April Showers Bring May Flowers

This is not an optimistic post. I am not feeling optimistic. I am feeling very defeated and very stressed. And a little sad.

April Showers Bring May Flowers | misshapenjourney.com

April was a hard fail.

Hard.

Fail.

Let’s rewind. Picture it, Thursday, March 23, 2017. I returned home from work (late as usual) to find my building’s maintenance guy and another man standing in the hall outside my apartment with a wet/dry vac. That is never a good thing. Ever. A pipe broke on the floor above me and my unit had significant water damaged. Parts of the ceiling had collapsed, and I couldn’t turn on any lights. This was only the beginning.

The building gave a temporary unit where I could stay until the damage was “fixed” (you’ll understand the parentheses in a minute). I had already planned to spend the weekend at my mother’s and would be leaving straight from work the next day. I was too tired to figure out sleeping arrangements in the empty temp unit so I stayed with the fella.

The following day was payday (yay!) and out of complete habit, I paid my next month’s rent without even thinking about the fact that my ceiling was all over my floor. First mistake. I went to my mom’s for the weekend and would occasionally remember the disaster awaiting my return and then get really sad.

Small rabbit trail: A little history

Growing up, we weren’t “well off”. After my parents got divorced I lived with my mom. She went from being a full-time SAHM to working 50+ hours a week. My dad made decent money, but he didn’t feel that he was obligated to make sure his children had everything they needed, like, running water.

There was a long stretch of time where we actually didn’t have running water. Leading up to that time, we had many a pipe break and many a mini flood in our house. After my mom and I moved to a rental property we didn’t fair that much better. First, the roof leaked (and collapsed in places), then a few pipes froze and subsequently broke. Basically, plumbing has not been a friend for a great many years.

Now, I am an adult, living on my own and paying my own rent. I have deliberately chosen to pay higher rent to live in company managed properties for the express purpose of not having to handle the shady dealings and mismanagement of privately owned and poorly maintained housing. It stresses me out, and I can’t handle it.

And yet, here we are again.

I got back to Chicago on Monday morning. I had a couple hours between my train getting in and my clock in time at work, so I went to my apartment to check out the damage in the full light of day.

Over the weekend they had come in and swept up most of the mess. For this, they used my broom (they actually did this twice, and I know I’m being petty, but it really ticks me off). I pulled some things together to take to the temp unit and took pictures of the damage. I went to work expecting that at some point over that day or the next I would get a call from my building manager giving me some sort of timeline for when the repairs would be complete. This call never came.

That following Wednesday, the 29th, they started repairs. Let me say this again. On the 29th, a full 6 days after the incident they started repairs! I’m not going to get into the details of what they did or didn’t do during these repairs, let me just say, it was not a thorough job. I initially didn’t care. My lease is up the end of may, I just had to live there another few weeks, so what if there was still visible water damage.

The following Friday I called the manager to see if I could get a date for when I could move back to my unit. She informed me the painters were finished already and I could go back whenever I wanted. I gave it a day to air the paint smell out and moved back on April 2nd. Over the course of the week, I noticed that the smell didn’t seem to be fading and the following Sunday (April 9th) I discovered why.

MOLD.

M-O-L-D. A whole lot of smelly, disgusting black mold.

I took pictures and spent the next couple of days trying to contact the building manager to tell her. I finally spoke to her on Wednesday and she said they would put in an urgent request to have that ”treated“*.

*I’m fairly certain “treated” just meant painted.

The following Monday (April 17th, for those keeping track) nothing had been done. I did some digging online to try and find some options. I found a tenants rights website that had a page all about what to do if you have mold in your rental unit. It gave me a sample letter to write giving 14 days to correct the issue(s) or I could legally terminate my lease (and not have to pay my last months rent). I sent the letter out that day, with the deadline of May 1st.

On April 26th is when they came to “treat” the mold. They completed all the repairs I asked for on the 28th. I was almost ready to pay my last months rent when only 2 days later, I noticed that some of the new paint was already starting to yellow, and bubble, and peel. The mold is coming back.

