Talks Chicago, Talks Church, Talks Home

Murphy’s Law, Mulligans and Grace

Friday was a bad day.

Little background…Maggy is itching. Olympic itching. Wake you in the night itching. Give her Valium itching. We have a new vet that prescribed anti-itch medication which is helping but she still itches. $200 over 10 days itching…it’s makin’ me nuts (imagine how she feels).

More background…I’m in pain. Ever since we moved to the city I’m battling Olympic Pain arthritis and headaches. I also have a new doctor (not the vet) who is doing detective work and I’ll know more soon but for now let me say, it’s discouraging.

Friday the itching and headache crossed paths and Maggy and I almost parted ways.

After a wakeup at 6:45 am to Olympic itching and Olympic headache #3 for the week, I decide at 7:15 to put her back in her crate, her safety and my sanity are at stake.  Unfortunately the single cup of coffee that I brewed got in the way of my blanket fling, leaving an enormous wet spot on the living room carpet that threatens the hardwood floor beneath.

Crating Maggy, I proceed to move furniture and fold back the carpet so it can dry before ruination of the rented floors is complete. With no coffee and headache in full swing I decide to move along with my day. I have 2 errands planned (that’s how we do it in the big city, we plan our errands) and lunch in the suburbs with our daughter from another mother, Elya. It’s her 22nd birthday and I have a present to deliver.

After tidying up, I shower, eat and swallow some Tylenol. I’m ready to head out.

Errand #1 is my sewing machine repair guy, less than a mile from home. My 34 yr old Pfaff (which I will never part with) is in rehab for a basement stair accident, and a fall off the moving truck. I found this guy on Google and I’m in love with him. Just an aside–how did we ever live without Google and Google Maps? His shop is older than me, smells like stale cigarettes, has machines dating back to the 1800’s, a couple of industrial ones that look especially intriguing. There’s a shoe making sewing machine and an industrial serger that does 3,000 RPM–be still my heart. Simon is Polish, 75 and a flirt so I’m looking forward to this errand. Parking is my one hurdle but I have that nailed from my previous trip.

But first, I have to pick up doggie poo in the yard and carry it through the detached garage to the garbage. To accomplish this I remember to bring a poo bag from the apartment before I lock up. I open the backyard garage door and load my things in the car, open the big garage door and begin to pick up poo. As I’m bent over collecting specimens, the backyard door blows closed effectively trapping me in my yard. As I see it blow shut, it takes a couple of minutes to register just how trapped I am.

No phone

No keys

No people in my building

No way to get back into the apartment or my car

I give in and swear

Standing there with a bag full of dog poo and no way to toss it, I think through my options. Momentary panic that I could be stuck indefinitely, until it dawns on me that I can exit the property through the front gate and walk around the block, through the alley and enter my garage from outside. So, carrying my poo bag I head out. There are a few neighbors in the alley who give me odd looks, but no way am I acknowledging I did such a suburban thing as getting myself trapped in my own backyard. Once I reach the garage, dump the poo and settle into my car I reassure myself that this isn’t going to ever happen again,


Sewing machine shop found, parking found ($.50 in the meter, free space is full), Simon found and flirted with, machine paid for–all is well. Later I learn that I didn’t have my foot pedal and need to make a second trip.

Ignorance = grace.

As I head out of town I look for a drive through coffee to atone for my spilled one, it seems to help with Olympic Headache Syndrome. Unfortunately all drive throughs are on the opposite side of the road and I’m not mentally healthy enough to deal with crossing traffic. This is Chicago. It can involve one way streets, dead ends, returning to the main drag with no light, risking your life getting back on the road, better to play it safe and keep driving.

Finally, I can’t wait any longer and I find a walk up Dunkin’ Donuts. Park, drop my phone under the car, kneel down in a puddle to retrieve it.

Grace #2–my server tells me I’m beautiful.

I look up at her and say “REALLY?!” I’m stunned for a moment. Beauty is the furthest thing from my mind and under the circumstances a huge stretch. She insists, even detailing her comment so I accept, hopefully with graciousness.

After I get back in my car I see the drive through window on my side of the road…

I reach Elya, she looks good, loves her present. We have a lovely lunch at a tony Mexican restaurant in Arlington Heights, walking distance from the train that goes near my neighborhood…

There were a couple more irritating hiccups to the day. The ATM at the gas station (#2 errand) is broken so I have to GO INSIDE and buy a set amount of gas. It messes with my OCD tendencies that want an all the way full tank. A large, black Infinity SUV honks her way around me, scaring me senseless. Later I see that same SUV with part of it’s wheel well flying in the breeze after flapping itself all along the side of my car.

Friday traffic in Chicago is monstrous.

During my drive home Bruce calls, let’s say he gets an earful. Poor guy. I even throw out “YOU’RE the picky one who moved us here, I could have found us a church closer to home”, which is patently untrue but feels right in the moment.

As I walk in the apartment Maggy greets me with her usual enthusiasm, itching her underbelly the whole time. I cry, call her a good girl and let her out to pee. We have moment or two before I give her a tranquilizer.

I share all of this to say that obedience costs. For me, it’s convenience. I love suburban living with it’s ease and comfort, I take it for granted. It’s in short supply in the city. As much as I am at peace with the decision to move here I am still a stranger in this land. This isn’t home yet…I don’t speak Chicago-ese OR Spanish.

Which would really, really, really help with my neighbor’s little girls who are so amazingly cute I want to bake them cookies and read them books on my lap, in English.

But there is grace…





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