Wednesday, April 27, 2011

9/And Then

My Uncle Jim went to the emergency room for congestive heart failure.

Since Elizabeth Taylor had just died days earlier, I figured this was it.

It was also the very same week that my dad had been rejected from 3 jobs, one of which was with a recruiter for the company that laid him off over a year ago. Assholes. He managed to get a job as an election judge in the suburbs when he got the call that Jim needed to be taken to the hospital. He stayed in the hospital with Jim from 11pm to 7am the next day, which was when he was due at this job. Clearly it wasn't going to happen.

Uncle Jim goes to the free hospital for people that don't have health insurance, or are destitute, or in a bad situation, or just a mess. He is all of the above, and despite his staunch conservative stance on everything, he believes he is entitled to free health care. This particular hospital often runs out of beds or out of space altogether. After my dad got back and had a rest, he called there to find out about Jim, but was told he was still in emergency. Dad freaked out, drove all the way back to find Jim was really just resting in the hallway since there were no available rooms.

I was told that Uncle Jim remained in good spirits but would not divulge the true status of his health to my father, despite being listed as his emergency contact. He seemed to think the whole thing was no big deal. My dad asked nurses to explain what was going on but no one was allowed to give him info. He could speak to a doctor, but they were extremely difficult to pin down even for a moment. The nurses were prepping Jim for a bone marrow test which freaked Dad out even more. What was it for? No one would tell him anything.

I think Dad was in a state of shock about the whole thing. He said he couldn't even recognize his own brother. Jim looked like he was 80 years old, but is only 62. Jim could barely walk from one side of the room to the other. And the biggest shock was that Jim had let his teeth go so bad that he recently had the entire bottom set pulled, and had yet to get dentures.

Not one of us understands how Jim lives his life. He is an isolationist that hasn't worked in over 15 years and is a general mother fucker. He had a heart attack in his early forties, despite his rather lean physique. He smoked something like 2 packs a day until he supposedly quit. After the bypass surgeries he refused to return to work, claiming that he couldn't be expected to function normally. He has an addiction to whiskey and chocolate. He hates everyone except Irish Catholics and is therefore impossible to be around. And he has type 2 diabetes. Fun guy.

Uncle Jim is the person I consider the Chief Asshole of the family. He is rude beyond comprehension, racist to the core, and a woman hater on top of everything. He used to call my mother: "Dumb Dora," to her face and run his finger underneath light fixtures to point out the dust. When I was little he came over to my parent's apartment to watch porn since he was too cheap to by his own VCR. My parents caught him one night when he was still there at 3am and told him never to bring that shit over again. My mother only shared that with me years later because I went through a period where I felt terribly sorry for him, thought he must be quite lonely. That was until he let me drink whiskey at his place before turning 21, and asked for "help" with his resume. His computer was in the basement and the so called resume was in a folder filled with porn pics. I freaked and got the hell out of there, thinking oh my god he's drunk and laughing about this and I was just in his basement what the hell.

I never went to his place again, but he would frequent the Italian restaurant where I worked. I gave him freebies now and then until I got worried that the owners would get mad. I also wanted him to go away after a while because he became demanding and blatantly stared at my female co-workers. I could tell he was making a few of them uncomfortable and had no idea what to do. Eventually I told him that nothing off the menu was going to be free, hoping that would deter him. One night he stayed very late at the restaurant, had too many beers, and slammed his drink down with his voice shaking and choking and yelled at me that no one gave a damn about him. No one cared a bit about him and he was alone in this world. He seemed like he might get violent so I stood up to get him some water. My heart raced and I tried to pretend like I could handle it. When I got home I cried and had to call my parents. Dad went over to Jim's place that night and told him to never come near me again and if Jim harassed me in any way, he would kill him.

About a year later, my cousin Brian was killed in a gruesome car wreck and the person to let me know was Uncle Jim. He called my apartment sobbing and sobbing and I was in such shock I didn't believe it was Jim on the line at all. Was it a joke? Didn't he call my dad first? I must have asked if he was serious about a hundred times until he screamed why are you asking me that? I told him not to leave the house and especially not to get into the car, assuming he drank. Then I had to break the news to my parents. Unfortunately I got Mom on the phone first who just started screaming and then I had to tell Dad the whole thing all over again. The weirdest thing about that call was that I had to say: "You know Brian? Brian my cousin/your nephew?" since our family barely speaks at all.

