We now know there are rats in the walls. The other day I was cleaning under our kitchen cart and found dirt kicked out from under the baseboards. Charlie mentioned this to Anne, who didn’t even respond verbally. She just sort of moved her head around in an acknowledgment of the fact that he was speaking and that was it.

The landlady knows we have been searching, but she doesn’t know that we’ve definitely found a place. Yesterday morning, she spoke to me for the first time in over a week. During the course of the conversation, I mentioned that we may not be able to get out before Labor Day weekend (when we’d initially planned on heading back to Indy for a visit), to which she responded, “Well, if you can, TRY to be out before the first. You guys are really putting me in a bind here.”

At which point I bit my tongue so hard to keep from exploding at her that I think I might have drawn blood.

 

Hair Pulling

It seems silly to think a two-year-old could be stressed out or nervous. But they’re little people, no? According to a life stressor quiz, I scored 654. More than 150 points on this test, and it’s time to reconsider what’s going on in your life, take a new direction, and perhaps get thyself into counseling.

If the events I’ve experienced in the past year are causing my hair to fall out, I’m sure that a portion of them — if not my own stress — has leaked out to affect my child. I try my best to remain calm, keep her entertained and distracted, and ensure her happiness. That doesn’t mean I’m always 100% effective.

So Bea has started pulling out her own hair. She has a habit of twisting the hair around in, usually, her left hand. She’ll pull a hair or two out of her head, then start absent-mindedly brushing it across her face. Next thing you know, it’s in her mouth.

For a kid that little, you have to wonder if it’s something you’re doing wrong, or if there’s something you could be doing right to help. It’s definitely something we’re going to have to keep an eye on and try to redirect. If that isn’t effective, we’ll have to consider other avenues, though I’m not really sure where to start.

To top it all off, yesterday, she had to be really patient with me. I felt so bad for her, but one of the downfalls of staying home is that, if I get sick, there isn’t any way for Charlie to help out – or anyone else, for that matter. I was nauseous, fighting a migraine the entire day, felt dehydrated and my muscles ached. It was all I could do to peel myself off the couch and try to play with her.

I thought I’d started the World’s Worst Period on Tuesday (a few days late), but the symptoms led me to believe that our last less-than-careful encounter ended up in a pregnancy, which ended this week. I had a lot of lower back pain, some pretty awful cramps, and . . . well, let’s leave out the other issues for the sake of your delicate constitution. Suffice it to say, I counted back and discovered that I had, in fact, been ovulating right around the time we were intimate.

I told Charlie about it because, I knew if I were losing a pregnancy, however early, I needed to switch up my use of feminine hygiene products. If you’re miscarrying, you should not use tampons, guys, just so you know. He ran right out to get me some other stuff and, when he returned, he asked if I was disappointed. I think because I seemed so down. But if I seemed down, I explained, it was because of the changes my body was going through, on top of all the other myriad difficulties and challenges we’d been faced with in the past week. Month. Year. Whatever.

Am I disappointed? Not really. I don’t want to have another baby. Am I sad? Yes. To think that Bea’s little brother or sister was this cluster of cells that just sort of washed out of my body and, for a few weeks before, I’d had no idea that this was going on . . . It’s a little disturbing. But I also realize that most pregnancies don’t make it past the first few weeks, and most women aren’t even aware that it’s happened (like me).

It definitely makes me think about where we are right now – emotionally, financially, time-wise. I haven’t even started classes yet, so I can’t imagine juggling that, Bea, a pregnancy . . .

So, yeah. It’s a bit of a relief, even if a tad bit sad. And physically painful. I think, if Bea is stressed out now from the move, from losing Trinity, from sensing that I’m so exhausted, I don’t think she would deal well with me being knocked up or having to compete with a baby for attention.

Pros and Cons

Our landlord is a 50-something widowed woman with a 25-year-old daughter who lives in Boston. We’ll call the landlady Anne, which is not her name. Anne has lived in this house since her daughter was born. When she bought it for $49,000, Lincoln Park was a ghetto. She said she used to have a 12-gauge shotgun hidden under her bed. Anne’s husband passed away when their daughter was seven, although I’m fuzzy on what happened to him.

When Anne remodeled the downstairs – the garden apartment we now live in – she said she always imagined a family with a small child and dog would move in. We were the first ones to ever rent from her. Her tenants till now have apparently been standup comics, potheads, drunks, a gay couple, some confirmed bachelors, and the occasional girl roommates, all of whom apparently never stay for very long.

