Part 2…Changes and firsts…Chicago trip, job change, and Cynthia’s wedding.
Warning – this is a long entry.
Hi again, everybody! First off, thanks to those that read Part 1 and are still following and reading my blog, even though I’m horrible at posting in a consistent manner. Thank you.
Ben and I went to Chicago in the beginning of April. Getting there was a little iffy. We had a 7:45AM flight, so we arrived at the airport by 6AM. YAWN. We boarded and were good to go…or so we thought. The plane started to “drive” down the runway and pick up speed, and next thing you know, the pilot slams on the brakes. Uh oh…that’s not good. He announces that there was a red light on that shouldn’t be on and that it wasn’t going off. He radioed it in and told us we were going to remain on the runway until he heard back. A few minutes later he announces that we’re going to turn around and head back to the gate. After sitting around for another 30 minutes or so, it had been decided that the engineers were going to take a look at the plane, we’d all need to deplane, and would be getting on another plane/flight. Fun. Luckily, we were able to board another plane without too much delay and we took off at around 11AM…the only positive about having our original flight so early.
I really enjoyed Chicago! It felt like NY, but at a slower pace. Would definitely go back! One of the places we visited was the Museum of Science and Industry…such an amazing place! And it’s HUGE! We showed up later than expected and unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to see all that I wanted to see. I’d go back to Chicago just so I could go back to that museum! I would definitely recommend paying a visit to the Museum of Science and Industry if you’re going to be in Chicago! Besides the museum, we went to a Cubs game, took obligatory pics with “The Bean”, rode the “L”, went on an architecture boat tour, ate some delicious food, and got to meet up with my high school friend.
Attending the Cubs game and being in Wrigley Field was a lot of fun. Even though it was a chilly, Wednesday night, and early on in the season, the stadium was packed! The vibe in Wrigley was awesome. Leaving the stadium, on the other hand, was a major pain in the ass. We planned on taking a Lyft back to the hotel since that’s the way we got to the stadium, but boy, was it a mission! We weren’t aware that when there’s a game, they close off several streets around the stadium, so we had to walk over five (long) blocks just to get a Lyft! Five blocks isn’t that bad, but not knowing that we were going to have to wander (somewhat aimlessly) around at 10PM at night, in a neighborhood and city we weren’t familiar with, after a long day of traveling, was a bit stressful…
Ben and I went to Millennium Park, which is where Cloud Gate is located, the official name of the sculpture that’s been nicknamed “The Bean”. We took obligatory photos with The Bean and checked out the rest of the park.
After the park, we wanted dinner and since the restaurant we wanted to try wasn’t that far, I suggested we take the train, instead of a Lyft/Uber. There was an “L” station located just a block away. My first time on a subway (even though it wasn’t in NY) since the accident. It had been over 4 years since I’d ridden a subway!…Mostly because the NY subway system barely handicapped accessible and because NY’ers who ride the subway are in their own little bubble and they all had to be somewhere 5 minutes ago. So, for someone like me, who would be moving at a snails place compared to them, it’s not a good environment to put myself in. =) As big as it is, only about 25% (give or take) of the NY subway stations are handicapped accessible, whereas in Chicago, about 75% (give or take) of the stations are handicapped accessible. (Don’t quote me on those #s, but I know I’m in the ballpark.) And of the 25% that are accessible, it’s a roll of the dice on whether the elevators will actually be operational or out of service for repair…
See this article from the curbed website. It’s so ridiculous and frustrating.
Another fun thing we did was the architecture boat tour. It was so informative and interesting! The below picture is of a building that’s located at 300 S. Wacker Drive. The side of the building used to be a blank concrete wall and then a few years ago they created this mural map. The mural displays a vertical sliver that is of the bending river, the crisscrossing street grid, and 300 S. Wacker, itself. “It’s the star of the map, represented by bright red rectangle that looks like a flat-roofed version of a Monopoly hotel.” Article about the building’s mural, if anyone is curious.
Oh, and while on the boat tour, we personally got to experience the “lake effect”. The boat tour lasted about 2.5 hours. It was in the 70s when we boarded the boat. It wasn’t hot, but warm and comfortable. By the 2nd hour of the tour, the temperature started to drop and by the time we got off the boat, the temperature had dropped about 30 degrees. It was in the 40s!! CRAZY.
In April, I left one job and started another. I don’t think I’d mentioned the previous job in any of my older posts. So, I guess the old job and the new job are both news to most of you!
