Sitting here at the lake house, crickets for my soundtrack as I write this. Today I fled the scene of my disappointment; grabbed my faithful companion, Daley (alias Whaler) from my parents and hit the open road. No, this wasn't the coast-to-coast aimless road trip my soul really desired, but I think it's the familiar flight to a comfortable place that it needed.

I carefully chose my driving music and got onto the highway, headed to Wisconsin. I wanted music to yell to, to sing to, and to remember to. I started things out with Fugazi-live in Heaven, which definitely gave me the shouting and singing portion of my lineup to get me through the gridlock that was pre-holiday-weekend/road construction traffic. From there, I got off the highway in Kenosha, grabbed some Starbucks (I know, I know) for me, and the proffered doggie biscuit for Daley, and switched to the Violent Femmes to lighten the mood a bit with an off-key singalong. Feeling refreshed, I visited Jeff Buckley for a bit as I wound through the country lanes; Live at
Sin-é really hit the spot until the shuffle got to "Lover, you should have come over," and I got a little more misty-eyed than I needed to be while driving. An old favorite brought me the rest of the way; nothing brings me back and makes me feel more calmly-happy and myself than listening to some old Pumpkins - Pisces Iscariot being the absolute best of albums to achieve this result this. With all the great memories, friends, and emotions wrapped up in each track, it's really hard to feel bad about present discontent while listening to them.

Some women resort to chocolate to mend mental woes, while some men hit the bottle - some people do a little of both. Well, I've tried having some drinks with friends and that's just gotten me a headache; I tried the eating thing, but I just felt gross. I guess all I really needed was my music, and a little activity; a change of scenery and stimuli to take my mind of things. I'm tired of the laziness and self-pity. Tomorrow I'm off to get a run in, combining that with some of my favorite tunes and some beautiful scenery. Hopefully everyone else has a very nice, healing, healthy holiday weekend, and that we can all come back home a little bit better than we were when we left.


Wound Licking

Day one of unemployment. Woke up at 1pm - nice start there. I went to lunch with my dad at Manny's where I had him look over some documents related to my layoff that I needed to sign and return. Everything looked on the up and up, so I sent them off - I really couldn't imagine all that would have been involved with bringing them in in person: asking permission to bring my car into the lot, having to have someone escort me to the main office area because I would need someone with clearance to swipe me in, having to sign in and out as a guest where just yesterday I was an employee. No, I took a pass on that.

The rest of the day was spent getting ready for my first class, taking said class, and then cooking gołąbki for the dinner we're having tomorrow for my inlaws. It really wasn't a bad day, but obviously something major was missing. Throughout the day friends from work got in touch in one way or another as the word reached them to see if I was doing all right; one of them is arranging a proper sending off get together for next week because she felt I deserved something better than being sent off without notice. In total there were six of us laid off, but only five left because one was found a last minute term position to fill. A huge part of me was hoping that there were more because being one of five in such a huge place makes me feel singled out, even though that's silly. Sad thing is, the museum only saved about 100K cutting our salaries while there are some bigger fish that stay on worthlessly sucking up funding. In the end, it's far easier to cut off the grunts than those with more clout; eventually they will have to make some of those more difficult decisions if they want to make any real strides in fixing the budget, but I have a feeling that won't be for a while.

So now I move on, feeling slightly like I've been dumped by a boyfriend that I should have known all along didn't care as much about me as I did him. My well-meaning friends and family are already trying to help me - sending me job descriptions for sexy new positions that would treat me better, but I know I need some time to grieve and improve myself to be ready to take those on. Hopefully in the meantime I'll post some less emo entries and have some good experiences to keep my mind off it all!



"Congratulations! You have finished filing your online unemployment insurance claim."

I don't think I've ever wanted to strangle someone through my laptop so badly before. Whomever wrote that glib completion message about having just completed filing unemployment needs to be fired themselves... Congratulations! Your entire family died in a plane crash, all your stocks went down, there is raw sewage backed up into your newly-finished basement, and your dog has crabs (we don't want to know why).



