For Rent: Half-Truths In Bold Fonts

The building manager put this up on the front door hoping to rent our apartment out before the city inspector gets here. I thought it was ridiculous, and to make myself feel better about the whole situation, I fixed it, for accuracy sake.

Real Estate ads should be nothing if not truthful.

farragut for rent

I didn’t actually change the sign, pretty sure that would legally be interfering with something. But posting it online, that’s what the web is for! Catharsis?

What would you have done?

love and moving soon,

 

Where Is Your Support System Today?

I remember the days where if you got a blister it just meant you were getting tougher, or it was natural to just wrap up that twisted or sprained ankle and try again. When I landed on my head, neck, or back because of a misstep or a slip, I walked it off. No tears. No big deal. Just move forward. When I was 12 and I broke my wrist doing beam drills, I finished my crunches and cool down before I got in the car and told my mom that we should stop at the hospital on the way home. Did I stop pushing myself? No, I did everything I was doing before, just one handed.

I was a gymnast. A hard-core, gym before and after school, chalk smeared on my face and legs, focused, competitive gymnast. There was nothing else so important to me, and no feasible life beyond the doors of that building full of equipment and drive. I didn’t see it as work or exercise, it was training and I loved it.

that's me in the green

that’s me in the green

It really didn’t matter your social status at school or life at home, we all came from different places, were different ages, but as teammates were were also best friends. The common ground was a vault runway and spring floor. I will always consider those girls some of the most important people in my life no matter the distance between us. If you’re reading, I love you guys so much.

So why is this at all important? Honestly, I’m just trying to figure out when I became a fragile little wimp. Maybe I’m exaggerating, I’m not totally wimpy, (I actually have an incredibly high pain tolerance) but I definitely cry more about dumb crap.

A few months ago, before we realized my rib was broken and acupuncture was supposed to be my pain management (and hydrocodone, don’t judge), my acupuncturist said something to me. After asking me about my animal expertise and how that applies to her cat with IBS, she wanted to know where all my stress goes at the end of the day. I told her about my family being far away, my job generally being no human contact, my limited friends here in Chicago, and minimal contact with the ones at home. Then she pointed out something that I never saw as a problem until lately.

“So you really have no support system at all.”

I was a little offended, but I didn’t need to ask what she meant. However, I was high on prescription drugs from my doctor, so it has taken a moment to sink in.

Nationals in Florida

Nationals in Florida (second from left)

I know I’m not the only one who has realized this at some point or another. Are we really alone? No, not really. There are always people somewhere. Maybe the problem is that we have a hard time trusting that new people are going to get our weirdness or where we came from the way the old one inherently did. I have a hard time with trusting people, and for good reason. So how does one develop a decent support system… or any system at all instead of claiming emotional self sufficiency and ignoring the downside of being a hermit?

Any thoughts?

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
― Albert Camus

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
William Shakespeare

love and questions,

Chicago Had A Makers Faire?

makers faireHow did I miss this Chicago?!?!?!   There was a Mini Makers Faire here on May 18th on the North Side (where I happen to live) and I somehow missed it. Why? Maybe I live in a little bubble of my own that includes me, my computer, the cats, and a bunch of tea. If that is true I should be ashamed, but if not, this thing was definitely not well publicized.

The artsy craftsy scene is this town is pretty prevalent, as is every other niche you could possible want to wiggle your way into, but I think it needs to work a little harder. This is festival season people! The only reason I am a bit perturbed is that I looked at the other cities that held similar events, including my old hometowns, and I was for once jealous of the people who still live there. Bay Area, Orange County, San Luis Obispo, they all had one large or multiple events.

Bay Area Faire

Bay Area Faire

This thing even reaches internationally.

Victoria BC... we're letting Canada beat us people.

Victoria BC… we’re letting Canada beat us people.

Chicago, how did we fall behind! Someone gather up some gumption and do it again, I’ll help I promise.

Do it big. Do it right.

And don’t do it in Wicker Park, the hipsters would bum everyone out.

Best Summer Tip Yet

Blisters. I get so many blisters on my weird little feet from nearly every pair of my shoes. Barring a certain material flip flop and cushy sneakers, my high-arched dancer feet can’t handle even the simplest pair of flats.

I’ve tried a number of things including bandaids, mole skin, various padding, that new skin stuff. Yet sooner or later I would end up with torn little toes and heels. You too? Read on.

Here’s why this happens to us:

No matter what, if you put your feet into an enclosed area, they are going to sweat. Agreed? And nearly any surface, like the one lining your Charles David baubles, will at some point create enough friction against your skin that you and your sad feet will lose the battle against. HOWEVER…

It’s not always about the shoe.

No matter the fit you get or how well you plan, an active person’s feet will not stay the same size all day. Gravity and blood flow cause swelling, which is usually minor and very normal, but unfortunately enough to change the size of your foot and the pressure the shoe is or isn’t placing on it.

