Today In The City

(Just realized that my yesterday’s post was left unpublished, so there will be three today :))

I saw on Instagram that the previous two weeks of escorting were brutal. My fellow escorts told me they saw up to fifty antis altogether (in shifts). The clinic requested police presents, but honestly, it was a farce.

Today was relatively quiet; there was only one group of four antis with an amplifier. The shocking part was that the police seemed to protect them, not us.

When a guy on a scooter shouted something in the direction of the amplifier, a police officer gestured for him to stop. When antis were done and packed their equipment, they shook hands with both police officers, and right after this group was gone, police left as well.
But at least it was quiet today, so I can’t complain.

Also, it turned out that today was the 75th anniversary of the CTA celebration, and if I had known in advance, I would plan on taking a ride in the 1920s train car. Unfortunately, I was already on a tight schedule, but I hope it was not the last time in my life.

… and the bridge opening

A Very Eventful Weekend

I had grand plans for the past weekend, which ended up being realized for at most 70%. If was a long weekend, starting with our monthly Wellness Friday. I went for what I hoped would be an enjoyable semi-long ride. On my way back, near Montrose Harbor, an older gentleman decided to cross to the exit from the pedestrian lane right in front of me. I had no time to brake, and I did my best to make a sharp left turn so I won’t knock him off. I still touched him, but slightly, so he didn’t fall. As for me, I ended up falling off, although not very bad.

My chain had fallen off, the handlebar turned sideways, and my knee was scratched pretty seriously, but at least I didn’t get a concussion! 

Still, it was a bad start to the day. I lost a lot of time fixing the chain, straightening the handlebar, getting back on the Trail, and then taking care of my knee at home. 

And then, I could not return to my original plans for most of the weekend. The heavy rain most of Saturday didn’t help either. To be fair, I planned a little bit too much for this weekend, and it is possible that I would have to abandon many of my plans regardless of this bike accident, but I still blame those who do not look to the left and the right before crossing!

The list of good things that happened:

  • I swam in the lake on the only day when it was possible (Friday)
  • Recorded an hour-long podcast with Hasura (should go live tomorrow)
  • Went to the Bridgeport Art Center Open House with Igor
  • Went escorting
  • Saw a part of the Chicago Air and Water show (and figured out how I am going to do it next year)
  • Visited the Glenwood Art Fair
  • Baked a pumpkin pie and a blueberry pie
  • Gave a lengthy interview about MAC hosting
  • Finished one of the five presentations for my fall conferences
Bridgeport Art Center
Bridgeport Art Center
Continue reading “A Very Eventful Weekend”

Escorting

I already said it once, and I want to say it again: escorting has become even more emotionally exhausting than before. There are no more quiet shifts. I was looking through my journal, and I was shocked to see the entries where I talk about quiet shifts or just do not talk about shifts because there was nothing eventful happening.

Not anymore. Ever. There are two or three, or four groups of antis each time. They bring amplifiers, and patients have to make their way in between these groups, between come and talk to us on the left, to Jesus Christ told us on the right, right into do not murder your baby on the left of the clinic entrance.

There were several heated exchanges of patients with antis. Several heated exchanges of passers-by with antis, as well as the escorts.

And I do not think we have reached the peak of this hatred yet.

Escorting

I was escorting today after almost a month of not escorting. That’s because we now have to skip two weeks after any out-of-state travel, so I had to skip after Michigan, and then I Lena was visiting. 

Today I was finally back. 

It was quiet first, but then we got three young priests with a large group of school-age kids. I do not think all of them were high-schoolers; some didn’t look older than eleven.

So they line up and pray, and each woman who goes to the clinic and comes back has to march through this corridor of human bodies. One of the priests even got into a verbal fight with one of the escorts. He said that he does not know what a bubble zone is and that we speak to him in an unacceptable tone. 

He didn’t sound like a Christian to me! Cardinal Cupich is a far better person! I don’t know on which assembly line such “priests” are produced!

At some point, a patient came out of the clinic doors and stopped in hesitation. I told her that I could walk her through this line of prayers. She turned to me: but what are those people? What are they trying to achieve?

–They are trying to tell you and others that you are committing a sin..

–Oh, they are! I already have three children, and my husband passed away a year and a half ago; why should I bring one more child into this world? They won’t be around when the baby comes; I would have to do it on my own.

Lots Of Happy News

I just learned that the staff and clients of the Night Ministry are vaccinated as a part of phase 1B, and many of them have received their first dose already. The volunteer coordinator emailed us that we should expect the update soon. I hope that this means that we won’t have to wait till the end of March to resume in-person volunteering. I can’t wait to make “Mama’s soup” in the ODS:).

For the past week, I was jealously looking at my Europen friends’ Instagram posts with the first early spring flowers emerging, with the first patches of green grass and lots of sunshine.

It looks like finally, we see the end of winter here, in Illinois. It was 46F today and lots of sunshine.
On top of this happy news, the Lakefront space will be open soon, almost a year after it was closed. The playgrounds and indoor swimming are also starting to reopen.

Next week, I am planning to go to the rt Institute first time after the last closure in the fall, and also, I am going to do escorting for the first time in a while. That’s mostly because I do not tolerate the cold weather well enough to escort during the freezing temperature, not because of any restrictions.

Overall, it really feels like a new beginning:)

No Matter What Will Happen, Do Not Give Up!

Today, I went to the clinic escort; for several weeks, the shifts were filling fast, and I didn’t even have a chance to sign up. And later, I was traveling. Having that I do not tolerate the cold well, that shift could be my last opportunity for the year.

