I’m Tired

It seems to be going around; everyone’s tired. Tired mentally, physically, we’re sleepy, and can’t seem to recover. Add to top that, I’m tired of worrying and having to constantly check in anytime I go out of the house alone.

Madrid didn’t scare me, neither did Salzburg. Berlin did worry me a little because it’s huge and I didn’t know the areas I should or shouldn’t be in. But Chicago is a whole other story. We live here. I walked to the grocery store which is less than a mile away last weekend, and passed 4 police/emergency vehicles outside a school. Then I had people honking or making comments while I walked. I have to plan my routes to and from the grocery or the train just to avoid people. I don’t like doing that. In Bowling Green, yeah we had frat boys or other males who would yell things from their front porch but they didn’t make me feel so unsafe and were easy enough to avoid. Here, I had a very large man with his three year old get in my face to comment on my appearance. People have hung out of delivery trucks to yell things as they drive by. And that’s just the recent occurrences.

Yesterday, I took the bus to the beach to relax and had a mentally ill man kick me out of my seat, listened to him talk to himself the whole ride, saw him take off his shirt and shoes, then he proceed to pull the stop cord for the next 3-4 stops before getting off the bus.

I get to the beach, where I’m wearing a swim suit, and not a single person says or does anything inappropriate. I could walk home in a winter coat and hear things I didn’t want to, but wearing a swim suit on a beach, everyone’s minding their own business…

To top of the evening, when I came home I got off the bus to walk the block to my building. Two tall men with what looked like a laundry bag were about to enter an apartment building when I walked past and one put his arm out behind him with what looked like a bright blue gun. It freaked me out having anything pointed at me, even if it was bright blue and likely harmless. I now have mace in my purse, which I really hope I never use. I’m beginning to see why the church ladies won’t let me walk home from a few blocks over at night.

I don’t want to have to live here judging my hypothetical safety by the looks of the people around me.


A Month’s Worth of Life in a Page

It’s been a full month since I wrote last!  Mark got sad, then I got sad. I got sick, then Mark got sick. Two car trips in a row, and a full week of meetings for me. Mark turned 23.

Mark was doing pretty well until we hit the snag with his transcripts.  Then he was afraid he’d never get back to school, never graduate, and never get a ‘real job’ helping people.  I watch him help people everyday, but it’s not the same.  The more sad he got, the less he got done and the worse he felt. It’s not a fun cycle. Then I got sad that I couldn’t fix things and that nothing I was doing was helping. I baked a festive orange birthday cake the week before his birthday, but then I came down with a stuffy nose/cold. Two days later and Mark’s running a 102 temp and taking days off work. Fortunately, one of my church ladies is a nurse practitioner who could write him a doctor’s note.  On another note, we lost the thermometer. Mark took his temp wile I was at work, thought he put the thermometer back where it goes, and we haven’t seen it since. I’ve looked, cleaned the cabinet, checked anywhere I can think of, but it’s gone.

Dad to the rescue! I emailed him about the whole transcript fiasco and he solved it in one afternoon. Dad’s fix everything. (Now I just need mom to visit so she can find our missing thermometer, since moms find things.)

Last weekend we went home and had Mark’s birthday with his family. Both sets of grandparents were there for his little sister’s confirmation.  He had to work Saturday morning, so we drove over after and my parents met us for dinner at his house. We got to test out the RV on Saturday since both sets of grandparents were in the spare beds.  And Sunday we all got up and watched Christine get confirmed. We got to church around 10am and left at 1pm! We then took Christine to the store to grab last minute things for her party and went back to the house. Quite a few people came including the pastor’s family. The best part was the end when the pianist showed up and started a sing-along around the piano to Sound of Music songs. How many small children do you think know any of the words to the yodeling song? (Hint: Not many.)

The following week, all of the field staff for my department came to Chicago for meetings. That added an extra 10 or so people for a week. We had lunch ordered every day, learned more about college relations, did some research on other programs, and made a lot of noise! I managed to stay on top of my regular calls & emails, but it was a tough week doing a full days work in a few scattered hours each day between meetings.   Thursday we had a team dinner at Portillo’s and then a few of us went to Streeter’s after.  Dinner took about 3 hours, so it was 8:30-9 by the time the last of us left. My newest coworker and I got a bit mixed up with my GPS (It doesn’t tell you which direction to start) and ended up with more time to talk about Cru, Tolkien, Lewis, and the Inklings. When we finally got to Streeter’s, there were still about 8-9 of us there. Some were playing beer-pong and I was nominated to play next. I think playing sober gives an advantage, but I’ll accept my two back-to-back wins anyway!

