mamagotcha: (bonk!)
[personal profile] mamagotcha
I've seen a few old LJ friends popping up again on my feed, and they've inspired me to finally update my own LJ.

I'm alive, still in Chicago... we moved a year ago to a rented apartment in Rogers Park. Heh, looking back I see I did post just before we moved, with concerns about our bikes. Indeed, our bikes were stolen quickly despite heavy cables and locks. So... no bikes anymore. This neighborhood has also had a lot of other challenges... gunfire, robberies, muggings, screaming battles... but after the crazy-ass neighbor I had before, I seriously feel safer here than I did in Norwood Park. Granted, I don't go walking around by myself after dark much, but I've never felt personally targeted. It seems the gang members pretty much shoot each other and leave us alone, and there are always TONS of cops around here. This summer has been much quieter than last, as well, thankfully.

A quick look at the kiddos:

Linc just turned 11; he played laser tag and Beanboozled (thanks, Aunt Amanda!) with a bunch of his buddies to celebrate. His sensory issues have faded significantly as he's gotten older and better at identifying/vocalizing his needs, thank goodness. He loves video games, comics, collecting beach glass, and is very interested in programming. He recently dyed his hair pink. He's a total fish like Clayton... can spend hours on the beach or at a pool. He's starting to think a lot about transitions; we had a long talk tonight about Terry Pratchett, assisted suicide, and the American approach to death (ie, denial). I think we might go look at the Perseids later. He's smart and sharp, sometimes a little thoughtless but genuinely contrite when he crosses the line, empathic to the pain of others, very good with wordplay and writing and language as well as good at problem solving, when he doesn't get frustrated and throw it all out the window.

Clayton is 21, and recently returned from a school year in France where he taught English as part of a French government program. He was in Erstein, near the German border, and he traveled all over Europe when he wasn't working. When he got back, he decided to live with us and go back to DePaul for another bachelors, this time in computer science. This week, his girlfriend Molly has been visiting from California (they met in Europe; she was a teacher too); they are so sweet together, and he's been showing her all of his favorite parts of Chicago. He's very big into Muay Thai, a kind of boxing/martial art. I look at this tall, confident, chiseled, bronzed young man and am boggled... where did he come from? We have a hard time talking sometimes... I feel like he gets annoyed with me getting older and slower these days, and I always seem to say the wrong thing. But sometimes we click, and I see the sweet little kid I knew so well peek through, and we have a great conversation about his travels or a movie he saw or a book he wants me to read or something he wants to cook.

I haven't seen Julia in a long time... over a year? Can that be? She's not on Facebook, which has been my electronic drug of choice, but I get little glimpses into her life via her Twitter feed and sometimes she posts here, too. She's aiming for graduate school in neuroscience, and taking some classes to improve her odds. She's also become quite the hockey fiend, and it sounds like she's found a home rink and team to play with in Seattle. She is very involved in fan fiction for Check Please and Welcome to Night Vale; while I tried to follow along in both for a while, I got left in the dust... sometimes I feel twinges of being an old fart, and this is one of those times. I know my mom and I didn't have the best relationship, and so I try to let Julia lead in ours... it seems like she really wants to just do her own thing and not have much contact with me. That's good, that's who she is... she was independent from almost Day 1... but I do miss her a lot and hope to someday live closer so we can see each other more often.

Cordell has been working on his PhD in physics at UCDavis, and sounds happy when I talk with him. He plays some things with Bill and Linc on the Wii, and with me via my 3DS in Animal Crossing, so we get to chat now and then. I get little notes from my friends in Davis when they spot him at the Co-op or farmers market or juggling club, and I feel warm and happy that he is settled there. He lucked out with a single apartment close to campus. He's gotten to go visit my dad several times. They really are cut from the same cloth... both very smart but not loud about it, wry quiet sense of humor, very very good at visualizing how things work and how to fix them if they quit working, and both are very much live-and-let-live personalities, slow to judge or condemn but deeply fair and honest and kind. I miss him a ton, too.

Things are still difficult with my dad. Well, with my dad's sister, who lives with him and has decided that my sister and I are not allowed to visit my dad any longer. It's heartbreaking and makes me feel sick to my stomach whenever I think about it, but he's known her a lot longer than he's known us, and I know he's always felt like her protector. I AM very glad that she's there to help him out, but I wish there was some way that she didn't feel so threatened by us so we could visit him again. At least she's let Cordell and Julia visit... but I'm sad that Clay and Linc won't really get to know him at all. If something happens to her, I am ready and willing to move there to help him out (and I have so many wonderful friends in the Petaluma/Santa Rosa area who have offered their support)... but I don't know how much time he has left. I think maybe I've seen him for the last time, and everytime I think about that, it makes me cry.

But back to positive things... one great big positive thing happened this summer: Bill was awarded tenure at DePaul University! It was unanimous, and the delight of being past this hurdle has been so amazingly uplifting these last few months. Bill's parents very kindly sent us to Alinea, a place Bill has wanted to visit since we moved here, for an amazingly memorable celebratory meal. We've been working hard to get on top of our money situation, and things are slowly getting better. These last few months have felt a LOT better, and we have been able to do things like see movies, eat out, and buy some new clothes... things we have not done in several years unless they were gifts. It feels like we're finally exhaling after holding our breath for so long.