After the funeral in Tuscon I rekindled that "I feel bad/guilty about Jim" feeling. He didn't have anyone to grieve with or fly over there with or have lunch with or share a pint with or anything. It's awful. I don't think he attends a church or has any social life whatsoever. Christmases go by, New Years Eve goes by, and his birthday goes by without even a phone call. Yes, he has another brother but he is Chief Asshole # 2 so I don't think they have much of a relationship either. I started sending Jim Christmas gifts since then. He hasn't ever thanked me but maybe that is because he no longer has my number. I'm ok with that.

I don't know how society makes men like him but I assume it has something to do with religion or general awkwardness socially, which was encouraged by family not fought against. I often thought that my grandmother must have poisoned him with ideas of her oldest son resembling John Wayne in The Quiet Man. My dad told me that Jim's best friend and basketball buddy in high school was Jewish, until my grandmother meddled telling him how awful the Jews are. When I was around 9 years old, I remember Jim asking me what I thought the blacks ever did for this country. I couldn't understand the question at all so I asked my mom why he said that. She explained that my grandmother had very serious prejudices against everyone, so that is how Jim learned to hate as well. She told me never to listen to that kind of garbage and I wasn't allowed around him unsupervised after that. I don't know how on earth a person with those kinds of beliefs gets to live long enough to be treated for congestive heart failure.

As for the awkwardness around women, who will ever know. I've encountered men that I'll never understand how on earth they came to think and behave the way they do. Did something go terribly wrong in their childhood? Did no one ever explain that women are equals? Or that it's ok to get rejected sometimes? I feel awful that Jim is so alone, and sometimes think it isn't all his fault that he is completely fucked up.

Then again, when my dad is sitting in the hospital with Jim who doesn't give a damn and carries expectations of assistance, I have other feelings. Whenever Dad said something very reasonable to Jim like: "You should probably give me a key to your place so that I can check in on you," Jim ignored him, pretending the sentence never happened. You've got to think, FUCK THAT GUY and I did. Instead of concerning myself with Jim's health I only was concerned with the stress of it all on my dad. I felt that if this is it, so be it. Let's let him go.

I imagined what it would have been like if he passed on. How would we deal with the family? Would we be in charge of everything? Does he even have a will? Dad didn't know. Would I go crazy and punch my uncle Tony in the face? Would I tell him what a piece of shit he is?

Jim ended up being released from the hospital a week later and I found myself filled with rage and fury. How dare he put my dad in this situation and not give a shit??? Who wants to take care of a mother fucker that allowed his health to deteriorate to that extent?? I DON'T. I told my mom that she better not go over to his apartment with food. It's his fucking problem. She agreed and said that he will have to get himself a maid or caretaker. (what a lucky person that will be) He is not our problem unless we get another hospital call.

I talked to my grandmother about my feelings and her advice was to call him. What? But he's so mean. I can't. She said something so beautiful I could barely stand it:

Vhen person is very very hard, zhen you be the softehr.

I told her I'd think about it.

But I haven't called and I doubt that I will. Sometimes the softer and nicer you are, the more you become a doormat. I don't know how many more times I can deal with his attitude. The last time I saw him was at my dad's 60th get together and he asked if I was getting fat, which is his standard greeting. My uncle on my mom's side didn't put up with that shit and asked if Jim was getting sickly thin. It didn't go over well.

It's weird when you decide you're ok with someone leaving this world. It will happen eventually and surely it will happen sooner with a person in this condition. Dad said that maybe Jim will outlive us all and I told him to bite his tongue. I also asked if he was certain that they are really brothers. Could one of them have been switched a birth? He laughed but it was obvious that he felt pain. He said that we'll end up finding out from the neighbors if Jim has passed on, and I could tell he has an extreme fear about it. There isn't anything we can do about the way he chooses to live his life.

I've read many articles about how forgiveness is key in these situations. I don't want to dwell or linger on the negatives. My dad always says that the hardest thing to do in this life is accept people the way they are. I just wish all of this was easier on him. TV and movies always have stories about forgiveness and compassion. You end up taking care of the person who has wronged you and become a better person for it. I don't think I could take care of Jim. He has made his choices. I wish him to have less discomfort and to find a way to like himself more. Surely the only reason people self destruct is because they hate themselves.

Friday, April 22, 2011

8/The Shmuck Who Sued Me

4 days later, I had to take part in a two hour arbitration over the phone.

What I've learned from this whole episode is that that our legal system and many of the related jobs involved exist because of what I like to call The Ring of Bullshit. Example: an event occurs, police are called, witnesses give statements, police write up a report, insurance companies examine, insurance companies give estimates, they pay each other whatever they come up with, they allot money for people to get to the doctor, and then we're done....until...

