Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
5. Oklahoma thinks it has the right to put add another layer of psychological torture to a woman's right to choose.
4. The Southern states (collectively) decide that a joint is more dangerous to citizens than the ever growing number of obese adults walking around Wal-Mart.
3. Virginia tries to act like slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War.
2. California, land of hairdressers, fashion designers, actors, dancers and models, outlaws gay marriage.
1. Arizona makes its case as the most racist State in the Union. Suck it Kentucky!
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I am a terrible person. Why? Because the continuous running question in my head this week has been to wonder whether I would have been maid of honor at Jesika's never to be wedding to Kevin. I have considered this a number of times in the last twelve months, but in the last few days, the question has bordered on obssession, almost like this is the one piece of information that would provide me with the necessary closure and resolution. Why does the human mind work in such delirious ways?
I almost broke down while working out with my trainer on Thursday and Jesika's name didn't even come up. I was hit with the most acute loneliness, one that I couldn't name or prepare for. But I knew that emptiness came from deep down, from going almost 365 days without talking to the woman who was a major part of my life for 16 years.
So I could wallow this weekend. There is much to feel sad about. It is hard not to project all the fabulous things that Jesika, with her educated mind and brilliant sense of humor, would have accomplished. It is difficult not to mourn the loss of being able to watch Kevin and Jesika complete their journey together. I am sorry to report that two months ago Kevin suffered a major stroke that he is still working to recover from, though through the miracle of medicne, it seems he is well on the path to healthy living. Lives have been changed in many unexpected ways by Jesika's short struggle with cancer.
But I am trying, for Jesika's sake, to make this weekend a celebration of her life and all the joy she brought to so many. I owe it to her because that's what she would have wanted. Jesika was the epitome of anti-drama and would have had a complete distaste for all this wallowing on her behalf. I wish she would show up personally to tell me to snap out of it, but life is not an M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Instead I am trying to channel this depleting energy into a positive focus on next Saturday's 13th Annual NOCC Illinois Chapter Walk for Ovarian Cancer. I have three miles to keep my head down and strut it out, funneling my anger toward the disease that took my friend (and my grandmother in 1991). The money our team has raised, and the pavement we will tread might one day lead to a cure. I have to settle for that positivity since I can't bring Jesika back.
In our teens, Jesika and I were a couple of bad wannabe juvenile delinquents: smoking cigarettes, stealing hood ornaments, drinking stolen Bacardi on the tennis courts of Lincoln Park high school. Toward the end of her life, we settled for drinking a couple cosmos and talking trash. Such a wide range of memories. There will never be another like her.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
My new office, located at Lake and Clinton is, quite literally, a stone's throw away from one of my former employers, a company called Information Resources. I worked at the consumer spending tracking company from 2005-2007 while completing my Master's in English Lit. at Northeastern. If you have ever seen the movie Office Space, or are familiar with the similiarly named TV show, The Office, you will be easily able to bring an image of IRI's employees and work ethic to mind. It is, without the shadow of a doubt, the silliest place where I ever did time. I mean that in the best way. Full of happy hours, sloppy floor parties, hookups, rumor and innuendo, I am not sure much work ever got done. This may be part of the reason the company has gone through massive layoffs since I left, but I digress...
Boop was a single graduate student during her tenure at IRI, and I will own upfront that I was a great partaker in the aforementioned bundle of shenanigans (see paragraph above). My fellow employees and I got on, as Forrest Gump might say, "like peas and carrots." I had nicknames such as "The Prom Queen," "The Happy Hour Genie," and "The Makeout Bandit." It is all too true. During those freewheeling single days, I did use my place of employment as a de facto dating service. And not unsuccessfully either. Eddie and I met while he was a consultant at the company.
The problem is that some of my failed dalliances remain very much employed at IRI. I like to think I have morphed somewhat into a more respectable person since I left the halls of Information Resources: married woman, graduate, thriving career of sorts. Long gone are the days when I did three or more messy rounds of after work cocktails per week. My liver and gym routines will not allow it.
