On grief

Last Saturday, January 31, 2015, we lost Ferguson.  This post is not about sweet, cherished Ferguson.  This is about my sadness.

It starts with a tightening swelling in the chest.  I can’t tell whether it is from blood swelling into the cardiac muscle or refusing to leave it.  (I now understand the phrase “heartbroken.”)  Next it moves to the extremities.  My fingertips tingle, immediately after giving way to an almost pleasant burning sensation in my palms and the arches of my feet.  Then it shifts back to my core.  I feel it simultaneously constricting my gut into a tilt-a-whirling cesspool and tightening my throat into a hair-thin pathway.  Nausea is palatable and it becomes hard to breathe.  This is when my eyes start burning and I hear a high-pitched whine behind my eyes, seemingly emanating from my skull.  The area in my chest hardens, maybe attempting to consolidate the sorrow into a manageable size.  But now it’s just so concentrated with hurt that it starts to implode reaching the highest density of pain, and then it explodes shrapnel shanks of pain throughout my chest cavity.  The shanks directly strike my throat and force out a cry, a choke, a whimper, a gag, a sob.  The whimpers are other-worldly sounds that I have never made.  Almost comical, if there was a smile or laugh left anywhere inside of me.

The whimpers come out of my mouth so forlorn that even I can hear their melodrama.  But they aren’t a product of the mouth.  They were formed from the shrapnel of whimper piercing my throat and are merely being pushed out of the mouth.  A dispersal method to share my suffering.  These whimpers and whines are giving voice to the guttural screaming reverberating around my head. Why?  Why??  WHY??? The screams shout with all their ferocity.  Life will never be the same again.

For the ache to reach my entire body it only takes a second, but after it starts it follows a continuous loop.  The pain just courses its way through my body over and over and over again.  Dizzying and nauseating.  In between gasps for airs, and retches the only noise my body lets out is sobs.

And even as my body is seizing up and feels like it’s failing normal function, I know the source of all my torment is my mind.  The physical reaction is real, but the cause cannot be corrected physically.  What can fix the pain?  Sedatives and alcohol only dull it temporarily.  Screaming still pounds through the head at a muted level, but it’s still there with all the ferocious feeling behind it even though the sound in my head is barely perceptible.  It brings to mind watching an explosion without any sound.  The excitement and destruction are there, but it feels artificial without any sound.  Sedatives seem to delegitimize my pain.  What help is there for the grief?

Never have I more clearly had a yearning for the comfort that only faith can offer believers. Not just a comfort for myself, but a comfort for him.  Where is he now?  We scattered his ashes at our picnic spot on the beach, but he’s not there.  Those bits and pieces don’t encompass his vitality or unfailing happiness.  How could they?  They can’t.  So where is his essence, his being, the spark of life that made him him?  The faithful call this his soul.  (If their faith even allows for him to have a soul.)  I avoid the corny thoughts of pearly gates and haloed German Shepherds greeting him.  I would like to think of his After-Place as being a soft window seat with a sunny view, a huge unfenced yard for him to frolic with reunited friends, but it’s hard to think of him without us.  I can’t imagine his happiness without us, or our happiness without him.  Who will love him even when he rolls in rotting fish, or makes a mould of his teeth by chewing on superglue?  Who has taken over my most important job from me?  I would like to think of a happy place for him and a benevolent caretaker.  But this is the great irony.  In one moment I yearn for and understand faith; in the next I reject any faith that believes in an omnipotent God that would take him from me.

This is my grief.




25 Things I learned This Year or We Made It, Part 2 or Hibernation: Over

Without preamble or excuse: I’m back!

In the interest of everyone’s sanity I will not try to break down the last ten months in detail, but I’m going to attempt an overview.

I can now say, “We’ve made it.” Not just to the city, but IN the city.

Blunt truth: Although, of course, I love the Chicago, (who wouldn’t?) but part of my motivation in moving here was to see if we could cut it in the big city. (I know it’s not New York, but I went in with the mentality, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.”) Would we find jobs? Would we find jobs that we liked, where we excelled? How would I stack up against more and inevitably better competition in the job market? Would our apartment hold us, Ferg, and all of our stuff? Would Ferguson make friends and enjoy city living? Would we make friends? Not just, “Would we land on our feet?” I knew we could do that, but would we land on our feet with fresh kicks on?

We did.