I was matched with a former IES employee who has now spent 7 years at a university through the International Educators of Illinois mentor program. We both missed the orientation, but can’t wait to meet each other. Hopefully I can learn what I need to for a university job.

I met Mark when he got off work and we made it home on the train. Apparently wearing the same heels for two straight days in a row plus going out doesn’t go over well on my poor feet. Friday was the last day of my meetings and I was going a bit crazy from all the people time. After work, Mark picked me up in the pouring rain where we proceeded to make it our of Chicago after two hours. Six hours later, we made it to the camp in Michigan where his family used to go for summer camp. How did it rain in literally every other zip code but camp? I’d really like to know.

We came back on Sunday afternoon and made it through Chicago traffic with no problems and minimal rain.  Monday we slept in, attempted a trip to Costco, but discovered that they aren’t open on Memorial day. I went to check that several times before we left, but I kept getting side tracked. So instead we went to Home Depot, parked, and got pizza and donuts. Today after work, we officially became Costco members!  My parents got Mark a membership for his birthday, so we signed up and finally had a hassle-free trip through the check-out. Even if you’re an authorized family member, they don’t like you using a card from another state.

Thanks to Reddit, I found a swimsuit on sale that will actually fit me for our late honeymoon/early anniversary trip to Cancun! In August, we’re taking 4 days to go lay on the beach, relax, snorkel and have fun.  I can’t wait, but first I had to renew my passport because when my name changed, I figured I’d get around to it eventually. Well, eventually got a bit sooner, so I’ve now sent in my app and am waiting on the new passport. Fortunately, my coworkers assured me that I’ll get the old one back, but with a hole through it. I have too many fun stamps in there to give it up for good!

Friday, I’m taking off after lunch to go see Sarah at the airport! She’s coming home after months of fun in Wales and Europe. I know she doesn’t want to leave her friends, the beach, and the lovely CU and church family she’s made, but we miss her and mom could use a break from worrying about her in the middle of all these world events going on. Our exchange sister is in the Philippines in the general area that was attacked and put under martial law, but she says everything is normal in her town, just a bit more security than usual. I’m glad she’s safe, and I hope things quiet down and can be solved without blowing up anything else.

Life Happens

It’s been awhile!  I picked my parents up from the airport a week ago after they came home from visiting Sarah in the UK.  6-7 hours later, I made it home.  It poured all week, and I drove them to Indiana where my uncle met them with their car.

We had the last day of our bible study in Evanston and finished the 3 week hiatus from kickboxing. Thursday I went to the gym to try the class they were having & found out that they changed the schedule. It was the first class for a brand new zumba instructor. And I was the first one to show up.  We gained 3 extra people by the end, but it’s a bit awkward zumba-ing with just the instructor for 15-20 minutes!

Sunday was confirmation for three Tabor middle schoolers.  We went to the pastor’s house next door after church for a party since their youngest was one of the ones being confirmed.  We met their oldest who has an incredibly cute baby that hiccuped through the whole service.

Earlier in the week, the rental company notices put under all our doors & a nice little plaque was installed in the lobby announcing our new maintenance guy.  It seems that we may not have been the only ones disappointed in the speed & communication of the first guy.  Called the new guy Saturday for (another) bug issue & he arrived same-day to take pictures & contact the manager.  There’s a pronounced lack of English-as-a-first-language maintenance men, though.

Today we have a new coworker. We finally have a full team!  in 2-3 weeks, everyone will have a regular load of programs, and I get to keep Barcelona!

Let me off the roller coaster!

I woke up today planning to use my half sick day on a doctor appointment then go to lunch with the Chicago Cru Millenials and finish working.  Most of the way to my appointment, Mark calls to tell me UIC rejected his application. Major downer after he’d psyched himself up about going back to school.  My appointment went well, though, and I got a chai latte while waiting on Mark to meet me for lunch.  While I sat in the Chase building food court, I called UIC Admissions and spoke to a very kind lady who gave me much more information that I wish we had before Mark applied. UIC generally won’t take a transfer student with under a 3.0 GPA.  She told me where to find a list of pre-requisite classes that Mark could take at a community college & then transfer to UIC when his GPA goes up.

I decided it was about time to get food, so I waited in line for stir fry, knowing one “portion” would be enough for 2-3 meals.  The men working had designated places on the grill to match where you stand in line and somehow mine was messed up, thrown out, and re-created.  Oh well. By the time I paid & looked for the Cru group, there were several people there including the guy Mark met with earlier in the week.  These people are wonderful!  Cru is such a small world, and there’s almost always someone that we have in common as a mutual friend.