I was working full-time, from home, from February of 2017 to April of 2018. The company that I was working for and the people that I was working with were great, but the full-time work from home scenario was getting a bit stifling for me. And it’s not that I wanted to commute (Who wants to commute?!?), but being in the house all day, every day…for me, was not the best situation. The grass is alway greener on the other side, right?…Until you get to the other side…and then you’re not so sure! Hah!
My new job is in the city. It’s ALL the way in Downtown Manhattan, by Wall Street. I went from “commuting” from my bed to the spare bedroom, to commuting from Auburndale, Queens to way…Downtown Manhattan. It’s actually kind of funny (for lack of a better word), that the first job I get, that involves a commute, ends up being the longest commute into the city. But, it does align with my theory of everything is just less convenient and more out of the way since losing my legs. (i.e. Elevators are always at the other end of where I am, handicapped bathrooms are always all the way in the back, entrances that are “handicapped accessible” always have the heaviest doors, etc.) So, how was I going to get to this new job? Initially, driving was going to be my only option b/c bus to subway, to another subway, then walking, was not. (As aforementioned above about the NYC subway system being only 25% accessible and the crazy NYers during rush hour. Haha) Taking the LIRR was also not an option. Although the LIRR is located just a block from our apartment, once at Penn Station, I’d still have to take at least one subway. NOPE. Then I thought, let me see if there are any Express buses that depart from Queens and go to downtown Manhattan. Most Express buses go to Midtown, so I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a successful search. But lo and behold, there is! The QM7 and QM8 depart from Fresh Meadows (under a 10 minute drive from our apartment) and drop off in downtown Manhattan, with one of the stops being just a block from my office! Great! So, now that I had discovered this option, I thought…OK, I should do a trial run before I start the job, since…1. I haven’t commuted (via any form of public transportation) in over 4 years. 2. I haven’t taken an Express bus in much more than 4 years…and 3. I haven’t commuted, solo, with no legs, via NYC bus, EVER. Well, that trial run never took place.
Day 1 arrives. I drive in. Horrendous. Day 2 arrives and I decide to try and take the bus. I drive to the bus stop, park my car, and just as I was getting out of the car, the bus begins to pull into the stop. Great. Luckily, this woman sees me and alerts the driver, so he waits an extra minute for me. I was trying to haul ass without face planting. I made it onto the bus. Whew. Ok…half the battle completed…I’m on the bus. A little over an hour later and we arrive in the city. We get to my stop and I wait for everyone to get off and then I climb down the stairs and get off the bus. I’m almost there. Now, all I have left is the 1 block walk to the front door. I start making my way down this slanted, uneven sidewalk…cross the street, and I’ve made it to my building! Successfully completed my first solo commute via public transportation! Woohoo. Small, but slightly monumental achievement.
But the amusing part of my commute is when I get to the entrance…The building has revolving doors and regular doors, like most office buildings. On the regular doors, they have signs that say, “Please use revolving doors”, which is also common in office buildings (not sure why, exactly). I prefer to use the regular doors, mainly b/c if it’s the morning rush and people aren’t paying attention, they’ll start pushing the revolving door faster than I can walk through it, and that won’t end well. But, what do you know, the regular door is locked, so I have to wait for someone to come and open the door (And of course, it’s heavy. Did you even have to ask?) It went like this everyday, for about 2 weeks. I’d get to the entrance and wait for security to open the door. But then I discovered the side door, which at the time that I arrive, is a less busy entrance. So, now, I use the side entrance and I use the revolving door b/c naturally, the regular doors are also locked, and the security guard is all the way at the other end, by the elevators. About once a week, I’ll have someone ask me if I’d like them to open the door for me from the inside. I tell them no b/c it’s locked (and they have this look of, Huh? Why?!?) so I’ll just wait until everyone passes and use the revolving door.
I just hit the 2 month mark at the new job and I usually commute in (sometimes by bus, sometimes I drive) 3 days a week and get to work from home the other 2 days. The commute is more routine now, but still sucks. Grass is always greener… Any commute is tough on me, but I think the “ideal” commute would be to an office in Queens or Long Island. This way I could drive and end up in an office with a parking lot. This way, when there’s inclement weather, it’s only a concern when I walk out of my apartment. Right now, when it rains, I’m kinda screwed. It’s just water, but when it’s pouring and windy (b/c I’m down by the river)…Forget it. I’m done. So, if anyone knows of any openings in Queens or on Long Island…reach out and hit me up! =) Seriously.
And the last topic of this post, Cynthia’s (Ben’s sister) wedding! Cynthia got married on May 5th, in Westbrook, Connecticut. Ben and I were both in the wedding party, he, as a groomsman and I, as a bridesmaid. It was my first time being a part of a bridal party since my accident. Coincidentally, a month before my accident, I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding.
