Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Friday

I am totally aware of how long I have neglected this blog, but I was inspired to share one of my recent experiences IRL that I believe needs sharing. I went to lunch with a colleague yesterday and, during the course of our meal, we (of course) discussed our Thanksgivings. Mine was quite nice, actually, but it was the day after that proved interesting.

Black Friday: I'm no maniac for those crazy shopping hours. I like my sleep. But my in-laws have created a nice tradition of getting up and out by 9 in the morning on Friday to do some shopping, but also to people-watch those of you who chose to get out there at midnight. You are a sight to behold, for better or worse. I'm getting to the point, I promise...

We hit Bed, Bath, and Beyond, then started on to Kohl's. While standing amongst the shoppers, I was struck with the onset of a migraine. When I mentioned this to my lunch date, she immediately responded with "oooooh... shopping and migraines DON'T mix". I appreciated the sentiment and the sympathy but, as is traditional, it is not the response of someone who has actually experienced a migraine. So I'm here to tell you what its really like.

I will first disclaim this by stating that this is MY experience; migraines tend to have some similarities, but do not manifest themselves in the same way for everyone. This is simply my experience, out on the table. I will also state that this is not intended to shame anyone, merely educate those who may know or care about someone who is prone to migraines.

Back to the story: I'm in the middle of Kohl's, with people bustling to make their purchases. All of a sudden, these people, the store, and even walking were overwhelming to me. I had to stop immediately and locate my husband, because the ball was already rolling. I closed my eyes to attempt to regain some control, only to open my eyes without the ability to see clearly. It was if the world was bending and curving around me. I felt light-headed, and my hands felt like the were no longer connected to my body. This is a dead giveaway for me that I am not paranoid, but am indeed getting a migraine. My husband immediately took my hand and walked me, eyes closed, out to the car to wait for the rest of our family. My vision becomes frustrating during the migraine's onset, because I get "blind spots" in an otherwise normal line of vision. I sat quietly in the car with my eyes closed, attempting to do some deep breathing. This is really hard to do while you're busy wondering if you're going to throw up, go numb, or your head is going to explode.

There is no describing the pain of a migraine... it feels like a pressure you should be easily able to be rid of, like a brain freeze, but worse. There have been times where I have considered the feasibility of slamming my head into a wall to get relief for my head. Never tried. Too chicken. And pretty certain it wouldn't work. But the idea comes back nonetheless.

So, at this point, we are on the way back to my in-laws' house. My father in law wonders aloud if I need to eat something. Maybe. So I get something and try to eat it. Before I even get the food within six inches of my mouth, I know this is not going to help. It will only lead to more vomiting in a few minutes. So I don't eat or drink anything. I don't move. I don't even swallow that often. These are mechanisms I have learned to minimize my physical discomfort as best I can. I even cover my head with my husband's jacket so the sun doesn't shine into my eyes, which magnifies the pain in my head.

We get to my in-laws' and I dash from the car into the house and straight to the bathroom, where I proceed to loudly, and with reckless abandon, dry heave and then vomit. It is disgusting. That's because I didn't eat that morning, so all I've got to give is what's in my stomach: bile. I know this is gross, but this is real. You literally throw up (and other bodily functions) until there's nothing left in your body. Swallowing or sipping water results in another round. I am backed into a corner. So I do the only thing left: sleep.

But its not that easy... if I lay too flat, the feeling of nausea takes over; sleep on your side causes the migraine to move to the side on which you're laying. More excruciating pain. This migraine found me trying to nap on four pillows stacked on top of each other. This stage of the migraine is when I find myself contemplating how long I can wait before I don't make it to the bathroom. Now the waiting begins...

How long my migraine knocks me out is truly unpredictable. Did I get to my migraine medicine fast enough? Have I calmed myself into a place where my body can recover? Was it bad enough that I just went to Urgent Care and get a medical intervention (aka shot)?

