Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Time, It FLIES.

Isn't there a Chinese or Arabic curse, along the lines of living in interesting times?  I TOTALLY get that.  I think I'm FINALLY sorta, somewhat close to a gloriously boring rut.  Oh, how I crave thee, boring rut!

Moving back to Ohio did not work out as anticipated.  I moved into a lovely house 50 miles from my parents, which realistically is as close as I will ever live, and in a bit over a year, they visited 3 times.  If I wanted to see them, or if I wanted them to see their only grandchild, I had to rearrange my schedule and drive to them.  Most of the friends I had in college left the state, the ones remaining weren't the friends I thought they were, except for the 2 who liked me but couldn't stand kids.

Then, on February 26, 2015, I walked into the first "weekly" meeting with my boss in months to find HR in there too.  The company was not growing as expected and they eliminated my position, effective immediately.  By the time the HR lady had gone through my severance letter, my boss had gathered everyone sitting around me and sent them off somewhere, found a couple of boxes, and was waiting at my desk.  He's a sales guy, my role made zero sense in his group, and I was basically counting down until I didn't owe back relocation anymore.  Still, that was a shock.

They gave me 5 weeks severance, 3 months worth of cash for COBRA, forgave the relocation debt, and paid for 3 months of a career placement service, so all things considered, they were pretty cool about it.  I was also eligible for unemployment.

I applied and interviewed for a bunch of jobs in Cleveland, but the offers I got were for contract work.  Meanwhile, my dream job back in Chicago had expressed interest in January, and I'd told them that I wasn't looking, but I saved the email.  The first thing I did after leaving my now-former company was finding that email and sending a note to the recruiter.  I had a couple phone interviews with them in March, they flew me to Chicago for the day for an interview on March 26, and told me in April that I was the "top candidate."    They had some internal hoops to jump through, and well, I sub-let a friend's apartment, moved cat and kid BACK to IL, and started my newest job on June 15, 2015.

(Due to Peanut's unwillingness to use a litter box, she has gone to live with my aunt.  Sophia would very much like for me to send Squeak (the toddler) to live with my aunt as well...)

My friend's apartment is in Evanston, which is about 40 miles from the job.  This sounds nuts, except that our original daycare is in Niles, about 8 miles from the apartment.  So, as a stop gap until I vetted a local daycare, it worked quite well.  I found a house in Naperville, and got the keys on 6/15/15. 

The newest "new" house.
The next week, I was in Ohio for the pack/load.  The following week, Squeak started at the new daycare, our stuff arrived at the new house, and we moved out of the apartment.

Moving is hell.  Unpacking is awful.  It is WAY worse with a mobile, curious toddler.  Oy.  Then a week or so later, Squeak fell on the stairs and broke her wrist.  Cue 6 weeks in a cast up past her elbow.

This is the third time in less than 10 years that I've moved to the Chicago area.  Maybe this time, I'll stay for a while.  *eyeroll*

I'm still unpacking.  We were only in the Ohio house about a year, so I didn't put much of a dent in all of the flood stuff.  Here, I haven't started on the basement.  Or my craft room.  I haven't found my Tupperware.  Colander.  Mixing bowls.  Favorite fall coat.  Squeak's snow pants.  But, we're getting there.  I found some Halloween decorations, and then this week, I took them down and started putting up Christmas decoration.

I was SO proud of myself - I did the ginormous bank of windows in the living room and it took 3 strings of lights, but I only had one bulb to overlap.  Yay, me!  And I got so hung up on hanging the lights that I completed disregarded how Squeak was going to react to them.  Which has basically been like this:

So keeping her from killing the lights has been entertaining.  *eyeroll*

In the spring, when the job offer looked like it was on the way, I texted Squeak's dad to let me know that we'd be back and he made it pretty clear that he didn't care.  No one can say that I haven't tried.

Squeak, in September

So, that's what's new here.  

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Well, That's That, Then.

Sometimes, I think my life is like a French farce.  Except not French.  And sometimes, not very funny.  So exactly like that but completely different.  Yup.

