Monday, May 28, 2012

I confess

Here's my confession: I DO need money to celebrate my most special love's birthday. Some people are so creative and they can make really cool stuff out of trash and can come up with amazing ideas. I usually take their ideas and do something similar. But here was my dilemma. I had absolutely no money at all. Not even a few dollars to put on my bus card so we could GO somewhere where there was a free event. So I was limited to within walking distance of our house.

Babe, the neighbor! 

 We did our usual Saturday routine but we tried to change it up a bit. We walked our dog AND took along the neighbor dog, Babe. We are looking after our neighbor's dog and cat while they are out of town. Our neighbor is a bit elderly and she doesn't really walk the dog so we thought it couldn't hurt to get the dog out for some exercise. The change in routine was good for both of us and Babe.

 Cheeto wasn't too keen on the idea, but he's spoiled; it was good for him, too.

Cheeto played nice for the most part.

I confess I had a melt down when I checked the mail and found no paycheck. I couldn't even take my baby out for a birthday dinner, or buy any groceries, for that matter. The thing is, this man has been amazing the last seven months. He has been my cornerstone, my source of strength and stability through it all: the shitty job, my sister getting sick, my grandmother passing. All I wanted to do was take him to his favorite taco joint. *Sigh* Now get this, on his birthday, the one day of the year it should be all about him, he calms me down and tells me we should be thankful for what we do have. Clearly, I am lacking in the gratitude and patience departments. We counted our blessings for the roof over our head, the jobs we both have, and for our health. You see, we have many family members who are fighting for their lives. I often take for granted that I am healthy. We live down the street from a church where there is a shelter and every morning I walk past the men who sleep there. They tell me "good morning" on my way to work. How easy it is to forget that I have it WAY better than they do. I could keep going. You get my point.

Later on, I took a look in our fridge and found a frozen pizza for dinner and one beer. I also found an old bottle of a liqueur I bought many months ago and a half carton of fresh raspberries. Hubby had the beer and I mixed up a little daiquiri of sorts for myself. We watched the rerun of SNL and said good night. Oh, and we had birthday sex. What else was I going to give him????

Below is my recipe for the daiquiri. Enjoy!

2 ounces St. Germain liqueur
1 1/2 ounces simple syrup*
4 large ice cubes
a handful of fresh raspberries

I put the ice cubes in the blender by themselves and pulse to start breaking up the ice. Then add the liquids and the raspberries on top. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

*Simple syrup is easy to make and great to have on hand for all kinds of drinks such as iced coffees, smoothies and last minute daiquiris. Simply bring a cup of water to a boil then add 2 cups of sugar. Stir, remove from heat and continue stirring until all the sugar is melted. After it is cooled store it in a bottle of your choice in the refrigerator.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Birthday, baby

Today should be interesting. It is hubby's birthday. I am hoping my first paycheck will come in the mail and the day will be saved. Not that one needs money to celebrate the day of birth of one's most special loved one. But we've been on such a budget crunch that I've got nothing. Aside from finding something free to do and making a pb&j picnic . . .

Monday, May 21, 2012

crafting back my happy

This weekend was the first busy weekend we've had since we've been back to Chicago. Friday night hubby had a show. He is a drummer and one of his bands had a gig playing at an art show opening. It was super hipster but fun, since we hadn't been out for one of his shows in a while. Saturday night was one of our friend's birthday so we went down to Bridgeport to celebrate. That was awesome because I hadn't seen that group of friends in a very long time, and I love them and miss them so much. THEN on Sunday was one of my girlfriend's bridal shower. That is why I was crafty. We were supposed to wear a hat or a fascinator and since I'm budget-conscious I chose to make my fascinator.

I love Pinterest. Don't you? I used Pinterest to scope out lots of DIY fascinator ideas and check out plenty of instructions. This is one of the websites that I used to help me make my headband. Here are a few shots of the fascinator I made.

The great thing is I made my fascinator out of materials that I already had:
-thin metal headband
-wired ribbon (I save all my ribbon from gift packages)
-dried flowers
-butterfly embellishment

I cut out a base using thin cardboard (from an old folder that I was saving to reuse/recycle). I actually sewed the cardboard onto the headband. This did cause the base to slide up and down the headband, but I used a bobby-pin to secure the base in my hair once I decided where I liked it.

Yay for craftiness! It makes me happy. The other thing that makes me happy is just enjoying what my neighborhood has to offer. There was a kite festival at the Montrose Harbor which is where we normally walk our chihuahua, Cheeto. We took an extra long stroll and did some people and kite watching. It was a lovely Saturday afternoon.

All in all, I had a great weekend. I hope you did too! xoxo

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tough love

I've been told more than once that sometimes my tough love is too tough and I need to be more comforting. I try to remember that. But it's hard for me. Tough love is what I used to get myself through the hardest times in my life. I had to pick myself up and dust off and get back out there, more than once. It's what I'm doing right now.