 Here are a few things I’ve learned over the last year:

1. I’m not as awesome as I thought I was. I meet new, awesome, unique, and intelligent people constantly. This has slightly altered my opinion of myself as the most interesting person I know, now I’m just one of them. (In my mind, if nowhere else.)

3. I’m awesome enough. I can still get by and communicate with the awesome people I meet, even if they may be more interesting than I am. Fake it till you make it.

2. Getting a book club off of the ground without the loyalty of childhood friends or the tenacity of Liznifer (I gave you guys a celebrity couple name!) is really hard. Turns out, even if it has a really cool name. The Republic of Foster had three meetings, with extremely limited participation. It’s hard enough to meet new people, and extra awkward when the first question I ask people is “Do you read?” And after their stumbled, surprised response. I follow up with a quick “Are you interested in joining a book club?” Might not the best way to screen potential members.

4. I’m a good enough worker (smart, efficient, fast) to still be recognized as such, even at bigger companies. When last blogging, I was employed by/in indentured servitude of Apartment People. I worked for nine hours a day, without a lunch break, and no overtime. I know what you’re thinking here, “Liz, you must be exaggerating, we know who much you like hyperbole. . .” Though I do love hyperbole, I am not exaggerating at all. It was brutal, and within a month of taking the job I knew I wouldn’t last a year. To be fair to them, I stayed through the busy season, and then started to look for work in the fall. I interviewed with two law firms for Tech Support positions, and was hired for the second one. They said they had been searching for a good candidate for a while, and instead of hiring me as a temp worked (as they always do) they decided to make it official. I started at the firm in November. It’s a large firm, comprised of about 800 people. I’m learning policies and procedures. I got MOS (Microsoft Office Specialist) certified in Word, and I hope to get the rest of the Office certifications done before the end of the summer since the firm is paying! There have been some rocky days, and transitioning isn’t the easiest, but I much happier now. And I’m working in my Tower!

5. I can be alone. Sidney’s schedule for our first year here was late evenings, and I work days. It took time to get used to being alone at night. But as the evenings lengthened I got used to it, built up a routine. . .and then I met someone! (See item 9) Last month Sidney’s schedule changed to 9-5:30. And now I feel like he can fully love and appreciate Chicago the way I’ve been.

6. Being alone sucks most of the time. Sometimes, in the era before Tristan and before Sidney’s schedule change, and I would talk to the other side of the couch, and Sidney wouldn’t be there to respond. If I was lucky at least Ferguson would be there to tilt his head at me so that I felt slightly less cray.

7. Being with loved ones is better. Evenings are the best time of day, and it’s shame to be stuck working, or to be alone. To have loved ones to go to monthly fire dances at the beach with, go sit on patios with, talk for hours about things that have us fired up, or, really, everything is the best possible way to spend your time.

8. It’s hard to make new friends. It takes time to meet people, to see if they like you and enjoy your company, and to see if you like and enjoy their company as well. This is specifically hard for someone who notoriously hates people.

9. It’s not impossible to make new friends. I met Tristan within a week of moving in, but never got to know her other than to say “Hi” when I ran into her with her dogs. I asked her pretty quickly my standard questions:

L: “Do you read?”

T: “Um…yeah.”

L: “Sorry I meant for fun. . .”

T: “Yes!”

L: “Would you be interested in joining a book club?”

T: “I’ve never been in one before; it sounds fun!”

About five months later when I finally had my mind together enough to start the book club, we had our first meeting. In attendance: Caitlin, Tristan, and me. We bounded immediately when I told her I was from Oklahoma and she told me her “Oklahoma story” about a crazy late-night traffic stop in some podunk county I had never heard of. She helped Caitlin and I celebrate my 29th birthday two days later, and we’ve been together ever since! She is now like a member of the family, referred to by some as the “other spouse.” (But obviously not in a polygamous, Sister-Wives-kind-of way! Although, there have been the mandatory jokes.)

10. I’m not as old as I thought I was. I’ve had more late-club-nights, gone to more parties, and done more dancing than I have in ten years. The last time I felt this young, I was that young, and I was living in Stillwater or Tulsa. Chicago is a much better place to do young things, and it makes me feel younger, despite the ticking time-clock. I just hope the 20-year-olds now aren’t as snarky about “more mature” people as I was then.

11. Life is good. (I can say that now that it’s officially Spring.)

12. Chicagoans love to talk about weather. Maybe as much as Oklahomans do, maybe more. See?!?

13. I’m me no matter where I live. Moving didn’t change who I am, but it did offer a wider lense for self-inspection. So it has, obviously, changed my perception of myself. (As blogs tend to get, this is becoming rather me-centric, right?!?)

