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I’m at the Denver airport , waiting for my flight to Helena, MT and a group of young Amish (or something like that) women just walked by in prairie dresses and little white scarves in their hair. As they were walking past, one of the young ladies stuck her palm out at her friend and told her to ‘chill’. I did a double take. I think I sometimes forget that even though certain people wear uniforms or dress uniformly, they are normal. I almost expect them to be more proper. Yikes, that’s a generalization. Growing up a pastor’s kid, people would expect me to be nice and proper – I hated that.

I’m a day late getting into Helena. I was supposed to leave yesterday. Ingrid was awesome and drove me to the airport. Once I attempted to check-in, my itinerary told me that the flight in Chicago was delayed so I would miss my connecting flight in Denver. There were no other flights last night. No problem, my luggage and I could jump the train and the bus back home for the night.

It was a pain in my ass. I had two pieces of luggage and a backpack. (I had brought a lot of my winter stuff home and was trading it for spring wear – I usually don’t travel with so much stuff). First in the bathroom, going into a stall with enough room for me and my entourage. Then through the train turnstile, pushing one bag and pulling the other. Everything was fine on the train, until I got off at the station. Another turnstile and I had to take the escalator up to the road to get on the bus. The escalator was half the size of a normal one and not suited width-wise for the now average American. I was able to pull the smaller bag on to the stair behind me but the other bag was an a-hole and I almost fell on my head trying to get it to work. The escalator kept going up, along with my body, but the luggage refused to ride up. My arm about popped out of it’s socket and I have a nice cherry colored bruise on my forearm. I did finally pull hard enough and we all went up.

As I reached the top, I realized that I needed to catch the bus on the opposite side of the street and it would be impossible to cross the busy street with all my gear. I couldn’t run across. I turned around to go back down and underneath the street to the other side. No down escalator, only stairs. Shiza! How was I going to get two bags down at one time. I couldn’t leave one unattended – I was afraid that someone would run off with it. So, slowly, one step at a time, I started down. But then a man walking up, volunteered to help me. For a split second I thought, do I trust this guy? I was desperate and he turned out to be very nice. I felt a little bad because he took the heavier bag, though I tried to ignore his struggling.

I walked under the road and up the escalator to the other side. This time I was a pro at the escalator and made it up with ease. At the top, I pushed and pulled my way through the double doors, bouncing on my luggage, to stand on the street and wait for the bus. Others standing around gave sideways glances at all my crap. I was really tired at that point and didn’t care. The bus arrived and I let everyone on before me, but a young guy waited and helped me with my other bag. Lucky again! I crowded the pathway of the bus, forcing people to squeeze past me. It was funny to watch people squeeze through, sometimes nose to nose with others. Closeness, part of living in the city, I guess. All three bags and I made it home.

Stacy drove me today, thank you. I’ll spend a few days in Helena and then drive down to Las Vegas on my way to LA. I’ll be spending Sunday night with Zel – fun times!

I just entered Sy into a competition to win a new cat box. It’s so funny, boxes are like magnets to cats. No matter what size box or bag we have sitting out, the cats go straight for it. She could win a fire truck, plane or a tank – she wants the tank. Go ahead and enter your cat but it will be tough to be as cute as Sy!

I read a blog in the NY Times yesterday that posed the question – Is it better to raise kids in the city or in the suburbs. The city offers much diversity, culture and easy transit. The suburbs have green space, nature, traffic but a slower pace of life. Basically more sophisticated kids vs. more sheltered kids. But there was one right of passage that this writer had to endure raising her urban teenage son; not the first shave, concert or kiss but his first mugging. She preached to him and warned him to be careful. He understood but didn’t think it would happen to him. He was invincible as most teenagers are. He was mugged at age 14 when he got off the bus with his friends one Saturday evening. No one was hurt. The mother’s first thought was to get out of the city . . . move somewhere safe! But she maintained her calm and knew that there would only be so much she could do to protect her son. If they moved to the suburbs there were cases of crazy teenage drivers or ticks with lime disease! When I think about all the drinking and driving that went on in the rural area that I grew up in – yikes!

Really, in my opinion, neither place is better it’s just personal preference. Stacy and I own a 2-flat in Chicago, in a neighborhood north of downtown. It’s a very nice neighborhood with lots of families and feels safe. But I’ve lived in the city for many years and know that anything is possible. You might think that when I heard banging and pounding downstairs in the middle of the day, a couple of days ago, a red flag would have gone up. It didn’t. Our downstairs neighbors are around on week days and they make a lot of noise, moving things or the 3-year old runs across the apartment or bangs on drums. Our big heavy door in front makes a big thunk when it shuts. No big deal, that’s part of living on top of each other. Sirens run up and down our street at all hours of the day . . .you learn to tune out the noise.