However, I cannot reasonably expect my discarded paramours to recognize my newfound maturity. So each day in my new role at Illinois Partners contains the same routine: I disembark from the Metra and run like hell for the safe confines of my building's vestibule. At 5:00, I skedaddle back to the Ogilvie Station with sunglasses firmly in place, praying to avoid running into anyone who hates me.
This plan carried me through a full week free of the ghosts of boyfriends past. However, my luck ran out on Tuesday afternoon as I was lazily returning from lunch. The enemy always seems to attack when your guard is down.
He was getting out of a cab and oh no! It was the worst possibility of all: Kiran, the guy I left to get together with Eddie. The fact that Eddie and I have been married for 2.5 years, and Kiran's own status as a happily married fella with a one year-old daughter, lulled me into the belief that perhaps we had grown, and could have a cordial conversation with bygones being where they belong.
Wrong. I could see recognition wash over Kiran's face, followed closely by what can only be described as a look of withering scorn. I prayed very hard for the sidewalk to open up and swallow me, a la Baby Jessica down the well, but that shit never works when you need it to. So I braced myself for the stilted, unnatural conversation that was to follow.
It took all of about 30 seconds, but of course the discussion felt like hours. I left with the distinct impression that Kiran thinks he "won" because he has a child at this point and I don't. Ah yes, baby making as some sort of contest: yet another reason I don't go there. I didn't feel the need to explain to him that there's nothing at all wrong with my eggs or Eddie's sperm. Let my personal choice make him feel avenged if it means an end to sidewalk nastiness.
It's only week two at the new job and there's at least five or six former suitors left for me to run into. Stay tuned...
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Likewise, I view Rosebud, KK and most especially Jen as "my girls," the closest thing I will ever have to daughters of my own - and I couldn't love them any more than if they were. Jen and I had a most unconventional sisterly relationship growing up, the more so when you consider we're only two years (and three days) apart. I'm certain I wasn't always the greatest role model, but I was the only strong female figure my baby sister had in her world for a very long time. It was a protectorship I took, and still take, very seriously. But Ms. Of All Trades is a fine grown woman and doesn't need to stand behind me anymore. KK and Rosebud think I'm pretty swell, thank you very much, but at the end of every day, they go home with Mom and Dad.
My lack of experience now throughly dissected, I wonder if I will ever to be able to grasp what it's "like" to feel the ups and downs of the true, unguarded female relationship. What is the complex intimacy between a mother and her daughter? It's such a trope of literature, film, drama and yet it's wholly outside my understanding - always has been. I am used to being an island. If a co-worker regales me with tales of the "Momzilla" who is taking over her wedding plans, I nod my head knowingly and smirk as if I am in on the joke. But I'm really not. I don't even know where my mother lives to have sent her an invitation to mine and Eddie's nuptials.
Don't misunderstand me. I am not feeling sorry for myself. I don't comprehend enough about the motherly attachment to even know what I missed. I just know that I am missing something. It sits there in my chest like a painless gaping hole. It's an odd feeling to be wholly alien to a mostly universal experience.
Would anyone like to educate me?
Saturday, April 17, 2010
There are no office supplies to speak of at Illinois Partners. The coalition manager, my boss Judith, and I use leftover utensils from the basement of the United Way's main Chicago headquarters. They are the same generous souls who donate us cube space, computer and phone with which to conduct our business, but we cannot have access to their network, since we're not technically employees.
On my very first day, I sat through four straight hours of meetings, including one with the powerful Executive Committee, which includes philanthropic bigwigs like United Way, the National Shriver Center of Poverty Law and the Chicago Community Trust. When I wasn't busy being awestruck by their political connections and knowledge of Illinois legislature mechanisms, I was furiously writing notes so I could later prepare and circulate the minutes.
