Thursday, May 28, 2009

Growing Pains

I was admitted to the university yesterday. Soon, I will receive my acceptance letter in the mail and set up my course schedule for the fall. I filled out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) today. I am completely excited at the prospect of doing something new with my life but at the same time having an, "Oh shit!" moment. It's actually happening. I'm about to be a student again (!) .
Once I know my course schedule, I will have to talk to my boss about what going back to school means for my job. Knowing that I will have to quit my job one way or another has been the biggest downer of this process. In all honesty, the balance between the rewards my job and the responsibilities of my job is so off kilter it seems ludicrous to have any sort of qualm about walking away. Nevertheless, the bittersweet side (seeing the fruits of my labor go to someone else who will probably rock this job out) hits me and I feel like a quitter and a failure. Sometimes, I take the self-pity even further and hate myself for not trying harder at the subjects I struggled with in school because I like to think I might have chosen a wiser career had I felt smarter or more capable at other subjects. How's that for your ego getting in your way? I am surprised that letting go of something I will never progress any further in has me in such a twist that I am picking at myself but changing careers has required an astonishing amount of personal growth and my natural instinct is to dig my heels in against the change.
It is within the realm of possibility that my boss will want me to continue working here for whatever time I can before the demands of going back to school really take over but I am having a hard time discerning if that's what I want. Even if I were to do this job part-time, I suspect the demand would be the same. I am the only person on staff fielding requests in this particular area of expertise so all matters pertaining to that subject get channeled through my office regardless of the guidelines set by the agency. I won't tell you how ugly it can get when someone has the expectation that you can fix their problem and you have to tell them you don't have the solution they've decided on.
I found a surprising source of encouragement for my desire to move on while thumbing through a recent issue of Men's Health magazine at Axl's apartment. I read Ewan McGregor's Tips For a Full Life and though I am only talking about going back to school here and not the possibility of being robbed at gunpoint in Mexico (as Ewan was), his point that "You can't be ruled by fear -- not by other people's, and certainly not by your own." struck a chord with me. Sign me up. Hells yes, I want to live a full life. I think we all have our definitions of what that means but, for me, today, it is simply that I want to do the stuff that makes me happy, to disregard the naysayers, be brave and trust myself and then go about doing the stuff I enjoy doing.
I am having to change a lot of my preset notions about myself and my life and that's scary and hard at times but I'm noticing as I let go of stuff, whether it's people's expectations of me or actual material belongings, I feel so much better. So much lighter. Truer. Younger. Happier. Challenging myself or, I should probably say, responding to Axl's gentle needling to do the things I'm always saying I'm going to do (or should do) has actually been fun and that has been one of the biggest surprises (blessings, gifts) of all.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Kinda Town

