My City

The city is alive. Not exactly as pre-pandemic, but so much more than a year ago! My city is alive, and it will live, and it will rebound because this city is meant to live. 

Two pieces of news today almost made me cry. The first one was the Navy Pier reopening with the fireworks each Saturday till Memorial Day – and now I will be able to see them! The first firework will happen on May 1, and it will be dedicated to the health care workers. 

The second one is about the Arts 77 grant – $60 mln to support the local artists. That is unprecedented, and it is such a right thing to do and at the right time.

And one more thing. Do you know what I hate? I hate when people who do not live in the city, do not go to the city, and do not know what’s going on there are trying to give me pieces of advice. Out of the blue, when I mentioned that I am going to meet somebody in the city before heading home, a very well-intended co-worker said: you’d better hurry up and leave the city before it starts. I was: what starts? They are going to announce a verdict for Derek Chauvin, and if he will not be convicted… I was like: firstly, he will be most likely convicted. Second, it’s not like “something” will happen instantaneously. And this “something” is not necessarily going to be violent. 

There was a helicopter in the sky when I was walking towards the train station, that’s true. But boy, I can’t even describe how I feel about people who are still entering the city as if it is a war zone … 

Moving Progress: Mom’s New Apartment

Once again, not “too many things are happening at once,” but way too many! 

I was not posting anything for several days, and now that I carved ten minutes, I do not even know where to start.

On the positive side: we finally secured an apartment for mom. It was real teamwork; Vlad picked several places and went to see them. He asked the manager to send us videos, and we all watched them. All of us (Vlad, Igor, and I ) had the same favorite; the challenge was to explain to my mom that that would be the best location for her. It took us a while, and I am not sure whether we convinced her or she just gave up:) But honestly, if my house would be at the same location as her apartment, I would like it more :).

It took a lot of back and forths to finalize the process. My biggest accomplishment was that this time mom is a renter, not just a tenant. I still had to be her co-signer, but her name is on the lease.

One big hurdle was the fact that since I am in the process of getting my mortgage, I could not have my credit report pulled, and that would be required for the lease.

My loan officer emailed me a recent copy of my credit report. First, the leasing company didn’t even want to look at it, and Anna volunteered to co-sign with mom. But when they saw the actual report, they called me and said it was almost too much information :). 

And the last challenge was to have my mom sign the lease over the DocuSign. I had to come to her place and help her, but now we are all set!

That was one of the big items I crossed off my list. 

Vaccination News

Now it really feels like mass vaccination. Igor got J&J on Thursday (as a journalist, through a charity event), so now only Vlad and Dylon need their second shots; everybody else is vaccinated. At least 1/3 of my co-workers are vaccinated as well.

Like everybody else, Illios is in the race between vaccines and new virus variances, but vaccines definitely work! During one of the recent press conferences, Dr. Ezike said that out of 1,800 people currently in the hospitals with COVID-19, only 72 were vaccinated. On the other hand, there are more new cases in the city’s parts with the highest vaccination rates, which tells that people are letting their guards down.

I hope that we are going to win this race, I certainly do!

As an eextra bonus – here is Igor’s article about vaccination in Austin.

A Week Ago

I can’t believe it was just a week ago! Eight days, to be exact, but still. Our real estate agent sent us a list of four potential properties. Vlad and I looked through them. First, I didn’t think I liked either of them too much but thought that a couple of them is worth looking at just for the sake of looking. 

When we went over the list with Vlad, I told him about the second property on the list: this one is not going to work, there are only two bedrooms. Vlad replied: Mom, you should look at that house! Remember my old house which you liked so much? I did remember. I liked the place which Vlad rented with two roommates so much that I thought about buying something like that. And I agreed with him that we should take a look. 

We decide to look at two listed properties: that house at Jarvis station and another close by. 

We entered a courtyard and saw outdoor furniture and balconies, which seemed to be a vital part of the community life. Then we entered the apartment. It was huge but in severe need of painting and cleaning. We walked through, looking at all the details and the condition of all appliances. 

Then, we walked to the next house, and o the way there, Vlad and I realized that we didn’t check the fitness center and the bike storage. So after seeing the second house (which we didn’t like), we asked our agent whether we can come back one more time to see all these facilities. He said – yes, and after we looked, he asked whether we want to come upstairs and see the apartment one more time.

So we went in one more time, and when we were walking down the stairs, we saw a lady unlocking the door one floor below. We asked her: how long do you live here? And she said – from the very beginning, from 2005. And then we asked her: how do you like here? And she replied: I will never move anywhere else! And she went on telling us what a wonderful community it is and how people are together and supporting each other. 

And the way she took time to tell us about the community and the people was that last decisive factor :). I thought that I am going to move to the right place 🙂

A Palace In A Very Bad Shape

We had a house inspection yesterday. I thought we already knew everything wrong with that house:), but it turned out there is much more.