I’m not sure why no one has ever stayed. I don’t know if it’s Anne’s personality that bothers them (she is extremely chatty – like, to the point that I’m trying to walk inside the house because Bea is in there alone and Anne just keeps talking and talking and talking). Maybe it’s the neighborhood? Ours is one of the busiest streets in Chicago, save for the downtown shopping areas. There’s a lot of traffic and not a lot of people stop along here to do anything. The businesses nearby either have their own parking lots, or it’s the kind of place where you just stop in for a little bit, then head back out.

I do know that Anne really, really wants us to stay. She has offered to have a washer and dryer installed in the utility closet off our kitchen – a brand-new, full-size stackable set – if we pay a little more in rent (because there is no plumbing, drain, or the right kind of electrical outlets to use a W/D in the house) and sign another lease. This would mean, if I graduate on time, our lease would be up as I finished my Master’s degree. So we would at least not have to worry about finding another place in a year.

I admit that we had already begun to consider where we would live next summer. There are a lot of pros, and several big cons to this apartment. It’s easily accessible to the train – there’s a stop about two blocks from us – and all the things I mentioned in my last post. It has a great privacy-fenced backyard, a good amount of space for us, allows dogs (we have both of them here now and I can’t imagine finding another apartment in all of Chicago that would let us have two 80-pound dogs), and there’s a parking space out back we can use for free when Anne’s business partner isn’t here. There are two great parks really close by, Bea has her own bedroom, and we’re all on one level. Anne is actually quite considerate and nice, including allowing us to pay rent twice per month – half on the first, half on the fifteenth – until we get back on our feet. The visit to the hospital was a bit of a blow, financially. I don’t think we could have asked for a more understanding landlord.

But the cons include an extremely chatty landlord. Honestly, sometimes, I just don’t want to talk for 20 minutes about the same things we did two hours ago. I like her, and she’s super-nice and funny, but sometimes I feel like listening to her tell the same story for the fifth time is my penance for accepting her help on the rent. We don’t have a functioning air conditioner. This hasn’t been a problem until the past two days, when the heat index took us into the 100s, and it’s gotten sweaty and uncomfortable downstairs. We hooked up the A/C unit we found in the utility closet two days ago, and it just blows out air that smells like my grandma’s house. We don’t have a washer and dryer — yet. If we get one, we have to pay more and Charlie isn’t thrilled about that. But, recall the twice-per-month rental agreement.

There is also a lot of moisture and bugs. So many bugs. I try to keep things really clean and dry, but that’s an uphill battle in a garden apartment. The dehumidifier actually makes it hotter in here, though dry. And, considering this place is over 150 years old, there are certain holes and crevices and spaces that I can’t locate or clean or fill up. I’ve found three wolf spiders – two dead, one alive that got away from me, so I spent that night on the couch – potato bugs, weird little round things I’ve never seen before, weird flying things I’ve never seen before . . .

We’re also right next door to a bar, three doors down from another bar, there’s no parking close to our house if people want to visit (it’s all side streets and you need passes after 6pm). We have discovered drunk people wandering in to our yard three times already, one of which stubbornly refused to leave because he thought he was in the right place. And, of course, Charlie’s bike was already stolen. The scary part about that is, someone had to come in through our gate, to the back door, and into the shed under the house where he kept it. Which means the thieves around here are super-ballsy, or it was someone who knew the bike was there.

I also tend to freak out when Bea tries to take off down the sidewalk. Like I said, it’s crazy-busy on this street and she doesn’t pay any attention to me when I ask her to stop or hold my hand. We’d probably have to stroll to the park and take a trike, rather than me letting her ride a tricycle on this sidewalk.

But, really, the pros are so big they tend to outweigh the cons. Yeah, it’s kinda dark down here, and occasionally there’s a weird smell I can’t eliminate, but it’s our first apartment in Chicago. Sometimes I’m a little hard on myself because I’m like, look, you aren’t 25 years old. You’re 35. You’re an adult with a child. But who the hell can afford $3,200 a month for the place across the street? And if you could afford it, why not spend less on rent or just buy a place?

Settling In

Since I made that last post, it has occurred to me every day, at least once, that while I said I would start blogging more often, I haven’t. For one reason or another, I just haven’t. Obviously.

I finished the training program for my new editing gig and spent a week straight online, taking jobs and trying my best to finish them quickly. That doing-jobs-quickly business is going to take me a while. The software they use is a little glitchy, and I’m still learning how to listen as I type and transcribe or translate. It’s not the kind of thing I can do while Bea is tearing around the house, since each typed word has to match up with the speaker’s voice.

