Mom

It has been very difficult to communicate with my mom recently. More than ever, she chooses to complain about everything. Her apartment didn’t get enough heat. I called the office; they told me they would install extra heaters, but then the parts won’t come on time (supply chain crisis), and there was almost a month wait.

So first, mom complained that everybody ignored her. Then she was happy for a couple of days, and now she is complaining that it’s too hot. She does not remember how she didn’t have any control over the temperature in her apartment in Saint-Petersburg. Now she is saying that she could always open a balcony door in Saint-Petersburg, and here she is afraid to open the window.

Then comes a usual chain of complaints like she could always look out of the window and see how people were dressed outside and figure out what’s the weather. Nothing new; it’s just that she repeats it more often, without anything positive in between.

Also, all the conversations related to the war are impossible. Last weekend, Igor brought some local Russian newspapers to her, which she could not ignore. She asks”not to talk to her” about the war, but this is becoming increasingly difficult. On top of it, she forgets more and more things and gets very defensive, if not aggressive, when I remind her. She’s saying that that’s me who forgets things and then “accuses” her. I think I need to message her doctor and ask what’s the right way to handle such situations.

Several other issues are very difficult to handle, but I will stop now so that I won’t do the same thing as she does 🙂

Mom

I made some progress with Mom’s medical appointments in the past two months. First, we met with the social worker, who talked with her about the Power of Attorney and Advanced Directives. She sent us a copy of the document to review with mom and sign it.

Since the doctor suggested it, mom could not object to discussing this uncomfortable topic. Previously she was always like, “I do not want to talk about it; I didn’t give it a thought.” Now, she had no choice but review :). Then, we met with a geriatric specialist. I wanted to arrange that for a long time because I am never sure whether I am too alarmed when mom forgets things or the opposite – I do not notice when it’s time to be alarmed.

We talked for a very long time. On the one hand, there was some reassurance that things were not that bad. On the other hand, they do not have a baseline. For them, the fact that mom does not forget to turn the gas off, can cook, and shop for her groceries is enough to conclude that she is in decent shape. I know, however, that these are very basic skills for her that will be there the longest. We will see how things will progress.

Another progress was with her hearing aid – she was seen by a high-skilled professional, ee=vverything free, everything without long waits. Now we are waiting for t=her new hearing devices to be ready. The place where they are made is Russian-speaking, but she still has so much trouble understanding what she is asked that I had to call them back afterward to clarify several things. (I could not go with herl Igor did, and he was sure she understood the questions, which was a wrong assumption).

I do not want to take her for a vision test until she has her new hearing aid, which will most likely happen later in spring.

2021/2022

I know that I am at least two weeks late with this post, but it’s only in the past two days that I found some time to write it all, although it was in my head for quite a while. Here it goes.

***

As I’ve said multiple times, what a year!!! Although all changes were for good at the end of the year, and I am ending on the positive side of things, it was too much! Because of so many things happening, I inevitably “lost” some things; that is, I had no time to do everything I wanted. 

The most important thing in 2021 was my move. I could not imagine the extent to which it would change my life before it happened, neither could I foresee many of the individual changes. It’s too early to be sure – I have lived in Rogers Park for less than a year – but I think that the impact of this event on my life may be the closest to my move to the US; so many things have changed! 

Besides the move, it was:

  • our book was published
  • I sold my car, and after 24 years of driving, became a non-driver
  • I changed job
  • Sold my old house
  • Refinanced my new house, which dramatically improved my financial situation
  • changed job one more time, and became a part of the EDB family

Both job changes were accompanied by a lot of rethinking what I want from a job, what is important to me, what I think about myself, and my impact on the Universe. 

I want to be very clear – I do not regret making the first career move this year. I learned a lot during this shortest tenure I ever had, and I will never look the same way at many aspects of database development. I have a different level of expectations: for myself and the Postgres community. On the other hand, I’ve experienced the biggest personal and professional disappointment in my life. Chad was such an important figure for me for over twenty years that I still feel the void. The irony of the situation is that many years ago, his influence helped me to become this very person who can’t tolerate the behavior he demonstrated. He is definitely my “person of the year” – in the Times magazine meaning. 