We are still nuts about each other, and Bob is doing great (he'll be 16 on September 17!). We love working together to make a fabulous meal (he's been smoking things in his Weber Smokey Mountain grill a lot this summer), and he's gotten more involved in our garden (see below).

Last fall I became the coordinator of the little community garden I joined when we moved here. It's been almost entirely delightful, although it is a lot of work and I'm hoping to set it up so that I can get paid something for the job next year. There have been a few hiccups, but the comments and community support we've received have been overwhelmingly positive.

Linc and I volunteer weekly at the local food pantry, which has been quite an education in itself. We serve extremely poor families, seniors, veterans, immigrants, mentally and physically handicapped folks... all the people who have slipped through the giant gaps in our country's vanishing safety net. I also sometimes work during the daily free dinner that's served in the community kitchen that hosts the pantry... we serve about 120-150 people every night. It's been an eye-opening experience, making me challenge a lot of my own assumptions and beliefs. I'd like to write more about this, but not tonight.

The other big change is that I was offered an opportunity to work at a sex-positive adult toy store. We could definitely use the money, I've always been interested in sexual health and wellness, and the idea of a purple-haired fifty-something peddling vibrators tickled me. So now I'm a clerk at the Pleasure Chest (NSFW or kids, if it's not obvious). After the first few weeks, it became clear that my body was not able to handle the longer shifts, so now I do four-hour shifts and fill in for others when they're sick or have conflicts. It's not a ton of money, but I really love the detective work of helping people figure out what they're looking for, defusing their anxiety with a few jokes, and giving them permission to learn about how to give themselves a good time. (By the way, I can get a good discount off of anything in the whole store, so if you want me to get you something and ship it to you, just say the word!)

Working at PC unfortunately exacerbated my osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia significantly. I've been doing hydrotherapy and eating a really clean diet; when I stick with these things, along with gentle yoga and meditation and a goodly handful of supplements, I do feel better. But seriously, being sick like this is like a part-time job. I'm having to use a cane more and more often now (it's still hard to admit this... there's an element of shame that I still am not sure how to deal with). I've found that marijuana and warm water immersion are just about the only things that entirely relieve the pain that otherwise is my constant companion these days (weed will finally be legal in IL next year, thankfully). I've also recently found a reliable source of a good pain-relieving strain, which has been an incredible blessing... it's been a constant scramble every since I left California to find anything at all, and I have to take what I can find, which has resulted in some disappointing purchases (and I know I've been lucky to avoid contamination or other issues). I founded a chronic pain support group on Facebook that has been a great source of encouragement and a good place to vent. And I found a place that offers ecstatic dance, which has been fantastic, but it's expensive and far away... I'd like to find a way to do it more.

I've been playing with the local Society of Creative Anachronism for the last few years (I was awarded my AoA this past spring), helping with some big feasts and teaching at some events. I mostly teach calligraphy/illumination, which I still feel very new to, but I love the scribal arts and can see myself doing this for a long time.

Knitting, kumihimo/Victorian hairwork, sewing, beadwork, singing, Nia, juggling, braiding, writing, and (most tragically) reading have all slowed down a lot for me... partly from eye trouble, and partly from body pain. But I'm still hoping to get back to some of those things, especially once I update my lenses. I've heard of cannabis transdermals that are non-psychoactive, which would be AMAZING... I never smoke unless I'm going to sleep (I won't be stoned in public or if I'm in charge of Linc), and to be able to have that kind of pain relief during the daytime sounds terrific... I'm hopeful and looking forward to trying it.

In general, I've found a lot of things to keep me busy and happy while I'm in Chicago. But while I've found a lot to love about the Midwest and this city, it's not home and it never will be. I know I need to go back to the West Coast, and I trust that the universe will eventually align in such a way so that it will happen. Until then, I do what I can for myself, my family, and my community, and do my best to stay positive and hopeful.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-12 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Good to see you here!

Thanks for all the updates, too.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-13 05:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love your book reviews and commentary... hope to make it back to a WisCon again and see you!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-13 01:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Linc sounds, oh, like a normal 15 or 16 year old.

I'm sorry you have pain so much.

I'm glad you're ok in your neighborhood.

If I ever have a sex partner again, I'll have to come to Chicago and go shopping. (The girlfriends Handula and Palmela aren't into toys.)

I give you permission to walk with a cane whenever you feel like it in the meantime. (Is that better then?)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-13 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thanks. Just starting to talk about it is helping, I think.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-13 05:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm reading you, too. I still think LJ is better for things of actual substance, but its been a bit of a dustbowl. I would like it if the community came back.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-13 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm glad you're reading... your longer, more thoughtful posts are one of the reasons I'm still reading LJ.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-08-18 05:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Wow, thanks for the update! It is good to hear from you.

Also, !!!yay tenure!!! Holy shit! Yeah! that's great!

I am so sorry about the chronic pain. That makes everything so hard. I hope new lenses help with the eyes, at least!

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Date: 2016-08-18 08:31 am (UTC)
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