The Lake. Any Time Of The Year

The other day, an Uber driver who drove me and mom home from EuroAsia restaurant told us that he used to live almost where mom lives now, and he now lives in Arlington Heights. I laughed and told him that we just moved in the opposite direction. But what was really funny was that he immediately started talking about the thrill of living a block from the lake, almost in the same words as I talk about it: I never lived so close to the water, it was unreal!

… I walk to the lake several times a week, and in winter, it is as beautiful as it is during the warmer season.

How Crazy A Birthday Can Go

Almost like the year 2021, my birthday turned more eventful than I would like it. I only slept for 3.5 hours the night before because I needed to finish a report (I had to present it to the customer at 10 AM the following day). A coworker told me that he would help me to process the raw data (the program which should be doing it ended with unexplained errors), and then he didn’t. After I realized that I wouldn’t get any help and I would need to process the data manually, I could not get to the task right away. I had two medical appointments to which I had to take my mom, and then I had Chicago PUG. So I started at 8:30 PM, worked till 1 AM, slept until 4:30, and then continued.

On top of it, it turned out that I had a COVID contact over the weekend, and then I had an unexpected day of fatigue on Monday, which under the circumstances could be interpreted as COVID. So it was home testing, frantic talks with Boris about whether I should exchange my ticket, looking for a testing site nearby (and I had zero time for all of that – see the previous paragraph).

I had a great meeting with a client, went to COVID test, got a negative result, shared with Boris, and then instead of going to sleep, when to the EuroAsia restaurant with Igor and Mom to celebrate my birthday.

The only thing I can think of now is sleeping, and wishing that not the whole year will be like that!

About New Year Resolutions

Speaking about my New Year resolutions, I am very determined to put them into action and have already made multiple changes to my daily activities. For one week, I did what I hadn’t done for a while – recorded all my activities through the day and what I spent time on, including things I do in parallel, like exercising and listening to an audiobook.

Another thing I am trying to be consistent with is going to bed before 11 PM, preferably at 10:30 PM. I am up around 4-30 AM regardless of the day of the week, and I know that although for a while, five and a half hours was enough sleep for me, now it is six hours. I didn’t sleep enough in December, and it negatively affected everything in my life. There are still only a few days when I go to bed at 10:30, but at least it’s always before 11.

And yet another thing I am trying to be more aware of is the time I spend on social media. Funny story – most people think they should do less of it, while I know I need to do more :). There was not enough of my professional presence at the end of 2021. I am allocating enough time to do meaningful things on LinkedIn and my professional blog. Also, I started using Twitter because it is professionally required. I am still struggling to do it in a meaningful way :).

Also, I am working really hard on not abanding relationships I have with many people, in real life and virtually. It’s easy to say, “I have no time for this,” but it goes both ways: people need me, and I need them. I am trying to reach out to those from whom I didn’t hear for a while because I understand that sometimes they also feel uneasy to contact me because they think it was “too long” and “I am busy.” So far, it proved working 🙂

More House Repairs

The Christmas tree ordeal was not really that bad. The real problem happening at the same time was my furnace. I knew that both the furnace and AC were old when I moved in and that, ideally, I had to replace them both. But having the list of things that didn’t work at the time of my move, I decided to try to last through the winter. Actually, after I refinanced, I theoretically could replace the furnace, but at that time, all my work things started, and I had no bandwidth to think about any house repairs. 

Well, it didn’t last through the winter. Moreover, it broke on Sunday morning. And it was a cold morning :). 

Out of four places I called for emergency service, only one was able to come the same day. They fixed the furnace, and I signed a service agreement with them, and when they asked whether I wanted to replace the furnace, I agreed. And I agreed to replace the air conditioner at the same time :). We agreed on the installation date of January 19, but the furnace stopped working the next morning again! They came and fixed it. They left the door off and showed me which button to push for restart. And a couple of hours later, their manager called and asked me whether I wanted the new furnace to be installed immediately … 

So now I have a new furnace, a new air conditioner, and a couple of takeaways.

  • The brick buildings can keep the warmth! There was no heating for seven hours, and the lowest the indoor temperature went down was 63F.
  • Only do business with companies that provide emergency service during after-hours.
  • When it’s time to replace, replace. 
  • In many cases, it’s good to work from home!

Christmas Tree Removal

I have always cut and chopped my Christmas trees and burned them in my fireplace for the past several years, so I didn’t need to think about their disposal. But I also knew that there was a certain day when I could leave a tree by the garbage containers, and the village would pick it up.