So that's it - as of about 3:30pm today my work with The Field Museum ended. Needless to say, it wasn't personal - 'it's not you it's us' - etc.. They needed to lay off some people, and I already knew I would probably be one of them. Touchingly tears were shed on my behalf, not only by myself. I managed to make it 3/4 of the way through the speech by the HR personnel, but I'm not made of stone. They were nice enough to have a person from a career service meet with me, offering me three months of free resume building, coaching, etc. to help me get back on my feet - something I didn't expect. I also will be getting a severance payment in addition to unused vacation time, which was also an unforeseen bonus.
So, here I am - waiting for the minutes to roll over to start Tuesday and the first day of joblessness so that I can register for unemployment online. It's hard not to feel deeply embarrassed about this one remaining act, even though I'm forced to take it through no fault of my own; as far as I know, nobody in my immediate family has ever been on unemployment. I know the economy sucks for people with professions like mine, but I was silly enough to think that maybe I'd never have to be here either. I take comfort in knowing that at this time I am collecting these checks with a handful of close friends who have found themselves in the same situation, though I hope we all can set things right asap.

What's next? I have bumped my course load from 8 hours to 16 for this semester because I know I'd be able to land a better job as soon as I'm done with this degree. If I manage that number well, I might do the same next semester, and will consider looking for something part time. I've applied for a full time dream position, but I'm not currently holding my breath - needless to say I don't have the confidence to count on my resume as it is now.

I have also started to plan a trip with my best friend and traveling partner, Claudia, who just moved to Hawaii this summer with her man. She will be meeting me in either San Francisco or Los Angeles the day after Christmas, and from there we will be road tripping back to Chicago by way of AZ, NM, TX, OK, MS, and IL. I'm thrilled about the prospect of getting back onto the open road, seeing Claudia again, and sharing the experience of travel once more - I love a good journey, and I know this could be what we both need. More about all that later, after I've licked me wounds a little more.


Sour times for non-profit folk

We all know, or at least should be vaguely aware, that our economy is hurting; nowhere does this seem as glaringly obvious than within a sphere where everyone's livelihood depends on the generosity of others. Economic hardships within the greater society of our country have hit home recently with force: term positions aren't being renewed here, funds have been frozen, jobs that have been willingly been vacated have been frozen, and over a dozen proposed layoffs were announced a little over a week ago. All this and more have led me to feeling like I am teetering on the edge of momentous change whether it's welcomed or not.

It cannot escape my notice that regardless of how hard I work, how much I like my coworkers and are liked by them, and how valuable what I do may be to the daily operations of my department, I am the lowest rung on the ladder; if anyone goes from the library, I'm 99.9% sure that it's going to be me. This brings up a difficult question: do I start shopping myself out now on the chance that I get the ax at the end of the month, or wait until I hear something more definite? If I do choose to shop myself out, don't get laid off, but get offered another position, do I go? The answer to this second question may seem like a resounding 'yes' to those unfamiliar with my position, but for me it's not so clear. I love my place of employment; the work I do may be completely mind-numbing, but I love coming in here every work day nonetheless. I have been here in one way or another since about 2001 and have done all I could to stay. Out of all major constants in my life, The Field Museum is one of the most enduring. In the back of my mind I've always known that I would eventually have to move on, especially after getting my masters degree, as I'd most likely become overqualified for the jobs that become available (the 'lifers' will never relinquish the good ones, and who could blame them?). As of right now I am in the middle of that degree with no chance of being done before summer, unless I do get laid off and live off unemployment while I take on a heavier course load. My boss here has been more helpful than any employee could ever hope for in terms of helping me get the time off I've needed to travel for classes, and working with my class schedules during the day time; I could never expect such support anywhere else... or could I?

These are all the things swirling around in my head right now. I've just submitted a resume for a position that, about 6 months from now, would be the absolute perfect job for me to get involved with. Needless to say that at this moment the waiting for a response is leaving me wracked by insecurities and second guessing about my qualifications to fill this position, but others keep assuring me that it's something that if given the chance, I could grow to be great in. I guess it's a moot point until I get a response, but I can't help but obsess over it. A part of me wonders if this is just the push I need to step up my game and become a real professional, but an even bigger part of me wants to stay in this familiar womb of a position where I know I'll never be challenged. Time to figure out what I'm really doing with my degrees, ambitions, hopes, and efforts.


Last night's run felt pretty good, except for a couple twinges in the shoulder when I first started. I'm going to break things up with some easy cross training today and then have another run tomorrow evening. Now it's off to work on shifting stacks (wow, that sounded kind of gangsta) and trying not to think of that unlucky number 15...