Axl and I returned from Chicago on Saturday. I hated to leave but we had stayed just the right amount of time, enough that I was still having fun but I was starting to miss home. On our last visit to Chicago (my first) in September 2008, Axl indulged me by doing a lot of tourist-y stuff (museums, Navy Pier and the like). This time, we decided we were going to seek out the out of the way places. Axl has been to Chicago several times and wanted me to experience some of the smaller neighborhoods just outside the city. We frequently talk about moving to Chicago and Axl wanted me to see these areas so I would know what he had in mind. We spent a lot of time in Bucktown and Wicker Park for that reason and because of an article I had read in the April/May 2009 issue of BUST magazine. Bucktown had lovely residential tree-lined streets and lots of people out walking their dogs and strolling their babies. That was nice to see after the fast paced bustle in the area we were staying in downtown Chicago. The article in BUST, unfortunately, lead us on kind of a goose chase and, no offense to the author(s), but the majority of the stores featured in the article were way out of this girl's price range. I loved the jewelry in Eskell and I enjoyed seeing first hand a lot of work done by artists I'd previously only seen online at Renegade Handmade. We visited two Reckless Records locations and enjoyed flipping through the bins there. A favorite discovery of mine (not mentioned in the BUST article) was Crossroads Trading Company. This is a store similar to one where I live but without the lame music and bitchy sales people. At CTC, you can trade or sell your used clothing and I think the highlight of it all was that I found items there that were actually in my size range. I bought a shirt there for less than $4.00 that I know I'm going to love wearing.
So, that's a bit about the shopping. We did do one tourist-y thing and that was to take a Wendella Boat Tour. Nothing against the Wendella folks because they do have it posted at their ticket counter that school groups frequently use their services but it was awful having to share our tour with a high school group. I think, perhaps, Wendella would be better off letting school groups have a boat to themselves because these were some of the worst kids I have been around in quite some time. Where the chaperones were, I have no idea. The boat tour takes you through a canal in downtown Chicago past many of the skyscrapers and you get to listen to the boat tour person give you information about buildings you have probably noticed (Trump International Hotel and Tower anyone?). Then, the boat takes you into the Chicago Harbor Lock and you go out onto Lake Michigan for a time. Like I said, kind of tourist-y but I enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it so much more had we not had to put up with a bunch of tweens who could really give a damn. They talked over the boat tour announcer and a lot of the charm was lost after that. Laugh if you want but if I could have figured out what school those brats were from, their principal would have received a letter from me tout de suite.
Naturally, I have to tell you about the food. The food! I gained a pound and a half while we were there but I don't regret any of it. The restaurants that stand out in my memory are The Original Pancake House, Giordanos and Hot Doug's. Axl and I did not order any of the acclaimed Original Pancake House items (The Dutch Baby or the Apple Pancake) but their skillets were out of this world. Last time we were in Chicago, we went to Gino's East (the one you see on t.v. and in movies with all the writing on the walls) and ordered deep dish pizza. Gino's was delicious but after experiencing stuffed pizza I think stuffed is my personal favorite. On our last morning in Chicago, we went to Hot Doug's. Hot Doug's opens at 10:30 a.m. and it was a good thing we got there a little after 10:00 a.m. because a line was already forming. We faired pretty well because this was the line as we left:

Doug Sohn took our order. He is the nicest guy. We ordered two of "The Dog", which is a Chicago-style hot dog with all the toppings. Axl ordered a "Saucisson Alsacienne" which I had a bite of and fell in love with promptly. It is bacon sausage with creme fraiche, caramelized onions and triple cream brie cheese. I ordered a smokey pork cheddarwurst wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon with roasted garlic dijonnaise and colby-jack cheese. We went a little crazy and ordered a game of the week which this week was brown ale and chipotle buffalo sausage with chili-garlic mustard and vintage farmhouse cheese. Spicy! Of course, we had to try the duck fat fries (offered only on Fridays and Saturdays). Yes, french fries fried in duck fat. I know what you're thinking. I used to be a vegetarian and I shame myself. On the other hand, food this delicious and well done is definitely one way to turn up in the life force.
That's all for now. Don't want to bore you. It was a terrific trip. My guy certainly knows how to treat a lady to a good vacation.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Come And Knock On Our Door

Today, we did the walk through of our new place and I was able to take some pictures of the interior.
Kitchen/Living Room area:




Bathroom (the electricity is off in the apartment and I couldn't get a non-blurry shot to turn out):

Bedroom:

The second bedroom was dark as pitch (no windows) so I wasn't able to get a picture of it.
We didn't think we were going to have to ask the landlord to repaint the place but we saw that it does indeed need freshening. She said they'd start painting on Monday. I'm really looking forward to living here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Chicago, That Toddling Town


We're going back next week. Any recommendations for us? I love Chicago food. Heck, I just love Chicago. I'm so excited to be going back.
Picture is borrowed from here

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hooray!

I passed my licensing exam yesterday!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Excited


This is a pic of the building we'll be living in. I don't have any pictures of the interior yet. I know the outside doesn't look like much but the inside is nice and I'm having a lot of fun planning our move here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Better News!

