Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Wild, The Innocent, and the Smith Avenue Shuffle

A sampling of last Saturday's surprise....
 "Location, location, location".  It's been a long (though it passed in a flash) crazy summer on our location, Smith Avenue.

Fran studied like crazy for the NCLEX (and passed!) My father-in-law was extremely ill for several weeks.  Not long after he was home and getting back to normal, Martha came down with strep which led to extreme asthma problems.  While Rick was running to the pharmacy to pick up her antibiotics, Martha had such a bad asthma attack that Bridget rushed her to the emergency room.  That ended up with three days in the ICU - just two doors down from where her grandfather had been on a ventilator for almost two weeks - and one more day in a 'regular' bed. 

I don't think we've totally recovered from that excitement yet.  The little realizing that for several hours in the ER the oxygen mask hadn't been connected to the....oxygen.  Going home to sleep and getting a text early in the morning that Martha was NPO because they might need to "inhabit her."  Thanks autocorrect.  When it clicked that "intubate" was the word she was trying to text, I was out the door in a minute.  We were so relieved that it never came to that.  (Especially in light of the fact that it took a lot of wrangling to convince the hospital to take my father-in-law off of the ventilator, even when the doctor had OK'd it.  That, the unconnected oxygen, the list of gaffs, mistakes and miscommunications with that hospital make me glad that my doctor does not have an affiliation there.  Fran and Bridget were born there.  I'll treasure those memories, but do my best to avoid the place in the future.)  And while making small talk over the week-end, as Martha alternated between boredom and panic attacks, I fought the temptation to tell her that it dawned on me why her room number seemed so familiar.  Yeah, the day before she was admitted I had sent a priest to that room to anoint a dying patient.

Danielle, Bridget, and Fran were very helpful.  Danielle was an angel; picking up meals from Panera and Jimmy Johns for Martha, as the hospital no longer has the appealing menu that made mothers of my generation look forward to their 'confinement'.  Bridget helped keep Martha's spirits up - humoring her when she felt like she was being held against her will and was about ready to contact Amnesty International.  I managed to stay in perfect balance with the pull of maternal anxiety held in equilibrium by the push of spousal anger at my husband's extreme hospital phobia that kept him from visiting.

My in-laws decided to move into an assisted living complex.  I had no idea how quickly they would be moving.  And then I really walked into a typical von Huben $#!+ $+0rM.  Smiths are reserved; von Hubens just don't say anything (unless they are blurting out comments in a way that makes me think that there may be more Aspergerians on the family tree than the ones I birthed).  My mother-in-law was going to give her piano to Emily.  When Emily told me that they would probably put it in storage until they had a larger home, I asked her to store it with us.  This was a good idea.  Eddie is a very talented, self-taught, musician.  He plays guitar, drums, is learning the mandolin, and does quite a good job playing his electric keyboard.  What point is there in having a piano in storage when her brother goes to Guitar Center to play on the pianos in the showroom?  Right?  And I was nervy enough to mention it again a few days later.  I came home from work one day and told Rick that I had worked out the piano deal with Emily.  And Rick said he just couldn't deal with the hassle of the piano moving.  Piano moving?  Down on step out of Grandma's house and up one step when it gets to our house.  But NO!  Rick said, you know, moving the piano when we have to move.  That.  That is how the news that we may have to move was broken to me.

I spent a little time re-licking the wounds left from the time Rick lost a job and didn't tell me. He was hoping to find a new job right away so I "wouldn't be upset".  Of course I was upset.  And it wasn't the lost job that had me upset.  Two weeks ago I spent a weekend obsessing about the specter of moving looming over us.  It's fall, Fran hasn't found a job yet, Martha just got out of the hospital and was recuperating before beginning a new job at the end of September.  It wasn't just the "what if" that had me obsessing.  There was a second appraisal of our duplex (my in-laws are our landlords and some family members felt that a divestment of this property would be a good move) the coming Monday.  Between tidying up so the appraiser wouldn't call DCFS, ASPCA or Martha Stewart and mopping up my daughters' tears when they returned from unpleasant exchanges with relatives helping prep for an estate sale, I found myself battling hyperventilation and acute panic attacks.

Things are calmer now.  I don't need to breathe into a paper bag and I no longer feel like the room is spinning. I think my best hopes were borne out by the second appraisal.  Our house is not worth what is still owed.  And it's not because we fixed the hole in the powder room ceiling with foam core board and I have Michelangelo's Delphic Sibyl decoupaged on the wall of the upstairs hall.  The Sibyl is an improvement!

It's the neighborhood.  It has been a longstanding homeowners association rule that For Sale signs were not to be put on lawns.  With the number of houses that aren't selling, that rule has been tossed.
It's not the Sibyl.  Or the Medical Examiner's van that is parked in one neighbor's driveway four or five nights a week.  (now that's a memento mori!)  I think it's the large apartment complex which has now become 100% Section 8 housing.  Seriously, folks, I am not one of those NIMBY types.  I am sure there are quite a few lovely, well behaved people living in those apartments.  (For awhile there it looked like that is where our genteel poverty was taking us.) The problem is that we don't notice the lovely people.  It's the screamers, the thievers, the dealers, the lunatics, and the Medical Examiner's clients. 

Much of it has become like performance art to us.  We don't need to watch "COPS". There are the Sheriff's cars and firetrucks. There was that midnight car bombing.  We don't need reality TV when I can hear a party girl arriving home at 10:00am on a Sunday and saying goodbye to her ride with a screamed string of creative obscenities. 

On Saturday, Bridget and I had a fun morning getting our hair cut and then spending some quality shopping time at Target.  It took the fun out of the day to return home to see five Sheriff's cars parked in front of our house.  My fears of family disaster were assuaged when we pulled in to the driveway and saw most of the family chattering and recording the activities with cell phones deployed.  I have no idea exactly what happened.  But this time it was blatantly racial.  Some kids from the apartments had some words with some privileged Lake Forest types hanging out two doors down.  Words were said.  Guns were shown. (Don't jump to conclusions - it was not the apartment dwellers who flashed the guns) and then the privileged contingent drove through the apartment complex and threw a box with lit Roman candles out the window before taking off down Smith at high speed.  No one was hurt.  The perps haven't been caught.  We found, sad as it may be, diversion from our own woes.  And I think the resale value of our duplex is safely too low.

Like the old real estate line...."location, location, location".

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