1 week on

It's been slightly over a week since I ran the CDC and the shoulder still hates me. There has been a little bit of progress in that it doesn't go nuts when I look left anymore, but I still have to be careful about how I put pressure on the left arm. I'm getting back to running today, but I'm going to take it easy and make sure I pay careful attention to how I'm feeling and how my upper body posture is. I can't deal with being inactive any longer, so now is the time to get out there before I lose it!



Uneventful week - uneventful Friday post. I'm off to sit outside where I can watch the planes practicing for this weekend's air and water show. Good times!


Dr recomends drugs and massage

Fantastic! So as all suspected, my water bottle probably DID do me in. I have a badly pinched nerve and a huge knot in my shoulder area that my doctor said she could feel 'click' when she manipulated it. The cure? Muscle relaxants, heat, massage, and immobility for a few days. I think I can do that. Thankfully I'm cleared to still do cardio as long as I don't try to do anything that involves neck or shoulder strain (no pull ups, pushups, etc), so I won't be getting fat and lazy while I'm having some down time.



Well, it's over and done with - the Chicago Distance Classic and its 13.1 miles are behind me (photos to come when they upload them). I couldn't have asked for better weather; the route was a beautiful loop down the lakefront to the Museum of Science and Industry, and then back up the lake path. I ran with my brother, Bill, an experienced distance runner who has two marathons under his belt and is training for his third. To be honest, running with Bill was both a blessing and a curse at times, though more of the former than the latter. I had a hard time keeping my own pace, and often ran myself a bit harder than I should have; I'm sure this would have been an issue even alone because I often found myself speeding up to the pace of others around me. There were definitely times, especially after mile 11, when I thought of walking the rest of the way in - however, though running with a faster runner got me there in the first place, having him with me when things got hard motivated me to finish strong; the thought actually crossed my mind that because he'd stuck with me the whole time, I owed it to him to finish running as we had set out to do. Throughout the whole event Bill was great at calling my attention to the fact that I was speeding up, and asking me if this was something I was consciously doing, which, most of the time, it wasn't and didn't desire to do. When I got fatigued and wanted to slow down I didn't feel too embarrassed to ask him to slow a little, and he always responded immediately. I know I said 'sorry' almost every single time I asked him to slow down, but he always reminded me that I didn't need to apologize, and that he knew that I was most definitely running faster than my normal pace.

In the end, running with Bill gave me the best long-run pace yet, ~10min miles, with a finish time of 2:23:13 - only ~3 minutes longer than it took me to run my 12 mile long run a couple weeks ago! I know I would have finished had I run the CDC on my own, but I am absolutely certain that my time would have been much slower. Next year I'm considering running the full marathon with Bill - this experience has shown me that I have a long way to go with my training, but that I have a great motivator on my side to help me achieve what I want to. So Bill, if you're reading this today, thanks for all your help yesterday; you made me push my limits, and thankfully I was able to respond to that well. I hope we get to do it again next year!

As for how my body responded to this experience - the rest of Sunday was spent icing some very sore knees (I trained most of the time on gravel, so the pavement abused them) and laying on my parents' couch with the dogs; today my muscles actually feel completely fine, though my right knee doesn't like me much when I make it walk down stairs. The odd thing is, somehow while I was sleeping last night I managed to pinch a nerve in the area of my left shoulder blade, and now every movement with the left arm, and some movements of my neck cause excruciating pain in that area; it's like my body wants to reward me for what I did this weekend by not making any of my running parts hurt, but is sending me a message that I need to be a bit kinder to it next time by giving me a painful warning shot to remember what it can do to me if I don't play nice.

So, on to the Nike + Human Race 10K at the end of August, and then the Banco Popular Half Marathon on September to complete my running season- in the meantime, more conditioning, and a lot more stretching!



So it's Friday, and here I am as usual - at the desk, waiting to go meet friends for that morning tea and croissant. This weekend is a big weekend for me, though I don't feel it yet. I am dropping in on a couple games in a cancer awareness/fund raising tournament with an elite team, and on Sunday I run my first half marathon, the Chicago Distance Classic. Up until now I hadn't been nervous, but now when I actually think about it all I get a slight flutter in the belly. Thing is, none of it is anything I haven't essentially done before (I've done the 12 mile run and felt I could have gone on), but there are always those nagging doubt and over-analysis of physical sensations preceding an event like this - at least for me - that make me feel that when the time comes I won't be able to perform. It's as if I'm mentally inventing blisters, sore knees, chafed areas, and more - I've noticed this kind of mental handicapping before when I've planned on hitting the gym and about 1/2 hour before leaving I get a phantom pain in one of my knees - somewhere in the back of my head someone thinks I can't do these things. Thankfully the rest of me knows that person is a moron.