Solution!

It sounds totally weird, but this is honestly the best one I’ve tried yet.

In a recent article published in Real Simple, a suggestion was offered that changed everything for me. Spread a layer of clear deodorant along the inside heel area of your shoe and let it dry. It worked so well on a pair of my Nordstrom flats that I went so far as to dot some in the areas where my little toe was having problems as well. Why? For the same reason you don’t ruin your good shirts when it’s hot out, anti-perspirant. When there is less moisture to create friction, with there is less pain.

image

imagewpid-images.jpeg

It’s as simple as that. Now go save your feet!

 

Staying Afloat With Coupons: My New Solution to an Old Problem

IMAG3238-1

little duck friends

While I was walking across the street with my new duck friends, I started to think about all the things that I have been keeping up in the air lately. We are moving in a little over a month, I’m starting my new internship at Smarty Media Tuesday, I’m still trying to figure out what I can do with a part time job to pay the bills while spending a substantial amount of time working said internship, but mostly I’ve decided to latch on to a new obsession hobby. Hoping to get everything I can set up and settled before Tuesday, I have been investing quite a bit of myself in a very new mindset. Couponing. Yes, I said it. My internship is unpaid and unfortunately I still have to eat, so this is my solution. 

I didn’t grow up quite understanding the purpose of these little sheets of paper, they just weren’t necessary, and until recently they were just a nuisance that fell out of the newspaper or my magazine. And I know most of my friends and family won’t really get what I’m doing because of this, moving to Chicago almost 5 years ago has drastically changed the way I live my life, but they can suck it when I start saving 80% on my grocery and drug store bills (that’s right, I’m talking to you Philip).

Since I’ve been spending so much time on starting this journey, I figured sharing it may help me clarify things just by documenting it, and maybe help someone else that’s on the fence about going down the same road. As time goes, and I get a chance to put concepts into practice, I will let you know how things start panning out.

So here’s how I began:

1. I did my research.

There are tons and tons of sites that go over the whole Extreme Couponing thing. I’ve read a fat handful of them, and the two I have found most helpful are The Coupon Project and Living Well Spending Less. These ladies are helpful on a much more realistic level.  The both have written a series on how a normal person, who really doesn’t need 800 boxes of diapers piled in their garage even though they don’t have kids, can get started and save money without going insane.

2. I looked into the stores I regularly use and learned their policies about couponing.

Coupon Binder and Davy Helping

Coupon Binder and Store Policies with Davy Helping

ex. Both CVS and Walgreen’s will allow you to double on BOGO and get both items free if you have the coupons for it, while Target has a much more strict policy and won’t allow this and many of the combinations that are accepted at the other stores I frequent.

Personally I like free. It’s helpful. I’ve found that within the Chicago area, Strack and Van Til has the most lenient policy. Which is why it may be worth the longer trip down Elston to take advantage or what they offer.

3. I learned my coupons and how to read them. Very important.

There are two main types: Manufacturer and Store.

4. Then I got organized. (still doing this actually)

She doesn't like pictures without her in them.

She doesn’t like pictures without her in them.

I created my pretty coupon binder by looking at templates that were free to download and using their category ideas to create a format that would suit my needs. Using a regular three-ring binder and a stack of business card holder sheets (some people use the baseball card binder pages), I folded the coupons so that the front shows what it’s for and the back shows the expiration date. The coupon policies have their own spot, as do the store specific coupons.

Here’s where my weakness comes in… I suck at math. Ever since I faked knowing my times tables (I stood on the table and wrote them on the ceiling by the chandelier so I could cheat by glancing upward when my mom quizzed me. This trick got me pretty far by the way), math and I have not been friends.

Excel and I don’t get along either, so I found some downloads to help me keep track of my price calculations because I couldn’t build one myself to save the Queen’s life. I went through a few and found that they didn’t have the options I needed (I was looking for one with a space for calculating store coupons as well as one for manufacturer coupons, since these can generally be combined for one item). Eventually I came upon this spreadsheet and Working Mom Coupons:

It pretty much had everything I needed to keep that part of my trip organized. So far I am happy, I’ll let you know how it does in action once I spend some more time with it.

wmc-couponing-spreadsheet-excel-1331310745

From here on I’ll be fine tuning and planning my first trip for some time soon.

But be patient. The next few months are so full of changes that if I actually stop and think about it too long I’ll miss half of them as they go by. Think good thoughts, and if you have any tips or basic questions about couponing, moving a two bedroom apartment, or just staying centered in this busy beautiful Chicago of ours, please let me know.

Love and Spreadsheets.