I found out on Friday, February 15, 2013 that Squeak was on the way.  I told her father on Monday, February 18, 2013.  We texted back and forth, but I didn't see him again until July 2013.  (He claims that he stopped over to my house several times, but I wasn't home.)  I told him and told him that I'd like to try us, but if he walked, I was moving back to Ohio to be near my family because I didn't think I could do it alone in Chicago.  He kept saying that he didn't want me to leave, and he wasn't going to walk, but I didn't see him very often.  (The sum total of his contribution, aside from kid herself, has been a broken shoestring to play with the cat.)  By the end of August, I'd interviewed for a job in Ohio, had a job offer and was negotiating salary requirements.  This, he knew.  After I accepted the job in Ohio, put in my notice in Chicago, and started preparing to move, he said again that he didn't want me to leave.  And spoke of transferring to Ohio as well.

I started the job in Ohio in the end of September, 2013.  I was back in Chicago in November 2013, December 2013, February 2014, April 2014 and June 2014.  Every time, we'd been texting, he wanted to see us, blah blah blah and then something came up and he couldn't make it.

I've made it clear that I wasn't going to go to court and demand anything from him, but I was not okay with his family not knowing about her.  We are both single, consenting adults.  These things happen.  My family is very small and far-flung.  His family is huge and relatively close.  Every time I got after him about telling them, I got "I know, I know, I'm going to." 

So in October 2014, I sent this:

You’ve made it pretty clear that you’re out, which is your choice.   But any drama that I can handle before she starts realizing what’s going on around her, I will. 

So here are your options:
1)      You have an excellent reason that you are keeping her a secret.  (Hint: I can’t think of anything excellent enough.)
2)      You tell your family that you have another daughter. 
3)      I will inform your family that you have another daughter.

Your call, but I’ve been about as patient as I’m going to be.  I’m not looking to jam you up or anything, but I won’t tolerate them not knowing at all.

If they chose to not care, that’s fine but she is not going to have to inform them that she exists. 

Let me know what you decide before the end of this month.  (Also, school pictures are tomorrow.  Let me know if you want one.)
And I got... no response.  His cell phone got shut off - again - but we both have kik.  I asked him if he'd gotten the email, and I know he read it, but he never responded.

So in November 2014, I wrote this:

I’ve been writing this on and off for several days.  I am not looking to make trouble for anyone, but I feel – strongly – that you have the right to know this.  Last May (5/14/13), I gave birth to C-- W---'s daughter.  Her name is xxxxx.  I also feel – even more strongly – that this notification of existence is not something I am willing to leave for her to have to deal with someday.  I have included pictures of her for you.  He has chosen to not be involved.
How you react is entirely up to you, but in my ideal world, you would choose to know her.  I have a small far-flung family.  She and I will get along just fine, but I think knowing you can only be a positive thing for her.      

Having a child was not ever in my plans, not even a little.  So, some restructuring of my life was necessary.  I moved back to Ohio, to be near my parents and other family.  Should you choose to be involved in whatever fashion in xxxxx’s life, I will be happy to work with you to make that happen.  (I have very dear friends in Nashville and Chicago, so trips to both places happen on a fairly regular basis.)

I suppose that you are wondering about me.  I was born and raised in xxxxx, Ohio by xxx and xxxx.  He is retired from xxxx and still does the occasional electrical contracting job, she was a secretary and a homemaker.  They still live together in the house where I grew up with my younger brother.  I graduated from the xxxxx, with a degree in xxxx Engineering.  I have a career that I love, in supplier quality engineering, that helps make me financially stable.  It has moved me from Ohio to Chicago, North Carolina, back to Chicago, and now back to Ohio, in addition to allowing me to travel extensively.  I have a slew of hobbies – pottery, reading, cross-stitch, geocaching, etc – that have all currently taken a bit of a back seat to child rearing.  I met C--- online in July 2013 on an online dating site.  

xxxxx (or Squeak or BJ or monster or …) is a very active and healthy toddler.  She had a heart murmur that was corrected with a cardiac catharization procedure this summer.  We’ve corrected the tongue tie, but still need to handle the lip tie.  She loves helping, throwing things on the floor, and mauling the cats (now that she’s fast enough to catch them).  Live music is her favorite, socks are for eating, and her primary goals in life include successfully capturing someone’s – anyone’s – smart phone, climbing out of the pack n play, and going headfirst down stairs.  Generally, it’s time to find her when you hear the crash, followed by “uh oh” (which is her favorite word).  I hope that you decide to know her.