I’ve been advised (by friends, not professionals) to inform them I’ll be out by the first and I’m not paying. It seems fair. What could have all been properly repaired in the 10 days I was in the temp unit has been a nearly constant stress for over a month. But, when you’ve spent years living in fear of your landlord you become programmed to believe that you are powerless. They have the control, and you can fall in line or bear the consequences. In this case, I fear that not paying my last months rent will result in back rent and collections on my credit report. I’m still not sure what to do. I’ll keep you posted.

During this, I’ve also been trying to sort out the details of moving. Moving on its own is stressful. My packing is nearly complete, and while I still don’t have a new apartment in mind, I do have a game plan. I’ll be staying with my mom for the month of June. This will allow me to focus on paying off some bills and let me look for a new place with a little more leisure. I plan on moving into a new place in July.

In other news

I had an entire April update post (that would have explained a lot of this) written and edited. All I had to do was add a picture and it would have been good to go. However, in the cluster-fudge-nut-bar that April was I completely forgot about it! I actually thought I had posted it. It wasn’t until I began working on this post (intending it to be a follow-up) that I realized I hadn’t. And so, it sits in my drafts waiting to be deleted because at this point posting it would be ridiculous.

Sigh

None of my April goals have been achieved. None of my April goals were even started. I bought a new book, and I am very excited to read it. I did also make a conscious effort to be more active. Although, I did not walk, jog, or run 2-3 times a week as I had planned. Blogging was not done, obviously.

With the majority of my packing done and with a fairly clear idea of how I will manage my move, I’m ever so slightly hopeful that May will be better. But, I’m not feeling very optimistic.

April Goals

It’s April already and I just don’t know where this year has gone! I’ve had such big plans for the year and while I’ve checked a couple of larger items off my list, the smaller items haven’t received very much attention. Before this year is too far gone I’m going to tackle some of these. 

April GoalsApril Goals | misshapenjourney.comApril Goals | misshapenjourney.com

Some of my goals are long term and I need to make them a habit if I’m going to be successful. I’m breaking down my yearly goals into smaller, bite-sized pieces to help make them manageable. My plan for the rest of the year is to tackle just 2 or 3 of my goals each month. I can focus on those goals and, hopefully, form a good habit or two every month. 

For April I chose 3 goals that feed into larger goals and are part of the long-term habits I want to get into.

Running

I’m not one of those people who loathes exercise. In fact, I’m quite the opposite, I really enjoy it. However, not unlike so many others, I find it really hard to stay motivated to get off my butt and actually DO it. Once I get in a regular habit I’m fine, I can stay consistent for long stretches of time, it’s the getting started that’s hard.

Now that Spring is here, the weather is getting warmer, and the days are getting longer I think it is definitely time I get back at it. My goal to start is to get out at least 2-3 times a week. I know I won’t be able to get running immediately, I’ve been on my butt for far too long, but I’d at least like to start getting in some brisk walking or light jogging.

In preparation for this goal, I’ve bought some new running shoes and began breaking them in. I really wanted to buy some super cute (read: expensive) ones, but couldn’t justify the cost given how little effort I’ve put into my exercise game lately. I need to earn them.

The goal is this: If I can consistently get out and run 2-3 times a week, now through July 4th, I will have earned some new, quality shoes. At that time I will need to find another reward for myself to get me through the rest of the summer, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.

Blogging

I haven’t fully been ignoring my blog, but I haven’t been putting half of the effort I need to into it. I’ve got big plans for this site though, and I have been laying out some “blueprints” so to speak for how I plan to make it a success. I’m very excited, and also very nervous that I’ll fail miserably. Doing as little as I have been lately pretty much guarantees the latter, so it’s time to get active.

The thing about having a blog is, it doesn’t matter how much social media you do or how much interaction with other blogs you do if you aren’t writing for your own blog, you’re not doing anything. This for me is the hardest part. I have no shortage of ideas but sitting down and committing them to a page requires more willpower than getting up to go run!