“Industry, perseverance, and frugality make fortune yield.”
–Benjamin Franklin

Patience and Dirty Pennies

It’s a virtue right? I learned them all in third grade (yea parochial school…)Patience-is-a-Virtue

It would be easy to say I know a lot about patience, and then tell you that its development definitely has a payoff, and that I am now at some great job with great opportunities for growth because I’ve spent years gaining experience in something that can only be learned. But it isn’t true. I’m not at that great job I know I could do better than the next guy. I’m not writing copy for a progressive media company or marketing firm. I take care of animals, and not enough of them to meet a basic wage let alone live comfortably. What’s true here is that I have developed a capacity for patience, and it has taken more than just time.

I am not always the greatest of people. I have been mean. I have been stubborn. I have gotten easily frustrated, been quick to anger and neglectful with forgiveness. I don’t sit atop a hill thinking I have something to teach anyone. I’m pretty sure that’s not my role. As of semi-recently, through acquiring patience, I have found that I am here to quietly listen and help.

I know the feeling kid.

I know the feeling kid.

“Why is that homeless man yelling?”

“What the crap are these people talking about?”

“Your stupid dog tried to bite me!”

“That old lady has lost her mind, just ignore what she’s saying.”

“This is outrageously annoying. I hate people. Get me out of here.”

“I’ll always fail, won’t I?”

“I wish she would control her children/ walk faster/ calm down/ speak up.”

The list of things we say, ALL THE TIME, goes on and on. I’m not writing this to make you feel guilty. Far from it. I just think that some things are worth an extra moment of open inspection.

run children!

The Lawrence Welk Show!

In 2007 I began a series of jobs that forced a change in my attitude. I, for no reason whatsoever, became a caregiver at an assisted living facility. My only relevant experience at the time was watching my grandmother go, and seeing the help she received in that process. It was a suck-it-up-these-people-need-you-now-so-learn-fast sort of deal. They need you even if they tell you they don’t, that you are a fat cow, that you stole their money and then threaten or act on physical violence towards you. It doesn’t matter. Fast forward 50 years, and that’s you. Not much use in denying that sort of mental deterioration or that the years will always take their toll.

I learned what they needed, how to talk to them and eventually help some of their worried children understand them too. After less than a year I didn’t have as many residents as I had people dear to me that I still think about and hope the best for. Reality is at least half of them are gone by now, but I appreciate them still. My sweet War Heroes, my devious English Teachers, my Giants of Industry who swooned over Elvis and made me watch reruns of Lawrence Welk (Those short skirts! Scandalous! ) Their basic skills were gone, some of them yelled things like “PURPLE!”  when they were frustrated, but they were somehow aware and very much alive.

Then I moved on to animal care. Patients who couldn’t talk with anything but their body language, claws and  teeth. I love my animals, but sometimes I really hated everyone else’s.

guess which one is closest to what working at an animal hospital is actually like.

Guess which one is more realistic…

Woman Rubbing Noses with PuppyAt best, most were defensive in a hospital environment. Yet who can blame them? They are hurt and/or scared. They are angry because where they come from they were taught to be. Still, without understanding, they are put down and out of mind the moment they have a bit of medical trouble or act out by peeing on a blanket.

I once was asked to “get this done as quickly as possible because there’s only 15 min. on the meter.” Don’t be shocked, more than a few people can’t be bothered to deal with daily shots or weekly sub-q fluids. If their kid got scratched or a neighbor got bit, priorities are weighed.  Sometimes it’s asking too much. So the kid pulled a tail or the neighbor startled the dog by sticking a hand in its face or over its head, and not taking a moment to see how uncomfortable the animal became. It’s an aggressive animal in a fragile environment, period. I get it. There are other options, but I do get it.

Learning patience is trying and difficult to say the least. I have been bitten and scratched by animal and human alike (It hurts more with people if you would believe it. More bacteria too, which means worse infections).


So why am I talking about this? Tomorrow I am headed to an interview that may help shape my future in a way that I have actually hoped for. I have been disappointed before when it comes to over inflated expectations. I get a little gung ho and start planning my entire life after one glimmer of hope ahead. That glimmer often times ends up being a shiny gum wrapper or at best, a worn penny tail side up. I am talking about this because tomorrow as I head down to River North, and even right now as I sit here, I have to remind myself to have patience. This may or may not be it. I may or may not take this path. No matter what, with patience I can still retain hope.
 worse infections). There are countless failures. You find yourself inadequate and judge harshly every time you can’t succeed and feel better, somehow accomplished. Feel you’re making some progress. You start forcing yourself to understand people and things you would never want to. Sometimes you do this only for your mental survival. Those you find to be at their worst, or out of your comprehensive reach, then become much more familiar as understanding goes. That’s your pay off I suppose. Empathy. Not a better situation for yourself, not really, but a window into the separate and solitary minds around you.

I have developed a strange habit. When coming upon a penny in the street tail up, I reach down and turn it over so that someone after me can find it and smile. I know it’s silly, but there is still something in a lucky penny that nostalgia clings to. Patience tells me that even if I don’t end up where I thought, I can believe that with a tiny bit of hopeful patience to keep them going, they might find something even better.

penny