I’ll not bother you further, but I want the best for Squeak and welcome your involvement.  Please feel free to contact me by phone [personal cell: xxx; work cell (that actually gets reception in my house): xxx], email [personal: xxx, work: xxx], online [] or via mail [xxx].
The packets included this letter, my business card, her birth announcement, last year's Christmas card, her "school" picture, and about 40 snapshots from birth to current age.  I'd google stalked his parents and found their address in Tennessee, and his aunt's work address in Illinois.  The two packets went out registered mail on 11/18/14.

Then the person who signed for the TN packet was NOT one of his parents.  And the facebook message I sent to his mom went to her "other" folder, where she will NEVER find it.  And the woman in IL called me because it turns out he's got one of the most common last names in the country and in spite of her being a real estate agent at the same company that his dad retired from after 30+ years, they are not related.

So I returned to my stalking, and discovered his dad's sister-in-law is an artist and had a show at their library.  I really liked her work, and I've been filling Squeak's nursery with family (blood and chosen) art for her.  I called the library, and told them that I'd seen her show and wanted to buy a painting for my daughter's nursery and could they put me in touch?  She works there, so she called the next day.  We talked about the painting - size, cost, subject, etc - and then she asked how I found the show, given that I was in Cleveland.  So I told her.  And she asked if his parents knew, and then freaked out over her facebook settings which were supposed to be private.  She didn't care about another child at all, just that she had to adjust her settings.  *headdesk*  We left it that she would email me a picture of the painting when it was done, and if she talked to his mom, she'd tell her to check the "other" folder.

In the course of my stalking, I'd found a cell phone number for his dad.  So around Thanksgiving, I called it and his mom answered.  I said "My name is Ericka xxxx, and I sent you a package in October.  I'm calling to confirm receipt."  And she said, "I have no desire to talk to you."  And I said, "Okay, thank you" and hung up.  I'm sorry, my baby, I tried.

So.  That's that.

I won't contact his kids while they are minors, but his daughter is 16.  I suppose, in 2 years, I'll need to think about that.  For now, though, Squeak has me and that'll just have to be enough.

This is really long.  Wow.  So, here's a picture of my kid since you made it this far.  How could you not want to know her??

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Air Travel Tips

I posted this last year on Facebook and was told I should publish it.  Heh.

Ahhhh, the glamor of travel... I know that I travel a lot, and should be more patient with people who CLEARLY never leave their house but gods above, people, you make me crazy!  Congratulations, Cleveland Hopkins, you definitely win some kind of wanna-be Darwin award for the sheeple wandering helplessly around the airport tonight (11/19/2013).

So, as a public service announcement, please observe the following guidelines:

1. DO have your boarding pass and id ready before you get to the first check-point.

2. Do NOT give the boarding pass to your toddler to hold.  Or your passport.  Who does that?!?

3. Do NOT freak out on the TSA guy when he won't just believe that your toddler dropped your passport and boarding passes somewhere and he should just let you thru so you can make your plane.  This is not his fault.  It's not the toddler's fault either so I'm totally judging you for yelling at him until he cried (toddler, not TSA guy).  Way to go, parent of the year.

4. DO realize - before you reach security - that your teenager DOES need his/her own ticket/boarding pass.

5. Do NOT wear thigh high, skin tight, lace up boots.  WTF, woman?

6. Do us all a favor and take off coat, belt, shoes, etc as you go, just like the rest of us.  Also, the five pounds of scrap metal that you hung around your neck is going to need to come off too.

7. DO put toiletries in the approved baggie prior to your arrival at security.  Yes, it's stupid.  Screaming at the TSA agents because they won't let you take a 32 ounce bottle of shampoo thru just makes all of us want to beat you to death with it.  And we don't care that you paid $200 for the face goo in the 5 ounce container.  This confirms our opinion of your intelligence.  The many steel balls of various sizes in your braids made for a festive touch as well, 'cause that looked FINE on the x-ray.  Yay for planning ahead!

8. Do NOT stop suddenly and stare helplessly into space in the middle of the hallway.  You will get run over, and I'm wearing steel toes, so it's going to hurt. 

9. Those moving walkways?  They are not called "stand theres," are they?  MOVE, dammit.

10. When you get on the plane first, and you have an aisle seat, do NOT assume that the plane is yours and make yourself comfy by spreading everything you own across all three seats.  We love having to wait longer while you gather everything up so the window guy can get in.  Really.