During my very first week I was handed control of the website, FaceBook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. I have wanted to learn how to mobilize social media in a political setting for a long time, and now I have my chance, but it is daunting because I am so new and the stakes are so high.
On Thursday, Judith and I conducted a meeting while parked in her car for 30 minutes on Jefferson Street.
I worked overtime twice.
And yet everyday, tired as I am (the work of organizing 480 members of a human service coalition is left to two employees - Judith and I), I feel more whole, more engaged, and more satisfied in the workplace than I ever have. How many citizens of Illinois use or require one or more of the following social services: drug counseling, mental illness assistance, housing, child care, senior services, adoption help, child and teen programs, domestic violence shelter and more? I don't think there's anyone in the State who doesn't love someone who desperately needs these programs, if they are not themselves a direct consumer.
But Illinois, right behind California and New York is spiraling toward bankruptcy, and I don't think I have to tell you folks that the Land of Lincoln suffers from more than a bad economy. We have a full blown crsis of leadership on our hands. Michael Madigan is apparently the most powerul man in the State, I have come to learn this week. He doesn't want to raise taxes and he's in no mood to take from the unions, whose organizing power social services hasn't had to this point. Program are going to be cut Draconian-style, and the human services sector are particularly positioned to to take it on the chin. It is both the blessing and the curse of social workers everywhere that they are always willing to do more with less. Government, especially in a fiscal crisis, and a political climate of complete inertia, counts on that.
So I am doing work that interests me, and building my writing skills in new ways, while doing work that directly matters. I can feel it, see it, hear it. This is a tangible that was always missing in my former corporate incarnations, and it kept me from staying interested once I had mastered my job.
No two days will be the same at Illinois Partners. Flush with idealism as I am, there will be moments of tremendous sorrow, as people who need nonprofit assistance will be less and likely to get it with each budget cycle. But I am willing to stay here in the trenches and keep fighting.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I played it on the down low the last couple months, though you folks know I have been job hunting. But I actually started a new position this past Monday, at a pretty timely and important nonprofit. Many more details on this new assignment tomorrow, but the point for now is that adjusting to a new schedule, where I try to collapse full-time work, freelancing, a marriage and household management, has heavily distracted me from the joys of naval contemplation. It's a matter of relearning how to spin all the plates. I have been out of the rat race for nearly a year and it's taking a few days to recalibrate.
I haven't even been following the news much this week, though I did come across three items about my beloved CNN, and it's major stars, Larry King and Anderson Cooper that I thought I might share:
1. First the silly: Larry King files for divorce #8
2. AC 360 gains live audience in an attempt to boost ratings
3. The not quite open AC also checks in at #2 on Out magazine's "Power 50" list of the most influential gays and lesbians in America.
I hear that CNN desperately needs some ratings to stop the drubbing it regularly receives from MSNBC and my personal favorite, Fox news. I suppose actually BEING the news is one way to go about it.
Monday, April 12, 2010
- Regular reader (and extended family member) Sanjiv was kind enough to stop by with his wife and child (daddy and daughter in fab matching batman/batgirl shirts, I might add) to support us. They had a busy day, but made sure to take the time out for someone else. Lesson: people can truly be selfless
- Both of my sisters-in-law and their respective families turned up with cash in hand. Lesson: Kids love cupcakes. Oops, no, what I meant was you can count on family.
- A friend of mine from the neighborhood came by with her kids and stayed to help for a bit without being asked. And by "a bit" I mean the entire 3-1/2 hours we were out there. Lesson: people can surprise you in good ways too.
- We are taught not to judge based on appearance but, let's face it, we all do it one time or another. Well, the dudes in their weekend sports cars barely looked twice at us. But the 2001 Ford minivan with the bumper hanging off went around the block to come back and donate. Lesson: Its often the people who have the least to give that end up giving the most.
- My family of 4 spent the whole day outside together, helping one another toward the same goal, enjoying the sunshine, sharing laughs, and just enjoying each other's company. Lesson: We can do lots of things besides watch Nick Jr. all day.