As for my second career move, the impact was also unexpected. I didn’t expect it to be such a big deal as it turned to be. I didn’t know how different that consulting was going to be. And in any case, I am just starting!

And one more big change of the year. I think that has been going on for a couple of years now, but I heard it in these terms only this summer. My then-new coworker exclaimed during our group lunch: oh, you are famous! How does it feel to be famous? I replied that I felt it was an extra responsibility, it’s that I needed to think twice before saying or typing something. That I know what I say makes an impact. I know that people listen and judge. 

And here are my hopes and my resolutions for 2022.

Work-life integration

  • I want 2022 to be less eventful than 2021! It was too much!
  • I do not want to change jobs in 2022. I want to stay where I am now, at least for 1.5 years. 
  • I want to use my position as an EDB employee to make many things, and especially NORM, happen in Postgres.
  • I want to resume my activities on building and maintaining Chicago PUG. I didn’t do it well in the past 3 or 4 months, and I need to change it. 
  • I need to learn to work from home. I remember that there were times when I liked it. I do not like it anymore, and there are too many things which fit nicely in my life when I work in the office. I need to learn to organize my life working from home, not just a couple of times a week but all the time. 
  • On that subject, I need to re-evaluate what I spend time on. Now that I am more financially stable than ever, I should learn to spend money rather than time in many situations, from taking Uber more often to purchasing more food online. 
  • I want to finally get on a more normal sleep schedule and not try to sleep less than I need.

Finances

  • I want to continue saving more than I did in previous years to invest more in my retirement and rainy day fund.
  • I need to stick to the schedule I developed to pay off my mortgage ahead of time; by the time I retire.
  • I need to look at how much and which causes I donate and restructure my donations. Overall, to give more. 

People and relationships

  • I want to make more time to people in my life, both “live” and virtually, not to abandon relationships because of “lack of time.”
  • I need to learn to be more patient with mom because my time with her does not benefit me if I am impatient. If I want to do something good for her, I need to be patient and supportive.
  • Allocate time for social media, both Russian and English; different media for different reasons, but if I keep certain social media accounts, there is a reason for each of them.
  • And I need to use this time more productively.

I guess, to summarize, I need to rethink what I spend my time on.

I am not writing anything about my personal life here. Not because there are no goals, but because we have goals regardless of the beginning of the year, and I hope that we will continue to work on our relationships the same way as we did in the second half of 2021. 

That being said, hello 2022!

Mom

On Sunday, when mom and I were on the CTA on the way to the concert, a mentally unstable person walked into a car. He sat down and started to yell something ineligible. I was more concerned that he was not wearing a mask than anything else.

Mom didn’t say anything until later (on the way back, there were two young women with the music turned very loud, and we walked to another car). At that time, she asked why this man “was yelling so loudly.” I told her that he was mentally unstable, but as it often happens now, she didn’t listen and didn’t try to understand what I was saying. Instead, she continued: a white man would never do that! What are they trying to demonstrate? Are they trying to prove that they can do anything they want now, that they are not slaves anymore?

When I was walking home, I thought about how I could talk to her and explain how racist her conversation was, and I did some prep in my head. But the next time I was over at her place, she was in one of these moods when she started from one statement and literally did not hear when I tried to stop her and make a contra argument. And then it was one of these circles when she jumps from one repetitive passage to another, and I know all of them and all possible sequences, and I have no choice other than to sit and listen.

That racist stuff really bothers me, even as I understand, that she can’t make new mental constructions anymore. Even if I would try to reason with her to the effect of whether she thinks about herself as “white” as her most important characteristic, it does not feel like she can make new connections. Even if we talk about issues other than race, no matter how many times I explain to her that things she considers impolite are perfectly polite in the modern world, Russia and America alike. She just replies: but that’s how I feel! I have a right to feel a certain way, the way I was raised!

That was just to document the current state of things. I do not know how fast things will be developing from here. No conclusion.

Last Night

Yesterday was the last day Boris was here, and it was one of the most productive days of his stay. Even though he had to leave to the airport at 6 PM, and even though we slept a little bit (by my standards :)), we did a lot! It would be a great day, except it ended with my mom on her first trip to the emergency room.