Then, we had her second birthday party and a cookout here at our new place. It took a little coordinating since a few people were driving in from Indianapolis. We had guests (Jay and Scott and their housemate) over the weekend, so there was a lot of rushing around to get laundry done, grocery shop, make sure we had guests sheets and pillows and towels.

It was wonderful to see how many people were willing to make the drive to come and see us, but one thing that distressed me was, afterward, my aunt Vicki said, “Chicago doesn’t seem like it’s that far, but it is.” Her son, my cousin Peter, has lived here for about 3 years and he usually heads back home to visit.

When we were first planning on making this move, I was excited, then I got nervous, then I started to feel guilty. The closer it came to Moving Day, the more sad I felt at taking Bea away from all the people she knows. Sarah and her son Remy; Maureen and her daughter Kaya; my aunt Vicki and her family; the support network we had of people we trusted and who Bea would be fine with if we needed a babysitter.

I know. I know. We’ll meet people here, right? We’ll make friends. I’ll eventually start classes and find common ground with my fellow students. Bea will eventually end up in a daycare or preschool where she’ll meet other kids she likes. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll like those kids’ parents.

One thing I’ve learned living in Chicago; people here are very, very young. It’s a vibrant, exciting city with a lot of things to do. Within a block or two of our place, there’s a few convenience stores, a coffeeshop, an El stop, a Starbucks, a Thai place, three pizza places, an authentic Mexican restaurant, a laundromat, a dog groomer, a library, a used bookstore, a designer toy store, clothing shops, two parks, and  . . . I can’t even remember what else.

It’s difficult to keep up when you’ve got a two-year-old in tow.

We do seem to have found our footing, though. We’ve got a bit of a schedule going on, the details of which would bore you to tears. Mostly because it’s just what works for us. We don’t have a lot of money to do much of anything exciting, and with Bea napping smack-dab in the middle of the day, it doesn’t leave our options open to, say, hit a museum. The effort involved in getting somewhere downtown with Bea, on my own, makes me tired just to think about it.

It’s only been a month, half of which she was sick, so I think we’re doing pretty well, all things considered.

A New Day

Today marks the beginning of my fourth week as a Chicago resident. Over the course of the past two(+) years, I’ve gotten pregnant, had a baby, graduated from college, brought my unemployed and mentally ill father to live with my family, found him another home, applied and was accepted to graduate school, found a job in Chicago, and moved.

Oh, my god. I’m so tired.

The funny thing is, I just made a personal commitment to myself to start blogging more frequently again because, as it so happens, I have “lost” that job in Chicago.

The short version of the story goes something like this: I applied to a chain coffee house as a manager. I interviewed twice for the position but didn’t get it. I was offered a shift supervisor position but didn’t take it. I became a lowly barista again, assuming they would pay me at least what I was making at my old job. They allowed this. Two weeks in, and right before Charlie started his new job, it became apparent that we were not going to find any trustworthy child care on such short notice. The district manager of the company that hired me did all their scheduling because the store where I worked did not have an official manager yet (six months after I’d applied for the job!). She put up this week’s schedule on Friday afternoon and I scrambled all weekend to find someone to watch Bea. Never happened.

I also did some math and determined that the cheapest babysitting option was still 30% more than what I was making. Staying home with Bea is our most affordable option. Also, Bea got sick, we had no one to watch her and I kinda got terminated. It was more of a mutual decision. I admit I was leaning towards that conclusion, but when the DM said she would begin “filing the termination paperwork,” I was a little surprised. Especially considering how well I was doing there.

Money’s going to be tight for a bit, but surprisingly, not as bad as it was in Indy taking care of my dad. Who, as it turns out, is not interested in keeping in touch with us. I haven’t heard a peep out of him in two months. The last time he contacted me was when I emailed him, asking if he’d be able to help out with our move. His response? “I’m not sitting on anything, if that’s what you think.”
I did think that, actually.

When he was approved for disability in December or January, he received a huge check which totaled the amount he would have received per month if he’d been approved right away. He’d also worked a job for three weeks that paid over $60 an hour. So at one point the beginning of this year, he would have had around $13,000 in his account, if not more. Perhaps closer to eighteen grand.
He paid us rent three times ($300 per month), and paid to have our car window repaired. Which had been broken out in June of last year.

Yes, I’m bitter. Yes, Thanksgiving this year is going to be SUPER AWKWARD. I am, however, excited to see what the next few months have to offer.

More to come . . .