Resurrection (Part 3)

So now I’m on Plan D… and I’m not loving the idea by any means. Obviously, the Kenosha option would be temporary. I’d live at home, save some money, get back on my feet, and start out again. It’s the whole getting back home thing that seemed to be more of a problem. As would getting to and from work, as I wasn’t about to leave my job anytime soon.

I started scouting Metra train routes to and from Kenosha into Chicago. I found that it could work– better than I had originally thought. It would mean a lot of planning and a lot of hours on a train… but if I had to do it, I could do it.

Then I started investigating moving options. My original thought was to store most of my stuff in Chicago and move only the necessities to Kenosha… or else just move everything and store it in my mom’s garage. That wasn’t ideal, but it was better than nothing. So I called up a moving company that I knew would go across the state line and I got a price quote for the move.

$5,000.

I almost shit my pants. They had to be kidding me. I mean, I have a lot of stuff, but $5,000 was preposterous. At the same time I plotted that strategy, I had them price a move within city limits. They came back with $975. No frickin’ way. So clearly, I was not hiring these movers, and I most certainly was not moving all my stuff back to Kenosha. I wasn’t sure what to do next.

I must have posted something to Facebook about my dilemma, because an hour or two later, I got a reply from a chorus friend who told me that he wasn’t going to let me move back to Kenosha, and he knew of a couple apartments that his landlord had available. We chatted a bit, and described them to me. The rents sounded good, but the location wasn’t ideal. At this point, though, I was willing to try anything — anything other than moving all the way to Wisconsin.

As it turned out, only one of the units was available, and it was the unit he had been doing rehab work on for the past few months. I went over to take a look. At first sight, it was obvious there was a lot of work left to be done, but the funny thing about me is, I am able to look beyond the buckets, plaster, ladders, hammer and nails and see what a place will look like when it’s done — and I liked what I saw.

The unit is a garden unit, and is a one-bedroom. The living room would double as a dining room, but it’s big enough that it could also house my office area. The floor in the living room and bedroom would be carpeted– which would be different for me, but I could handle it. The ceilings were tall– higher than most garden units I’d seen. The bedroom is smaller than my current one, but would fit my essential furnishings with no problem. The kitchen, by far, is my favorite room. It’s big, open, and was being extensively rehabbed. New ceramic tile floors were laid, and a new counter was going in on one wall, to compliment the counter and cabinets that already existed– lots of storage. A new stove was being ordered, but the fridge was staying, and that was okay– it’s a full-size fridge. The sink was the only downside. It’s a single sink. I currently have a double. And no dishwasher. But I saw the potential… I could make it work.

The bathroom gave me pause. The tile is pink, with green trim. At first sight, I hated it, but my friend said it might have to stay, so I looked past it. The more I think about it, the more I think I can make it work. I can play up the kitsch factor on that one.

The rest of the place has a lot of charm. There is an arched opening between the kitchen and the living room that I love, and the living room has arched knicknack shelves built into the walls. The ceiling of the living room has an area that is raised higher, creating a set-off area that I really like. I could see a Christmas tree going there easily. The windows are brand-new, just installed, and they are ‘regular’ windows, not tiny, glass-block windows like I had seen in many other garden units. Plus– and this is what sold me — electric is included, because the unit is wired to the main circuit for the building. I was ready to sign a lease right then and there.

So I applied for the place, and after some back and forth with the landlords (who are really nice guys–brothers–who live on the third floor), I signed a lease.

I felt a wave of instant calm. Things were finally falling into place. All the pain and headache I had experienced was soon to be a memory– albeit a bad one.

But things weren’t over just yet…

(Part four coming soon…)

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Resurrection (Part 2)

Funny thing about me… I always say I work better when I’m under a time crunch. That’s a roundabout way of saying “I’m a major procrastinator,” of course… but it usually is true. So I looked at the situation at hand and figured out what I had to do. I came up with four plans:

Plan A- Find another roommate and continue the search for a 2-bedroom place.

Plan B- Find a person looking for a roommate.

Plan C- Find a one-bedroom place or a studio and live meagerly for a while.

Plan D- Cut my losses and move home to Kenosha.

I set to work on Plans A or B. I sent Emails to all my friends and all my chorus contacts. I got a few responses, but only one response to the Plan A idea. We met, talked it over, and decided to go for it. I set appointments at a few places and looked at a few of them– alone– but communicated my findings to the new roommate.