14. I don’t miss Oklahoma anymore and it feels weird. I know geography doesn’t define you, but I was such a part of the state for 27 years, and now I feel entrenched in Chicago. Chicago is very much like an island, especially if you don’t have a car. So I won’t say that I consider myself a part of the State of Illinois, and I don’t think I’m allowed to call myself a Chicagoan, but I will say that Chicago is definitely my city now.

15. I’m not as politically active as I thought I would be when given the opportunity. I always thought that I didn’t stand up for movements and ideas in a public way because I was “never provided with the opportunity.” Not so anymore, there are myriad opportunities to get involved in, in Chicago. We must be the protest and demonstration capital of the country. Now that I work in the Tower, I can experience the crowds and rallies first-hand. Now I don’t participate because “I’m living life.” I’m not sure which excuse for my inaction is worse.

16. I’m still more political than the average bear. Though I’m not joining any demonstrations, I do make the effort to see what their efforts are for. And I almost always get goosebumps and heart string tugs from enthusiasm and compassion for their causes. Because I “support” these causes. . .in my mind and verbally to some of my more patient friends.

17. Chicago is Miami in the Summer and New York in the Winter. This is a famous thing that people say here. I wasn’t sure where it started and if it needs quotes, but it could have easily started with a Facebook meme.

18. The winter is looooonnnnng here. Just when you thought you were getting through it, the temperature drops below zero in March, and you want to cry, but can’t, because your tears are freezing to your eyelashes. I’ve been hesitant to talk about this because I don’t want to hear the “I told you so’s” from the hot-weatherers, but I’m not holding back. Now that it’s 72, I can safely say the winter is worth the fan-freakin’-tabulous Summer!

19. An hour shaved off of the work day makes all of the difference in the world. I almost feel like a kid again; getting off work at 3:30. The sun is out, stores are open, the lakefront is inviting, and dinner can be thought of prior to be shoved in.

20. Working downtown makes me feel like part of the city organism. The city is a vast machine working toward a single goal, and I picture myself like a cog in this machine. I’m not one hundred percent sure of the goal of this behemoth, but it may be economic advancement, it may be the pursuit of a happy life, and maybe it’s not one goal. (But that really takes away from my mixed metaphor.) What I’m really trying to say is that I feel like part of something bigger than myself and my family in Chicago; the opposite of what one would think a huge city would make one feel like: I matter.

21. No holiday should go uncelebrated, ever. From the locally celebrated Pulaski Day to the Chinese New Year, every cultural holiday is celebrated city-wide with gusto, enthusiasm, parades, and heavy drinking regardless of the revelers’ heritage.

22. There is a season here that is called “Patio Season.” And it is my new favorite season. The season is not date specific like the “real seasons.” It is completely dependent on weather. Restaurants’ viability in the Spring is tied to their ability to throw out table and chairs on the first day that it hits 60. For example, Spring was beginning to peek it’s head out from the winter gloom and it hit 70 a couple of weeks ago. Immediately Sidney, Tristan and I decided we had to go patio! (Much like “to stoop,” “to patio” is also a verb.) We went to the Hopleaf, that has a beautiful, enclosed courtyard-type of patio, and they told us, they “could not quote a time” for the wait for patio seating. Seriously. They said people will stay there all night, camped out, ordering drinks. So we moved on, to Acre, but they hadn’t set up their patio yet, and they looked DEAD!! Finally we stopped at Lady Greg’s. We were able to get a patio table

 within 15 minutes. The moral of the story is for Andersonville restaurant owners (because I know many follow my blog): Put your table and chairs out immediately. 

Reading so many books only made me Vicariously Worldly. Though I know about a lot of things this knowledge mostly comes from my love of book-reading and the availability of the World Wide Web, initiated by my inquisitive nature. I haven’t experienced many things first hand, and people here have. I appreciate their experiences, even if they turn me to a green monster on the inside!We went to three restaurants, while we were super hungry, just to sit on a patio. It was, after all, the first day of Patio Season. 