The migraine doesn't end with the end of the pain: there is the constant worry about when the next one will strike. Even as I write this, I am checking the headache I have to see if it moves with my movements; if my vision is spotty because I looked at the sun or if blind spots are showing up; if my foot is falling asleep or if the left side of my body is going numb. This is the real trick of the migraine. Even when it goes away, you're still left feeling vulnerable. There so many factors, real or hypothesized, that contribute to the development of a migraine; the question "did I bring this on myself?" is a constant. Even writing about the migraine gives me the exact same feelings of anxiety and unease that come with the actual condition.

I am certain most migraine sufferers can probably top this recount. I don't share it to seek pity; I hope those who don't understand migraines may have a little bit more insight. I hope it will give you pause for a moment before talking about your pounding headache as a "migraine". I hope this helps someone else know they're not alone or crazy when they get these headaches no one else seems to understand. I hope this offers some comfort for someone caring for a loved one with a migraine. My husband, admittedly, didn't understand my migraines; he learned to cope with a silent house, to come QUICK when I call for him, and to help me make a decision about when to see medical assistance. However, when I experienced a migraine for the first time this fall, he looked at me and said "Now I understand why you act like you do with these". I don't wish a migraine on my worst enemy, and I hate that it took getting a migraine for my hubs to understand, but THAT is what it takes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Again, I've Abandoned You...

Good morning!

I know it's been a while since I posted ANYTHING here, but last night was a post-worthy night! My husband took me on a date night, of which I knew NO plans! We took a trip to Millennium Park, where carolers perform every Friday night from Thanksgiving until the end of the holiday season. Last night was the Chicago Children's Choir, which brings together children of all backgrounds--ethnic, socio-economic, religious, and others--to sing together, as they believe music is the universal unifier... which I am inclined to believe. These children did a wonderful job! They "only" had a couple hundred perform, but they have something like 2700 children involved with their programs!

Before leaving Millennium Park, we also took a stroll by the ice skating rink, where people were having a wonderful time!

We headed north to Lincoln Park, our former home, to visit ZooLights. The Lincoln Park Zoo is a tremendous zoo, and is free every day, all day! This is actually the zoo we visited when Ryan and I took a trip to the city in 2006, I believe... we had NO idea we'd be living here 3 years later! Anyway, so ZooLights are amazing! They decorate the whole zoo with millions upon millions of lights... this sounds like an exaggeration, and it may be, but there's a lot... take a look at the pictures and you'll believe me! This is a great event because they keep the zoo open late during this season, so you can see all the lights at night... and the animals seem to be pretty active as well. The Ape House was totally asleep, which was cute; the Cat House was hoppin', but we didn't expect anything different with Santa in the middle of it all :) We actually got a glimpse of the snow owl doing its thing and the eagles... always my fav! I told them they were my good luck charms for my undergrad's round 2 playoff game... they started chattering a little to each other, so I'm taking that as a sign they understood and will do their part :) (don't miss my picture of the escaped wild rabbit on the loose!)

After the zoo, we headed over to the Andersonville neighborhood, which is such a cool part of town! They were doing a late-night neighborhood event, so lots of folks were out and discounts to be had. We went to a tapas restaurant, where we ordered 4 dishes between us and shared a little bit of everything. This was my first experience with tapas, and certainly not my last--it was WONDERFUL! I think my favorite dish was the order of lamb sliders, which had unique flavors... some sweet sauce to balance the savory of the lamb--very tasty! After dinner, we wandered down to the Galleria, where over 90 artists display and sell their work.. is a very small area! It was crowded but cool... lots of unique items of all sorts!

Finally, we headed to my favorite vice... George's Ice Cream shop. I've never had a bad taste in this place ever! We have had all sorts of delicious desserts, all decadent and put together in original ways. The first thing we had from here was an over-the-top German Chocolate sundae, with brownie pieces and coconut ice cream as the base... then tons and tons of chocolate and caramel sauce. In the words of one of my friends, it was "slap yo mama good"! :)

After such a great night, I'm not sure how we'll top it today, but we're already off to a great start--a lovely snowfall descended upon us last night and will stick around for another couple of hours. Probably about 3-5 inches of snow will be with us afterwards, and I get to call it lovely because I use public transit to get around--no driving for me! :) Also, I included a picture of our Christmas tree and Christmas kitten, who blends right in with my other decorative requirements (aka the Grinch and his buds). Yes, the tree is themed in support of my awesome GSU Eagles :)

Hope you enjoy the pictures from our escapades! My favorite is probably the dude carving the ice sculpture at the Lincoln Park Zoo... I love the shower of ice off the top!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Long Time, No Type

Hello blog!