I believe that it's not "going to be ok." You have to make it be ok. Making it all be ok is hard. Nothing in my life has come easy. Maybe for some people things come easy. But not for this brown girl. And there seems to be a misperception about that. For example, this week has been a week of getting to know my new co-workers. During one conversation I told them I was Native American and one guy said, "Oh, you must've had your pick of schools to go to." Um, no. Don't get me wrong, I played the "race card" and got no where. Nor did I get a full scholarship to anywhere. And I've been asked that my whole life. Why do people think that because I'm Native American, I was handed a free education? And when I correct them, there is always the follow up story of the "buddy who is 1/10th Native American that got a full ride scholarship." Yay. Great for him.  I don't know how mathematically one gets to be 1/10th. You're full-blood, 1/2, 1/4 and so on. But then again, I'm a lawyer, I don't do math.

I don't want to sound bitter. I'm not. But I do have to work at living my life for me and being happy for me. I have a bad habit of comparing my life to others around me. If that's something you do too, stop it. It is unfair to yourself and your significant other. If you don't like something about your life or you want something, develop a plan. Work on it everyday. If you fall down, don't let it break you. Get up. Try again.

I'll tell you one little story about that. I was studying for the LSAT, the test that everyone has to take if they want to apply to law school. I had no idea what I was doing. I graduated from college a few years earlier so I didn't have an advisor or counselor to give me advice or suggestions along the way. I self-studied for the LSAT, took the test and got a mediocre score. I learned enough from my online research that I needed a much higher score to get into a really good school, and about 10 more points to get into most good law schools. That was going to be a feat. I applied to schools and been rejected to all but one, and even that one was just a wait list. I was eventually rejected. So then I dropped a couple grand on a prep class. Studied for another summer and took the LSAT again. Well, my score did not improve. Now what do I do? I reevaluated my ability to go to law school and I applied to schools that might consider a score like mine. They are what are called "third-tier law schools." Rankings. Anyways. I worked really hard on writing the best resume and personal statement that I could. That year I received offers from 4 schools with scholarships from 2.

During this whole process, I developed a plan. I reminded myself of it every single day. I wrote it down on a note card. Something simple like, "I will go to law school." I carried that note card in my pocket or in my purse everyday. Reminding yourself of your goal everyday makes you work at it everyday. It changes your behavior and you develop a habit. That is how you achieve what you want.

One more piece of advice for those of you who are thinking about going to law school in this economy. Don't go unless it is truly a passion, truly something you desire to do. If you are thinking about going just because you think you should get a professional degree, think twice, do your research. The costs are sky-high and the market is saturated with lawyers looking for a job. The investment may not pay-off.

That is all.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Third time's a charm.

This is my 3rd attempt at a blog. The first 2 failed because to be frank, I was afraid to say what I really wanted to say and truly be me. But something has happened. My life has been super crazy lately and I have come to realize that life is short. I always knew that life was short, but I didn't believe that certain people would be taken from me before I was "ready."

My grandmother, Leona Faye Falker, passed away on April 10, 2012. She was the only grandparent I really had. I met my grandfather on my dad's side but he passed away when I was young and I didn't really know him when he was on this earth. But my grandma has been a big part of my life. I shared a bedroom with her for a couple of years growing up. She taught me about my people. And now she's gone. Although, not really gone. I believe she is right here with me whenever I want her to be. It's not what my people believe, but it's what makes me feel better about not having her.

So losing a grandparent might not equate to life being crazy for some. But that's not all. Last year I found out my sister was really sick. I'm not going to go into details but she is fighting for her life. On top of that she is a single mom. I went home a few months ago to visit her and help out where I could and I ended up taking her to the ER. No one knew how sick she was and I feel like we almost lost her that night. She's doing a lot better now, but she's still fighting.

My professional life was starting to make me sick too. Literally. I'm a new lawyer. May 2011, I ended up taking a job for the (meager) paycheck as so many young lawyers in Chicago are doing. The ink on my license was barely dry. I knew I didn't want to stay in that firm for very long simply because it was an area of law that I was not interested in. But the job market has struggled to improve and I stayed in that job for about a year, 9 months longer than I originally planned for. I invested myself in the work and actually started to care a lot about some of my clients. But my boss was uninspiring. In fact, he's the kind of person that makes most people hate lawyers. I was so stressed out about my job and everything else going on, that I lost a lot of weight. I'm thin to begin with, but when I went to the doctor he said I was depressed. No shit, Sherlock.

So back on April 3, I decided to take charge of my life and quit my job. I had nothing else lined up. I had a prospect of a temporary job, doing document review. Other than that I would be back on the job hunt. Here is where the climactic turn of events takes place in my 33 years on this earth.

