Hello Chicago – Part Two

(We went to Chicago back in March. I’m just now updating … because I work full time during the days, update websites at night, clean house, spend time with the family and workout in between all of that. OMG – who has time to blog anymore??)

We left Wednesday right after I got off work. Well, not RIGHT after, I went home, changed, finished packing, loaded up the car, got some gas, stopped at Taco Bell for dinner, got to our hotel in St. Louis, got up the next morning and went to the Amtrak station first.

We stayed at the Drury Inn in St. Louis, the one right next to Union Station. We stay at that hotel a lot, actually, because it’s easy to get to, is downtown and serves a mean breakfast the next morning. (Even though you’re paying for that breakfast in the cost of the room, still, it’s super nice not to have to stress about where you’re going to eat and it’s so much more satisfying than eating donuts and bagels that come with a continental breakfast).

We drove the two blocks to the Amtrak station and parked in the long-term parking. It was in a gated parking lot and though that’s better than nothing, I was still a wee bit nervous about leaving my car out in the open, in downtown St. Louis, right next to the train tracks.

We pulled our luggage to the building next to the parking lot. Only. It wasn’t the train station and we didn’t realize that until a railroad worker shooed us away. It was another building, up on a hill. And we had no idea that was where we had to go because there were no signs – at all.

We walked into our half of the station (the other half was for Greyhound passengers). We used the handy kiosk station thingy and printed off our tickets. Which was nice since we didn’t have to stand in line – not that there was a line. We were planning on checking our luggage, and when we asked where we needed to go to do that, we were “advised” not to check our luggage. There would be plenty of room to store our luggage on the train, for free, and if we checked it, it would be an extra thirty minutes to collect it.

Already then. We wouldn’t check our luggage.

The Amtrak employee told us that the train was running late and though we were supposed to take off at 7:55 a.m., we would actually not depart the station until 9:00 a.m. The train, which was NEVER late, I overheard a regular passenger say, was running late because they had had a lot of rain in Texas and there was a flooding problem. So. The one time we decide to ride the train, it’s late. Swell. This sort of reminds me when we took the boys flying for the first time and missed our connecting flight in Dallas and had to have the airline pay for our room – not exactly a good first impression, then or now.

So. We had to wait an hour in the St Louis train station. Which wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if Mother Nature would have left me along. But if there’s one thing about pre-menopausal women? It’s the sheer unpredictability of when the b*tch will strike next and this b*tch would NOT leave me alone. And I didn’t have very many supplies on me because I wasn’t expecting there to be a problem. But oh boy, did I have a problem. So I was stressed out about that.

Then. We had some weird guy doing chair exercises on the seats right in front of us. He would do reverse push ups (his hands were on the seat behind, his legs outstretched in front of him and so long that Kevin actually had to move his legs out of the way). And as if that wasn’t bad enough, he would then abruptly stop what he was doing and get on the floor to do push-ups. Then, he would abruptly stop those, sit back down and grab his head like it was about to explode from his shoulders all the while mumbling and huffing and puffing.

He was clearly on something because he simply couldn’t sit still. Luckily, he got onto a Greyhound bus and we didn’t have to deal with him on the train.

The boys were sitting on the seats behind us. And at one point, Jazz leaned back to tell me, “Hey mom. I just had a guy ask me if I had any weed on me.”

Awesome. When was the train going to arrive again?

When the train finally arrived, we lined up and walked to the platform. The day had been overcast and by the time we got to the platform, it was raining. The platform didn’t have any sort of awning, so there we were, about forty-some-odd people, pulling our luggage behind us, waiting to board the train, in the rain.

Talk about stupid. Why wouldn’t they have some sort of awning out there??

A lot of people grumbled about being soaked when we finally got onto the train. And then, to make matters worse, there wasn’t enough room for all of us and they were one car short. So people were scrambling to find a seat and since we were the last ones to board? There weren’t any more seats, nor was there anywhere for us to put our luggage.

This trip was getting off to a GREAT start.

So, there we stood. In the aisle in the train wondering whether we were going to have to stand the whole trip to St. Louis. We were directed to walk to the very last train and a bunch of us stood in the aisle while we waited for Amtrak to connect another car for us.