And then, mysteriously, my calls went unreturned, and my emails went unanswered. I looked at the calendar. It was already mid-March. Time to segue to Plan C.

I combed craigslist and Chicago Reader and made appointments. I called a couple apartment-finding agencies and scheduled sessions. I was in full-speed mode…

…but in the meantime, I had nothing packed, and nothing arranged for a move.

My situation was looking really dire. My stress levels were off the charts. If I had gone to the doctor during this time, I am quite sure my blood pressure would have been ridiculously high. I contemplated calling my doctor for a Xanax prescription… something I have never had before. It truly was that bad. I couldn’t sleep or eat, and called in to work a hell of a lot. (On the positive side though, I probably lost about 15 pounds.)

I took a day off of work and looked at apartments from 8am until 5pm. I saw some place that could only be described as closets, and others that were so ugly they made me a little sick to my stomach. One place was rather cute, could have even been promising… until I opened a cabinet door in the kitchen and saw a cockroach scurrying across the bottom. Finally, the last place I looked at seemed to be the right size at the right price– even if I hated it. It was in a 1950s-era 5-floor (they call them a 4-Plus-1 around here) building that wasn’t in terrible shape, but was in a not-so likable area. The floors were all covered in a nasty white acrylic carpet that looked like it hadn’t been shampooed in years. The kitchen cabinets were 1970s-era cheap, and one drawer had no face. The chandelier in the dining room was busted and filthy, the windows wouldn’t open, everything was electric, and the bathroom– the worst room of all– had powder blue EVERYTHING– floors, walls, tub, toilet AND sink.

Yeah, it wasn’t my dream home by any means… but it held some promise. The rooms were large, and there was a lot of storage. I figured I could make it work if I HAD to… and nothing else was looking as good. So I said, “Yes, let’s do it.”

From that moment, the dread and stress got even worse. I hated it, and I knew it. And I was saying “yes.” I felt like Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” the adult version of himself screaming at the younger version to “Wake up dummy! WAKE UP!!” But I never woke up. I signed the papers, wrote a check, and hoped for the best.

Well the best never came. Two weeks later, I still hadn’t signed a lease. Two weeks later, it was just days before April 1. If stress were a rocket, then I surely, really and truly, for the first time in my life was a ROCKET MAN. I was set to explode from the stress I was feeling. The building managers balked at my credit report (which I told them was going to be bad,) and my lease history (my eviction notice from a while back was rearing its ugly head). They even contacted my current landlord to get assurance that everything was taken care of with the eviction, and they STILL dragged their heels.

I finally realized I had to back out of this before I went insane. I called my landlord and pleaded with her to let me stay until May. She agreed. Thank goodness. Then I called the rental company and told them I was canceling the deal. They were fine with it, but they still had my check… and the check was for first month’s rent at the new place, plus their fee. If they cashed that, I’d be screwed. I asked them to get the check back and I’d pay them their fee via credit card. They said they’d see what they could do.

By now, I was seriously considering Plan D as my only option. My mom and my sister were worried, and so was I. I had to make a decision, and quick.

So I decided to investigate the idea of going home.

(Part three tomorrow)

Resurrection (Part 1)

I know what you’re thinking.

“I’m leaving!” “I’ll be seeing you.” “I’ll be around.” “Don’t miss me too much.” “Blah blah blah blah blah.”

Yeah, I know. I said it was forever. I said I was done, I was moving on, and I was through.

And I know I said I had a lot of things going on and I needed to cut things out to concentrate on things that mattered. I know, I said it.

Turns out, however, that this mattered too.

Truth be told, when I shut this blog down, I was entering a very dark period in my life. Ironically though, I didn’t even know it at the time.

In my last post, I said that I was moving, and I needed to concentrate on that whole process, as well as focus my energy on new tasks that had come before me. All of that was true, and is still true as of this writing. In fact, as of this moment I have still NOT moved.

I hope you have a few minutes.

My intention at the outset was to move in with a friend and share a two- or three-bedroom apartment. I wanted to cut expenses and possibly save some money for the first time in a very long time. When I wrote my goodbye here, that plan was pretty well-set, and things were looking pretty good.

But on March 1, that all changed.

Just a couple days before March 1, I had informed my landlord that I was moving a month early. My future roommate was already scoping out places, and we were set to start looking at them and getting things squared away. When I told her the situation, she was fine with it; knowing how difficult things had become for me at this location, and how I needed to start cutting back. Plus it would give her time to make whatever renovations needed to be made here (and there are plenty, believe me) in time for a new tenant to move in for May 1.