I assume that The Shmuck who sued me defaulted on his mortgage or didn't have health insurance to cover some problems. How could he make some extra money? Well, he did get into that fender bender with Aviva O'Byrne. Maybe if he filed a suit in the last hour of the last day before the statute of limitations was up, he could disrupt my life just enough to make a few thousand.

Only, he didn't ask for a few thousand. He asked for 46 thousand. This fender bender apparently caused him to need a gall bladder surgery.

The events were these: We were stopped at a red light, I was about 4 cars away from the front of the line. The first car in line started to go, but then abruptly stopped, so we all stopped. When we all started to go again, the first car changed his mind again and took a left turn from our middle lane, rather than than the actual turning lane next to us. So, the second car slammed on his brakes which caused the car in front of me to crash into him and since I couldn't see what was going on, I was unable to stop until I saw his car shake and the heard the noise of the crash. Of course I couldn't stop in time and I bumped him.

Police were called, we were all able to get back into our cars and pull into a strip mall parking lot, we all talked. The guy in front of me admitted to the police that he hit the other car before I hit him. We were both issues warnings; not tickets due to the circumstances. I felt that the guy in front of me wanted to intimidate me further. He kept asking me questions about my little Corolla and stated that it was clearly totaled. I said it didn't look that bad to me, but he insisted that due to the age, they were just going to trash my car and offer me the difference. I hoped and prayed that he was wrong but admit that his demeanor made me extremely nervous. I said that I didn't think it was that big of an accident. He said that I hit him pretty hard but not to worry, he won't sue. The guy was being totally inappropriate so I decided to walk away from him and deal only with the police. No ambulance was called, and we all drove away.

The insurance companies took care of everything within a week, and my healthy little Corolla still works to this day. I love that car.

However, since The Shmuck needed to support his lawsuit, he changed the events to suit him, hence the Ring of Bullshit commences. The lawyer took his case on a contingency. My lawyer did not believe that he was going to be able to get away with the gall bladder stuff, but expected us to have to pay him something because of the fact that I did hit him. He bothered to go through with this, therefore he gets money. As if we didn't need more evidence that people are assholes. She expected the case to go to trial since they were unwilling to accept the offers our side gave, but his lawyer must have advised him not to push it. She figured they'd have better luck with an arbitration.

Police reports are not admitted as evidence due to not being done under oath, and the police officer not needing a witness to his own report. The only evidence the lawyers have to go on are the pictures the insurance company took and our statements. Since I gave my deposition 3 years after the accident, I wasn't confident that I made myself clear. My lawyer told me that his claim of the events were that I hit him so hard his enormous minivan was throttled into the car in front of him, despite the bumper to bumper traffic on the road. He had said that the front end of my car was completely underneath his, and that I had totaled his car. He just wasn't willing to give up his car until 2 years later. WHAT? How can he possibly get away with such accusations? No ambulance was called, everyone walked away! His car was totaled 2 years later but it was still my fault? I remember some lights being broken and a little fender damage on his car and that was it.

I asked my lawyer how we accept legal lying, and she said that his lawyer has to believe he is telling the truth. It seemed to me that people in this line of work must know about the lying and coach their client, and they know it's wrong. They want to keep this cycle going so several people have jobs, all based on bullshit. My lawyer was never able to get in touch with the man in the first car that was hit, so we didn't have much to go on. They eventually dropped the gall bladder issue, but kept the money claim high due to lengthy chiropractor visits. I just didn't believe that he was hurt at all, or that he deserved any money. I kept asking why it didn't matter that he never made a medical claim until the very very last minute and just went straight to a lawsuit??? She said it totally didn't matter and he was within his rights, no matter how ridiculous the claim.

She felt the judge would have to be a total idiot to award him a great sum of money. She found out that his chiropractor was not board certified and he had been seeing her for years prior to the accident. He used to be a contractor...hello? he probably was injured on the job quite a lot and the chiropractic visits couldn't have all been related to the accident.

I could have attended court, and I intended to just so the judge would see with his own eyes who the more credible witness was. But, after all the flying and running around I had done in March, I requested that we do it over the phone. I also worried that should I see him, I would surely murder him right there with the power of my thoughts.