I've missed you... some. I mean, not a ton, but I've definitely thought about you. A few times. Well, I'm still sorry.

It has been a busy time for us in the city! We have tried to get in several "last nice weather" days before they become extinct for the season. And we have had some VERY nice days.

Here are the highlights from the past couple of weeks, in pro - con format (for my parli-pro friends):
  • Pro: My husband got a great job at the Illinois Institute of Technology!
  • Con: Our laptop 100% died. Gone with the wind... and hard drive.
  • Pro: We celebrated our 2 year anniversary with an amazing dinner on the 95th floor restaurant in the Hancock Tower, the Signature Room.
  • Con: We've been spending a lot of money.
  • Pro: We've been spending a lot of money.
  • Con: We're really busy.
  • Pro: We're totally joining the 21st century. Those of you who know us know what this means... just a couple more days until you can text us without the collection agency calling you.
  • Con: We're going to be like cavemen for about 2 weeks with these phones.
  • Pro: We got rid of our home phone, but upgraded our cable. Net: PROFIT of $6. YES!
  • Con: None
  • Pro: We get to commute to work on the train together every morning. Much more entertaining.
  • Con: None
  • Pro: Life is simply amazing.
  • Pro-Con is closed.

We have discovered some lovely little gems in our area, but I'm getting an itch... Since the husband got a job on the southern side of Downtown, he is currently commuting 45 minutes to work each day, each way. My planner (my dominant side) is already considering what our next move will look like... in June. I do, however, feel like we can start branching out and learning about neighborhoods which might be a compromise time-wise and NO compromise happiness-wise.

We also visited my in-laws two weekends ago and took some pictures of covered bridges at a "festival" held in Indiana. This festival consists of riding into a town, past all the yard sales and rummage sales, and acquiring a map of trails in which you can drive to find several bridges. The bridges themselves are cool, and the festival was fun (I haven't found one I didn't like); however, I didn't know what I was expecting--it wasn't really this, though. I really liked the ability to take pictures of subjects I don't ordinarily find... I don't think I have any pictures of covered bridges, so I experimented with a couple of approaches. Once I am able to post the video, I hope you like them.

Finally, we have one last piece of fun news: WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR!! On our anniversary, I booked tickets to celebrate the wonderful end to our long and challenging year we weathered together. We've never been together, so I look forward to some fun, but also the ability to partake in the nightlife while there... the last time I went, I was on a band trip (judge if you willl... I still went to Disney World). Any suggestions for "must sees" or "don't bothers"??

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Botanical Garden

Fall is non-committally arriving in the city. This is the bi-polar life of living in the city... leave home in the morning with a warm, cozy coat, then leave it in the office in the afternoon on your way home because it is so very warm and sunny outside. However, the leaves are already starting to change colors and collect in corners, which I love.

So we took advantage of the last warmer weekends to head over to the Chicago Botanical Garden and I, of course, played with some more camera settings. I also messed with Picasa to edit the final product finishing. Regardless of the pictures I took, I had a great day away from my stressors and with my wonderful husband!

It was a very peaceful day, as the grounds are HUGE! You can choose to be around others, or you can turn right and get away from the whole world. They even have a trail that leads to the middle of an "island", where you just turn around and go right back out!

However, while this was a great time, I have to tell you that the highlight of my weekend was on Sunday night... Ryan found a viewing party for the season premiere of "Desperate Housewives" at Harry Caray's on Navy Pier. This was no ORDINARY viewing party though... it was hosted by James Denton, who plays Mike Delfino on the show. We actually walked up and got a table in the main room and I got my picture taken with James. He was incredibly generous to all the guests and was a super-nice guy. He must have thanked us for coming at least 10 times, which seemed so unnecessary, since he took pictures with anyone who wanted it--he's the star, after all! He shared some insider information about the show with us and gave away autographed items throughout the night. THEN he opened up the floor for questions and seemed to be really honest with his answers. I love it when I meet famous people who are actually great people too!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Value of a Dollar Versus the Value of an Education

Before I start this post, I will warn you that this may get naggy... I will try to rein in my passion for this topic.

