Tuesday, June 26, 2007

broken. revisited...

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.


Irene said...

Beverley is not unlike the northern Chicago suburb I moved to during highschool. You brought tears to my eyes because your post reminded me so much of those unhappy years. It's amazing how much close-mindedness still exists in this day and age even though there are a lot of mixed race people on television these days. And, the alderman - I have no words that I can type that are postable. Suffice it to say, that the alderman is clueless on the people in his ward - SHAME on him/her!

bokumbop said...

That's it. We're coming to visit you.

I always thought of Beverly as this oasis in the city, beautiful homes, lawns, good mix of blue collar/white collar all living harmoniously ... apparently it is an oasis, complete with fonts of ignorance and prejudice. I'm so sorry. I'm sure there is good stuff too, but I can see how this could overshadow all that.

bokumbop said...

And ... congrats on joining the Filipina Moms squad!

daddy in a strange land said...

So happy you're joining the pinay mom blog--don't know if me leaving your name on two separate posts about their launch as someone who should be on it helped, but anyway, I'm happy!

I feel you, Mamazilla, I do. Where we are now is definitely not where we thought we'd end up, and though we like things well enough to say "it's not that bad," it's definitely not where we want to raise The Pumpkin forever. So sorry all things different things combine into some major suckage for you. :(

I hope, if you do end up going "back" to work, that you're able to find something that taps into your passions, your art, your designing, your writing. I'm still struggling with all that too--trying to get "back" to writing, recapture that creative spark...

Keep on keepin' on, ate--even in Cali, we got your back. :)

Puglet said...

I love you. And if I was on cash Cab and a parenting/writing/fashion/cicada eating question came up, I would SO call you.

Anonymous said...

i don't really know what to say to you dearest. i have worried for a long time about the effect of a suburban lifestyle on a city girl like you (yes I know Beverly is still part of the city, but it feels like a 'burb.) I know the area has been a downer in certain respects; I know that there are ignorant people who say racist things around and about, and the neighborhood lacks many things you and I took for granted on the northside and in the South Loop. I know that your sense of isolation has been aggravated by the insect invasion that has kept you a virtual prisoner. I know that the neighborhood is not a hotbed of the arts. And if I had several hundred thousand dollars (or more), we'd move, and you would have a smile again.

I do understand your concerns, and your dislikes. If I have seemed to downplay them or brush them aside, please don't think I have done so intentionally; your welfare and that of our family is the most important thing in my life. I can only take refuge in the simple truth that time will heal the largest wounds. Paloma will be in school again shortly, Pork Chop will be out of his infancy and less clingy in several months, and in two years he will be in pre-school. And who knows, maybe I can win the lottery, or get a better job.

te amo mi corazon

mamazilla said...

irene - there are actually many mixed race families (aa/caucasian) in the neighborhood which was one reason why i agreed to move here. i thought that since mixed race families were here, they were probably accepted. turns out, one of the reasons the other aldermanic candidate lost was because he was married to an african american woman.

bokumbop - i'm always up for a playdate! :) beverly is an oasis in the city. it's really a beautiful place to live with great schools, cheap housing, etc... it really isn't unlike a lot of other similar north side neighborhoods. the city of chicago is very diverse but it's not very integrated. it's another reason why i'm not so sure that moving away from here would solve the problem... we might encounter similar problem/different ethnic group in another neighborhood.

diasl - dude. i just about started crying when you called me "ate"... because i can't believe i'm OLDER THAN YOU! WAAAAAAHHH!!! yay! somebody loves me in bakersfield!!! & happy anniversary again!

puglet - and then you would take your winnings and buy me drinks, yes? yes. very good then, i love you right back, pierogi breath. :)

anonymous - yeah, yeah, yeah sell me some swamp land in florida while yer at it... btw - your daughter wants you to buy her "lunchables" ALL THE TIME!!!

Anonymous said...

and there i was trying to be serious...

and part of our problem is i can't sell the swamp land we currently have in florida waaah

SugarMama said...

I can see why you are miserable there. You know -- like carol, I'm up for playdates too. :-)

btw - I'm in chinatown/southloop area which is really not too far from you.

Bert said...

Oh sweetie! You are one of the most interesting and talented people I know. Hear that? Not just the most interesting and talented mommy... PERSON. You're a strong, articulate, well-educated woman who makes great decisions and is a fabulous mother. I know it's normal to do the "what if" thing. I can appreciate that. Just know that who you are is incredible and enviable. I look to your successes as a source of inspiration. Seriously. I'm not just yankin' your chain.

eatmisery said...

Move by me, Mamazilla. We can keep each other company and our kids can go crazy in the yard together.

It's going to get better for you really soon. I can feel it.

bokumbop said...

You and SugarMama can go to KenKeeeeee!!! And then boba at the JY ... yum ...


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