The Parade-less Pride

This past weekend was Pride Weekend in Chicago.

I was really looking forward to the weekend’s festivities.  In addition to the parade itself on Sunday, there was the CGMC concert on Saturday night, and my friend Tracy in Sweeney Todd at Loyola University on Friday night.  It was definitely looking to be an action-packed week and I was ready for it.

The show on Friday was wonderful.  Tracy was awesome and I hung out with her afterward and met some of the cast.  Later I joined the Feast of Fools boys at Big Chicks and we did a bar crawl through Uptown, Andersonville and Edgewater that ended with me getting home late and a bit drunk, but still happy that I had a great time.

Saturday was recovery day (thanks to Friday!) but I was still able to get out and do a little shopping.  Then of course, Saturday night was the CGMC show, which was absolutely wonderful.  The chorus changed its Pride concert venue from the Athenaeum Theatre to Lakeview Presbyterian Church for this show, and it allowed the chorus to perform “Naked” – without any audio enhancement.  The result was a rich, wonderful show that the audience (and chorus) enjoyed immensely.  I wished I could be up there singing with them.

I joined a group of the chorus members out for a drink or two after the show and we were all psyched for the Pride Parade.  I was planning on joining them as we marched our annual march from Belmont Street to Diversey Parkway.  The Chorus was teaming up with the Illinois Lottery this year and we were planning on bringing 100 people to not only show our support but to sing out, loud and proud.  It was to be very exciting.

But for me, this was not to be.

When I awoke on Sunday morning, I felt my chest burning and my lungs heavy.  It was difficult to breathe.  I started coughing continuously. And the more I did to try to get ready, the worse it got.  I knew this feeling, and I knew it well.  I was having an asthma attack.

Foolishly, I thought maybe I was just hungry, so I started making breakfast.  I drank some orange juice and things seemed to settle a bit, but as I kept working and preparing my food, it got worse again.  I had another attack.

Defeated, I grabbed my Albuterol inhaler and took a couple of puffs.  The attack subsided but my heart was racing.  I knew this was a bad sign.  I ate my breakfast and tried to calm myself down, but it was too little, too late.  I had another attack.  So I puffed again and sat down.

By now I was running late for the parade, but I also knew there was no way I could do it in my current condition.  I sent messages to our chorus General Manager and another fellow member, letting them know I couldn’t make it, and got back into bed.  I slept for about four hours.

This was the first time since I attended my first Pride parade in about 1993 that I didn’t attend Chicago’s Pride parade.  If I had a different excuse I suppose I would feel better about it, but I guess my health is as good an excuse as any.  One thing  I knew for sure- my asthma is no longer just something I “might” have to worry about in the future.  It’s something I definitely need to worry about — NOW.

My mom had asthma throughout most of her life but let it go untreated and unchecked until it was almost too late.  Granted, she smoked throughout most of her life, too– but chances are she would be in the same boat she’s in today — with COPD/Emphysema— whether she smoked or not, simply because she let her asthma go for so long.  I don’t want to end up like that, and I know she doesn’t want me to end up that way, either.  So I’m doing something about it today.  I’m calling my doctor and we’re going to get me scheduled for a pulmonary exam.  I can’t deny the obvious any longer.  Asthma is a hereditary disease.  I have it.  I have to live with it.

I just want to live with it — and not die because of it!

So my pride weekend was a bit marred; but it wasn’t without its good moments.  And if I had to take something away from the weekend that was positive, it’s that I learned something important about myself and I will do something about it.  I guess that’s part of taking pride in living your best life.

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Grandfathers

So often I find myself feeling just a little jealous of other people who knew and had relationships with their grandfathers.  Whether they have one or both in their life, they always seem so lucky to me.  They get one (or two) more person(s) to dote on them, send them cards, and tell them they are loved.  

I didn’t know either of my grandfathers.  My Grandpa Anderson died on New Year’s Eve 1968, and my Nanu Aiello was gone shortly after that.  And I was born in 1970, so I just missed them both.

I was thinking about this on my cab ride home from work tonight.  Funny how being at the mercy of someone else’s crazy driving gets you thinking about things like this.

My sister and I never knew our grandfathers, and now, her daughters will not know theirs.

My brother-in-law’s dad died some years before he met my sister.  His mom remarried and is still with him today, so the girls do have a step-grandpa.  And, of course, our dad died in 2006.

All throughout our lives, my sister and I have only had pictures and memories from our parents and grandmothers to help us understand what our grandfathers were like.  We never heard their voices or their laughs, or got to hear them say our names.  It was like something was missing.  

My cousin’s Grandpa lived through most of her childhood and through her teen years.  He was the only grandfatherly figure in my life.  I remember when I was very young– probably about 6 or 7 at the most– I was talking to him at a family gathering, and I distinctly remember asking him, “Will you be my Grandpa?” 

I remember him responding, “Why sure, Ricky, I would love to be your Grandpa, but I can only be your pretend Grandpa, because you will always have your real Grandpas.  Can I be your pretend Grandpa?”  

And I remember saying, “Sure!” and he shook my tiny hand, and the deal was sealed.

Years later when he passed away, his wife came to me and reminded me of that story.  “He was so honored that you asked him that,” she said.  “He never forgot it.  He loved you kids (my sister and I) as if you were his grandkids, just as I do.” She asked if I would be pallbearer at his funeral — the first time I had ever done such a thing.  Of course, I said yes.