24. Ferguson is truly an only child.
He doesn’t interact with dogs like a dog. Despite that, he’s already made two new best friends. Enter K&K Dance Factory, as I call them. Kistan and Kaine are Tristan’s yorkies. They are half-siblings. We call Kistan “Princess Pig” because she’s a greedy runt! Caitlin calls Kaine “Dragon,” which I approve of, but Tristan is still on the fence. We get to dog sit fairly frequently so Ferg gets plenty of bonding time. When K&K play with each other by growling and chasing, Ferguson just stares with his head tilted. He’s confused, but he seems to enjoy their company.

25. Blogs are time-consuming, and writing can be emotionally taxing. I am going to start blogging more regularly, but to share more with my friends, I have started a tumblr. My tumblr “handle” (I apologize if I sound old, I haven’t learned the jargin yet) is lizzieinthebigcity because someone is already using lizzieinthecity. I don’t know who they think they are, but mine is going to be better.

Moments like this in life or Needed Beauty

Here it is Saturday, and I’m at work.  But I’m trying to keep an upbeat frame of mind!  This morning while I was up early walking Ferguson, I saw the most amazing thing; a tiny, yellow bird, the size of a giant butterfly.  I had to stop everything Ferguson wanted to do to watch it working on a flower as if it were a bee.  Then its magnificent yellow wings flashed by so quickly and alighted in a tree, I may have missed it if I it had been any other morning.  It was the tiniest most tropical bird I’ve seen in the wild.  I’m not superstitious and don’t believe in omens and signs, but I believe in reminders.  The little yellow bird served as a bright reminder for me, on my sixth day of work in row, of all that is worth loving about life, the natural beauty of the world, and of the wonders of my new city.

Goldfinch – Tiny, magical yellow bird

Musings on my new profession:

The thing about my job is that I’m busy for over 9 hours a day.

The thing about my job is that I don’t get a lunch six months out of the year.  This is the first time that I’ve had a job that is seasonal busy, and that includes Sonic!

The thing about my job is that people are awesome.

The thing about my job is that people suck.

The thing about my job is the least able and qualified people think they are the most deserving.

The thing about my job is that I take a lot of complaints for a free service.

The thing about my job is that I have a hard time differentiating when I’m being nice, from when I’m faking it.

The thing about my job is that most clients think that moving is stressful, and that this is a unique condition for them.

The thing about my job is that there’s only one of me.  The thing about having a singular position is that you can’t be sick, or leave early, or make an appointment during working hours. The thing about it is that I am now missed while I’m away from work by the company, not just my co-workers.

The thing about my job is I often get blamed for things that aren’t my fault.

The thing about my job is that I work with some very nice people.

The thing about my job is that I have to repeat myself often.

What I’ve learned from my job:

People don’t understand what “business days” mean.

Certain nationalities take time more seriously than others.

Some people can’t prioritize.

Now that I review this list, most of these things can be applied to most jobs.  We work to live.

Summer in the City

Readers, sorry I’ve been such an absentee blogger lately!  Summer in Chicago is even better than Spring in Chicago.  I think I must have brought the heat with me as we came North.  One hundred in Chicago is like nothing I’ve ever experienced in Oklahoma. Why?  Because there are many places here that don’t have A/C, and almost none that have Central A/C.  The window units are efficient, but not when it gets this hot!! (I know all of my friends in Oklahoma are turning green with envy!!)

O– Summer Scarf, I hope I get to wear you again soon

I bought a summer scarf (yeah, that’s a thing here) last week, but have only gotten to wear it once since purchase.  Stupid heat wave ruining my wardrobe choices.  But enough complaining, let 2012 be known as the year that I waited the longest to have AIR CONDITIONING!

The picture doesn’t really capture his work ethic

As you can see, R2 is fitting in nicely around here.  Ferguson was a bit apprehensive when they first met, but he’s learned to see R2’s value to the family.  We didn’t bring him into the family until June 20th!!  (It’s hard to believe he hasn’t even been with us for a month.)

In May we had quite a few visitors, and we celebrated our 4thanniversary.  Sidney surprised me with three lovely roses.

Three for the Fourth!

Our first visitor was Jeremy, my step-brother.  He stayed with us while he looked for an apartment to move to the city.  I hope he had a good time staying with us, despite all the space challenges!  Then Elaina was here!!  We had the most awesome time ever!!  We went to a Cubs/White Sox game, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and the mandatory Architectural boat tour, which was awesome as usual.  We didn’t get to go to Shedd Aquarium, as we planned, because NATO was here.  (That weekend was referred to by the Chicagoans as “Nato-pocolypse.”)  I don’t think it affected my life too much.  I just avoided the buses and couldn’t go to Shedd, but then again I don’t live in the loop.  Some buildings downtown were requiring residents to show ID before they get into their own home!!  Hysteria.)  But we did find a soccer barin Lakeview.  It was foreign to have that many soccer fans in one place, at one time, not playing soccer.