I had to leave to go to work, and made it through all of my emails & most of my database student emails when Mark called.  He knows I’m at work & never calls during business hours.  I walked over to the kitchen/hub to answer and found out he was having an asthma attack thanks to someone exhaling a lung full of smoke at him.  And both his inhalers are 45+ minutes away at home.  I remembered his mom saying something about soda helping and met him in the building lobby with a Coke.  That helped, but in retrospect may have worsened the anxiety/panic attack that followed the asthma.  He stopped wheezing but was losing color, getting dizzy, thought his face was feeling fuzzy & couldn’t get enough air.  The building security checked on us twice & called 911.

The Chicago Fire Department first responders are wonderful gentlemen.  (Thanks Mr. Rivera!) They got him checked out and made sure his oxygen level was okay, but called an ambulance for him anyway.  I had to grab my purse from the office upstairs & let my boss know what was going on.  The elevator system in my building requires you to go up one elevator to floors 12 or 19, then another set is on those floors to take you to 13-18 and 20-27.  It is the worst feeling in the world to not be able to speed up the elevator, let alone make the doors close faster!  I grabbed my purse, visibly scared my boss by letting her know I had to leave as Mark was going to the ER, and waited for the painfully slow elevators to take me down again.  I very much appreciate Mr. Rivera waiting for me, and for talking to us in the back of the ambulance.

After letting Mark’s mom know he was okay and breathing again, I was exiled to the waiting room while Mark was being checked over.  One of my lovely friends from home picked then to text me back, so I called and talked to her for 15 minutes.  I couldn’t tell if I was going to laugh or cry or both.  Talking calmed me down, and eventually they sent Mark out with a flow-meter to check his air during/after asthma attacks & a mini rescue inhaler.  We left, caught a bus to the train station, and saw a doughnut place right next to the train station.  Needing something fun and semi-normal, we grabbed a few doughnuts, rode the train & bus home & finally relaxed.  I’m making dinner while writing and debating going to Maunday Thursday service.

Mark now has an application in for the Chicago City College down the road about 20 minutes and should hear back soon.  The cost for 4 semesters is about $32,000 less than it would have been at UIC and they count you a resident after 30 days rather than a year.  They also have advisors specially designated to work with students who plan to transfer to 4 year schools.  Here’s hoping that goes well and Mark gets in, and that we both get some rest before work tomorrow!

Lent & Learning

This year’s Lent season has gone much better for me than usual.  The weather is usually dark, cold, and just generally miserable and the effects of well-intended sermons each Sunday & Wednesday usually feel the same.  Why do we tell people how miserable they are just to expect them 40 days later to celebrate? The psychology just doesn’t work for me on this.  This year, even with some miserable weather, it’s been decent enough to go outside some weekends and Mark & I are at the tail-end of a Happiness bible study with our Wednesday night group.  We also had a mini-staycation with two family visits, and our house is cleaner because of it!

Thursday of last week, I posted on my way to a conference.  The IEI, International Educators of Illinois, met at Kendall College to talk about a variety of subjects. I was in Study Abroad 101 for the full day with two of our other newer advisors.  Speaking with some of the more seasoned professionals, I was reminded that experience isn’t always measured in years & that I should never apologize for my newness.  I met several people who I was able to continue talking to at the networking hour afterward.  I joined another international ed. group, and signed up to be mentored.  Here’s hoping I can build more skills this year!

Saturday was the last kickboxing class for a few weeks.  After that, the lady who leads the class and I went upstairs to meet the newly recruited accompanist for Sunday.  Our usual music people were in Iowa, so we spent roughly 2 hours figuring out the timing together with a piano instead of the usual guitar.  I’m still adjusting to Mark working all day, so afterwards I took a field trip to Lakeview to see him at his store.  I successfully came home with no new plants, even though the variety was great and they had small plants on sale.  Someday I will have the space for a garden…  I went to Trader Joe’s for the first time after leaving Mark’s store and found the best Indian food!  $2 for the same food that would cost me $14 in a restaurant.  Sunday we made it to the 8:30am service and met several people I’d never seen in our neighborhood.  They have cake & coffee between services with a Bible study, so I stayed for a bit before the 11am service started.

I walked around the Lakeview neighborhood for a long while on Saturday, and walked Jefferson Park on Sunday waiting for my parents train to arrive.  I joined them at the airport to see them off for 3 weeks in the UK with my sister. We have half a plan figured out for the day they come home, since the train schedule doesn’t work very well and my dad works the day after.  It looks like I’ll be driving them out of Chicago to meet my uncle who will take them the rest of the way back.

Conference Day

I feel like I’ve barely been back to work since Christine and get mom were here. Monday I was in Ohio again finishing up dental work. I finally have a full set of teeth again! For those who didn’t know, I was missing four adult teeth and they were replaced with crowns over implants.  I’m still getting used to not having a gap in my mouth. After almost a year of not chewing on one side it’s hard to switch back to normal. 