The wedding was on Saturday, so on Friday, we had the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. Ben and I hadn’t seen the venue, in person, prior to the weekend of the wedding, so the rehearsal was the first time I was seeing the location and getting a lay of the land. Getting to the ceremony location meant walking down 2 sets of stairs, a slightly downhill concrete area, and then a large, bumpy patch of grass. My response to the wedding coordinator…”Yea, I don’t think that’s gonna work for me.” The fact that I was going to be in a dress AND in my skin legs (which I’ve dubbed my fancy legs)-which are heavier and less comfortable to walk in-was already a major obstacle to manage. We decided that I would wait on the sidelines of the grass and when it was our turn in line, Ben and I would swoop in from the side…this way I’d just have to walk down the aisle, still grass, but definitely manageable.
On the day of the wedding, after all the ladies got their hair and make-up done, we all met to take pictures on the grounds of the venue. As if you had to ask…of course we took pictures on bumpy, grassy terrain! When asked by the photographer if we could move to a certain area, I gave a similar response to him that I gave to the coordinator, “Mmm, not so much.” I did my best, but if I wasn’t comfortable, I wasn’t shy to let him know. The other ladies were great in understanding and were helpful when help was needed! And big thanks to my mom for being there to help me out…as always.
Ceremony went off without a hitch, cocktail hour went smoothly, and then it was time to head in for the reception. I planned on changing into my everyday legs for the reception, so I needed to go back up to our room. After the golf cart drove us back to the main building, I had to get my wheelchair. We had left it with the front desk b/c a golf cart had taken me down to the ceremony site. My mom went to the front desk to look for it, but came back empty handed. She didn’t see it by the front desk. So I said, ok, I’ll go and ask. As I made my way down the hallway, with my fancy legs and new shoes (that hadn’t been scuffed up enough), on the slippery wood floors…can you see where this is going?…. Half way down the hallway and….BAM…right to the floor. I was walking pretty quickly down the hallway (I still had to head up to my room and change and I didn’t want to miss the first dance – which I did, anyway…meh) and before I knew it, my ass was on the floor. The pairing of my un-scuffed shoes and the slippery floor was my demise. My dad was right behind me, so I think he lessened the impact slightly, but other than a small bruise that developed on my arm the next day (I think from my crutch getting caught on my arm), I was completely fine.
Now, the question was, how to get up… Usually, when I get up from the floor (without anyone’s help), I need something stable to push up from. It’s a process…If I’m sitting on my butt, I have to first, roll over onto my stomach, then get on my knees, and then either push off from that position or keep one knee down and plant my other foot and then stand up from there. I’m also usually in workout attire and not worried about having to get up gracefully or concerned about flashing anyone! My dad was like, I’ll put my arms under your armpits and lift you up. Uh, sorry Pops, I think that’ll end with both of us on the floor. My dad isn’t a big guy and also walks with the assistance of a cane (..is also a smoker that’s not in the best shape). Next thing I know, Joe (Ben’s aunt’s mom’s bf…did you get all that? heh) shows up to my rescue. He suggests the same thing…Joe is bigger and taller than my dad and in better shape, but I was still iffy. I mean, it’s not like Joe is a spring chicken…I’m not exactly light as a feather and I’m stronger than I look… I was concerned that I would take him down too. But, I was happily proven wrong. He put his arms under me..1,2,3…and in one quick motion I was up on my feet! (And shortly after that, in my chair! hehe…after all, I had just fallen!) Thanks again, Joe!
Once I got up, my mom was all freaked out. OMG, are you ok? Are you ok? Yea. I’m fine. All good. I fell and now I’m back up. Not hurt. Dress intact. Hair and make-up good. Good to go. Let’s get upstairs so I can change. Then she was like, Oh, good thing nobody was around to see you fall. Why?…who cares?..B/c then they’d would’ve seen you fall and then it would’ve created a crowd. Mom…don’t be ridiculous…and I don’t care. I would’ve shooed them all away, anyway. =) Once I changed into my everyday legs and had on more practical shoes, I was out on the dance floor and enjoyed the rest of the night! Funny thing…we went to a wedding the following Saturday and I had on my fancy legs with the same shoes…and wiped out again! WTF?!? I think water played a part in this fall. I think there was a bit of residual water on the floor from an earlier spill. Since I had my fancy legs on, I should’ve turned one of them around and started screaming…”Oh, my leg, my leg…” Teehee. =)
Until next time, folks!