Patient smiles at the soccer bar

Elaina and I enjoyed fabulous food every meal.  I have found my favorite eating companion!!  Elaina likes all the food I like, so splitting plates and doing Victorian Samplers worked amazingly well.  She and I split the Crab Cake Benedict from Ann Sather(AKA “The Cinnamon Roll Place”), which is impossible for one person to eat solo and is unacceptable to go.

These come as one of your side choices, two in one order!

It was awesome not having to waste the other crab cake like I usually do!  We went to Andie’s for a 10:30 dinner on her first night.  (Yeah, we can do that here.)

Before the Cubs/White Sox game we went to a ridiculous sandwich place named Lucky’s.  This place puts fries and coleslaw on every sandwich.

Insane sandwich

Cu-razy.                                        It was featured on Man v. Food, and Adam (the host) ate three of them within like 30 minutes or something insane.  I ate less than half of one.  The wings were notably awesome too.

The next visitors were my step-daughter, Anaya, and my wonderful mom who came down to help us out with Anaya.  Sidney was unable to take off more than a day of work while Anaya was here, so it was amazing that mom could come down and hang out with Anaya while we were both at work.

Anaya getting in the Chicago spirit with the Cubbie bear

And we finally got to go to Shedd (first time since the honeymoon!!).  I think I agree with my brother, Matthew, that children should be banned from the aquarium.  Or at least, should have to be with more than two adults.  The child to adult ratio should be 1 to 3, to keep the kids curbed.  There were little people everywhere, but we still had a great time!

Mom kicking back at Shedd

While Anaya was here, we had the opportunity to see Caitlin doing what she does best: a Southern accent.  She was starring in a surprisingly humorous adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird.  Caitlin, or “coats” as the kids call her, was the narrator and Miss Maudie.  And believe me, I’m not saying this because I’m her sister, she was the best one on stage.  Anaya enjoyed it so much she wanted to see it again at the final performance.

Lots of hands on the hips, lip pursing, and eyebrow raising

Then we had graduations.

On to bigger and better things now!

Cousin Nehemiah graduated in May, and then Caitlin graduated in June.  King Rahm spoke at Nehemiah’s graduation.

Rahm, King of Chicago

It was interesting to see him in person and hear the story of how he lost part of a finger to gangrene.

How can my baby-sister already be graduating college?  Can nothing be done to prevent this?

We’re all out of the nest now. . .

The occasion brought Matt, my brother, and his girlfriend, Cheryl, to Chicago.  This is the first time I’ve had the chance to meet her.  I was delighted by her.  She is smart, bold, fun, and patient; all the qualities she needs to get along with our family.  She also introduced us to a local Andersonville specialty, Glogg Slushy.  Frozen mulled win for the win! (And a rough morning for Sidney.)

Matt and Cheryl at Ann Sathers

The night before Caitlin’s graduation (or the night of, depending on how you look at it–there are two graduation ceremonies. In two days she had more graduations than I’ve ever had!), we went to Marcus Samuelson’s restaurant, C-House.

Two cute kids, Caitlin and Russ

It was quite good.  As usual, I think I enjoyed the appetizers the most.  We got the octopus, fish tacos, a beet salad, house-made ricotta, and pickled herring.  I was done at that point, but still managed to eat some of my delish duck!

Sidney, Libby, Brandon, and I went to Ribfest, which was enjoyable for those who like ribs . . . but I am not one of those people.  There were a lot of fist-bumping-yuppies everywhere.  We could barely raise our elbows to eat.  Fortunately for me, I was wearing my new ridiculously large sunhat, which gave me a buffer zone.  Sidney calls the hat my “blinders,” and I must admit that sometimes the amazing and oft-complimented hat can cause collisions.

Of course Ferguson wanted to pose with the hat!

Other than the hat, I think the star of the entire event was the basil lemonade, which is a surprisingly tasty and refreshing combination.

We had our first game night Saturday before last!  Before game night, we went to Glenn’s Dinerfor dinner.  We had the most amazing mixture of cornbread, shrimp, scallops, and scallions.  It was so sweet and textured and savory.

Now the cakes will have something beautiful to hold them up!