Today I’m attending the Illinois International Educators conference with two of the other newer advisors. It was a bit rough this morning having exploding coffee and getting dressed in the dark, but I’m on the train with time to spare! 

Last night Mark worked late again at Home Depot. I’ve been spoiled having him home all the time and I don’t know what to do with myself when he’s not there. Tuesday night not much was accomplished, but yesterday I made a new recipe, cleaned things up a bit, did dishes and put away half the laundry! Without a good washer and dryer our Ohio trips turn into “take five baskets of laundry home” trips. Last night, Mark came home with a surprise! I now have three house plants, the newest addition is full of red blossoms. The hyacinth is past it’s flowing stage, and the succulents have morphed into the plant that ate Chicago, so it’s nice to have a pretty new plant with flowers.

The fun part of last night was hearing from one of the leaders of Cru Chicago Millennials. She is setting Mark up with potential friends, and Mark came home talking about one of the ladies at work who started talking with him about church. He’s now volunteered to help her fix her car! I’m pretty sure Mark would fix everything if he could. 

My First Vacation from Work

I officially took three consecutive days off of work and everyone survived! My department is separated into teams so we can cover for each other, but Monday all of us were out. My boss covered, and so Friday afternoon I gave her all the info I had about the application my students were working on. On Tuesday, one of my co-workers on our team was back, so she took over the whole team. I’m so thankful for the amazing, capable people I work with! Unfortunately, things got crazy this week with major program changes, so when I came in five minutes late Thursday there was a small panic that I wasn’t going to be back. 127 emails and several database interactions later, I’m caught up!

After leaving work last Friday, Mark and I helped his mom and little sister carry a weekend’s worth of things into our apartment. Saturday, I took Christine (Mark’s little sister) with me to kick boxing. We had fun, and one of the ladies from church who had heard I didn’t have tennis shoes brought her old (practically new) pair for me to keep! I had been kickboxing in socks for the past weeks since my only pair of tennis shoes was in Ohio.

After kick boxing, we collected our weekend things into two cars and drive to Iowa. Unfortunately, my wallet was hidden back in Illinois. We drove past every place Mark had lived and just made it to the church in Cedar Rapids in time for Christine to practice her solo. Their grandma was turning 80, and we were having a party at the church after Saturday night service. Christine’s solo went well, everyone had fun, and we ended the day by playing with two awesome dogs at the friend’s house we were staying at.

Sunday, we ate breakfast at a local diner, walked through a gem and mineral show, packed up, and drove back to Chicago with Christine. Monday we took the train and a bus to the planetarium. We had a late start, but we still saw two shows. The second one was funny, and we learned about the Japanese names for a few constellations.  Subaru is what we call the Pleiades.  Right before closing time, we were in line for a lift that takes visitors into a sphere with holes punched through that show the stars in the night sky. Two of the girls misunderstood the man operating the lift when he asked them to move, so he decided to switch sides so I could fit with Christine. That meant he was on the opposite side of the lift from the controls, and I got to drive it!

Tuesday, we split up and Mark dropped his transcripts at UIC while Christine and I started at the Field Museum. On the way there, we decided to be adventurous and switch from the Brown Line train to the Red Line.  We had passed a Red Line station the day before where we got on the bus to the museums.  So when we saw a Red Line train arrive at the same time as our Brown Line train into the Belmont station, we just hopped off one onto the other.  Christine then saw an underground train for the first time, and we did a bit less walking to get to the bus.  Mark joined us after lunch due to a train delay where he had to exit the delayed train and wait for another. After the museum closed, we had Chicago style deep dish pizza, walked through Millennium Park, and went home. Everyone was tired after so much walking and learning.

Wednesday, I looked up the Museum of Science and Industry, and navigated us to the wrong place. We switched up the schedule and went to the aquarium instead. Patience was a little thin on day 5, but we got to see a 4D show about prehistoric sea monsters, watch beluga whales eat lunch, and saw a live dolphin show. The plan was to end the day at the Skydeck, but Christine heard how high up it was and opted out. We watched Big Hero 6 at home instead.

Thursday I went back to work and Mark and Christine took a pajama day. Their mom came back to Chicago about the same time I got home, and we ordered food and stayed in listening to music and laughing at Lutheran memes. I think some of us needed a vacation from our vacation!

This weekend, Mark and I are going to Ohio. Saturday night there’s an international dinner at the place my mom teaches English, and Monday I finally finish the dental work I started before I went to Salzburg! Maybe then things will calm down.