11. Before you leave your house, pick up your carryon.  If you can't lift it, remove some of your stuff or check the bag.  Do NOT get to your seat, stare at the overhead, announce that you can't pick up your luggage and then plunk yourself down in your seat and expect someone else to load your belongings for you.  Also?  When we all get off the plane and the escalator isn't working, don't expect your fellow passengers to haul your shit up the staircase.

And finally, 12. When a woman lugging a carseat with an infant in it plus her carryon comes onto the plane, accompanied by her 2 small children, standing there bitching about how you hate traveling near children while watching her struggle to get everyone settled AND blocking the aisle so no one else can help her either makes YOU the problem, not her.  (Note: I have no idea how that woman did it - she's clearly some sort of magician - but her children played and talked very quietly the entire flight.  That woman deserves a metal.)

Friday, November 07, 2014

Joss and Main Soho Console Chest UPDATED

Do you ever have one of those lives where every little thing is just a hassle?

In January, I fell in love.  With a console table.  It was beautiful and called to me.  But it was very expensive, so I mourned and moved on.  And then in April, I found it again at about a third of the price.  So I ordered it from Joss and Main.  And then they delayed the delivery 4 times – stretching it out until December.  And then they cancelled the order.  And I was sad.  And also angry.  They were keeping me from my love.  Isn’t it wonderful?  So I called early last week and growled and they put the order back in because it was available on a sister site except she had to mess with it to get the price the same as what I paid because they were charging over $100 more for it.  And also, after the 4th delay I emailed them and grouched so they gave me $15 off.  And it was to be delivered LAST WEEK instead of December.  And the sun came out and I was so happy.

So pretty.  So perfect for my living room...
And I got home last Wednesday and there was a huge heavy box on my porch and I was SO excited!  I hauled it into the house and tore into it like a 3 year old on Christmas morning.  And they sent the wrong g*dd*mn color.  This thing is hideous.  I love blue, usually.  But, yuck.

So not pretty.  :-(

I chatted with them last Thursday because there’s no way I would not have used bad words on the phone because they are thwarting me, g*dd*mm*t, and I’ve had about enough of that lately.  And they said that they'd send another one.  And I have to keep this one for 3 weeks in case they want to come inspect it.  And if I didn't hear from them, I could donate it.  

So then Saturday, the doorbell rang and POOF there was ANOTHER huge box on my porch.  YAY!   I dragged it inside (heavy!), but this time, I was a bit more careful in opening the box, which was fortunate because THEY SENT THE WRONG DAMN COLOR AGAIN.  I called ( this time) and spoke to a manager (Jesse) and sent him pictures of the boxes and the lower shelves and he said that he'd talk to the warehouse on Monday and figure out what was going on.  (Both boxes said that they were the black one.  Both boxes were wrong.)

Then Wednesday, I emailed Jesse because I hadn't heard anything and he came back and said that he hasn't heard back from the warehouse and he hoped that he'd have something by Friday (today, for those keeping track at home).

Soon, hopefully, maybe, possibly, my lovely lovely chest will be here where it belongs.  Until then, I have TWO huge boxes taking up most of the room in my living room, I've waited 6 months for something that was supposed to take a week, and I've spent at least an hour emailing, chatting and talking to various people trying to get things straightened out.  *growl.  snarl.*  Why can't ANYTHING be easy??

Next up, a sleeper sofa for the living room.  Except I want a queen, but 60 inches wide.  So at least I will remain reasonable in my demands...


I did not hear from Jesse on Friday.  I emailed him again on Tuesday (11/11/14) and asked for the status.  And heard nothing.   

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Oh, Good. More Snot.

My daughter turned 11 months old two days ago.  She's getting increasingly mobile, right as I'm FINALLY getting ready to move into our new house.  (Pack/load is Monday.)

I love my daughter.  I do.

But I hate being a parent.  I resent the ending of my life in Chicago.  There is nothing satisfying or enjoyable about 90% of this.  Why the fuck does anyone do this voluntarily?  Turns out?  Those 30 years I spend not wanting children, not even a little bit?  I knew what I was talking about.

How am I going to keep doing this?  When I don't like my job, and I can't fix it, and it's not going to get better, I leave.  And now I'm trapped in this godforsaken backwater with this time-sucking little beast.  And it is not going to get better.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Finish!