I forwarded the inspector’s report to Boris yesterday, and he asked whether there is anything in the house that is not broken :).

 I’d say the walls and the roof. Although the floor is somewhat not even:). 

There are tons of things which has to be done before I can move in, and it will cost a fortune. However, I am excited. Unlike when I moved to that house twenty-three years ago, I know what is not working before I am moving in and will be able to replace or fix the things. 

The cost of painting concerns me the most because it’s a lot of square footage, and it might be the most expensive project of all I am doing in May. Another concern is that for each appliance installation cost, the fee for climbing three flights of stairs will be added.  

The good part is that all is fixable, and I still love the place, its look and feel. I am thinking about all the things I will be able to do now, which I could not do before, like the fireworks at the Navy Pier, and the things I stopped doing a long time ago, like going to Ravinia.

Chicago’s Austin community and the complexities of COVID-19 vaccine equity

For the most part, Illinois is till currently in Phase 1B of the vaccination program. In order to get inoculated, you have to be 65 or older, or (with a few exceptions) an essential worker, or a teacher, or (in most parts of the state) be an adult with some kind of a long-term health issue. This means that most adults and none of the kids still can’t get it.

For the most part.

In the end of February, the City of Chicago quietly launched the Protect Chicago Plus initiative, where the city is offering vaccinations to everybody age 18 or older who live in certain community areas and set up temporary vaccination sites. The idea is that the majority-black and majority-Hispanic neighborhoods have seen higher-than-average number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, but also have fewer opportunities to get the vaccines. For example, the Lakeview neighborhood up on the North Side has a number of doctors’ offices, clinics and pharmacies. In North Lawndale, you can count those on two hands and still have fingers left over.

The city decided to set eligibility based on community areas, which makes sense. Neighborhoods come and go, their borders shift, and there isn’t always consensus on what they’re called and borders even are, while Chicago community areas have endured, with very few changes, for almost 100 years.

But it does create some interesting wrinkles.

Continue reading “Chicago’s Austin community and the complexities of COVID-19 vaccine equity”

Chicago River Goes Green, At Least Partially

I was escorting in the clinic this morning, when one of my fellow escorts mentioned that the River indeed went green this morning. I decided, I need to check on that, because Igor didn’t mention anything like that yesterday.

Turned out that Mayor Lory quietly sanctioned the dyeing of the river:

The Chicago River glowed Kelly green downtown this St. Patrick’s Day weekend after all, but the usual cheering throngs crowding the banks during the annual dumping of the dye were much thinner.

In a remarkable attempt to give Chicagoans a bit of mid-March normalcy, while also trying to avoid the kind of large public gathering she’s still discouraging during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot sanctioned the famous river dyeing to proceed Saturday without confirming the exact time, marveling passing revelers, dog walkers and joggers alike.

Chicago Tribune, read the whole story here

And here is what I saw at noon (click the arrows to see all the pictures)

Starting A Big Move

Looks like this is the best way to let my friends know: the decision is made. I (or rather the whole family) initiated the project “Hettie’s Big Move.”

I am moving to the city, and moving mom to the city, and there are hundreds of moving parts in this process. The only thing i know for sure is that the move has to be completed by July, which is if you think about it, coming very soon. So, as I’ve said earlier today – this spring is going to be really exciting!

Acting Like A Leader

I am listening to “Atomic Habits,” a well-knowing book, mostly building on the “Power of Habit,” which I read a long time ago and really liked. 

As it often happens, you notice the closest ideas to what you are thinking about at the moment. This time, it was the well-known idea of “if you want to become something, act as if you already are.” To be precise, in the book, the author rephrases it like “do not say: I want to run a marathon, say: I want to become a runner.”

The reason I paid attention to this statement is the conversation I had on Friday. Among other things, I was asked about “things that work” with the Chicago PUG. While answering that question, I started to list all the things I usually mention when people ask me, “How did I build it.” I talked about having specific dates, announcing meetups early, starting on time, engaging the audience, coaching the first-time zoom speakers. And I ended my answer with one simple statement: I am a community leader, people are looking up at me, and I felt the responsibility to act.

And that is the most important reason that Chicago PUG is running regular meetups, one of the very few PostgreSQL meetups regularly running during the pandemic. 

I vividly remember how I felt a year ago. I had to make difficult choices, and at that time, I was very unsure of what is the right thing to do, and I was questioning myself and my actions, and the situation was changing not by days but by hours. 

First, I announced the change of speaker. Then, I announced the rescheduling. And two weeks later, I announced going virtual. I opted to be a first zoom speaker because I knew it could be a very miserable experience (and it was). But the important thing was that we were able to continue our activities and the PUG members responded with great attendance. 

I am very proud of all of us, and I hope that later this year, we will be able to switch to the hybrid meetups:)