The arbitration lasted 2 hours and was officially 5 years after the accident. I had to listen to this asshole and his fantasy story. He said that after the accident he grabbed his yarmulke before exiting his vehicle and I nearly busted out laughing. This guy that I saw in jeans and a Cubs hat all of a sudden found religion in time for court? Thank you Skokie. He said that due to being unemployed for a long period of time.. (hello!)...he recently took on a job as a Shomerim, which are the people who sit with the dead and sing them songs and keep the body company before a funeral. He explained the significance to the judge and five minutes into this whole thing, I realized I would have strangled him right then. What a fucking asshole. Is lying a lesser offense when you're doing it in the name of religion? Is it more legal to lie when you've convinced everyone that you are religious?

He went on with his preposterous story and even claimed that when I got out of the car I was so distraught, that I said, "I can't believe I did this again!" A total fabrication, especially since I had never been in an accident like this. When it was my turn the judge actually asked me if I said that and I was insulted that he would even think it's a worthy question. I wanted to yell out He's Lying! He KNOWS he hit the other car first! I held it in and did as good of a job as I could. His lawyer questioned me about whether I saw the damages to his car and I said that I had, but it was all very minor. She then asked if I was an expert on car value and of course I said no. What a low blow. I nearly yelled: "and neither are you bitch", but I managed to maintain myself in a calm manner.

What ended up happening was that The Shmuck claimed to have never visited the chiropractor before, but my lawyer submitted proof that he had. His lawyer had never seen that evidence and asked for it to be dismissed. (again the ring of bullshit) The judge allowed it, but it was clear that the chiropractor had fixed the dates and information to support The Shmuck's claim. Nevertheless, the judge felt that some of the injuries were related to the fender bender, and a week later The Shmuck was awarded 19 thousand dollars for lying.

I have to admit extreme stress and disappointment on a moral level throughout that whole week. I couldn't believe how easily lying brings rewards, and it's all legal. I couldn't imagine what woud have happened if it was a real accident with real injuries and scary stuff. What would happen then? My mom said not to even think about it. This is what insurance is for anyway. If they have to pay The Shmuck, they have to pay. 19 thousand is pennies to them. It doesn't reflect poorly on you. She said to take heart in the fact that he will get his. Even my grandma weighed in saying that she hopes for every dollar he won in this case, he gets as many warts on his behind. I didn't know she was capable of such evil thoughts.

So, good luck to The Shmuck out there. Surely he is in for it. And surely all this turmoil will make me appreciate the gigantic success I will be someday so much more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

7/ Next

Seeing as how I merely had a few temp jobs before returning to Chicago for the NU interview, I had absolutely no idea where my next paycheck was coming from after the wedding and I was petrified. I contacted the agency I previously worked with and left a message. Hours later while I was walking around, a recruiter called and said that she had something. It was a customer service job for $14.75 and hour but she couldn't just place me, I'd have to interview.

The interview was set for the next day at noon and the address was emailed to me. I asked her if it was downtown, but she was unfamiliar with the address. After checking directions she said all I'd have to do is get on the 99. Ok, but I don't have a car. Oh don't worry, it's on a bus line. Sure.

Once home I checked the directions and it seemed extremely far away. Too far for a measly temp customer service job. Mapquest and googlemaps had conflicting results as to how far the walk was once I got off the 2nd bus. I expressed my reservations to the recruiter on the phone the next day, but she encouraged me to check it out and then decide.

I left with plenty of time to get there but the 2nd bus ride took much longer than I thought it would. We passed an area of Seattle that I had never been passed before. After a while I wondered if I was still in Seattle at all. The bus driver kindly announced my stop and then asked if I knew where I was going. I said that my directions said to go back where we just turned and then go left. Someone on the bus piped up and said it was impossible. I should go back and to the right.

I followed his advice but I found myself to be the only pedestrian in a completely industrial area. There was no sidewalk with the amount of cars and trucks, it felt like I was on a highway. Once I came to the point where he said to go right, it didn't seem right to me. There was a DO NOT ENTER sign and several construction vehicles parked. I didn't see a building anywhere and I didn't think it was safe for me to be walking around alone in this lot.

Then I thought it was silly of me not to follow googlemaps so I went toward that direction. It brought me to a fence. A fence. Nervousness officially set in. It was windy, yet I was sweaty under the jacket and worried about the state of my appearance before this interview. I had begun to lose confidence about going through with this.

I called the recruiter who sounded concerned and she gave me the receptionist's number at the building. I still had time to get there for the interview but she gave me completely different directions. I had reservations about it the whole way, but followed it anyway. Once I was officially 15 minutes late for the interview and no closer to a building other than Subway, I called again. I told her the intersection I was at, and to my dismay I was at Marginal Way SW, not the Marginal Way S that I needed. She said I had quite a way to go.