Igor took her to Devon market for shopping, and somehow she tripped on something on the floor and fall just the moment Igor looked away in search of the shopping cart. She had serious bleeding on the left side of her face. Somebody got her a bandaid, and she even continued shopping; however, she felt lightheaded. When Igor called me, I told him we need to take her to the emergency room to check for a concussion. It ended up alright: the nearest 24-hour emergency was not far away, and we didn’t even have to wait long. She got a CT scan, and she had no concussion, and the doctor put pain-relieving patches on her back and chest where she said it hurt and a stitch on her face. But even with everybody being very efficient, we left the hospital at 11 PM and had to wait for Uber and then drop her off first, and then me.

I am glad we took her to emergency and that I do not have to worry for days whether it could be a concussion, so I won’t even say that I planned that evening differently 🙂

Health Benefits Of The Move

I hopped on the Red Line train to go to my new house and just remembered one more thing that I noticed last week. When I first started to go to Rogers Park, I was pretty upset to find out that my motion sickness returned. I’ve experienced motion sickness to some degree through most of my life. As a child, I hated taking a bus because it would make me sick, and I absolutely could not stand a taxi. So my mom had to rely on trams when we had to go somewhere. It was better or worse in subsequent years, but recently (that is before the pandemic), it was more or less fine.

The most important thing for me is to do work while on public transport, and I could do it perfectly fine on Metra and during the past several years on the CTA, too. However, my new work commute will be about 35 min, and I was hoping to work on CTA. When I found I can’t, it was bad news.

And then, all of a sudden, about two weeks ago, I noticed that I could ride CTA and work, and nothing is bothering me. So I hope that this will last, especially considering that the train cars are not full these days, and I sit comfortably and work.

Some other great health-related news is that walling does not bother me at all these days, so I hope that my lifestyle change will benefit me in this aspect as well. And finally, completely unexpected, on the second or third week of packing, it stopped affecting my back. Either I got myself trained enough, or I got into the habit of always lifting stuff the right way. Or a combination of both:)

A Weight Loss Problem

It is a problem for me, because I do not have that many pounds, and I need them all;). plus-minus one is fine, but losing more is not good. I used to tell Boris that I lose weight after arguing with him, but we do not argue fr more than a year now:).

Here is last week’s sequence of events. My microwave broke on Sunday, and it was on the manufacturer warranty. That meant that I could have it fixed for free, but the repair was complex, and they had to order parts, so I was without the microwave for the whole week.

Then, I had a tooth extraction on Wednesday, and the dentist told me that I could not eat nuts for two weeks. Well, he mentioned other foods as well, but nuts are my single concern. I eat a lot of them, and they are my primary source of protein. He said – not even on the other side because the small parts can get to the wound. Also, I could not eat the bread crust.

Then, the first-floor painting started, and it included the kitchen. I could not get there for extended periods. Even making coffee had become a juggling act since I had to take everything upstairs.
When the painters left on Thursday, they asked whether it’s OK if they leave all the coverings on. I said – yes, but I didn’t realize that it meant everything in the kitchen as well 🙂

Or, and also – I m packing, or at least trying:), so sometimes I do not have time to eat:).
This morning, it came to minus 3.5 pounds in four days, so I am pretty much at my weight after my horrible 2014 surgery, And I need to stop today before it gets worse. I hope that taking my co-worker out for lunch today will help 🙂

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”

No More Flashlight

The days are getting longer, and now that the dark season is almost over, I realized that my night vision improved dramatically after the cataract surgery. I had a flashlight ready for several years when I was walking to the gym in the mornings. And not just any flashlight, but I was making sure it is bright enough. And this year, there was no need. I remember taking it with me several times, thinking I will turn it on when I need it, and the need never come! Then I stopped taking it with me. A couple of weeks ago, I put away the bright headlight I had on the table by the coat closet. I only left one small flashlight out to use in case of some crazy power outage. It’s a really small thing, but it makes me happy 🙂

Yet Another Article

Yet another article about the post-pandemic “return to normal.” I disagree with almost everything in this article except for one statement: we should not return “back to normal” in the sense that its” normal to come to work sick and not to wear the mask, either for the reason that you do not have enough sick days, or you need money, or that it’s a way to demonstrate your loyalty to the company.