So, here we go - hopefully I'll have some good pictures to post up after this weekend, and some happy news to report to boot. Have a good weekend.


Not here, please leave a message

or an escape plan. I'm having one of those days when I'd rather be anywhere but here. I love my job and the people I work with, but every once-in-a-while a day will come along when for no particular reason I am just crawling up the walls with the desire to escape. Today is so bad that I find myself fantasizing about leaving 'sick' to go grocery shopping and then going home to cook... yeah, a real wild woman here. Somewhere in the back of my head is the feeling that I am missing out on the most exciting, entertaining day ever, but I'm locked inside like a kid being grounded during summer vacation. Someone please let me out so I can go ride my bigwheels!


Cubs storm vids - Elvis and a Tornado come to call

These are great, go check them out. I like the 'it's gonna happen' sign being waved at the tornado in the second video. Mayhem.

Edit - more awesome Trib reader photos here.

Stormy Weather

Yesterday was interesting, to say the least - Chicago weather showing all her might (awesome pics here). I woke up in the morning at first alarm to what looked through the venetian blinds to be an average sunny day; by the third snooze I could have sworn it was 7pm it was so dark and yellow-hued out. I decided to drive in. The ride was a slalom of flooded streets, tree limbs, and drivers who forgot the art of driving due to the sheeting, almost horizontal rain. When it was all said and done, the air was still sickly humid and incredibly hot - a sign of more to come.

Fast forward to 7:30pm, again Mother Nature seemed to know that I was about to hit the road because the sky went from brilliant blue to steel gray in about a half hour. It looked like rain again, but nothing to write home about as we set out to Northbrook for my hockey game. By the time we hit the 90/94 split things had taken a turn for the worst and the weather band radio in the car got turned on. Tornado warning in Northwestern Cook, tornado warning in Central Cook, tornado warning in Southeastern Cook - where exactly were the tornadoes NOT headed? Thankfully, for the time being, not towards us. As we prepared to pull off on Willow road, the skies looked like they were preparing to do something - I don't think I can even describe what they looked like to do justice to it, but anyone who has ever had to run to the basement in the middle of July or August knows exactly the kind of pea soup color, low hanging cloud wall, and absolute opacity and inability of the remaining twilight to pass through - one could clearly see the end of the front from the contrast between calm navy-blue twilight, and bruise-colored purple, black, and yellow mayhem to the west. We got to the rink just as people were getting pulled off the ice - sirens blaring - and being told to take cover. Nothing came of it all other than us starting our own game a half hour late, but the storm definitely gave us a few moments of worry.

Back at home, thinking it was all over with, we got hit by another wave at 11:30pm - somehow I think this one was the worst of all, but maybe that was because I actually got to watch it. The homes across the street were completely blocked from view by the walls of rain, and the tree our front was blown nearly horizontal by gale-force winds. The lightening and thunder were pretty much non-stop until this final cell blew over about 20 minutes later. After that, the night returned to calm until we were jolted awake by the realization that the power had gone out and it was already 7:40am. Another hectic drive in, and here I am - tomorrow it'll be back to normal, back to taking transit, and enjoyment of the cooler weather - hard earned.


Home again

Three days, four hockey games, a few pounds of junk food, and about 940 miles later, and I am finally home from my tournament in Nashville, TN. A great time was had by all - we went undefeated and brought home the hardware. I got to have a baptism by fire at playing center (I am normally defense) because I was a late add-on to the team, and the rest of the guys had first dibs on the positions they wanted; I was a bit lost now and then, but I think I did all right. It was fun to get to play with the boys again, as the level of play was heads and shoulders above what I've been enjoying for the last year or so playing strictly women's hockey - I look forward to playing future tournaments with these guys, as we all got on really well.

As for the city, Nashville was a pleasant surprise - I really wasn't expecting much, but I found it to be a really pretty place with extremely nice inhabitants. In all honesty, the only thing I could have done without was the oppressive heat and humidity; I spent most of my time feeling like I was about to melt into a fleshy little puddle on the sidewalk, but it made for nice poolside weather at the hotel. Now it's back to work, sore but happy, and facing down the last week before I run my half marathon. The training schedule looks really laid back, so all I really have to do is stay healthy and get some rest. Here goes!