So, I listened to her explain for a moment, but interrupted her to thank her and let her know that I was going home. When you lose all confidence for a job interview and also know that you are not going to deal with this commute AND you are late as hell, what is the point?

I called the recruiter back to let her know that I was lost and terribly sorry but I was going to have to pass on this one. She understood. BUT then I kept on talking. Somewhere between the Marginal Way SW and I think she didn't understand where I was.....I lost it. My voice cracked and I started to absolutely weep and I tried to hold it together, but instead said: AND THIS IS BULLSHIT! WHY DID YOU SEND ME HERE? I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I AM. I DON'T HAVE A SMARTPHONE. I AM LOST!

The recruiter kept her cool and sounded genuinely concerned, as maybe she should have known that it wasn't the most commuter friendly area. She asked if she should send me a cab but of course I couldn't afford it. I knew how to get back to the bus stop and it would be fine.

I waited nearly an hour for the bus and after arriving back in familiar areas, I went catatonic for the rest of the day. The experience wasn't worth it. Always go with your gut.

I had no idea what to do next.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Within one week I had gone from Chicago to Seattle to Minneapolis to Orlando to Tampa to St. Petersburg and the final leg had come. The day after the wedding we were to get on another plane and head back. I desperately did not want to leave. We had a few hours to enjoy the sunshine outside and it was never going to be enough.

I must face the facts: I am a warm weather person. I cannot live where there is no sunshine or where there are blizzards. My destiny in a warm climate awaits me and everywhere else isn't going to cut it.

Luckily the groom drove us all the way to the airport and probably saved us a ton of money. I complained that I didn't want to leave! He said that he had offered to help me settle there in Tampa many years ago, and I declined. It was true; I don't see myself in Florida, especially since the allergies were horrendous. But the sun! The sun! The warmth on my skin!

After an incredibly long journey back across the country, I wasn't well. Exhaustion took over my entire being. I don't remember much of anything after we boarded that plane in Houston. Our plane landed too late and we couldn't get the train, but to my surprise a friend came to pick us up. I thought I had dreamed it. On the way home, I kept thinking about the sandals I wore earlier in the day and never being in need of a jacket the whole weekend. I laid in the back of the car watching the rain on the windshield and wondered if I really wore a backless halter dress that morning. Was I just in a wedding the night before? Did I walk outside in a strapless dress without even a sweater? Was it all a dream? What am I going to do tomorrow?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

5/ Wedding Daze

And then there was the wedding.

I had never been in a wedding party before and there were many things that I felt a little out of the loop on. For example, there was the issue of timing. Time to do fun girlie things the day before, time to rehearse and meet everyone, time to get hair and makeup done, time to sit around while everyone else had their hair and makeup done, time to worry that you didn't look as nice in the dress as the other two bridesmaids, time to worry about falling down the stairs, time to make sure you smiled for the camera, time to dance, time to not look like a fool since your name was announced by the DJ and everyone knows who you are, etc.

I didn't realize just quite how long it would take for someone to do my hair or makeup, and I couldn't understand for the life of me why someone would want to attach fake eyelashes over my own. I was shocked at how many hours I had to sit around barely moving before my finished look was available to the world, and it was kind of odd that there wasn't any time for lunch or snacks. I believe the poor bride was so shocked at the timing for for her own hair that once finished, she promptly drank a Corona faster than anyone I had ever seen.

More drinking was to take place even when we were fully dressed and supposed to be ready for pictures. Wine was brought to our changing room, which was a shame since I was so worried about walking down stairs in heels, that I hardly touched mine. The bride however, drank hers, mine and another glass, along with a gooey chocolate chip cookie in order to calm the fuck down. I don't blame her. Still, my feeling was that I'd be ready for the drinking after I got down those stairs.

The ceremony worried me intensely because I felt like I was a floor model for this event. My sole purpose in this wedding was to look good. I was to look good walking down stairs, sitting with a candle in my hand and a rose bouquet in my lap, and walking back up the stairs, and then back down for the party. Oh my god was I nervous. I insanely checked for bunchy sections in my pantyhose and ways to stand so my arms looked thinner. Damn you fucking triceps!