I would also like to state that this blog is merely my opinion, not a passing of judgement on any choices people make.

Today on the train, I had the "pleasure" (aka pain) of listening to a young man talk with his friend about every detail of his life. I wasn't intentionally listening in, but my interest was piqued when he mentioned that he was offered a job from someone he met while working a shift at his hourly job at a chain clothing store. He said that they talked for an hour (while he was at work) and this woman offered him an opportunity for a job on the spot. Whatever.


The guy then tells his friend that he's not sure what he wants to do, though, because the woman offering the job said that it was too intense for him to continue going to school. Then he says that he's only a semester away from graduation but, sure, he could go back and finish that anytime. This truly disappointed me.

My livelihood depends upon students attending college, but my response is not from my need for a job, but from a place of personal values. It frustrates me to see people giving up a degree for something that seems more "valuable"--at the time. While it would be easy to make the quick, bigger paycheck tomorrow, what comes next?

We live in a society of immediate gratification--communication, food, entertainment, the list goes on... I can see how the immediate "big paycheck" seems reasonable. However, this choice comes at a great cost... not in dollars and cents (although it could one day). The perception has become that everyone's got to have a college education to get where they want to be, which can be both supported and refuted by any number of stories from people who have done both ways. I was fortunate to have my undergraduate degree paid for through the State of Georgia (thank you lottery) and my work with my university; however, I took out student loans to cover the cost of my graduate degree, so I understand the financial pains of going to school.

Here's what I see for this young man's future: he takes the job and quits school, is pleased with himself and the money he's making doing this great job, does the job for three or fours years, gets bored and is ready to move on (or advance upwards), then finds every position in which he's interested requires a degree! Sure, you can live without the degree for a while, but what happens when you're between the rock and hard place? At that point, you may be responsible for paying bills and living a particular type of lifestyle... you can't put rent, a mortgage, electricity, or credit card bills on hold because you want to go back to school to get a job that may or may not be there in the six months, year, or two years it may take you to finish that degree.

Can you put a dollar amount on an investment in yourself?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Georgia Cat

So we accidentally adopted a spaz for a kitten.

We love her lots, but she's her own unique individual.

We were told that she was a stray until a woman took her in for a month or so while Georgia got put into PAWS system... it's a full system, so she was lucky she got to stay with her temporary family for a while. We were told when we met her that Georgia spent the entire time in the adoption center in the litter box. When we met her, she stepped right out to me, and when Ryan picked her up, you could see the comfort in her entire body. She was totally ours from the get-go.

As soon as we got her home, we knew that she was either incredibly smart or was not a stray. She knew our kitchen immediately, and joins us there when we cook... to beg. She also knows to be gentle with our hands when she plays, and you can almost feel her holding back her energy not to hurt us.

For the first four weeks after we adopted her, she woke us up between 3:30 and 4:30 AM EVERY SINGLE DAY. She was killing me. Then, she was touched by something and now miraculously she sleeps through the night (or close enough).

She's perpetually clean, which I tremendously appreciate, but she also likes to make sure the litter is out from between her foot pads... even at 2:00 in the morning. Clearly, I'm sound-sensitive but, to be fair, she's as anal retentive as I am.

As I mentioned before, Georgia is a Siamese mix, but her "meow" is ALL Siamese. This means that her talking is incessant, but I truly don't mind that. What gets me is her lonely meow, which she does if she walks out of the room. I think she forgets we're right there. As a result, we keep her in the bedroom with us overnight, so we don't repeat past "night-time alarms". We have been keeping our bedroom door closed so she stays with us. She does GREAT with this.

However, we discovered the amazing draft that comes through our room when we leave the door open. For two or three nights, we used the box our TV came in, which worked well, but looked, well... bad, and was bulky. We tried our laundry basket for one night, but let's just say that we experienced a "wake-up call" at 4 AM. No go.

