Sorry for being absent for a while again. I still owe you guys at least one post about my time in New Orleans and Florida and I promise - it will come!
But I thought I give you a quick update on my life - for those of you who actually read this blog because they want to know how I am doing. By the way - sorry - I know I owe some of you emails! And I will get to it! I am not angry at anybody, that's not why I have been bad with writing!
The biggest news I have by far is that I sort of witnessed a crime.
We have a little under-walk that goes between the street and our back yard. It's very dark and kind of creepy down there (but then I am also kind of afraid of going to the basement by myself). This place belongs to our house and when you walk through there you can see our basement. In the winter we noticed foot steps in the snow leading up and away from this under-walk. That was creepy and for a while our landlord closed one of the doors (the other door could not be locked).
I guess we forgot about it. Well, last week E and I woke up at 4.30am. We heard a male voice yelling. It sounded very much like a drunk so we just went back to sleep. Well, turns out it wasn't a drunk. A 72 year old man who was walking around, distributing leaflets (that seems to have been his job) had been pulled down in our under-walk, robbed and beaten up. By talking to neighbors I later found out that this man was at the hospital in a life-threatening situation. And apparently the cops are expecting the criminal who did this to come back to our street.
This scares me for several reasons: First - I haven't really witnessed a crime like this. Especially such a violent crime - I really believe you don't have to beat a 72 year old guy to a pulp just to get his wallet. I believe this was done because the criminal had a desire to be violent and this is very scary.
Second - the police did not investigate a whole lot. Our landlord noticed police in front of our house and went outside asking what is going on - only THEN did they tell him what had happened. I mean this happened in HIS HOUSE and they didn't even bother telling him? They didn't interview anyone. E and I are the only people who actually heard the screams (this is what I found out by talking to people in our street) and they didn't bother to ask us or anybody else about it. Our next door neighbor has a freakin' camera on his doorway which could have very well recorded some of what happened - he told me that they did NOT ask him for a tape (the camera it turns out - was not on - but they didn't know that).
I wonder if the lack of interest in this crime is due to the fact that it's some old dude who probably doesn't have much family or anybody at home who really cares - if you are still working a crappy, underpaid job at 72 then obviously you don't have anybody to take care of you. And this just makes me mad.
It reminds me of the story our friend told us in New Orleans. Just around the corner from where he lives in New Orleans a Columbine like massacre happened. A guy walked in and shot four students. It was a school with mostly black students. The thing got next to no media coverage.
And this PISSES ME OFF. It pisses me off that the police doesn't do their job. It pisses me off that you get different treatment because of your social status. Peoples lives are not worth less because of social status!
And of course - most of all - I am scared. We live in one of the safest neighborhoods in Chicago. There are nothing but families living here. I wouldn't be surprised if we were the only childless couple in the street from what I see. And still something like this happens. I wouldn't care as much if this would have happened on the street in FRONT of our house. But the fact that the criminal pulled the victim down our under-walk makes me believe that this was planned for a while, that this guy had been investigating.
So obviously there is nothing I can do about it but be more careful, make sure that all the doors are always locked, lock the windows and right now - I'll be honest with you - I am sleeping with a knife on my bedside table. I want to find a different solution for that though. I want to get a pepper spray. I am very much against having weapons in the house but I don't feel save walking home here alone at night (not that I do a whole lot of this since my social life is still not very happening). I also want to take a self-defense class. I have been wanting to do this for 15 years or though anyway just because I want to feel strong and confident. Our landlord also put a big pad lock on the door and nobody is going to be able to use our under-way for criminal activity anymore (except our landlord).
But anyway, I know things like that could really happen anywhere, they are just more likely to happen around here.
Alright, what else has been happening.
Well it's finally spring here in Chicago. The weather has been a bit crazy. Last Monday it was about 4 C - by Friday it had warmed up to 28 C. We had a lot of sunshine last week and I went cycling pretty much every day during the week. I even got a tan! I also cycled to the lake every day, just to see it. When the sun is shining the lake turns a beautiful turquoise shade. I love the water and could just sit there and look at it for hours. It makes me really happy.
