Monday, July 26, 2010

A Moveable Feast

I'm in cardboard box hell.

No, we're not homeless, but we are moving which at times seems like it might suck more than actually being a hobo.

At this point I'm an excellent mover, since I've been moving almost every year since I left home for college. I'm not really sure why...I just never found a place I wanted to spend more than 12-24 months and figured I didn't have that much stuff so why not? Up until this point we've lived in Chicago or just north of the city in the Northwestern University town of Evanston, enjoying our urban existence as childless newlyweds, fully capable of seeing the "charm" in the local crackhead or prostitute. However, once Mr. Val knocked me up we grudgingly decided it was time to plunge into suburbia (cue funeral dirge) so that we don't have to jump our sweet baby girl into one of our friendly neighborhood gangs.

Since we first started living in sin almost six years ago, Mr. Val and I have moved FOUR times. This move will be our fifth and FINAL time as we both agree that unless this particular rental burns to the ground or is picked up in a tornado and spirited away to the wonderful land of Oz, we are staying put until the Mister graduates from his Masters program and we finally buy a house. Since this is (knock on wood) the last lease we will ever sign, I'd like to take a moment to look back on some of the humble abodes we have called home:

1. The Studio - Mr. Val and I truly believe that we are capable of surviving anything and everything only because we lived together in a studio apartment for a year. At the time, Mr. Val was finishing his Bachelors degree and waiting tables and I was a bartender at 2 local bars. We were on a SUPREMELY tight budget which blinded us to the fact that we were living in a Frank McCourt novel. I mean this place was bad. Tiny, poorly laid out, old, you name it, it sucked. The only bright spot was that it was located on an awesome little street with cafes & coffee shops, which was good since we wanted to spend as little time as possible in the actual apartment. It was the kind of place where you met the slumlord landlord the day you signed your lease and then never again. If there wasn't a body stinking up the joint there was no point in calling because they simply didn't care. Knowing this, we decided to violate the pet policy and buy a puppy named Beans who lived/loved/peed there quite happily for 3 months. At the end of our lease we moved up and out to the...

2. One bedroom - at the time the one bedroom seemed downright luxurious. Walls separating my bed from my kitchen? I felt like Imelda Marcos. If I went back now I'd laugh...the "kitchen" was a stove & fridge apparently made by and for the wee people of Munchkinland, there was roughly 9 inches of total counter space and the elevator walls were covered in pink shag carpet. But it had nice windows and was in a killer neighborhood and we could walk to the train/bars/restaurants which made it perfect. It also allowed dogs so we didn't have to sneak Beans under cover of darkness to go to the bathroom. I have incredibly fond memories of this place, as it was the site of the following triumphs:

  • Boyfriend Valentine became Fiance Valentine
  • Mr. Val graduate college
  • Mr. Val and I both finally got jobs that didn't involve the phrase, "Would you like to try some boneless Buffalo Wings?"
  • I finally got couches that hadn't been handed down through four generations of frat houses

We were doing well, in fact we were SO super cool and bad ass that we decided we needed to move into what will always be known as...

3. Our Super Sweet City Loft - the super sweet city loft was just that: a killer loft in an old industrial building that had been converted into condos. We were lured there by the Craigslist add that billed it as the "West Loop". Technically, it wasn't a lie as I think we made the West Loop cut by a few centimeters. Realistically, it was also a few centimeters shy of Malcolm X College, blue light Cameras and a Salvation Army Rehab Center. At this point though, we understood the bargain of city living which is, to put it simply, nicer place in a sketchy hood vs. rat infested tenement in the nice part of town. We opted for the former, since we had garage parking, a scary doorman and at this point a second dog (Jake) that Mr. Val thought we should get for "protection".

A side note about Jake. We rescued Jake from the same shelter as Beans, who to this point had literally been the perfect dog, save for her penchant for licking the walls. We still aren't completely sure what Jake is, but from what we can tell he is part Rottweiler/Pit Bull/Shar Pei/Wildebeest. He actually does serve some protective purposes since he scares the shit out of most people with his little muscly legs and giant head, but in reality, his idea of protecting me is following me from room to room and sitting on my feet. Excellent.

We spent two awesome years here, living it up in the city, getting married and hanging out with our awesome neighbors on the balcony. Unfortunately, we quickly outgrew the place due to my overzealous use of the scanner thingy when registering for our wedding gifts so we moved to...

4. The Hood - no joke, we moved to the hood. Make no mistake, it's a nice place: 2 beds, 2 baths, newly remodeled, basement with laundry, the works. It seemed so lovely a place to put all my fabulous Pottery Barn dishes that I didn't even notice that the realtor would only show it to us in the middle of the day on a weekday or that he had the lease ready for us to sign in less time than it takes Usain Bolt to get to the mailbox. I still don't think the neighborhood is unsafe, it's just full of random happenings and people. Like the neighbor who I'm pretty sure is running a foster care scam out of her house. Or the old man who feeds the squirrels peanuts in his underwear. Or the guy who asked us one day if we had any interest in fighting Jake, you know, in a dogfight. Needless to say, it's probably not the best place to start a family, so this Saturday we move to...