When all was said and done and the donations were counted it up, the total exceeded our initial goal by nearly 6 times. It was absolutely unbelievable. Thank you so much to all of the people who were there for us along the way, physically or spiritually. The total donations for Team June/Jesika continue to grow. I would much rather have those two gals back here with us, but since that is not possible this will have to do.
Oh...and since we were completely wiped out of cupcakes, there were none left to eat myself and now I don't have to eat them out of obligation. Cuz, ya know, don't want to throw out perfectly good food and all that. My hips are grateful.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
But once in awhile, two stars align and actually get me to care. This week, I was inexplicably saddened to learn of the breakup of Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy, coupled for five years. They are both likable, funny people, and always seemed so loving and normal by celebrity standards.
Word is that Jim's longtime battle with depression, which would often lead him to go AWOL for days at a time, took it's toll on Jenny. I sympathize. I know from experience how hard it is to keep caring for someone who's unreachable.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
But until Sunday night, I never knew never the sensation of squirming uncomfortably, of physically recoiling from my television set as though bitten by a poisonous snake, wishing I could walk away, but knowing very well that I couldn't if I tried. It took the shenanigans of one reality TV famewhore to create a personal gutcheck moment that no enjoyment of The Real World/Road Rules Challenge ever could.
I am speaking of course of Blago, also known as Rod Blagojevich, the disgraced former Governor of Illinois. For some reason NBC loves "Hairball" (so nicknamed by Mr. A.) so much, and is such a willing partner in helping the deposed CEO of Illinois squeeze every drop from the bottle of his 15 minutes of fame, that the network has attempted to cast him on not one, but two reality programs. The first, last summer's I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Outta Here! was a no go because Roddy Boy is unable to leave the country while awaiting trial. So NBC opted to cast loyal, foul mouthed wife Patti instead.
The already put upon denizens of Illinois believing they had dodged a bullet, we failed to recognize the awesome tenacity of the "Polar Bear" (so nicknamed by Eddie due to Blago's love of jogging in tight pants in sub zero temps) in his quest for media domination. Of course Blagojevich found another willing consort in Donald Trump, no stranger to scandal and famewhoring himself. And thus a man who should be spending every waking moment with his unfortunate children before he is hauled off to the Pen, instead finds himself trying to "win money for charity" (What a guy!) on this season of Celebrity Apprentice.
It is awful enough to have Blago's face and voice put before me, a constant reminder that yes I voted twice for the Elvis loving loser who tried to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat about five minutes after he was promoted to the White House, every Sunday evening. I enjoy the show of course, but I also accept that witnessing Blago's greasy prostitution of himself before America, gathering fame and fortune that most innocent people will never experience, is a punishment I richly deserve. I have said it before, and I will vow it again: never, ever will I allow myself to cast another ignorant local vote. National politics are important and of course I remain attuned, but no longer at the expense of knowing what's going on in my own backyard.
I was ready for the egregious self-promotion, the practiced smile in front of any and all cameras and autograph seekers, no matter what else might be going on at the time. I never expected Blago to function as a focused and selfless team player, even if colleagues like wrestler Goldberg and sprinter Michael Johnson could stomp him without even trying. One of Blago's many charms is that he is utterly impervious to looks of loathing.
Be that as it may, I was utterly unprepared to have evidence of Blagojevich's most embarassing weakness of all sucker punch what was left of this voter's self-esteem. The man cannot use any kind of technology at all. AT ALL! No email, no camera phone, no text messaging and the very idea of a laptop utterly befuddles him. Upon the placement of a computer in front of him on Sunday's episode, he proceeded to turn it over with the confusion a man asked to assemble a 2,500 piece Ikea rocking chair. Therefore, one of my favorite snide comments that the Governor would need a GPS to find his ass with both hands is rendered obsolete.