The trees in our street finally got leaves which improves my mood immensely. I missed the green.
Saturday E and I went to our first farmers market this year. Since they only sell stuff that is in season they didn't have a whole lot yet but I did end up buying an heirloom tomato plant. This year I am planting four different kinds of tomatoes. I am a really bad gardener but I hope my love for home grown tomatoes will overcome this. Now I just have to wait till August and then I should have lots and lots of tomatoes. If you want some - come visit me in August!
Last week was a good one for me - even though I was more home-sick to Holland than I have been before. I made a to-do list and for once I actually followed it. I got a move on in my Photography studies, I upholstered a chair, I painted another chair, I applied to some jobs, ... it feels good to get your life back on track. I already made a list for this week. I am also expanding my job searches. I decided in this economic situation I should also be looking into other kind of jobs. So I have been looking at local food places if they are looking for help. I don't want to work for a chain like McDonalds but I wouldn't mind working at the cute cupcake place or at the Italian ice cream store - at least until I finish my studies. I don't want to end up working full-time unless it is a really great job though because I really, really want to finish my studies in the next eight month or so.
Last Friday we went out with one of E's coworkers - who is a year younger than me (I feel so old)! His wife had her 25th birthday and her and all her BFFs were all cute and dressed up (I didn't know it was her birthday so I showed up in flip flops and a tank top). I ended up having a really good conversation with one of her girlfriends ... until she excused herself and never came back. But I totally get it. I have been there. I have been the girl who had so many friends that I felt uncomfortable when new people tried to befriend me - even when we got along really well. I also now understand that the reason why I didn't have many Dutch friends was not because the Dutch don't like to befriend foreigners but that they already HAD their group of friends and weren't particularly interested in making new friends. It works the same way here in Chicago as it worked in Holland.
Since arriving here I have signed up for about 10 different meet-up groups (for example "The knitters meet-up group, the beer lovers meet up group ...) and I have been to only two meet-ups. And both I went to with E. The reason why I didn't go to more meet ups is because I am shy and because I am not used to this situation. Meeting people in Holland was so damn easy. You always had one thing in common - you are a foreigner. It wasn't a big deal that you were from a different culture - because everybody was.
Here I have to give the whole background - I am Austrian, I lived in Holland for 7 years, am married to an American, yes I like Chicago, yes it is different to Europe, no I don't know more about the Fritzl case, yes I do realize that Hitler was Austrian, no I am not a racist, yes I do speak English and yes I CAN understand everything you say - no need to speak so slowly, yes I have absolutely heard of Jay Leno and I know Wholefoods too, ...
What I really wish is that I would have a female friend going to those kind of meet-ups with me. The week before we went to New Orleans my friend D visited me. She is Austrian like me and she is living in Florida right now. We had such a good time. We can relate to so many things because we are in such a similar situation. It's also very comforting to have somebody around who has known me for 14 years. I am trying to get her to move to Chicago for the summer. Unfortunately the weather was disgusting when she was here. It even snowed - in April. For somebody who moved to Florida because she loves hot and humid weather - this was not a very good time to come. I hope she still considers it because we could have the best summer ever together. You know how people apparently see their life passing in front of them in pictures before they die? I saw pictures of how our summer together would look like - us cycling down the lakefront, us eating Italian gelato and shopping in Roscoe village, us sitting outside in the sun, having lunch at the Meindl Cafe on Southport, us going to the gym together, us sitting in our back yard, late in the evening, us sitting in the park, the sun on our faces, gossiping about the people we met at one of the meet-ups that I finally am not afraid to go to anymore, ...
I still have a little hope that it might happen but well, not so much.
But life is not bad right now. It gets better with every ray of sunshine hitting my face and every new leave on the tree outside my window.