Nature In The City Center

Another lost and forgotten post. On Memorial Day, when all the wedding-related festivities were over, Boris and I went to the Art Institute – I wanted to show him both Dali and Van Gogh exhibits, and after that, we went to the Luiri Garden. It is not even close to the prairie, which I miss dearly but still stunningly beautiful.

CTA Accident

Just found out that I didn’t publish this post on Sunday when I wrote it (and was wondering why everybody reacted to my lost nail, and nobody reacted on this one). Anyway, publishing it now.

Today, we went to the matinee performance of West Side Story in the Lyric Opera. “Us” included me, my mom, and my neighbor. I chose a matinee performance for this show a long time ago because I thought that that was the show that my mom would enjoy.

She did; she liked it to the extent that she didn’t make any negative comments. But I wanted to share something else about this outing.

Most of the time, I try to take Uber when I take mom out; however, the last couple of days were impossible with all the road construction and Taylor Swift concerts, so after consulting with my neighbor, I decided that we would take the Red line and then a bus to Lyric opera. 

We started way in advance, and the train was on time. However, as it often happens on the Red line, a person asking for “some change” appeared. I give to people on the streets most time, but I never give on the CTA, because that’s a violation, and there are many other places where people can ask for money.

I ignored the requests. Requests turned into hysterical crying (Anybody! AnybodyAny change!!!) Since this is not an unusual scene, and since I had mom with me, I didn’t pay much attention to the development of the event, and the next thing I realized (after the fact) was that this woman tried to commit suicide and managed to almost completely open the doors while the train was running.

The CTA crew stopped the train, then they came and escorted this woman to the front of the train and called for police assistance. We were very close to Sheridan station, but we could not move until the train crew received confirmation that the police arrived and were ready to take this person into custody.

We sat there for 25 minutes with the train engine off (and consequently the A/C off). I was afraid that we would be late (my neighbor was waiting for us by the Lyric entrance), but also, this whole situation was so horrible and hopeless…

Save Ukrainian Children Rally

I could not make it to this rally because it was happening precisely at the same time as the West Side Story matinee, and it does not make me happy at all, especially because there was not so many people.

Igor made a lot of pictures, but I think that this short video says it better. We bothregret that despite of explicit request not to mix this event with Navalny meeting, some people still tried.

On the more optimistic note, I share Igor’s joy about a person who came to the rally because they saw Igor’s flyer, and about another person who shared that they were very “Crimea-is-ours/Great Russia/Pro-Putin” but when they started to explore the information on the Tlegram channell, it changed them entirely, and now they when out to support demands to stop atrocities.

I believe in math :), so “one person at a time” works for me.

What’s In The People’s Heads?!

Boris went to Saint Petersburg for a couple of days: one more attempt to fetch his money (unsuccessful), officially closing all relationships with all Russian academic institutions, and some other stuff. When he called me, I asked him sarcastically how it feels to be in the rear of the enemy; he replied very seriously: the worst thing is that they don’t understand that they are enemies!

I think he is getting this kind of shock each time he goes there, and each time I am shocked when I hear these reports from him: for the vast majority of Russian, “nothing is happening; life goes on.”

We both heard it many times, but it still feels too absurd to accept: people are crying about “unprovoked terrorist attacks on peaceful Russian citizens,” and they “do not know” about airstrikes in Kyiv. Because they do not want to know. Because they repeat the same propaganda cap that “Russia only strikes military structures.” They “do not know”; they do not want to know about children dying. Yes, there are no reports about that in the official Russian news, but everybody has VPN to do Instagram ad Facebook, so people choose not to check the alternative sources; they choose not to know… And not just the older generation (Igor sadly reports this state of mind after each conversation with his grandfather), but the younger one. Undergrads. PhD students. We should have accepted that a long time ago, but it still strikes…


I am moving through my To-Do list. 

After all the lights were put up, I asked the handyman to change the wiring of the lights so that I won’t have a string of lights down to the plug, which he did. Also, Boris replaced the remaining locks, and now finally, I have all four locks opening by one key, and all the locks are working!

I finished planting, and the flowerbeds look amazing. And I have the artwork on the wall, something I have wanted to have since I moved here! 

Most of my neighbors have some artwork, but the people who lived in this apartment before removed whatever they had on the wall, so I could only see the remaining screws. I was looking for something I could place on the wall for the past two summers and finally found something three weeks ago at the Greenleaf Art Center Open House.

This art was absolutely not like what I envisioned when I was thinking about this hypothetical art on my wall, but I saw it and loved it! Initially, I eyed another piece, which was monochrome, but when I talked to the artist and showed her a picture of the wall and a balcony, I suddenly thought that the other board, with pink elements, would look better. 

Angela (that was the artist’s name) agreed to put an extra protection coating on the board, and we agreed that I would pick it up in two weeks. Now, the board is there, and my balcony looks perfect, and I am ready to enjoy the summer!