The weird thing about three women wearing the exact same dress is that while everyone looked nice in them individually, standing next to each other you can see what's what. I was next to a lanky but beautiful 16 year old, and an absolutely gorgeous petite size 4. This made me terribly self conscious, a thought which hadn't really occurred to me until we were in that dressing room. All of a sudden, the dress that I helped pick out seemed completely unflattering on me. Sitting down was worse because it rode way up and nearly all of my legs were exposed. Thank god they're probably my best feature.

It was a strange experience all around for me. I didn't feel like I was particularly involved in any way shape or form, other than standing around looking pretty. I worried that I didn't do enough but also didn't know what else to do. The bride previously asked me to help her pick out music, but all I did was call and belt out: When A Man Loves A Woman or And I've Had The Time of My Life, clearly not taking the request seriously. One time I even texted her that Aerosmith song: And I Don't Want To Miss A Thing! I am a terrible friend.

The Maid of Honor decided that to be more involved, all three of us bridesmaids would stand up and say a few nice words speaking from the heart to the bride and groom. We were not asked to make a speech, but we felt it was the right thing to do. Clearly the right thing to do is to prepare what you're going to say ahead of time but oh well. Somehow, the Maid of Honor pulled out a beautiful story of their childhood growing up together and how she is so glad they still have each other. When she said that the bride made her a better friend and a better mother and so on, she started to choke, AND THEN SHE HANDED THE MIC TO ME.

What did I say about timing? Oh right. Timing was the problem. I started to choke as well right as she was saying those beautiful things. My brain had told me that when it was my turn, I would say these things:

The day before we were picking up the cake for the rehearsal dinner and the bride asked me what we should have them write on top of it. I suggested Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, which we didn't go with, but what a lovely thought to stay with us throughout the day. We're all here to celebrate love. In a conversation I had recently with the bride, she told me that if everything was all right at home and in their relationship, than everything else would be alright too. I admire the courage and commitment that love brings us to. Now that they have everything they need within each other, I want to wish them a lifetime of happiness. And so, I just want to say as a blessing from my culture: To the bride and groom, To Life! L'Chaim!

INSTEAD, my mouth said this:

Love is a hhhhhhhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuuuu many uuuuuuuuuu splendored thing......and it is. She told meeeeee........hhhhhhhh snifle snifle snifle that if everything is good at home everything hhhhhhhhhh sniffle (breathe out) would be fine. And now (look over at them making a ridiculous face at me) they have everything they need becauuuuuse they havvvve each other. (raise empty water glass) Aaaaaand so, I just want to say To Life, L'Chaim.

And I shoved the mic at her sister.

Oh my god the humiliation. I profusely apologized for this episode, but what's done was done. I normally do not ever get shy about speaking in front of a crowd, nor do I remember ever getting so emotional in front of that many people. I wish I could tell you that it was because of all the wine I drank, but no. I only had that half glass before the ceremony.

Not wanting to make a further spectacle of myself, I barely drank or danced that whole evening. I mostly ate strawberries off their beautiful edible center pieces. Luckily there was a photo booth that brought endless smiles and hilarity.

Normally my favorite part of any wedding is the dancing, but I can't say that I missed out too much. A year ago at the bride's brother's wedding, Uncle Alfredo had spun me around too much. She insisted that he is harmless, and while I admit that he was an excellent dancer, I was good to remain seated this time. Uncle Alfredo told my date that he has competition, and to check out the chi chis on the bartender.

It all went by too fast in my opinion because the food was marvelous, the place was beautiful, and they had the richest to die for cheesecake for desert. I'm glad I got to take part in this, and I hope I did a good job. There is more to this floor model thing than I realized.

Friday, April 8, 2011


The very next day we were finally in Universal Studios to see the amazing Harry Potter exhibit. We went on silly rides that lasted 3 seconds, we waited in line for 90 minutes at a time, and at some point we were shot in the face by villans on the Spiderman ride.

We ate the following items: chicken strips, fries, a gigantic turkey drumstick, corn on the cob, churros, and pretzels. What a healthy day. Of course the best part was the butterbeer, eating in The Three Broomsticks, and buying candy in Honeydukes. This was an incredible spectacle and impressive business model, since even the retail stores had long lines to wait in. I've never seen anything like it. We intended to get on another ride but after a 45 minute wait in line for the wand shop, we were DONE.

And, I couldn't breathe. In addition to the cold I had in Chicago, my allergies had kicked in and I felt close to passing out a number of times. It's really irritating that my lungs and sinuses only seem to like Seattle and put up an impressive fight everywhere else.