But not sweeter than Libby and Brandon giving us the most thoughtful house warming gift, ever!  A cake stand, with a lid!!  No more plastic bowl lids for me.  Thanks guys!!

We started off with an icebreaker game of Taboo and then moved on to the intense Settlers of Catan.  The boys won Taboo, which I give a big “Boo” to, especially because I prefaced the game by mentioning that women are better communicators.  In defense of the women, there was one more male.  Sidney won the first game of Settlers, but Aubry, a first-timer, won the second.  Poor Libby and Brandon had a rough couple of games, but I hope they haven’t completely given the game up!  I made Jalapeno Bacon dip, veggie dip, and Che-gooey brownies.  I kept it simple and I think it was well received!

1:36AM After Game night.

Sidney:  There’s no dip left.

11:12AM The day after game night.

Sidney: Where’s all the dip?

Picture courtesy of Aubry

The next day Russ and Caitlin came over, and we all went down to the Pride Festival.  It was, as most parades are for me, a study in the backs of people.  The spiky hair, chaps, tutus, and glitter were ubiquitous.   It was crazy just being on the periphery.  I can’t even imagine getting there the requisite three hours early to have a front row seat.

Work has been crazy-busy (as-promised).  I barely have time to get all my work done daily, let alone take care of important things like blogging, paying bills, and internet shopping. Crushing.

Coming soon: Liz’s tips for a better commute and Chicagoans can’t handle the heat

The Epic of Earringmess or Earring Love-loss

The quality of the earring doesn’t matter. The cardboard-cut pain of it. . .The earring is the worst because you have the constant reminder of the remaining earring. The pain and worry that you feel for the little guy out on its own is indescribable. I have a whole section in my jewelry box dedicated to single earrings: Single earrings; that are too nice to get rid of.

On Wednesday night, when I had Carolyn over for dinner, I noticed I had an earring missing. My heart sank into my stomach and then they both sank together. It was a part of my favorite pearls. I wore them at least four days a week, usually more. White gold with a simple pearl drop. I called them my ear baubles (GWTW reference.) There are no words to use to describe how bad it feels to lose an earring, especially one that’s been in habitual, if not constant use that don’t seem melodramatic or insufficient. I couldn’t find the earring anywhere. I looked all over the Garden, the vestibule, and the immediate adjacent areas, but at the time it was of course dark. I was crushed, but was determined for it not to ruin my dinner plans with my new neighbor. So I pulled it together, and even said a silent mantra to feel better about it.

I told Sidney about the loss when he called while he was on his lunch, and he mourned with me, but I don’t think he felt the full lemon-juice-in-the-wound burn; the utter dejection and disappointment in life and the potential goodness of it. The next day I was still bummed and wore no earrings in protest. On Friday I woke up and knew that I had to move on(besides, Friday is the day in my hair washing cycle where I wear my hair up, so earrings on Friday are mandatory), and I wore my second most worn earrings, for when I want to be a bit whimsical.

Hand-crafted by the lovely Brigid

At about ten o’clock that morning, Sidney called and asked the specifics about which earring I lost, and reported that he had found the earring. “Where?” By the dumpster outside. “Whoa.” The earring was outside for two nights all on its own? Suffering the elements? Only to be discovered by my loving husband? My hero.


It made my, up until then crummy, day!! It brought a huge smile to my face. And the relief I felt was not unlike the relief you feel after surviving a car wreck. I’ve been telling everyone the story because it’s so remarkable and I’m so grateful and happy it’s been found.

I told my friend Libby about it and she felt for me deeply when I told her about it. (She’s the one that provided the car wreck analogy.) She told me the story of a lost pair of earrings. . opal-colored pearls, loved for two years straight, one gone forever down the drain and just it’s nearly-congenital twin flailing helplessly alone. “The band of sisters,” she called us.  She reminded me that every woman has a great earring love-loss story to tell, and we always feel for each other, then I told Libby how Sidney found her(the earring). And she said “That made MY day. I’m totally serious! That’s amazing; UNBELIEVABLE! You should blog about this!”

Reunited and it feels so good.

Ikea, Easter, Washrooms, and Finding the Perfect Pillow

Easter weekend mom was in town.  So, I forced her into chauffeur duty.  First stop: Gethsemane Gardens, the amazing nursery on Clark to start my herb garden.  They didn’t have everything (thai basil, Cuban cilantro, or peppers!) that I needed, but the rest will be in on May 1st (if you can believe that, Oklahoma friends.)  But I have a good start with two varieties of mint, (I’ll probably have to get more though), Dill, Basil, Citronella plant (to keep the bugs away), Rosemary, Thyme, and Greek Oregano.