I’ve found some brilliant ideas for topics that I hadn’t considered before. I live in one the coolest cities in the world, and I haven’t gotten out to explore a fraction of it. What is wrong with me?! Part of it I know is just there is only so much exploring one can do alone. After a while, the most amazing experiences are just that much less amazing if there isn’t anyone there to share the excitement. Now that The Fella and I have the same work schedule and the same days off, I intend to drag him around with me. This should be fun and give me plenty of things to write about. That’s only one idea, I have at least half a dozen others too.

The goal is this: I’m going to start small, 1 blog a week. That should be easy enough to manage. *fingers crossed*  Right?

Reading

I love reading. I miss reading. Finding the time for it though is another story. I started this year with the goal of reading 12 books, one each month. It is now April and I have successfully completed a grand total of ZERO books. I have tried…sort of. I went to the library, took out a book, and then never opened it. Plus, I own about 20 million books, and I’ve only read about 10 of them. I shouldn’t have trouble finding a new book to read.

There is a book I want to read, but to be honest I’m a little intimidated by it. I’ve noticed lately I’ve been avoiding things I would normally love out of fear of feeling too much. Is that weird? I think it probably is, at least a little. I’m worried that I’ll feel inspired too much, or I should say I’ll feel the desire for something I can’t have too strongly and it will upset me. I think I’m gonna brave it though. I think I’m going to take the risk and see how I fair. I’ll keep you posted. You can also friend me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading and give me some suggestions on what to read next. I need all the help I can get!

The goal is this: read a dang book! Just one. Just this month. I’ll worry about May when it gets here.

Wrap-up

Clearly, this list of goals extends beyond just April, but this is where I’m going to start. This month. This fresh new month, with fresh new opportunities. I have a thousand other things I want to do this year but given my slow start, I think I’ll just leave it with these three and see where I end up.

What goals do you have for this month?

Gratitude: Day 2 | What Do You Love About Where You Live

Chicago. The Windy City. Home of Hemingway, Frank Lloyd Wright, Capone, and The Cubs. It’s a city with a rich history of sports, politics, corruption, and art. A city with a stark but beautiful contrast between classic and modern architecture. A bustling, urban epicenter nestled within a thousand parks; bordered by the vast and wild Lake Michigan.

I have traveled from coast to coast, I’ve been to almost every state and I’ve visited hundreds of cities from small villages to roaring metropolis’. I’ve never been to a city I love quite as much as Chicago. Of course, the city famously has plenty of problems, but this city is a survivor, and will continue to thrive through whatever trials may appear.

Gratitude Day 2: What Do You Love About Where You Live | misshapenjourney.com

I moved to Chicago three and a half years ago, in May of 2014. I needed a new start (again) and I was determined to finally make a go of living out my dreams. Of course, the last bit didn’t happen (again), but I’ve slowly managed to etch out a life here that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else.

I live in a classic studio on a tree-lined street, on the north side of the city, two blocks from the beach. I’m surrounded by old buildings, parks and all the amenities I could possibly want or need. A short commute to the heart of the city give me easy access to museums, more parks, street art, and my personal favorite up close views of some of the most gorgeous architecture in the country.

I love exploring this city. In my free time one of my favorite things to do is wander through parts that I’ve never been to before. It seems in every corner there is a sculpture I’ve never seen, or some intricate relief carved into a building I’ve never noticed. in addition to the skyscrapers and the old stone office buildings, there are churches and store fronts with windows and doors that could be considered art in themselves.

Chicago is inspiring. There’s something in the air here that compels you to action. Whatever your goal, business, the arts, science, or even religion, Chicago offers the way. Even for people like me, who can’t quite seem to get a solid footing on their path in life, the atmosphere of this city inspires you to keep going and find a new way forward. For me, living here has been the difference between moving forward and giving up. I may not be moving in the same direction as before, or towards the same goal, but I’m still going. I’m still finding my way, I’m still looking for the right path, and the right target, but I’m still going.

These are the things I love about where I live. These are the things that make me want to stay here. These are the things that make me struggle to choose between the adventures I want to live exploring other places, and the successes I think I could achieve staying here. I love Chicago, and wherever life may lead me, whether it’s a new neighborhood or a new state, I see Chicago always being home.

What do you love about where you live?