Going Home Part II

In just under four months, I am excited to say that I will be briefly returning to Chicago again, this time to watch the first session of the Laver Cup and to see the White Sox play the Cubs on the Southside.  What a surprise it was when Brother invited me to join him and his best buddy for some tennis and some baseball! 

The trip I took in March brought out a lot of feelings. I had, honestly, avoided going back to Chicago because of the conflicted relationship my parents have and because out of sight, out of mind is much easier than to admit feelings. I was pleasantly surprised to have any stretch of time during which my parents got along in my presence; sadly it was short-lived. Though most of the news focuses on the bad things about Chicago and I myself spent a good amount of time voicing my displeasure with the politics and policies of Chicago and of Illinois, it was tough to see all of the places I missed. Walking around downtown Chicago is awesome, with many great places to eat, things to do, and just seeing the buildings. I am truly grateful for the time I had to enjoy the city and to see my parents acting like people, instead of enemies. It was also great to see a dear friend, chatting with her for a few hours on my last day in Chicago.

I live in Central Texas for many reasons, though not for the food. Many people think that food in the greater Austin area is great, and I beg to differ. To each his own.  Also, there are some cool places and attractions in the Austin area, but Austin’s downtown is not on par with any of the major cities. You have to go to specific areas for shopping, movies, and other activities, not because it is a growing city, but rather this is the way it has evolved. It is my personal belief, that too many people in the  Austin area have a slacker mentality, lacking integrity and much urgency about anything. Obviously we have found enough to like about living in Central Texas that we have stayed for almost five years and bought a house, but one of the best trade-offs is the weather and not having to shovel snow as we did in Chicago.  We both prefer the sun and heat over snow and cold.

Anyhow, I look forward to not only seeing parents (we are all going to see tennis together), but my brother and his friend, and that we will get to enjoy our hometown together for the first time in five years.  It’ll be good!

Going home… Part 1

I hadn’t been back to Chicago in close to three years until last weekend. The last time I went back was when my mother-in-law died. I was there with Husband helping to tie up loose ends, discard old, out of date, no longer needed items to prepare for selling the house, and to attend the funeral. I was there two weeks, and I didn’t want to be there. The little free time I had was spent watching my parents argue and, when my schedule finally allowed for visiting friends, we couldn’t make it happen. It sucked!

Both Husband and I have complicated families, and we  have felt the effects even miles away. I almost cancelled this trip  a day or two after I decided to book the flights because of the drama attached to going home. Ultimately, I chose to go because my Dad needed an angiogram to further assess blockages in his heart. Knowing that Brother and Sister-in-law had just visited,and the possible severity of the situation, I went  –  on my terms.

One of the greatest and most surprising parts of the trip was on the first day when I spent eight hours with my parents and they both made an effort to get along. First, we ate lunch at Wojo’s, a neighborhood hamburger joint. Later on,  my Dad gave me a lesson in how to hold, load, and fire a semi-automatic weapon with a laser target and dummy ammo. This was lots of fun and gave him great joy on the day before he ended up with a stent to clear  two heart blockages. I was also able to spend a lot of time with my Mom throughout  the weekend,  and  we were able to eat Beggar’s pizza while watching the White Sox. I wish my parents could be those well-meaning people toward each other more often, and live a happy life together… However, I am grateful to have had that time with them.

I found time to walk around Downtown Chicago for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. I browsed at stores,  visited a few new places (Maggie Daley Park and Dylan’s Candy Bar to name a few), and stopped in at the Chicago Cultural Center. My Grandfather took my Brother and I to many events there, and sometimes we would just stop to rest in the café sitting area after lots of walking. This was a tough but good stop for me to make, and  it was great to see some art while remembering Grandpa.

All photos taken by Chrellie

New Year’s Day, it’s time to set goals…

I am not much of a goal-setting person. I cringe twice a year when I have to discuss work-related/professional development goals with my supervisor. I don’t have a five-year plan, and I’m still not sure if I’m in the right career – it’s just the kind of work I have been doing for a long time, and  I chose it by default.

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Courtesy of pixabay.com/Wokandapix

The funny thing is that I was an athlete for many years. I successfully set goals for my tennis and my training a few times, which included an undefeated regular season during my junior year in college, beating my time 1 1/2 mile run my sophomore and junior years, winning the City Championship my high school senior year, and various strength goals I set at different times. Beyond that, I have reached savings goals at different times but I haven’t made goal-setting a  regular habit… but I’m going to try it this year, at least for a little while.

So…  here I go. First, I plan to post something a minimum of once a week. It may not be lengthy, but I want to get back in the habit of posting more regularly than I did for most of 2017.  Second, I will attend my weekly Yoga class that I joined through my employer’s Wellness program and I will work out at least one more time each week, not counting the two or three walks I take with Husband on the weekend in good weather. Thirdly, I plan to meditate for  5 minutes at least  three times a week.

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Courtesy of pixabay.com/pixel2013

Phew… that seems like a lot, but i have been thinking about each of these activities and done them somewhat inconsistently in recent weeks. I think that they are all doable, especially if I start to see and feel benefit from them.  Wish me luck!

 

Team iPhone

I was a Windows phone owner and fan for the last four years until about a month ago. I loved my first, second, and third Windows phone, although the second was my least favorite due to its slowness.