My brother called me today. He is out of the hospital and doing well besides being stunned to wake up in the hospital with no recollection of how he got there. I was happy to talk and joke with him...something that this time last week I was afraid I would never get to do again.

Toxic Waste

In my second bedroom, I have several Rubbermaid containers crammed full of papers I refused to go through properly before my last move. I used to be so organized it would make you sick. Somewhere along the line, all that organization deteriorated and I began stuffing papers in boxes and pushing them into the closet when company came. One box turned into two, then three, and so on. I am making a true effort to go through these boxes now and eliminate what I don't need to keep (which is harder than you would think) because seeing these containers every day creates such a mental clog for me, you don't even know. I don't want that negativity following me to our new place.

Going through each of these containers is like opening a bad memory time capsule. Among the many scraps of paper and notions, I have discovered items like propaganda from every time I joined Weight Watchers, the program from my college graduation ceremony (I will keep that one), letters I started and never finished and, last night, all of my receipts from 2006. Yes, really. For the life of me, I can't figure out why I held onto some of the items I'm discovering. I did find a knitting needle I was looking for but, three years after the fact, am I curious to know that on April 30, 2006 I bought a six pack of Coke at Walmart? Not in the least. Thank God for Axl. I am so grateful to have someone in my life who sees all these little hangups I used to have and gently guides me past them. I can't tell you how happy I'll be to have this clutter, both literally and figuratively, out of my life.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Binge and Purge

I didn’t receive an update on my brother over the weekend. At last report, the doctors were planning on moving him out of intensive care and into his own room. I will continue to post updates on his condition as I receive news about him. Thanks for all your interest and kind words.

On the home front, I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet that Axl and I have been looking for a place together. Last Tuesday night, I found an ad for an amazing apartment. Downtown area, two bedrooms, exposed brick walls, furnished washer and dryer, central heat and air, furnished dishwasher, they pay water/sewage, pets allowed…all for $510.00 a month. Here, that is an awesome deal. Axl pays somewhere around $600.00 for his current apartment plus utilities. He has no amenities (no central heat or air, no dishwasher and no washer or dryer). In my case, I pay $550.00 a month plus utilities. I had to provide my own washer and dryer and I don't have a dishwasher. I have central heat and air, which I'm grateful for, but I live in a sketchy neighborhood (that keeps on getting sketchier) further out in the city than I would like to be. We hoped to find a two bedroom place with all the amenities we wanted that would allow our pets without some exorbitant fee. We thought we'd have to compromise on one of the amenities for sure but Axl and I went to see the place from the ad on Wednesday and it turned out to be as good as the ad said it was. Now, it is ours. We are both a little ill at ease that this place at this price has to be too good to be true. We worry that we’ll move in and find that the current renter and property manager have been lying to us and that the place is filled with rats or ghosts or some such thing. That’s negative thinking but around here apartments like this one rent for $700.00 – $800.00 so we’re wondering what the catch is. Pushing those thoughts aside, we immediately began packing and planning. I have managed to sell some furniture I won’t be using on Craigslist (finally) and Axl has done quite well at Craigslist now too. I guess it just takes some patience. Besides Craigslist, I am finding I wish I had better options for the stuff I don’t want to take with me to the new place. For instance, books. The most popular used bookstore here offers a pittance for your used books. I took in a stack of popular titles in great condition and received .75 a piece for them. If I donate them to Goodwill or Salvation Army they’ll only end up in a pile of ancient memorabilia and, while I shouldn’t be so picky about what happens to my discards, that just doesn’t seem like a useful enough purpose to me. I signed up for PaperBack Swap and I feel a little better but it makes me think about how much garbage there is out there. It's easy to get bogged down with material stuff.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Good News!

My brother came to yesterday and was able to have his breathing tube removed. He cussed one of the nurses when she gave him a shot and today he was asking for coffee (which he's not allowed to have yet). We're not out of the woods but, still, this is terrific news.