5. The Burbs - It's finally happened. We sold out. We'll be moving to a 3 bedroom townhouse so that we can give our sweet baby a safe cozy place to call home for her first couple of years. It's totally boring, it's totally cookie cutter but it's totally the right choice. It may have some paint spots to clean up, and some ugly light fixtures to change, and one of those awful mailboxes that you have share with your neighbors, but it's the first place my baby girl will call home, which makes me love it already.

So I remain in carboard hell, packing up the last of our child free years and moving to Mom-land, which, to be perfectly honest, sounds a lot like heaven to me.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What's a little chemical dependency issue among friends?

Disclaimer: Mrs. Valentine does not endorse alcohol/chemical dependency issues in any way nor does she find actual alcoholics/drug addicts funny. Unless they are saying funny things. Or dancing. While drunk. Or high. Or on the TV show "Intervention".

Now that that's out of the way, I've hit what I am calling a "plateau in my sanity" this week. Why you ask? It could be the fact that I can no longer sleep through the night since I wake up multiple times to:

a. pee
b. eat
c. shift around uncomfortably in bed
d. kick my husband for putting me into this particular state of discomfort
e. bolt upright in cold sweats thinking about raising a child

I suppose this is all good training for the sleep deprivation I'm about to endure at the hands of my tiny, tyrant fetus but at the moment it just sucks. And you know what I could really use?


It is the height of irony that the moment you find out you can't drink for 9 months is the moment you need one the worst. When I peed on that fateful stick in February (at work no less) I almost got down on my knees and bargained away my soul to Sweet Baby Lucifer in exchange for a Gin & Tonic that wouldn't grow babyVal an extra big toe. And even though I've heard the requisite calming anecdotes, "A little sip won't hurt" or "The Irish say that Guinness is good for babies" or "My drunk Aunt Sally drank martinis all through her pregnancy and cousin Ralph is fine! He's getting out of prison any day now!" I remain firmly on the sobriety train for now.

Everyone told me that being pregnant during the summer would suck. I assumed it was because of the heat but no, it's because everywhere you look the NON knocked up crowd is enjoying the pleasures of summer...margaritas, mojitos, summer beers, meat grilled to medium rare perfection...and I can't have ANY of it. And there is only so much lemonade I can handle people. I WANT A DAMN MARGARITA!

Side note: I think I yelled that very same thing about 90 minutes before babyVal was conceived. But I digress.

Back to the point. Worse than actually not being able to drink wine for 9 months are the smug, glowy, mother Earth types that tell you with a straight face that they "Didn't even miss it." I stare back into their glassy eyes and announce, "Bullshit". If you tell me you didn't miss it for 9 months I'm going to assume one of the following is true:

a. you are a pathological liar
b. you are Mormon/Duggar style Christian or have other religious reasons that preclude you from drinking
c. you are a pathological liar
d. you are a sadist who enjoys torturing a pregnant woman on the edge

Whatever the reason, should you stumble upon me in real life and find me staring longingly into an empty champagne flute, don't judge me. Don't tell me that O'Douls tasted just like real beer or that it was great for your skin or that you loved the energy that comes with sobriety. Just pat me on the back, tell me it'll be over soon and that one day I'll laugh when I spy some miserable sober pregnant lady across the bar.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

The 2 Year (non) Itch.

It may be Thursday, but for me that means it's the weekend since Mr. Val and I are taking some much needed time off to celebrate our 2 year anniversary! We decided to take a "staycation" and enjoy the many wonders of Chicago that we don't take advantage of enough. Here is the tentative agenda for our weekend:

-White Sox Game
-Visit the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing
-Four star dinner at Avec
-See Toy Story 3 and surely bawl my eyes out
-Architectural boat tour
-Scope out locations for maternity photos
-Catalan Tapas at Iron Chef Garces' restaurant
-Attend whatever street festival is taking place

I'm pretty excited, there is a lot of stuff on that list I've been dying to do for a while. One of the great ironies of living in or near a huge city like Chicago is that most residents rarely take advantage of all the amazing offerings, so we decided to do it up and live like tourists for a few days.

All of the plans are fun, but I'm most excited to be celebrating 2 years of what I have to admit has been pretty blissful married life. I try to always err on the side of humor and not sap, but I have spent the better part of the last 6 years (total time with Mr. Val) wondering how I got so lucky. You won't meet a more honest, loyal, funny, hard working, kind person than my husband. He is my very best friend in the world and every day I love him more than the last. This is why I put up with him leaving his socks everywhere. He's just that awesome.

We've come a long way in 2 years and an even longer way in the 6 we've been together. 2 years ago I thought I experienced the best day of my life:

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But it's gotten better every day since:

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I hope you all have an amazing weekend and feel the same love I do surrounding you everyday.