Courtesy of Pixabay.com/DennisBuntrock

My last Windows  was my favorite of the bunch – a little bigger screen, though a little too big for my pocket; simple, familiar, and convenient. I tend to buck trends and stick out a bit, so this was no different. I didn’t too much mind the limited apps because I used the Microsoft apps pre-installed on the phone and the few I wanted worked pretty well… Then there was the bad call reception in my house, loss of signal in the middle of calls, and the frustration of my husband having the same phone without these problems. I accidentally dropped the phone in water about two or three months and then tried to save it with a bag of rice overnight, which seemed to dry it up. While this incident could have made an already buggy phone worse, the phone problems existed prior and only got worse.

Calls to my family were even trickier due to dropped calls, lots of “can you hear me?” questions, and apologies for dropped calls. My phone dropped a call while I was speaking with my Dad during an already little tense conversation, making it look I hung up on him. I had not done so, at least not this time. Talking to my mother on her crappy flip phone didn’t help matters either. My brother after a few bad reception calls suggested that I might be one of the last 10 people walking around with a Windows phone, and he is probably right. Husband’s phone is still holding strong, and he’ll keep his until he needs to switch.

Courtesy of pexles.com/Pok Rie

After a month of use, I like that my phone easily fits in my pocket and my hand. I like that I can keep a lot of my Microsoft capabilities, such as sending pictures to my OneDrive, I can still use my OneNote, that some of the apps I did download before are definitely available on iPhone, and that apps that Windows stopped supporting are again available options for me. One of my favorite things about Windows/Microsoft, silly as it might be, is Bing and the daily, featured photo, and that is easily accessible via web or app. There are so many things/apps/functions on the iPhone that I am still exploring. However, the MSN weather app is better than the pre-loaded weather app on iPhone and I also liked the MSN sports and news apps better, but I have found fairly comparable apps on iPhone. A favorite of mine on the iPhone is the huge, though costly, memory I have on my new phone. The Windows phone had 8GB memory, with about 4-5 GB available for personal use and I underestimated the amount of GB I would need in an SD card, so I was close to running out. Thank you, Apple, for 128GB memory! I should never run out.

Overall, I feel that I made a good choice and, hopefully, the price I paid will be worth it for not having to replace my phone frequently for slowness or lack of updating.

 

Being the adult child of parents who don’t get along….

I am forty years old, and I cannot remember a time when my parents got along for more than a short time. I imagine my parents must have been happy together at some point, but not in years. I can handle that I have my own life and that my parents have their lives, and that we all make our own choices. They are both good people in their own ways and they often mean well and yet they bring out the worst in each other. It is hard to hard to watch and to hear on almost every phone call.

They did the best they could as parents, each with their own style. I could count on my father to drive me to far away tennis tournaments and to help me with complex homework assignments, while I could count on my mother for encouragement, a laugh, dinner, or to take me to local tennis tournaments or other activities. My father was the strict one; my mother was more lenient but ruled with a look or a quick comment rather than loud, harsh language. I learned a lot from both of them over the years, good and bad, just as I will always have memories of them good and bad. I’m sure that it is the same for them with me and my brother, like all families. Brother and I are both happy, and we wish they would choose to be happy together or apart.

In the three years before I moved to Texas, I started visiting my parents separately because a visit with both of them was either extremely uncomfortable or ended with an argument. My father is loud and verbally aggressive and my mother is passive aggressive, which doesn’t end quietly. I would visit my father while my mother was at church or shopping and I would plan lunch with my mother on a weekday. Did I mention that I have been suggesting divorce to them since I was 12? I don’t know that either of them could live without the daily chaos after all of these years, or that they could afford to separate the house, assets, SSI, etc. There are a lot of things my mother would not be able to manage, and my father has a few health issues, which further complicates this situation. It’s sad to know that both of my parents will live unhappily until their last days.

Even my brother’s wedding weekend, which should have been a joyous and fun occasion, was not without drama. First, my brother and I had to practically beg our parents to hang out with them for a little while before he and I went to the Yankees game and, once we did meet up with the parents at their hotel, my father flopped around on his twin bed when he got upset with my mother or got annoyed with the conversation no less than three times. Other drama included miscommunication with my brother and mother on wedding day, which resulted in me getting cussed and yelled at. I mostly enjoyed the weekend because I spent limited time with my parents, I did what I wanted to do, and I spent most of the rehearsal dinner and reception with my brother’s friends or my extended family. Oh, and I indulged in a few drinks. I had not seen my parents in two years prior to this… go, family!

I wonder if I am the only one who limits contact with their parents because they don’t want to deal with them trash-talking each other worse than NBA players or because they don’t want to play referee. Am I the only one who cringes a the idea of a big family holiday , anticipating a shouting match at the extended family’s home every single time.  My aunt has almost had to drive my mother home because my father got mad and began to drive away because they couldn’t agree on a time to leave. The last Christmas I was home for ended with me and Boyfriend (now Husband) leaving because we couldn’t take the arguing. We even asked them to behave so we could enjoy the dinner we had prepared for them… too much to ask. 

I have accepted that they are who they are, but I try to avoid absorbing any more of their negativity, so we probably talk 2-3x a month. For every great, enjoyable conversation with either of them, there are probably five when my father criticized the conversation in the background or texted complaints while I was on the phone with my mother. With my father, we connect well sometimes and sometimes we don’t due to the limited topics he will talk about and our different hobbies. I love to hear the good in their lives and wish I could share more with them, but it’s hard and often out of my control.

Feel free to share, if you can relate or have a method that works with families such as mine.