And One More Accident

Just to complete the list of this week’s horror stories. On Saturday morning, I went on a relatively long bike ride. I had a long to-do list, and my cleaning person was going to come at 8 AM, and another contractor was going to show up at 8-30. I was determined to take advantage of an early sunrise and make it to the Mill and back within an hour or an hour and ten minutes.

Everything was perfect, including the weather. I was on my older bike and was moving very fast (I still need to figure out why the new bike is slower). I made it even a little bit past the Mill and was returning, and almost at the end of the Lakefront Trail, there was a lady suddenly walking with her bike between her legs, bypassing a heap of sand.

Since I had already passed this sand on the way forward, I knew it was fine to bike over it, and I decided to pass this lady on the left (and on the sand), which… didn’t end up well.

I didn’t ever realize at first that I had an injury: I didn’t hit my head at all, and the bike was fine, and then she started to yell at me that I shouldn’t have tried to pass her, and thee was a reason why she was walking and that I need to go to the emergency because I am bleeding.

I thought that it was just a scratch on my knee and waved her off. Only when I mounted on my bike again, I realized that the nail of my left thumb is barely hanging on a thin strip of skin and was bleeding. I tore it off completely (what else could I do?), took a tissue out of my pocket and wrapped it around my thumb, and then continued my ride home.

I didn’t even feel much pain. I came home, parked my bike, went upstairs and watered the flowers on the balcony, and set down to type a short email to Boris. Then suddenly, I felt that I had trouble breathing, and I started sweating, and everything around me went dark. I tried to stand up, and then I realized I needed to lie down on the floor because otherwise, I would fall down. Perhaps, I did fall down anyway because my watch asked me whether I had fallen!

Long story short: it is not fun, but 1) good thing it happened this weekend, not the previous one! 2) Good thing it does not prevent me from typing! 3) it will take a very long to heal, and the surface will continue to be very sensitive for a while 4) but it will grow back eventually!

Request For Evidence Disaster

When my mom passed the citizenship test, and the officer told us that now we just need to collect the evidence that mom didn’t commit any crimes during these past five years, I thought that it would be easy and was internally celebrating.

It turned out that it was anything but easy. Although the paper from USCIS was more than a page long, it didn’t provide any specifics on where and how we should collect that evidence. The office told us that we should go to the “local police department,” and they will know what paper we need.

I called the Palatine police department Department of Records, and their supervisor told me that indeed, she knew what kind of paper I need, and I do not need an appointment, just come during business hours.

Assuming that it would be the same in Rogers Park, I asked Igor to take my mom there, and that turned into a total disaster. They told Igor that they are not doing background checks, and have a document to prove it, and that Igor and my mom should go to the headquarters. They didn’t want to listen or look at the paper Igor tried to show them.

After Igor called me, I called the Police station three times, trying to explain what we needed. Three people hung up on me. I decided to try to reach the headquarters. There was no information on their website, but I found a direct number to call central 311 and pleaded with the office on the other end not to hang up on me!

The office gave me the Department of Records phone number, which turned out to be the right place. Our local police station could not provide the document we needed, but for a different reason than they cited… and why in the world could they not give us the same phone number in the first place?!

Igor took mom to the headquarters because the phone number is nowhere on the internet, only to find out that they were open until 1 PM, and it was too late by that time.

The next day, mom and I went to Palatine, and it was again the same story (they didn’t know whether they could give this paper, and mom was not in their system (and that’s precisely what we needed). They suggested they “call me later,” and I said that we came from Chicago and I was not going anywhere.

Forty minutes later, we finally got the paper and went home.
Then, on Friday, Igor took my mom to the Police headquarters again, and this time, they issued the paper we needed.

I uploaded both documents for consideration, and I hope this will be enough evidence. (BTW, I tried to call the USCIS helpline when the police hung up on me, but they only have an automated service, no humans.

If this is indeed the end of it, I will be very happy, but I still plan to file a complaint!

Maybe Done With Beaurocracy

I could not imagine that obtaining “additional evidence” for mom’s citizenship case would be so dramatic! I didn’t blog about the recent development because it was a little bit more than I could handle, but today I could finally submit all of her documentation, and I sincerely hope that it will be enough! I guess we will be able to tell for sure next week.

I will blog about all the colorful details later, but for now – just this picture of the Lakefront chestnut blossoms for to celebrate!

Book Writing

I finally stopped procrastinating and started to work on the second edition of our optimization book. Before today, I struggled to update two paragraphs from the intro (and I am still unhappy with how they look, but I pushed myself to move forward with the promise to return to the intro later.

Only after I started I realized how much it bothered me that I was not moving! In my defense, all of mom’s immigration stuff which we dealt with this week, was more than enough to completely abandoned other activities. Hopefully, everything will be over tomorrow, and then I will write a complete report.

Another good thing about today was that I finally went to the beach in the evening and dipped myself into the lake, officially opening the swimming season. The water is cold! The way spring was this year, I think it will take a while for a lake to warm up. It’s still such a joy to be by the body of water, that I can’t complain!