So we bought one of the older model baby gates for her. I think she could scale it, but we may never find out. It freaks her out so much that she won't go within 5 feet of that thing. Excellent...

Georgia has two moods: playful and asleep. I did not grow up with animals that bit as a form of play. I now understand how Georgia sees her play as a trusting activity with us, but she knew from day one when she was playing with our hands to be VERY careful. She does get out of control every once in a while, and she gets corrected. She almost immediately knows what she's done wrong, and goes away to mope for a while. Then she's happy to play again. And we are too.

When she gets too jacked up, she has some odd habits:
  • She plays with her toys with incredible energy, but almost seems self-conscious about "getting caught" doing it. She walks off casually like she was too cool for it to begin with.
  • Georgia has a MEAN vertical. She randomly jumps at spots on the wall, like she sees a fly--but there isn't one.
  • She has found my hair ties as her new favorite toy when she gets up early in the mornings... good thing I keep them on the headboard for me (and her now, too).
  • She will run through the apartment like she's got somewhere to be. When she does it, though, she sounds like a dog whose claws need clipped.... "schritch, schritch, schritch". I'm shocked we don't have claw marks on the floors. I think the hardwood flooring is resilient, though :)
So there's a look into the life of our Georgia Cat... I think her only complaint would be that we pick her up too much. She clearly wasn't held enough as a kitten. She likes when we hold her, but can't fight the urge to run away at the earliest opportunity.

A note about PAWS: Proving Animals are Worth Saving (PAWS) is a Chicago no-kill organization who has worked to reduce the number of animals destroyed for simply not having a home. They have, in their 12 years in existence, reduced the number of animals destroyed in the city; in 1998, over 40,000 animals were destroyed annually. In 2008, that number was just over 19,000. As someone who volunteered for the organization, the people employed by PAWS and those of us who volunteer are committed to not only finding A home, but THE RIGHT home for all animals that come through the adoption center's doors. If you live in Chicago, please consider volunteering for, contributing to, or adopting from PAWS. For more information, visit their website.

Some Unofficial Rules of the CTA

After two months of commuting for 50 to 60 minutes a day, I have developed some definite preferences regarding 1/24th of my life. These are the rules of common courtesy I believe ALL CTA riders should abide by. Do not be shocked if these rules become longer... possibly much longer. However, I will not direct my anger towards this blog. Just my sarcasm.

Rule #1: If you have a bubble, you should probably leave it at the bus stop or train station in which you board the train.

Rule #267: If you want my spot on the crowded train, you should probably not try to shove me back in. Let me off and you can then get on.

Rule #310: The train conductor sticks his or her head out of the train for a reason--they're not going to leave you... they actually SEE your ass trying to get on!

Rule #891: The train is my quiet, mostly peaceful place and I would like it to stay that way--please text your friend or call them when you aren't on the noisy train. Shut. The. Hell. Up.

Rule #243: Cubs games are great for those attending, but for those of us who just got off work, this place is serious business. Don't drag your drunk tail on the train, or I will laugh at you. Whether or not I can contain it is at my discretion.

Rule #428: Grocery carts, strollers, double strollers, triples strollers, and other things that don't fold up = not train-friendly. Take a damn cab.

Rule #159: When a train goes "Express", it will look like a fire alarm. Crazed eyes and beelines towards the exits are indicators of such a circumstance. Please do NOT freak out. It is only an express train.

Rule #84: If you're looking to sit every other seat, the CTA is SO NOT the place for you. This is another instance in which you should take a cab.

Rule #995: When you're new to the CTA, staring at the maps in the train will not make it tell you all its secrets or notify you when the train reaches your stop. This means you should learn the stop or two before yours so you don't have to freak out and slam your hand between the doors in a futile attempt to escape the train. I judge thee. (Looking for informational purposes is acceptable, but please don't burn a hole in the durn thing... other people need it, too.)

Rule #17: When you are waiting for the bus or entering the CTA station for a train, you KNOW you're going to need your CTA card. Find that crap BEFORE you block the bus door or the turnstile. I contemplate saying "Excuse me. You're clearly not prepared" and pushing past you.