After this long day we were picked up by my friend A, who drove us to Tampa where we would rest and get ready for her wedding rehearsal the next day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I guess you could say that United Airlines and I have parted ways. Once in Chicago, I tried to contact both Delta and United to switch around my trip to Florida so I wouldn't have to return to Seattle. Didn't work. Tuesday night I had a 9pm flight to Seattle, and the following morning I would be flying from Seattle to Minneapolis, then on to Orlando. I couldn't believe what a waste it all was. I was dreadfully frightened that this flight would be cancelled, and then I would lose money and buy tickets again and AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH. I intended to get to the airport and try to fly standby on an earlier flight, but couldn't make it. In fact, I was unwell. By that I mean both physically and mentally. I caught a cold in Chicago and generally felt down.

Did I do the right thing by interviewing across the country? Where was my next check coming from? How was I going to pay for everything during this trip?

My mom tried to soothe me as I packed for Florida. While she folded my most gorgeous yellow cleavage bearing halter top, she wisely explained that my priorities were the reason for all this confusion. I used to want to travel all the time and I did that. Then I wanted to move away and I did that. Now things are different and since I haven't found my road, I've got some turmoil. She made it seem like it's all no big deal. Eventually it will be clear and easy. My parents said that they couldn't stand to see me like this and offered to help me financially, which is ridiculous because they're broke. It was a nice gesture. Due to this emotional day, I didn't get to the airport in time to fly stand-by and would have to hope that there weren't problems on this flight. I checked flight status all day and it said on time, so I was reassured.

Once checked in, I went straight to the bar. One beer was enough to calm me down and be ready for another 4 hour ordeal. Arriving at my gate I noticed there weren't any attendants there yet. It was odd. Then I noticed how few people were at the gate and it was getting close to boarding time. I mentioned to the girl across from me that this flight seemed really empty, and she replied: "You must have missed the announcement. They just said we're delayed 3 hours."

I was dumbstruck. This meant that I would arrive in Seattle at 1:30am, and need to be back at the airport by 6am. I was stunned for about an hour, but thank goodness for friends and a charged phone. I was just going to have to deal and remain positive that all the other components to this trip worked out. I'm not one of those ungrateful people that flip off the flight attendants, like others did that night. I know just how lucky I am to be able to fly up in the air with a bunch of people and cargo, but to have two terrible airport experiences back to back has given me airline preferences. United and I are no longer a team. They don't deserve my money.

As it was, I got to lie in a bed by about 2:30am, and a cab came to get us at at 5:00am. I wrote in my journal that night that I never want to fly again. Wherever I end up, people are going to have to visit me.

We made it to the gross hotel in Orlando by 10:30pm eastern time and intended to go across the street to Universal Studios by 8am the next morning. Yeah right. We didn't get there until 11.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

March Recap 2

Since I was in the back of the plane, I was one of the last people to exit and therefore way in the back of the line to talk to a human in customer service. Despite having a cheery disposition for the duration of my eight hours in the airport, this was when I started to cry. How embarrassing. Standing in the back of the line crying without any tissue handy is just awful. People looked at me for a second and looked away. I wondered if this is where you cut your loses, decide that clearly the job at Northwestern isn't in the cards, or if since you made it this far do you keep trying?

What ended up happening is that United Airlines called me with an automated message explaining that they already put me on the 6am flight and I was good to go then, unless I'd like to talk to someone in customer service. Well, I wanted to talk to someone in customer service. They left a number at the end of the message which I luckily remembered correctly, and by some miracle, I got through to a human.

This human was sympathetic to my teary explanation and somehow replaced my United flight with an American Airlines flight, which was leaving in 15 minutes. While I was on the phone with her waiting for a confirmation number I had to make my way to the American gate, and I didn't know where it was. I asked a few people, hopped on a shuttle, then another shuttle and by some stroke of luck ended up at the right place. The attendant at the gate was nice and eventually contacted someone that gave her my voucher number, because of course, it didn't go through in time.

After arriving at the Seattle airport at 8am PST, I was finally in Chicago by 10:30pm central; a full and preposterous day. I planned on reading interview questions that night and preparing for the interview, but instead was dead to the world.

The interview went ok as far as I could tell. I didn't like that they were interested in me due to the previous government experience, and that this job would be quite similar. I also didn't like that this was merely step 3 in the process and there would be a computer assessment afterwards, and yet another round of interviews if I am called again. It's amazing that a simple admin job requires all this trouble. Still, to get to this stage in the game is pretty lucky. I am told that there are 200 applicants for every position at a place like Northwestern, so I must have done the right thing by jumping on this. If I'm not the right person for this position, at least HR knows that I tried. Again, you never know when life happens.