But when I woke up the morning of Saturday, March 1, I got an Email from my future roommate, telling me that he had to back out of the plan. He had recently experienced some changes in his life, and decided it was better for him to live on his own. He was sorry for putting me in a bad spot, but he had made his decision.

While I understood his reasons– he had told me what happened about a week prior to his Email, which I am not going to repeat here– to say it put me in a bad spot was grossly understated. I had a full-out panic attack. Here I was, a month before my move-out date… a month earlier than I had previously expected… and I had no roommate, no apartment, and nothing in the works. I was back at square one, and it was not a good feeling.

I called my landlord back and told her the situation, but she said she had made preparations to start reconditioning my unit, so she wanted to stay with April 1. I was stuck. I couldn’t stay any longer. I had to move.

(Part 2 tomorrow)

The twists of life

A few years ago, my sister and I came to blows.

I was very much down on my luck. I was despondent and feeling very sorry for myself. I backed out of plans to see my family over and over again, and they’d had enough. After backing out of yet another gathering– probably just for dinner at my parents’ house– my sister called me and read me the riot act.

In hindsight, I deserved it. I was being a total putz and I had it coming. But instead of taking my blows and apologizing, I fought back.

It was the only time (other than when we were kids) that I ever yelled at her like that.

“It’s easy for you to berate me,” I shouted. “You have the perfect house, the perfect husband, the perfect job, and the perfect life. I have none of that. I’m a loser compared to you, and you flaunt in front of me. So thank you for being my second mother, but I don’t need your advice!”

She hung up on me.

The words were awful. They were mean and terrible. I knew that then and I know that now. It took us a while to rebuild the bridge I had nearly burned, and we eventually patched things up. But I’ve regretted those words ever since I said them.

Lately, the tables have turned for my sister. While she has been blessed with two beautiful daughters, she has also been besieged by a terrible streak of bad luck. Starting with her Celiac Disease diagnosis, then dealing with infertility problems; including four rounds of IVF and three failures. Then, when she finally was pregnant, she faced ten weeks of bed rest so she could safely deliver her twin daughters.

Since delivering the twins, she has been in and out of the hospital with numerous complications– nothing serious, but each one a setback.

Then on Monday, they took Abby home. They were thrilled to finally get at least one of their babies home. Things were finally looking up.

Today, though, it all crashed again. Abby’s temperature dropped during the and they had to rush her back to the hospital. She’s doing fine, but it was another unnecessary scare.

But the worst wasn’t over. Later that day, a call came in from my sister’s boss. She works at the same hospital where she delivered the babies. She had been laid off.

I knew how hard all of this has been on her, but this constant barrage of bad news and setbacks has been slowly eating away at her. I can hear it in her voice on the phone. She seems distant and afraid. Usually she’s confident and sure. I think any strong-willed person would feel defeated after all she’s been through.

Mom and I are hopeful that things will work out for the best. We actually view this as a blessing in disguise for her. She’s been worried about this for some time now, and now that it’s over, she can concentrate on taking care of her girls.

She’ll be fine in the job arena, too. She’s got a lot of experience and a great education to back it all up. If someone gives her trouble for taking time off to have babies, it’s their loss.

In the meantime, however, she is very, very down. I spoke to her tonight and she sounded so incredibly depressed. I told her that we all loved her, and she will come out of this just fine. And whatever happens, she has a family that wants nothing but the best for her. And, of course, we will do anything we can to help out wherever she needs it.

Life goes in strange cycles sometimes. We have high points and we have low points. And though hitting rock bottom really sucks… the good thing about it is, the only way to go from there is up.

Please think of my sister if you can… send her some good wishes and good love. A great way to do that is by visiting her blog: The Road to Parenthood. Just leave her a comment and let her know things are going to be okay. She needs that more than ever right now.

I wanted this post to be about my mom and I visiting the babies on Saturday instead of this… but I thought this was too important not to touch on it. So, in closing, here are some pictures of my Mom, my sister and her husband with little Abby and Emily. I was lucky enough to go into the nursery to take these… and I love every one of them. (There are even more on my Flickr account.)
Abby's BIG YAWN!
Abby screams!

Grandma and Abby
Grandma with Abby

Emily is content after her feeding
A sweet smile from Emily.

Sweet love
Beth snuggling with Abby

Abby and Emily
Abby and Emily, head to head.

Grandma and Emily
Grandma with Emily

The whole family
Beth with Abby and Geoff with Emily