Isn't it enough that I cast two ballots in favor of a man with the moral scruples of Satan? At least the image of him as some sort of evil genius consoled me. I had obviously been hoodwinked by a mind much more powerful than mine. But no, no. Now I know that the man who utterly failed Illinois is a simpleton, whose inability to use technology to convey his "vision" to an obedient Bret Michaels, necessarily means he was never qualified to walk and chew gum, much less lead a State.
All I have left now is a thought provoking query posed to me on FaceBook by another one of our regular readers, a fine lady who could probably see the good in cellulite, so generous is she in her opinion. "A man w/such a lack of savvy, could he be wise enough to be a mastermind of criminal activity?" An intrguing question to be sure, but there's no rule I've read that says the stupid can't be amoral as well. Clearly, if Blago were any more adept at organizing his illegal behavior, he would never have been caught on tape. Nevermind that he would need someone to show him how to use a tape recorder.
Clearly the sullied politician is off the grid in more ways then one. We get it. Mercy! No more Rod Blagojevich NBC, I beg you! Illinois has suffered enough. Selita Ebanks for Governor in 2010!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I am not qualified to state definitively that the job market is displaying signs of real improvement. However, I can report anecdotally that while sending resumes from May - October of 2009, a five month barrage of hundreds of submissions, I netted three interviews altogether. None of them resulted in a formal job offer. Compare this to February-April of 2010, a shorter time frame when I sent out far less applications, but was invited for four formal interviews, which resulted in three offers. I have tentatively accepted one of these positions. In my own experience, change does seem to be afoot. However, there are too many in my immediate circle of friends and family who remain un- or under-employed to warrant anything more than cautious optimism.
I have never been a genius when it comes to financials or the stock market. I get my education from regular reader and commentator Mr. A on that front, but the other "good news" is that the Dow Jones is hovering around 11,000 points for the first time in 18 months. That's great for Wall Street I guess. But again, not sure that impacts the daily lives of those of us who live on Main Street.
If I sound ambivalent about all of this, that's because I definitely am. What do you think? Have we seen the worst? Is it time to get excited about a true economic rebound?
Saturday, April 3, 2010
So this morning at 8AM, bright and early this fine Saturday, Eddie and I had to allow a hurried little Asian man into our home for a battery of tests. I didn't mind the urine sample, height and weight check - especially not the weight check as I officially weigh 7 pounds less than I did my senior year of high school - and BP screening. However, near the end, we came to Boop's dreaded phobia - giving a blood sample.
I realize this is nuts. I am 31 years old and have had blood drawn numerous times. I have been prodded, poked and injected without so much as the slightest negative consequence. But these types of things are called phobias for a reason - they are irrational. My head knows the bloodletting will be brief and can't possibly be worse than the anxiety in my own head, but my racing heart and sweaty palms are having none of it.
I made Eddie go first. Ok, the tech seemed to know what he was doing. And then it was my turn. As I could have predicted, Eddie's attempts to calm me down and make me forget involved a good deal of loud, senseless jibber jabber. I get what he's trying to do and it's sweet, but the white noise only makes me more anxious. My particular brand of neuroticism requires absolute silence.
I started to sweat and my cheeks flushed. But I didn't cry. Oh yes, I almost always do that. At the 2007 ADA Health Fair and Screening, you could identify me in the crowded room by the sound of my blubbering. Not sobbing is a small victory for me today.
I can never determine what it is I hate the most, but I verily believe it's the heat that rushes to the spot where the needle prick occurs. There is something so unnatural about having anything protrude from the inside of your elbow. I will spare you the stories of the psychic collapse that occurs when I need an IV. The thought that runs through my mind is basically an endless loop of, "There is something hot sticking out of my arm. Take it out! Take it out!" I never settle into it. Clearly, I am every health professional's worst nightmare.
Not only am I weird, but when placed in this position, I throw around a heap of attitude too. When the tech asked me to settle down because I was making him nervous, I not so politely told him what he could do with his hypodermic.