That night I watched Suze Orman's new special on PBS. I felt like she was talking through the television directly to me. She went on and on about how we didn't value work and weren't prideful about earning. We weren't honest with ourselves and with others about our finances and always stretch it to the limit when we shouldn't. This rang true to me. I wasn't being honest with anyone about money. The truth was that I couldn't afford to move to Seattle and I couldn't afford to have my own place in Chicago. I couldn't afford to only work part time at the yoga studio. I couldn't afford to be a bridesmaid and have a vacation at this time. I couldn't afford gifts I gave to my family and new interview clothes that I bought for myself. I definitely couldn't afford to be flying all over the country and I can't afford a car, which is becoming a needed item.

I joked with my family that night that I wished I could live on The Island of Aviva for just one year. An island which would have no ailing grandmother, no broke parents, no trips to Israel, no boyfriend, no weddings, no funerals, no births, no clothing stores, etc. Admittedly, this is a silly and selfish desire. A few months in and I would be lonely as hell anyway, wondering where my life went. Still, there are times where we want so badly to please others and be there for everyone else, that something slips for ourselves. I am afraid that by taking seemingly selfish steps, I would lose the support of those that have been most supportive. Yet, what will happen if I continue on like this?

Monday, April 4, 2011

The March Recap 1

March was significant for me. I had a series of events which led to March being one of the busiest months of my life. I celebrated a birthday with good friends and fondue, pizza, cupcakes, etc, I interviewed for a job across the country from where I am currently living, I started a temp job, I was a bridesmaid in a wedding, I got lost on the way to another interview, and I was a defendant in an arbitration, which luckily I could participate in over the phone.

Much of this required flying around. I flew from Seattle to Chicago, from Chicago back to Seattle, from Seattle to Minneapolis, from Minneapolis to Orlando, from Tampa to Houston, and from Houston to Seattle. So much for watching my carbon footprint. If I had to fly back to Chicago for the arbitration I might have become homicidal.

Somehow turning 32 made me feel older. For the first time in a long time I feel older, like truly this age rather than the free spirited extended twenty something I was. When I got the call on my birthday that Northwestern wanted me to interview for a job I had a phone interview for a month earlier, and applied for 2 months previous to that, I felt like I should go. Surely this was the adult thing to do. What kind of idiot turns down an opportunity? I booked a last minute flight two days after my birthday and felt like I had done the right thing. You never know where opportunities come from. I joked with my mom that I should move to Israel, and then maybe I'll be offered a job in New Zealand. You never know when life happens.

And so despite being in Seattle for nearly a month and trying to regain a sense of life there, I found myself in the airport wondering just what would happen. I got there early, had a decent sandwich, and calmly read while waiting to board. Once on the plane and moments before departure we were told that there was an issue with the plane and a mechanic was called. It would be about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes they said it would be another 45 because the mechanic was called away due to a family emergency, and they were now waiting on another one. They said that if we'd like to get out and stretch our legs we were welcome to.

I went out to use a bathroom and make a call or two. I was mostly in good spirits because I figured it was nice of them to let us out of the plane. As long as I got to Chicago that day, everything would be fine. It didn't matter how late we left. It was a non-stop flight, so I really couldn't complain.

In 45 minutes they said that they didn't know when we would be leaving and that we needed to get all of our stuff off the plane since we might get another one. I went back on to retrieve my backpack since I had only taken my purse. It was gone.

I told the staff that someone took my backpack and they insisted that I must have moved it. They helped me look for a minute, but I said, no someone took it. It's black, I'm sure 20 people on this plane have black backpacks. Couldn't they just make an announcement at the gate? They refused and said I would have to report it to customer service. What stupidity. Someone just took the wrong bag. I panicked for a mili-second, but realized that I would just have to stalk everyone out there. I eventually spotted it with a young girl who was mortified for grabbing it, especially since her dad took her backpack. What can you do.

They said we would be leaving at 2:30. Plenty of people had to re-book or cancel due to their connections after this flight, but they announced that anyone just going to Chicago was fine and not to worry. We were leaving at 2:30.

So I boarded at 2:15. Once everyone was buckled in and they told the flight attendants to prepare for take off, we sat for another 10 minutes.

And then they announced that the flight was cancelled. We could get on another flight the next day at 6am. That flight was not going to get me to Chicago in time for my 10am interview downtown. It was also already 5pm Chicago time and I was unable to contact anyone at Northwestern to make a change.