Petite Herb Garden

Also we went to an old-timey fabric store in Evanston so Caitlin could buy some felt for a show she costumed-designed for, that we will be seeing on Saturday morning.  I had to take pictures because I didn’t think a place like this even existed anymore.  And the lady helping us was the epitome of the old-lady-who-works-in-a-fabric-shop.

Old lady with her shears

More Fabric


After that Caitlin, mom, and I drug Sidney with us to the Disney-World of all stores, Ikea.  It was insane, awesome, shocking, overwhelming, and probably 15 more adjectives.  I took few pictures, because I knew they wouldn’t be able to capture the grandeur that is Ikea, despite all of my prior political misgivings.  When you walk in the doors of Ikea, you are overwhelmed by the smell of baking cinnamon rolls, and the smell never really fades.  (We bought a six-pack on our way out.) I think the deal of the day, excluding something to be mentioned later, was the 19-piece-“tuperware” set for $2.99.













Easter Sunday we originally thought we would be very cosmopolitan and do brunch at one of the many places in Andersonville offering a special meal, but instead we decided to do a traditional-ish Easter dinner at home.  This was to accommodate everyone’s busy holiday schedule.  Russ had rehearsals, and Nehemiah was editing his first video.  We had ham, devilled eggs, potato salad, garden salad, and two desserts: brownies, and bread pudding made from the tantalizing Ikea Cinnamon Rolls.  The girls cooked together for the first time in a very long time!  Fun and education abounded.

Just us girls in our Easter finery

Cup Art on the way to work










One quick Chicago observation:  Everyone here refers to the restroom/bathroom as the “washroom.”  It’s pretty much a city-wide epidemic. . .it might even be a regional thing.  But I won’t conform!!  People here do find my “accent” endearing, and they love my use of “y’all,” which comes in extremely handy at my job because I’m always in need of the plural second person.

Now to the most important thing: my new pillow!!  I like down pillows, but usually find them to be overstuffed.  I don’t need a pillow to cause a crick in my neck.  So I got a goose down “Stomach Sleeper,” though I do not sleep on my stomach.  It’s transformed my sleep, and in a word is WONDERFUL.  And it was only $8.99!!

Of course the new pillow is in a satin, gold pillow case, and of course, Ferguson loves it

Last night, I had my new neighbor, Carolyn over for dinner.  I made pasta, and she’s a Masters student majoring in PoliSci, so we talked politics, watched American Idol, and talked politics of American Idol.  It was very fun and I look forward to more meals with her!

A few of my favorite things (Insert Oprah joke here.)

Sometimes I forget to mention the little things about the city that I love:

The tiny, mature gardens that are prevalent everywhere in my neighborhood, the weird shoes I see on the weird feet on the El.  The fact that there is a four-language church on my way home from work, the noisiness of the city, the anonymity of the city, and yet the familiarity of seeing the people waiting for the bus, walking to the train, and taking their dogs out everyday.  Not driving.  My brand new fridge, the flowering trees that make it look like it’s snowing when the wind rustles them. . .that I have to walk even when I’m feeling lazy.  Not driving.  That weather is still a serious, legitimate topic of conversation (I contend that it’s the best small talk, who ever heard of anything more real or concrete than the natural world and it’s happenings, weather talk should be called real talk.)  Not paying utility bills.  The fact that it’s a city built for pedestrians; there’s even an agency, which polices walkers, for real.  It’s called the Traffic Management Authority.  They ticket jaywalking, not in my part of town, but downtown!  The smells that waft in from every train stop, alleyway, and door; the frying onions, baking bread, grilling meat.  The sounds of trains, buses, and planes.  People everywhere, tiny city parks filled with kids playing, old people reading, well-loved by all stripes of people.  Passing people speaking any and every language.  Holidays for every ethnicity that the entire city recognizes and celebrates, because it’s just another reason to celebrate.  That there’s a Jewish deli two doors down from my Mexican produce market.  Not driving; not knowing/caring how much gas costs.  That I’m fifteen minutes from the beach, in the morning I hear the seagulls AND woodpeckers outside of my open window.  And despite the stressful or frustrating days, I never question the worth of my day anymore.

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