When I was 19 years old, I attempted to conquer my fear in what I thought was a super cool way, by getting a ginormous tattoo of the Chinese symbol for soul/spirit on my back. Boy did that backfire. It was excruciating, and the only reason I didn't call it off was because my vanity was stronger. I couldn't walk around half finished. I downed a few shots and took about 10 bong hits before the work started - and I still squealed like a stuck pig. At least I have some sweet body art as a legacy.
In any case, I made it through another trauma today, but I must continue to brace myself. It's not over. I am supposed to undergo a TB test for a new job I have accepted next week. Can't wait!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Honestly, were my new apartment not such a fabulous upgrade, I would have preferred to stay put. But after five days of personal injury (cuts and bruises), internal wounds as a result of standing up to the cable company, cleaning, organizing and yes, a little bit of crying now and then, these are the lessons I take away from this round of life roulette:
1. Just because your new handyman sounds like a middle-aged Soviet relic on the phone, doesn't mean he is.
In this case, voices were deceiving. Hello Roy! Young, buff and hot, with natural red hair and freckles (I realize "hot" and "freckles" are typically an oxymoron, but I swear it's true!). Not to mention he's knowledgeable, quick and laughs at my jokes. I will have to resist the urge to break things on purpose.
2. Wherever you think your cat couldn't possibly be, that's the place where you ought to look first.
See: aforementioned bouts of crying. Jordan, my six year-old kitty, is hardly what you might call brave. As the movers and Comcast techs did their thing, he went into hiding, so well in fact that I believed he had gotten out. Even the usual go-to method of sussing him out (shaking his bag of cat food) produced nary a sound. I panicked. I ran all over the building, even took a frantic turn around the block (figuring in my insanity that Jordan had learned how to use an elevator during his flight). Hours later, after I had posted a sign in the vestibule begging for information as to his whereabouts, and long after all workers had left, Jordan sauntered out, chill as can be, from under the dishwasher. Under the dishwasher! There is about 6 inches of space there. I still don't know how he managed it. All's well that ends well.
3. Off-street parking is not, after all, what it's cracked up to be.
Our garage spot is about six feet wide, nothing more, and sandwiched between two stone pillars, with the remote garage sensor sticking out of the right hand side. In all my years of frustratedly parking on City streets, getting parking tickets, wandering blocks away from my destination, at least I never scratched my car. Yet I did so after a mere three days of living here. And we're not talking about a small line either. It's a nasty, deep cut to the driver's side rear door. Goodbye $500 to repair a two week-old car. Eddie was understandably furious with me, and I am taking my lumps. Ironically, Rogers Park appears to have ample, non-zoned side street parking. I may avail myself of that in the future. Be careful what you wish for.
4. Finally, and most importantly, a lesson I seem to re-learn with each move: Comcast sucks. They are not to be trusted, and when the installer is on site, watch him/her like a hawk!
Jordan's MIA routine caused Eddie and I both to take our eyes off the ball. Though the brand new condo building we moved into is cable ready, the clown tech who came on Saturday needed no less than three hours (!) to set up our services. This was a simple move and transfer, so I did smell a rat, but was too preoccupied with hunting for my baby. Once he finally finished, he hightailed it out the door, without asking me to sign anything confirming receipt. Another suspicious move. Three hours later, all services went down.
On Tuesday, when Comcast was finally able to get someone else out to have a look, it was discovered that the first tech had installed a bunch of software on my desktop, Comcast branded, and totally unnecessary given that this was a transfer, which compromised Internet Explorer and Windows. The company was very pleased with itself for giving me a "courtesy" waiver on the installation, and a $25 credit on my bill. This however did not spare Eddie from having to move all our files to an external hard drive, before wiping the system clean and reinstalling every single program. As I write this, the process remains unfinished, although I am mercifully back online.
I think now the worst is over, and the marvelous upshot is that my new place, my new community, and the weather are just perfect. I am locked into a 18-month lease, but wish for the moment that it were at least 60 months. I do not want to think about moving again for a long time.