WHY they couldn’t have done this BEFORE we boarded the train is beyond me.

But it was interesting to see them attach another car and once they did, we found our seats and settled in. In fact, we nearly had the whole car to ourselves and it was quiet and quite roomy. There was a foot rest on the seat in front of us, and our seats reclined back, so it was actually very comfortable. We had had to store our luggage on a rack on another car, but once we got on our way and things settled down, Kevin and Dude went to the car, collected our luggage and brought it back on to the car we were in so we wouldn’t have to stress about finding it later.

Five and a half hours later, we were in Chicago.


It was raining when we got there, but soon cleared up. Taxis were waiting outside and we didn’t have any trouble finding one to take us to our hotel. Which was right across the street from the Chicago River.

I thought it was really cool that the streets were actually bridges that connected the city on both sides of the river. I also thought this building was cool, too. See the cars parked right at the edge of the buildings on the bottom?


One good shake, and those puppies would fall off those structures and into the river.

We arrived about 4:30, so we really only had enough time to get settled into our hotel and walk nearby blocks so we could get a sense of what was nearby. I took a video of our room …

I think the hotel used to be an apartment building because it wasn’t very big and in fact, the rooms were sort of tucked into various angles of the building, but we liked it and we LOVED the location.

We found a nearby WalGreens, bought some breakfast food, took it back to our hotel room, then we went to Qdoba and ate dinner. Kevin wanted to walk around so more, but by that time, it was getting dark and I wasn’t sure that was such a good idea. I’m sure we would have been fine, but … Chicago? At night? I wasn’t taking any chances. So we stuck around the hotel room and watched TV. We were pooped anyway from a long day of traveling.

The air conditioning in our room wasn’t working that great, so we ended up sleeping with the window open to allow the cool night air to come in. I had to get up a few hours later though and close it because there was a siren about every five minutes and it would wake me up.

Dude slept on the pull out sofa, and Jazz slept on the sofa and chair cushions on the floor. The boys wanted to do it that way so they wouldn’t be in each other’s faces all night long.

Oh. Kevin and I did walk several blocks until we found an “L” train station. We thought we would be able to get to the Aquarium and the Science Museum by riding it, but alas, no.

Plan “B” was to ride the busses.

Plan “B” actually involved A LOT of walking.

We see sharks next.


Seriously. No idea. I need to get away from work more often and pay attention to “real life.”


Getting into Shape, Life, Work Stuff

Irony: The More I Work Out, the More I Hurt

Irony number two: I have back issues. I have had back issues my entire life. In fact, I have a slight curvature in my spine. In fact, Dude has a pretty significant curvature to his spine.

And here I am, working for spine doctors.

How ironic.

I wonder if I did that on a sub-conscious level. I wouldn’t doubt it. My sub-conscious is sneaky like that.

I’ve been working out. A lot. Okay. Maybe not a lot. I work out every other night because I wash my hair every other day and I can’t stand the thought of not only having dirty hair on day two, but having dirty SWEATY hair on day two.

So I work out every other night.

I am doing EA Sports on the Wii. And then walking 45 minutes or three miles, whichever comes first.

And though my jiggles are jiggling just a little less, my back is hurting more and more.

I simply can’t win.

My back rarely hurts when I’ve got a little weight on me, but the moment I start losing that “buffer”, ouch.

But that is yet another thing I will endure because I simply refuse to buy bigger clothes.

It’s. Just. Not. Going. To. Happen.

People get into trouble when they buy bigger clothes. I will not be one of those people.

Sharing this bit of working out news is not the least bit exciting. Why? Because I go through spurts. I have gone through spurts my entire life. I get excited about something, I participate to death and then it sort of burst into a spontaneous ball of pretty spark and … nothing. The enthusiasm is gone. My drive is gone. I’m no longer excited about it.

Until the next spurt happens, and here we go again …

I confess. One of the biggest reasons I’ve been getting back on the exercise wagon is because of one gal at work. She began one of those crazy two-week diets at the beginning of the year where she wouldn’t eat any carbs, yadda-yadda-yadda for two weeks. Then she started introducing these foods back into her diet, and began re-training her body to eat healthy. Then she began to exercise and now? Four months later? She’s looking downright skinny.