The shift was quiet; there were just a couple of antis out, and we wrapped up by 11-30. Before we left, our team leader gathered us together in a circle and said: Please remember that whatever happens, it is not the end of the world. Do not get discouraged, no matter what the outcome will be. We will find a way to help people, underground or up in the sky; I do not know. But we will find a way to do the right thing.

I think it was so well said that I want to pass these words along: we hope for the best, but whatever will happen, don’t get discouraged.

That’s Why We Are Here!

Today’s clinic escort shift was very quiet, almost no antis, when suddenly, we saw a group of athletic-looking men, walking on our side of the street with visible intention to stop by us. We were puzzled for a moment – is it a new group of antis, yet unknown to us? When they reached the first person in the escort line, they stopped and started to reach to their pockets, and we heard: I knew there was something else I forgot! In a couple of seconds, we realized that they saw us in masks and put their masks on. They kept marching to the clinic entrance, and only when they stopped there and started talking again, I realized that there was one smaller figure in jeans and a t-shirt among these athletic males.

“Well, ask them!” said the tallest guy, responding to the question I didn’t hear. The small figure turned to us: “I have no idea where I should go now!” “Do you have an appointment?” our team lead asked, – “then just go in!” (The challenging part is that these days no accompanying person can go into the clinic). The two embraced and said to each other, “just call me when…”

The small figure disappeared in the clinic, and the trio still stood awkwardly, and then one of them said to us: sorry… we just thought we all come, because, you know… in case somebody…

We all laughed, and our shift leader said: no problem, that’s why we are here! And you know – on a quiet day like this one, you wonder – why I am here? What’s the purpose of me standing here in a pink vest? That’s why: because not everybody can bring three bodyguards to accompany them…

Today’s Activities: Clinic Escort and More Local Protests

As I mentioned in that post, this week, we resumed the clinic escorting. We had to complete zoom training about our new procedures and sign the waiver regarding the new risks related to the pandemic. 

I was glad to be back; it is great to feel that you can do something useful and meaningful. 

It was relatively quiet; there were just a few antis, and they left about 11 AM. I was hoping to meet up with Igor, but since a new protest, the largest so far was unfolding, there were no CTA services to the Loop, and the bridges were up again. Everybody was upset about the bridges, and it didn’t look like it was really necessary, but whatever.

Metra looked much better than the other two times I took it to the city during the quarantine. There were more people on board, but unfortunately, not all of them were wearing masks. The conductors are still not around, so nobody is enforcing the face covering. 

As I realized that I am not going to meet with Igor, I took the 12-30 train and was able to attend a Palatine protest, organized by NWSOFA/Indivisible. It was very well organized, with lots of invited speakers and with all our elected and not elected official speaking. I decided to play safe and stood further away, which unfortunately meant that I could not hear everything. 

What was encouraging that through the whole course of the rally, the passing cars were honking non-stop (including the big trucks:))

I am walking towards the Volunteer Plaza

Distancing

Illinois is Moving to Phase 3

Last Friday, Illinois started to reopen. To be more specific, the whole state entered Phase 3 of the reopening plan. The state is doing surprisingly well, keeping all the numbers under control.
I called my eye doctor (not opened yet), my hair salon (got an appointment for Saturday), and my nails spa (got an appointment for Wednesday). It’s not like those are the most important things in my life, but those are small parts that started to fill the places they belong to.

It is also about human connections. I know both the hairstylist and the spa owner for quite a while, and they know me, and our conversations are usually beyond a barbershop small-talk.

In the hair salon, they reorganized the space so that each stylist has plenty of space on both sides. Everybody wears masks, and they clean thoroughly after each client. Also, they are not using blowdries anymore.

In the nail spa, everybody was ecstatic to see mom and me. I chatted at length with the owner. She told me that she applied for a small business grant, but is still waiting for approval. They are pretty busy after reopening. However, she is upset that some people do not keep appointments, and she can’t take anybody without an appointment these days.

I wish her to get through these rough times. She is doing all the right things to grow her business, offering exceptional services, working very hard, and always smiling.

I didn’t do the outdoor dining yet although I saw lots of places setting the tents outside.

Igor was able to come to Palatine for a couple of hours and visited with my mom. I suggested they would sit at the shelter on the platform, which is outdoor, but comfortable enough. I also instructed mom to wear a mask, which she did, and Igor did as well. I stopped by to give Igor a whole shopping bag of different fruits from Eurofesh. In view or the subsequent events, it was a great idea :).

The most important thing for me, however, is the fact that we are resuming clinic escorting. We have new procedures, and last week, all the experienced escorts were invited to zoom training sessions. The first day of escorting will be on Friday. I was worrying that the Loop will remain closed, but it reopened today. Metra is still running a weird schedule and will continue for the rest of the week. That means, I will be an hour late for the shift, but our team leader said it’s okay. I can’t even describe how excited I am to be back, even with our reduced powers. For the record, antis never stopped 😦

The Disappearance of Volunteering

This week was a week of thing falling apart. Ok, maybe not falling apart, but shutting down, with speed I could not imagine. It’s true that two weeks ago we lived in a different country and a different world.

We were ordered to work from home last Thursday night. The four of us still showed up in the office on Friday, for a variety of reasons, including one co-worker who was off on Thursday and didn’t check corporate emails:).

I wrote about the rapid museums and cultural venues closers, which followed. I was able to catch “the last of” most of them. And no matter how much my mind can understand the necessity of closers, my soul weeps.

As I’ve already mentioned, I went to escort last Saturday. It didn’t go great, and I promised to return when it is warmer. A woman with two boys stopped her car by the clinic and came out with a huge box of Girl Scout cookies – that’s for you guys! Each of us picked one:).

Continue reading “The Disappearance of Volunteering”