With this in mind, I didn’t think it would be a big deal to get rid of a Christmas tree while living in Chicago – I heard that there were a lot of free programs available. But when I checked on the first week of January, it turned out that you have to drop your tree off at designated sites. I couldn’t do it without a car, and no Uber would drive a tree for me. I looked and looked, and nobody was offering this service. A couple of websites indicated that they are sold out. Finally, I found one service called Tree Santa and signed for a tree pickup on January 10.
The night before, I stripped the tree of all decorations, and Igor and I carried it down and put it in the corner of our courtyard.

They were supposed to text me the day before about a more precise pickup time, so when there was nothing, I messaged them, and they replied that they had too many requests and staff shortage, and they extended pickups till January 21, and can they move me to the EOW. I told them I could only wait till Wednesday, and they promised to reschedule.

The new pickup time was set to 2:30 PM on January 12. At 3:15 I messaged them and asked what’s the ETA :). They said that they are struggling (which I completely understand!) and that they will update me. At 5:15 (since they are supposedly working till 5 PM only) I messaged that it’s OK, I understand, but tomorrow is absolutely the last day. They messaged back: are you sure the tree is still there? I replied – yes, because I would need to unlock the gate for somebody to pick up the tree!

Then, at 6:30, I went skating because I didn’t want to miss this opportunity again. And guess what – when I was skating, somebody called me: can you open the gate? Well, it was almost 8 PM, and I was 50 minutes away from my house!

I started to text my neighbors, nobody responded right away, but in 2 min the tree person called me and said that somebody had let him in. Well, it ended up being my neighbor :). ‘
All well that ends well, but that’s a very typical story of this COVD winter!

Skating And The City Lights

Yesterday, I finally did what I wanted to do for a very long time: I went skating after work, for the last timeslot. Each time I tried before, it was always something that would stop me :). And maybe, I just didn’t want to get out of the house in the dark of the night.

I am so glad I did it yesterday; I had a lot of work that had fallen on me by the very end of the workday, and I made an effort to step out (full disclosure- I took my laptop with me :))

I know it’s a cliche, but the city lights are magical, and skating under the city lights instantaneously filled me with joy! I planned to skate for just half an hour but ended up skating until they called the patrons off the ice 🙂

Mom’s Birthday

Mom’s birthday was on Monday. I didn’t have the mental capacity for a big dinner, so I made tea and ordered lots of pastries from Vanille Chicago. Also, I inaugurated the tea trolley – Boris was convincing me for a while that I need it 🙂

Luckily, Igor didn’t have to go to the meeting he had to cover, so we were able to spend some time together. My neighbor stopped by as well, which was very nice of her!

Things Evolve. Why Is It So Difficult To Understand?

Rex Huppke’s column in Monday’s Tribune was about the teacher’s strike and their fight with Mayor Lori, and there was a paragraph that I especially liked. I liked It because I always felt being in the minority when I tried to explain this to other people: public guidelines change not because all officials are stupid, but because our knowledge about the situation changes.

And also, because overall circumstances might change.

Here is this quote:

We need to do all we can to get back to a semblance of pre-pandemic life. And at this point virtually everyone agrees that a top priority is keeping kids in school for in-person learning.

But that desire for normalcy doesn’t jibe with the unpredictability of a virus. The problem we’ve had, almost from the start, is a lack of patience and an unwillingness to accept that sometimes our understanding of new things evolves, and circumstances change.

First we were told masks weren’t necessary, then we were told they’re crucial. That’s because scientists developed a better understanding of how the virus is transmitted, but many took it as, “Well, they don’t know what they’re talking about and I don’t want to wear one of those face diapers anyway!”

The vaccines were good at preventing the spread of earlier variants, but the omicron variant has proven better at infecting vaccinated people. So some see that and as evidence vaccines don’t work, totally ignoring the fact that vaccinated people who get COVID-19 rarely need to be hospitalized.

The pandemic seemed to be receding, but now, with omicron and the colder winter months, it has surged again. Some can’t handle that concept and say we just need to open up everything and live our lives.

That’s what many are saying about the public schools in Chicago: “How dare they shut down again! Open it up! Even if my kids gets COVID-19, they’ll be fine.”

The words “my kids” are at the heart of this country’s problem, and the reason we’re all but destined to continue struggling with this virus.

It’s an excellent article in general, but I find these paragraphs I cited especially important. For months now, I do not understand why many people can’t understand just that – that our collective knowledge changes, that virus evolves and that recommendations have to change, it does not mean that officials “do not know what they are doing/saying.” And I do not know why it is so difficult to understand.