Then Stacy said, “I think the apartment downstairs was just broken into.” No way. I went downstairs and sure enough it looked like their door had been hacked at but it was closed and the bottom lock still secure. She said that two young Mexican guys went out the gate and then took off in their old SUV. “Were they carrying anything?” No. Just moments before, she had been in the basement doing laundry and heard them above in the apartment, normal noises and then came upstairs. After accidentally dropping a shoe, she heard scurrying downstairs. Her gut told her that something was wrong.

Various thoughts went through my head. Maybe they didn’t get in? Maybe the neighbors scuffed the door taking something in or out? The door didn’t look that bad. Maybe it really didn’t happen? I didn’t want to call the police with a false alarm. So, we went down the back and into the apartment to check it out. I know, I know, it’s like a horror movie when you’re yelling at the character not to go down to the dark basement. I quietly opened the door and listened. No one was there so we walked through. All the lights were on and everything looked fine – the TV was still there! But then we got to the front door and the dead bolt was on the ground. Okay, let’s get out of here and call the police. It’s weird, like slow motion when you’re trying to take in what has happened but yet not knowing what really happened.

Years ago, when I lived out in the suburbs with my parents, they had a break-in. Stacy and Arloa were sleeping downstairs and I had just gotten home from my part-time job as a waitress. I was in the upstairs bathroom getting ready for bed, all the lights were out and I heard Stacy saying something. I peaked out and she said that a guy had just walked out the sliding glass door! I thought, you’re crazy, but then I saw that my purse with my hundred bucks I had just made that night was gone! That’s a story within itself. And don’t even get me started on living in Wicker Park in the late 90s.

The police arrived got all the info and unfortunately the thieves did get a couple of laptop computers and other things. They think that these two hooligans must have heard us upstairs, otherwise the apartment would have been wiped clean. A neighbor came over and said that right before they broke in, a guy had knocked on her window to see if anyone was home. They saw her in her apartment, so on to our building.

The rest of the day, I felt icky but kept telling myself that no one was hurt and shit happens. I made a decision right then that I wasn’t going to let those two idiots sway me into living in fear. Fear breeds more things to be afraid of. Focus on the positive. The next day, our neighbor told me that he had tracked his credit card to a gas station in town – a few hundred dollars charged right away. He investigated further and found that they had charged fifteen bucks in gas but then a couple hundred dollars in lottery tickets! What? Don’t they know about karma?

I posted photos of the San Diego area to flickr. I’ve been there three times in the past couple of years. You might think that I’m addicted to the place and you’re right. I actually thought that I would move there but now I’m thinking that I’ll buy a beach cottage and hang out whenever I want. (Well, that’s my dream.) In fact, I’ll be there in March again – yahoo!

Stacy and I took the bus a couple of weeks ago and headed to Damen Ave. and Chicago Ave. to meet up with some friends. We sat in front of an old man riding the bus with no destination, as far as I could tell. When he laughed (and he laughed often at what he was saying), his voice would cackle like a wicked witch. He didn’t have a broom, but a few six packs of beer in plastic grocery bags placed on the floor and next to him on the seat. No one sat by him. He looked a little crazy with his shaggy gray hair and beard, but he was probably just lost in a beer haze. I was wary of him and really didn’t want to sit in front of him but there were no other spots on the bus. What if he, god forbid, tried to talk to us? What if he hurled a beer can at us? What if he urinated or barfed on the floor? Or threw insults at us like the lady in the park one day years ago? (She walked past Stacy and I and said, “You think you look pretty, don’t you? You slut, you whore!” She pointed and spat those words at us and I thought, oh my god, she can totally read my mind. But then she said it to the next people, also.)

Turned out he was harmless. I hadn’t been paying attention to him, but Stacy later told me that he had been saying random things like, “I used to be good-looking, you should’ve seen me”. I tuned out his babbling until he blurted out,”how now brown cow!” Stacy and I peaked at each other and started giggling, trying to be quiet, not to draw attention, our shoulders bouncing up and down. Either he really cracked himself up or he saw us giggling and so he started to laugh, cackling loud and then said it again. “How now brown cow!”

Well, it’s been over a year that Stacy and I traveled to Croatia – and I’ve finally posted my photos! Check ‘em out . . . .

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