I could do that. I too have the willpower to stick to something like that, but I simply choose not to. I prefer, instead, to just sort of bargain with myself all day.

“Okay look. If you want to eat this brownie now, fine. But you can not eat anything else fattening for the rest of the day.”

“It’s 8:00 o’clock at night – it’s too late to eat. You’re just going to have to ignore the hunger pangs. Go to bed. You can’t be hungry if you’re sleeping.”

Things like that. And yes. It works for me. In essence, I guilt myself into doing the right thing. But of course, just cutting back on eating isn’t enough, I have to start exercising, too. Because no matter what anyone tells you, you HAVE to exercise AND watch your food intake if you truly want to lose weight.

Period. End of story.

So yeah. I’m feeling a teensy bit jealous of the gal at work who’s losing all of her weight. I also admire the hell out of her. And when you wear scrubs all day every day? It’s so easy to pack on the pounds because there is no external restriction to remind you to scale back a bit.

I work with a lot of obese women. And if you ever wonder why there are so many obese people in health care I blame stress and scrubs. It’s an uphill battle. But the gals that I work most closely with? Are pretty good about watching their weight and though I’m not really one to allow other people to affect my life/attitude, it happens. And I’m thankful for their diligence.

This is a bit off topic, but the other day, I was talking with my “buddy” (we have buddies that cover our nurses’ flags and voicemails whenever we’re out of the office – which reminds me, my buddy is going on vacation for a week next month and OMG, I’m going to be super busy trying to do my work AND her work while she’s gone), and we were talking about … okay fine, we were gossiping, (though I HONESTLY try to stay out of the gossiping arena because that will get a person into trouble in no time flat), and I said, “Want to know a secret?”

And to my utter astonishment, she began crying.

In addition to feeling extremely uncomfortable, I was flabbergasted. What the … ??

She thought I was going to tell her I was quitting.

Bless her heart. The thought of my leaving truly freaked her out. I’m not quite sure how to take this. I mean, I’m glad she likes me. I’m glad she enjoys working with me (because let’s face it, I’m pretty awesome *snort*), but wow. Her reaction shocked me. And it made me really sad. Because though she has told me stories of how awful it was for her until I came on the scene, I guess I didn’t realize just HOW awful it was for her until I came on the scene.

The other two gals in my area? Are not bad people. I like them both. Sure. They both have their quirks, I have quirks, we all have quirks. And I deal with those quirks because people are different and that’s life. Getting upset over things you can’t control is a total waste of energy and I refuse to do that.

But wow. I knew there was tension between the other two girls and my “buddy.” But I guess I really didn’t know how serious that tension was until I saw her reaction to my “Wanna know a secret” statement.

Now I sort of feel like I’m stuck in this job. Granted, I have no intention of going anywhere any time soon because even though I don’t get paid squat, I truly enjoy this job. It challenges me and I really dig the crazy pace and all of the multi-tasking. But this whole flu shot thing every flu season fiasco? Is really not something I want to put myself, or the people I work with, through every year. I plan on waiting it out a few years to see how often these “flu epidemics” (*snort*) break out and go from there.

But if I ever choose to leave healthcare and pursue something else, I now have the added guilt of leaving this poor woman who has clearly attached herself to me.

And though I’m flattered she likes me, and enjoys working with me, I sort of resent the fact that now I will feel guilty for leaving, if it ever comes to that.

Does that makes sense? *sigh*

People are starting to share office gossip with me. I really wish they wouldn’t. I really don’t want to get sucked into office politics. I just want to go to work, do my job, have a few laughs and then go home. But I see what’s coming … invitations to hang out after work. And though, again, I really, truly like these gals I work with, I just don’t want to go down the hang out after work road. Because then you just add another element of stress to your working life, especially if you get upset with one another or you start feeling like you owe someone something because you’re “friends.”

I know that makes me sound stand-offish and snobbish. And to some extent, you’d be right. But I’m just trying to be realistic and I’m desperately trying to keep my personal life and my work life two separate entities.

I’m not sure how much longer I can make the distinction.

And guys, get this, on the 19th of this month? I will have been at this job for six months.