although i've been unhappy for a while living here, i think the genesis of my latest reality check happened when i met a dear longtime friend of mine for lunch a couple of weekends ago.
i hadn't seen her in a while. i knew that she'd moved on from chicago to a bigger and better life in los angeles and i sincerely thought that we'd go to lunch and it (her success as a single woman) really wouldn't bother me... i really thought that i'd come home from lunch and say, "wow. i'm so glad that things have turned out so great for her. and so glad that things have turned out so great for me. and it's so great that i don't really want her life. that i don't regret any decision that i've made."
but then, we went to lunch. we talked. we gossiped. we reminisced. we ate. we shopped. we said goodbye. and then i got home and i could barely stop myself from crying whenever i thought about her. it's not that i regret any decision i've made. but, she has a pretty great life. she travels often - domestically and abroad. she's makes a good living from being a costume designer. she had many a tale to tell. she looked fantastic. and she was as confident as a lioness.
and i was and am jealous. it's weak of me and i hate to admit to it but there it is. i may not regret my choices, but i can wonder what might've been if i'd stuck with costume design or fashion design or writing my book... what happened to my own confidence? when was the last time i was in a position to witness and then recount a good juicy story? where did my own unique fashion sensibilities go? (ha. snort.)
then, last week, one of the few businesses that i supported in our neighborhood, hands on art children's museum, closed for business. the museum was a wonderful place to dream BIG. the paloma celebrated her second birthday there. i'l'l never forget when she gleefully painted with her feet there. we've met some wonderful kindred spirits/families there too. i heard thru the weird neighborhood grapevine that the landlords had raised their rent three times. apparently, they would rather have three empty store fronts than a children's art museum. it's always been abundantly clear that this neighborhood did not think this museum nor the larger world of visual arts were that important. so, on the last day, i went over there to say thanks and goodbye to the executive director and the paloma's teacher... i wrote a short note because i knew i would probably unplug the dam, if i opened my mouth. then, both her teacher and the director read my note and started crying... it was awful. the world just stopped there with the three of us hugging and hiding our tears, trying not to completely lose it in front of the kids. this neighborhood can make anything happen - if you know the right people or if you "fit in".
so besides the insult that is the loss of the museum and the added injury that was the reminder of my lost independence and self, the other things i don't like (in random order) about this neighborhood came floating back to the top:
* my neighbors - like the one who says things like "i'm going to the chinaman's to pick up the cleaning." (btw - the cleaner he's talking about is korean. and no, he doesn't say "i'm going to the mic's for beer.") or the other one who doesn't have any problem using the n word around her children. or the one who didn't think i spoke english (he's african american). the ones in a local "community organization" who got in trouble in the 70s for buying houses in the area because they didn't want the hispanics to move in. (they still call you to complain if you put a for sale sign on your lawn.) or the one who was running for alderman that said, "there are no hispanic or asian issues in our area because there are no hispanics or asians living in our area." or the kids who ask my kids questions like "where were you born?" (no greeting, no salutation, no nothing.)
* very few businesses - there are a handful of really cool businesses this way. and i support them as much as i can. it's the northsider in me. i'm used to walking everywhere and never needing to go further than i have to to get everything i need. in logan square, where i grew up, there was a fully stocked grocery, a drug store, a movie theatre, restaurants, clothing stores, shoe stores, etc... the only thing i remember not having nearby was a bookstore. (we always went downtown to kroch's & brentanos. ) here, i can get most things but for the most part i have to make special trips or order online. for every one kind of retail business we may have in this neighborhood, a north side neighborhood will probably have three more. the north side neighborhoods seem to sustain themselves whereas this neighborhood would rather get in a car and go to neighboring suburbs with their mega malls.
* no restaurants - there are no family friendly restaurants within walking distance. some don't even deliver. i'm trying to learn to cook more meals, but it would be nice to have a nearby restaurant as an option. the thin man almost always has to pick up our ordered meals. don't get me started on the quality of the the two chinese places we have. and we actually have to drive to the suburbs or another neighborhood to get decent mexican food.
looking back now, we were so spoiled when we lived in lincoln square and the south loop. so, if you live there now... DO. NOT. MOVE.
anyway... the kids are rousing and waking from their naps. so i have to cut this short. again.
for those of you who commented and emailed me - i can't thank you enough for coming to the rescue of this distressed damsel... your supportive words and gestures have really meant a lot to me and have gotten me thru... well, A WHOLE NIGHT AND DAY SO FAR! YAY, YOU! :) i really felt like someone heard and understood what i was trying to say and saw where i was coming from and could relate and commiserate... i LOVES all y'all in my blogging posse!
i realized today that it's been especially tough for me lately with all my local (IRL) girlfriends (the 5 or so that i have) who are going thru their own unscheduled dramas - new pregnancies, new babies, new houses, new boyfriends, new jobs, etc... i guess i'm going through some major "sistah withdrawal".
i'm still not sure about the whole job thing... i really don't want to work. i love being a stay at home mom to my kids - most of the time. i just want to feel like i'm the best mom i can be instead of feeling inferior to all the moms who drive. and the bottom line is i just don't want to live here anymore - getting a job really wouldn't change that. a former longtime resident of the neighborhood said to me, "consider yourself a pioneer in the neighborhood. you know what they say about pioneer life? it ain't easy." i'm still processing that one.
there is some good news - i started my new ceramics class last night which was VERY cool... the students were pretty involved in their projects but that's ok, i'm there to learn ceramics. i'll have to post pics of the two trays i built as soon as they're fired up and all pur-tee.... the class only lasts six weeks, but i think i'm going to continue to take night or weekend classes in one interest or another. then, i was asked to contribute to another blog, filipina moms - thanks, MJ! and last but not least, the cicadas should be completely gone by july 4th (HOO-RAH!) which means my self imposed house arrest will be lifted. (seriously, i have been afraid to leave the house for almost six weeks. enotmophobe. long cockroach infested story.)
and today, the paloma had her first day of play camp. i was worried when i left her with her camp counselor who didn't look like he was into ballet or pink stuff or princesses. but, she LOVED it. and then, she high-fived him when we left without any coaxing from me. she'll be attending that three times week. and possibly, kid yoga, once a week.
hopefully, things are turning around... please stick around and i'll keep you posted.