Tuesday I quit. I felt all high about finally doing it. Yeah, fuck you. I get the call that the doc review job starts on Thursday. Sweet. A couple of days off. Nope, email says "not starting until Tuesday, have a nice holiday." So I look at my hubby and say, "Let's drive down to TN and see the fam. We might not be able to see them for another couple of months if this project goes." So we hit the road on Thursday morning, having a leisurely drive. Hell, we stop and see the giant Superman in downstate Illinois. Goofing off is fun. We get there and the next morning I head over to my mom's house where my sister is staying. To my surprise she's up and around, she's got her make-up on and she's looking good. I hang out with her and my grandma for most of the day, just chillin'. Little did I know that would be the last time I'd really spend quality time with my Gram.

What makes me sick, and the regret that everyone tells me I shouldn't have, is that Grandma wanted me to stay and have dinner with her. My sister had been picked up by her oldest daughter to go grocery shopping for Easter dinner. My mom works nights so she had already left for work. I didn't stay. I went and picked up some dinner for her but I left to go back and have dinner with my hubby. This is the regret that I will always have. I could have had dinner with her. It would have been no big deal. But I took for granted how short life is. I thought she was going to be with us for another 10, 15 years. It could've been just me and Gram for dinner and I said no. I'll never forgive myself. She ate alone that night. I'll never forgive myself.

But that wasn't the last time I saw her, or the only thing I'll never forgive myself for. My sister got dropped back off at mom's. That wasn't the plan. The plan was for her to go back to her house so she could start cooking for Easter dinner. So early Saturday morning I go to mom's house to pick her up. She's having breakfast, so I sit and wait and help Grandma pick up the blankets and what not. We head out the door, but I forgot something or my sister did, I don't remember. I head back in to pick it up. Grandma's on the phone talking to someone so I just whisper to her I love her and I'm leaving to take sis home. She holds up her finger like "wait a sec" but she's just listening to the phone. I do wait, but for just a second. I'm impatient. I give her a kiss and say good-bye. She nods her head and says something to the person on the phone like "why would they say that? I'm fine." When I heard that I should have known. But I didn't know. I didn't know that would be the last time I saw my Grandma, like Grandma.

I took sis home and hung out. Hung out with the kids, goofed off a little. Then we head out to the grocery store. She forgot some stuff for tomorrow's dinner. So all of us, kids too, hop in the car and head over to the grocery store. Now let me go off on a tangent here.

I grew up in Chattanooga, TN. It's beautiful. It's right on the border of NW Georgia. I grew up driving. We moved to Chicago 4 years ago to go to law school and promptly sold our car and became totally reliant on public transportation. I love it. It's one of the reasons I love Chicago. Don't get me wrong, the CTA has it's faults and "COULD USE MORE FUNDING" (inside joke, I'll tell you later) but it's awesome to get where you wanna go and not have to deal with driving. But we recently bought a car to drive back in forth to TN to help out my sister and the fam. I've been spoiled. I hate driving now. And driving in Chattanooga is a joke. To get anywhere is to drive 20-30 miles. You can't get anywhere fast. One day I drove from my father-in-law's house out to my sister's down to the hospital back to my mom's or sister's and then back out to my FIL's house, and put over 120 miles on my car!!! Ridiculous.

Anyway, so I'm at the grocery store and I'm in the parking lot while sis is inside shopping, because one of the girls has a broken leg. We wait in the car. But I get a call from Mom and she's hysterical. Grandma is in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Suddenly there is a pit in the bottom of my stomach. Grandma has had her bouts with being ill and in and out of the hospital. But this was different. I heard it in Mom's voice. I beg Mom not to drive. She's too upset, it's dangerous for her to drive that way. So now I've gotta rush sis back home and drive to mom's to pick her up. This is where my frustration with driving in Chattanooga/NW Georgia comes into play. A full 40 minutes goes by and Mom is calling me wondering when I'll be there, begging me to just let her drive and I beg her please no. Winding curves, little hills galore. I finally pick her up and drive to the hospital. The lawyer in me (obey all traffic laws) is out the window. I'm speeding and running stop signs and red lights where I can.

Grandma is at one hospital for just a short bit. They transfer her to another because they have a stroke center. We head over there. Mom is still pretty bad. Gram's in the ER for a couple of hours. We meet her doctors and that's when we find out that Grandma most likely will not be getting better. The pit in my stomach grew. That's when I realized I should've never left her. I should've waited like she wanted me to. Who knows what happened between the time I left and the time Mom woke up and found Grandma. Maybe I could've done something, anything.

Grandma passed away on a Tuesday morning. I held her hands throughout the night and promised her I'd take care of Mom and thanked her for teaching me about our people. I watched her take her last breath. I will never forget that feeling I had early that morning.

Needless to say, I didn't make it back to start that job. I came back to Chicago unemployed and broke. Broke in the bank and brokenhearted.

So that's what happened. I've been stripped down. I feared losing everything. I still fear it. Hell, I've only worked one day since quitting my job. We've borrowed money and robbed Peter to pay Paul. But I've learned my lesson. Love the ones you are with every single day. There is no guarantee to tomorrow.