This is "Tempest in a Teacup."  He's a free pattern by Teresa Wentzler.  TW is known for thousands of colors, crazy fractional stitches and insane back stitching, but I LOVE the way her patterns turn out.  Of course, this is the first one of hers that I've managed to complete and I don't even want to talk about how long it took me...

But, it's done it's done itsdonedoneDONE!  Yay!  *insert happy snoopy dance here*

Monday, March 10, 2014

Maybe, Maybe, Maybe

On the 18th of February, I went browsing through a realtor's online portal and found this house.  This lovely, lovely house.  I sent a request for more information via the site and then also called and then called again, because I NEED A HOUSE.  The realtor (MY realtor) sent the request over to the person handling the listing and heard... nothing.  And so she called and called and called and emailed and the woman responded to her string of questions by email, and answered one question.  And so it's been. 

It took until February 24 to arrange for a viewing, and my realtor emailed me that day to cancel because she hadn't gotten confirmation back and then emailed again in the afternoon to cancel her cancellation 'cause she'd finally heard back.  I walked through the house on the 24th, turned to my realtor and said "this is it.  make it so."

It is now the 10th of March and I still do not have a lease.  I have a signed form saying that they are going to do a lease, which my realtor assures me means that the house is mine.  I will feel SO much better about this when I have a lease.  GIMME THE HOUSE.

On one hand, if the realtor for the house had been at all tech-savy, I would probably not have found the house.  And I do mean at all - I'm on Zillow, trulia, hotpads,, yahoo homes,, craig's list, various online newspapers, several realtor's portals and several other locations - and this house showed up NOWHERE.  If you google the address, it shows up for sale on one site that I've never heard of.  When I drove by it, the 'for sale' sign in the front yard was hand-lettered.  So in this market, where rentals are gone in a day, this house has been available since NOVEMBER.  In November, I was in the midst of my "we shall audit all the things" whirl of travel so odds are very good that the house would have been long gone before I was available to see it.  So, I should be patient because this is going to work for me.  Patient.  I shall be patient.  GIMME THE HOUSE! 

Evidently, the owners have never rented before and they're freaking out over drawing up a lease so they have their attorney drawing it up.  And there's a new request for information about every day.  Last week, they requested names, ages, pictures and assorted other information about my cats.  So I sent them this.  I see no way this could possibly go wrong...

(Yes, I did send real pictures of my cats later.  No one but my super cool realtor saw this one.  Relax...)
My perfect house is older, updated with character, 4 bedrooms (upstairs), 2 bathrooms, 2 car garage (I prefer detached, with garage behind house), basement, eat-in kitchen with dining room, space somewhere for a baby pottery studio of my own, fireplace, nice front porch, and room for my books.  I want 4 bedrooms because I'd really like to have a dedicated guest room.
THIS house is older (1924), updated with character (yay, built-ins!), 2 bedrooms upstairs (one of which was 2 rooms until they took down the connecting wall) and one bedroom downstairs, 2 bathrooms, 2 car detached garage behind house, basement, dining room (with bonus woodstove!), a separate room in the basement where I can put a baby pottery studio of my own, fireplace, fantastic front porch, and room for my books.  There's also what the owners call an "artist's loft" at the top of the stairs, so I need to wander the house and ponder a bit, but the downstairs bedroom may become a dedicated guest room and my craft room can go in the artist's loft, with overflow in my bedroom.  the kitchen is not big enough to be eat in, but there's a family room off the dining room (which has hard floors.  why does anyone ever put carpet in a dining room?  my darling child can spread a single green bean around a 5 foot radius, for pete's sake.  carpet = bad.) and a living room that is the front of the house, so there's probably space for my lovely tables. 
There's also a fantastic patio in the back and a very small amount of grass to deal with.  (Have I mentioned my hatred of grass?  I hate grass.  Biggest waste of resources ever.  What is wrong with meadow?  Grrrr.)
AND it's only about 5 miles each way to work!  Huzzah!
So it only took 5 months, but I think I have a house!  Soon, hopefully, I'll have a comfy little rut, in my house, with my stuff to call my own.  YAY!
Just as soon as they GIMME THE HOUSE!!  (Patient.  I will be patient.  If it kills me.  And them.)