Now with my nieces just about to turn three months old, I think of how unfortunate it is that they will never know their grandfathers.  They will have lots of pictures to show them what they looked like, and lots of stories from their parents, uncles and grandmas; and at least on our side of the family, they will even have family movies and a few audio recordings of my dad’s voice so they can know what he moved and sounded like.   But that won’t take the place of actually having a grandfather in their lives.  

So they have loving and doting grandmothers, two crazy uncles that are as crazy for them as they are themselves (yes, I am one of those uncles), and a step-grandpa who is related only by marriage, but undoubtedly loved completely.  I’d say they’re two very lucky little tykes.  

The girls are going to Grandma’s house for the first time this weekend, and of course we are all excited. 

I’ve always said that our family is small, but it’s mighty.  Some things, I guess, never do change.

Catching up

“Hello again, hello!
Just called to say hello…”

OK it’s been a few too many days since my last post, so it’s time for a quick summary of what’s been up with me lately…

Kitchen floor

It was a disastrous mess, but it’s over.  The floor looks fantastic!  Of course it took me a few days to wash EVERY SINGLE DISH I OWN after the guys left, but now I have a new floor AND my dishes are all clean.  So what more can one ask for, right?

The twins

They are growing so fast!  Abby is 11lbs. and Emily is almost 9.  Abby is quickly becoming a little version of her daddy and Emily is looking more like her mommy.  I’m hoping to see them again in a couple weeks.  In the meantime, my sister started a new job yesterday, so we’re all hopeful that things go well for her in that area.

Dating life

Nothing new here.  Still nothing.  And nothing on the horizon.  I don’t know what will ever become of this, but I remain strangely hopeful… and with spring in full bloom (more or less), I feel even more hopeful.

Living situation

The guy who has lived in the apartment below me for the past 6 years just moved out, so now I’m starting to worry that some bitchy queen – or some bitchy bitch – will move in.  I have gotten quite used to having nobody live under me.  The guy who moved out was a flight attendant and was almost never home.  And when he was home he never once complained about me being up at all hours or my cats chasing each other at 4 in the morning.  Time will tell what happens when the new person moves in.  Maybe if I make a cinnamon swirl bread he or she will like me right away.  Hmmmm…

The earthquakes

I didn’t feel a damn thing.  Not the first time, not during the aftershocks– nothing.  I slept through all of it.  Honestly when I am sleeping the walls could be crumbling and I wouldn’t know it.  Which is a good thing, in case I end up dating a snorer.  But still, a 5.4 magnitude quake and I didn’t feel or hear ANYTHING?  Damn!

Money

Oy vey.  Money has been a source of much head and heartache for me lately.  I and quickly trying to devise a plan to find more of it somehow.  It won’t be easy, but something has to work, and soon. Stay tuned there.

OK, that’s all I can think of for now.  I really and truly do hope to write more and more often.  But once I got behind I didn’t know where to begin to catch up.  Much like life, isn’t it?

Is there anything I left out?  If so, let me know.

Keeping my head above water

Good Times.

Any time you meet a payment.

Good Times.

Any time you need a friend.

Good Times.

Any time you’re out from under.

Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.

Keepin’ your head above water,

Making a wave when you can.

Temporary lay offs.

Good Times.

Easy credit rip offs.

Good Times.

Scratchin’ and surviving.

Good Times.

Hangin in a chow line

Good Times.

Ain’t we lucky we got ’em

Good Times!

Times aren’t tough but boy are they ever busy.  Just wanted to chime in and say that everything’s alright and I’m alive and well.  Hopefully when I get a moment to breathe again I’ll write.  And then after that I’ll clean my apartment.  Catch up on my Scrabulous games.  Meet a friend for lunch or dinner.  Go out and be among the living.

One bright spot through all of this– it’s finally feeling like spring around here!!!

A stressful day

Tuesday was supposed to be a joyous day.

My sister was scheduled to go for her 20-week ultrasound.  It was at this appointment where they would discover the sexes of her twin babies, and (hopefully) find out how well they were progressing.

They got those answers– but they didn’t expect the news that followed.

First of all, she is having two girls.  We are thrilled beyond belief.  And for all intents and purposes, the babies are healthy.

But complications have arisen.  I don’t want to go into the gruesome details here– for our privacy and for your sake as well– but suffice it to say that had she not been at the hospital already for her ultrasound, there is a good chance that something worse could have happened.

Once the complication was noted, she was rushed into the hospital, tested, medicated, and is now resting–which she will pretty much be doing for the rest of her pregnancy.

For the rest of us in the family, the time between the initial announcement of the complication and getting her into the hospital so they could actually call and tell us what was going on seemed like a lifetime.  Details were pretty sketchy, and our hearts were racing a mile a minute.  We didn’t know if the babies were OK.  We didn’t know if she was OK.  We weren’t even sure which hospital she was at, so we couldn’t call anyone.

In my own case, the day at work was stressful enough to begin with.  My co-worker was out sick, and I had an enormous project I had to complete before I left for the day.  It was one of those tedious, repetitive things that require a lot of concentration but not a lot of creativity.  It was perfect for how I felt that day.  I just focused on the work and shut out all other distractions and thoughts.  It helped a lot.

Tomorrow my sister goes for another ultrasound at the hospital, as well as a lot of other tests.  As I alluded to earlier, she will be on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy– which means I probably will not see her at Thanksgiving.  But I think we all can agree that this is the best for all concerned– her and those precious babies.  I know how badly she wants them, and believe me, we all want them for her just as badly.

So please, keep my sister, her husband, and our family in your prayers for the next few days.  We can use all the good luck we can get right now.  And that would be the best Thanksgiving wish anyone could give us.

And while you’re praying for us… pray for strength!  We’re all going to need it.